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  1. #1

    Default Spices & Fruit Pulp

    Having read the info in The Newbie Guide to Making Mead – Chapter 15: aeration, fermentation & racking, I have the following questions regarding my having pitched a must of 119 gallons in a 132 gallon fermenter which has been fermenting for 7 days at a rate of one bubble every 5 - 6 seconds:

    To avoid contamination of my must from insect, bird and reptile excretions , I will be boiling close to two pounds of fresh rosemary and 1 pound of cardamom seeds, strain it, cool it and add it to the must when fermentation begins to slow down considerably along with 2 gallons of Passion Fruit pulp after steeping the Passion Fruit in boiling water before cutting open to extract the pulp.

    I estimate the fermentation will last, maybe, six weeks.

    Question #1: Should I add the rosemary cardamom “tea” and fruit pulp when the fermentation begins to really slow down in the fermenter or should I rack it with an electric pump with filters into a temorary holding tank, clean and sanitized the 132 gallon fermenter, pump the filtered mead free of lees back into the fermenter and add the spices “tea” and fruit pulp to allow the mead to acquire the aroma of the spices?

    Question #2: Or should I add the fruit pulp now while the fermentation is gong full blast and add the spices “tea” as described in Question #1 above?

    Question #3: After having used the pump with filters to move the mead to the temporary holding tank while cleaning and sanitizing the fermenter before pumping the mead back into the fermenter, what should be the sufficient amount of time for the spices to aromatize the mead?

    Question #4: I have Bentonite on hand should the mead not be clear enough after pumping it back and forth with filters, but if I see it is not suffiently clarified I would be adding the Bentonite and then slowly bottle from the fermenter careful to stop before getting too close to the settled Bentonite. Sound Ok?

    I greatly appreiated everyone's feedback in the past. Please keep the feedback coming.

  2. #2
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    Wow, that's a lot of mead! Awesome!

    Since you're doing a hot water extraction of the spices, I don't think you'll need to leave them in there all that long. The fruit won't need to be in there very long either. Maybe 3-7 days would be my guess. In that case I would not recommend getting the mead off the gross lees before adding your flavorings. Mix the tea and fruit pulp in, let it sit, perhaps give it a gentle stir every so often, and then pull the mead off the pulp/spices/lees all at once. The extra week of lees contact will not hurt you.
    Want to see something added to the GotMead Glossary? PM me! Didn't know we had a glossary? Check the top row of links.

  3. #3

    Default Spices and Fruit

    Hi Akueck. I greatly appreciate your feedback. Thanks.

    How long do you think it will take for the fermentation to complete? I think about 6 weeks?

    When, during those 6 weeks, should I pitch in the spices tea and fruit pulp? I think maybe week 5?

    It's like caring for a new born. I wake up in the dead of night (2:00 AM) to add more water to the air lock. I recently read to use food grade glycerin because it doesn't evaporate from the air lock like water does. Next time.

    I have a web site but let me finish the English version of the text before posting it. I am in the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico.

  4. #4

    Default Yeast Info

    Regarding my question on how much time it should take for the fermentation to complete, I forgot to identify the type of yeast I am using.

    I am using White Labs liquid brewers yeast Sweet Mead Yeast WLP720.

    Having only done small batches of mead in the past, 1 gallon batches "a la Storm the Castle," (quantum leap to 119 gallons) I can only guess that my 119 gallon must will take about 6 weeks to complete. This info is necessary in order to know when to add the spices tea and fruit pulp.

    Two days ago, the CO2 escaping the air lock was one bubble every 5 - 6 seconds. This morning it was doing 7 - 8 so I added Yeast Energizer (DAP) and dissolved it with a drill driven aerating paddle. A few moments ago, the CO2 was bubbling out every 12 - 15 seconds. I expect it should pick up in a few hours.

  5. #5
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    6 weeks sounds like a long time, though I've never used that yeast before. If you are giving it enough nutrients, most meads should finish within 3 weeks in my experience.

    I don't think waiting until fermentation is totally done to add the tea/fruit will hurt you any. Personally that is what I would do, just wait until the mead is done, add the tea/fruit, and then rack when the flavors have been extracted.
    Want to see something added to the GotMead Glossary? PM me! Didn't know we had a glossary? Check the top row of links.

  6. #6

    Default

    Wow that is a lot of mead.
    Primary: Welches Grape Wine
    Primary: Blackberry Melomel
    Primary: Joe Mattioli's Foolproof Ancient Orange

  7. #7
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    Howard, am I understanding that you've started a 119 gallon batch without having tested your recipe on a smaller scale? I applaud you for having the gumption to dive straight into the deep end of the pool.

    Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
    (Past years are always better)

  8. #8

    Default

    Greetings Medsen Fey.

    Before leaping like a lemming from a cliff into the vast ocean of 119 gallons of mead, I did a lot of 1 gallon batches with different honey to water ratios, different aromatic spices (didn't like the coriander), did a lot of reading on spices, bought spices online to smell and taste them for myself.

    I have read about exotic honeys with strong aromas such as Mesquite, Manaku from New Zealand, Greek Pine Honey, Acacia, Alfalfa and Buckwheat and have considered experimenting with them in the future.

  9. #9

    Default

    Greetings Akueck.

    Three weeks. Yeah, when I did one gallon batches it took less than 6 weeks but I thought that with 119 gallons of mead it might take more time. I have read online that some primary and secondary fermentations can take up to 8 weeks. Time will tell. I just don't want to add the fruit pulp and spices tea until the yeast has had sufficient time to do its job. I am shooting for a 14% alcohol content.

    Anyone have feedback regarding on how to ensure I hit the 14% alcohol content mark? Thanks

  10. #10
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    Those are some pretty expensive honey (manuku, greek pine).
    Bees stole my signature file!

  11. #11

    Default

    Hi skunkboy. Yes, they are expensive but I thought I would buy a small amount of each to do some small batches of mead to see how they taste and if they would be a good investment for future commercial mead purposes.

    This large batch I'm doing has all the federal & local permits for the purpose of selling exclusively in the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico where I live. If sales are a success, I will apply for ATF/TBB permits to sell stateside and overseas. If it's a success, I will buy additional fermentation tanks to increase product/sales. Just a small, cottage industry meadery is fine to pay for life's little goodies. You know, just about everyone's dream of economic independence without any hyper airs of a Trump wanna be.

    People who are wine connoisseurs have tasted my mead, like it and told me to go for it. I am. Time will tell.

    It's a bit nerve racking to think about bacterial contamination or some unknown factor ruining it all but, hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    Later, everybuddy...
    Last edited by HowardVic; 05-23-2012 at 11:11 PM. Reason: repositioning paragraph

  12. Default

    wow.

    I thought I was getting into it pretty seriously...

    I started in april and right now I have 12 gallons going and getting ready for another 1 gallon.

    You make my efforts look like a joke!

  13. #13

    Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Sourcheese View Post
    wow.

    I thought I was getting into it pretty seriously...

    I started in april and right now I have 12 gallons going and getting ready for another 1 gallon.

    You make my efforts look like a joke!
    No one's effort is ever a joke. Whether it's a large or small endeavor, it's the effort that counts.

    Especially with something so noble as making mead!
    All the world's a nail to a child with a hammer.

  14. #14

    Default jump starting slow fermentation

    Hi Sourcheese and Hunnybunz. Hmmm, seems like dishes that might go with mead.

    Anyhoo, after adding some Yeast Energizer because the fermentation was a bit slow at one bubble every 12 to 16 seconds (during the first week it was one bubble every 6 seconds more or less), it's now bubbling at a rate of 1 bubble every 1 minute and 30 seconds and it's only two weeks since I pitched the must.

    I ordered more Yeast Energizer (Di-ammonium Phosphate) which should arrive in a few days so I can jump start the fermentation because I just don't think two weeks is sufficient time for a complete fermentation.

    In my hyper jitters, I forgot to take a hydrometer reading before fermentation began when I first pitched the must and now I am a bit reluctant to open the fermentor for anything reason except to aerate and/or add Yeast Energizer, much less, to stick a wine thief/sampler, although, I am a sanitize/sterlize/face mask/hairnet/plastic gloves freak. I just don't want to risk any bacterial contamination for so much mead.

    However, with regards to having not made any hydrometer readings, I read that a vinometer can be used for determining alcohol content of finished sweet wines if you dilute the wine sample with an egual amount of water, take a reading and multiply by two. So, I ordered a vinometer this morning.

    BTW, I changed my avatar to a mead chalice which I made out of a clear plastic bowl, gold foiled, Crazy Glued to Corinthian Column candle holder on a brass incense burner top turned upside down as the base and imitation gold leafed, threw some flowers from the garden, backdropped it all with a gold Christmass tree base cloth covered in part with a purple Indian scarf and flashlighted the mead to make it glow and CLICK. There's an amethyst stone on an ivy leaf because the word amethyst is ancient Greek for "not drunk" due to the ancients believing that wearing an amethyst prevented one from getting drunk. NOT TRUE. The look of the avatar reflects the motto which appears on the label of my mead, "Before mankind drank wine, the gods were drinking mead."

    I am having fun with it. Just don't want to get surprised finding the Creature from the Black Lagoon grinning at me when I open the fermentor for the finished mead. Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha...

    The postman just delivered a package containing the Potassium Sorbate, PH control papers, Camden tablets and a stick-on thermometer for the fermentor.

    Later, Everybuddy...
    Last edited by HowardVic; 05-24-2012 at 02:30 PM. Reason: keaurektyng mispeling...

  15. #15
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    Default

    Being a little on the extreme side of sanitary is no bad thing, but don't let it make you afraid to take readings and stuff, if you're going in there to add chemicals or aerate, you're already opening things up to exposure, and if you carefully sanitize your thief and your hydrometer, plop the hydrometer into the thief and sanitize again, then draw some mead into the thief, get your reading, and let the mead back out, you should be fine, or at least, at no further risk than if you opened it up to stir it. If you want to do this commercially, you probably want to know more about the state of your fermentation than bubble rates (which are only a general indication, not a definite thing). And while something's fermenting, the fermentation itself keeps it at a lower risk of bacterial growth than if you add your yeast nutrients (DAP) too late for the yeast to use. You want them in there before 1/3 of the sugar is gone, and you'll never be able to tell that with bubble rates.

    And your chalice is awesome

    Oh, and all the reading I've done indicates that vinometers aren't too trustworthy, and I seem to recall they're not recommended for sweet wines because that messes up your readings. Plus they can't tell you if your fermentation's done or not. You can always do a spirit indication test when it's all done if you want an approximate amount to confirm with whatever the Mead Calculator suggests your starting gravity likely was.

    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014
    "I tend to....um, er, experiment, and go outside the box. Sometimes outside the whole department store." - Ebonhawk, 2014

  16. #16

    Default P.S. to "jump starting a slow fermentation

    P.S. I Yapped about everything except the title of this comment, "jump starting a slow fermentation." I will have to look around these forums to find out more on the subject. Maybe adding more honey with Yeast Energizer"and aerating the must next week?

    Left the house several times while writing the "jump starting a slow fermentation" and left the pc on and the editing period timed out so I added this P.S. separately.

    Looking forward to Friday night to hang out with friends at a local watering hole. There's a little hole in the wall in town that just sells beer from all over the world. They have a little stage with live, local bands jamming. Been giving my mead pr all over town and a few restaurants want it. Yep, I'm having fun with it.

    Later...
    Last edited by HowardVic; 05-24-2012 at 03:39 PM. Reason: myspelink

  17. #17

    Default

    Hi Chevette Girl.

    Thanks for your feedback. Here's where I got the info on the vinometer. What do you think? I'll come back later to read your reply. I'm off to a nap. Later...

    http://www.hambletonbard.com/how-to-...vinometer.html

    This is a very simple way to check the alcohol content of your home brew wine but remember - it is very approximate and you need to know how it works to avoid the common pitfalls.

    It works on (still) wine only, not beer or spirits.
    It will only work if there is no CO2 left in your wine.
    It will only work if your wine is 8-13% or around these values.

    The homebrew wine alcohol meter uses the capillary effect in the liquid to determine the alcohol. This will only work on "normal" strength home brewed wines. Unfortunately most meters are graduated between 0-25% but the error outside 8-13% is too large, it simply doesn't work there.

    Trick: If you have a very strong wine, dilute it with equal amount of water, then take a reading. If reading ends up inside the interval 8-13% you know you can trust it and in reality it is twice as high.

  18. #18

    Default

    Vinometer's do not work correctly with mead for some reason, they are designed to work with traditional grape-based wines.

    As for jump-starting a sluggish mead, I have no experience on how that large of a batch ferments, but since you don't have your Original Gravity reading I would not recommend adding any product that contains D.A.P. into the must. My first suggestion would be to test the PH to insure that it is in the proper range for fermentation. If the PH is good I would add Yeast Hulls (if you don't have yeast hulls add boiled or nuked yeast), this will add nutrients that the must can use even if you are past the 1/3 sugar break.
    " ...no sense hauling empty carboys around when full ones take up just as much space. " -TheFlyingBeer (on HomeBrewTalk)

  19. #19
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    Default

    Yep, found it right on their webpage, the vinometer's only good for dry, still wines...
    Remember: This meter will only work on normal home brew wines. If you check a liqueur, a sweet dessert wine or similar it will give you anything but the right value.
    The sugar content changes its specific gravity which will affect the capillary action this device uses to measure. Diluting it with water won't help for this reason. By "strong" they mean very alcoholic, but it still has to be dry.

    And with respect to jumpstarting a sluggish fermentation, we can't help you that much without SG's and at least an idea of where your OG would have been. Alcohol content isn't the only reason we use hydrometers. And keep in mind, no two fermentations progress at the same rate, some can be done in 24 hours, others may take two or three weeks to finish, both may produce acceptable results.

    If it's eaten more than 1/3 of the sugars, DAP won't help but maybe yeast hulls or microwaving or boiling some bread yeast will not hurt it if it might need additional feeding. If you're past 1/2 of the sugar being consumed, aeration is not recommended unless you've got funky smells going on, otherwise you risk oxidizing your mead. If the yeast has eaten all of the sugar or has hit its tolerance, it will slow down and nutrients or energizer won't help at all because the fermentation's done and all you would do by adding nutrients, energizer or oxygen is encourage other unwanted organisms to do their thing...
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014
    "I tend to....um, er, experiment, and go outside the box. Sometimes outside the whole department store." - Ebonhawk, 2014

  20. #20

    Default

    We might be able to help you out a little more if we knew how much honey you used for the 119 gallons, any other sugar sources, and yeast type as well as a current Hydrometer reading.
    " ...no sense hauling empty carboys around when full ones take up just as much space. " -TheFlyingBeer (on HomeBrewTalk)

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