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  1. Default First mead, when to rack

    My first mead has been on for 2 weeks and a day. I followed the simple 1 gallon recipe:

    3lbs of honey

    Made up the the gallon with highland spring bottled water

    Used a combined yeast and nutrient for white wine

    I mixed the yeast with warm water. I also warmed the honey to make it a little more viscous.

    Bubbling started after about an hour, for the first week the bubbles were large and fast through the airlock. It's slowed right down to about 1 a minute over the last couple of days and there is a nice amount of Lees at the bottom (sorry if that's incorrect terminology). It's definitely gotten a lot more pale but it is still murky.

    So now to the question :')

    Do I rack into the secondary now so the yeast can purge the oxygen out itself? Or leave it till it completely stops?

    Also, is it normal for it to smell a little bit like cider ( that's taking the dust cap off and Sniffing what's burping out) as for start gravity, I have not yet purchased a hydrometer, are they absolutely essential?

    Thanks for reading,
    Sam

  2. #2
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    Default

    They are not absolutely essential, but a hydrometer will tell you your starting gravity, and allow you to be (reasonably) sure that your mead is done fermenting. It is better to say that if you plan on making a second batch, you will want one. Otherwise it's going to be a guessing game.

    If you can tell us what yeast it was, then it will be easier to tell you if it's time to rack. Generally however, (and this is why you want a hydrometer) slowing down does not mean it's done or that it's time to rack. A steady hydrometer reading (there's that hydrometer again) over several days or weeks will be the best indicator of when it's done fermenting.

    I am still new at this, but in general, it's OK and probably advised to leave the mead on the lees (yes, that's the correct term) for 4 to 6 weeks in primary before racking off to a secondary. This allows the Co2 (not o2) to escape and the yeast to fall out of the solution. A little cider smell is probably fine (I'll let those with more wine yeast experience take that one further). Generally, when the mead begins to clear, as in you can see through it somewhat and all activity has stopped, you're ready to move to secondary.

    As it is right now, you have plenty of time to order a hydrometer and test the mead. You want to see a reading of 1.000 or less and while this may not give you the total ABV of your finished mead, it will be a god indicator that it is time to go into the secondary. Then you can forget about it for a year or so.

    While that year is going by, I highly suggest you take the primary, clean it out and make a gallon of JAOM. This is the thread here:

    http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthr...highlight=JAOM

    That will give you delicious mead in about 2-3 months.

  3. Default

    I borrowed a hydrometer from a friend at work and it read 1.001 so I racked to second (was that the correct thing to do?). I'm not sure on the number but it's ritchies in a 100g tub if that helps?

    Sam

  4. #4
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    Not really...I'm not familiar with that brand and regardless, yeast is really identified by strain rather than brand. 1.001 is pretty near the end. It's not the end of the world if it's not done yet. Keep an airlock and an eye on it. If it was still really opaque when you racked it then you will most likely have more lees settle to the bottom. Give it a taste. Don't panic if it tastes like crap. Chances are it's not completely done fermenting plus most mead made with wine yeast needs 6 to 12 months to develop. Mead that is wonderful at 12 months can often taste like used sweat socks at 12 weeks.

    That's why I recommend the JAOM so you can start to quickly taste what all the hubbub is about.

  5. #5
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    Default

    I did find a site for that Ritchie's stuff, but there's almost no info on it (and a disturbing description of "real ale" yeast, selected in Mauri (wine AOC), that bottom ferments great lagers!). No abv tolerances or even temp ranges. All I can say is let it sit and make sure nothing goes off (things growing, really bad smells, glowing under UV light, etc.).
    Get a batch of JAOM or BOMM going in the mean time (or brew some beer), and definitely get a hydrometer, they really are priceless (I've got 2 standard types, and three high precision, and I check them all against each other because I'm crazy!).

    As for regular traditionals, they don't all take that long, the problem is they jut get much better, and it's just easier to wait for them to hit a peak than drink half only to realize later how good it could have been!


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  6. Default

    Thanks for all the help it was what the brew shop suggested at the market by me. I'll try to attach a picture tomorrow. Is it better for it to clear by itself or should bentonite be added?

    Sam

  7. #7
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    Default

    Tough to say. If it was a healthy fermentation it can sit on the sediment until completely clear with no problems (if it was healthy, it should clear within 6-8mos). If the fermentation was a little finicky, it might be best to rack when the sediment gets more than a cm thick.
    There's also the question of when you want to drink it. If your going to age it, time is the best way to clear a mead (it also serves as a good excuse not to drink it "it's not clear yet, I should let it sit another year"); if you want to drink early (or pull the yeast ou of suspension due to a fear of problems to come (unhealthy yeast produce some nasty things when sat upon)), then clear it by all means.
    Aside from the issues of bad yeast health, sediment contact and racking is very personal mead maker to mead maker. Some (like me) almost always give some sur lie contact, some crash cool right after FG is hit and get it off the lees as fast as possible, and some just do something sometimes (rack, or not, clear or not, do whatever, whenever they get to it). It just depends. All can produce great meads.


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  8. #8
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    I like to let it clear a lot on its own, and then treat with Bentonite. However, Bentonite creates thick fluffy lees that will increase the amount of mead loss when racking. In a one gallon batch you usually want to minimize losses. You might be better off just putting it in the fridge.

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  9. Default

    When I woke up this morning, it looked like it had cleared somewhat overnight, in the top inch or so I could my bedroom wall (a little blury of course). It does look quite promising though I will start some JAOM on the weekend, are some ingredients optional or do I follow to the tee?

    Sam

  10. #10
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dunn1994 View Post
    When I woke up this morning, it looked like it had cleared somewhat overnight, in the top inch or so I could my bedroom wall (a little blury of course). It does look quite promising though I will start some JAOM on the weekend, are some ingredients optional or do I follow to the tee?

    Sam
    The warranty on JAOM is void unless followed to a tee. I know what you're thinking... if the bread yeast is good, then the wine yeast will be better... no it won't. Follow all instructions and amounts exactly. It's not a recipe, it's a formula.

  11. Default

    Just took another reading and got 0.998 it tastes dry and hot, I don't mind the dry but will the hot age out without my Og is there anyway to calculate an ABV value?

  12. Default

    Hot takes long aging times, 6 mo - a year.

    UNLESS YOU TESLA THAT B!
    http://people.math.aau.dk/~cornean/i...tml/ACwine.pdf

  13. Default

    I'll might just let it age the natural way I'll leave that experiment for when I'm a little more experienced :') bit extravagant for my first mead :') but you suggestion was greatly appreciated

    Any ideas on the percentage?

    Sam

  14. Default

    Also, is condensation normal? I didn't notice any in my primary :/ (there is in the second)

  15. #15
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    Ummm not really. Usually the must is either room temp or a little warmer than room temp (or a LOT warmer than room temp) so there shouldn't be any condensation on the carboy. There is no way to know the percentage of alcohol without knowing the starting gravity or doing the boiling test which will use up way too much of your one gallon batch. Just drink 8 ounces and see if it hits you hard, soft or not at all.

  16. Default

    It's dry and hot :') it very slightly smells like vinegar, but tastes good. At 3 weeks is that acceptable or is just going to get worse?

    I used 3lbs of honey
    Highland spring bottled water up to the gallon
    And wine yeast? (not sure what strain)
    Is there anyway to guess the og?

    Sam

  17. #17
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    I'd bet 1.100-1.110, so ~14%abv. You can get condensation if you cold crashed before racking (if I'm not doing sur lie I do this; though it's rare). I also tend to rack with CO2 in solution (to fill headspace) which can bring some volatiles with it when it off gases causing some condensation. It can happen, don't worry.


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  18. Default

    Condensation can happen if the room temp is lower than the internal temp. A lot of condensation would be strange though.

  19. Default

    Hmm, I'm not sure then... I'll take some readings over the next couple of day and then just let it age, what amount of Lees are you safe to leave it to age on? There is about 5mm on the bottom at the minute

    Sam

  20. #20
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    Which one has 5mm? The first one or the JAOM?


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