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Thread: A few questions about my first batch!

  1. #1
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    Default A few questions about my first batch!

    Alright, so I plan on making a 5gal batch of delicious sweet (but not too sweet) mead for the first time. Very exciting!!! I have been researching for weeks and even read the "Compleat Guide" twice. I am a trial by fire person, so I made my own recipe to try (it's still got some kinks), and if it does not turn out well, then I will start with a tried and true recipe; I am stubborn, so please don't try to convince me that I should use a recipe that is fool proof, if this one is a no go then I'll dumb it down.
    I have had meads, several comercial sweet types and two homebrews from a friend in PA. When I was about 15-16 I helped my grandpa make some fruit wine (for those of you who know your rare fruits it was sugar apple and it was great) but nothing since then. Before I go too far here is my recipe:
    14lbs* honey (1.107-1.108 SG)
    Water to five gallons
    Yeast*
    4g DAP
    5g Fermaid K
    FG: 1.009-1.010
    I plan on adding 1g of DAP per day with aeration, and 2.5g Fermaid on the first day and 2.5g at the 1/3 sugar level.
    The * is part of my main issue. I wanted to use D-47, which means I need about 14lbs 14oz; but, I here it is picky about the temp. I live in orlando and it gets hot, I will be using a closet with a fan but the space won't go below 72, the high seems to be 75. From what I've read the D-47 will give some very funky flavors at that range, so I thought D21 might be good.
    I want to keep the abv around 14%, a little off is fine but I don't want 18%. I know that I might have to change the honey amount if the alcohol tolerance is changed, and I am prepared to do so, but I want to keep th FG in that range.
    I plan to use a small amount of heavy toast French oak in the ferment (~0.5oz) to give some complexity and some tannin, and rack it for bulk aging of about 6 months. I don't think this is a new recipe, but I think it is better to go about it in terms of OG, FG, and potential abv than pounds of honey.
    Any comments or advice ie: nutrient levels, yeast choice, etc. are welcome.
    Thanks for the help!

  2. #2

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    Welcome to Gotmead, Bob!

    A good rule of thumb is about 3 pounds per gallon, so pop another in there and you should be good.
    Other recommendations would be look up Staggered Nutrient Additions on here for some more info about your schedule of nutrients and so you can be confident of the amounts used. I personally go for a modified version of Hightest's but thats just me, there are whole bunch of different ways.
    With the temp issue, I'd say go for K1V. This yeast is a workhorse but it will preserve honey character too. It will take it dry, but that should get you to your 14% and then you can just backsweeten.
    Hope that helps a little, I'm sure someone more experienced can give you some better advice!
    Good luck!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cpt.Frederickson View Post
    Welcome to Gotmead, Bob!

    A good rule of thumb is about 3 pounds per gallon, so pop another in there and you should be good.
    Other recommendations would be look up Staggered Nutrient Additions on here for some more info about your schedule of nutrients and so you can be confident of the amounts used. I personally go for a modified version of Hightest's but thats just me, there are whole bunch of different ways.
    With the temp issue, I'd say go for K1V. This yeast is a workhorse but it will preserve honey character too. It will take it dry, but that should get you to your 14% and then you can just backsweeten.
    Hope that helps a little, I'm sure someone more experienced can give you some better advice!
    Good luck!
    Concur with most of that. Either D21 or K1V should be fine with the temp the OP mentioned.

    I usually ferment dry, stabilise, then back sweeten to the desired level. If back sweetening with honey, I like to sweeten it before it clears, as honey can cause a protein haze. It's a lot less hassle to only have to clear it once.
    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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    Thanks for the help guys.
    I am leaning toward using the SG system instead of weight because I think it is more accurate and I want to get into the habit. Any preference between K1V an D21?
    If I do back sweeten would I use sulfite to stop fermentation completely? Or could I use a higher abv yeast and stop it using sulfite at about 14% abv?
    I also forgot to mention acid: is there a preference toward using a blend, malic, tartaric, or citric? I am not sure if I'll need it, but if the flavor and balance need it is there one that is prefered for its added flavor?

  5. #5
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    Okay, I did some more SNA research. Looks like 2g of DAP a day with aeration for four days is the most recomended. I still want to do 2-2.5g Fermaid K on the first day and another 2-2.5g at around the 1/3 sugar break: Ken Shramm's reasoning is very sound in that respect.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob1016 View Post
    Okay, I did some more SNA research. Looks like 2g of DAP a day with aeration for four days is the most recomended. I still want to do 2-2.5g Fermaid K on the first day and another 2-2.5g at around the 1/3 sugar break: Ken Shramm's reasoning is very sound in that respect.
    Well, you seem to have a grasp on that.

    As for stabilising ? You would use both, sulphite then sorbate. The first stuns the yeast, the second stops it multiplying. A knock out blow.

    You would normally then hit the batch with sulphites (campden tablets) every alternate racking as its an anti-oxiden, and anti-fungal as well.

    As for acids, yes to taste before bottling. I don't like to use citric, as it can give a citrussy tang, to something that doesn't contain any citrus fruit. I've found the mix suggested by Ashton & Duncan in their "Making Mead" book to be good i.e. 2 parts malic, 1 part tartaric.

    The same applies to tannins.....
    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.....

  7. #7

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    What Kind of off flavors are we talking about? I have been in a recent heat wave and when i tried my first batch after racking it had a very Harsh alcohol flavor. I assumed this was from it only aging a month. But I had never thought it could be the heat.

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    Once.Roman- from what I've read, some yeasts are a bit picky when it comes to temp, usually if too high they will produce higher alcohols that are very harsh and even dangerous. If too low you get stuck ferment, I'd rather be too low than too high but I live in Florida so that's not an option.
    fatbloke- I was hoping to avoid adding a ton of sulphite to my mead, I've had a side by side of wine with and without sulphite, and they taste similar but the one without was a little less flat, more complex, but it might have been a fluke. Could you cold shock the yeast, then add campden tablets?

  9. #9

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    Good to know. I will be switching out yeast for the next few months.

  10. #10

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    I live in Central Florida not too far from you Bob1016 and have use d47 more than any other yeast in my limited home brewing experience and all you need is a swamp cooler to keep the ferm temp between 65*-70*F.
    And not sure what you mean by a 'ton' of sulfite, it's really a very small addition, hope you haven't been adding too much...
    Last edited by hepcat; 06-25-2012 at 11:54 PM.

  11. #11
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    hepcat- out of curiosity did you get your supplies over at hearts or online. I have been thinking about putting my primary in a cooler with a water bath and maybe some ice. What do you do? Is it consistent at around 66-72F? This will be my first batch in years (first mead ever) so I have almost no sulphite experience, just a bunch of questions.

  12. #12
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    Sorry I missed your temp range so I guess you already answered my question. What size primary do you use?

  13. #13

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    I'm on the Space Coast and have gotten most of my gear and ingredients from a local LHBS in Melbourne, Brock's Home Brew Supply.
    But I've also been to a good one in Winter Springs and the name escapes me right now. They're on that main highway that, from hwy 50, goes through Oveido and takes you into Wtr Spgs. It's on your right as you head west/north on that hwy in the heart of Wtr Spgs. It's a small place in a strip-type shopping center and the sign out front above the door just says WINE SHOP, in case you want to check them out. They were very nice to deal with. And I'm pretty sure there is a big LHBS in Orlando too but haven't been to it.
    And I have one 6.5 gallon ale bucket and a couple more 5 gallon food-grade buckets from Lowe's that I use.
    And you said: "...thinking about putting my primary in a cooler with a water bath and maybe some ice."
    That's pretty much what I do. Get some small P.E.T.(plastic) water bottles and freeze those, they melt pretty quick but do a good job keeping the water bath cool. I got one of those big party beer tubs from Lowes that I use but if you have a cooler big enough for your primary vessel that'll work.
    Last edited by hepcat; 06-26-2012 at 11:59 AM.

  14. #14
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    Yeah the big one in Orlando is Hearts. Maybe I freeze some salt water (its colder) to surround it, hopefully I can keep it down. I think I'll still use the D21 this time around and if the ferment is able to stay cool enough, D47 next time.

  15. #15

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    I was at the brew store today, and i wasn't able to find D-21 yeast. I looked at the yeast table and didn't see it as well. Is this a Lalvin yeast?

    Also If you do have a mead that has more of a high alcohol flavor going on, what do you do? Toss the batch? let it age longer?

    Thanks

  16. #16
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    Lalvin d21 is normally only sold in 500g batches, however morewine has smaller 8g packets for sale.
    As far as higher alcohols go, I've tasted a homemade wine with a lot of higher alcohols in it and it was terrible, I tried the same batch a year later and it was still very harsh, but I didn't want to vomit so that's a plus. I would assume that you could age them out as long as there aren't too many, but I don't have much experience with it.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Once.Roman View Post
    Also If you do have a mead that has more of a high alcohol flavor going on, what do you do? Toss the batch? let it age longer?
    Often the harsher alcohols will break down into more mellow ones given a year or two.
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "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
    "I tend to....um, er, experiment, and go outside the box. Sometimes outside the whole department store." - Ebonhawk, 2014

  18. Default

    I've wrapped a wet towel around a carboy to keep it cool. To keep the towel wet I submerged the carboy into ~6 inches of water which would tend to wick up the towel. Then let a fan blow air on it. This should keep your fermenting mead several degrees cooler than the rest of the house on those hot days. Just be sure to keep the water level up.

  19. #19
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    A few adjustments:
    14lbs honey: 12lb palm, 2lb wildflower (I love the mix on a spoon more than either by itself, so why not?)
    Water
    Lalvin D-21 (8g)
    Go-Ferm Protect (10g) (apparently morewine stopped carrying regular goferm)
    Potassium Carbonate (5g) (pH buffering)
    Fermaid K (2g first sign of ferment, 2.5-3g at 1/3 break)
    DAP (2g each day at first sign of ferment, until five days or 1/3 break)
    K-sorbate (2.5tsp)
    K-meta (5 tablets) (campden not sodium)
    0.5oz heavy toast French oak cubes* (in ferment)
    Honey

    * they were free so why not? The small amount is beacause I don't want an "oaky" mead, I just want the tannins and structure.

    Morewine rehydration method with partial must included. Must made to 5 gallons with potassium carbonate added. Oak added in bag, SNA as listed. Allow to ferment to dryness (0.995-0.99 SG). Cooled to 40F for two weeks (or as close as possible), dosed with K-meta and K-sorbate. Aged for >4 months, then bottle in blue hock bottles, labels from FedEx, corked with grade 3 corks.

    Any issues? I know it reads a little more technical than most first attempts, but best to start with good habits opposed to bad; I hope?!

  20. #20
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    Oops, forgot:
    Acid to taste prior to stabilization.
    Sweetened with extra wild flower honey to taste
    Quick question though, should I stabilize and sweeten prior to bulk aging or after, then age a little more for clarity?

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