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  1. Default Blackberry mead, my second batch ever, any thoughts or suggestions welcome!

    I want to make a Mead fermented primarily with honey first and add crushed blackberries to it after racking for flavor (not necessarily for alcohol content). I would like to achieve a dry (or close to) mead at around 12%. I plan to use Red Star Premier Blanc, which I'm led to believe will tolerate up to 13-15% ABV. I want to let it ferment nicely and upon racking I would like to stabilize at the appropriate ABV and add blackberries for flavoring (fresh, frozen, thawed, frozen, and thawed again to allow juice to leak out). I want to let this hang around in my carboy for a while to take on some blackberry flavor and I have read that I might get an additional "good" flavor by having the whole blackberry (seeds and all) soak for some time. Then rack again and age a while or bottle.

    Still learning a lot as I go, please feel free to add in. I feel like I can accomplish the must this weekend, so I'll likely start that with these guidelines.

    Potential Batch goal: I would like 1 gallon in my last carboy
    Per the calculator in the forum (if I used it correctly...),
    Honey: 2.5 lbs
    Nutrient: Fermax Yeast Nutrient
    SG: 1.089 (approximately)
    ABV Goal: 12% (approximately)
    FG: (I don't know how to predict this yet)

    Stabilizer: Potassium Sorbate, granulated

    Star San (will follow instructions for mixing amounts), mixed and put into a large pot holding up to a gallon. I will dunk/soak my supplies and lay them out on some aluminum foil on the counter for a quick and clean surface. Probably splash a little of that solution onto that to clean it as well. I know Star San is reported to be done killing bacteria after 30 seconds.

    Add about a qtr gal of spring water to my carboy, add the warmed up honey to it and shake it like crazy until its mixed thoroughly, which should also aerate it nicely. While this is happening I should have my yeast sitting in a sterilized container with spring water at a temp of 104*F. Let that sit for 20 minutes to hydrate (per instructions on package).
    Fill up jug to where it tapers (an average 1gal carboy). Add nutrients per instructions, I have Fermax yeast nutrient.

    Measure SG with sterile hydrometer. Record reading.

    Pitch yeast, swirl a little to mix, put in dark area with a stable temp like my hall closet.

    After Pitch:
    Check every other day to measure SG, add nutrients (how much? t-spoon?), swirl or shake to re-introduce O2.

    (7th day) After the third nutrient dose, another SG reading, O2 addition thru shaking/stirring , leave airlock on and wait.

    Check SG every couple days until it reaches a certain point (what point though...?) or when it stops changing?

    At some point I rack it away from the Lees and add Potassium Sorbate to stabilize.
    Add my blackberry stuff, let that sit for some period of time, then re-rack off that into a final aging vessel.

    When is a good time to cold-crash it? I was thinking after stabilizing and before adding blackberrys?


    How often to I introduce O2, multiple times a day? Is there a rough frequency of this?
    I don't know how much nutrients to re-add to the must each time.
    How can I predict FG? (maybe direct me to a forum link, I'm having trouble finding this).
    Are my nutrients okay? Fermax Yeast Nutrient is what I have.
    I plan to stabilize using potassium sorbate (granulated), is that okay? Do I need other things in conjunction with it and why maybe?

    Please feel free to comment or help me out if I'm going astray - very new to this still! Thanks in advance.

  2. #2


    So you will want to use sulfites and sorbate to stabilize after your yeast has eaten all the honey and you are at zero on your hydrometer. You will use a starting gravity of 0195. This will get you just a tad higher than 12%. You will dilute it when adding the berries after it's stable. Don't soak the fruit any longer than 10-12 days. It will have given up everything by that time. If you can keep it cool when the fruit is in that would be good. I don't like, or use fermax so I csan't help you. I use Fermaid-O but you might like Fermaid-k. It tells you how to use that if you go to
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Saratoga Springs , NY


    Hiya Mattzak. This is more a side bar issue than anything. Starsan is fine and it tends to be used more by brewers than wine makers because brewers tend not to use K-meta but wine makers often want to use K-meta as part of their stabilization process (to backsweeten) and although you say you don't intend to back sweeten here's the advantage of using K-meta to sanitize. You get a 3-fer if you use K-meta. 1. It can be used to sanitize your equipment. 2. You can use K-meta (at less concentrated amounts) to eliminate bacteria and indigenous yeast (the sulfur dioxide will kill the yeast etc - but lab cultured yeast tend to have been cultured to be far more tolerant of K-meta than their wild cousins) and 3. Always good to add some low concentration K-meta when you rack to add free sulfur to the mead (or wine) to inhibit oxidation and so increase the shelf life of your wines and meads... Star San is a great sanitizer... but it plays only one note.

  4. Default

    Thanks Bernard and squatchy, I appreciate the responses very much!

    I want to know if I got something right.
    Would someone be willing to clarify about the possible order of adding the blackberries, cold crashing, stabilizing... I wrote my impression, but... mehhhh. I know these things should happen, but not the order of operations. =)

    Also Iím still curious how I top off later on when aging comes about. Should I just make another smaller must with the same ratio of honey and save it in the fridge?

    Side note, not against back sweetening, kinda thought I was doing that with the blackberries though. (lol)

  5. Default

    If you are using the blackberries to back sweeten, you would add those after stabilizing. Do the cold crash after fermentation stops and then stabilize. I've never back sweetened with fruit so I don't know how much you'll need or how long to leave it in there to get to the sweetness level you want.

    As far as topping off goes, use the smallest vessel you have that will hold your mead. If there is still some space at the top, you can sanitize some marbles and drop them in there to reduce the headspace. I've never done that myself, but others have mentioned doing it.

  6. #6


    Make a bigger batch of mead than what you will be aging in. This way you can have extra so when you are done with your racking losses you can just add the other leftover stuff in the aging vessel.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  7. #7


    Hi. I also make more than what I plan on having at the end. If I'm shooting for a full 5 gallon Trad, I make a 6 gallon batch. I usually end up with about 16oz more than 5 gallons by the time I'm done with racking, filtering, bottling, spilling, tasting, adjusting, etc. I just enjoy that last bottle on my own .

    It's a bit more of investment considering additional smaller vessels from overflow to be used late for topping off, but there are options.

    Dealing with just smaller batches (and even larger batches), I start with about 1.25-1.4 gallons. You can buy stoppers that fit your bottles. I use flip top bottles, and I think it's a #2.5 stopper with an airlock (even after stabilization just in case I didn't get it fully stable and to avoid a bottle bomb). Since I have 16oz and 32oz bottles, they work well for just that little bit extra mead that I'll need top off my larger carboy, and there's not much surface exposure to O2 - never had a problem with oxygenation. These are also small enough to keep in a fridge pretty easily.

    I've recently bought some 1/2 gallon jugs for the larger batch overflow as they're just easier to deal with, and I use less airlocks (vs 2 32oz bottles).

    So far, I've almost always back-sweetened just a tad in all my meads. Going from pure dry 1.000, to maybe 1.006 +/- .002.

    Use glass marbles if you want to try those. I've worked with these before, and the method works better when you have very little to no lees left. Otherwise, you'll either have less quantity of clear mead for bottling, and/or just keep sucking up the lees that settle between the marbles instead of all the way to the bottom of the vessel.

  8. Default

    4give, do you ferment both batches/bottles? (Main and smaller surplus) or do you add it to sweeten cause itís not fermented?

  9. #9


    Here's a general sense of what I do (small batch example):
    *Ferment about 1.25 gallons in one vessel
    *Once ferment is done and I'm ready to rack off the rough lees, I clean and sanitize a 1 gallon jug and 2 bottles (1 16oz and 1 32 oz - I don't need this much volume but I'm not sure how much I'll lose during racking)
    --I will put an airlock on both regardless of if I've stabilized yet
    *I rack off the rough lees typically filling the gallon jug and most of the 32oz bottle
    --I do not put the end of my racking cane all the way to the bottom when I start racking - I hold it near the top/middle, and rack into the bottle(s) first (less lees/sediment) as it's easier to control the flow when there's still a lot of mead to rack instead of trying to restart the racking with just a little bit left in the bottom of the fermentation vessel
    --If I don't fill the gallon jug, I'll pour some from the bottle back to the jug to eliminate head-space in the jug.
    *Depending on what I'm planning on doing, I'm likely racking these at least two more times
    --When I do rack, I rack the 1 gallon jug and I'll use the bottle to top off the new jug
    ---Even though the bottle may have some lees/sediment left, I carefully top off so as to not pour more sediment into the gallon jug, but it does happen to a small degree.
    *I can move any left over mead in the 32oz bottle to a 16oz bottle for further topping off for later rackings

    Keep in mind:
    *I haven't used fining agents on my mead yet if I have reasons to rack again. I do that when I think I've got it where I want it flavor-wise for aging/drinking and it will be just the one last racking after fining.
    *Good SO2 management is a necessity from the end of fermentation through true bottling time.
    *Others here may disagree, but I think it's a great idea to always have a good Traditional around for topping off any mead. Of course, I don't want to change a flavor profile drastically, so use good judgement depending on the size and type of batch that needs topping off.
    *You may not need to top off immediately if you know you want to back-sweeten right away, or add something that takes up volume in secondary. It may end up being a blending experiment as you go until you get the bulk of your batch where you want it.

  10. Default

    Thank you! I made the mistake of reading this after a delicious beer (or two...). I think I get the gist, but Iíve put my batch on hold till Sunday so I had all the info I thought I needed, plus time of course. Thank you for your time and information! Gonna put it to good use, been going through the 2017 podcasts on modern mead making

  11. Default


    **1 gal batch**
    Actual ingredients:
    - 2.5 lbs wildflower honey
    - ~4 grams premier blanc(champagne yeast)
    - .8 gal spring water used
    - 1 T-spoon Fermax yeast nutrient
    - SG: 1.08 or 1.09 ish, hard to see
    Smelled delicious!

    *Everything sterilized per directions on Star San.
    *must was shaken for three minutes at a time for 4 separate attempts while warming so as to get closer to slurry
    *Yeast was hydrated at 100-104* F, as per directions on packet. Temperature was between this throughout the hydration for 25 minutes at least.
    *slurry contained one T-spoon of fermax yeast nutrient as per instructions.
    *added must to yeast to acclimate, ~25% of total yeast slurry was from must.
    *temperatures were within 15* F of each other (I want to say must was 85ish and slurry was 95ish).
    *let sit for another 5 minutes and pitched.
    *turned jug over several times, gently, to mix in bubbles on surface and slurry throughout jug.

    Jug is filled to the bottom of the neck, I fitted a dry airlock to allow some gas exchange while limiting microbe exposure and placed in a cool dark closet (ambient temp is about 70* F in closet) and will check tomorrow morning to stir.

    I know I need to get O2 involved more and what I have going wonít really be a lot
    (2.5ppm at best by shaking?), but I donít have another way to do this besides shaking or swirling for now. Will swish around in the AM or early afternoon for what itís worth...

    I am curious when I should be adding more nutrients than I already have to the mix. And how often to check gravity (is every other day too far apart for gravity or..?)

    Thank you in advance for any comments or suggestions - Iím working my way through the modern mead making podcasts.

    Also thank you squatchy for your input on the podcasts so far(and a few of my posts). Especially thanks to the hosts for getting this whole site going as well as their knowledge.

  12. #12


    You may not have got to the nutrients part yet of the podcasts, but Staggered Nutrient Additions (SNA aka TOSNA) is what you'll want to try in the next batch. I'm not familiar with Fermax, but one tweak I do differently than TOSNA is I'll wait anywhere from 7-12 hours (instead of 24) after pitching the yeast to add nutrients. It depends on the yeast, what the batch is doing, and my schedule as to when I add the nutrients. The idea is that we don't want to feed any bad guys that may be in the must in the beginning, and give our yeast a chance to get geared up.

    Strict SNA calls for 4 feedings: 1 at 24 hrs after pitch; 48 hours; 72 hours; and then either the 1/3 sugar break or 7th day (whichever comes first). You divide the total nutrient amount into these 4 feedings.

    Checking SG is important in those first 7 days if you're following SNA. If I know it's fermenting, I'll check about every other day, but this really depends on the speed of fermentation. If the batch is chewing through 20 points of SG a day, then it's going pretty fast and I need to watch for that 1/3 break.

    I forget what yeast you're using, but an ambient temp of 70F could mean your fermenting temp is around 74F - maybe higher. This is important if the yeast has a preferred temp range.

  13. Default

    I just got to it, gonna listen to it tomorrow in my free time.

    So, I already dosed the recommended amount into the slurry while acclimating it, should I not add more?

    Thanks for the info!

  14. #14


    Quote Originally Posted by Mattzak View Post
    I just got to it, gonna listen to it tomorrow in my free time.

    So, I already dosed the recommended amount into the slurry while acclimating it, should I not add more?

    Thanks for the info!
    You may be thinking of two different parts of the protocol. In rehydration you add go-ferm to support the yeast as they return to metabolic activity. A rehydration support product like Go-ferm is the only product you should be adding to this part of the protocol.

    4give is talking about nutrient additions during the fermentation itself. A mead must is poor in nitrogen and for ideal conditions we add extra. There are a handful of products such as dap, fetmaid-k, and a lot of us use fetmaid-o.
    Remember that knowledge has value even when its free! Consider becoming a GotMead patron member to help Vicky host this awesome site.

  15. #15


    So I looked up the fermax and it is a nutrient product not a rehydration product. Yeast are hardy single cell life forms so they will likely withstand the abuse.

    That being said most of the folk around here will use go-ferm for rehydration and then something like fermax (fermaid-o, fermaid-k, and dap are most popular here) for nitrogen/nutrient additions after the pitch. I'm sure you've heard Ryan talk about the Scott labs handbook, that is available for download, on the podcast. It is very handy.

    There's certainly nothing wrong with doing it differently... There's likely dozens of ways to end up with good mead. I was too scared, of the many ways to make mead badly, to stray from the recommended path when I first arrived here! Though I came here with no previous fermenting experience!
    Last edited by EricHartman; 03-13-2020 at 03:06 PM.
    Remember that knowledge has value even when its free! Consider becoming a GotMead patron member to help Vicky host this awesome site.

  16. Default

    Thanks for the information Eric, I guess I just got excited and confused at the same time lol.

    already added to cart!

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