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Thread: Newbie asking for tips

  1. Default Newbie asking for tips

    Hi Everyone, first time posting here.

    so, currently I have 2 batches going. I'm a first timer, and a newbie, but I have 2 batches going because a friend taught me how he makes mead, and I got bit by the bug. So I bought a book, "The Complete Meadmaker" by Ken Schramm," that showed me a completely different way to do it, and as I was already bit, I wanted to start my second batch right away. Both batches are just meads, not melomels or anything. recipes and processes:

    First batch: 3 Gallons

    Honey: 15 lbs Sun Harvest Wildflower Honey
    Yeast: Lalvin D47 (2 packets)

    3 gallon glass carboy


    Sanitized everything, poured in the honey, used hot water to get the last little bits from the jugs, poured water to fill the rest of the carboy, poured in yeast, bunged and airlocked. friend instructed me to agitate it regularly for the first week.
    This was when I knew even less about mead making than I do now. wasn't even able to take a gravity reading, because we didn't mix or oxygenate the must. according to the mead calculator on this site, the SG should be around 1.18.


    I racked this batch after just shy of 4 weeks (3 weeks 6 days), and added 2 tsp Yeast Nutrient. at that point I took a gravity reading, and it read at 1.14. that seems pretty high considering it has been fermenting already for 4 weeks almost. is that something I should be concerned about, or is that normal? is it just going to be a very slow process to get it to where it needs to be because of the way I made the mead? I racked it about 5 days ago.

    Also, I racked it into a 5 gallon glass carboy, because that's what I had available, is that a bad move?

    Second Batch: 5 Gallons

    Honey: 15 lbs Sun Harvest Wildflower Honey
    Yeast Lalvin D47 (2 packets)
    2 tsp Yeast Nutrient


    6.5 gallon Brew Bucket with spigot
    5 gallon glass carboy (not used for this batch yet, but will be used for secondary)


    So, after reading "The Compleat Meadmaker," I wanted to try the first recipe that Ken Schramm gives you in the book. however, I substituted Orange Blossom honey for Wildflower.

    I, of course, started by sanitizing all my equipment. I boiled water, took it off the heat, and pasteurized the honey in that, added the yeast nutrient, then poured it into my brew bucket with 3 gallons of refrigerator temperature cold water. i hydrated the yeast, pitched it, and oxygenated it by stirring "vigorously" for 5 minutes. I took a Starting Gravity reading, and my SG was about 1.108. (according to the mead calculator on this site, that's exactly around where it should be too, yay!)

    as you can see, I was trying to make sure I did the proper process.


    When I was Pasteurizing the honey, it wasn't quite up to temperature. it said it should be around 160 degrees, it was more around 130 degrees (Fahrenheit, obviously). There was nothing much I could do about it, as I was afraid to burn the must by putting it back onto direct heat. I figured, I never even heated the previous batch, so I may as well continue on. should I be concerned about this?

    Also, I put in the 2 tsp Yeast Nutrient in the initial must, should I be adding in more yeast nutrient? It has been going now for about a week and a day.

    end concerns


    Alright, now you know all about my processes. I was hoping people could throw out some ideas for me for adding flavors during secondary fermentation. IE: I was thinking of taking a gallon of one of my meads and mixing it with Mango Puree to make a mango mead. how much puree should I use to do this to mix with my currently fermenting mead? is it too late to do this with the first batch? Any and all tips on adding flavors after primary would be very much appreciated.

    Should I even add flavors? or should I just let these first two batches be basic meads?

    also, I've been using water for my air lock, I read somewhere about people using vodka. is there an advantage to using vodka in your airlock?

    Thanks in advance for all the help everyone! please let me know if there are details I left out that you need to know.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Brookline, NH



    I guess the first thing I would do is slow down. :-) You've made quite a few mistakes. You need to take a step back and do some more reading and investigation.

    Ken Schramm's book was a good start, but unfortunately its 15 years old and mead making has changed drastically in the past couple of years. I would say that his book is good for getting a foundation in mead making; learning about equipment, terminology and recipes. But you really need to do more.

    1. Check out the Gotmead NewBee guide, a link for which can be found at the top of the web page. It will probably tell you the same things that you learned in Schramm's book, but is a good place to start.

    2. Check out the 9 episode YouTube series, by the Canadian Sasquatch, on Mead Methodologies. Pay particular attention to episodes 6, 7 & 8.


    3. You should now be ready to learn about Modern Mead Making. Listen to the Gotmead podcasts starting on 9/5/17. These four are the core to making great mead.

    a. http://gotmead.com/blog/gotmead-live...-making-yeast/

    b. http://gotmead.com/blog/gotmead-live...st-keep-happy/

    c. http://gotmead.com/blog/gotmead-live...ilizing-aging/

    d. http://gotmead.com/blog/gotmead-live...ing-sorbating/

    4. After you've learned about SNA and YAN (week 7 of the video series) you'll want to look into TOSNA, as even the techniques used in the video series are becoming obsolete.



    Now, as to your mead :-(

    Unless you have some way to do temperature control, I would not be using D47, as it's temperature range is 59F to 68F and it likes to be on the lower side of that.

    You started out with WAY to much honey in your first batch, which prevented your yeast from really getting started and it looks like it has stalled. You'll learn that you should probably keep your starting gravity below 1.110, which is approx. 3 lbs/gallon. After it gets rolling you can add more honey later, but even so, you need to learn about the alcohol tolerance of your yeast. D47 has an tolerance of 14% (which is 3lb/gal), where as you started your first batch off with enough honey for an ABV = 22%. Yikes!

    Not sure why you racked your first mead then added nutrients? You should not be racking until your mead is finished fermenting and it's thought that you should keep your yeast in suspension (rousing the lees) for 2 to 4 weeks after fermentation is complete, so that the yeast can clean up after themselves.

    If you wan to salvage your first mead, you may want to dilute it down to around 1.080 and then pitch some more yeast. Maybe use EC-1118, which is a very aggressive yeast. That being said, it can be very hard to restart a stuck fermentation.

    Your second batch.

    The only reason you would want to heat your honey is if it has crystallized and you want to make it easier to mix. Even then 130F is probably as high as you want to expose your honey to. Above that and you start losing flavor and aromas.

    Not sure what you are using for yeast nutrients, but you need to learn about Goferm (used for rehydation) and Fermiad O and Fermaid K.

    People use vodka in their airlocks because of it's antibacterial qualities and, if for some reason it gets sucked back into your mead, would you rather have it be water or vodka? :-)

    Good Luck!
    Last edited by darigoni; 07-27-2018 at 01:09 PM.

  3. Default

    Thanks for the information! I'll definitely check those all out when I get home. I'm at work, at the moment.

    I believe the nutrient I used is fermaid K.

    The first batch is still technically going i think. The bubbler goes off just shy of 1 minute intervals. Does that mean it hasn't completely stalled? Does that make it more salvageable?

    To salvage it, as you were saying, do i just add more water to bring down the gravity? As for pitching more yeast, should i use that goferm when pitching that extra yeast? I can swing by the home brew store and pick up both on my lunch break. Should I use energizer to kick it up?

    As for the second batch, with what you told me, It should be fine for now, then, right? No need for salvaging it?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Klukwan, Alaska

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    There is also Red Star Premium Blanc to restart a stuck fermentation. Rehydrate it in Go Ferm. It's recommended to use this for a stuck ferment.

    Be a shame to waste money like this again. Could turn out to be straight rocket fuel. I think that's the gist of most of our "trigger happy" first timers. Mine was. I had to mix it with raspberry cranberry juice to drink it.

  5. Default

    I don't think my first reply went through. if it did, then I apologize for replying twice to this.

    I will absolutely get on those asap, life has been busy lately. thank you so much for your advice!

    as for my first batch, I just took a reading today, and it's at about 1.13. Is this a good sign that the yeast hasn't completely stalled? I went to my local home brew store to pick up the EC-1118 and the goferm, unfortunately they did not have any of the goferm. while I was there, however, I picked up some yeast energizer. the clerk there informed me that Yeast energizer is used to kick off yeast that has possibly stalled. Considering that the fermentation is still going, should I just use the energizer, or should I still pitch the EC-1118? also, I'm assuming to dilute down the gravity, I just add water, correct? I will hold off on doing any of these actions till I either A. get a response, or B. learn something from those links you sent me that answer my question. (I promise I'm trying to do the research myself as well as trying to pick at the forum's brains.

    as for my second batch, all the mistakes aside, and the lack of goferm and fermaid O and K, does this batch need saving, or should it turn out fine? the yest nutrient I used is fermax yeast nutrient (the brand on the bottle is BSG).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Harford, NY

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    So what's done is done, you've got eight gallons of fermenting honey and you need to do something with it. The newer techniques are going to give you a case of the "shoulda, woulda, coulda"s.

    Whatever you do, do not throw out these two batches. Age will probably be your friend!

    I usually find that 3 pounds of honey per gallon of must (not gallon of water -- there's a difference) gives me the final sweetness that I like in a mead. As mentioned above, it does sound like your first batch has stalled because there was just too much honey in the must for the poor yeasties to handle.

    For a 5 gallon batch, I usually add up to 18 pounds of honey, when all is said and done, so you may find that your second batch ferments very dry. However, you happen to have an over-sweetened batch at hand!

    If I were in your situation, I would strongly consider working these two batches together. You've already got a ferment going with the D47, so commit to the yeast and learn (and expect to wait a while before it's truly drinkable). One thing you could consider, if you've got another carboy floating around, is to divide both batches in half and mix them together. That should give you 30 pounds of honey in 8 gallons; probably something that'll give you a sweet mead in the end. If you didn't use orange blossom in your second mead, it's going to change the flavor somewhat, but you'll have something that should eventually be drinkable. Keep an eye on your gravity and make sure it's still fermenting -- if the D47 has quit for some reason (I don't expect it, but you never know), then use a different yeast to restart the fermentation. There are many, many posts about yeasts here that will help you pick.

    I tend to "fire and forget" my meads -- I load everything up front, rack, then get around to bottling at some point when life allows, then I age until I remember the mead again. I'm still trying to make the SNA techniques work for me and my schedule. That said, I still strongly recommend that at some point, you go back to Darigoni's post and take time to read through the newer fermenting methods. You don't have to use them -- I don't, but I'm also patient with my mead aging. But that knowledge of why those methods are on the upswing will help you understand mead fermenting in general. If you continue using a front-loaded technique, you'll know more about what to look out for and why you might be doing what you're doing.

    And, from a beekeeper, please don't heat your varietal honey...
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