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  1. #1

    Default Uh Oh! 5 Gallon Bucket of Honey - now what?

    Well, all of my mead making equipment is here now and I am ready to make my first serious batch of Mead. (Current have two going, a JMAO and a simple honey and water in a 2 liter batch).

    The first "real" batch will be a 5 gallon batch of straight Honey and Water and Yeast mead.

    My question is - how do I get 15 lbs of Honey out of the 5 gallon bucket it came in and into my fermenter without making a mess? Oops, I didn't think about that when I ordered a bucket. Do I just use a ladle? How do I measure it? I don't have a scale, so I guess I will base the weight on 44 oz per quart?

    Any suggestions will be appreciated.

    Basic recipe will be:

    5 gallons of water.
    15 lbs of Raw Clover Honey
    1 packet of Lalvin D47 Yeast
    2.5 tsp of Yeast Energizer
    5 tsp of Yeast Nutrient

    For my primary fermenter I got a Speidel Plastic Fermenter - 20L (5.3gal) .



  2. #2


    Me and another mead-making friend are going to chip in on a 60lb bucket of honey and I'm thinking about the dispensing/measuring as well after we split it. I have a food scale while I'll use to measure. I would just get one of them. They're cheap.
    Dispensing might get sticky (pun intended). I was just going to carefully try to pour some into containers right before use unless I come across any better suggestions.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Between Jackson and Detroit


    Helps to have a couple of lids like the following to help pour it out slowly...

    Or a bucket with a honey gate on it, so you could transfer it all over to the bucket with
    the gate in it...

    Otherwise, yes with a large handled cup or laddel, and you will end up making something of a mess...
    Bees stole my signature file!

  4. #4


    Bucket with a honey gate looks like the winner! I ordered one tonight!



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    UK - South Coast.


    Ah, well see I also often have to deal with those sort of sized quantities.

    Buckets with special lids or "honey gates" etc are an unnecessary luxury.

    I just use a digital kitchen scale that can be zero'd with the measuring receptacle, and a glass jug/plastic scraper arrangement.

    Little mess, easily sanitised, accurate, etc etc....

    Frnic should think on what the weather can get like there. D47 is a good white wine yeast, but with honey musts, it's been found to make fusels easily if fermented at over about 70F/21C with honey musts.

    There are plenty of alternatives that have a good track record with meads. K1-V1116 where fermentation temperatures might be a possible issue, or 71B as long as the maker monitors the ferment correctly and gets the finished ferment off the gross lees within about 6 weeks to 2 months of completion.

    I'm also a big fan of D21 for traditionals. It does have similar properties to K1V, but needs a little more nutrient/energiser and doesn't have quite the temp range but does produce a slightly more "rounded" flavour IMO.

    The fermenter linked in the first post will do the job, even though it's more of a beer type fermenter, plus given the quoted quantities it won't be quite big enough for the water and honey as quoted.

    A 30(ish) litre bucket might be a better bet. as it will allow for all the ingredients, plus give some room for any foaming that can occur, especially during the earlier stages of the ferment, plus a wide bucket lid will allow for aeration easily and a larger surface area should any foaming get a bit much. The large surface area is less of an issue with meads, as they don't oxidise like beers do/can, and any airspace will fill with CO2 from the ferment anyway.
    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.....

  6. #6


    Thank you very much for your comments!!!

    First, I chose the yeast (D47) specifically for the temperature range published on their site - it was one of the highest. I guess that would be for wine and not mead must - sigh... (EDITED: WOW I just checked their site and it is one of the lowest temperature ranges. I don't know where I saw what I thought I saw, but I was obviously not up in my sleep. Thank you so much for catching that mistake!)

    I will certainly take your advice and look into using D21, K1-V1116 or 71B instead. Our temperature range here (inside) will run 72 to 74 degrees f during fermentation and aging. Of the three which would you recommend for a noob? (I will be monitoring it closely and racking it off the primary after about a week or two - when it slows down noticeably. Then I will rack it off the secondary lees as soon as the secondary fermentation slows or stops - SG not changing for a week or two).

    Second, my recipe was incorrect, I am trying for a moderately sweet to sweet simple mead. I will use 15 lbs of honey with enough water to make a 5 gallon batch. Is 3lbs per gallon about right with those yeasts for a sweet mead?

    Sorry for the incorrect recipe.

    So, the fermenter with a 20L (5.28 Gallon) capacity should be okay?? That will leave only about a quart headroom during primary fermentation.

    I was/am debating getting a 5 gallon bucket for primary fermenter and only about 4.8 gallon batch to start, then after racking to my secondary fermenter (probably the Speidel) adding water to increase the volume to 5 gallons.

    Is that a bad idea?

    I could scale the batch size down to 4.5 gallons to start and leave it there if that would work better.

    Thanks again, I appreciate the help.

    Last edited by Frnic; 05-04-2013 at 08:37 AM.

  7. #7


    You may have been looking at the table on since it seems to have the incorrect temperature range for D47. Last night I saw that chart and was confused since it contradicted other things I had read.


  8. #8


    I bet you are right, that is probably where I saw it. I will let the moderator know there is a problem there. According to Lalvin's website it should be 15 to 20 degrees C - which if I converted it right is 59 to 68 F - seems awfully low!


    Last edited by Frnic; 05-04-2013 at 05:22 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    UK - South Coast.


    You seem to be thinking along the lines of beer making Frank.

    If you mix up the batch to allow for 3lb "in the gallon", that's a good starting point.

    If you took a yeast that will do 14%, presuming that you like a medium level sweet mead, you'd want to have a final gravity of say about 1.010 which would mean that you'd need a starting gravity of 1.114, because a drop of 104 points equates directly to 14.1% ABV - now that is doable, as a start at that level is reasonably easily manageable, but if you chose a yeast that will do 16% or 18% you start to look toward fermentation issues straight away.

    Now it's usually easier to start lower if possible, so a correctly managed must for 14% could easily start at 1.094 with a final at 0.990, which still gives a 104 drop so the 14.1% mentioned above - it makes for a relatively straight forward ferment

    So you'd work on that basis to calculate the nutrient levels for that (read the NewBee guide if you haven't already as there's lots of tips for easy fermentation management there as well as doing forum searches).

    Hence you can make any yeast, make a batch which is as sweet or dry as you want, but the more sugars at the start, the harder the yeast has to work. Which is why it's often recommended to start a bit lower.

    Even for a yeast that will go to 18%, you can still start lower and either work out the total honey requirement with the mead calculator, so that you know (roughly) how much honey you'll need to get a batch of a certain size up to the level you want, or you can just start at a sensible level and then add honey in increments later on. As long as the yeast have enough nutrition via energiser and nutrient (or if using only one type, then the one commonly called energiser, which is a tan/beige coloured powder usually is the one to go for). Adding more honey later on while the ferment is going, is known as "step feeding".

    You can even just start lower, then keep step feeding until the yeast dies. Don't forget, the published tolerance numbers for a yeast are only a guide with meads, the data is derived from grape musts as far as I'm aware. Yeast is a living organism, so you can't just tell it where you want it too stop - many people have produced batches that appear to have exceeded the published numbers by 1% or so

    The technique I generally use is to make a batch to between the 12 and 14% mark, ferment it dry, then rack it off the lees to secondary, hit it with stabilising chems (sulphite followed by sorbate), then back sweeten it to about the 1.010 mark (which is where I like my meads i.e. that's sweet enough for me). You may also read about the possible problem where sweetening a batch with honey, can cause a haze in a cleared batch. That is a protein haze AFAIK, and because it can be a pain to have to clear a batch twice, well that's why I sweeten at that stage, so I only have to clear a batch once - which also helps to reduce production loses.

    Before I forget, also either get some pH test strips for the 2.8 to 4.4 range or a cheap pH test meter (a pocket one is usually cheap enough) and some potassium carbonate. If you mixed honey and water to about the 3lb in the gallon level, you will find that it will often give you a pH reading in the mid 3's, which is the ideal level for wine yeasts. Meads are funny beasts, especially traditionals. The pH can swing quite a bit and if it dropped below about 3.0 it can cause a stuck ferment - which is where the potassium carbonate comes in, as it will raise the pH. Also, if you read up about early stage aeration i.e. stirring or blitzing the must with a spoon or even a stick blender, once or twice a day generally (if you did a search you can even read about people bubbling pure oxygen through a must, using a stainless steel airstone - which is a bit over the top for my liking). This is for yeast development, but it also has a beneficial side effect whereby it disturbs the ferment so that CO2 bubbles come out of solution. The dissolved CO2 is also known as "carbonic acid", the disturbing of that helps toward preventing the pH dropping too low as well. It's wise to know that, because if you followed a staggered nutrient regime, where you'd load most of that into the must after the lag phase, when it comes to adding the last of the nutrients etc, by just putting the powder straight in can cause a mead fountain - which is part of what I was driving at with that fermenter. A 5 gallon/19 litre batch doesn't leave much head room for foam - glass fermenters are even worse as the shape of them creates a jet and you can often read of quite spectacular mead eruptions/fountains.

    Right, it's getting late and I can't think of anything further for the moment.
    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.....

  10. #10



    I found another possible source for that D47 temperature inconsistencies. In "The Compleat Meadmaker", it claims that D47 is 50-86 degrees as well.


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