View Full Version : I hope it was worth it (new toys for mead + itemized cost analysis + thoughts).

08-14-2005, 02:27 PM
So, hopefully in a week I will be able to start a 7 gallon batch of wildflower mead. My first gallon batch of plain mead ended up tasting pretty nasty, although my other attempts (with fruits, flowers, and spices) did well enough. So, rather than doing yeast, water, and honey, I've spent as much on new toys as I have on the honey too.
I have just bought:
$5 - a 10-15 gallon aquarium air pump (currently running so it'll get the plastic smell out of it by next week)
$2 - enough tubing for the air pump
$13 - 2 micron stainless steel airstone
$5 - inline sanitary air filter (half a micron)
$4 - 1# DAP (I have a urea-DAP mix already, but I can't find out what the ratios are and thus can't be sure how much nitrogen I will be adding with it).
$3 - Fermaid K
$4 - Go Ferm
$6 - Hydrometer (leave in tank, will observe daily).
$2 - liquid crystal thermometer
$2 - 10g Lalvin K1V-1116 (hoping for a fast and clean fermentation).

$46 Total

vs 21-24.5# honey @ $1.60/# = $33.6-39.2

Further cost analysis:
I already have
$36 - 2 glass carboys (4 of them, but I will only be using 2)
$2 - airlock and bung (do they make any bungs out of say, silicone that don't smell so rubbery?)
$9 - Auto Siphon (I love it)
$2 - bottle filler
$2 - siphon hose
$2 - K sorbate
$3 - campden tabs
$3 - iodophor sanitizer
$15 - corks and caps
Free - bottles!
$7 - degreaser and steel mesh to clean the free bottles. :P

$81 total + $46 = $127 reuseable investment. Not including shipping. Which would add at least another $15-20.

So the entire 26.5L batch is going to cost me about $170. Only $43 (honey + yeast + nutrients) per each batch however is needed now that I have all of the investment out of the way.

I hope the extra capital was worth it, but something tells me it will be.
Somewhere in the last 6 months I turned from "ah, the yeast'll be fine on their own" to "must. control. everything!" I hate beer and wine, I really can't stand them at all. Its something about the taste that a semi-sweet mead avoids, but I'm still sensitive to bad mead too. I started brewing my own mead in hopes that I could make a tipple superior and cheaper to that of commercial meads - plus its just fun. So, any incremental increase to the quality of the mead is worth it if it pushes the mead past the quality threshold where I find it to go from "uh, let's age it for... 5 years?" to "I'll share a cup with thee dear," to "I should be bottling in magnums." I haven't yet finished a glass of mead by myself (I don't think a glass filled with ice counts).

Plans for the batch:
I really don't want to boil the must, or even heat it. I did it once (heated to 160F and held it there for a few minutes), and it was a huge pain, for benefits that may or may not have been real. I don't want to clarify the must before fermentation, so that's not an issue, and I am now in the camp that thinks that fresh, unfiltered, unheated honey is still lacking bacteria and the wild yeast counts are too low to matter. I might sulfite the must, but I don't think it will be necessary and I am attempting to minimize the loss of volatiles so the less air contact, the better.
I plan on feeding the yeast with go-ferm (1:1.25 ratio), and possibly rehydrating it with a stir plate and flask for a day before pitching, but that may be overkill... Since I have an aeration set up that I will drop in the must before pitching and leave it in to oxygenate the must for 2-3 days. Over the course of the next 1-3 days I will split up a dose of DAP (~.5g/L to give ~125mg/L nitrogen) and feed it to the yeast.
I will leave a hydrometer in the must (after I check its calibration) so I can check the progress of the fermentation and graph it.
I also plan on using a fan and towel in a bowl of water to attempt to control the temperature (I want 65-70 deg F). From my reading I am thinking that the lower the temperature, the less volatiles lost, and the less off flavours from the yeast. Once the oxygenation and nitrogen fortification period is finished I will add an airlock and monitor the temperature and specific gravity. At 1/3 sugar depletion I'll dose it with .25g/L Fermaid K. I don't know if the K1V-1116 will ferment to dryness or leave it semi sweet, but if it looks like it will be semi sweet I will let it finish by itself and then rack. If it looks like it will be dry I will rack onto sulfite and sorbate at the residual sweetness that I want. Then, bulk age at least 2-3 months on the lees (is K1V-1116 ok for this?). Clarify with bentonite at the end... rack, and bulk age off of the lees until it naturally drops clear. Then bottle.

If it turns out well, I want to try this with tupelo, or some other recommended varietal.

08-15-2005, 11:15 AM
K1V is recommended for lees aging.
You may find no need for clarifiers.

Sounds like you're in good shape!

08-15-2005, 08:36 PM
bung (do they make any bungs out of say, silicone that don't smell so rubbery?)

I started using the Buon Vino Recessed Bungs (http://www.buonvino.com/index2.html) about 2 years ago, as soon as I saw them, and I love them for 3,5,6 gallon carboys. They can not be pushed in - even on purpose, they don't "rise" if inserted wet, they don't smell "rubbery", they dont seem to get stuck in the jug (more areas to grab?), and they don't seem to harden with age (they are firmer, more plastic feeling, than the white or red stoppers, but the new rigidity seems to last as well as not increase).

I would say, IMHO, that the Buon Vino recessed bung is perhaps the single best improvement in homebrewing gadgets in the past few years. Fancy high-dollar stuff is nice, but if you've every had an uncooperative (or stinky) rubber stopper, then its the little stuff that means the most.

08-15-2005, 10:00 PM
Are these buon vino bungs? http://www.northernbrewer.com/pics/fullsize/carboy-bungs.jpg
My carboys are 7 gallon medical surplus (they were cheap), so I don't know if they'll match the size. I think they're #7s. Will they match?

08-15-2005, 10:23 PM
Those are the little buggers, up close and personal.

08-15-2005, 11:17 PM
.... oh sigh... do I wait till I can get some, or just start the bloody mead?

08-16-2005, 12:16 AM
Equipment is never an excuse.

You can literal brew almost anywhere with next to nothing if ya want to. Anyway, when they arrive do a sanitary swap of the airlocks and stopper & you will be set: Mead already going and your new nifty super-bung!

Seriously though, they are nice corks, but I wouldn't wait on one to mix a potion.

08-16-2005, 12:55 AM
I'm with RPig,

Do it, brew it, pitch it, stir it, watch it, cap it, rack it, thief it and try it!

No better experience that doing the brewing.