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Thread: How do you get started making mead?

  1. #21
    Join Date
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    On the farm, in southern BC
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    Thumbs up

    Like so many others, I've found you during a search for mead recipes; and PHEW, am I ever glad I've found you guys!!
    I've been making my own wines for 3 years or so, and figured, 'hey, if I can make wine from kits, then what else can I make it out of?!'. Two 13L batches of wine later, and here I am! I made them identical, except for the yeast (we've moved since, and my notes are missing...) anyway, I recall batch #1 tasted like apples and flowers, and #2 was pineapple-y and flowers. The recipe, as I recall it, was the rinds and juice from 2&1/2 lemons, 2T black tea, brewed, & 3kg of honey. I winded up with (almost) grenades!!
    So, this time, when I make my 23L batch of mead, I'll be stopping the fermentation with something.... Again, I'm here to learn, and it's certainly been an interesting ready.
    Thanks for keeping this site interesting, and up and running!

  2. Default Fooling the foolproof method...

    Hiya,
    Just finished making my first batch of mead...yup used the foolproof method ..yet somehow it is not working. I added the yeast and nothing. Checked the yeast and it is alive...any suggestions? Used the ancient orange recipe...could it be too cold?? No bubbles happening at all
    Thanks.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    Ottawa, ON
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    Default

    What temperature is it at? Did you change anything in the recipe? How long has it been? How did you check the yeast?
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014
    "I tend to....um, er, experiment, and go outside the box. Sometimes outside the whole department store." - Ebonhawk, 2014

  4. Default

    I too have a question about my JAO. It's been in there for a month, and is starting to taste quite good (had my first taste today!)... now, will I need to stop the fermentation at some point? Or will the yeast eventually run out of oxygen/food and simply stop? Or is it as simple as filtering the yeast out by running it through a coffee filter or something at bottling?

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Tennessee Valley
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    1,128

    Default

    No, the bread yeast will not continue to ferment, due to the alcohol level.

    You can stabilize before bottling or just rack and let it bulk age for a while. I think I bottled mine at 9 months.
    “Give a man a beer, waste an hour. Teach a man to brew, and waste a lifetime!”

    slàinte mhath

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by nicker00 View Post
    Hiya,
    Just finished making my first batch of mead...yup used the foolproof method ..yet somehow it is not working. I added the yeast and nothing. Checked the yeast and it is alive...any suggestions? Used the ancient orange recipe...could it be too cold?? No bubbles happening at all
    Thanks.
    You know, after I mix my flour, salt, water and bread yeast, I let the bread dough sits in the fridge overnight and even at that temperature the dough would still rise by the morning as opposed to 1-2 hours in room temperature so I don't think it will never be too cold unless it is outdoor in minus condition. It just means that the yeast might work a bit slower than at the optimal temperature of 18c-20c etc.

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Teufelhund View Post


    Here's a recipe for prison hooch. No, never been there except as an MP, But I did hear about this:

    1 # 10 can pineapple
    2 doughnuts
    2 C sugar
    Cover and hide from the CO's for 3-4 weeks. Enjoy.



    DD
    ah this might work though I don't have to try it as I have access to a selection of premium yeasts

    There is a similar recipe called Kvas from Russia. Though it's a low alcoholic drink, they are fermented.

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Helena, California
    Posts
    34

    Default Bottles / carboys

    I would consider using the big plastic water carboys for beer (which isn't going to sit in it very long), but not for mead which you may need to bulk age for several months or a year.

    When I bought my wine kit recently, I did opt for a better bottle instead of glass carboy, mostly because it was going to be a 6 gallon one and the thought of moving around and handling a 6 gallon glass carboy is frightening... but also because I happened to find a 2 glass carboys (one 5 gallon, and one 3 gallon -- made in Mexico) sitting in the little wine cave that came with the house I just bought. So I figured, I might as well have a variety depending what I want to do.

    For now, I'm not using the better bottle yet, and instead will be doing one 3 gallon (glass carboy) and two 1 gallon (glass jugs) for secondary. But I'm sure I will end up attempting a bulk age in the better bottle at some point... supposedly they are not gas permeable and do not allow oxidation to happen. Only one way to find out...

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Northeast Southweston, CT, USA
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    Default

    Another new mead maker here.

    I have two 1-gallon batches in the works now (orange/spice and lemon/tea) in gallon jugs with balloons as makeshift airlocks. They seem to be fermenting nicely as of now, the seventh day.

    Last night it struck me that I don't have a 'baseline' for what 'plain' mead tastes like. So I whipped up a 3 liter batch with the following:

    3 lbs store brand honey
    25 raisins, each cut in half
    1 packet grocery store variety yeast
    aprox 2.25 liters bottled spring water

    I added everything 'cold'. No boiling or heating.
    I am using a balloon with a pinhole as a makeshift airlock.

    After 15 hours, there had been no activity, so I ground the contents of one teabag and added it to the must.

    I really hated to do this, since I want a 'plain' mead, but I didn't know what else to do.

    Within half an hour, the balloon began to inflate, so I am guessing that its finally begun to ferment.

    My question is this: How much tea leaf should I add to a 3 liter batch of must? How much CAN I add without imparting a 'tea' taste to the final product?

    I considered adding orange or lemon peel instead, but again, I don't want to flavor the batch, and I don't have any oranges or lemons at the moment.

    I'm sure that some in the forum will want to tell me that I should have a proper airlock, a carboy, a baume' gauge, hydrometer and/or a method of testing pH, but I need to do this on the cheap.

    Does anyone have experience/anecdotes/opinions on how much tea to add?

    Also, would there be any value to brewing the tea first, chopping the used leaves, and adding those to the must, instead of unbrewed tea?


    Thanks for any/all help,

    Joe

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Evergreen, CO (west of and above the Denver smog!)
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    5,794

    Default

    Hi, Joe! Welcome to "Gotmead?"!!

    Rather than answering your questions in detail here, let me suggest first that you drill down to the very first post in this thread - which is a set of guidelines for new meadmakers written by one of our "veteran" meadmakers, Wrath. After you read that post then head on over to the "NewBee Guide" to meadmaking. You'll find a link to that document over on the left side of this page. You'll find a wealth of info on meadmaking in both places that should answer most of the questions you have now, and if there are any other things you'd like clarification on, then post them in a new thread within this section. We'll be happy to help.

    I find it interesting that your meads started fermenting coincident with a tea addition, since in general terms tea doesn't provide much in the way of nutrients or other things that stimulate fermentation. If I had to guess, I'd say that it is more likely that your yeast just started up slowly. 3 lbs of honey in only 2-1/4 liters of water is a pretty high concentration of honey, and at that specific gravity, a store-bought bread yeast might have a little trouble getting started, especially if you hadn't rehydrated it first.

    In any case, I'm glad to hear that things are going well for you now, and good luck with the continued fermentation.
    Na zdrowie!

    Wayne B.

  11. #31
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    Default

    Thanks Wayne.

    Don't know if it'll mean anything to you, but Alliance College Alum here.

    The total mix was 3 liters. i extrapolated the proportions. The 'average' I've seen for the amount of honey for a gallon of mead is 3 lbs. Since a gallon is 3.75 liters, I figured it wouldn't make a huge difference. Of course, I've never done this before, so I'm probably wrong.

    I've been going nuts trying to do this on the cheap, and I'll be darned if I'm going to go out and buy glass jugs. The empty 3liter jugs from Lambrusco will have to do for now.

    I appreciate the pointer to the bottom of the thread. I had looked around and not seen anyone giving quantities for things like tea leaves, so I figured I'd ask.

    I was interested in the activity that showed itself right after I added the tea leaf, and I added two and two. It may well be that the yeast just got off to a really slow start, but tea is magical stuff, so who knows?


    Thanks again,

    Joe

    Quote Originally Posted by wayneb View Post
    Hi, Joe! Welcome to "Gotmead?"!!




    Rather than answering your questions in detail here, let me suggest first that you drill down to the very first post in this thread - which is a set of guidelines for new meadmakers written by one of our "veteran" meadmakers, Wrath. After you read that post then head on over to the "NewBee Guide" to meadmaking. You'll find a link to that document over on the left side of this page. You'll find a wealth of info on meadmaking in both places that should answer most of the questions you have now, and if there are any other things you'd like clarification on, then post them in a new thread within this section. We'll be happy to help.

    I find it interesting that your meads started fermenting coincident with a tea addition, since in general terms tea doesn't provide much in the way of nutrients or other things that stimulate fermentation. If I had to guess, I'd say that it is more likely that your yeast just started up slowly. 3 lbs of honey in only 2-1/4 liters of water is a pretty high concentration of honey, and at that specific gravity, a store-bought bread yeast might have a little trouble getting started, especially if you hadn't rehydrated it first.

    In any case, I'm glad to hear that things are going well for you now, and good luck with the continued fermentation.

  12. #32
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    Evergreen, CO (west of and above the Denver smog!)
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    Alliance College? Yeah, it does ring a bell! Dzień dobry, pan!

    Nothing wrong with keeping your costs as low as possible... I have lots of "home made" or "acquired" equipment and I still re-use bottles to save a few bucks here and there.
    Na zdrowie!

    Wayne B.

  13. #33
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    Ottawa, ON
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    Default

    My suspicion if it started bubbling immediately after you added the tea is that it was starting already, it just hadn't reached that critical point of production where it needs to release it, and adding ground tea leaves gave it nucleation points to release CO2... it likely would have started bubbling within a couple of hours anyway even if you hadn't added the tea leaves.

    I use tea for tannins in my own meads and wines, and I haven't done all that much experimenting with greater amounts but I usually use one double-cup tea bag per gallon, steeped until cold, and I can detect the taste before fermentation, but never after.
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014
    "I tend to....um, er, experiment, and go outside the box. Sometimes outside the whole department store." - Ebonhawk, 2014

  14. Default haven't even started yet

    so i'm looking to make a batch of mead soon and i'm going to use the "ancient recipe" i was wondering if that could be modified with a different yeast to raise the alcohol content, or if i should just keep it as is? also when i really get into it i was wondering if aging in wooden barrels is an option, as i assume that's the way it would have been back in the day.

  15. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by moyer442 View Post
    so i'm looking to make a batch of mead soon and i'm going to use the "ancient recipe" i was wondering if that could be modified with a different yeast to raise the alcohol content, or if i should just keep it as is? also when i really get into it i was wondering if aging in wooden barrels is an option, as i assume that's the way it would have been back in the day.
    Hello and welcome to the hobby! I would go with the recipe as is. It's very forgiving where other things might go wrong when stray far off the beaten path. You'll get a pretty tasty mead from JOAM .

    It is possible to age in Wooden barrels, however most of us use oak chips or cubes as it is much less expensive than owning a barrel, and maintaining a barrel can be tricky. But yes oak can add an entire new level to certain recipes.

    Using the JOAM recipe to start off is also good, so you can get a hang of what your doing without risking more expensive honeys and ingredients. No need to paint the Sistine chapel on your first try. What you can do is try out different fruits like raspberries, grapes or anything else really.

    Good luck and happy meading.
    Gallons O' Boos made since 2012: 69
    "It may take longer to be patient" ~Chevette Girl
    My Home Brewing Blog

  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marshmallow Blue View Post
    Hello and welcome to the hobby! I would go with the recipe as is. It's very forgiving where other things might go wrong when stray far off the beaten path. You'll get a pretty tasty mead from JOAM .

    It is possible to age in Wooden barrels, however most of us use oak chips or cubes as it is much less expensive than owning a barrel, and maintaining a barrel can be tricky. But yes oak can add an entire new level to certain recipes.

    Using the JOAM recipe to start off is also good, so you can get a hang of what your doing without risking more expensive honeys and ingredients. No need to paint the Sistine chapel on your first try. What you can do is try out different fruits like raspberries, grapes or anything else really.
    I've done a lot of experimenting with the JAO recipe and what I find is the two things that make it what it is, is the amount of honey (3.5 lb per gallon) and the bread yeast (gets going fast, doesn't eat ALL the sugars, and when it quits, it's really done) Otherwise the mead (especially a more potent one or a really dry one) will need aging for six months to a year to be drinkable, where the ancient meads are good to drink in 2 months.
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014
    "I tend to....um, er, experiment, and go outside the box. Sometimes outside the whole department store." - Ebonhawk, 2014

  17. #37

    Default How I came to mead

    Greetings,

    I have made a post here and have been reading a few things. Figured I would introduce myself and my first mead experience.

    I am a Flying Crew Chief in the military (glorified aircraft mechanic that gets to wear a flight suit). Essentially I only have one responsibility and that it to make sure the airplane is ready to fly and fix it if it isn't. Only difference between me and a regular mechanic is I go with the plane where ever it may go. Oh and if its ready to go and I have the time I "party like a rock star". Disclaimer: That statement is totally location dependent.

    I enjoy traveling the world (approx 220+ days a year) and imbibing the local micro brews and spirits.

    I was always aware of mead and its romantic portrayals in middle age and fantasy literature.

    On one such trip I happened to pass through Ireland about 2 years ago and was able to get my hands on some "Irish Mead" from Bunratty Castle (When I go to Ireland for vacation I will add Bunratty somewhere into the tours of Guinness and Whiskey distillery tours). An added bonus: it came in a very cool clay glassware vassal. (My "souvenirs" from around the world tend to be alcohol related...alcohol is found in literally every part of history I have ever seen and I think it is something that in moderation (tolerances vary) brings a common ground for all peoples))

    Any how, when I finally got home and tried the gloriously delicious nectar of life....I was hooked!!

    Within a month I had scoured every edge of the internet I could and within a fortnight I had my very first JAOM fermenting.

    It was a success and I am currently on my 3rd batch (a JAOM modification) and working some minor issues with my 2nd batch (an attempt at sack strength that I was not quite ready for).

    I enjoy reading all of the posts and hopefully getting to know some of you. Thanks for reading and looking forward to learning, sharing and collaborating with all of you.

    On a side note: If I were to use this knowledge for evil, it would be to make a very large batch and have it ready in time for the local Renaissance Fair and become a god. Or demi-god. Aspect? ...Ok I will settle for Hero status.

  18. #38

    Default

    Greetings to all at GotMead from the dry desert Southwest.

    I decided to give mead a shot after my wife received a gallon of raw honey from someone on the reservation she was working a temp accounting job. We had no idea what to do with a gallon of honey. I think we have a 12oz bear of some brand in the pantry that's been there for years.

    A suggestion from a friend that brews beer (something else I may try) and a google search later and here I am. I am definitely a DIY guy. My other big hobby is casting my own lead bullets and shot to reload my own ammo for target shooting.

    I currently have a 6 gal carboy with a 5ish gal batch of Joe's Ancient Orange going eight days in. I added another 6lbs of raw desert blossom honey to the gallon for a total of 18lbs. Its bubbling away in the back bedroom closet, 75-77F with the fan off and vents closed.

    I also started a single gallon batch of local apricots and ginger melomel. Using 3lb of desert blossom honey, 1.5lbs of apricots, 2oz of thin sliced ginger simmered in honey/water w/ irish moss and nutes/energizer, and Red Star champagne yeast. Its three days in and smelling good.

    Schnepf Farms is drawing down its Peach Festival next week and I plan on grabbing 15-20lbs Thursday morning for a big batch of Medium Dry Peach Mead. Bought a gallon of local Orange Blossom honey for it. Apple, melon, and berry seasons are coming! I am addicted to the process already.

  19. Default

    So I don't know if I am posting this right, but here it goes.(newbee to the forums)
    I am starting to make bigger batches of mead(15-22 gallon batches). How do I figure out how much yeast to use for these batches? I appreciate any help and/or advice

  20. #40
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by dkunzman View Post
    So I don't know if I am posting this right, but here it goes.(newbee to the forums)
    I am starting to make bigger batches of mead(15-22 gallon batches). How do I figure out how much yeast to use for these batches? I appreciate any help and/or advice
    Since most wine yeast packets say 1 packet to 5 gallons, I would figure it that way. You can get away with less... say, 1 packet to 6 gallons... and nurse it, or you can use a little more and get them beasties working quickly.

    I have been making mostly 1 gallon batches lately, and I've been using a full packet for each, which is 5x what they consider a minimum. I COULD divvy the yeast up, but that'd be a nightmare.

    Personally, for a 15 gallon batch, I think I'd stick with three packets. For 22 gallons, I'd probably use 5.

    You could grow the yeast in a separate vessel for a day or two, feeding it to get it to multiply and build up a bigger colony too. I've never done this and don't know what pitfalls you might encounter with it.

    I'm sure that someone more experienced than myself will be able to give you more info.


    Joe
    Intelligence Is Knowing That A Tomato Is A Fruit
    Wisdom Is Knowing Not To Put It In A Fruit Salad

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