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Going to make mead,,,,, help

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pwrose

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Since we have all this honey around, I decided to make a mead.

How about a straight non flavored mead, where to start?

Cook the honey to get the nasties out, then what?

What yeast?
How much nutrient?
How much energizer?
How much tannin?
How much acid?
How much of anything else, no fruits or spices though?
 

fatbloke

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Google is your friend, as is Gotmead !

Your question is rather wide as it depends on type of mead, what yeasts do you have available (either with you or from the nearest HBS), the style of the mead, personal preferences, etc etc.

For example, you might want a show mead, but that might be annoyingly slow for you (strict about recipe as it's often aimed at competitions etc), or a traditional mead (similar but made using winemaking techniques), or something like a Polish style mead, say a Czworniak type as it looks straight forward to make, isn't too heavy on the honey so wouldn't need to much messing about to manage the ferment.

The honey ? Is it straight out the hive/frame ? or has it been filtered, or even more processed etc ?

Yeast ? Well I like the Lalvin D21 - which was what the late great "Brother Adam" (of Buckfast Abbey bee breeding) used originally, but when it became difficult to get/unobtainable in home brew sizes, he moved over to the Gervin answer to Lalvins K1V-1116 Montpellier yeast. The K1V is usually available from any lalvin stockist, the D21 (in home brewing sized packs) probably only from morewine....

Gotmead should give you some idea about nutrients, energiser, etc. As for the honey/water ratio, unless you're following something like a Polish recipe where they're stipulated by the Government/EU for style, then it's up to you but something between the 3 and 4 pound per gallon.

I'd suggest that it should have a gravity of around 1090 or 1100 - that way it shouldn't need much in the way of management etc.

If you want an easy to follow recipe/method, then google for "joes ancient orange mead" and follow the recipe as closely as possible. It's a good starting recipe that gives a consistent result.
 

pwrose

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Thanks for the info, let me elaborate on what I have and what I am looking for.

I currently have 5 lbs of blueberry honey. The only thing that has been done to it was extracted from the frames and run through a screen filter. So it hasn't been refined or pastuerized. We (well my father) have over 1K hives and this honey came from the blueberry pollination back in Feb. We ended up with over 330 gallons (around 4000 lbs) of honey from the blueberries. So I have 5 lbs to make a mead with.

I was thinking cook it to get the nasties out and use it to make a one gallon batch. I also have the 1116 yeast that I just got a few days ago.

I will give google a shot but most of the recipies I see add some sort of fruit or spice that I am not looking for.

The biggest questions that I really have is how much nutriet, energizer, acid, and tannins to add. I know honey doesn't have much if any of the things yeast need to do its thing.

Off to look through google, anyone else got info?
 

Wade E

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Personally I dont believe in cooking the honey, just like making wine that will settle out. Cooking the honey makes you lose precious and very delicate aromas.
 

pwrose

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Here is what I did, googled a basic recipe finally and it called for 3 lbs per gallon for a sweet mead. Since I had 5 lbs I decided to go for it all in one gallon,,,, yeah yeah I know rocket fuel.

So I boiled the honey along with about 1 quart of water for about 10-15 mins. Got all the foam off of it and put it in the primary, total amount was about 10 cups after boiling so I added 6 more cups to make up a gallon. It was a little over a gallon but that will work out in the wash.

Going from memory here (I have it all written down at home) I added the following
1 tsp yeast nutrient
1/2 tsp yeast enigizer
1/2 tsp tannin
2 tsp acid blend

I did not test the acid I figure I can fix that after it finishes. I did check the SG and I was expecting it to be high but was I shocked to find it at 1.160, I was thinking maybe 1.120 but not 1.160.

So I decided to go ahead and pitch the yeast anyways (I know I should have waited at least 12 hours). I used Lalvin D-47 because that is what the recipe actually called for and it worked out great because this packet of yeast had been opened about a week ago to use a little to start some apple cider and needed to be used.

This morning there was bubbling and foam forming on the top of the must. I didn't stir the yeast into the must I just sprinkled it on the top thinking that it might not want to get going if it was mixed down into such a high SG must. I will give it a good stir this afternoon if it is still looking like its going good.

So best guesses where do you think the yeast will stop at? If it were to go dry that would be about 20-21% abv,,, WOW right I don't think it will make it there though.
 

Mud

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Ken Schramm's book, The Compleat Meadmaker is a good read of you're fermenting honey. First mead I ever made was just 12 lbs of honey dissolved in 4 gallons of room temp water. You have to stir forever, but it'll dissolve eventually. I didn't sulfite the must, but did sanitize buckets and tools.Nutrient & energizer were per package directions. Acid was adjusted to .07 and I added an 1/8 tsp tannin. That should yield around 12% abv. Sorbated and backsweetened with 1.5 lbs honey, it's very popular with our friends.


They have a handy honey calculator.
 

pwrose

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well using the d-47 yeast I doubt I will have to backsweeten, LOL
I will be lucky if it ferments out to 15% but we shall see.

wow you only added 1/8 tsp tannin in a five gallon batch, I guess mine will end up taking like 4-5 years to be smooth enough to drink, LOL I used 1/2 tsp in a whole gallon.
 

contactme_11

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That was way too high of a S.G. to start with that yeast. I'm almost positive it will die out long before it goes dry.
 

contactme_11

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If I were you I'd add some water now and throw in a couple cups of raisins for some nutrients.
 

pwrose

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I added nutrients already, so no need for the raisins, I also added tannins as well. The yeast will die off before it goes dry and if it dont I will have to find some way to keep this batch of yeast alive, LOL. I could make millions off of it.
As long as the yeast make it to the 13-15 range I will be happy and I wont even have to backsweeten. However I might have to age it for like 5 years or so for it to be at its best drinking stage.
 

fatbloke

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So, herein lies a possible problem........

1160 SG, then presuming that you consider "dry" as 1000 - that represents a drop of 160 points. A drop of 160 points is gonna give in the region of 21.7% ABV

There's no way in hell that even if you added some more nutrient, energiser and then stirred the hell out of it to aerate, that D47 is gonna reach that level, it's listed as having a tolerance of 14% - which would equate to a drop of something like 103 to 104 points.

So I'm thinking that your best bet will be to let it get as far as it can, then treat it as a stuck ferment - restarting the ferment with a champagne yeast, something like EC-1118 - which has a tolerance of 18% so that would be a drop of something like 132 to 133 points you'll still have enough residual sugar in there for it to finish sweet, but I'd suggest that it might be "rocket fuel" and you'll have to age it for a long time.

The other option would be to stick some more water, nutrient, energiser and a good hand full of raisins in (raisins for nutrient but also for body).

Take good notes on everything you do as others might have other suggestions.

It's sort of why it's quite important to have some idea about what gravity is best to start at.

I'm definitely with Wade, I don't heat honey other than slightly warming it to get it out of a container - but as you mentioned, you already had, pretty much, honey in the best condition i.e. filtered and nothing more - effectively "raw" honey........
 

pwrose

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FB: sounds like what your telling me is that if it does go to 14% and dies off that it would still be too sweet. So I should try to ferment it out some more.

So far lessons learned:
dont use 5lbs of honey per gallon (duh right)
use some raisins for some nutrient and body instead of using tannins
trying to measure the SG on a fermenting mead is just about impossible (LOL)
and
heating the honey first is not necessary, might loose some of the flavors in the honey
 

fatbloke

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Pretty much the case there.......

I mean, I average about 3 and 1/2 lb per gallon (imperial - 4.55 litres) which'd be the same as you using about 3lb per gallon.

You might get as high as 3 and a 1/2 or even 4 in the gallon but you'd find that higher honey/water ratio mixes start lower and they "feed" extra honey/nutrient as it progresses (google for Polish meads some of those, you end up adding honey so that its 1 to 1 honey/water).

I'd think that it's possible to ferment it Ok (as it is) but it might be tricky. So you might end up doing a couple of the "extra tricks"

Don't abandon it, work it as it good learning. Get it as far as possible, then when you take a taste, if it's still seems overly sweet - chuck a couple of bottles of vodka in it, get it cleared and then just put it away to age (a year plus.....)

See the honey/water ratio is quite important, but as you can see, there's also little tricks like using other stuff for nutrient (raisins, vitamin B, bananas, malt extract etc). Acid additions can be lemon juice. Or like tannins can be added using very strong teas (like english breakfast tea etc).

You might get some info from my blog, lots from both Gotmead and Ken Schramms book is also brilliant (my blog is just my efforts and mistakes etc).

Dunno if that helps any as we all do things differently (and wrong sometimes it's now worth worrying too much........)
 

Wade E

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Im betting this stops earlier due to stress on the yeast with that very high starting sg and like said above even if that yeasts ferments out to tolerance it will still be cloying. Fingers crossed for you though if you dont dilute it.
 

pwrose

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I checked the SG after my last post just to see what was going on. It was at 1.138 so I guess its working for now, and it looks like its popping bubbles on the top pretty good. There isn't any foam on the top though. I think just for now I am going to leave it and learn.
Thanks for all the advice, and I might end up doing some of the tricks but for now Im going to let it go.
 

fatbloke

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I checked the SG after my last post just to see what was going on. It was at 1.138 so I guess its working for now, and it looks like its popping bubbles on the top pretty good. There isn't any foam on the top though. I think just for now I am going to leave it and learn.
Thanks for all the advice, and I might end up doing some of the tricks but for now Im going to let it go.
Well don't forget, not to use BPM (bubbles per minute) as a gauge of how the fermentation is going - it can be stuck but be de-gassing enough to bubble at the airlock....

Your hydrometer is your friend.......

As for just letting it go ? fair enough, as good a way as any to monitor what's happening. Just remember to take measurements regularly so you can see when it stops and then work out what the next stage will/might be....

regards

fatbloke
 

pwrose

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Well I think that I might have to do something, I checked the SG today and it had gone down more but over a four day period it had only dropped .008. Four days ago it was at 1.138 and today it is at 1.130, That is a total SG drop of .030 so it is getting there but I will give it another few days and as long as it is dropping I will leave it alone. But if it stops I will probably split it in half between two 1 gallon jugs and refill with water. I might also add a fruit juice in one of the gallons to top it off.

So thats the update for now.
 

fatbloke

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Well I think that I might have to do something, I checked the SG today and it had gone down more but over a four day period it had only dropped .008. Four days ago it was at 1.138 and today it is at 1.130, That is a total SG drop of .030 so it is getting there but I will give it another few days and as long as it is dropping I will leave it alone. But if it stops I will probably split it in half between two 1 gallon jugs and refill with water. I might also add a fruit juice in one of the gallons to top it off.

So thats the update for now.
Ok, so "experiment, experiment, experiment"............

Now before you do anything rash and end up with double the quantity of overly dry, weak, "gnats piss".........

I'd start with two ideas......

Now if your hydrometer test jar is something like 100 mls, then take 50 mls of the batch and 50 mls of water - then see what the gravity is.....

alternatively, you could easily take 50 mls of the batch and then try 50 mls of a decent red or white grape juice (don't know which brands to suggest as I'm in the UK and you're in the US???). As long as the grape juice doesn't have any preservatives other than ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in it. Then mix and test in the same way.

You'd be better placed with grape juice than water as it wouldn't lose any "body".....

If the grape juice/must mix gives you a gravity in an acceptable range then that'd be excellent as you'd just end up with double the amount, but it's a pyment instead of a straight mead....

Oh, and if it gave you figures in the correct range i.e. something like 1.100, then I'd also chill the hell out of it first to reduce yeast activity to zero and then I'd take a little bit of must out to make a yeast starter, but using something like K1V-1116 yeast as it has that "killer" element to become the dominant yeast and also gives plenty of esters......

If you wanted, once the batch is split and up and running again, you could always feed it a bit more honey (say 1/2 lb at a time) to increase the alcohol and get a little more of the characteristics of the honey that you've used......

It's entirely up to you.....

regards

fatbloke

p.s. Oh and I suspect it might need a good amount of ageing, like a year plus (got a couple of 3 year veterans under the stairs here.......)
 

pwrose

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Please dont think that I am not listening to you, because I am considering everything you say. With that said,

I checked the SG again today and it was down again (a good thing ), it was at 1.122 which is a total drop of .038. That only gives me a 5% ABV so far but with the taste test it isn't that bad just not very much alcohol. Since it is going so slow but is moving do you think it will make it to the possible 14% that this yeast strain can handle?

I have thought about the splitting part and here are some options that I have on hand that might be pretty good.

Getting ready to start my chokecherry wine, so instead of using sugar I though about using this mead as a starter, it will be a three gallon batch and if I need to I can add a little more honey.

Another option is like you said split out some and measure the SG and then adding a can of some frozen juice. I like this option but if I am splitting it up I would like to keep some just plain if I could so maybe part of it would just be watered down first to get the proper SG. Either way I am still stumped on how to figure the SG once it is split and it already has fermented out some of the honey.

That is about it for now but it is still going so we shall see what happens, Thanks for the input fb.
 

pwrose

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fb, thanks for all your input so far, and again don't think that I have been blowing you off I am just experimenting with this. If this had been 3+ gallons then I would have made the corrections a long time ago, however this is just a one gallon batch. With that said please take a read on this and tell me what you think yet again.

I guess it is time to start the planning phase of what to do with this mead. I checked the SG again and it was only at 1.120, so it had dropped some more but very very little over a two day period. I did add 1/2 tsp yeast energizer and 1 tsp of yeast nutrient to see if that would help but after the next SG check I will be looking to make some changes if it hasn't dropped any more.

Here is my thoughts
starting SG was 1.160
SG now is 1.120
total drop so far is .040
Now if I wanted a starting SG of 1.100 I would have to add water(or another liquid) to this to obtain an SG of 1.060. I arrived at that number because it has already dropped the .040 which I subtracted from the goal SG of 1.100.

Does this sound correct or is there another factor that I am missing?

If this is correct then I would put the current mead back into a primary and start adding a liquid and checking the SG until it gets to 1.060. If this other liquid was a juice then more liquid would be added to get to the 1.060 than if I was adding water. That is if I have figured it correctly.

Give some input on your thoughts please.
 
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