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First Mead Batch

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weltercat

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I have been bee keeping for many years but this is my first batch of mead and I have a few questions for anyone who is willing to give some advice. When I started my batch I didn't give it much thought or research but the more reading I do the more complicated mead brewing seems to be.

The first recipe I came across recommended apple juice, hops and blueberries with the honey, water and yeast. The only thing I had handy was frozen wild huckleberries which I substituted for the blueberries because it sounded good. I did not include the apple juice or hops. I used 24 lb's of honey and about a 1 1/2 lb bag of frozen huckleberries. I heated the water added the honey and poured it into the carboy. I then added the mashed up berries, topped off the five gallon carboy and added 3 packs of yeast recommended by the lady at the brew store. I did this on Memorial Day so it's been going for a couple of months.

The must brewed vigorously for about six weeks and has slowed down considerably in the last month. I have re-racked it twice and it doesn't seem to be fermenting much anymore. Also, there doesn't seem to be much sediment collecting. I checked the SG and it was 1.05 but I do not know what it started at, I think it was high though (24lbs honey 5 gal batch). I suspect that I am at the alcohol limit of the yeast and it still tastes kind of sweet.

The lady at the brew store recommended adding a pack of Red Star Premiere Curvee yeast and some nutrient. Since I originally used Red Star Cote Des Blances the idea was to finish it with yeast that could withstand higher alcohol content. I did just that as well as adding the yeast nutrient and a bit of pectic enzyme to the mix, since I suspect I heated the huckleberries too much to start and hope to clear up the pectin haze. I also added about a half gallon of water to the batch to make up for the lees racking loss and to give the yeast a little breathing room. It seems to be working and I can see an occasional bubble. I plan to let it sit another couple months before bottling.

Is this recipe way out of line?

Does anyone think this stuff will be drinkable by this Christmas?
 

weltercat

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I read on Jack Keller's website that he recommends adding Campten tablets at every other racking. Wouldn't this stop fermentation? Or would it just kill the weaker yeast off? In order to stop fermentation do you need to use sulfites and sorbate?
 

CBBaron

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I'm a newbie and havn't made a mead yet but according to some online calculators I found (gotmead.com) 24# honey in 5gal is going to result in an OG around 1.175 with a potential ABV of 24%. Since yeast can't tolerate that level of alcohol I'm not surprised at you finish gravity. Using some champagne yeast should boost your ABV to closer to 20% and reduce your FG some but it will still be sweet. I'm guessing this will take some time to age properly.

Wine yeast are sulphite tolerant so adding Campden tablets should not affect them much. However I don't think you should add campden until the ferment is complete and you are in the clearing stage. The yeast will use free O2 while it is active, once the ferment stops then you need the SO2 from the Campden to help protect the wine/mead from oxidizing.

Craig
 
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fatbloke

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Well from what I've found out, since I started brewing mead, is that it's about an average of 4lb per gallon.

Strictly speaking, what you've brewed is a melomel i.e. mead made with fruit (theres lots of different names for mead made with other stuff i.e. like cyster, metheglyn, braggot, etc etc.)

A good source of info is Ken Schramms book "The Compleat Meadmaker" (ISBN 0-937381-80-2). It doesn't have a huge number of recipes, but explains a fair amount of the background stuff that you might find handy to know i.e. yeasts, other additives, honeys, etc etc.

My initial recipe came from a book, with a bit of input from the bloke who runs the local HBS. At his suggestion, I used a high alcohol yeast and just as Ken Schramm suggested in his book it did have a flavour not unsimilar to Listerine. Indicative of high alcohol (18 to 20%) and that it will require ageing for at least 12 months after the brewing has finished.

Oh and I start the brew in a glass 1 gallon fermentor, and just leave it alone until it's not only finished bubbling, but the yeast has settled out by itself. Then rack, adding the prescribed amount of campden tablets. Then when any final sediment has settled, re-rack and put it under the stairs for 12 months.

Hope that helps some.

regards

fatbloke.
 

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