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  1. Default Newbie Recipe Check and Critique

    About two weeks ago I stumbled upon mead. I quickly read a few articles and assembled the materials to conceive my first mead child, JAO. I quickly began reading all the material I could on mead during what little free time I have (I tend to become obsessive with my hobbies). GotMead has quickly become one of my favorite forums for research. I really do want to thank everyone that contributes here, whether it be asking questions or answering them. All of the moderators, especially Vicky and Ryan. Your content and explanations are so informative and helpful.
    I digress, I decided for my first real batch I wanted to go with a flavor i've always loved. Any critique or recommendations are greatly appreciated as I am still very new to this.

    BLUEBERRY MELOMEL

    16 pounds of Orange Blossom Honey
    4 gal spring water
    10 pounds of blueberries
    20g fermaid O
    12.5g GoFerm
    5 Camden Tabelts
    6g Potassium BiCarbonate
    2 Tsp Potassium Sorbate
    2 tsp Pectin Enzyme
    2 packets of yeast Lavin 71b


    • Mix 16 lbs of honey with about 2 gallon of water into 5 gallon carboy (wanting to stick with glass not plastic buckets).
    • Add 6 grams potassium bicarbonate, pectic enzyme and 5 crushed campden tables.
    • Split and mash 4lbs of blueberries (fresh if I can get a good price from farmers market, otherwise will use frozen)
    • Add 3.5 lbs blueberries to the must and fill up 5 gallon carboy to a little over Ύ with spring water and stir
    • Place in tub of water/ice if needed and maintain 68 degrees first two days then 64-65 degrees rest of process.
    • Cover for 24 hours but let oxygenate (cloth over opening)
    • Measure pH and specific gravity and balance if needed
    • Microwave 250 mL of water in sanitized cup and add 12.5 g of Go Ferm Protect
    • Stir with sanitized spoon and put the cup in ice bath
    • When it’s 104 degrees add 8 gram 71B yeast, wait a few minutes, then swirl
    • Wait 15 minutes.
    • Temperate the yeast slurry with must adding about 125 mL of must at a time until my slurry is around or over 60 degrees
    • Pitch the yeast into the 5 gallon carboy of must and airlock.
    • Following the TOSNA 2.0 fermaid-o only
    • At 24 hours add about 5 grams of Fermaid O, degas and take hydrometer reading
    • 48 hours add about 5 grams of Fermaid O, degas and take hydrometer reading
    • 72 hours add about 5 grams of Fermaid O, degas and take hydrometer reading
    • *Take a daily hydrometer and pH reading until stabilization.
    • At the 1/3 sugar break add about 5 grams of Fermaid O and degas.
    • Degas/rouse 2x daily for the first week then 1x time daily the second week.
    • Once fermentation stops (consecutive hydrometer readings for a 3 or more days) rack into 4 one-gallon carboys. I was then going to rack the rest (1/3-2/3 of a gallon into a smaller vessel and use for topping off after racking
    • Stir carboys every 2-3 days for 30 days and make sure fermentation has ceased,
    • Add 1 camden tablets for each 1 gal batch.
    • After 24 hours add potassium sorbate (1/2 TSP per gal).
    • Once that sits for 24 hours re-rack into a new carboy
    • Add 1-1.5lbs blueberry to all 1 gallon carboys
    • I also wanted to experiment with flavors in the different carboys, maybe lemon/cherry/dragonfruit/sage/lavender/pine? Open to suggestions

  2. #2

    Default

    Hi Keith

    Welcome to the community.

    Surely by now, you realize that for every answer there are just as many opposing answers. Unfortunately, too many folks only mimic what they have heard by others.

    And then of course. Everyone has their own way of doing things and each of us has our personal biases.

    So I will comment from personal experience. I will try to remain neutral on personal bias. Or at least tell you if it is my bias.

    I have some questions first, please.

    Have you already started?

    How much fruit presence with the blueberries do you want?

    Are you in a hurry?

    Would you consider learning to make good traditionals first? And in so doing, raise the bar with everything you will make the rest of your life?
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  3. #3

    Default

    Welcome Keith. You might have trouble posting for a couple of days as a new member, that is normal. If you have trouble try typing up what you want to post, then instead make a small post, then edit that small post and copy/paste in the full text.

    In the meantime, I don't have much to say regarding your recipe but it sounds delicious. I've done orange blossom trads that turned out great and a blueberry trad that was ok, but I've never done both. But a few things jumped out at me.

    Quote Originally Posted by keith.carnahan-iii View Post
    • Measure pH and specific gravity and balance if needed
    • Microwave 250 mL of water in sanitized cup and add 12.5 g of Go Ferm Protect
    • Stir with sanitized spoon and put the cup in ice bath
    • When it’s 104 degrees add 8 gram 71B yeast, wait a few minutes, then swirl
    I've never had any trouble with pH and I don't think you will with this recipe. From what I've heard as long as you aren't adding a bunch of acid you should be fine.

    You mention microwaving the water and then putting it in an ice bath. That seems overly complicated to me. I just heat up the water on the stove and keep my thermometer in the water as it heats. Once it gets to 104 then I turn off the stove and add the yeast. To me that seems easier than using an ice bath.

    Also I just noticed that you say to add 8 grams of yeast, but above you say 2 packets (which would mean 10-16 grams depending on how many grams are in each packet). My 71B yeast came in 8 gram packets. And your 12.5 grams of Go Ferm would be for 10 grams of yeast. None of this is a deal-breaker, which means none of this will destroy your mead. But it seems like you are taking bits and pieces from multiple sources and not quite putting them together correctly.

    Overall it looks pretty solid. Good luck, be patient, and welcome to the group!
    Raisins are NOT nutrients for yeast... but french fries ARE!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    North Carolina and Mississippi
    Posts
    156

    Default

    What's your target volume? I'm not sure your ingredients are going to fit in a 5 gallon container. The honey is 1.3 gallons, and the berries will be over a gallon if you're using all 10 pounds. Also, you need to have some head space in that container as you will be amazed at what happens when day 2 or 3 into fermentation you degas and that stuff wants to come out of the fermenter.

    I think when you're formulating a recipe for anything, you want to specify your 1. Target volume 2. Target original gravity 3. Target final gravity and ABV.

    Also, I'm going to say this and I know it won't be popular: I've been home brewing since 1982 and have never owned a glass fermentation vessel. It's all been in plastic. In the early days some of it was in plastic garbage cans. I've never entered anything in a competition, or won a medal or a prize, probably I never will, but I hear no complaints and my biggest problem over the years has been making enough homebrew. It just doesn't last. The one caveat here is I have never aged anything in a fermenter more than a year, and most stuff is bottled within 9 months. I would get a carboy if I was going to age mead. My stuff does get better the older it is in the bottles, however. That's just me; I'm not advocating anything.

    If it were me, I would get an inexpensive and easily handled 7 gallon food grade bucket as the primary, then you could rack into the carboy for secondary. When you rack, you will loose a fair amount of the good stuff, at least a half gallon, to sediment and you won't need to worry about head space during secondary.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Saratoga Springs , NY
    Posts
    1,408

    Default

    Hi Keith -and welcome. I will hoist the contrarian flag here and ask why is your first attempt at mead making as large a batch as the batch you appear to be making (well over 6 gallons as edaskew suggests). If I had 16 pounds of honey I might begin with one gallon and see what the challenges are and then make a second gallon to see how well I can avoid those challenges and so on for five or six batches. I might make one batch using 1.5 lbs of honey and a second batch using 3 lbs to see what -if any - the differences in sugar and alcohol levels make given the protocol (the method) I am using to make this mead. If I had 16 lbs of honey I might want to see what a batch unsweetened tastes like and how a similar batch sweetened might taste and indeed, what difference might carbonating an unsweetened batch make. Using all 16 lbs to make one batch is like putting all your money on a horse to win. Your money, of course... but - and I say this as both an ethical vegetarian and an owner of two cats - there really is more than one way to skin the proverbial cat.

  6. Default

    First off, thank you everyone for the replies and warm welcome. I really appreciate the input and guidance. I would like to respond to everyone.

    Ryan,
    I have not started the batch. I plan to this weekend.
    I was hoping for a moderate amount of blueberry presence, not too strong.
    I’m not necessarily in a hurry. I think my hurry just lies in wanting to drink some tasty mead as soon as possible!
    I agree that I may be rushing things. This recipe would be visible sans fruit and fruit related ingredients, correct? Or can you point me to a viable one? Should I scale down to 1 gallon runs? Yeasts, honey, honey amounts, nutrients, backsweeteners- there are so many variables. What would be the most helpful for me to experiment? Do you have any generalized preferences? The two JAO meads I have brewing right now are different yeasts, premiere curve(which I understand is essentially Ec118?) and D71B.

    Devin, I moistly wanted to monitor the pH as reassurance. I figured I would be sampling the batch anyway so why not take a couple seconds to take a quick pH as I already have the equipment.
    You’re right about the ice bath. I certainly overcomplicated it. I just want to make sure everything is perfect, but I am going to use your method.
    I say two packets of yeasts as an ingredient check but didn’t plan on using the full 10 grams as I felt 8 would be enough. I don’t think the 2 additional grams would hurt so I would probably just add all 10.

    Ed, I did not really have a target volume. All 10 pounds of blueberry are not going into the primary, but I planned on leaving headspace for the amount I do put in. I planned to top with water last adjusting for head space. I predict I would still yield a little over 4 gallons? Assuming 4.2 gallons my SG would be 1.135 and my FG .998. That gives me an alcohol percentage of a little over 17%, however my yeast is only rated for around 14%, therefore my mead will end up sweeter?? Or what effects will that have- does my FG change if it can’t reach the full alcohol percentage?
    A bucket would certainly make things easier, my girlfriend was against plastic but will try and persuade at least a trial out of her. Certainly, would make things easier.

    Bernard, the reasoning for the large batch was because I wanted to experiment with flavors after racking into individual batches and thought one large batch to start would be easier, despite the risks. I understand your concerns though and am contemplating changing methods... even though i've been dreaming of blueberry mead since day 1.

  7. Default

    First off, thank you everyone for the replies and warm welcome. I really appreciate the input and guidance. I would like to respond to everyone.

    Ryan,
    I have not started the batch. I plan to this weekend.
    I was hoping for a moderate amount of blueberry presence, not too strong.
    I’m not necessarily in a hurry. I think my hurry just lies in wanting to drink some tasty mead as soon as possible!
    I agree that I may be rushing things. This recipe would be viable sans fruit and fruit related ingredients? Or can you point me to a viable one? Should I scale down to 1 gallon runs? Yeasts, honey, honey amounts, nutrients, backsweeteners- there are so many variables. What would be the most helpful for me to experiment? Do you have any generalized preferences for any these things? The two JAO meads I have brewing right now are different yeasts, premiere curve(which I understand is essentially Ec118?) and D71B.

    Devin, I mostly wanted to monitor the pH as reassurance. I figured I would be sampling the batch anyway so why not take a couple seconds to take a quick pH as I already have the equipment.
    You’re right about the ice bath. I certainly overcomplicated it. I just want to make sure everything is perfect, but I am going to use your method.
    I say two packets of yeasts as an ingredient check but didn’t plan on using the full 10 grams as I felt 8 would be enough. I don’t think the 2 additional grams would hurt so I would probably just add all 10.

    Ed, I did not really have a target volume. All 10 pounds of blueberry are not going into the primary, but I planned on leaving headspace for the amount I do put in. I planned to top with water last adjusting for head space. I predict I would still yield a little over 4 gallons? Assuming 4.2 gallons my SG would be 1.135 and my FG .998. That gives me an alcohol percentage of a little over 17%, however my yeast is only rated for around 14%, therefore my mead will end up sweeter?? Or what effects will that have- does my FG change if it can’t reach the full alcohol percentage?
    A bucket would certainly make things easier, my girlfriend was against plastic but will try and persuade at least a trial out of her. Certainly, would make things easier.

    Bernard, the reasoning for the large batch was because I wanted to experiment with flavors after racking into individual batches and thought one large batch to start would be easier, despite the risks. I understand your concerns though and am contemplating changing methods.
    Last edited by keith.carnahan-iii; 11-08-2018 at 08:56 AM. Reason: Grammar

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    North Carolina and Mississippi
    Posts
    156

    Default

    Well I made a mead that is a lot like what you have in mind, and it's in the mead log. Light Blue Melomel. The main difference was 2 pounds less blueberrries and it had 3 quarts of apple juice in it, also it was made with KIV, and I messed up and put too much honey in it trying to dose the honey by measuring the gravity while mixing (which I won't do again.) It came out at 15.8 abv; I'd rather it was a lot less. My wife and I like it and it was popular with the neighbors even though it was 3 months old (which is way too young for a mead, but it's free booze!) It tastes like a white wine but looks like a red wine. If you wanted to use 71B, I would use 14 1/2 lbs of honey, crush all 10 lbs of blueberries, and make a must with a volume of 5.5 gallons. I'm coming up with 20 grams of Fermaid O over 4 additions, so 5 grams x 4. 71B should take that to dry, then you can stabilize and back sweeten to taste. Be advised the stabilizing and back sweetening is something I've done 3 times ever. That's how I plan to brew from now on, though, because you can get exactly the sweetness you want. I've made plenty of mead in the past that turned out to be too sweet for my taste, so then I just made dry mead after that, not knowing what else to do, until now. I'm not a pro but I think if you had a big enough fermentation vessel to get that done without it coming out of the primary, in other words a 6.5 or better 7 gallon bucket, and if you can brew that at a low temperature, pay attention to sanitizing things and proper oxygenation, proper hydration of the yeast and temperature managment prior to pitching with Go Ferm, etc., I suspect most likely you will be pleased with the outcome. You could move some of that blueberry to the secondary, and decrease the initial volume by .1 gallons per pound moved to secondary. I'm not guaranteeing anything here; brew at your own risk!

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