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  1. Default Need a second set of eyes on my recipe (+methods)

    First off, this is a pretty long post so thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to read through this and offer any suggestions and/or help; I greatly appreciate it as I'm completely new to mead making and while I've done a lot of research it still doesn't compare to experience.

    So I have my parents coming at the end of November for Thanksgiving, and my In-Laws coming in December for Christmas; I was thinking about trying to put together a nice sweet, warm holiday cyser. I've been trawling around the internet for the past 2 days studying all I can about making mead at home; I've read through tons of recipes, read plenty of forums and articles about different techniques, etc., and I think I've come up with what I hope to be a pretty good recipe. I just want to get someone to look over it and see if what I have here makes sense (it should, since I've based it off of other recipes and run different proportions through calculators, etc.) and maybe see if someone has done something similar.

    Recipe:
    1 Gallon Apple Cider
    3lbs Honey
    1 Packet Red Star "Premier Blanc" (I couldn't find a definitive tolerance range for this yeast, some pages say 12% others say 13%-15%)
    1tsp Yeast Nutrient
    1 Cinnamon Stick (Broken)
    1 Nutmeg (Crushed)
    1 Clove (Whole)
    1 Vanilla Bean (Split/Scraped + Body)

    *August 15*
    - Simmer spices in 1 cup water for 1hr to extract flavors, let cool.
    - Pour honey into carboy, fill halfway with cider, shake to dissolve honey
    - Add spice "tea" (minus spice bodies) to carboy, stir
    - Add remaining cider to carboy, leaving enough space for the activated yeast mixture, **Measure SG
    - Add yeast mixture, and spice bag with the spice bodies to vessel, cap with airlock

    *September 12*
    - Rack, transfer spice bag

    *October 27*
    - Rack only if needed (sediment at bottom of jug)
    - Add oak spiral (American Oak, Medium Toast, 8" long, 1" wide)

    *November 17*
    - Remove oak spiral
    - Add stablizer (K-META, package says 1/4 tsp per 6 gallons, I plan to dissolve 1/4 tsp in about 100ml water and then using 1/6 of that)
    - Let stand overnight

    *November 18*
    - Add bentonite to clarify (2 tsps bentonite into 1/2 cup of boiling water, create slurry, let sit and cool for 4 hours or more to fully hydrate, add 1tbsp slurry if only somewhat cloudy, 2tbsp if very cloudy)

    *November 24*
    - Rack, then bottle from new container

    A few questions of point I have here:
    1. With the specific yeast I'm using and the amount of sugar in use I'm expecting maybe 13%/14% abv at most, I've used a few calculators to try and parse this out but there should be plenty of sugar for the yeast to fully ferment to tolerance with plenty of sugar left over for the sweetness...does this check out?

    2. I've heard spices tend to dry the taste a good bit, does anyone think that I'm using too much of any spice, or that perhaps including the spice bag in the second vessel after racking will lead to too much flavor from the spice? (of course it depends on personal taste, but I mean overt overpowering spice)

    Thanks again to anyone who took the time to read through all of this.

  2. #2

    Default

    SO a few things here.


    First off welcome

    And also,,, good thing you have the sense to ask first rather than getting started and mess stuff up. Most of what you will read on the web, other than most of the stuff here and a couple of FB groups are filled with misinformation, outdated information and just plain old garbage from so-called experts who repeat things they have heard but have no real experience.

    So a few things. That yeast will eat your cyser to bone dry. And that's not a bad thing. You need to buy and learn to use a hydrometer to measure things so you have some real data to fly buy.

    I can't teach you all the ins and outs right here in one post. But trust me. I know what works.

    You want to measure your juice ( make sure it doesn't contain any preservatives) most grocery store juice does. Then add enough honey to get to 1090 or 1100. More than that and it has too much alcohol to be ready by your target date. Run it dry. You need to learn how to stagger your feeding schedule. And how to maintain a specific temperature to keep the yeast happy. Too hot or too cold and they will make off-flavors.

    Once it goes dry. Stabilize it with sulfites and sorbates.

    Now after a few weeks, you can cold crash and rack it. Once it has cleared for a couple of months then take your spices and add them to your must. Add them in small grain bags so you can remove them once you have the amount you want. This gives you total control of each spice. Adding it all upfront gives you zero control.

    I don't have time to help you out on all of those things individually8 right now. But search here and you will find the different pieces. As you start to piece things together. Come back and run your plan past us again so we can keep you straight so you make a successful batch instead of rocket fuel.

    I'm sure others can point you to the things you need to lookup

    Rehydration
    Tosna feeding protocol
    temp control
    stabilizing
    cold crashing/ racking spice additions
    aging bottling
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Pretoria, South Africa
    Posts
    338

    Default

    Because you have some time, and before I'm going to give any comments I'm not qualified to give, I would STRONGLY suggest you listen to the GotMead Podcasts by Ryan (Squatchy on here). Here's a good post not related to you, but giving links to some of the important bits: https://www.gotmead.com/forum/showth...941#post276941

    EDIT: Ah, the master is here

  4. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post

    So a few things. That yeast will eat your cyser to bone dry. And that's not a bad thing. [...]
    You want to measure your juice ( make sure it doesn't contain any preservatives) most grocery store juice does. Then add enough honey to get to 1090 or 1100. More than that and it has too much alcohol to be ready by your target date. Run it dry. [...]
    Once it goes dry. Stabilize it with sulfites and sorbates.
    I'm a little confused on your suggestion of having the mead "run dry" **this might just be due to my fairly limited vocabulary regarding this subject at the moment** but why would I want the mead to run dry if the desired end result is a sweet mead? (I DO mean to ask that question earnestly, again I'm obviously new and still learning) Would you mean to have the yeast fully ferment the sugars until the alcohol is dry, then backsweeten before bottling?

    I've tried to dig into that particular bit more, and I've found some conflicting forum discussions here and elsewhere; some say that a starting SG of 1.1+ is fine, for a sweeter end result, but others say that you don't want a starting SG higher than 1.08 or 1.09 because you'll end up with unfermented sugars...but personally I don't see why that would be an issue. Is it because running the must dry first can give you better control of the sweetness later by backsweetening?

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Toxxyc View Post
    Because you have some time, and before I'm going to give any comments I'm not qualified to give, I would STRONGLY suggest you listen to the GotMead Podcasts by Ryan (Squatchy on here). Here's a good post not related to you, but giving links to some of the important bits: https://www.gotmead.com/forum/showth...941#post276941

    EDIT: Ah, the master is here
    Ha.. Thanks for the kind words brother
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Saratoga Springs , NY
    Posts
    1,494

    Default

    hi Althrayn and welcome.
    Just to add a quick comment to Squatchy's: when you add spices to the must you are basically asking the water to act as a solvent and so extract flavor. Water is not a great solvent. And certainly as the amount of alcohol in solution increases then you are using the alcohol to extract flavor and color etc, but when you add spices to the fermented mead you are asking a solution with about 12 % alcohol by volume immediately to act as a solvent to extract flavor and alcohol is a far better solvent than water. In other words, not only will you have far more control over the amount of flavor the spices will provide (is one week long enough? Two? A month? Should you be removing some spices after a day? ) but the alcohol will be able to extract more different essential oils and so the flavor profile will be quite different (in a good way).

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by bernardsmith View Post
    hi Althrayn and welcome.
    Just to add a quick comment to Squatchy's: when you add spices to the must you are basically asking the water to act as a solvent and so extract flavor. Water is not a great solvent. And certainly as the amount of alcohol in solution increases then you are using the alcohol to extract flavor and color etc, but when you add spices to the fermented mead you are asking a solution with about 12 % alcohol by volume immediately to act as a solvent to extract flavor and alcohol is a far better solvent than water. In other words, not only will you have far more control over the amount of flavor the spices will provide (is one week long enough? Two? A month? Should you be removing some spices after a day? ) but the alcohol will be able to extract more different essential oils and so the flavor profile will be quite different (in a good way).
    Thanks for the detailed explanation!
    Yeah, after Squatchy's reply I did think about it a bit and it made good sense to me to add the spices as per their suggestion; but I always like to fully understand what it is I'm doing/trying to accomplish rather than doing something like finding a plain ol' recipe and just being told what to do. That way, if I fully understand, it gives me a better basis to do things of my own design and in my own fashion!

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