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Thread: My first attempt

  1. Default My first attempt

    Hello folks, obviously I'm new around here. I brew beer and have made wine in the past. I just bottled my latest beer and was trying to figure out what I wanted to brew next. I got to thinking about it and I am doing the research on starting to raise bees, so mead is the perfect next step.

    I just made up a batch of Joe's Ancient Orange mead. I stuck to the recipe. I did not use a hydrometer. I do have one, but it was never unpacked after the last move. Everything is very straight forward right now, but I know that will change if I get into making mead.

    But I have a couple of questions about this mead.

    First is just a terminology thing. Since this has both fruit and spices in it, what would it actually be called? Is it proper to call any variety of mead a mead? If someone brewed a Pyment, would it still be correct to call it mead?

    Next, since I used bread yeast, what alcohol level should this end up around? I read once that bread yeast is about 8.3% tolerance, is this about right?

    If I decide I like this mead and wanted to do a 5 gallon batch, would I just size it up? Just increase everything 5 times?

    Finally, I've always heard that mead takes a long time to age properly. Is this mead ready to drink as soon as it clears? Or should I bottle it and age it some?

    Thanks in advance for any help.

  2. Default Semi-newb answers

    To preface, I'm not the most experienced brewer; only four or so batches under my belt. I'll give it a shot though.

    I think you can always call it 'mead'. More specific than that I don't know in this scenario.

    I think Fleishmann's Bread yeast can go up to 12% but that would be under ideal circumstances. It will depend on brand and circumstances. For a 5 gallon batch, just multiply everything but the yeast. You'll need only 2 pouches of that max as far as I know. As for aging, I made that same recipe and just recently cracked a bottle I had been aging for a year; big improvement from when I bottled it.

    Happy brewing!

  3. #3

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    According to one site, the proper name for mead with fruit and spices is HIPPOCRAS.
    "I said it was good eats, not fast eats."
    -- Alton Brown

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by fivecats View Post
    According to one site, the proper name for mead with fruit and spices is HIPPOCRAS.
    But yes, a mead is still a mead, if it contains other stuff, that just makes it a some obscure subclass of mead...or would that be phylum?
    Bees stole my signature file!

  5. #5
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    I usually get bread yeast to between 10 and 12%, I think some folks have reported higher under really good circumstances.

    Wowbagger's right as far as I'm concerned... "Mead" is a correct term to use for anything where honey is your main fermentable. If you want to apply the other names to them, that is also perfectly valid, and if multiple things apply, you can either pick whichever you think fits better... do you taste it and say, "Wow! Orange!" (call it a melomel) or "Wow! Cloves and Cinnamon!" (call it a metheglyn) or "Wow! Grapes!" (it's a pyment), "Wow, Apples!" (it's a cyser), or just call it "mead".

    I actually dislike the word "melomel", I think it sounds silly and nobody but me remembers what it means anyway, so on my labels, I usually call my fruit meads just that. I do classify them on my log index as mel/mead/meth/wine/JAO/beer/wine kit, for my own tracking purposes so it's faster to count up how many meads or mels or JAO's I've made...

    And I find JAO is drinkable when it clears, but much improved after a couple months.
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "Good grief! If someone wanted to murder you, all they would have to do is ship you a 55 gallon barrel of honey and watch you document working yourself to death!" - Vance G
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014

  6. #6
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    Somebody may correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the starting gravity of a basic JAO is about 1.125. so with that, you should be able to get at least a close approximation of the ABV when it's done.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChadK View Post
    Somebody may correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the starting gravity of a basic JAO is about 1.125. so with that, you should be able to get at least a close approximation of the ABV when it's done.
    Yeah, that's about what I usually get. Sometimes a little higher, I've heard some folks say theirs was as high as 1.135-1.140, but then you're topping off with water after a few days which might bring it down a little...
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "Good grief! If someone wanted to murder you, all they would have to do is ship you a 55 gallon barrel of honey and watch you document working yourself to death!" - Vance G
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014

  8. Default

    It's been quite a while since I've figured out ABV, I usually don't care about it with beer. But if I keep doing mead, I'll have to dust off that portion of my brain.

    Is there a way to tell what the final gravity will be? Other than checking with a hydrometer? What's the final gravity for a "typical" mead?

    Thanks for all the responses.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by gdsmit1 View Post
    Is there a way to tell what the final gravity will be? Other than checking with a hydrometer? What's the final gravity for a "typical" mead?
    Too many factors involved and it starts with which yeast strain you used and your recipe (can the yeast handle that much sugars). All the sugars in honey are fermentable which isn't the case in beer. And even knowing which yeast you use that isn't a guarantee that you'll end where you want it to as it is not uncommon for your yeast to go past the posted limit. The nice think is if it finishes too dry for your taste you can always stabilize and back-sweeten.
    " ...no sense hauling empty carboys around when full ones take up just as much space. " -TheFlyingBeer (on HomeBrewTalk)

  10. Default

    Thanks for the replies.

    I topped off with water last night as directed in the instructions. I checked this morning and it is chugging away, about 1 bubble through the air lock every 10 seconds or so.

    It doesn't seem like there was much foam generated with the initial ferment. I was kind of surprised since the instructions say to leave so much head space. I do have it in the basement where it is cooler. It's about 65F, so that is probably a contributing factor. Will I need to allow more time for the ferment because of the lower temperature?

    I guess when this is finished fermenting, I would bottle it into wine bottles? I know I can bottle into anything, but mead is usually in wine bottles, correct?

  11. #11
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    Probably most of us use wine bottles for the bulk of our bottling, but if you're interested in submitting entries into home meadmaking competitions, most contests like to see 12 oz beer bottles. The Mazer Cup has only recently (in the past 2 years) accepted any bottle type, because now we pour all entries in the blind - behind a curtain - so the judges cannot recognize any distinctive bottle type and correlate it to a particular entry.
    Na zdrowie!

    Wayne B.

  12. Default

    It's been quite a while since I've been around. I just got around to botting my JAO. I did that 1 gallon batch and bottled into 6 EZ-Cap beer bottles. This ended up being very clear, but I stirred up some sediment when moving the jug to the kitchen to bottle it. I tasted the final results and it seems to be a bit on the strong side compared to beer, but I kind of expected that. It has a decent taste, but I doubt I'll be drinking more than one of these bottles at a time.

    Here's a shot of the bottles and the residue. Should I have squeezed the juice from those orange wedges? I don't taste much orange in the final brew.

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