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  1. #21
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    Yep. The closest winery I have is probably around 800 miles, in Cape Town. I'm in Pretoria - a good distance away. I'm finding a lot of guides from local places that mention Go-Ferm and even another product that's supposedly to help as well called NatStep, but no links to what it actually is or where to get it. Think I'll email my local brewshop a bit and see if they don't know where I can find it.

    On the Fermaid O dissolving - I'll do that, thanks. I makes more sense to do it this way. I was wondering how to add the Fermaid O to the mead without introducing possible infections, hence a sanitised jar and boiled water. I'll just sanitise the hydrometer and pour into the sanitised jug when done taking the reading. I'll dissolve in there. The Fermaid O is a little bit old by now, so it's clumping up. Takes a good 10 minutes or so to dissolve... Still smells...fresh though. The Fermaid O is also a locally packaged product. Obviously some big shop who imports it and then splits the batches into smaller packets and sell at a huge markup. Luckily a small amount goes a long way.

  2. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Toxxyc View Post
    Yep. The closest winery I have is probably around 800 miles, in Cape Town. I'm in Pretoria - a good distance away. I'm finding a lot of guides from local places that mention Go-Ferm and even another product that's supposedly to help as well called NatStep, but no links to what it actually is or where to get it. Think I'll email my local brewshop a bit and see if they don't know where I can find it.
    Yeah I google mapped your location last night and learned that Lesotho exists! I had no idea that you all had a land locked country within your country!

    I googled NatStep and it is a Natural sterol product found in go-ferm protect evolution. Sterols are important chemical compounds that yeasts use to make their cell membranes. Its part of the reason we do oxygen supplementation. That being said I found a brief article about NatSteP with some contact information for Lallemand office in Australia. Not sure if things are cheaper from there but it seems like it should be!
    this is a link for Lallemand wine products

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by EricHartman View Post
    Yeah I google mapped your location last night and learned that Lesotho exists! I had no idea that you all had a land locked country within your country!

    I googled NatStep and it is a Natural sterol product found in go-ferm protect evolution. Sterols are important chemical compounds that yeasts use to make their cell membranes. Its part of the reason we do oxygen supplementation. That being said I found a brief article about NatSteP with some contact information for Lallemand office in Australia. Not sure if things are cheaper from there but it seems like it should be!
    this is a link for Lallemand wine products
    LOL we have plenty of nice things in South Africa. IMO it's one of the most beautiful countries on earth, and Lesotho is a little gem we keep landlocked. They have amazing places in Lesotho as well. Ever want a cheap holiday? That's your goal. Cheap as chips as well...

    Anyway, back to mead. The Aus $ if I remember correctly is around R10 to the dollar. USD is around R15 to the dollar for us, so Aus should be cheaper. Doesn't solve the problem I have of shipping though. I will HAVE to use a courier company because our Post Office just...loses things. I have ordered plenty of stuff from overseas before (mostly China, because it's cheap), and when the package arrives 6 months later you can see it's been opened and some of the stuff removed. It happens here, so we have to use couriers. I'm hoping to maybe get a big order going and see if we can't order a big bag of GoFerm and then split it here, or something like that. We'll see.

    To the fermenter! I added more Fermaid O yesterday according to the feeding schedule. Followed your advice - mixed the Fermaid O with the gravity sample taken into sanitized everything. Gravity reading - 1.071 (after degassing, before adding the Fermaid O). Slower than I expected, but that's mead for you. It can take a month for a batch to finish, so I'm giving it it's time. Airlock is increasing bubbles, they're quicker this morning than they were last night, so I'm guessing the yeast has actively started fermenting and has gone through the initial phases of what it does. Will be adding the last feeding this afternoon until 1/3rd sugar break, when I'll feed last time. Temperature is strong at 20C. Doesn't deviate. Cool room and warm fermenter is working wonders together. Smell from the fermenter is great, and the must is obviously still sweet, but there are absolutely no off flavours so far. I guess something's going well.

  4. #24
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    Fed the 72 hour feeding yesterday. Also got a reply from the local brew shop last night. They don't have GoFerm, nor do they know of anyone in South Africa who imports it. They recommended Fermaid O and Fermaid K. Problem. Fermaid K contains DAP, which is toxic to yeast during rehydration. Fermaid O doesn't contain many of the micronutrients the yeast wants. So eh. I guess I'll have to see if I can't import myself.

  5. #25
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    Fed the last feeding on Friday evening. I sat at almost-almost the 1/3rd sugar break, and I didn't want to get up in the middle of the night to feed so I fed at 1.056 instead of 1.054. Close enough, if you ask me. Mead is also now in my new fermentation chamber, so the temperature controlling part is no longer any worry. The garage smells like sweet sweet honey...

  6. #26

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    You're fine to do what you did. Glad it's doing well and smelling good
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  7. #27
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    Thanks man, yeah I'm really excited about this mead. I've never done so much research before any brew, and I've also never had such consistent temperatures and done so much to keep the yeast happy for any brew before. It's still fermenting away happily, which is great. Slower is better, in my experience. It's still at 20C (68F) in the fermentation chamber (best thing I ever could have built for myself for a mere ~$65), and the combination of electric blanket and fridge is the easiest way to keep it there.

    I tapped off a taster yesterday from this mead. It's still sweet, as could be expected, but unlike previous meads this one has absolutely no "odd" flavours I can place. The previous batches all had something - a little sour here, a hint of rocket fuel there, but this one - nothing. Yes, you can taste (and feel) the alcohol coming along, but it's not hot. Warm, as is expected, but not hot. The macadamia honey has a slightly "dry" taste to it. Not mouthfeel, but taste. I love it, it gives the mead (so far anyway) at least some depth that wasn't in the supermarket honeys before.

    I seriously can't wait for this one to be finished. I'm firmly of the belief that this one won't take years to age out, simply because I've put in a few hours of extra work at the start. I really, really can't wait. I'm planning on leaving it in the fermenter for a while still, long after it's done, and then I'll cold crash, fine and rack onto stabilizing agents. I then have to decide what gravity I'm aiming for with the backsweetening...

  8. #28
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    Tasted a little bit again today, trying to find flavours. Here's what I wrote down in my notes:

    2019/07/31: Another taste test (about 25ml this time). Mead is still cloudy, nothing changed there. Nose is sweet, sugary and floral. There is a whiff of macadamia still coming through, and maybe I’m looking for it but I can get the sunflower as well. Taste is still very clean. Dry is starting to give way to more nutty taste. Very sweet still but alcohol is starting to come on a little stronger. Smooth and very nice, like sipping a sweet port or muscadel style wine, but not as strong. There is a slight hint of sour from the yeast, but it’s still not prominent at all. The sour I did get was from carbonation out the fermenter. Not “yeasty”. Typical “white wine” notes are starting to show, and I’m really glad, as that’s what I was looking for. I’ll let it sit for a few more days before doing another taste test.
    EDIT: Came back just to say this as I sipped the last drops - this stuff is GREAT.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    Look up "Scott's laboratory handbook" and you can download it. In it, it tells you the best way to do everything. Including how to rehydrate and how to start a stuck fermentation.
    Hi Sir, just wanted to point out this again. I've been slowly working my way through this handbook, and it is simply incredible. Thanks for this, really. So much information, so close and so easily searchable. It's simply incredible!

  10. #30
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    2019/08/04: Properly degassed. Fermentation is starting to slow down by taking a look at the airlock activity, so I opened the fermenter and used my brew spoon to degas for a good few minutes. Stirred up the less as well to suspend all the yeast again properly. There's a lot in suspension by taking a look at how cloudy the mead is, and how much yeast settles out when I take a sample from the "still" fermenter. The scent from the fermenter is starting to showcase the yeast’s contribution. The smell is turning strongly toward the tropical fruit side. Macadamia and sunflower on the taste, but the nose is getting fruity. The alcohol is coming in stronger now, and the mead is drying out well. White wine notes are also picking up, and this is reminding me of a Sauvignon Blanc white. This is turning out to be better than I expected, sooner. Good stuff. Good stuff.

  11. #31
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    OK so I checked the fermenter this morning and found the airlock very quiet. I know it's no indication of fermentation, but considering the sweetness was disappearing last time I'm thinking we're closing in on the end. How long should I leave the mead after reaching a dry gravity before I decide to cold crash, fine and rack off the lees? I know with beer the general consensus is a week or so after the fermentation stopped, but this is wine and wine takes more time. Is a week fine? Two weeks?

    I'm not detecting any off flavours at all, and I'm very happy with how it tastes out of the fermenter right now. I also don't want to leave the mead on the lees for too long, as I read that 71B is not a yeast you want to leave under the mead for too long. I read up and everyone recommends a month or so and you should start looking to get the mead off the lees. I'm still a bit of a ways away from that, so I'm still in the clear. Do I leave it for the full 6 weeks or so before racking off, or will I be fine if I cold crash it in a week or so, meaning 4 weeks after pitching and then continue on with the fining and stabilizing?

    This has always been the part I'm most worried about when making mead. I'm not sure when or how to rack best to avoid most O2 getting into the mead, and to avoid off flavours and so on. It's a stressful time for me now as the mead has been beautiful op to now and I don't want to damage it now.

  12. #32
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    OK so just before the weekend I took a gravity sample. I tapped off a bit into a sterilized glass jar, sealed it and shook the crap out of it to degas properly. Burped it every now and again to get it properly flat. Took 4 or 5 shakes before no more CO2 escaped. I then poured it into the hydrometer tube - gravity at 0.997. It's dry - thank goodness! I then poured the mead back into the jar and stuck it in the fridge at 4C to see how fast it'll drop clear-ish. Overnight the vast majority of the yeast dropped out, and I took a taste test. Very dry, but very clean. Fruity with a strong dry white wine punch. No off flavours, and the 11% ABV doesn't bother in the slightest.



    So I turned the fermentation chamber down to 2C and cold crashed the mead. It's been sitting in there, ice cold, for two days now. I'll rack it off this coming weekend, when I'll also fine it with gelatin before sticking it back in the fermentation chamber for a week to clarify. With gelatin they say only two or three days is required, but I've seen that giving it some more time REALLY helps. I'll give it a week, and then I'll rack it off the dropped sediment again into the bottling bucket with the kmeta and sorbates to stabilize. I'll then let it sit for a while to see how clear it'll get before bottling.

    One question - I want to backsweeten this to a semi-sweet mead. I want to know how much honey I need to add. I'll be adding honey to the full batch of 25l of mead, maybe around 23l after racking. I have a problem though - I have no idea to what gravity I must add honey. Some sources say I should aim for 1.008 for a semi-sweet, and others say that 1.010 is still considered "dry".

    For example, Midwest Brewing says:
    Variety: Dry (still) lb./gal: 2-2.5 Original Gravity: up to 1.110 Final Gravity: 1.000-1.010
    Variety: Medium (still) lb./gal: 2.5-3 Original Gravity: 1.110-1.120 Final Gravity: 1.010-1.015
    Variety: Sweet (still) lb./gal: 3-4 Original Gravity: 1.120-1.135 Final Gravity: 1.020-1.050

    But the BJCP guidelines say:
    dry 0.990 - 1.010
    semi-sweet 1.010 - 1.025
    sweet 1.025 - 1.050

    Now I don't have a lot of experience here, but from the 1.05 solutions I've tasted - that's way too sweet. Does anyone have any ideas here? I do not want a dry mead, but I don't want it to be too sweet either, so I need to know what point to sweeten it to. I also don't want to sweeten to a point, dissolve, and then sweeten too much after tasting, as in my experience my palate doesn't stop soon enough and I end up oversweetening.

    Also, would it be fine if I just add honey straight to the mead after stabilizing and shake the crap out of it to dissolve the honey well, or could I take a bit of mead, warm it in a pot and dissolve the honey in there and then pour it back? I think that should result in the least amount of oxygen in the mead in the end, but I'm not 100% sure?

  13. #33
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    Alrighty. The jar in the fridge is clearing up well, so I'm guessing the same applies to the mead in the fermenter in the fermentation chamber. Time will tell. I also took a tiny little sip...and it's GREAT. Fresh, fruity, white wine-y and the yeast taste is starting to drop out. This mead will be great in only a few months, I'm sure, it won't need years like the previous one either. Guess it helps to follow the instructions and to do the good stuff to the little yeasties.

  14. #34
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    Alright since I'm talking to myself here (LOL), I went with it. Last night I sanitized my secondary container (an HDPE container I bought just for this purpose), added potassium metabisulfite to the container and racked the mead onto the sulfites. I calculated it to 2.4g of metabisulfite per the 23l (6 gallons) I racked off, aiming for 60ppm free SO2. It's a ballpark, and I guessed the pH of the mead to 3.7, so I hope I'm there. I checked on a calculator this morning that I might be under the market, and I should be aiming for a bit higher levels, so I'll see how it turns out. I will HAVE to get pH strips or something to check pH with, I can't keep guessing like this and hope for the best. It's not accurate. Anyway, back to the mead...

    It's pretty clear after 3 days cold crashing. I saved the yeast into a 750ml sterilized glass jar, and I am in the process of washing it (with RO water and all that). I want to re-use this batch, since I have a big and VERY clean colony there. But that's not the mead. To the mead now, I promise...

    As mentioned, it is already pretty clear after cold crashing and without fining. I was actually surprised by how clear it was already. I McGyver-ed a racking tube by heating a piece of silicone hose in the kettle and forcing it over the end of my bottling wand's main tube. It fits perfectly into the fermenter's tap, so it worked a breeze. Sanitized the whole shebang and hosed it down:



    And how clear it already is, note this is through an old silicone hose:



    So it's racked off and back into the fridge. I obviously took a test and while I'm not a fan of brut wines (or mead, to be honest), it really does help to "judge" it. Fresh, clean, fruity on the nose. Same translates to the taste. You can detect a hint of honey on the back of your throat, but there's absolutely no sweetness. The yeast is amazing, it imparted a fruity flavour that I can only describe as "like a fresh white wine". It's fantastic, I'm absolutely loving this.

    Tonight I'll be adding the sorbates and then I'll let it sit for a day or so more. I then plan on backsweetening it in the current container, by adding around 1kg of honey to the mead. This should push gravity to around 1.012, and since I have no idea how sweet that is but it seems to be in the middle of the charts I mentioned earlier, I'm going to start there. I can then cap it, shake the crap out of it to dissolve the honey and then start taste testing to see if I should add more. As soon as I'm happy about how it turned out I can cool it down again to around 2C, tap off 150ml mead, heat it up, dissolve my teaspoon of gelatin in there and fine it down to crystal clear before racking off and bottling. It's a beer method that's VERY effective, but takes a few days to complete, which I am totally happy with.

    Anything else I should be considering at this stage?

  15. #35

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    looks great! glad this one is working out so well!

  16. #36

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    I don't have any inclination to guess for a pH. It would be interesting to see how close you are. Most of your first add of sulfites will be bound by tomorrow. So I can't imagine you would have added too much. Because it will become bound. This is why we monitor it. However, the machine I own for that is about $600 I believe.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  17. #37
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    Yeah I will have to get some pH strips to test, because last night I saw again I ideally need to know the pH to know my additions. Now this is just a "test" batch, so to speak, more to focus on technique than much else, so I again opted on the higher end of the spectrum when adding my sorbates. Added 4.9g to the batch, dissolved in some mead. The instructions on the pack mentioned amounts (about 0.75g per gallon) to be on the safe side, so I used those numbers in addition to a tiny bit more to be safe, since I don't know my pH and my ABV isn't very high (I hit 11% on the head).

    Anyway, with the sorbate added, my mead is now stable. I now plan on letting it sit for a day or two, but I'm not sure if I should leave it in the fridge. I know CO2 dissipates quicker from solution if the solution isn't as cold as it is right now, so I'm strongly considering letting it heat up a bit and then getting it properly degassed before I backsweeten. I want to backsweeten soon as well, as I want to see how clear it drops without me having to fine it. I know the addition of gelatin creates two problems which I would like to avoid, if possible, and they are:

    1. Vegans can't drink it.
    2. It can strip colour and flavour from the mead.

    While number 1 is OK and I can live with it, it's number 2 I'm worried about . I have no experience with it stripping flavours, since I normally make beers, and there's more than enough flavour to go around so I don't even measure the gelatin - just frigging add it.

    I can get one other fining agent for relatively cheap - Polyclar Brewbrite, but I would like to prevent spending more money than needed. Wife's already upset because this batch of mead has resulted in an STC-1000 temperature controller, an upright fridge, purchasing of new sanitisers, etc. etc...

  18. #38

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    Supperklear isn't gelatin. It's Chitosan and Keisosel

    Your sorbate add is not near a crucial as your sulfites additions. Sorbate is one time. Sulfites are a continuous monitor/additions management protocol.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  19. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    Supperklear isn't gelatin. It's Chitosan and Keisosel

    Your sorbate add is not near a crucial as your sulfites additions. Sorbate is one time. Sulfites are a continuous monitor/additions management protocol.
    SuperClear is a two-part addition, if I'm not mistaken as well. I've read up about chitosan and kieselsol (or whatever they're called). I've checked the Scott Labs handbook on gelatin additions and while they don't HIGHLY recommend it, it seems like what gelatin will do is not too bad, so I think I'll go with gelatin on this batch.

    On the sulfite additions - you taught me something. I never knew the sulfites had to be monitored and adjusted as we go along. Now, considering I already added k-meta on the higher end of the spectrum, would you recommend I add a bit more later on? The mead is out of the fridge now, and I'm heating it to room temp slowly in order to degas it properly. Whenever I shake the bottle it's in and burp it, there's still CO2 coming off, so I'm hoping that will stop sometime during the week.

    I have no way to measure free SO2 and other things in the mead at all. Doesn't bother me too much for now, but I'll probably have to get some later on.

    On the mead itself - a small taste test reveals it's really starting to shine. It's bone dry, as expected, but it's starting to really pack on the flavour. It's like the flavour is intensifying even after just one week. Could possibly also be attributed to the fact that it's no longer ice cold, but it's very nice. I like it.

    On a different note - if I wanted to make the mead a bit more rich in colour, how would I do that? I don't want to add colourants, but can I slightly caramelise a small amount of honey prior to fermentation in the next batch? I don't want to go bochet, just add a small amount of colour?

  20. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by Toxxyc View Post
    SuperClear is a two-part addition, if I'm not mistaken as well. I've read up about chitosan and kieselsol (or whatever they're called). I've checked the Scott Labs handbook on gelatin additions and while they don't HIGHLY recommend it, it seems like what gelatin will do is not too bad, so I think I'll go with gelatin on this batch.

    On the sulfite additions - you taught me something. I never knew the sulfites had to be monitored and adjusted as we go along. Now, considering I already added k-meta on the higher end of the spectrum, would you recommend I add a bit more later on? The mead is out of the fridge now, and I'm heating it to room temp slowly in order to degas it properly. Whenever I shake the bottle it's in and burp it, there's still CO2 coming off, so I'm hoping that will stop sometime during the week.

    I have no way to measure free SO2 and other things in the mead at all. Doesn't bother me too much for now, but I'll probably have to get some later on.

    On the mead itself - a small taste test reveals it's really starting to shine. It's bone dry, as expected, but it's starting to really pack on the flavour. It's like the flavour is intensifying even after just one week. Could possibly also be attributed to the fact that it's no longer ice cold, but it's very nice. I like it.

    On a different note - if I wanted to make the mead a bit more rich in colour, how would I do that? I don't want to add colourants, but can I slightly caramelise a small amount of honey prior to fermentation in the next batch? I don't want to go bochet, just add a small amount of colour?
    https://morewinemaking.com/web_files.../files/so2.pdf
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

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