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Thread: The beginning of my mead story.

  1. Default The beginning of my mead story.

    Hello Got Mead community.

    I just started up an account here as I have recently gotten interested in learning to create my own mead. I went out and got a wine starter kit, read the newbie guide up, down and sideways. Now I have assembled my ingredients and I would like some advice on a couple of things if you guys would be willing. Just let me know if I am missing anything important or have the wrong idea about anything.

    My Recipie.

    I am trying to make something similar to the show mead shown in the newbee guide. However I have some slight changes in mind. First is I want to start by making a 1 gallon batch, in case I screw up somewhere. Secondly, when I went to the wine shop, the store owner does not stock Lalvin RC212.
    I plan to re-sweeten this batch after the fermentation is done, to taste as i have no clue how sweet a certain specific gravity is.

    So here it is, according to the mead caulculator.
    1 package Lalvin EC-1118
    2.5 Pounds Honey
    1 teaspoon Yeast Nutrient (no brand on package)
    Water to balance 1 gallon


    The Yeast

    The owner was surprised that I was suggested that. He recommended Lalvin EC-1118 as it was more hardy and his customers have had good results with making mead from it. Seeing as they didn't have my intended yeast I went with it. According to what I found in the newbie guide it has an alcohol tolerance of 18%, so I assume I will need to now closely watch my sugar so that the %AV doesn't get away on me. So I settled on 2.5 pounds, but I will also be watching the hydrometer to try to get as close to 1.09 as possible as I think that will be a better indicator.

    The Honey

    The honey I plan on using has a story. It has been sitting in my grandmother basement for a LONG time (At least 10 years, at most 19) in a plastic pail that has never been opened or disturbed until now. My grandmother used to get a pail from the local bee keeper every year for letting him put hives on her fields. I opened it up and took a look at it and it smells amazing, and tastes great. Very white and it hasn't even crystallized after all this time, just got a little creamy and can be stirred with some effort, but not much. I have no clue what kind it is, but my knowledge of the area tells me it is most likely primarily Alfalfa an has a very nice white color to reaffirm my belief. The only thing about it that it has a very syrupy darker brown honey on top of it has has not settled or "creamed" at all. Is that a good sign or a bad sign? I tasted the syrup and it is delicious. The honey has been sitting awhile so I am not sure if I should boil, pasteurize, add a campden tablet before I add the yeast, or just leave it as is. I would post pictures but this forum isn't letting me upload.

    The Water

    The water is well water from my grandmothers farm, run through a tap mounted brita water filter. I have not treated it in any way or form just stuck it in some plastic pepsi bottles. Should I do anything with it from here?

    The Chemicals

    Sterilant - Sodium Metabisulphite

    Chlorinated Cleaner - "contains" Chlorinated Trisodium Phosphate

    Campden Tablets - Sodium Metabisulphite

    Do I need any other chemicals? I hear a lot here that adding a campden tablet alone is not enough to prevent a re-ferment aster bottleing and that I should use sorbate as well. I also hear a lot of people swear by adding oak to the recipie or "oaking", can this be done in the secondary ferment, what kind of oak would be best for me and how important is it?

  2. #2
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    Default

    Honey ? Fine, but you'll need between 3 and 4 pounds per gallon. Add it a bit at a time and take a reading in between (start with 2lb). Make sure its settled with no bubbles as they effect readings.

    Water ? Well water that's been filtered should be fine.

    The yeast ? Well I personally wouldn't use a champagne yeast as it tends to blow too much of the aromatics and some of the more subtle flavourings straight out the air lock. A better one too start would be K1V-1116.

    It should also be pointed out that show meads can be long and problematic. It's more likely that you should get some fermaidk, fermax or similar and focus on a "traditional" batch for your first attempt to be successful/painless.......
    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.....

  3. #3
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    Default

    Double post - content removed.
    Last edited by fatbloke; 06-13-2012 at 03:58 AM. Reason: double post.....
    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.....

  4. #4
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    Default

    Oh, and campden tablets are either sodium or potassium sulphite.

    For an easy finished gravity, I'd suggest about 1.010 for a medium.

    or ferment dry and back sweeten to that level.
    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.....

  5. Default

    won't 4 pounds of honey produce around an 18%ABV? at least according to the mead calculator here, or maybe I am using it wrong, not sure. I only really want a 12% ABV mead if I can manage it.

    Also, what is what is the difference between a traditional mead and a show mead?

    Is fermaid or fermax a yeast nutrient? I don't know what brand I have, but I do have a yeast nutrient, the brewing store i got it from repackaged it into smaller containers.

    Anyone want to comment on oaking or weather or not I need sorbates to stop fermentation?

    I also found a way to post a picture of my honey, I am very curious if anyone can tell me why it has split into a darker brown syrup on the top, and creamy white honey on the bottom.


  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shard View Post
    won't 4 pounds of honey produce around an 18%ABV? at least according to the mead calculator here, or maybe I am using it wrong, not sure. I only really want a 12% ABV mead if I can manage it.
    4 lbs per gallon will produce ~18% abv, 3.5 lbs produces ~16% and 3 lbs ~14%. This is if you take it dry and back-sweeten to taste and amount can produce a 12% Mead if you halt it in time leaving residual sugar in what could be large amounts.


    Quote Originally Posted by Shard View Post
    Also, what is what is the difference between a traditional mead and a show mead?
    A show mead is Honey, water and yeast. Nothing else no nutrients no nothing. a traditional allows the use of nutrients.


    Quote Originally Posted by Shard View Post
    Is fermaid or fermax a yeast nutrient? I don't know what brand I have, but I do have a yeast nutrient, the brewing store i got it from repackaged it into smaller containers.
    Fermaid K and Fermaid O are yeast nutrient/energizer, Fermaid K contains DAP which is an essential nutrient and I don't believe Fermaid O contains any. I'm not familiar with Fermax, sounds like a nutrient/energizer though

    Quote Originally Posted by Shard View Post
    Anyone want to comment on oaking or weather or not I need sorbates to stop fermentation?
    Oaking is a personal preference, I oak some meads and I don't oak others. It can add complexity to the mead which is nice, but I think that sometimes it competes against the ingredients that you put in the mead. So like I said it's a personal choice.

    Sorbates and sulfites are needed to stop fermentation.
    " ...no sense hauling empty carboys around when full ones take up just as much space. " -TheFlyingBeer (on HomeBrewTalk)

  7. #7

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    Welcome to GOTMEAD.

    A show mead is water, honey and yeast only, where as a traditional has nutrients added to it. There is a glossary link on the top row of the page that can help with defining things for you.

    Yeast nutrients usually refer to nitrogen such as DAP and yeast energizer has micro nutrients which include a small amount of nitrogen. These are used in combination along with daily aerating up until the 1/3 sugar break.

    Oaking is used frequently to produce a mellowing effect and provide a bit of perceived sweetness and add more dimension to the flavor profile.

    As far as stopping fermentation I would recommend using only enough honey to get you to the desired 12% ABV. The fermentation will stop on it's own when the sugar is gone. Then, as Fatbloke said, you can stabilize with metabisulphate and sorbate (you need both) so fermentation will not re-start, and backsweeten with more honey to get you to the desired sweetness.

    I hope that gets you pointed in the right direction.
    All the world's a nail to a child with a hammer.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shard View Post
    I also found a way to post a picture of my honey, I am very curious if anyone can tell me why it has split into a darker brown syrup on the top, and creamy white honey on the bottom.

    all thats happened is the lighter honey has floated to the top. it will naturally do that especially if liquid/warm. will do it when cold but it takes longer. one of the reasons people cream/set honey as it helps stop the mixture from separating during storage.
    if its was creamed/set honey then its gotten to hot and its reverted back.

    one plus tho.....just drain/scrape off the dark top honey and you will have very pure white honey.

  9. Default

    So, just put my first traditional mead into the carboy. First I cleaned everything with a good soak in the chlorinated cleanser and brushed the inside of the carboy, then I rinsed it with water followed by sterilizer and set it on a dry rack to dry out (a different article I read said Sodium Metabisulphite worked best if mixed in cold water and left to dry at room temperature). I warmed the water by placing the bottles into a sink of hot water. This got the temperature to about 40 C and started re hydrating the EC-1118 yeast in a half a cup of water. Then mixed water and honey until I got the hydrometer to 1.09. Next I pitched in the re hydrated yeast and stirred the whole thing up. After it was good and mixed in, and smelling quite yeasty, I siphoned the mixture into the 1 gallon carboy (wish I had picked up a funnel as was recommended in the newbee guide). After the carboy was full (or mostly full) I stuck the fermentation lock and bung in and set it in a spot I cleaned out in the cupboard. Here is a picture of the result.



    After I took this picture, I noticed a slight foam appeared on the top of the liquid. Shortly after it disappeared and now the fermentation lock is bubbling nicely. Any suggestions on how often I should check the SG and when i should replenish the oxygen? I think most people say around 1/2 sugar break, but not after 1/3 sugar break? Will taking the lock off and giving it a good shake be sufficient?

  10. #10
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    Cool

    The usual recommendation is either once or twice a day (i do once a day, after checking the gravity). Using a bung to replace the airlock, will get the dissolved CO2 out, but not let air/O2 in, which is why I sanitise a liquidiser, take about a pint out and while its blitzing, use a sanitised stirrer to shift the dissolved CO2 out of the main body of liquid, then pour the aerated pint back in.

    And no, I've not had any infections or the like.

    As for nutrients etc, I work out roughly how much I'll need, then that weight is made up of 2 parts energiser 1 part pure DAP. I mix it up then split into 2 equal parts. One half goes in once fermentation has started, then the other half goes in after aeration at the 1/3rd break, when I then airlock it off and leave it to finish.

    Energiser is usually a tan coloured powder and nutrient/DAP is white crystals.

    Fermaidk has inorganic nitrogen in it, whereas FermaidO has organic nitrogen. And to confuse matters further, GoFerm has no DAP/nitrogen in it and is used for rehydrating the yeast only.

    If you have to choose, I'd say go for Fermaidk as its complete and will work on its own.
    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.....

  11. Default

    Decided to aerate it and give it a shake. Took the lock off, covered the hole in the bung and gave it a good shake, the aeration section mentioned 3 to 5 min but I barely could shake it for 15 seconds before the pressure built up and some foamed out of the top. Anything I did wrong there?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shard View Post
    Decided to aerate it and give it a shake. Took the lock off, covered the hole in the bung and gave it a good shake, the aeration section mentioned 3 to 5 min but I barely could shake it for 15 seconds before the pressure built up and some foamed out of the top. Anything I did wrong there?
    No, see above for an alternative method, to help stop you struggling with the weight and the foaming issue.

    Even using a stirrer can cause it to foam up, but either start the stirring gently and speed up, or just make a 1 gallon batch in a 2 gallon bucket, which allows for foam expansion room (when I use a bucket, I just use a sanitised stick blender to mix/whizz/aerate/de-gas).
    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.....

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by TAKeyser View Post
    I'm not familiar with Fermax, sounds like a nutrient/energizer though.
    Fermax is diammonium phosphate, dipotassium phosphate, magnesium sulfate, autolyzed yeast.
    "The single biggest threat to our planet is the destruction of habitat and along the way the loss of precious wildlife. We need to reach a balance where people, habitat and wildlife can co-exist -- if we don't, everyone loses...one day...Since when has killing a wild animal, eating it or wearing it, ever saved a species?" - Stephen Robert Irwin (1962 - 2006)

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