View Full Version : Help w/ my first batch

09-04-2007, 11:14 PM
Hello All!

This is my first batch of mead and I think there may be a problem. We began on 8/11/07, following Schramm's recipe for orange blossom mead. We started off boiling one gallon of water, removed it from heat, added the honey...then decided not to boil after all. Followed the rest of the recipe. The must was at 82 o F when we added the yeast. Initial Gravity was 1.11. When we sealed the primary bucket, I went to attach the fermentation lock, and proceeded to pop the rubber seal through the lid and into the must. I scrubbed my hands and arms and fished the little bugger out. Valuable lesson, that one.

We are keeping the fermenters in the bedroom at about 75o F. Saw glugging in the airlock begin that night. 16 days later (8/27/07) we racked into glass carboy. Fermentation had slowed, unfortunately I hadn't been counting bubbles per minute. Gravity reading at 1.01 I tasted the mead, and hoo boy! That was interesting. I'm not sure how to describe it.

Bubbles resumed that day, but one week later on 9/3/07 I noted that the vodka in the airlock is sitting differently, as seen in second picture, and there haven't been any bubbles. I had turned the airlock in the stopper so I could see it from where I was sitting. Later in the day, I noted that the level had moved down a little, but today it is back where it shows in the picture. The first picture is from 8/27/07, the day we racked it.


The level in the carboy is a bit low, should I be concerned? And clarity?

I'm hoping this undertaking teaches me a bit about patience. I'm really looking forward to tasting our first experiment.


09-04-2007, 11:27 PM
First off... Welcome to GotMead? You've found the best source for mead making information on the web.

Second, as far as the mead goes, I'd top off the carboy with some water then leave it alone until it drops clear. It looks like it's starting to clear a bit already.

Basically, my advice would be to give it time and all will be well... BTW, keep your arms out of the must. :icon_puke_r: Of course, that's just my .02

09-05-2007, 08:04 AM
Welcome Holly,

First, the level is a little low, but not drastically so. There should be some residual CO2 from the fermentation sitting on top of the Mead, which will help against oxidation. If you have a source of CO2, for example a Charger (http://www.northernbrewer.com/pics/thumbs/co2-charger.jpg), you could do a quick purge every now and then to ensure there is sufficient CO2 sitting on top of the Mead. Adding water to bring the level up will reduce the head space, but you are then watering down the product which will alter the flavor and mouthfeel. I would just leave it be for now.

As for the clarity, time will tell. If it is not clearing after a few months, you may have to use some sort of clarifying method, such as cold shocking or using a clarifier like Bentonite. For now, same advice as above. Leave it be.

Post your recipe per the forum format for us to see (recent example (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_smf&Itemid=412&topic=5499.0)). Also, give a description of the taste a go. That way we will have a better idea of what you have made and will be able to help with any changes that need to be made (or praise you on a succesful first batch).


"One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole batch."

09-05-2007, 12:13 PM
Thanks for the welcomes!

This morning I saw a bubble! :toothy10: 15 to 20 minutes to the next one, but it was still a bubble.

I don't have a charger. I think the closest thing to it in my house would be one of those 'wine saver' cans of inert gases.

When I read some descriptions of first tastes, the words "rocket fuel" stood out in my mind. The mead made my mouth all hot and tingly. I could taste some sweet honey goodness, but it wasn't the first thing on my mind.

Here's the recipe:

15 lbs orange blossom honey
4 gals water (3 gals chilled to fridge temp)
2 tsp yeast nutrient
1 tsp yeast energizer
2 packets Lalvin 7lb-1122 yeast

09-05-2007, 12:23 PM

It will taste like that for a while. Let it site there until its totally clear, then rack again, then leave it along for as long as you can. The longer you wait the more the alcohol burn/bite will back off and the better your mead will taste.

I'm starting a mead similar to yours soon, the changes are that i'll use more honey, d47 yeast, and a combo of go-ferm, fermaid-k, and DAP in place of the generic nutrients/energizer.

09-08-2007, 06:05 PM
Just a little update.

The vodka level is back up in the airlock. No more bubbles. Do the uneven levels in the two chambers of the lock mean there still some fermenting going on? And should I be terribly concerned about the spiders who have committed suicide by throwing themselves into the fermentation lock? I see at least two in there. *shudders*

Considering my last reading of 1.01 before I racked to secondary, its going to be a not so sweet mead, isn't it? Does backsweetening give the same effect as having more honey from the get-go?

My questions probably are more of a New-Bee nature. Would it be more appropriate to ask them in a new thread in that forum? I've been doing lots of searches as well. I've learned so much in the week I've been here. It's a pity I'm not rich. There are so many recipes that I want to try right this instant!

Yeah, still working on the patience thing...

09-08-2007, 10:11 PM
:laughing4: Aren't we all...

09-18-2007, 06:14 PM
I held a flashlight up to the carboy and found that it's REALLY not clear. I am seeing some bubbles rising in the mead itself, but none in the fermentation lock. I was thinking about taking another hydrometer reading, but now I'm thinking I just need to keep waiting. I don't want to risk adding oxygen to that carboy. Would it be safe to use my can of wine saver (co2, nitrogen and argon)? Or is a CO2 charger the only way to go?

*edited in*

After a quick forum search, I see that someone has recommended using a wine saver can to reduce the risk of oxidation. I'll try it!

09-18-2007, 06:27 PM
In general, if you have a batch trapped and it has been fermenting, there will be enough CO2 on the surface (and in the headspace) to negate having to recharge the gas. However, every time you open the trap and poke around, you disturb this gas layer and lose some of it.

My suggestion would be not to do anything but to tuck the batch away in a corner for 6 or 8 months to allow it to age and to clear. The pictures you posted look very much like any of my batches, so I'd guess that chances are good that you are headed down the road to a successful batch. Just be patient...

Good luck,

09-18-2007, 06:38 PM
Wow. Thanks for the superspeedy reply!

Would a cool basement corner be safe?

09-18-2007, 06:55 PM
very safe. patience is hard, especially for your first mead. you are doing great though. just leave it alone for a few months and youll be happy that you did. in the mean time, do lots of reading.

09-18-2007, 07:08 PM
Thankya much.

I'm starting a batch of JAO this weekend. A relatively fast foolproof mead might be good for me right now!

I will definitely continue to read. And save for more fermenters! Though I doubt I'll ever be as prolific as many of the posters here, I hope to eventually be good at this.

09-18-2007, 09:01 PM
The vodka level is back up in the airlock. No more bubbles. Do the uneven levels in the two chambers of the lock mean there still some fermenting going on? And should I be terribly concerned about the spiders who have committed suicide by throwing themselves into the fermentation lock? I see at least two in there. *shudders*

Regarding the spiders, didn't you get a cap with the airlock ? These caps are not airtight and can/should be left on the airlock, to prevent such problems.


Uneven levels mean there's more gas inside than outside pressure. So far so good : if it's not still fermenting, at least it's blancketed by CO2.
If you still see bubbles inside the must, it means there is still some fermentation going on (with the airlock I don't think it'd possible to have sufficient inside pressure to get carbonation, but I might be wrong.)

09-18-2007, 10:18 PM
I actually was given this carboy (one of two) by a meadmaking couple in Indiana. Lovely and generous folk. There were no caps on the airlocks. I may try to find some before my next 5 gallon batch.

09-19-2007, 12:13 AM
JAO is pretty good. next time i make it i will make the following changes:
1. k1v1116 yeast
-last time i used wyeast sweet mead yeast and it stopped way short
2. orange blossom honey
3. zest and juice oranges, leaving pith behind
-mine had a pithy flaovr that im really beginning to despise.
4. i overspiced, so next time ill use less spice, specifically less cinnamon
-that is the main complaint that ive gotten, to much cinnamon

disclaimer: theres nothing wrong with JAO. it does its job, make people realize that they can indeed make mead. for someone who has already successfully made a batch of mead, you might consider those alterations or similar ones.

09-19-2007, 03:53 AM
Nice gift they made you 8)

You can take a small piece of tinfoil and build a small replacement cap, cheap and easy :icon_study:

09-19-2007, 10:18 AM
Patience is a virtue...

Even Ancient Orange takes two months to be ready...

And use bread yeast the first time or a wine yeast as K1V or EC-1118 will ferment it dry... Dryness will make the pithiness worse...

Good luck,

09-19-2007, 10:26 AM
Thanks ucf! I bought a 5 gallon jug of honey at my brewshop, but I'm concerned that it's just basic grocery store honey. He said it is clover, but it doesn't mention clover on the bottle and there are like 5 countries listed for sources. It tastes yummy, but I don't have the taste buds that so many people here have.

ehanuise, yes, I thought it was a very nice gift. We (my husband and I) stopped in to visit their meadery on our way to Richmond for a martial arts convention. As they only had two flavors left in stock, they waived their tasting fee and kept the storefront open until we got there. We were running late, so they stayed late. Because we had traveled all the way from Nebraska, they gave us a bottle of dry raspberry mead from their private stock. When they found out we were interested in making mead ourselves, they suggested Schramm for reading, gave us two carboys, and chatted with us for another hour about the joys of meadmaking. I don't know how soon I would have gotten started without their kick in the bum. A missing cap on an airlock doesn't bother me at all. Like you said, it's a cheap and easy fix. Thank you for the suggestion. :)

Thanks, Pewter. My patience is slowly getting better, I think. I'll stick with the recipe this time, I need to know what I'm doing before I modify.

09-21-2007, 09:15 AM
The spiders "probably" wont mess anything up. They died in vodka so they wont be spreading any germs. Still I would be safe I'd clean out and change the airlock. A couple minutes with it off wont bother it.

Not sure if anyone has commented this....In your picture is that a window behind the mead? Yeast generally doesnt like sunlight. Nothing overly to worry about. I have my mead on a counter and put a black towel around it.

09-21-2007, 09:31 AM
Nope, no window. It does look like that, doesn't it?! That's the interesting paint choice of the previous owner of my home! Four years and I have yet to fix it.

Right now my mead is living in our bedroom. I am going to change the air lock before I move it downstairs.

11-27-2007, 09:05 PM
I never did move the carboy. She still sits there. I got antsy today and did a reading. 1.001

I poured the remainder into a pretty glass and had myself a taste. I'd call that straw colored. Not terribly clear. :D Much more mellow. Looong finish. That's about as descriptive as I get, but except for being not quite sweet enough, I think she'll turn out well.