Like many others, I'm relatively new to the homebrewing scene and actually started fermenting my first mead about six days ago (a show mead, nothing special). Anyway, the bug has naturally really gotten ahold of me. A friend I met a month back shared a bit of a mead he brewed up that he made using jalapeno peppers and the mead was really very good. Unfortunately, he lives a bit of a distance away and so comparing notes with him is not very convenient at this time. I was wondering if anyone has any recipes for a mead made with hot peppers like this? I did research the mead recipes available for patrons and the general recipes and only found a recipe made with green chili peppers. Would rather do something with just a bit more punch. Any help would be appreciated.
That said, a bit about my first brew and some mistakes I made as well as the fixes...
The recipe I used for my first brew is as follows:
15 pounds raw wildflower honey
4 gallons of distilled water (first mistake)
1 Packet of Lalvin D-47 Yeast
1/2 TSP of Yeast Energizer per Gallon of Must (Brewing 5 gallons)
I decided to error on the side of caution for my first batch and go ahead and heat my must to between 150F and 155F for about 20 minutes. Probably didn't need to do this step and I'm sure I probably caused the honey to lose some complexity, but what's done is done. I rehydrated my yeast as directed on the packet.
My second mistake was not allowing the must to cool to room temperature before pitching my yeast. I pitched it while the must was way, way to hot (about 102 degrees). I did pull a specific gravity at this point and at this temperature and hit 1.1 pretty spot on. After crunching the math with the heat difference, I figure the actual OG for the Must was 1.17.
I am running the primary fermentation in the plastic bucket with an air lock on top. I did notice the next day that I was getting some mild gas release through the air lock, but nothing near as vigorous as I was anticipating or expecting. Never-the-less, I allowed this to continue Monday and Tuesday, but by Wednesday, the rate of fermentation seemed to have slowed way down.
After doing some more research and finding the site here, I learned about airation and several other things. I pulled a specific gravity reading at this point and it looks like I was down to 1.08 (I didn't crunch the OG reading with the temp difference until Thursday though, so keep in mind I thought I only had a .02 drop in SG)
Anyway, I went ahead though and picked up several more packets of Lalvin D-47, thinking that my yeast was stalling and a pH testing kit for Tartaric acids as well as pH strips figuring it could be either shock to my yeast due to temp or maybe a pH imbalance. Anyway, I tested my pH and Tartaric levels and everything is pretty good, though my must is a tad more base than perfect, but still within tollerances (Tartaric looks to be about .4%)
So I decided to add a touch more yeast energizer Wednesday evening and from the sound of things, I may have made my first good move at that point close enough to 1/3 break to follow that method of feeding the yeast. I also decided to go a little overboard and risk dry-pitching two new packets of the D-47 yeast without rehydrating it first. Yes I know I lost some cell count there, and rehydrating it followed by conditioning it with must at intervals before pitching would give things a better chance to really get going, but I was also told that dry-pitching it might get a stuck ferment going and wouldn't hurt.
Since Wednesday, I have been airating the must twice per day based on what I am reading on the forums here. I am getting a far more active fermentation than I had been. Ultimately, I've learned a great ton of information and will definately do many things differently next time. A bit more patience will go a long way. I believe this batch has a great chance of turning out pretty good, though I doubt it will be stellar. I'll bottle a few bottles for one year aging, a few for three year aging, and a few for five year aging.
The bug has definitely bit me. I ordered a five gallon bucket of orange blossom honey from Miller's Honey and intend to start another five gallon batch sometime next week using some juiced oranges in the must and getting a bit more complex with my yeast starter. I also plan on doing a one gallon run of Cyser (Apple juice and honey if I got that right) and I will probably start a run of JAO just to say I've done one, though I really am liking fussing with my batches.
Anyway, I know this is long, sorry. I just wanted to give the folks here a shout out and a huge thanks for all of the great info. I'm still on the prowl, learning as much as I can absorb as quickly as I can absorb. And thanks to my friend, The Mead Pirate (you know who you are) for getting me started down this road of insanity and fun...
Last edited by Deacon Aegis; 03-24-2012 at 02:24 AM.
A 5 gallon of honey will make you much much mead! Enjoy!
My only suggestion is to try not to get too technical right off the bat. Some may disagree, but I suggest you get a feel for the process and your equipment first.
Unless you have serious water issues where you live, don't stress about pH and such. Find some basic recipes here in the forums, or in Schramm's book for example, and follow them. Find what you like.
Get technical after a few batches.
The hot pepper seems to go well with mead (IMO) but can quickly overwhelm. I have made a couple batches using home-grown, ripe (red) jalapenos. My last batch was over done and I hope age will wear the heat down and allow the honey to come back.
Have fun. Experiment!
Distilled water is less of an issue than the heating i.e. if you were thinking of relying on the water for nutrient/feed for the yeast in any way, then that's really a false assumption. Apart from a tiny amount of trace minerals, the water just dilutes, the trace should normally come from the energiser. Whereas, the heating will have removed a lot of the aromatics and potentially, some of the more subtle flavours.
Your greatest enemy is actually the yeast IMO. D47 is a good yeast, but ferments should be kept below 70F to prevent the production of fusels I'm the brew.
The trace elements thing is relative because a show mead has no energiser, so it may be the best thing just to use water that you like, though it would seem that the best water for brewing is "soft" water with low carbonates/calcium and/or magnesium salts......
As for the chilli pepper thing, it may be better to add the fruit to secondary, too retain more of the actual fruit flavour, which would be lost by primary fermentation. The capsaicin will get extracted irrespective, as its a fatty alkaloid, and dissolves in alcohol.
Something like a half of whichever strain of chilli per gallon might be a reasonable place to start......
here's me home brewing blog (if anyones interested....)
and don't forget
What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away! Tom Waits.....
Thanks all for the replies. Yeah I know I am probably getting a little overly technical for my first run out, but it is in my nature... I do really appreciate the information on the D-47 yeast there fatbloke. If I may ask, what would you folks suggest as a better yeast for fermenting around 70F to 72F?
I like K1-V1116 for an easy to manage yeast that's not a sensitive to temps near 70F. It has low nutrient requirements and is a very fast fermentor.
Also, it sounds like you picked up a titratable acid (TA) kit for measuring the tartric acids. Two comments here.
1) The dominant acid in grapes is tartric acid. This is not the case with meads. The dominant acid in honey is gluconic acid. Acid levels are similiar to grapes, but the taste of gluconic acid is softer that tartric acid. This is why some people assume mead is less acidic that grape wines.
2) Testing acidity in meads using titration doesn't work. Dan McFeeley is the local guru on this. Check out his thread here in the patrons section. In summary, you can't accurately measure acidity using TA test kits.