Originally Posted by ande1497
yes i did us the tablets. I will try what you guys have suggested and let you know. I copied the recipe from the winemakers recipe handbook and thats what they recommended for the acid and other ingredients. It smells like the yeast is fermenting when i pull the lid. I brew beer and wine and it smells similar to when its fermenting. I also did the test on the PH strips.
if you guys have a better recipe i'm open to it please send it over and i'll fire it up next time.
Your problem is that, being new to mead making, it's not so easy to work out about current suggested method (it's why I try to direct people to the NewBee guide), plus things like boiling/heating/"pasteurising" honey musts or adding acids, etc.
They're old techniques, that were either valid at the time (genuine reasons when they were used) or because of the relative lack of the knowledge that "they" used to have compared to what we have now.
For instance, a lot of older recipes suggested boiling the must, but that harks back to when it was the water that needed sanitising more than the honey. Plus "they" didn't know that honey is so anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, etc - yes they knew it had some healing properties, but not really why.
Also, it seemed that nobody had bothered to check the relative acidity or pH of honey musts. It does seem that these two (relatively big points) weren't thought of before the resurgence of mead making, when ? something like the early 80's (possibly a bit before).
After all, there was no real mead market then, other than a few apiarist types who'd always made some, but probably didn't know why they didn't need to do some of the processes that they used etc......
You don't need a recipe per se, just know a few points that will allow you to make a drinkable batch (I'll try to list them)....
1. How much honey ? = well you need to work out a reasonable gravity to aim for at the start, because too low gives a thin, watery sort of brew. Too much and the gravity is so high, that the yeast can have trouble starting the ferment, if at all (one of honey's protections from spoilage, is that the levels of sugar are so high, that the yeast just die off from osmotic shock).
Honey doesn't just keep fermenting forever. Yeasts have a tolerance to alcohol, which after all, is the waste product from them (yes, we like to drink yeast pee). At a certain level of alcohol content, they die off as the alcohol becomes toxic to them.
If you dig about, you'll find various tables that give information of how gravity relates to alcohol content, and that some yeast makers/producers publish data (Lalvin being the best data out there) that includes the maximum tolerance, when the yeast is used for grape musts. It's not necessarily accurate for meads, but it's a good guide.
Average honey usage would be in the 3 to 4 lb per gallon area - but again, add the lower amount and test the gravity.
2. The Water ? = well there's a fair bit of commentary about that. Basically if you like your tap water then that's probably fine to use. So called "spring water" isn't the magic bullet that some think it is. It'll be ok to use in most cases. RO/reverse osmosis or distilled water is also good, as it's as close to "soft" water that a lot of people can get, plus the lack of trace elements and oxygen in it isn't an issue. You should be adding nutrients/energiser/etc for the yeast to much on anyway, plus we now understand about the need for air/O2 by the yeast in the early stages of development/fermentation, so you should be adding that as well, by aeration of some form.
3. Acids/Acidity ? = Well Glucono delta-lactone
is one of the things that comes to mind. It's sometimes called gluconic acid. But the sugar content masks much, if not all, the signs of acidity. If you just take a pH reading of a must you've mixed to the gravity you want, you'll find that it's not that far from the same pH as vinegar, but it tastes nothing like it. So as the "sweet spot" for mead ferments is something in the 3.5 to 3.8 area anywhere about that, or even a little higher is fine. Yeast might like an acid environment, but if it's too acidic (below about 3.0pH) it will struggle to start the ferment or can cause a stuck ferment.
The main reason for aeration early in the ferment, is to give the yeast cells some air/O2, but it has the additional benefit of brining any sediment up into the mix. Which creates the "nucleation points" that carbonic acid (a.k.a. dissolved CO2) that the yeast have also produced can bind too and that gets removed from the ferment as bubbles of CO2. So aeration also helps prevent the wild swings in pH that you can get from a ferment, especially a newly started ferment.
4. Nutrients ? = It's current practice to use "GoFerm" rehydration nutrient to rehydrate the yeast. It's specifically formulated to have little or no nitrogen content, as nitrogen in the form that we use (di-ammonium phosphate) can be damaging to the newly developed yeast cells.
If you mixed a must, you don't add any other nutrients/energisers initially, you just rehydrate the yeast in water, GoFerm and a little bit of must, then once it's had 15 to 30 minutes or so getting wet, you add the mixture in, but then don't add anything else until there are visible signs of ferment (bubbles in the airlock etc).
If it turned out that you couldn't get GoFerm, then it's Ok to just rehydrate the yeast with water, as per pack instructions. Then I would add the first half of the nutrient as per splitting it up below, and then pitch the yeast.
Then it's also current practice to work out how much nutrient/energiser is likely to be needed (you can get all technical with that, but for ball park numbers the guidance on the pack is usually adequate to work). It's also recommended to use FermaidK or O, Fermax, Tronozymol, etc (tan coloured powder) combined nutrients, mixed with some extra nitrogen (DAP a.k.a. di-ammonium phosphate. it looks like white crystals similar to salt or sugar). I use 2 parts of the combined nutrients and 1 part of the DAP i.e. for a gallon batch, 1 teaspoon of the combined nutrient and half a teaspoon of DAP.
That can be kept separate until needed or it could be mixed up, then once you see some bubbles in the airlock, add half, aerating/stirring the ferment first, and a little bit after you've added the chems to mix them in (it's suggested to do it like that, so you can prevent a mead eruption spouting out the fermenter). you then take a gravity reading.
The aeration, done at least once a day helps with the yeast development, and taking a reading after each aeration means you can judge how the ferment is progressing and you will know when to add the second half of the nutrients. That's when the ferment has reached the 1/3rd sugar break e.g. if you started with a gravity of 1.090 before pitching the yeast, then the 1/3rd break is at 1.060
The 1/3rd break is when most aerate for the last time, add the second part of the nutrients/energiser and then airlock the ferment off to allow it to go into "anaerobic phase" when most of the alcohol is produced.
I think that's about it for the moment, if anyone else thinks of a point worthy of addition to those 4, I'm sure they'll add it.
I like to start my ferments at between 1.100 and 1.110 as that seems a healthy level that the yeast can easily manage (it allows for potential alcohol content of 13.5% to 15%). If you use a yeast that can handle more, it's usually best to read up about "step feeding" and add further honey later. Which is less likely to stress the yeast and cause problems.
I hope that makes sense. It should allow you to make straight forward "traditionals" successfully, just using the honey you like (or can get) and water, with nutrients and yeast. No "recipe" needed.
For other types of mead, you may need to either read up on the ingredients you want to use first, about when to add them, how much etc. Then you may need to follow a recipe, at least for some guidance in how it's made.