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Thread: 1st batch

  1. Default 1st batch

    I am new to homebrewing with 5 batches of extract beer behind me that turned out well. In my internet travels, I came across "mead". I had never heard of it; but came upon this website and became fascinated by the postings. So, I decided I would jump in with a 1 gallon test batch to get my feet wet. Now I am obsessed too with plans of a 5 gallon batch of mead next as soon as I can get my hands on the honey (quality honey not from a grocery store like below). In an effort to learn, I decided to post the "recipe" I jumped into on that first faithful night and to ask a few questions. Believe me, all opinions are appreciated.

    10/25/05
    1. Prepared 1 dry packet of 5 grams of Red Star Pasteur Champagne yeast with 1 cup 100F water - covered and set aside. Why this yeast? The beer man at my local store suggested it.

    2. In about 1qt of water heating on the stove, I added:
    25 raisins
    juice of 1 lime (didn't have a lemon)
    juice of 1 orange
    12 oz of orange blossom honey
    10 oz of sourwood honey
    35 oz of a dark honey from the local grocery store that was "all natural".
    3 tablespoons of brewed tea
    4 oz of maple syrup (just because I had some and I like maple syrup!)
    double handful of crushed frozen blueberries

    3. Heated to just before boiling - stirring regularly and removing any white skim from top - total of about 30 minutes.

    4. placed brewing pot in ice bath in sink to 90F

    5. added yeast starter (with 1 tablespoon of yeast nutrient) - added water to 1 gallon jug leaving some air space in neck.

    6. Stoppered and shook like mad! Added air lock. Placed in a dark, unused cabinet in the kitchen.

    7. Color of tea, smells like honey

    Now for the log:
    10/26/05 - bubbles at 1 per second or two; color is already lighter brown
    11/3/05 - still bubbling at 1 per second or two; light copper color
    Note - my wife came in this morning and asked me if I had been baking bread in the kitchen; Ha! I hope this is a good sign!
    11/9/05 - bubbles have slowed to about 1 per minute; color is about the same as a new copper penny with about a 1/2 inch of "sludge" in the bottom of jug.

    Questions:
    1. I assume I should not rack to a second 1 gallon jug until all bubbles stop, ever how long this takes, is this correct?
    2. In my excitement, I completely forgot to take a specific gravity when I started, any reason to take one now?
    3. Should I attempt a taste when I rack to secondary?
    4. How long should I leave in secondary before bottling?
    5. Do you add priming sugar like beer when bottling, or just bottle as is?

    I know this was a wildly varied recipe list for my first batch; but, I figured with 1 gallon - why not experiment. Plan is for my next 5 gallon batch to be from a posted, "known" recipe from you guys.
    I greatly appreciate your comments; LOVE this website and all the postings. Looking forward to many more, and larger batches!
    Thanks.

  2. #2

    Default Re: 1st batch

    Welcome to the forum Tookalisten!

    Interesting batch! Everything but the kitchen sink. a Blueberry Orange Lime Acerglyn Melomel, I think only Oskaar has brewed stranger things, but I could be wrong. Best of luck, I'm thinking you'll end up with a semi sweet mead there. Here's a hint... lemons are not necessary, acid levels are usually OK without it. Heating your must is not usually necessary either. It strips the honey of the more subtle characters... not really a problem for your batch... it's hard to be subtle up against Orange Lime and Blueberry.

    Rack to the secondary when it bubbles between one every 10 to 30 seconds.

    SG? - Really no point now, your starting gravity (by looking at your ingredients) should be acceptable for a semisweet mead.

    Taste at Racking - Always a good Idea so you can learn what it's supposed to taste like at different stages... to help you in future if your concerned about a batch.

    How long? - Leave in the secondary as long as you can stand... at least to the point it clears. At that point I'd rack again and let age for 6 months before bottling.

    Bottle as is.

    Oh yes... almost forgot, basic recipes are a good place to start because they help you understand what your variations later contribute or detract from the end result... It's always good to have a base point of reference so you'll know how to bend those future batches to your will.

    Wrathwilde

  3. Default Re: 1st batch

    Welcome to the forums
    Pretty soon you will be as obssesed as the rest of us
    For the future, you might consider adding a pinch of tannin, it helps clear things faster, even though speed in mead making is a very relative term.
    Your batch should have a OG = 1.138/BRIX = 31.96 and PABV = 18.77 I'm not sure what the yeast's potential is but most champagne yeasts go to about 18% alcohol meaning that your mead should finish semi-sweet. Taking SG reading now would be sensless, you have fruit and stuff floating around. Like Wrath suggested, taste at racking and see how it is. Wrath is much more patient thanI could ever aspire t o be, I tend to rack off lees when I get one bubble every 6 - 10 seconds. I leave in secondary until clear and then rack again for bulk aging. After 3 -4 months I rack again and bottle when completely clear ( no more sedimentation).
    Search the forums for Ancient Orange, that's another easy 1 gal batch, just be sure to follow the recipe to the letter,no kidding, I deviated a little (cut the orange slices thinner) and while the mead was good, it had a pith aftertaste to it. By the third batch i went step by step, to the letter and the result was superb.
    You will find members of both camps on the forum,the boil and the don't boil groups, boiling will remove some of the higher esthers from the honey, but you do as you please, it is your mead! Just check around and inform yourself.

    That being said,
    Keep on brewin'
    Ted

  4. Default Re: 1st batch

    Wrathwilde and Brewbear,
    I greatly appreciate your input! I think I will go ahead and rack to a secondary tonight and give it a taste test - I will post my thoughts.
    Also, the good news is that one of my neighbors just put me in touch with a local honey source that I plan to visit this weekend to start a "planned, recipe driven batch".
    I found the Ancient Orange recipe and have an empty 1 gallon jug waiting to be filled with it this weekend too.
    Thanks!

  5. Default Re: 1st batch

    Quote Originally Posted by tookalisten

    Questions:
    1. I assume I should not rack to a second 1 gallon jug until all bubbles stop, ever how long this takes, is this correct?
    2. In my excitement, I completely forgot to take a specific gravity when I started, any reason to take one now?
    3. Should I attempt a taste when I rack to secondary?
    4. How long should I leave in secondary before bottling?
    5. Do you add priming sugar like beer when bottling, or just bottle as is?
    1. The only time I racked at all was when I used peaches. I only racked then because I had 3 inches of stuff on the bottom and when I bottle, I didn't want to suck all that up. On my other batches, I've not racked at all.
    2. You can calculate the SG, but it's still a good idea to take the measurement if you remember. Brewbear did the cals for you, but it's a good idea to learn the calcs yourself.
    3. I taste a LOT during the process. It's half the fun. I usually drink my hydrometer samples.
    4. As long as you can stand it.
    5. You can prime, but that would be if you want sparkling mead. You would have to use a bottle that can handle pressure, like a beer bottle or champagne bottle and cork. I have not done a sparkling mead yet.

    You also asked why the beer man suggested pasteur champagne yeast. I don't have the answer to that. How do you want it to end up? dry, sweet, semi-sweet? The batch I made with that yeast ended up dry and I don't really like dry. I really like the liquid mead yeasts. There are a library of yeasts to choose from. Years of experimentation ahead.

  6. Default Re: 1st batch

    Progress update:
    I have racked to a secondary 1 gallon jug. The taste was surprisingly good; not sure what I expected having never tasted mead before; but it did put a smile on my face. To be honest, the "alcohol burn" was a bit stronger than I thought it would be. Oddly, the taste and smell kinda reminded me of the homemade wine my Dad used to make. I think I definitely overpowered the subtle honey flavor from all the additions in my recipe. I now see the importance of starting with a simple mead so I have a good baseline to build from and compare to.
    Now for my questions:
    After racking, instead of having mead up to the neck of the 1 gallon jug, it is now about 1.5 inches below the neck. Should I consider heating up a little more honey, cooling and then stirring it to bring my volume up? Or should I just airlock, put in a dark spot.........relax........ and let time do its thing?
    This is addicting!

  7. #7

    Default Re: 1st batch

    Adding a little more honey & water couldn't hurt, you'll get a little more fermentation that will help blanket the mead with CO2 as you bulk age, and a bit more mead.

    Wrathwilde

  8. Default Re: 1st batch

    Will do; thanks!

  9. Default Re: 1st batch

    The alcohol burn is not really a thing to worry about. remember you tasted a very young mead, one that has not finished fermenting yet. The honey + water, well make sure you don't over do it, it is still fermenting. I use a small CO2 contraption that allows me to blow some CO2 into the carboy and keep the mead *covered* and the O2 out. The alcohol burn will go away as the mead matures and the flavors integrate better, you will have a return of the honey flavor too (although subdued, in the back of the tongue usually). Bottom line, if you liked it now, you'll like it more at second racking and you'll love it after a few months.

    Cheers,
    Ted

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