View Full Version : De-lurking

10-18-2005, 04:32 PM
OK, I've been reading around for a while - I guess it would be appropriate to say hello.

Started my first batch of mead in late august. Heated some water (a litre or so), dissolved a pound or so of honey in it, poured it in a one-gallon carboy, threw some ordinary bread yeast from the supermarket in, airlock on. It started bubbling almost immediately. When the initial frenzy seemed to be over, I poured more water and honey in, and it just continued to bubble on.

Then I started to read around a bit, like on this forum. Aeration? Um, what? Nutrition? Well, as the yeasties apparently had a sort of rough start with little oxygen, I decided to be nice to them and threw a handful of raisins in the must. Not that they seemed to need it, but you never know.

Recently, things seemed to calm down, and a thick layer of sediment had piled up on the bottom of the carboy. I decided to rack it and tried a little sip on that occasion. Very dry, not to say sour, but I guessed that aging would make it a bit smoother. I added more honey water to top the carboy and expected fermentation to live up a bit, as it now had a bit more sugar. The opposite seemed to happen; within a few days, there was no trace of the tiniest little bubble. Well, in that case I thought I could as well bottle it and on the same occasion have a little taste again. This time, it was a truly divine drink. I still don't quite understand how I managed to sweeten it with more honey water without fermentation restarting, but the result is good anyway. I just hope I can keep my hands off it, so it'll get a chance to age a bit.

The problem, however, is that I have no proper place to store it. It's either at room temperature (good for fermenting, less good for ageing, as far as I've understood) or in the fridge (actually a bit cold for ageing, or what? In all cases, there is only so much room in it, and occasionally I have something called food that I need to fit in there too).

Well, I guess I've just have to start another batch while I figure out what the best thing to do is. That's probably going to be more of the same super-simple, no-nonsense, back-to-basics kind of mead, with water, honey and yeast from the supermarket. I like the thought of knowing the basics and see how far I can push that. I might, though, try to be a bit more systematic - like trying some aeration from the beginning (well, shake the carboy or something, at least). Hell, I might even go and buy a hydrometer to find out what's actually going on.

10-18-2005, 04:58 PM
Welcome to the board. I lurk most of the time myself because I'm still learning and usually do not have anything I would consider helpful.

I've deleted many replies thinking.. wait I don't know WTF I'm talking about.. I'm just repeating what I've read.

David Baldwin
10-18-2005, 05:35 PM

Welcome to the forum!

You were able to sweeten your mead with honey and water because your yeast had reached its alcohol tolerance.

Yeast will have a range of alcohol tolerance based on the specific strain of yeast and the conditions in your fermentation vessel. Optimal conditions can drive a yeast way beyond expected alcohol tolerance, but more often a new mazer will get a stuck or incomplete fermentation because of a lack of nutrient or other environmental condition outside the optimum paramaters for that particular strain of yeast.

In short, your yeast quit. It sounds like you got a fairly good fermentation and it stopped as a sweet mead.

It sounds to me like your first try was a success. Give yourself a pat on the back and get back in there to pitch another batch! ;D

Take time to read up on recipes and techniques. There is a wealth of knowledge to be found here.


10-18-2005, 05:50 PM
On the aging temp, I would say that since you are trying a "no-nonsense" system *grins* and haven't gone out and bought a hydrometer yet, I wouldn't worry too much about having them at the optimal aging temperature. Just put them where you have room, and enjoy as often as you wish. *big grins*

Oh, and welcome aboard!!

10-20-2005, 09:35 AM
Thanks for the welcome. So, if my yeasties have quit for good, I guess that I don't have to worry too much about bottle bombs?

I've just started another batch of the same super-simple mead, to see if I can repeat the first, quite succesful attempt. I think I'll try Joe's Ancient Orange too at some point - it seems to be pretty close to what I'm already doing, except for the few extra, tasty goodies thrown in.

When spring comes, I'm gonna try something with elderflowers - I feel pretty confident that their flavour will be delightful in a mead.

10-20-2005, 11:24 AM
Be careful when you declare that something has "quit for good". An increase in temperature, some agitation while moving, racking, exposure to air can all set off a new round of fermentation if there is still fermentable sugar available.

You really need to determine a method you will use to end fermentation whether it be chemical, cold shock/racking, aging/racking, filtering, etc. If you don't use chemical methods or filtering, then you need to think about using champagne bottles to guarantee no bottle bombs, especially if you plan to transport your mead (agitation) or have it exposed to warmer temperatures.

My own method is currently a combined cold shock (45F to 50F), then rack followed by a long term aging (6 months or more) then rack. Not fool proof so I also try to keep what I am transporting chilled. If I know it will get warm, then I use champagne bottles as well. I am likely to move on to filtering using some sort of reusable filter as soon as I find something I like... but they can be expensive...

Good luck!

10-20-2005, 02:30 PM
Thanks for the advice.

This first batch has no chemicals added so far. The bottles I have used are beer bottles with a Grolsch-style flip cap; they are prepared for some pressure, so if something is getting alive down there, I hope it will not end in a disaster.

I guess I'll have to experiment a bit and see what works.

10-20-2005, 05:56 PM
The nice thing about Grolsch or even screw top bottles is that you can "burp" them from time to time to let off excess pressure and then reseal them.