Good afternoon all,
I am new to mead making, and in the midst of making my first batch. I have two local mentors that take a very casual approach to making mead, but gave me the motivation to give it a shot myself and see how I could do. I am also getting into raising and keeping bees starting this year, so I figured what better way to use my soon-to-be honey stores than by making mead!!! Prior to getting started, I purchased and read The Compleat Meadmaker by Ken Schramm and watched a number of YouTube videos on the subject to get a good idea for the process. Once I acquired some local honey from a fellow beekeeper for a discounted rate (for a share in the mead), I got started.
I sanitized all of the equipment to be used for cooking and mead preparation, then got started. Following the recipe and instructions in the Compleat Meadmaker, I boiled my water, added my nutrient and energizer, then added my honey. I kept the temperature at approximately 160F for at least 10 minutes, then chilled my must by adding it to my 5 gallon glass carboy with the appropriate amount of chilled bottled water. Once my must cooled down to approximately 80F, I added my rehydrated yeast (following instructions for rehydration by the letter), then oxygenated the must using a mixer attached to my power drill. After taking a small amount out and measuring readings with my hydrometer, I capped the carboy and added my airlock, then waited for things to start happening.
My mead began bubbling extremely well within 4-6 hours, and continued to have good fermentation with a rollilng bubble for approximately 2-3 weeks. It began to nearly slack off completely by 4 weeks, but it still has a small amount of fermentation by observing bubbles still rising up through the must. The spent yeast has continued to settle down to the bottom of the carboy and my mead appears to be clearing up fairly nicely.
Today, I went through the process of transferring my mead to a secondary fermenter, which is a slightly larger 6 gallon glass carboy. I used sanitized equipment for this process and avoided adding the spent yeast (which was not solid, but more of a sludgy liquid) using my racking cane. I remeasured the specific gravity using my hydrometer today and took a taste to see how things were going. This is where my question(s) come into play...
Before going any further, here are the exact ingredients that I used to make this preparation:
- 17 lb wild honey from local source
- Approx. 3.5-4 gallons Abita Springs bottled water (to fill an entire 5 gallon glass carboy)
- 1 tsp. "LD Carlson" brand Yeast Energizer
- 2 tsp. "LD Carlson" brand Yeast Nutrient
- 2 packets (10 grams) Red Star Premier Blanc Active Dry Yeast
Here is my initial specific gravity and transfer date (today) specific gravity:
- Initial specific gravity on production day: 1.106
- Transfer specific gravity - 34 days old: 1.052
From what I have read, I should have expected my specific gravity to drop at least 0.100 in order to show that I had good fermentation. Here are the questions I would love to hear some guidance/feedback on:
1) Will my specific gravity continue to fall as I let my mead sit in the secondary fermenter for the next 4-5 months until I plan to bottle?
2) Did moving my yeast from the primary fermenter and spent yeast inhibit any further fermentation and development of my mead?
3) Should I add a yeast nutrient or yeast energizer to my 1 month old mead to rekick my fermentation into production drive my specific gravity lower?
4) Have I completely screwed things up and give up mead making to the vikings (HA)?
I was pleasantly surprised that it tasted fairly good when we sampled the small portion that was set aside for my measurements. It was definitely sweet, which may have been because I got a little overzealous by adding in so much honey. My wife said it sort of tasted like sparkling apple juice that went flat. It was certainly not undrinkable and had a fairly good odor, although it definitely smelled "spirity" and you could tell it had a little burn going down.
Any guidance/feedback you guys and gals could give would be hugely appreciated. I am excited to get my next batch going as this one continues to mature, but I want to make sure I am on the right track before I double down on poor habits or practices.
I would need a long dissertation to answer all those questions and to comment on what I think from what You wrote.
But first there are two approaches: 1) the pitch, and ignore method where you can't drink for a year; 2) the meticulous method is that lets you drink in a few months.
It seems your friends have pointed you to the pitch and leave method which is fine if you don't mind waiting a year to drink.
Personally that does not work for me.
So before ANY questions can be answered which approach do you want?
If you want the meticulous method I recommend:
1) watch the full 9 week meadology series on YouTube
2) hydrometer! Hydrometer! Hydrometer! You can't check your SG too much
3) Staggered nutrient addition
4) use more organic than inorganic nutrients
Thanks for the recommendation to watch meadology. I am going to watch episode 1 tonight. I would definitely prefer to have something drinkable in about 4-6 months if possible, so I suppose that puts me in the meticulous category!
And yes, I am down in La. I live on the Northshore and don't trust the tap when making something I am going to be drinking! Ha
Ever thought of making an identical test batch (1 gallon or less) to compare how abita and kentwood compare as water base?
If I still lived down there I would have done it already.