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  1. Default I just want to make regular no frills mead

    Hi, i'm Deviate.. real name is Nathan feel free to call me either, and I'm not exactly a super noob with mead. A few years back I spent a couple years making batches very similar to the "old world" recipe you guys have on the Newbee Guide. Complete with regular old bread yeast, raisins, orange slices, etc.. I made some decent stuff, but it was never quite what I was after. Then, life happened. Now, several years later, my financial situation is stable enough to continue the hobby.

    So I started reading.. and reading.. and reading. Now, I'm more confused than anything and I just want to make a regular mead with Honey, Water, and Yeast. Everything I've read tells me something completely different.. to boil the must or don't, to add nutrient at beginning or don't so I came up with my own rudimentary plan. I want it to be about medium as far as dryness goes and I was hoping that some of you might be awesome enough to tell me whether or not I'm about to waste a bunch of money making moldy honey soup.

    Ingredients for a 2 gallon batch going for between 12-15% ABV:
    5 Lbs of "Pure 'N simple" Honey (got a good deal online so i bought 15 pounds)
    Distilled water
    Lalvin D47 Yeast (I bought 3 packets)

    Equipment:
    5 gallon fermentation bucket w/ bung'd lid and spigot on the side
    5 gallon glass carboy w/bung
    2 airlocks, one 3 piece, one bubble lock
    Hydrometer
    Campden tablets
    Ph Strips
    One step no rinse cleanser
    LD Carlson Yeast Nutrient (Urea and DAP)
    LD Carlson Yeast Energizer (DAP, Springcell, Magnesium Phosphate)
    stainless steel whisk
    Big ass plastic spoon
    big stainless steel pot


    I was just going to hydrate the yeast, whisk the water and honey together.. measure the specific gravity, and then put the must and yeast into the bucket and hope for the best. If it actually ferments ill re-rack into the carboy and then bottle after it clarifies. So.. is this going to work? I got all this extra stuff in case I needed it.. should I be doing something with nutrients? Should I be heating up my must before I bucket it? There's so much conflicting information and I don't want to waste a bunch of honey if at all possible. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Edit: I just went ahead and made the must I heated up about a gallon of water to ~160 degrees, then let it cool to about 100 then mixed in the 5 pounds of honey and whisked vigorously for a few minutes. Then I poured that into the bucket and poured more water in until the whole batch was at the 2 gallon mark. Then I hydrated about half a packet of the D47 in around 2 oz of 95 degree water, at this point the must was about 80 degrees, so I poured in the yeast. SG temperature corrected is 1.095. From what I understand, What I did should work. I was worried about my DAP nutrients killing my yeast if I add them at the beginning.. should I add some anyway? Or should I just wait until I see signs of fermentation?
    Last edited by Deviate; 10-27-2018 at 08:40 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default

    Hi Deviate - and welcome.
    So one or two quick and dirty thoughts.
    Distilled water is not something that you should use. The water has no minerals - and you really want water with mineral content in it to make a better mead (think beer and the work brewers put in to mimic the mineral content of their water to be more like the water found in different parts of Europe).
    Moreover, distilled water is not good for yeast unless you are adding a rich and appropriate compound of nutrients when the yeast are rehydrating. Does not sound as if you actively rehydrated the yeast (in baking that is called proving the yeast) but simply allowed the yeast to rehydrate when you pitched the yeast onto the must. When you actively re-hydrate the yeast the makers of quality nutrient suggest that you don't add Fermaid K or O as these contain some compounds that will damage the cells before they are fully rehydrated. But I THINK (don't know for sure) that if you simply add the nutrients to the must they are sufficiently diluted in the total volume that this may not be as damaging to the yeast... But I think it best to wait until after the lag phase as ended and you see the yeast frothing before you add nutrients.
    The other point is that you appear to be making a two gallon batch of mead but you do not appear to have any vessels to hold two gallons in such a way that there will be no head room between the surface of the mead and the bottom of the bung or lid. That's OK during active fermentation: the yeast is producing pounds of CO2 (almost half the weight of the honey will be converted to CO2) but after active fermentation has ceased the yeast wont be making any more CO2 and the space will be filled with air... and air will oxidize your mead.

  3. #3

    Default

    you'll need nutrients, because honey doesn't have much in it apart from sugars and water; currently the fashion is to use Fermaid O, if you can get it you'll get most salient advice because most people have used it; also have a look at https://www.meadmakr.com/tosna-2-0/

    if you're stuck with DAP, there are staggered nutrient addition protocols for it (not sure how DAP is sold over there, around here it comes as DAP + vitamin B1, not sure if Fermaid K is the same thing or it has other micronutrients as well).

    edit: yes, wait until you see signs of fermentation and don't add all nutrient at once, split it in 4 equal portions and add every 24h

  4. Default

    Thanks a lot both of you... so far it's working out alright. I just used the DAP w/ urea and I put 1/4 of a teaspoon in at a time every day over the last few days.

    Bernard, Yep, i know. I'll be buying a couple one gallon carboys here in a week or so.

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Deviate View Post
    Hi, i'm Deviate.. real name is Nathan feel free to call me either, and I'm not exactly a super noob with mead. A few years back I spent a couple years making batches very similar to the "old world" recipe you guys have on the Newbee Guide. Complete with regular old bread yeast, raisins, orange slices, etc.. I made some decent stuff, but it was never quite what I was after. Then, life happened. Now, several years later, my financial situation is stable enough to continue the hobby.

    So I started reading.. and reading.. and reading. Now, I'm more confused than anything and I just want to make a regular mead with Honey, Water, and Yeast. Everything I've read tells me something completely different.. to boil the must or don't, to add nutrient at beginning or don't so I came up with my own rudimentary plan. I want it to be about medium as far as dryness goes and I was hoping that some of you might be awesome enough to tell me whether or not I'm about to waste a bunch of money making moldy honey soup.

    Ingredients for a 2 gallon batch going for between 12-15% ABV:
    5 Lbs of "Pure 'N simple" Honey (got a good deal online so i bought 15 pounds)
    Distilled water
    Lalvin D47 Yeast (I bought 3 packets)

    Equipment:
    5 gallon fermentation bucket w/ bung'd lid and spigot on the side
    5 gallon glass carboy w/bung
    2 airlocks, one 3 piece, one bubble lock
    Hydrometer
    Campden tablets
    Ph Strips
    One step no rinse cleanser
    LD Carlson Yeast Nutrient (Urea and DAP)
    LD Carlson Yeast Energizer (DAP, Springcell, Magnesium Phosphate)
    stainless steel whisk
    Big ass plastic spoon
    big stainless steel pot


    I was just going to hydrate the yeast, whisk the water and honey together.. measure the specific gravity, and then put the must and yeast into the bucket and hope for the best. If it actually ferments ill re-rack into the carboy and then bottle after it clarifies. So.. is this going to work? I got all this extra stuff in case I needed it.. should I be doing something with nutrients? Should I be heating up my must before I bucket it? There's so much conflicting information and I don't want to waste a bunch of honey if at all possible. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Edit: I just went ahead and made the must I heated up about a gallon of water to ~160 degrees, then let it cool to about 100 then mixed in the 5 pounds of honey and whisked vigorously for a few minutes. Then I poured that into the bucket and poured more water in until the whole batch was at the 2 gallon mark. Then I hydrated about half a packet of the D47 in around 2 oz of 95 degree water, at this point the must was about 80 degrees, so I poured in the yeast. SG temperature corrected is 1.095. From what I understand, What I did should work. I was worried about my DAP nutrients killing my yeast if I add them at the beginning.. should I add some anyway? Or should I just wait until I see signs of fermentation?
    I have recently found myself in a similar situation, with countless factors to consider, and many more pieces of equipment and ingredients to buy for minute, albeit important things.

    What I found most confusing is that alcohol production is, I think, a unitary body of practices, where the boundaries are more cultural than biochemical. Brewing, wine, mead and cider-making are not all that dissimilar, and the main differences are the ways in which you try to prepare and continue to lay out the stage for yeast to do its job. I think that because of this, much of the information you read will not be applicable to mead 1:1, unless it was provided in the context of mead. Like hopping, keeving, skin contact, etc. They can be made applicable to mead, but honey-water is a different substance compared to grain-water, and so honey-must and wort will respond differently to being heat-treated. In other words, take what you read in relation to related but less common or obvious techniques conservatively. This means that inevitably the process is going to become as much science as art, if not more.

    I think people also give advice often in line with their formative experiences, so someone who learned alcohol production in the context of beer is likely to be a lot more alarmed about sanitation practices, because there is every reason to be very vigilant when you are working with a compound as hospitable to micro-organisms as wort. I have had the opportunity to speak with quite a few brewers in England, and wine makers in the Tokaj region of Hungary, and the latter overwhelmingly favour spontaneous fermentation for their own, personal botrytised production, versus the former exerting absolute control over the microbial composition of their brews. All in all, honey is rather inhospitable to all kinds of different life, so infection is less of an issue compared to the holiday paradise grain soup that is wort.

    If you can make things very hospitable for the yeast which you are going to pitch, it is quite likely to out-compete most all pathogens, and unless you finish at a low ABV, your young mead is likely to be too alcoholic for most delinquent organisms to take hold. I was reading about "Lambic mead" (misnomer) production before beginning to make a batch, and they discourage exceeding the 1.065 gravity mark for fear that the alcohol will deter Pediococcus, Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces. So, in other words, make the must very hospitable to live in initially, and pitch a vigorous, well-prepared yeast, be it dry, liquid, pellet form or re-hydrated. This will ensure that during the lag phase, the yeast becomes the dominant micro-organism in the must.

    You bought some PH strips, which is good. The next step is to use Calcium Carbonate and acids to achieve PH somewhere a little over 3.2, unless indicated otherwise by the yeast specs. Secondly, add nutrients to manufacturer specifications, unless you have some kind of calculation or software to more accurately set nutrient values. Then, the next step is to ensure an adequate level of oxygen in the must. Your best bet is to use a diffusion stone to introduce pure oxygen into the must, but your most realistic is to use a stirrer or some such attached to a drill and just give it a good whirl. My approach is a middle way kind of solution - I use an air pump with a diffusion stone. Not quite pure oxygen from a canister, but still good. Of course, as with all things, there are caveats with this: you are actively going out of your way to hulk up the yeast with all kinds of yeast steroids like oxygen, so your attenuation increases, leaving less residual sugar. Generally, this is a cleaner fermentation, but you can look to cider making and keeving to see how they like to hinder the yeast, because orchard juice is quite low in sugar, and doping up yeast to eldritch abomination levels of voraciousness is not always desired.

    You will note that at no stage did we discuss boiling - don't boil honey. I did a test using small quantities of linden honey, boiling 1 small pot, mixing another with lukewarm water, and caramelising the third, as in bochet, a type of caramel mead. I found the first and the last duller and unpalatable respectively, but plain, good linden honey mixed with water was great in the flavour department. I would say only to heat treat honey (other than warming it slightly to improve pouring) if you are making bochet. I haven't tried to make one of these, but I dislike caramel and similar flavours, so I'm biased.

    As for your yeast, Lalvin is brilliant. They are a very well-regarded range of products by Lallemand, and D47 is one of the iconic ones. From what white wine folks explained to me, it is good for developing a refreshing, full flavour in white wines, and I'm fermenting two batches with D47 at the moment as well, hoping for traditional meads with just such a character. Presently it is chugging away at 14C (57.2F). I am told by people who make white wine with it that it can go a great deal lower than the indicated minimum temperature with adequate yeast care, and that this will be good for accentuating varietal character and preserving aromatics.

    I hope I've been able to answer some of your questions.

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