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Thread: First attempt at mead

  1. #1

    Default First attempt at mead

    A couple months ago I tried a batch of hard cider for my first attempt at creating alcohol. Success and the wife's headache this morning proves it!

    Now for mead. Two one gallon batches. Each batch identical.

    1 gallon bottled water
    4 pounds locally cultivated clover honey
    1 packet D47
    1.5 tablespoons of raisins
    1.150 sugar level

    24 hours later the are both sitting in 67 degrees and just starting to bubble slowly. Excited. I love honey.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by mooreshawnm View Post
    A couple months ago I tried a batch of hard cider for my first attempt at creating alcohol. Success and the wife's headache this morning proves it!

    Now for mead. Two one gallon batches. Each batch identical.

    1 gallon bottled water
    4 pounds locally cultivated clover honey
    1 packet D47
    1.5 tablespoons of raisins
    1.150 sugar level

    24 hours later the are both sitting in 67 degrees and just starting to bubble slowly. Excited. I love honey.
    I see 2 potential problems
    1) I don't think the honey will have enough nutrients. Even if you increased the raisins, I am uncertain that will be enough. Do you have any fermaid-k or O?
    2) I don't use that yeast but it may not be able to tolerate a SG that high. If not it might stall

    Do you want a super sweet and high ABV? That is what you wil get if it doesn't stall.

    I assuming you are stirring daily?

  3. #3

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    Careful about the headaches. Unless you drank a whole lot of cider that could be a sign of fusel alcohol, which is a defect.
    Those batches of mead have a way too high SG (specific gravity) or sugar level as you call it. dumping yeast into such a high sugar must will stress and damage a lot of yeast. They will probably poop out before the ferment has finished. Attempting a high gravity/sugar level mead is quite advanced and I'd have to write a LOT to take you through the paces. I'd suggest trying something milder for now.
    You should probably try aerating your must, although you should have ideally done this earlier. I'd try shacking or rocking the carboys to introduce air. This is something you only do at the start of ferment.
    D47 is a very finnicky yeast temperature-wise. You have to be careful to maintain temps within its range or fusels or sulfur aromas will occur. I bough my first pack of D47 to try it out only after I built a temp-controlled fermentation chamber. You can manage without temp control but be careful.
    You need an additional source of nutrient. The most commonly used are Fermaid O or Fermaid K (best in my opinion), fermax (had good success with this myself), or dap (worst option in my opinion). If you buy a generic yeast energizer you're probably buying dap... if you're lucky it might have a little bit of something else as well.

    Having said all this you will probably end up with a stalled ferment in the end no matter what you do. In this case I would start another batch at low sugar level and slowly feed in these stalled batches (probably towards the middle of the ferment) to both raise the alcohol level and to create an environment where this stalled ferment can be digested by yeast. Restarting a stalled ferment as it is can be difficult because the already present alcohol would be too challenging for newly awakened yeast.
    I wish you had posted before you attempted this mead. I suggest reading the newbee guide found in a tab at the top of the page as a good starting point
    "Shouldn’t we say wine is a mead-like beverage made with grapes substituted for the honey?" - Steve Piatz

  4. #4

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    You need to feed that yeast (Raisins are not nutrients) and control your temps around 64 or so. Otherwise you won't be able to drink that for years.

    Where did you get the idea that raisins are nutrients?

    How did you rehydrate your yeast.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  5. #5

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    Warm water for rehydration.

    High alcohol and sweet is preferred.

    I can switch to more aggressive yeast if needed although I'd rather not.

    Wife really didn't have a headache but was certainly feeling the remaining half gallon of cider.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    You need to feed that yeast (Raisins are not nutrients) and control your temps around 64 or so. Otherwise you won't be able to drink that for years.

    Where did you get the idea that raisins are nutrients?

    How did you rehydrate your yeast.
    First high gravity batch I tried took two years for the defects to fade. This was with a sturdier yeast, tronozymol nutrient and plenty of aeration. Granted, after those 2 years it was the best batch I ever made, mainly because I don't age anything for 2 years anymore. I can't imagine how long this would take.. perhaps some defects would never age out
    "Shouldn’t we say wine is a mead-like beverage made with grapes substituted for the honey?" - Steve Piatz

  7. #7

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    I have heard some faults never go away. Every day I see people thinking raisins are nutrients. I found a page that will show tomorrow there is zero nitrogen in a raisin.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    I have heard some faults never go away. Every day I see people thinking raisins are nutrients. I found a page that will show tomorrow there is zero nitrogen in a raisin.
    The nutritional info on a box of raisins says that they contain protein, so there must be some nitrogen in them. Or are you saying that the protein is in a form that yeast can't assimilate?

    I realize that they're no substitute for a proper yeast nutrient, despite what many random web pages say, but surely they're better than nothing?

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by pdh View Post
    The nutritional info on a box of raisins says that they contain protein, so there must be some nitrogen in them. Or are you saying that the protein is in a form that yeast can't assimilate?

    I realize that they're no substitute for a proper yeast nutrient, despite what many random web pages say, but surely they're better than nothing?
    I think the question is how much of the nitrogen is assimiable (YAN), not how much total nitrogen there is in a raisin. It could be loaded with nitrogen, but if none if it is "free" (as in from an alpha-amino acid) to be assimilated by the yeast cell, then I suspect none of that nitrogen is useful as far as nutrition goes.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdh View Post
    The nutritional info on a box of raisins says that they contain protein, so there must be some nitrogen in them. Or are you saying that the protein is in a form that yeast can't assimilate?

    I realize that they're no substitute for a proper yeast nutrient, despite what many random web pages say, but surely they're better than nothing?
    That argument has some merit but it is like saying 500 calories/day is better than nothing for humans.
    How long would you last on 500 calories a day (without eating vegetables or any vitamin supplementation)?

    You are cutting too many corners. Just as your body starts to break itself down from malnutrition, so will the yeast start to create off flavors. So if your must does not stall, then the best you can hope for is mead that takes at least a year to age out from all the off flavors you are making.

    Cider making, beer, and wine making are similar but not identical to mead making. You cannot carry the same practices from other fermentations. Mead making in my opinion is the most demanding ONCE the yeast is pitched. If you are not willing to adapt to mead making then don't expect good results.
    Last edited by caduseus; 01-16-2017 at 10:59 AM.

  11. #11

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    It is possible that at least some raisins provide no nutrients to your must. Let's assume that all raising contain nitrogen in the same way that all grapes contain nitrogen.
    1. Grapes could be deficient in nitrogen and a 100% grape wine may need additional nutrients. Even wines sometimes need dap for a healthy ferment
    2. They could have enough nitrogen but not much left over to ferment any additional sugars
    3. Sometimes they contain enough nitrogen to ferment the sugars in the grape itself and even some additional sugars

    In case 1 the raisins are a detriment to your mead as they provide more sugars than nitrogen.
    In case 2 they do not contribute anything to your mead, just some VERY LITTLE sugars, mouthfeel and tannins.
    In case 3, and this is our best case scenario, the raisins provide some net nitrogen to your must. However, I would be absolutely amazed if 1.5tbs of raisins is anywhere enough to ferment an 18% abv mead.
    [BEGIN RANT]
    I am calculating that for an 18% abv mead (if raisins are anything like grapes) you would need just enough water to rehydrate raisins until they are a thick wine. Basically you are doing an inverse raisin wine because you are rehydrating grapes rather than dehydrating https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_wine
    Your fermenter needs to seem like nothing but grapes/raisins and minimal water in between the skins. Fermenting this is an art and contamination risk is so high because you cannot punch down the cap since the whole damn thing is raisin skins. Then you add honey... but you need so much raisins to get enough nitrogen that you're already at 14 or 15% abv, which means that your honey will not provide enough taste. It will essentially be a wine. Even raisin wines very often end up sweet, which quite possibly indicates that there is not enough nitrogen to go beyond 15% abv in the best of cases.
    [END RANT]

    Or I could simply say that I think Squatchy is right...
    "Shouldn’t we say wine is a mead-like beverage made with grapes substituted for the honey?" - Steve Piatz

  12. #12

    Default

    I will post some info I finally found on raisins and ask you guys to go over there and continue this on that thread
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  13. #13

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    Damnit squatchy now I have to rant all over again on that other thread :P
    "Shouldn’t we say wine is a mead-like beverage made with grapes substituted for the honey?" - Steve Piatz

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stasis View Post
    Damnit squatchy now I have to rant all over again on that other thread :P
    :P Keeps you busy brother !!!
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

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