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  1. Default First mead thoughts, any ideas welcome

    I'm looking to make my first mead, and I'm thinking a melomel would be the most fitting for me. I went to a local home brew supply store and they said that trying to do a session style mead would just end up watery (which I can somewhat understand if doing straight honey vs additional flavors) as I had asked about ways to make it a carbonated style. My initial thought of what I'd like would be a cherry melomel, and from searching recipes I see very commonly tart cherry juice. If I use sweeter juice could I use rhubarb juice to add some tart aspects? My co-worker cooked a crockpot of rhubarb and gave be a quart of screened juice. My thinking is cherry juice instead of water, and then 2-3 pounds of honey to make a 1 gallon batch. Please let me know if I'm way off or if this seems plausable, brew supply person also recommended the k1v-1116 yeast with fruit.

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  2. #2
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    Default

    Hi jimmyjusa - and welcome. Many on this forum are likely to disagree with me but I think cherry melomels are really very challenging not least because we are all (or must of us are) very familiar with cough medicines that are phenolic based and which are cherry flavored. And if your protocol is not really good your yeast will produce lots of phenols and unless you are using tart cherries rather than sweet the mead will taste like cough syrup. My recommendation would be to view yourself as a mead maker in training and so what you want to do is find ways to develop your protocol and develop the best understanding of mead making that you can and so you want to focus on what are called traditional meads - a mead that is made only with honey and water and yeast (and nutrients). The thing is that there are dozens and dozens of varietals of honey and each results in a mead that tastes very different. Orange Blossom, Tupelo, bamboo, chestnut, sage, raspebery, apple blossom, meadowfoam, to name nine. The thing is that when you can make a mead that is naked and cannot hide behind any other flavors and that mead is really delightful then the world is your oyster. So making a first mead that hides behind fruit may not help you become a good mead maker. But I think your goal of making a one gallon batch is an excellent one.

  3. Default

    Thank you very much for your response, I definitely understand that issue of cough medicine taste. I tried a bottle of mead from a large wine/ alcohol store and the person highly recommended a certain brand so I bought it. I'm blanking on the name at the moment but it was sold as a semi-sweet and I know they have a sweet also. I did not taste anything noteworthy personally but I am more of a beer drinker and with beer the darker the better as I like the complexity in the flavor and I like that flavor profile over bitter and hoppy stuff. That's one of the reasons why I was thinking of doing a melomel but I understand the reasoning behind starting with the pure product.

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  4. #4

    Default

    I also advocate learning your science first. In doing so. Your overall mead making will have had the bar raised to a very high point in a much shorter time frame.

    Although. If you did want to make a cherry melomel. I also agree with what Bernard said. Sweet cherries make cough syrup. Here is what I would suggest if you want a "sweet" cherry melomel. Make a traditional first. Once the fermentation is over and, it has been stabilized. You then can add sweet cherries to that, and it will be much closer to what you want to develop. And yes. It would be interesting to add the rhubarb. That would also be added after it's stable. If you do this. You can first learn what a trad taste like. You will be able to determine if you made a clean tasting batch. Or. If you have faults. You can then proceed to make your desired cherry/rhubarb mead. And in doing so, you will be able to mask some of the flaws providing they are not strong.

    I'm glad you asked before you started something. Most people get on here and ask for help after they got started and realized they had not been prepared well enough to make a good mead. And are then wondering how to rescue a batch.

    Please take a little time to learn the basics. Making a good mead is no harder than making a good one. And it will taste great right after fermentation. Starting off missing some of the procedure will end up making crap that will take a very long time to "maybe" end up tasting only ok.

    We did a podcast where I teach how to make mead step by step using the most modern science. Not only do I explain what to do but perhaps even more importantly, why. If you will invest in the time before you start. You will begin with more understanding than what you might learn in many years of only making so-so mead. I have a good bit of medals and ribbons I have won in very tough competitions using this very protocol you can learn there.

    Here is the link. http://gotmead.com/blog/gotmead-live-radio-show/page/3/

    Start on 9/5. Rather than trying to take a ton of notes, just listen to it. Unless you're relatively studious. There is a lot of info on them. Once you have been around a bit and familiarized yourself with concepts and terminology. This won't seem so overwhelming. It's not very hard once you get the hang of it. I can start from scratch and make a ten-gallon batch in less than an hour.

    So please don't become discouraged. It is not near as hard as it might seem at first. I have spent thousands of dollars, and read volumes of linear material to learn what I teach you in a handful of hours.

    Lastly. Before you do actually start. Run by us what you plan to do first. This way we can double check your plans and steer you clear of problems if you missed something
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    I also advocate learning your science first. In doing so. Your overall mead making will have had the bar raised to a very high point in a much shorter time frame.

    Although. If you did want to make a cherry melomel. I also agree with what Bernard said. Sweet cherries make cough syrup. Here is what I would suggest if you want a "sweet" cherry melomel. Make a traditional first. Once the fermentation is over and, it has been stabilized. You then can add sweet cherries to that, and it will be much closer to what you want to develop. And yes. It would be interesting to add the rhubarb. That would also be added after it's stable. If you do this. You can first learn what a trad taste like. You will be able to determine if you made a clean tasting batch. Or. If you have faults. You can then proceed to make your desired cherry/rhubarb mead. And in doing so, you will be able to mask some of the flaws providing they are not strong.

    I'm glad you asked before you started something. Most people get on here and ask for help after they got started and realized they had not been prepared well enough to make a good mead. And are then wondering how to rescue a batch.

    Please take a little time to learn the basics. Making a good mead is no harder than making a good one. And it will taste great right after fermentation. Starting off missing some of the procedure will end up making crap that will take a very long time to "maybe" end up tasting only ok.

    We did a podcast where I teach how to make mead step by step using the most modern science. Not only do I explain what to do but perhaps even more importantly, why. If you will invest in the time before you start. You will begin with more understanding than what you might learn in many years of only making so-so mead. I have a good bit of medals and ribbons I have won in very tough competitions using this very protocol you can learn there.

    Here is the link. http://gotmead.com/blog/gotmead-live-radio-show/page/3/

    Start on 9/5. Rather than trying to take a ton of notes, just listen to it. Unless you're relatively studious. There is a lot of info on them. Once you have been around a bit and familiarized yourself with concepts and terminology. This won't seem so overwhelming. It's not very hard once you get the hang of it. I can start from scratch and make a ten-gallon batch in less than an hour.

    So please don't become discouraged. It is not near as hard as it might seem at first. I have spent thousands of dollars, and read volumes of linear material to learn what I teach you in a handful of hours.

    Lastly. Before you do actually start. Run by us what you plan to do first. This way we can double check your plans and steer you clear of problems if you missed something
    Thank you for your information and that podcast link. I will definitely check it out in the morning. The home brew place only has clover honey, maybe wildflower. It's double the price as getting clover honey from Costco. For a traditional mead I'm pretty sure neither of these are ideal, I'm assuming its because it's so mild? Orange blossom seems to be highly recommended for traditional meads. If I were to try just rhubarb for flavor, since I have a quart of post- cooked and squeezed rhubarb, would a sweet traditional be better than dry in order to balance the tartness of the rhubarb?

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  6. Default

    What's too small of a batch to try? I have canning jars that are quarry size and silicone fermenting lids that are used in lactofermentation and let gas out but not air in. I'm thinking of .25, .5, .75 lb respectively in their own jars using the same honey and I could use one packet of yeast shared between all the jars. This would make the only variable be the amount of honey so I could taste the differences in each. Would this be a good first step in learning the science of making a traditional mead?

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  7. #7

    Default

    No

    I already told you what would be best.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  8. #8
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    In my opinion, unless you have a really good reason to use smaller sizes , a one gallon batch is a good size to play with for a whole host of reasons - including the fact that carboys are made to hold 1 gallon and carboys tend to have narrow necks which means you have less "head room" (space for air). It's easier to top up gallons without diluting the mead (racking often means that you might lose a little volume). Yeast is packed for 1 gallon batches (cutting a pack in half or thirds means that you introduce all kinds of bacteria and moisture into the yeast. And a gallon allows you to make five bottles (sometimes only four) and four or five bottles is not a huge amount. Moreover, to make a gallon of mead you might use anywhere from 1 to 1.5 lbs of honey up to 3 or 4 lbs, depending on whether you are making something to drink like a beer or cider or something to sip with a meal or as a desert wine after a meal. But ultimately, it's your mead, your hobby, your time and your money.

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by bernardsmith View Post
    In my opinion, unless you have a really good reason to use smaller sizes , a one gallon batch is a good size to play with for a whole host of reasons - including the fact that carboys are made to hold 1 gallon and carboys tend to have narrow necks which means you have less "head room" (space for air). It's easier to top up gallons without diluting the mead (racking often means that you might lose a little volume). Yeast is packed for 1 gallon batches (cutting a pack in half or thirds means that you introduce all kinds of bacteria and moisture into the yeast. And a gallon allows you to make five bottles (sometimes only four) and four or five bottles is not a huge amount. Moreover, to make a gallon of mead you might use anywhere from 1 to 1.5 lbs of honey up to 3 or 4 lbs, depending on whether you are making something to drink like a beer or cider or something to sip with a meal or as a desert wine after a meal. But ultimately, it's your mead, your hobby, your time and your money.
    Thank you, the reason I was thinking of the above reason would be to see the differences between honey concentrations with that being the one variable. I would make all the jars up at once and hydrate the yeast and then split the slurry amongst all the jars. My thought would be that I could see how a short mead tastes, a little stronger but dry mead, then a stronger mead. My reasoning would be that I would have a better idea of what strength/ concentration I like best and then I can make a full batch from that strength of 1-3 gallons. I just don't see why a quart is a waste but half gallons are ok in order to test honeys

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  10. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    No

    I already told you what would be best.
    Thanks, I listened to the 9/5 podcast and the following week so far

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  11. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by bernardsmith View Post
    In my opinion, unless you have a really good reason to use smaller sizes , a one gallon batch is a good size to play with for a whole host of reasons - including the fact that carboys are made to hold 1 gallon and carboys tend to have narrow necks which means you have less "head room" (space for air). It's easier to top up gallons without diluting the mead (racking often means that you might lose a little volume). Yeast is packed for 1 gallon batches (cutting a pack in half or thirds means that you introduce all kinds of bacteria and moisture into the yeast. And a gallon allows you to make five bottles (sometimes only four) and four or five bottles is not a huge amount. Moreover, to make a gallon of mead you might use anywhere from 1 to 1.5 lbs of honey up to 3 or 4 lbs, depending on whether you are making something to drink like a beer or cider or something to sip with a meal or as a desert wine after a meal. But ultimately, it's your mead, your hobby, your time and your money.
    Thank you. My thought process with the quart size jars goes along the lines of your last point. I'd like to test out different concentrations using the same honey and yeast with the only variable being the honey amount. I would be doing all the jars at the same time so I wouldn't be reusing yeast but instead making the slurry and pouring it between the jars as evenly as possible. It seems like half gallon batches or 2 liter bottles are acceptable to test a honey out from things I've read and heard so what's wrong with doing quarts as a first round testing? My thought is that this would give me a glance at how strong the flavors can come through at different ratios. Once I get an idea of the strength that I like I would then work on a full size batch. Right now I have the quart jars or 5 gallon buckets to brew in.

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  12. #12
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    So that is a good reason to work with quart sized volumes - and the truth is when I come across a honey varietal that is in a small volume (say 8 oz) then fermenting a quart is the same as fermenting 2 lbs at a gravity of 1.070 (potential ABV of 9%) . BUT I would still use 1 pack of yeast for each separate fermentation. You really cannot over-pitch a yeast (unless you are a commercial winery/meadery and you buy your yeast by the kilo) but you can very easily under-pitch and under-pitching, I think, can cause a whole passel of problems. Yeast is not expensive. Don't spoil the mead for a pennyworth of yeast

  13. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by bernardsmith View Post
    So that is a good reason to work with quart sized volumes - and the truth is when I come across a honey varietal that is in a small volume (say 8 oz) then fermenting a quart is the same as fermenting 2 lbs at a gravity of 1.070 (potential ABV of 9%) . BUT I would still use 1 pack of yeast for each separate fermentation. You really cannot over-pitch a yeast (unless you are a commercial winery/meadery and you buy your yeast by the kilo) but you can very easily under-pitch and under-pitching, I think, can cause a whole passel of problems. Yeast is not expensive. Don't spoil the mead for a pennyworth of yeast
    Thank you for your help, the only honey I've ever used for household use has been generic and I think doing a micro batch test will sort of knock out the sweetness and allow me to better taste the characteristics of the honey I buy. There is one local semi commercial company but they don't control where the bees go so they say every batch of honey from them can vary based on what's blooming.

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