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  1. #1

    Default First Batch Questions - Semi-Sweet Artasianal

    Ok, so this is my first post here and I've read through the Newbie guide and as many applicable posts as possible and have decided to get some thoughts on my first go at a mead. I've done about a dozen beers (8 were quite good) and believe I have all the necessary brewing/bottling equipment. I also have read and will have as reference "The Compleat Meadmaker".

    So, I'll be using Northern Brewer's recipe (roughly) and have the opportunity to do 3-5 gallons (Question #1, does the size I make matter too much?). I have 24lbs of completely untreated honey (Question #2, how do I treat it?)

    The ingredients (Question #3, What quantities should I be going with?):

    - Mostly clover, some buckwheat-source honey (24lbs available)
    - Yeast Nutrient and Energizer
    - Wyeast 4783 Rudesheimer Yeast (have 2 slap packs)
    - Water (Question #4, bottled or tap?)

    Fermenting location is around 72 degrees and I was planning on partially submerging the carboy in water to stabilize the temperature (fluctuations are about +/- 4 degrees per day.

    Phew, thank you for bearing with the long post and any thoughts would be greatly appreciated! I hope in a few years I can start contributing to the site! Take care!

    EDIT: Please pardon my typo in the subject...I'm really not an idiot, I swear.
    Last edited by Maximus; 08-31-2013 at 11:12 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    UK - South Coast.
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    3,632

    Default

    1 ? No....

    2 ? You don't. It's gonna be best as it is.

    3 ? Initially something along the lines of 3 to 3.5 lb made up to a gallon.

    4 ? Neither IMO. People often go on about nutrients from water but if you were relying on the water for nutrients it would need the nutritional requirement of raw sewage. You would normally be providing the nutrition so water should just be "soft" water. Hence recycled rain or even reverse osmosis water (distilled tends to carry a cost premium)....

    As an aside, have no idea what the profile of that yeast might be. It seems that generally, its dry wine yeasts that're used in meads, but what the hell.....

    Welcome to the forums......
    here's me home brewing blog (if anyones interested....)
    and don't forget
    What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away! Tom Waits.....

  3. #3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Maximus View Post
    - Wyeast 4783 Rudesheimer Yeast (have 2 slap packs)
    See this link. http://www.wyeastlab.com/rw_yeaststr...tail.cfm?ID=64

    It looks like a 14% ABV, used in various wines, braggots and metheglins. Should be a good yeast to use.
    Back after a long break. Sampling some bottles from prior years and enjoying how they mature.
    - Summer 2017: Apple-Locust methyglin BOMM
    - Winter 2017: Pomegranate Melomel AMH (in secondary); Pine Tree Trad Opale (in primary)

  4. #4

    Default

    Thank you for the rapid response. That seems in line with what I have have been reading about. The only reason I was asking about batch size was because was thinking about all the empty head space in my carboys ( have 6.5 gal glass).

    I am heading off to the store in a bit to buy the last bit of equipment and I saw some videos with interesting technique. What do you think about mixing the must in a bottling bucket then dumping it into the glass carboy and letting the pour further aerate it?

    From this guy: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9E2B31D6B53DA1B1

    I'll also be picking up a electric must stirrer, some backup yeast (thinking Lavlin D47 or close) and a clarifying agent of some sort. Not sure of Bentonite or isenglass.

    Basically I'm a tad nervous using NB's recipe, but I figure its got to be hard to truly screw up.
    Last edited by Maximus; 08-31-2013 at 12:02 PM.

  5. #5

    Default

    I am a noob, but I have had some recent experience that might help.

    If you're going to get "back up" yeast, get EC-1118, or K1V. If you actually need the backup, you'll need a good strong yeast to kill off other interloping wild yeasts, and a back up that will grow strongly in your must. Using K1V kept my must going when it got stuck.

    Get wine-range pH paper, and a working hydrometer (if you don't have one already). Test frequently, make sure the pH doesn't go below 3 or so, and ensure that fermentation continues without stopping. You can return the samples to the fermenter (unlike beer) as long as you are a sanitizing freak with your test equipment. Yet another mistake of mine that you can avoid - not testing enough.

    Aerate like crazy until the first third sugar break. DO NOT treat it like beer, which is more sensitive to oxidation and calls for less vigorous aeration. That was a mistake I made.

    While you're at it, make a 12 hour starter with the yeast using some honey in it and a little Go-ferm. That's another mistake I made, to NOT use a starter.

    Get Fermaid K and DAP, and feed it to the must for the first few days. There's a couple of recipes for the nutrient feedings on this forum, but as long as you follow one of them, it will turn out fine. DO NOT feed it as if it were a beer, which is often not enough for a mead. That was a mistake I made.

    Get a packet of superkleer finings. It's a lot less work, and has consistent results.

    Use the mead calculator to make sure that the amount of honey in your volume of must will hit 14% (your yeast's ABV). Good advice that I got here was to ferment to the limit of the yeast's ABV, with no extra honey in the must -- get it dry. Then, backsweeten to the semi-sweetness you want. Careful if you have to switch to your back up yeast... they need more honey to satisfy 18% ABV.

    And, there's a few long standing members on the forum who really know their stuff. Generally, their total post count indicates how experienced they are. Pay attention to their posts while you peruse this forum. They've helped me a lot.

    If you don't do my mistakes, you'll probably have your mead done sooner than mine!
    Last edited by Jim H; 08-31-2013 at 04:25 PM.
    Back after a long break. Sampling some bottles from prior years and enjoying how they mature.
    - Summer 2017: Apple-Locust methyglin BOMM
    - Winter 2017: Pomegranate Melomel AMH (in secondary); Pine Tree Trad Opale (in primary)

  6. #6

    Default

    Good advice, matches up with 75% of what I found out at the brew shop (two mead guys were there same time as me today, woohoo!). After advice and another review of The Compleat Meadmaker I am going to go with a no-heat batch this weekend and do another next weekend (melomel with raspberry or blueberry, not sure yet). Thanks for the tips and I'll post final recipes/methods and results on this thread!

  7. #7

    Default Recipe #1: Semi-Sweet Mead

    So here is the brew plan for today and then the nutrient/aeration schedule, thoughts are welcome:

    Ingredients for 5 gallon batch:

    15lbs honey from down the street (mostly clover w/buckwheat, very dark)
    Wyeast 4783 Rudesheimer Yeast
    Nutrient (1/2 tsp)/Energizer (1/4 tsp) blend
    R/O Water (4 galons)

    1) Morning of brewing, activate both Wyeast packs and set in warm area for ~3-5hrs.
    2) Wash and Sanitize equipment/bottles.
    3) Fill sink with star san solution for any needed sanitizing and cooler with hot tap water for honey jars.
    4) Place 3 gallons at room temp in bottling bucket
    5) Add nutrient blend and stir
    6) Heat water on stove for dissolving out remaining honey.
    7) Add honey to bucket
    Use hot water to reclaim honey
    9) Add remaining water to get to 5 gallons and stir until well dissolved (5-15min)
    10) Take OG reading
    11) Add activated yeast packs (2) to bucket and stir for 2 min
    12) Use spout to transfer to 6.5 gal carboy (aeration help here)
    13) Cap and place at 72 deg to ferment.

    Nutrient Schedule:
    @ 24 hour intervals for 3 days:
    1) SG reading
    2) Degas
    3) Nutrient addition
    4) Stir

    When no SG changes for 48hrs, transfer to 5gal carboy and add bentonite solution.

    Hang out for 8 weeks or so until clear

    Add Meta tabs stir well, wait 3 hours, then sorbate.

    Wish me luck!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Farmington, Maine
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    Default

    I would do two diff batches for variety.
    Stuff~

    Quote Originally Posted by fatbloke View Post
    If someone else doesn't think it's right, then ***k 'em. They can make their own.

  9. #9

    Default

    I'll be doing another next weekend.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    The Fusel Shack, in the swamp west of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
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    If you put a 5-gallon batch in a 6.5 gallon carboy, be very careful when you stir and aerate so you don't get a Vesuvius of an MEA in your brew area. Antifoam smeared around the inside of the carboy neck can be a big help. My approach is to ferment 5-gallon batches in a 10-gallon fermenter (means never having to mop up a mess).

    I'm not sure about the nutrient amounts in the kits, and if you weigh out what you're adding and let us know, folks may be able to tell you if it is enough. Generally speaking, folks tend to under-nourish the yeast, and I'm not sure the kits provide enough.

    If you can use a swamp cooler to keep the temp below 70F, you'll probably be happier in the long run.

    Good luck with your batch!
    (And do not be concerned. You are correct that it is hard to really mess up a mead. There are only two ways to do it reliably - add too much oak, and add too much acid )
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
    (Past years are always better)

  11. #11

    Default

    Thanks! I'm trying to get a decent setup for cooling and I should be able to get around 70 reliably. The room has been at 71.4 (+/- 0.2 deg) degrees for the past two days. I had no idea to expect that much foaming....huh. Glad I decided not to do it in a 5 gallon! (What is MEA?)

    I am not following a kit per se, just some of the directions from one. The nutrients and such will have 10% added to cover for measurement errors since I heard about under feeding.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maximus View Post
    (What is MEA?)
    Mead Eruption Accident

    Quote Originally Posted by Maximus View Post
    I am not following a kit per se, just some of the directions from one. The nutrients and such will have 10% added to cover for measurement errors since I heard about under feeding.
    How much and what types of nutrient to you plan to use?
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
    (Past years are always better)

  13. #13

    Default

    I am using the following:

    http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/yeast-energizer.html 1/4 tsp on each addition

    http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/yeast-nutrient.html 1/2 tsp on each addition

  14. #14
    Join Date
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    And how many additions of each?
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
    (Past years are always better)

  15. #15

    Default

    As per my recipe below, 3 additions spaced 24hrs apart after the first.

  16. #16

    Default

    Well, she is in the Primary at 70.5 degrees with a OG of 1.105. Neato.

  17. #17
    Join Date
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    OK. So we are looking at a total of 4 doses, so 1 tsp of energizer and 2 tsp of yeast nutrient (DAP). That works out to about 10 grams of DAP or about 110 ppm YAN from the DAP and about 4 grams of energizer providing another 20 ppm YAN (that last is a bit of a guess on my part as I'm not sure of the nitrogen content of the LD carson energizer product - most folks around here use Fermaid K or O, or Fermax, or products that are a nice tan powder).

    That is the bare minimum and is lower than the usual level I set as a floor (150 ppm). While this will probably get your batch done, as these kits are designed to work, I typically use a minimum of 200 ppm, and often use much more.

    In the future, you may want to get some of these other energizer products so that you can plan the doses of nitrogen you want to add more easily. For now, I would suggest increasing the energizer in your plan. 1 tsp is very, very little. I would have no problem adding a total of 5 tsp of energizer along with the 2 tsp of nutrient (DAP). I don't mind a lot of yeast hulls and vitamins.
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
    (Past years are always better)

  18. #18

    Default

    So you think I should add some now or wait until my scheduled first addition and double what I was planning? I have nothing against a little extra food. The energizer powder I have is tan. I'll certainly look into the other products you mentioned as I am hoping to put together a melomel next weekend with blackberry and a honey blend :-).

  19. #19
    Join Date
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    You can wait until the first SNA feeding. But I'd probably quadruple the tan powder.
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
    (Past years are always better)

  20. #20

    Default

    Holy acronyms batman. Almost as bad as the Navy. SNA = ?

    EDIT: I was hoping that by adding two Wyeast slap packs plus the nutrients I would avoid any stalled start...that is really what I am afraid of.

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