View Full Version : My VERY FIRST Batch!... Help?

12-10-2007, 10:00 PM
Okay, after reading some of the not-so-great reviews about commercial meads - particularly Chaucer - I've decided to give up what I thought I knew about mead and attempt to brew my own (I am going with http://JAO for all those curious). I need help from the collective wealth of information, though, as it has left me with a couple of questions.

First, how much of a sin is it to use a plastic carboy in lieu of a glass one? (I already own a plastic).

Second, I am going to make a five gallon batch, upping all of the ingredients accordingly (I know, it's overconfident to the point of cocky to presume that I will succeed, but I would rather spend a few more dollars on more ingredients and have it fail than save a couple of dollars, succeed, not get enough and pine for more). To flaunt how little I know about the fermenting process: Should I increase the fermentation time accordingly?

Since I am one of those superorganized (anal) types, I plan to bottle and cork it after it ferments. Assuming nothing, I want to make sure this is okay.

Finally, I keep my apartment a little cooler than the recipe calls for (65-70 instead of 70-80), although i do have a dark place for sotrage. Is this okay as well?

Any other first timer tips are worth their weight in e-gold. Thank you :notworthy:

12-10-2007, 10:43 PM
Hi Christopher, and welcome to GotMead!

As long as it's food grade plastic all should be well. JAO is a really basic and pretty reliable recipe for sucess when it comes to a quick drinkable mead. The one thing to be certain of when dealing with plastic is to be sure there are no scratches inside the bottle. Bad things can grow in them that could spoil the mead.

As far as upping the ingredients to make a 5 gallon batch, feel free. I just bottled one myself. :cheers:

12-11-2007, 01:55 AM
65-70 is a fine fermentation temperature. With bread yeast it might just take a little longer to ferment.

Or, you could consider the option of using a "real" wine yeast instead. I know, I know, this is against the JAO rules. But you might like it better after all, and you'll get better performance at 65 F. I might suggest Lalvin's 71B. Though I've never actually made or tried JAO, so maybe this is just a bad idea?

12-11-2007, 10:38 AM
I made my first batch of JAO in a food grade plastic container, and it came out fine. Of course making the JAO got me hooked on homebrewing, and I went out and got a glass carboy.

12-11-2007, 11:16 AM
I might suggest Lalvin's 71B. Though I've never actually made or tried JAO, so maybe this is just a bad idea?

I did a mostly-JAO that recently finished using 71B. The yeast did great, it seemed to work about like the bread yeast was supposed to (I never actually did the bread yeast version). Petered out around 1030. Tasted very good as soon as it cleared: sweet, strong, fruity, and spicey.

12-11-2007, 03:32 PM
I'm not an expert but I just bottled a 5 gallon batch of JAO over the weekend. I've made it several times now while waiting for other meads/wines to age and it's never failed. I think it's a great way to go as a first mead. Here are some notes:

When multiplying the ingredients for a 5 gallon batch, don't multiply the yeast. The stated amount will work fine for 5 gallons. The fermentation time will be roughly the same. With JAO, the important thing is to not touch it until it clears. When it clears, you're done. (might give it a couple extra weeks for posterity's sake)

I think the plastic carboy should be fine as long as it's clean and hasn't held anything too objectionable in the past. I messed up a beer once by using a plastic primary that I usually use for wine and meads containing fruit. Even though it was well scrubbed and sanitized, the plastic held on to some of the wine flavors and imparted them to the beer. It wasn't awful and most people didn't even notice but it bothered me a lot. Shouldn't be as much of an issue with JAO - it has higher alcohol content and stronger flavors.

Because JAO is sweet and has a ton of residual sugar, I would stabilize it prior to bottling. You don't want any exploding bottles or popping corks. I waited until a couple weeks AFTER my JAO cleared to rack it for the first time. The bread yeast doesn't flocculate well so I probably racked mine 2-3 times over the course of several months before it was totally clear and ready to bottle. (This would be a good excuse to buy a glass carboy in addition to your plastic one) Immediately before bottling, I pulled a couple cups out of the carboy, mixed in campden and potassium sorbate, and returned it to the carboy, stirring well. (one crushed campden tablet per gallon and 1/2 tsp of potassium sorbate per gallon). I mainly use the bottles for gifts and put a gallon or two into into Grolsch bottles for personal consumption. I don't stabilize the stuff in the Grolsch bottles - I can risk it getting a little fizzy. I can't risk having an explosion in a colleague's wine rack spraying mead all over the place. If you don't stabilize, bulk age it for a LONG time.

The bottles are labeled and have been sitting upright for several days to let the pressure equalize so I'll start giving them out tonight - telling people not to open them for at least a month in case it suffers from bottle shock. With a decent label, cork, and PVC shrink caps, the bottles look awesome. People are amazed to find out you made it yourself.

65-70 should be fine. I've always fermented it in my basement and that's about where I'm at.

12-11-2007, 08:49 PM
Thank you everyone for all of your advice!

Although, in regards to the carboy, another option had opened itself up to me: as long as I can confirm its cleanliness, would it be worth it (or would there really be any reason to/no to) use an oak barrel? I have a link to a couple, one 6 gallon and one 30 gallon, and before I buy them (pretty cheap because they are used) I would like to know their suitability. Thanks again :D