honey wine/ mead??

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Nov 15, 2008
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anyone got any info on making a mead?? i have started a 1 gal batch 5 months ago and it is fermenting slowly i had to restart it 3 times so far. i use raw honey with comb and some regular "sue bee" style honey. does it take that long?? i have racked it a few time and it has yet to spoil so no worries there. and the SG has not dropped to anywere near low enough.
Some Mead tips

I remember thinking the same thing when I made my first batch of mead.. And despite my anxious anticipation, the batch took 7 months to finish!! Don't lose hope with the batch, it'll turn out fine.. Take this time to start another batch.. And, if you didn't already, next time add a little yeast energizer, and it should work out well for you.
Mead takes a long time to age and complete clearing, but it shouldn't take anywhere near 5 months to ferment. What yeast are you using and how much? Also, what is your fermentation temperature?

If you are new to mead, a great book is the Compleat Meadmaker by Ken Schram.

Another great online source of mead information is gotmead dot com.
I abandoned my first batch of mead at about 4 months -- I had re-started the fermentation twice and it wasn't going any place. It was a gallon batch, stuck it in a corner and forgot about it. Discovered it about 8 months later, it had fermented out nicely. This taught me to NOT make gallon batches.

Later on one batch took 3 months to ferment out, another 8 days. Others have reported such variables results so I'm not the only one.

What was your initial SG? If it was really high (above 1.100) you might need a high alcohol yeast. Also, check the Sue Bee label -- do they put any preservatives in it?

Yeast energizer is good, definitely add that. Beyond that ... patience.
Good point in regards to the "Sue Bee type" honey. You would definately have a delayed fermenation if the honey was full of preservatives.
I have absolutely no idea what "sue bee" honey is.....

I'm presuming that it's processed "supermarket crap".......

Your mead will only be as good as the honey (mainly). So if you can get some nice "varietal" honey, excellent. If not then think on trying a "melomel" i.e. a mead made with fruit other than apples or grapes - apple juice mead is cyser and grape juice mead is pyment.

So, the honey/water ratio would be about 3 to 3 1/2 lb to the gallon. Ideally you'd want to get the gravity to about 1080 to 1090 when you're first starting out. Don't forget you can add extra honey, you can't take it out if you use too much.

Now you've got the basic mix, so what else ? Well yeast performs better in an acid environment. A book I have (rather old but with good recipes/advice) suggests a mix of 2 malic acid to 1 tartaric. I keep it premixed. If you have some way of measuring pH, then about 3.5 to 4.0 pH is fine, otherwise just add a teaspoon per gallon which should do the job. You might get away with using lemon juice (juice of one lemon per gallon - though don't be surprised if it's got a "lemony" taste)

Yeast needs nutrients. Honey is famously low in nutrients, so you're gonna have to add some. Either a proprietary brand such as Fermaid-K etc are good, though you can get away with vitamin B1 but it still might be a slow ferment. Don't go over the top, too much can leave an aftertaste. Maybe try half the recommended dosage to start with

So then you might imagine that that will make quite a "thin" mead without much body or bite. Which means tannin. Yes you can get some strong, breakfast tea/teabags and make about half a pint per gallon of very strong tea and use that. You can also use a hand full of chopped raisins (chopped in a chopper, food processor or chopped by hand - very laborious) or you can get some tannin from the HBS and add between half and a teaspoon per gallon.

Ok, so we've done the honey, the acid, the tannin, the yeast nutrient........then what about yeast? Well if you googled for "JAO" or "Joe Mattiolli's Ancient Orange Spiced Mead" then you'll get a nice, easy recipe that will produce a good mead as long as you follow the recipe exactly. It will be very sweet as it uses bread yeast, which is killed off quite quickly by the alcohol build up. So it might be worth going for a wine yeast. I like to use Lalvin 71B. Which is then rehydrated as per the instructions on the packet.

Now, you've mixed your must. I'd recommend that it's aerated before you actually pitch the yeast. I like to get a sanitised liquidiser, put a jug of the must in it and give it a good whizz!

Only then would I pitch the yeast.

So it's in the jug/carbouy/fermenter (airlocked), it's bubbling away nicely. You can then either get all anal and keep checking the gravity or you can put it somewhere warm (20 to 23 degrees C) and leave it.

If the must is balanced, it shouldn't take more than a month or so to ferment.

Get the hydrometer out and give it a test. If it's fermented dry (1000 or less) great, then you can rack it off the lees into another jug/fermenter add 1 crushed campden per gallon and then airlock it again to allow it to clear. If you're impatient, then you can clear it with finings.

Once clear, de-gas it.

One thing that a lot of people who try mead once and can't get to grips with, is that when it's young, it can taste hideous. Meads a bit weird like that. It needs to be aged. A minimum would be about 6 months. I tend to leave mine at least a year. Oh and I bulk age mine in a 1 gallon jug/carbouy/demi-john (glass), topped up to keep only a minimum of airspace in container.

Only then do I think about bottling etc. I take a taste and if thats a bit dry, I stabilise it and then I add small amounts of honey (the same as it was originally made from) to taste.

When it tastes right (it's relative, we all like different levels of sweetness) I'll bottle it.

Oh and no, I don't like it like a lot of commercial meads I've tried i.e. syrupy or excessively sweet (if you measure these they're about 1040 when finished).

Dunno if that's of any help.......


Good point in regards to the "Sue Bee type" honey. You would definately have a delayed fermenation if the honey was full of preservatives.
It'd be very unlikely to have any preservatives in it. Honey is a natural preservative. They've found it with historic artifacts in Egypt and it's still been edible (apparently they tried it :eek:) so a couple of thousand years can't be bad ;).

What they might have done with pasteurisation is, strip out any of little amount of nutrient it contains, plus the enzymes etc might have come out. Filtration takes care of just about anything else.

So as it's low in nutrient, enzyme, acid, etc etc it makes for very slow fermentation.

I raise bees and make mead to use up honey. I use 5 gallon carboys and about 5quarts of honey to five gallons of fruit juice I generally use Lalvin 1118 and depending on the juice some acid blend, pectin and tannin. Mead is easy but if I had to buy the honey, i wouldn't make any.

Have some apple in primary and I want to start some watermelon and pear as I can get both fruits cheap.

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