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  1. #1

    Default From NewBee to Pro in 3 months, can (should) it be done?

    Going to try and repost this. Original post has been awaiting mod approval for 3+ days, I fear it is lost.

    So long story short. I’ve never fermented at thing before. In 3 months my business will have a winery license and we are going to be making an aperitif style wine (wine bought in bulk from a local winery) with a large part of the blend being a off-dry traditional mead. Therefore, I have 3 months to knock a traditional mead out of the park before I start doing this in larger 500L batches….. https://youtu.be/NHkArPyVa-U?t=20

    I know this is crazy, but I feel it can be done. My business produces craft soda concentrates so we already have a lot of the necessary equipment and I’ve been a long time lurker on the homebrew/wine/mead/distilling forums for a number of years so I’ve got a pretty good understanding of things.

    I made my first mead 3 days ago. So far its been fermenting quite nicely. I would LOVE to know if there is anything in this recipe or my procedure that you think I can improve upon that would make a big impact on the quality of my mead or if I’m doing something really wrong.

    Thanks!!


    Off-Dry Traditional Mead - Blueberry Blossom Honey. 18.9L batch. Aiming for 14%ABV.

    Ingredients
    7.4kg honey (5.138L)
    10g dry yeast (71B)
    13.76L water, minus amount needed for rehydration of yeast (250ml)

    Total SNA amounts
    12.52g Go-Ferm /4
    7.6g Fermaid K /4
    14.5G DAP /4

    Target OG: 1.114
    Actual OG: 1.118 at 25C

    Procedure

    1. Warm honey to 40C for easy transfer to water bath
    1. Sanitize all equipment that will come into contact with must or yeast
    2. Weigh out all ingredients
    3. Add honey and 24C water to mixing tank. Reserve some of this water for yeast rehydration (250ml).
    4. Stir to dissolve
    5. Test PH/OG
    6. Aggressively aerate must (ideally need 12-15ppm O2, achieved with pure O2 1L/min through at .5 micron stone for 120sec )
    7. Transfer to fermentor
    8. Oxygenate with pure O2 (see notes below for why this was done again)
    9. Rehydrate/temper yeast (10g dry yeast)
    -Dissolve Go-Ferm in 250ml 43C water (20x it’s weight in water)
    -When water reaches 40C, add dry yeast
    -Gently stir to break up clumps
    -Wait 15min (no more, no less)
    -Temper yeast by very slowly adding 250ml of your must over 10min (25ml/min), repeat until slurry temp is within 0C-5C of must (prevents temp shock, which can occur if temp varies by 10C)
    -Stir to suspend
    -Pitch yeast into fermentor
    10. Test OG, PH and temp
    11. Seal with airlock,
    12. Store in Ferm Chamber at 18C
    13. After 12 hrs, dose again with pure O2 for 120sec
    14. Test PH
    15. After 24hrs degas must and dissolve 1.9G Fermaind K and 3.6g DAP into 1 cup must (this prevents excessive foaming)
    16. Add nutrients to must (use sanitized funnel)
    17. After 48hrs degas must and dissolve 1.9G Fermaind K and 3.6g DAP into 1 cup must
    18. Add nutrients to must (use sanitized funnel)
    19. After 72hrs degas must and dissolve 1.9G Fermaind K and 3.6g DAP into 1 cup must
    20. Add nutrients to must (use sanitized funnel)
    21. When must reaches 1/3 sugar break (1.076), but no later than 7 days after pitch, degas must and dissolve 1.9G Fermaind K and 3.6g DAP into 1 cup must
    22. Add nutrients to must (use sanitized funnel)
    23. Rack when fermentation complete (no drop in SG after 2 weeks) Do not let stand on yeast cake for more than 3 weeks.
    24. Stabilizing?
    25. Age for ~3 months

    Degas x2 per day for first week.

    Meadlog:

    PH before pitch: 4.38
    OG before pitch: 1.118
    PH after pitch (did not shake up carboy too much so doubt yeast got all the way to the bottom where I got my sample from: 4.23
    Pitch temp: 25.5C

    I’m nearly confident that the increase in OG after pitch is due to the aggressive stirring/aeration I did after the first OG test. There were still a few clumps of honey remaining that I think dissolved later and bumped the OG.

    The reason I aerated with the drill stir and then pure O2 is because my .5 micron carb stone did not arrive via amazon today but the O2 regulator did and I needed to get this fermenting before we leave for a few days so I can do my SNAs. I put a dip tube hop blocker on the end of a 1/4”ID vinyl tube to try and generate smaller bubbles than just the tube would yield. Did this for 2.25min.

    The carb stone arrive the next day….

    No traditional airlock on carboy. Using orange carboy cap to jar with star san via silicon hose.

    Must at pitch was a little warmer than I’d like, but I think still acceptable.

    No signs of fermentation after 15hrs. Lots of sediment (yeast) Though so I gave the carboy a good swirl to incorporate. Better to just leave it be? Nervous newbee mead maker…

    23hrs sg 1.121 !? Higher than the OG. But this is at 18C
    Ph: 3.98

    Dosed with pure O2 again, this time with the .5 micron carb stone for 2min. Generated lots of foam

    37hrs.

    SG at 48 hrs: 1.118
    ph: 3.77

    Thanks for all you help!! This forum has been a god-send

  2. #2

    Default

    It sounds like you are more prepared than the average person new to mead/fermenting so it sounds like you are off to a good start. I've been making mead for about a year and I still feel like I'm new to this and learning with every batch. If you have the time, listen to the GotMead Live podcasts on this site (or anywhere you get podcasts). They go in-depth on a lot of topics and it's really helpful, especially for new people. And you get to hear about all the mistakes people have made over the years so you don't have to replicate them yourself.

    I wish you luck on starting a commercial quality product 3 months after pitching your first mead. The mead you're making now probably won't be done clearing or aging within 3 months so you might not have a good idea of it's final characteristics by the time you are ready to start on a large scale. But the good news is that your techniques look solid so the fermentation should be pretty clean. You can always make final adjustments later.

    A couple of questions. You mention a fermentation chamber, is that big enough to accommodate your large batch? I'm assuming you'll have temp control. And out of curiosity, where did you get your blueberry blossom honey? I've not had a chance to use that and it sounds awesome.
    Raisins are NOT nutrients for yeast... but french fries ARE!

  3. #3

    Default

    Nice thing is I only need to get an off-dry traditional right that will be blended into a herbal wine; and we don't plan on releasing a stand-alone mead for at least a year or two; so lots more time to get other styles right.

    Yah I've had those podcasts on my list! Listened to one already, they're fabulous.

    Yes I figured the mead wouldn't be totally top notch within the 3 months, but I'm going to try and do as many small batches as I can to get the process locked in-ish, so really any advise on how I can improve is greatly appreciated!

    The ferm chamber, it's big enough to hold 5 carboys/buckets. We just built an insulated box on casters and attached a mini-fridge without the door on one end and hooked it up to a temp controller. It's been holding temp beautifully.

    For larger batches I'm thinking of just using a chill-plate (something like this: https://www.morebeer.com/products/we...html?site_id=5 ) and running cold water through it via a temp controlled pump. Down the line a jacketed tank would be better, but no budget for that yet.

    Regarding blueberry blossom, it's delicious stuff. I got it from Babes Honey Farm here on Vancouver Island. Many of the commercial honey operations stock blueberry here; lots of blueberry farms needing pollination in the region!

  4. #4

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    Your process is solid and you have researched your method. This does make you an advanced mead maker for such a short time. Congrats!

    Nothing replaces experience though. Starting a successful Meadery requires you to be able to simple taste a honey and know how to treat it. What you did with one batch [insert varietal honey here] doesnít necessarily apply to the next.

    Can you get this experience while going commercial? Anything is possible. I would suggest entering a few competitions to get a certified judges opinion. If you arenít scoring high 40s, maybe backup and retool.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Better brewing through science!

  5. #5

    Default

    I'm proud of you for getting this far. You have obviously worked hard to get this far. You remind me of me. And I'm betting you have learned this from the stuff I have spattered all around the mead community.

    If yo have only listened to one podcast you have tons more to listen to. Start on 9/25/17 if you want the entire run down.

    Making good mead is not very much harder to make than bad mead. You just need an understanding of a small handful of things to do along the way to get a good clean fermentation. But getting to the end of fermentation is less than half the way there. AFter that, you still have the bigger half of taking what you have and making it majical. That is where you will win or loose. You can learn a ton off the web. I've pretty much repeatedly taught enough that anyone can make good mead in short order now. And have had many students make award winning mead from the very start under my guidence. And all of that is on the web if you look for it.

    If you would like. I'm available to help you personally to develop a product line, and/or make changes with what you have. I'm affordable and will work hard to bring you forward very fast if you are a good student. You can contact me there the message board in this forum if you would like to discuss this in private. I'm certain that you will pay for my services in just the money you save dumping down the drain. Let alone the money you can make by selling to grade products that I doubt you can make on your own with as little expereince as you have
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  6. Default

    I'm certainly impressed! I'll let the more senior people tell you about nuances of flavor and beverage science, but as a medium experience person, I believe experimenting with process, tools, and materials will have a big influence on how much you enjoy the work. You are already in the beverage business so this won't be a big deal for you, but there are lots of ways to rinse, sanitize, and cap bottles. Fermentation vessels can be cleaned with CIP, soaking, or scrubbing. How many times will you rack and sulfite? Will you measure or estimate sulfites? What is your workflow for cleaning? What form factor fermenter will you use for secondary, and will it let you taste the mead during aging? Will you be able to squirt in CO₂ to offset any negative risk from opening the aging vessel (if you need to open it)? Will you pump or use gravity? If not pumping, how will you lift vessels (hitting the gym is now a matter of my own safety), and where will you put them? Do you need to move vessels, or is the room laid out so each step is next to the previous?

    On one hand, there are probably some established best practices for all this. On the other, I think it's about what works for you as you're getting started. As a home meadmaker, some of the above is on my wish list or N/A, but other things are easy lessons I should have applied sooner: bottling can be as hard or easy as you make it, depending on the choices you make. If bottling is your pain point, I would suggest buying every bottling tool you can justify. If you hate cleaning, figure out how to do CIP.
    Last edited by piojo; 01-12-2019 at 02:49 AM.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by loveofrose View Post
    I would suggest entering a few competitions to get a certified judges opinion. If you aren’t scoring high 40s, maybe backup and retool.
    Not a bad idea to get some hard data on how things are progressing! I’ll see if there are any comps going on in the spring and test my luck!

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post

    And I'm betting you have learned this from the stuff I have spattered all around the mead community.

    If yo have only listened to one podcast you have tons more to listen to.….But getting to the end of fermentation is less than half the way there. AFter that, you still have the bigger half of taking what you have and making it majical.
    I must admit, the info you’ve been splattering around the forums has been absolutely vital to getting off on the right foot. I started reading Schramm’s book over the holidays hoping to get a good grounding, but frankly found it lacking in a lot of the specific details and questions I had. This forum has really gone above and beyond to fill in those gaps.

    Lots of gaps still for what to do post primary though, so hopefully the podcasts and further research will fill those in the coming week! And thanks for the offer Squatchy! I’ll be reaching out shortly!

    Quote Originally Posted by piojo View Post
    I believe experimenting with process, tools, and materials will have a big influence on how much you enjoy the work.
    Agreed! That is were I am seriously lacking and really what I’m focusing on in the next few months; just making mead over and over again! However, I’m not too concerned with how to do this at scale, as that is were my expertise does lay. CIP is a breeze, the bottler I built can easily crank out 300 bottles/hr (not bad for $500!) and I plan to age in ~200L SS drums with a tri-clamp fitting on the top.

    What I am concerned about before my next test batch is making sure my fundamental mead making practices are nailed down before scaling starts.

    Is there anything you noticed that is currently missing? e.g. should I be buffering/adjusting my pH during fermentation? pH started at 4.23 and is currently (96hrs in) at 3.40. OG: 1.118, current gravity is 1.100.

    How many times will I rack and sulphite? Absolutely no idea right now. What is best practice for this?

    Thanks again all!

  8. Default

    I second the suggestion that you listen to the GotMead interviews and take notes. Listen to every interview from Ryan Carlson (Squatchy) and every interview from a pro meadery. Skip the ones that are just shooting the breeze. Your questions are answered, at least after you hear everyone's techniques and distill the "best practices" on your own. YouTube also has several interviews with pro meaderies.

    To save you the immediate worry, the common consensus is not to buffer in most cases. In my own experience, I lost points in a competition when most of the judges said my buffered mead lacked acidity which would have aided balance. There is some point where it's safer to buffer (pH below 3, perhaps, and I defer to those that have made more batches than me), but you're not there yet.
    Last edited by piojo; 01-12-2019 at 11:16 AM.

  9. #9

    Default

    I don't suggest buffering unless it's required. It's an old myth for the most part about yeast stalling due to pH. I believe part of this is because we superman the hell out of our yeast these days by rehydrating them with Go-ferm, dosing pure O2 and feeding a good nutrient schedule with organic nitrogen and temp control. I never buffer. And have not had to since I started using the protocols I have promoted around here. I've made over 150 different batches in the past four years, and many have gone close to or below 3.0 without one stall to pH.

    I'll come back and answer more of your Q's latter when I have some time
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  10. #10

    Default

    Hi All,

    So updates on this first batch after a month fermenting.

    It would seem this is fermenting much slower than expected.
    The yeast I bought came in a repackaged vacuum sealed bag. Despite adding 10g of 71-b and rehydrating with GoFerm, I have a feeling a lot of the yeast in there wasn't good anymore due to it being repackaged, resulting in an under-pitch.

    OG was 1.121
    Current gravity is 1.030. It's been sitting here for about a week now.

    I would have preferred this to go more dry and stop around 14%.

    I degassed twice a day until about a week ago and am still stirring with my lees stirrer every day.

    Fermentation also took awhile to really get going. About 4 days to get to 1.100

    At 14 days it was at 1.048

    pH stabilized around 3.30

    Temp consistently held at 18C in ferm chamber.

    Any thoughts on what might have caused this slow and stopped too soon fermentation?
    My guess is bad yeast that I bought, unless you see something really wrong with my protocols in the original post?

    Going to try another batch using yeast from another supplier in the original 5g packs, start with less honey and try to ferment batch 2 completely dry so I can then blend these two batches for a more ideal sweetness level.

    Thanks again for all your help and the podcasts have been a fabulous resource!

    Cheers

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Brookline, NH
    Posts
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    Default

    Is this the same recipe from your original post? 13.76 L of water and 7.4 kg of honey?

    When I run that through the gotmead calculator, I get an OG = 1.161

    71b has an alcohol tolerance of 14%, which would have left you with an SG =1.044.

    So, it looks like you did a good job of getting it down to 1.030, which has left you with an ABV = 16%.

  12. #12

    Default

    Yep it is. However, the original gravity reading I got at the start was 1.118.
    But the hydrometer I used broke have way through fermentation so had to use another one to get the final reading so I think it might be a bit off anyways as I know the two hydrometers where not calibrated the same. The second hydrometer read a original gravity of 1.121

    I've just started a second batch with an OG of 1.090 using D-47 and I'm aiming to take this batch completely dryness and hit about 12%.
    I used factory packaged yeast this time and that has made a huge difference; fermentation was up and running strong by the next morning (pitched around midnight).

    Third batch I'll got back to 71-B but use factory sealed yeast and see if there was a big difference between batch 1 and 3 in total fermentation time as batch 1 seemed to take way longer than expected.

  13. #13

    Default

    All of the yeast you buy is repackaged. I buy mine form Morewine.com
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

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