PDA

View Full Version : Hello everyone, lookin for some advice.



CrazyViking
12-03-2007, 07:08 PM
First off, thanks so much to vicki and everyone else who may have helped put this site together, its absolute gold.

DISCLAIMER - because im a noob, im asking alot of open ended questions, and it may seem like im asking for specific guidelines and rules, and im aware mead making is a very fluid process, so really, im just asking for opinions, and perhaps someone to say "i did that its a great idea" or "i did that.... dont do it... not even to save a puppy."

I have been toying around with the idea of home brewing mead for a while now, and my roomate at college just bought all the supplies to brew beer, so its given me a bit of an extra shove. I am just getting started as far as putting my stuff together, and am toying around with a few crazy ideas that i dont know are good, and am looking to get sorted out by people who know far better than I.

First, the issue of sanitizing bottles, carboys, and equipment. Im not really keen on the idea of using chemicals, especially when the whole nature of the beast here is all natural mead. Im kinda a tree hugging hippie that way. (Biodiesel truck in the near future) so i was wondering if using a steam cleaner would work to clean all the equipment between uses. Or if anyone had tried it. I read a thread about using the dishwasher, but i dont have one of those, and even then people used oxy-clean and whatnot. and then i found the following table posted by Mu. for steralizing bottles. great stuff. Im assuming if i use a steam sprayer to clean all the old stuff out, and use those times and heat ranges, i should be ok right?

Dry heat Sterilization:
338F (170C) for 60 minutes
320F (160C) for 120 minutes
302F (150C) for 150 minutes
284F (140C) for 180 minutes
250F (121C) for 12 hours

Second, i want to add flower petals to my mead for additional flavor. But am not sure how to go about this. I have read that any green part of the flower makes the brew bitter, and that usually just the petals are used, but i would have thought that it would be benifiical to use the stamen and "pollen parts" of the flower as well. I am also unclear as to when to add them. Im thinking i would add them, in a mesh bag, after the first rack, starting the second fermentation period. I am planning on using Red Rose, and Purple Violet petals. (Fraternity symbols, our colors are red, gold, and purple... Rose, Honey, Violet.... creative huh), and i know red rose petals are used in a type of mead, and you can make jelly out of purple violets, so im pretty sure im safe from a toxic standpoint.

Third, i am planning on adding just a little fruit to the mix, to give the yeast more nutrients. Is it better to go with whole fruit (cut in half to reveal the center), or to just add 100% fruit juice? I am thinking black berries, or raspberries, cherries, or rasins. But im not sure which is best.

Also, i want to do a high alcohol content mead, (insert "frat" jokes here), not because im a drunkard, but because i like the taste better. Im not really into "sweet" and have had low alcohol meads that were too sweet, but the "heroic" mead i had before, that was higher alcohol was much more "dry" but still brought forth all the flavors and aromas that went into making it. Which is what im after. I know to do this i need to use a champaign yeast, and make sure that there is a healthy environment for the yeast, which i think the fruit supplies with acids and nutrients. Am i missing anything on that one?

Im also interested in how to make the mead a bit.... thicker. Not like pancake syrup, but something that has a bit more viscosity to it. so that it dosnt feel like it evaporates the instant you drink it. Is there any known way to manipulate the thickness of the mead? perhaps using a bit more honey, or adding honey to the second stage fermentation, i read somewhere about adding glyserine, but i dont know where i would go to get that. or how much i would use.

And last, a kind of off the wall, theoretical idea i was having. Is that im a big whiskey drinker, and i love the smooth flavor given to jim beam and jack daniels by using charred oak barrels for the aging process. Has anyone heard about, or preferably personally experimented with aging mead in a charred oak barrel Kentucky whiskey style?

Sorry... that got kinda long, Hopefully i didnt ask too many obvious noob questions. ive tried to look around and research this stuff a bit before posting and asking questions.

-CV

Medsen Fey
12-03-2007, 08:14 PM
Welcome to GotMead CV,

As a Newbee myself, I can definitely say you have come to the right place to find information. You have asked a whole series of questions, and I am sure that you will get plenty of help to get started. One suggestion that I would make is to pick a proven, tried and true, fool-proof recipe for your first batch (many people pick Joe's Ancient Orange for this reason). I say this because if you are new to brewing, there are a number of basic skills and techniques to master so that you can brew cleanly, smoothly and safely. Just the sanitation alone can be challenging (especially if you go without sanitizer), and then you have reading a hydrometer (which will be your true friend), racking, bottling, and so forth. If you start with a good and simple recipe, you can focus on developing your comfort with handling all these tasks, and then, if there is a problem, you know your techniques and processes need some improvement. Like anything you do, there is a learning curve that makes you more efficient with time and practice. Then you can go nuts.

After picking a recipe, you may want to start by deciding on how to sanitize your fermentation vessel. How to do this will depend on which type you are using - A plastic bucket, a glass carboy, a PET bottle? The baking times and temps you mentioned for bottles won't be applicable for these items. Steam cleaning the plastic items should work fine (please be careful not to scald yourself), and boiling water can work well but CAUTION if you pour boiling water into a glass carboy, the sudden temperature change can cause it to shatter with disastrous results. I suspect a Steam spray could do the same. I know folks who brew and use soap and water and good hot rinsing in the fermenters and seem to do okay.

A final thought, you might want to read Ken Schramm's book "THE COMPLEAT MEADMAKER" it will prove to be time well spent if you want to explore all the possibilities of making mead.

Good luck in the endeavor,

Medsen

CrazyViking
12-03-2007, 09:13 PM
I totally agree, this site is awesome.

I do feel a bit sheepish, as after posting this, i continued to use the search function, and found some further information regarding some questions that as it turns out, are pretty common noob questions *doh* :BangHead:

Oh and i do agree, before i start goin crazy with experimental batches, ill probly do a tried and true batch. I just have a nasty habit of researching the hell out of anything i get interested in before i get started. So im simply getting curious questions responded to at this point, i havent even started to buy my equipment, got too many bills right now.

Ill look into that book as well. thanks for the pointer.

-CV

CrazyViking
12-03-2007, 09:34 PM
P.S. (after a little google searching)

Of interest regarding the oak barrel aging, i found this interesting article that describes the different characteristics of charred vs toasted oak barrels...

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3469/is_38_51/ai_66307266

"... Bourbon barrels are charred up to 55 seconds to caramelize wood sugars, which contributes to the color and flavor of whiskey.

Wine barrels are toasted over a slow fire for about 45 minutes to bring out desired aromas and flavors in the white oak-- flavors like vanilla, clove, cinnamon, chocolate and nutmeg, which contribute to the wine's taste. Today, the fourth-generation company boasts stave mills throughout the Midwest and Europe that produce more than half of the barrels made n the world...."

So it would seem for a Rose mead, a lower alcohol content yeast (yeilding a sweeter mead), and a toasted barrel would be better.

and a charred barrel would be good for a higher alcohol content (dry) mead using champaign yeast.

Might make for an interesting experiment at some point, to get one of each barrel, or....... hell, ask the barrel company if they can toast the barrel.... and then char it :cheers:

-CV

Medsen Fey
12-03-2007, 09:37 PM
I like to research things quite a bit as well, so I know the feeling, and this site is a treasure trove of information. As you are preparing, another good place to look for some good starting information is in the Mead NewBee Guide on the Gotmead site (not the forums) Here (http://www.gotmead.com/content/blogcategory/108/14/). This will help help you focus in on the essential equipment you will need and should get you going strong.

Have fun,
Medsen

wayneb
12-03-2007, 10:53 PM
Hey, Crazy! Welcome to "GotMead?"!!

I'm not gonna try to answer any of your original questions, since you've discovered the utility and the pleasure of using the Search Tool. ;)

But I agree with Medsen, try a simple, proven recipe first. In fact I don't personally recommend JAO as a first "real" mead, although it is a good thing to get started so you'll have something to drink while the real thing is aging! :laughing7:

I'd recommend that you search the recipes on the site and pick a moderate gravity traditional (only honey, yeast and water) or simple melomel. Then read all you can about the techniques of meadmaking and the principles of fermentation here on the site, and give it a go! When you get ready to pitch yeast on your first batch, if you have any specific questions, then post your planned recipe here and ask away! We'll be standing by to help. :toothy10:

PS - When you've got a batch or two under your belt, I'd suggest that you consider joining the site as a Patron. You'll find loads of specific information on specialized subjects such as oak aging, written by some of the worlds' greatest authorities on meadmaking, over in the Patrons' Only sections!

teljkon
12-04-2007, 07:53 AM
Ill say this stick to the all nat mead making there are not enough of us & we need all we can get to get more data under our belt. I personally staralize all my bottles by boiling. I also staralize my carboys by pouring some Boiling watter into my carboys corking it and swirling shaking to make sure that it touches every surface in the carboy. This is a cheap and almost free way to prepare your glass for fermentation or bottling. Keep the obvious rules in mind for handaling glass as medsen said. IE dont heat then cool to quick or take cool glass and heat it to quick this avoids cracking. Do not use chiped glass or cracked glass yada yada. Also puting boiling water in your carboy and then corking it is not recomended by Got mead the moderater belives it is dangerous. I feel that your cork will pop before the carboy blows up but this is just me and some people I have spoken to. The moderator ,who is also a engineer "there all strange" as somone once told me, feels diffrently.

Also like Wayneb said join the patrons when you can if money was not an isue for me I would have long ago. A big tip I can tell you is to join a local club. Either a brew club, vinting club, and on ocasion there are even mazing clubs. Mazing clubs = mead making clubs. The big thing about all natuaral mazing is that there is only one portion of mead making that can not be recreated by all natural methods. From nutriients, starelization, to stoping fermentation can all be done all natuarl. The only thing that cant is post primary sterilization. This is why I personally pasturize my mead! Even alot of all natural mead makers use the no boil method but I feel defrentaly. You can boil your mead post fermentation but you will loose alchool. Finally good luck & may your make many great meads & welcome to got mead.
:happy10:

wayneb
12-04-2007, 12:13 PM
Hey, teljkon, the moderator isn't the only one who considers the boiling water in a sealed carboy to be a dangerous idea. Even when you pre-heat the glass, adding boiling water to a closed bottle filled with room temperature air, like the carboy, will raise the air pressure in that bottle, possibly exceeding the burst strength of the glass. Don't rely on a stopper to blow to release that pressure -- if you've jammed the stopper in real well, there are no guarantees that'll happen. The result - glass shards flying everywhere, and your hands & fingers sliced to ribbons.

Not my idea of a good time.

That said, I wholeheartedly agree with your suggestion for anyone new to the hobby to join a club. You'll learn a lot about technique, far quicker than you will if you go it alone, and you'll meet a bunch of guys with the same general interest. Hard to beat that!

Oskaar
12-04-2007, 01:15 PM
Oskaar <---- Not an engineer . . . But I play one on TV!

Teljkon, if you have a beef with me PM me and we'll work through it.

Oskaar

Angus
12-04-2007, 03:05 PM
I'll step in here by saying that I am an engineer. Pouring boiling water into any glass is just not a good idea. Glass has low thermal conductivity and high thermal expansion coefficients, which means that it can shatter easily when stressed by thermal shock. Something that large breaking apart in your hands will create shards that are very dangerous, if not deadly if they penetrate the arm or neck. Also, heated water increases the internal pressure of a closed vessel extremely rapidly when the water is aggitated. This could lead to an explosive situation with the aforementioned shards becoming projectiles!!!

If the bung itself does pop out before the carboy shatters, it may very well injure you or another person. An eye injury is not fun. Trust me on this! If the bung misses anything, the potential for scolding water to exit and burn you is fairly high. Why risk it!

Therefore, my advice is to refrain from pouring boiling water into an empty carboy, unless there is sufficient cold water already in the carboy to cool the hot water to below the level where thermal shock may occur. Also, do not seal it with anything.

Is it really worth risking injury or the loss of a carboy when there are already some tried and true methods out there. A carboy brush, some hot water and some elbow grease does an excellent job and is very safe.

Angus

webmaster
12-04-2007, 03:15 PM
OK, I haven't stepped in until now, because I've been overwhelmed with Meadfest and IMA stuff. However, this is what I have to say on this subject:

Gotmead.com is the biggest venue for learning about mead in the world. Because of that, I take a very hard line in making sure that we don't promote any practices that may be unsafe. I couldn't live with myself if a technique learned here got someone hurt or killed. To that effect, Oskaar is promoting my wishes. Oh, and he is most emphatically *not* an engineer. He's a computer geek, like me. And by the way, I'm *married* to an engineer, so watch it, LOL.

So, that being said, if you wish to use techniques that may be unsafe, knock yourself out. If we, as we have here, publish a disclaimer that Gotmead feels this is an unsafe practice, then that is us attempting to ensure the safety of all who read here. If you wish to continue using said practice, feel free. Since we have documented instances in this case of this happening, I will not continue to allow this to be promoted as safe.

If you wish to knock me, my site, or my moderators, please email me or PM me privately. Friendly disagreement is, as always, welcome. Derogatory remarks about members or moderators ARE NOT. This open forum is not the place. Remember, Gotmead is privately owned and operated. I make and enforce the rules. Take up issues with me, please.

akueck
12-04-2007, 04:12 PM
I'd like to chime in as well (as a materials engineer studying ceramics) that thermal shocking glass is a really bad idea. You might get away with it a few times (or many), but fracture of things like glass is statistical (i.e. random, based on flaw size distributions), unlike the fracture of metals which is more predictable. When the glass goes, and it will eventually, it will explode suddenly and without warning. To make things worse, each time you perform a thermal cycle on the carboy, you will be growing some existing cracks in the glass (they're there, trust me, even if you can't see them). Hot water actually attacks glasses, making crack-growing easy to do. This is all fine and dandy until one crack gets big enough to run through the thickness upon the next thermal cycle. It only takes one crack to set the whole thing off. Critical cracks in glasses are usually 10s to 100s of microns long. Useful fact: the naked eye can resolve about 250 microns. This means you won't see the crack that blows up your carboy.

StarSan and Iodophor are perfectly good alternatives. Go with one of these.

teljkon
12-04-2007, 05:33 PM
This post has been moderated by Oskaar See my comments in RED.

Ive been using this method for 2 years know with good results and never had a problem. I think its a great way to avoid using chemicals in your brewing process as well as great savings in money. Oskar I though you were an engineer becaus of the space shuttle work (that was WayneB actually). Sorry my mistake, but when i give advice and then have to nock it I feel the need to say why. The whole enginering jab is to illustrate my thoughts that you guys are over thinking this. Also Keep in mind ive blown glass im well aware of what it can do.

MODERATED COMMENT

I also apolagize for acting like a bit of a dick as I was feeling attacked.That's understandable.

MODERATED COMMENT
:happy10:

Again, please refrain from jabs at other members of this forum and move on.

Mead4Speed
12-04-2007, 06:44 PM
Ill say this stick to the all nat mead making there are not enough of us & we need all we can get to get more data under our belt. I personally staralize all my bottles by boiling. I also staralize my carboys by pouring some Boiling watter into my carboys corking it and swirling shaking to make sure that it touches every surface in the carboy. This is a cheap and almost free way to prepare your glass for fermentation or bottling. Keep the obvious rules in mind for handaling glass as medsen said. IE dont heat then cool to quick or take cool glass and heat it to quick this avoids cracking. Do not use chiped glass or cracked glass yada yada. Also puting boiling water in your carboy and then corking it is not recomended by Got mead the moderater belives it is dangerous. I feel that your cork will pop before the carboy blows up but this is just me and some people I have spoken to. The moderator ,who is also a engineer "there all strange" as somone once told me, feels diffrently.

Also like Wayneb said join the patrons when you can if money was not an isue for me I would have long ago. A big tip I can tell you is to join a local club. Either a brew club, vinting club, and on ocasion there are even mazing clubs. Mazing clubs = mead making clubs. The big thing about all natuaral mazing is that there is only one portion of mead making that can not be recreated by all natural methods. From nutriients, starelization, to stoping fermentation can all be done all natuarl. The only thing that cant is post primary sterilization. This is why I personally pasturize my mead! Even alot of all natural mead makers use the no boil method but I feel defrentaly. You can boil your mead post fermentation but you will loose alchool. Finally good luck & may your make many great meads & welcome to got mead.
:happy10:


I'll agree that we need more info sharing as this site produces and I for one am grateful for it's existence and those who share here. The only way to improve the product is to share experience so we noobs aren't wasting the same time making mistakes that we could have learned from others. Not that we shouldn't all pay our dues, but learning first and committing new mistakes or learning new things comes faster when you're not wasting time making mistakes that could have been avoided.

On the other hand, if more and more people start making mead, the price of honey goes up, and that ain't a good thing for a meadmaker :sad2:

Just like the cost of grapes... of course transportation has made the cost rise but where I get my grapes from the cost has risen far above transport costs and it's due to more and more people buying grapes to make their own wine, which means it costs me more to make mine now.

Supply and demand sucks

webmaster
12-04-2007, 08:34 PM
Ive been using this method for 2 years know with good results and never had a problem. I think its a great way to avoid using chemicals in your brewing process as well as great savings in money. Oskar I though you were an engineer becaus of the space shuttle work. Sorry my mistake, but when i give advice and then have to nock it I feel the need to say why. The whole enginering jab is to illustrate my thoughts that you guys are over thinking this. Also Keep in mind ive blown glass im well aware of what it can do.



teljkon,

If you wish to risk getting injured while doing this, its a free country. However, as I say, we have documented occasions when exactly what the engineers here are saying *can* happen, *has* happened, and people got hurt. So our caution is entirely correct, given the evidence and scientific information. 2 years experience with washing carboys does not negate decades of data.

As far as the glassblowing thing, commercially produced and home-produced glass are completely different, and are not germane to this conversation.

Glass has well known properties, which you've seen outlined here by qualified professionals. If you choose to disregard the warnings of people with many years of experience in these things, you are of course free to ignore them. I stand resolutely by my safety standards, and will continue to do so.

Continued comments telling people that pouring boiling water into glass containers is safe in these forums will be moderated. This is an unsafe practice, is not recommended here, and statements asserting its safety in the face of scientific evidence and documented incidents will not be allowed.

This is my formal disclaimer:


POURING BOILING LIQUID INTO GLASS CONTAINERS IS DANGEROUS AND CAN CAUSE EXPLOSIVE FRACTURES THAT COULD INJURE OR KILL. GOTMEAD RECOMMENDS THAT YOU **NEVER** PUT BOILING LIQUIDS INTO GLASS CONTAINERS FOR ANY REASON.

Back to the conversation at hand.....

How do I clean my carboys? I fill them with warm water, and pour in some dishwashing soap (generally Cascade). This is agitated to mix in the Cascade, then let sit overnight. The next day I rinse it out, then add more water and scrub it with my carboy brush to remove any remaining stubborn particles (generally there are only a few stubborn small areas), empty, then rinse with clean water and sanitize. For sanitizing I've used BeerBright and StarSan most recently.

ucflumberjack
12-04-2007, 09:24 PM
I got one of those jet bottle washers that goes onto the sink for cleaning out bottles. I use that to clean carboys also, it is a bit of a task to hold the carboy up in the air for that long, but im probably im a little bigger and a little stronger than some people here so do so at your own risk....... dont do it if your gonna drop it. sometimes i put it down for a few seconds and start again. most of my brewing/meadmaking stuff happens in one day so i dont have time to start the night before and this way is quick, which is the main reason i do this. I get all the gunk of with then put in some strong sanitizer solution and swish around and put it upside down on something stable to dry while im doing the other steps of whater happens to be goin on.