JAOM Experiment

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QuiQuog

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I’ve only made mead once, using Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead (JAOM) recipe. It was some time ago, and as I recall, it was too sweet for me and I didn’t like it much. But like a bad relationship, I’m willing to give it another try. Except this time I’m going to do a side by side experiment. In one jug I’m going to follow the JAOM recipe, and in the other jug I’m going to make some tweaks. I’m sure you’re either already familiar with JAOM, or you can find it online, so I’ll just give a quick rundown of it. In a gallon jug, you add a sliced up orange, peel and all, a cinnamon stick, a whole clove, a small handful of raisins, 3.5 lbs of honey and water to a gallon. You then add a packet of Fleischmann's yeast and let it sit until it clears. Very easy, and hands off.
The tweaks I’m making are:
1. Instead of the whole orange, I’m going to add the zest and meat of the orange and leave out the pith.
2. I’m going to use D47 yeast and let it ferment dry. The starting SG of the recipe is 1.092, for a potential of about 13% abv. The original should Peter out at about 9 or 10%. Then I’ll back sweeten a couple of different ways. One to the SG of the original, and one to taste. I’ll do these in small samples so as not to waste too much on something I don’t like.
Otherwise, everything will be the same.
My goal is to see if I can improve on the original in a way that makes something pleasing to me. Hopefully I’ll learn something about the process and incorporate it into another try.
Thoughts?
 

QuiQuog

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I’ve started the original recipe, and it’s already off to the races. The 3 bottles next to it are reserved of the honey water to top up with when the action settles down in the jug.
 

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QuiQuog

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To anyone familiar with mead making, is there any reason for my tweaked recipe to sit on all the other ingredients for months while it clears? Are there any benefits or drawbacks? I'm thinking of racking it at about 1.010 like I might when making wine , then letting it clear naturally. If I rack it, witch would be in a few days, should I think about somehow crushing the orange pieces to release their juices before that point?
And to anyone familiar with JAOM or similar meads, what are your thoughts on oak or tannin?
And while I'm asking questions, is there a time frame that negates the need for sorbate prior to back sweetening? In the original recipe, I believe the yeast dies out before it's dry due to a alcohol. Using D47, the ferment should go dry to lack of sugar. Do the yeasties go dormant, or eventually die off completely?
Oh, and I suppose that if I rack it, I would want to dose it with kmeta?
 

Jovimaple

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I haven't made mead, so I can't answer questions specific to that, but regarding a timeframe when sorbate isn't needed before backsweetening, I believe it's 9 months to a year of aging, to be sure the yeastie beasties truly are dead. @Rice_Guy can correct me if I am wrong on that.

I have read that meads need more nutrients than grape wines, but maybe the raisins in your recipe help with that. You may want to search the mead threads here on WMT to see if others have better info on nutrient management for meads.

Once it's fermented dry, I would definitely add kmeta when you rack it.

I made a spiced apple wine that sat too long on the spices and it was yucky. So I would rack it off the gross lees after a week or two, and dose with kmeta at that time. To paraphrase @winemaker81 , it's easy to add more flavoring but very hard to take it out if there's too much.

Good luck!
 
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Rice_Guy

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Joes ancient orange mead is a very basic recipie. If you can get a copy of Mead Maker by Ken Schram off the library, he does a excellent job describing why we do things. Actually I like him more than grape wine books since grapes already have lots of factors so one can ignore them. Honey is missing some basics like nitrogen yeast can use and acid.
thoughts:
* so far I have always been safe at a year age and safe often enough at nine months that I will bottle contest wine without sorbate.
* the traditional thought is your honey will pop out more at two years so one can argue let it in the carboy over a year. ,,,, or even five.
* D47 should get close to 1.000, not technically dry but honey has unfermentable sugars so meads never will get to 0.990.
* meads are nutrient hogs, consider using a two step Fermaid O at the start > rack or mix air in at about 1.040 along with a second dose of Fermaid K yeast nutrient.
* me personally, , , , a methglen with that much spice would be hard for me to finish. I am more in the one cinnamon stick per ten gallons. This said, what traits/ flavors did you like on your last batch? what traits did you dislike?
* do you have a pH meter? know what the pH is? Honey can be all over the place on pH and buffering. If no pH at least try pH paper to get an idea where you are. One orange isn’t much acid to posh your pH into the microbial safe region.
* going along with pH notes, I would try a jar with more acid long before I add sweetness to get back to original flavor, ,,, what flavor notes were good on the original test?,,. Dry meads can be really really nice. , , , balance flavors
 

QuiQuog

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I chose this recipe to start with because it was one I had already done and knew I didn't like. Yes, it's very basic, but also very hands off. I felt that I could make changes to it without a lot of effort to see what improvements I can make. But it's been 10 years since I made it last and I don't remember all the things I didn't like about it. The one thing I remember is that it was far too sweet, so that's the tweak I made on this run with a proper fermenting yeast.

I don't have any gear to test acid, or anything besides SG, but I'll try to balance it to taste when it's done. Acid tannin, sweetness

It sounds like I may be on the right track as far as nutrients. I do believe that that's the intended job of the raisins, but I added 1/4 tsp of Fermaid k and about 1/8 tsp of energizer. Things are bubbling.

But it just occurred to me that what I'm doing might be like an alien trying to figure out what humans look like by studying Picasso. I may benefit from finding out what a true mead tastes like. Just honey, water and yeast. I think that will be the next batch. Yes, a standard dry or semi sweet mead, and compare. That sounds easy enough when I say it, but I'd be in the dark as far as adding tannin and acid. OMG, here we go again. I need to make two more batches. One plain and the other with oak and acid blend.
 

BernardSmith

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Not sure I agree with your measurement of the SG. if you take 3.5 lbs of honey and dissolve that in water to make 1 US gallon (and 3 lbs of honey is 1 quart so you would be adding 6 quarts and not 8) , the 3.5 lbs would raise the gravity of the water to 1.122(5) . This has a potential ABV not of 13% - which any yeast can fully ferment but of 16% and that is asking a great deal of bread yeast (not cultured to thrive in a high alcohol environment) . That said, in my opinion, JAOM is a novelty mead. Much easier to simply take 3 lbs of honey you like, add about 1.125 gallons of water (use a food grade bucket that you loosely cover) ; add (pitch) a wine yeast - your call which; add yeast nutrient according to the package instructions (honey has no nutrients for yeast). Allow this to ferment about two weeks and rack into a carboy. Allow to ferment dry (about 13% ABV) . That would make a traditional mead. If you like an orange flavored mead, I would zest say 5 oranges and add these to the carboy (you may want to use a wide mouth vessel. Let the mead sit on the zest for about a month or so (you can taste to see when the flavors have been extracted) and then rack off the zest. I would stabilize the mead (by adding K-meta and K-sorbate) and then sweeten to taste. You can sweeten with a varietal of honey or use the same honey or use table sugar or agave or even maple syrup... bottle and enjoy.
 

QuiQuog

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I appreciate your input, but I'm not sure what to say about the SG. I took the measurement of the first batch after I mixed it in warm water and stirred it thoroughly, compensating for temperature. Then I did it again to make the next batch, using the leftover from the first, and tweaked it to match. Maybe that's the difference. I didn't make it to one gallon, I mixed in one gallon of water. I kept enough left over in bottles to top up after the ferment settles down.
Novelty mead is a good way of characterizing JAOM. I only chose it because it's what I made before, which turns out to be 10 years ago. It was a whim I had when I saw that I had a few gallon jugs doing nothing. I've been diving into mead recipes and forums here and elsewhere for the last few days and decided to do make a traditional mead as you've suggested to get a baseline. I think that will help me learn what I like or don't like about the JAOM.
 

BernardSmith

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The thing about novelty meads or wines is that you cannot use them to learn anything about wine making. The whole thing about JAOM is that it is both counter-intuitive and at the same time "perfectly" calibrated to finish as a "drinkable" mead. The reason for using the whole orange , albeit quartered is that while the yeast is burping out CO2 that gas will keep the fruit afloat. When the fruit sinks, the CO2 is no longer being produced AND much of the CO2 that would have been saturating the liquid has begun to off gas... The recipe calls for bread yeast because typically, bread yeast is not cultured (like wine yeast) to have a high tolerance for alcohol, so it will LIKELY quit (alcohol is toxic for yeast) before all the sugars have been fermented and that results in a sweet mead. BUT since the yeast have been poisoned you don't need to stabilize the mead to prevent the yeast from refermenting the residual sugars.
 

QuiQuog

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Well, lesson learned then. I guess you're wrong! ;)
But seriously, the whole point of what I wanted to do is compare the JAOM recipe to using a typical yeast used in mead making and other wine making practices. It may seem obvious to many, but this is where I'm at on my journey.
 

BernardSmith

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Your journey is your journey. But the bread yeast is integral to the recipe. Other yeasts will ferment brut dry and that is not in and of itself a problem except that many people (even those who claim to love dry wines) tend to prefer some perceived sweetness. Grape wines , for some reason I cannot comprehend, taste semi sweet even when every last gram of sugar has been fermented. Country wines - and meads- tend to need back sweetening to bring forward the tastes we are looking for... so, just be prepared for flavors that might be more bland than you want.
 

QuiQuog

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Country wines - and meads- tend to need back sweetening to bring forward the tastes we are looking for... so, just be prepared for flavors that might be more bland than you want.
2. I’m going to use D47 yeast and let it ferment dry. The starting SG of the recipe is 1.092, for a potential of about 13% abv. ... Then I’ll back sweeten ...
That's the plan
 

QuiQuog

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....Much easier to simply take 3 lbs of honey you like, add about 1.125 gallons of water (use a food grade bucket that you loosely cover) ; add (pitch) a wine yeast - your call which; add yeast nutrient according to the package instructions (honey has no nutrients for yeast). Allow this to ferment about two weeks and rack into a carboy. Allow to ferment dry (about 13% ABV) ..... I would stabilize the mead (by adding K-meta and K-sorbate) and then sweeten to taste. You can sweeten with a varietal of honey or use the same honey or use table sugar or agave or even maple syrup... bottle and enjoy.
Thanks Bernard,
Yesterday I started a batch of traditional like you suggested above. I'm very interested in how this turns out, and learning what changes to make, or not, to balance it. The more I read about making "simple" mead, the more complicated and intriguing it gets.
 

BernardSmith

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Thanks Bernard,
Yesterday I started a batch of traditional like you suggested above. I'm very interested in how this turns out, and learning what changes to make, or not, to balance it. The more I read about making "simple" mead, the more complicated and intriguing it gets.
Actually, truth is trad is very simple to make but simplicity can be a problem not in the making but in the fact that there is very little , if anything , that less than strong protocols can hide behind. You have only the honey and if you ferment at too hot a temperature or aim for too high an ABV or there is insufficient acidity or tannin in the final product - or indeed, it has insufficient sweetness to bring forward the honey flavors, you may not always like what the yeast produce... BUT when you have mastered a traditional mead , the world is your oyster.
 

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