View Full Version : First Time Making Mead - already beer/wine maker

11-24-2011, 01:41 PM
I am planning on making two batches of mead here shortly.

1 5gal batch will be with raspberries
1 5gal batch will be with black walnuts

I have 5 quarts of local honey from an orchard and 5 quarts of honey from Costco.

Raspberry Mead
No-Boil method
Costco Honey
Gravity - still working on this?
Raspberry Oregon Fruit Puree 1or2 cans? - Was planning on adding during secondary
D47 Yeast OR Wyeast 3632 (Dry Mead)

Black Walnut
No-Boil method
Local Honey
Gravity = 12-14% finish
Black Walnuts and vanilla pod, french oak med+ toast added to secondary
D47 Yeast OR Wyeast 3632 (Dry Mead)

I am using RODI water, as my well water has lots of Iron.
I can add gypsum and salts as needed? Probably do the same as I add for beer making.

I have nutrient and DAP I will add just like wine.

Fermentation temps. I can do ANY temp that is optimal.
I typically do beer and white wines on the cool side.
55 degrees F?

I was going to measure pH and acid, but not adjust.
Not sure what the raspberries will do - I am sure it will raise the acid!

Any other comments.

11-25-2011, 02:11 AM
Any comments ?


While you may well be familiar with wine and beer making, and also be aware of the differences, you may find that mead making is different to the point that some of the methods appear like heracy........

So as ever, it would probably be better for you to "start small" with something like the JAO, and only after a good read of the newbie guide (linked over on the left panel). The JAO recipe is in chapter 6 (I believe).

Some pointers from your post. Well, raspberry can be quite an over powering flavour on its own, unless you either mix it with other fruit or make the batch quite sweet.

Black walnut as an ingredient, I haven't used or read about here, but I personally don't use any nut ingredient as they can be a complete PITA to use, with no guarantee of the resulting flavour.

The yeast ? Well there's many opinions as well as flavour profiles. Though you've listed the one yeast that I understand does need the temp controlling/monitoring i.e. D47. A safer bet for earlier batches would IMO be K1V-1116, especially on traditionals.

Good luck with your researches and efforts.....

Chevette Girl
11-25-2011, 02:41 AM
I got my start in wines, haven't tried beers yet (on the list!) so I halfway know where you're coming from.

You might not notice much difference with the raspberry one since the fruit will have some nutrients, but as Fatbloke said, there are some differences between wine and mead, especially if you go for a traditional (just honey), adding fruit only in secondary, or non-fruit additions like your walnuts, you'll probably want to double your nutrients (when I say nutrients I'm referring to DAP) and use some energizer (like Fermaid K) as well. For wines, most nutrients say 1 tsp per gallon and most energizers say 1/4 tsp per gallon but some of the senior members actually use more energizer than nutrients, I'm assuming it's because a fruit wine will have a lot more micronutrients for the yeast than just honey. We're also finding that waiting until after lag phase is over is the best time to start adding the nutrients but I honestly don't know if that's mead-specific or if this is true for wines as well. Hopefully some of the senior members will chime in :)

Honey also has its own acidity, so you might want to keep an eye on your pH during fermentation, with meads it's a little more likely to drop too low than with wines, although again, even if it's acidic, just having fruit in your must can buffer it to some extent.

Starting two batches like this at the same time and monitoring both might be a good way to illustrate to yourself the differences between mead and wine, it took me years to come to terms with some of it myself :p

Maybe it might be an idea to make them the same starting gravity just so you can see the differences while holding the SG as a constant between batches?

11-25-2011, 12:00 PM
K1V-1116 - really don't care for this yeast. Tried it with wine and cider.

I use nuts in beer, not that difficult to use. Just have to take precautions from allowing the oils to kill the head.

Chevette Girl
11-25-2011, 12:51 PM
Well, I started out using mostly EC-1118 and K1-V1116, and have only recently expanded to D47, RC212 and 71B. Really the only difference I've noticed (since I kept D47 cool enough) is that I'm not advanced enough to properly manage RC212 and its nutritional needs quite yet (read: it's too damn much work). A lot of folks here seem to like 71B but you do have to watch that you don't leave it sitting around on its lees for too long.

What is it about K1-V that you don't like? I really need to do some side-by-side yeast comparison batches myself, I haven't been able to pick out differences yet that I can specifically attribute to yeast selection.

Really, bottom line, just use a yeast you're comfortable with. Our advice is just that, advice based on our own experiences or those we've read about here. If your experiences are different, please tell us about them!

And what precautions do you take with managing oils in beers?

11-25-2011, 01:04 PM
My experience is it leaves the finished product "hot" and strips flavor.
The same as a champagne yeast does.

I have dedicated temp control, 20 batches of white wine with D-47.
And never a problem.

I am going to skip the wyeast smack pack I have.
It is 2 years old, and has not puffed up yet.

11-25-2011, 01:30 PM
A couple of things to bear in mind.

5 quarts of honey (~15lbs) in a 5 gallon batch will give you an OG of around 1.108. Now, I can't speak for the Wyeast Dry Mead yeast, but for D47 that's been well treated, the walnut batch may very well go dry.

I've only ever used nuts in beer once, so I can't say I have a tried and true method for incorporating the flavor into a beverage. I will say that head retention isn't really a concern for making mead, unless you plan to carbonate it. Even then, I doubt it is as important as in brewing.

Adding minerals back into your water is a good idea. The yeast (and you) will be much happier if the water has something in it (ie not just RO/DI water). However, if the water tastes good coming out of the filter, it's probably fine for mead making as is.

As for nutrients, do some searching for S.N.A., or staggered nutrient additions. A lot of the mentors/senior members here use this practice or something similar for dosing their must. There are countless threads extolling the virtues and drawbacks to this practice, so I'll just cover some basic things to keep in mind. Recently, there have been some great articles posted about the use of DAP and when it is best to add it in fermentation to avoid off flavors and aromas from stressed out yeast. A good starting point to go by is that you'd want ~70% of YAN (yeast assimilable nitrogen) to come from organic nitrogen sources (Fermaid O is a good example, it contains no DAP, whereas Fermaid K contains roughly 30% DAP if memory serves correctly) and ~30% of YAN to come from inorganic sources, like DAP. Also, it's a good idea to dose with the organic nitrogen earlier in the fermentation and the inorganic DAP at a later stage, when the yeast can better utilize it. As I stated before, this topic has been discussed in great detail in multiple threads around these forums, so just do some searching and I'm sure you'll find answers to any other questions about nutrients you may have. This is just a simplified overview.

On the raspberry purée, I've used it before and was generally pleased with the result. However, as previously stated by fatbloke, it can become quite overpowering if too much is used. In addition, you'll want to be very watchful of the cap that forms. Even in secondary, there will be enough yeast to ferment the sugars from the purée and this can cause some major CO2 build-up to form underneath the cap of fruit, thus forcing the cap up and out of whatever fermentation vessel it's in. Thus, it is critical to break up the cap at least once or twice per day to avoid an explosion of fruit and mead out the airlock (or in some cases, an explosion of fruit and mead that forces the airlock/stopper up and out of the opening of the carboy).

Anywho, that's enough rambling from me. You sound like you're on the right track, but as fatbloke and CG have said, you'll want to invest some time learning the differences between making mead and wine/beer.

Good luck! :)

11-25-2011, 05:21 PM
Is there a problem with the mead going dry?

I was assuming I can back sweeten to taste prior to bottling?

11-25-2011, 06:13 PM
Is there a problem with the mead going dry?

I was assuming I can back sweeten to taste prior to bottling?
No, that's exactly what I do, though it depends on what I'm using to do the back sweetening.

If the sweetening is fermentable then stabilising is a necessity to prevent bottle bombs.

Most will back sweeten before bottling, whereas I prefer to use honey, which can cause a haze in cleared meads, so I ferment dry, rack, then stabilise, then add honey to 1.010 which is about where I like my meads, then I rack to clear with time. If its not clear in 6 months or so, I'll often use finings.

11-25-2011, 10:14 PM
Just an update, I made this tonight.

Raspberry Mead
Costco Honey 15lbs
5gal batch
Brix was 23
pH was 4.38

Walnut Mead
Local Orchard Honey
5.5 gal batch
Brix was 24.5
pH was 3.58

The local honey was solid in the quart glass jars.
I had to scrap it out.
It took a lot longer then I thought.
The extra water came from adding hot water to the jars to try to rinse it out.

Both were chilled to 62 with my plate chiller.
Added D-47 yeast to both of them.

11-25-2011, 10:35 PM
I am assuming you are using sorbat to stabilize?

11-26-2011, 06:03 AM
I am assuming you are using sorbat to stabilize?
Both sorbate and sulphite. Just sorbate can result in the "geranium smell/taste" fault.

Oh and your mention of not liking K1V ? Well it doesn't, in fact, strip flavour/aroma like champagne yeast, but it's quite an efficient yeast, what will ferment to higher alcohol levels.

The "alcohol hot" taste is one that can be produced by all sort of different yeast strains, but it mellows with time.

Either way, they're your batches, so it's up to you.

Brilliant that you have temperature control, you should be able to achieve the ideal fermentation temps for the D47 and prevent (if you searched Medsen Fey's posts - he explains better) fusel production that is caused, apparently by D47 being fermented at too higher temp (over 70F I believe).

The bit where you mention about using heated water to wash out the jars/jugs ? Yes, that's the only time I use hot, well warm, water. Even if the honey is crystalised with age, I just scoop it out the jar (usually 1lb/454g jars here), into the liquidiser and then blitz it with some cool water to mix it properly/enough. Then just some warm water to rinse the last of the honey out.

That way, I get my musts nicely aerated to keep the yeast happy in the early stages of the ferment.

Good on you with your efforts, I wish you much success. Plus I do hope you'll post as much info/detail as you can about the walnut batch. Some nut flavours would be brilliant, but I shy away from them as it's also easy for the oils to extract, as the alcohol level in a batch builds up. Plus I have no idea about how much of the nut flavours are actually contained in the oils as opposed to the other non-oil part of the kernels.......

Hell, if there's a way of getting the flavours without the oils being a PITA, then I'd be thinking of giving it a try......

11-26-2011, 10:10 AM
This was my actual process.
I have well water, and had to make the RODI over time in an open container.
I didn't trust it to be sanitized.

I boiled the water in my brew pot.
I circulated the boiling water through my plate chiller.

I then killed the heat and started cooling with the plate chiller.

I then started to add the honey while the chiller was circulating.

The honey never was in boiling water, but it was probably in the 120+F until it chilled to 62 F.

I was too lazy to hook up my oxygen to my chiller.
But it froths up a lot from the pump shooting it into the bucket.
I also whipped it when it was done.

11-26-2011, 10:13 AM
I had bought two 6gal buckets of Chardonnay.
One with K1V and the other with D-47
Both fermented at 65F

The D-47 had more flavor and was not hot.

Maybe my test was flawed? Not sure it matters, is there a problem using D-47?

Oh and your mention of not liking K1V ? Well it doesn't, in fact, strip flavour/aroma like champagne yeast, but it's quite an efficient yeast, what will ferment to higher alcohol levels.

Chevette Girl
11-26-2011, 12:34 PM
Your Chardonnay batches, how long ago was this, and do you still have some around? I'm curious how they compare after some age :)

There's nothing at all wrong with D47 as long as you keep it cool, and you are able to so it should never give you any problems. I don't have AC so I don't use it for anyting I start in the summer. However, you may well find that the yeast you prefer for meads may differ from what you prefer for wines.

I usually pour/scoop out my honey from the jars, mix most of the cold water into my must, and then fill the jar with hot tap water and shake the bejeebus out of it to get rest of the the honey out, then if it still didn't all dissolve, I let it sit a bit while I'm doing other things, then shake again, and if it's still not all dissolved by the time I get impatient with it, I pour the hot water into the must and then refill the jar with cold water and repeat. I usually mix my must a little short on water to accommodate for jar rinsings, although an extra half-gallon isn't a bad thing, you can use it later for topping up after racking losses. I'm of the same mind as Fatbloke, it gets lots of aeration into the must, although your plate chiller sounds like a fine piece of equipment to have on hand!

If you're not sure about the sanitation of your water you can also treat your must with sulphites (campden tablets, 1 per gallon) and let it sit 24 hours before pitching (the sulphur dioxide will dissipate and not hinder the yeast), but another difference between meadmaking and beer brewing is that you don't have to have everything totally sterile because the amount of alcohol in the finished product is enough to hold back just about any other organism and as long as you're *relatively* sanitary, the fermentation gets started quickly, you'll be OK. I've heard of many things being plunged into mead musts with no ill effects (AToE's unsanitized arm, someone else's frolicking ferrets, etc). Best not to take chances wherever you can avoid it, but you don't HAVE to be quite as militant about it with meads.

11-27-2011, 11:34 PM
I'm sorry, I just have to ask...ferrets? Please tell me they named it appropriately...

Chevette Girl
11-28-2011, 12:14 AM
Yes, ferrets (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=15703&highlight=ferrets). Don't know about naming.

12-23-2011, 10:47 AM
I racked and tasted both batches yesterday.
My hydrometer broke, so I could not check gravity.
Just by taste I can tell it is about dry. Not much sweetness less.
The fermentation ran 62~64 degrees the entire time.

The costco honey was bland with little aroma.
The orchard honey had better aroma and seem to have more acid in the taste.
Probably why the pH was higher.

I have them in the house now in the basement. 66~68 just to make sure the fermentation is complete.

Now I need to think about adding my fruit and walnuts!

02-12-2012, 12:51 PM
I racked both of the meads.

To the orchard honey:
8oz of black walnuts
2 small vanilla pods
1/2 oz of oak cubes

To the costco honey
I can of Oregon Fruit Puree - Blackberry
I can of Oregon Fruit Puree - Raspberry

Is it typical to add meta on rackings for mead?

Chevette Girl
02-12-2012, 11:51 PM
Some people do add metabisulphite on rackings. Some resources recommend each racking, some folks do it every other racking, some of us don't do it at all. It's up to you. Might not be a bad idea if you've added things like nuts and vanilla beans without sanitizing them, but I suspect most of us don't bother even then :)

02-26-2012, 10:46 AM
Adding raspberry/blackberry really restarted fermentation again.
I wasn't sure if there was enough yeast.

Chevette Girl
02-26-2012, 06:32 PM
It's a good illustration of why everyone at this forum will tell you to stabilize if you don't want fermentation to continue... even when a mead is perfectly clear, it can have enough yeast to slowly chew through residual sugar...

05-27-2012, 10:13 PM
Took a sample of each today

Raspberry - very clear, pink/red color.
Taste is a bit sour - all of the sugar is gone.
Going to sorbate and sweeten this one.
Might do this one carbonated.

Black Walnut - very clear yellow
I get nice honey and vanilla in the nose.
With just honey in the taste.
I have no black walnut flavor at all.
I think I am going to try to add more black walnuts.
Probably bottle this one dry and flat

05-28-2012, 12:15 AM
Going to sorbate and sweeten this one.

Use both sulfites and sorbates. Just sorbate alone can result in the "geranium smell/taste" fault.