My plan is to do a traditional mead, following HighTest's instructions, aiming for giving these out next Christmas. HighTest makes a recommendation of a dry yeast I can't seem to find. On meadmadecomplicated.org there's a comparison of different yeasts that shows the White Labs Merlot yeast has a neutral profile, vigorous fermentation, high attenuation and tolerance, so that's the one I chose. I started my mead starter Friday, February 4, 2011. I used 1/5 cup of honey, 2 cups of water and a handful of raisins in an effort to get an OG of 1.040. I boiled the water and raisins then added the honey and stirred. Then I cooled the mixture in a sink of ice water for a few minutes until it reach < 90F. I shook up the sanitized yeast vial and poured the entire solution into a sanitized growler and capped it with an airlock and #6.5 bung. Saturday, Feb 5, 2011, there was no movement in the airlock, so I decided to add 1/2 tsp of Fermax and to agitate the solution. I sanitized another growler and transferred the must, only I inadvertently pushed the bung down into the growler. I immediately sanitized the used growler and transferred the solution back. I was able to recover the bung using a knitting needle. Saturday night there began to be some movement, around 4 bubbles per minute - not really racing, but White Labs indicate the starter will have "little to no activity" due to the small amount of must. I will let it continue until there are no bubbles before preparing the main volume of must. HighTest's 5 gallon calls for 14 lbs of honey. I purchased the honey on a few different occasions so have a slightly mixed bag; 5 lbs Ambrosia, Colorado, Western Slope, dark, raw unfiltered wildflower honey, 3 lbs Ambrosia, Colorado, Western Slope, alpine, raw unfiltered wildflower honey, and 6 lbs Clover Honey from Costco. I purchased a bottle of traditional mead from Redstone, a local mead maker. It was very good. I haven't had mead in some time and it was very enjoyable. It also came in a grolsch-style cobalt blue bottle, so that will come in handy - I can test carbonation and "re-seal" using that bottle. This morning, 2/7/11, the bubbles had slowed to ~1/2.5 min, so I decided to prepare the must. I sanitized all my equipment, including the outside of the honey jars and began warming the water. The water reached about 120F when I caught it, so pretty close to HighTest's 115F. I mixed in the honey and immersed the bottles to get the last bit out of each - that's why I sanitized them first - and mixed the solution in with 2 gallons of water in the primary fermenting bucket. It was closer to 6 gallons (HighTest indicated it should be about 5.5 gallons) so perhaps I'll use the top up method next time. It's more consistent. OK, the Original Specific Gravity is 1.094, so hopefully the starter along with the SNA will save us. I added the stage 1 nutrients and pitched the yeast (after checking the temperature on the bucket). If this ferments out to 1.00, we'll be looking at about 12.4%. So it begins... 2/8/11 - 10:00am, SG: 1.090, so movement, but not the 2-3 degrees brix (that would be when it reaches ~1.084) we need for stage 2. My guess is that will likely be sometime tonight. Went ahead and degassed. 2/8/11 - 9:00pm, SG: 1.086 - close enough! Added stage 2 SNA and degassed. That was a lot of gas! 2/9/11 - 9:00am, SG 1.078 - needs to be 1.047 ((1.094 + 1.00)/2) for SNA 3. Degassed 2/9/11 - 1:00pm, SG ? - Degassed 2/9/11 - 8:00pm, SG ? - Degassed 2/10/11 - 7:00am, SG 1.070 - Degassed 2/10/11 - 1:30pm, SG ? - Degassed 2/10/11 - 7:30pm, SG ? - Degassed 2/11/11 - 10:00am, SG ? - Degassed 2/11/11 - 5:00pm, SG ? - Degassed 2/12/11 - 8:00am, SG ? - Degassed 2/12/11 - 1:00pm, SG ? - Degassed 2/12/11 - 8:00pm, SG 1.052 - Degassed - Close enough to 1.047 - added SNA 3. I will degas tomorrow and Monday, then move the bucket to my basement for another couple of weeks fermentation in the primary. It's been in my laundry room, which averages about 72 F, as where my basement averages about 62 F. 2/13/11 - 4:00pm, SG 1.040 - Degassed. Not near as much gas as before, especially considering I did not get in 3 today as planned... 2/13/11 - 8:00pm, SG ? - Degassed. 2/14/11 - 7:00am, SG ? - Moved to basement (62F). 2/26/11 - racked to glass carboy - mixed in Super Kleer according to instructions SG 1.000 3/31/11 - This is clear about 2/3 of the way down the carboy. I suspect I'll be able to bottle a very clear mead around the 1st of May and let it bottle condition until Christmas. I need to drink more Grolsch, so I can have some more flip tops to bottle this in. They make a nice presentation for a gift. 4/9/11 - I wasn't even intending to check, but when I was putting away my bottled red, I noticed the mead was entirely clear. That means I need to drink more Grolsch! I have 12 bottles now, and need about 32. Maybe I'll buy another 8 and bottle the rest in wine bottles. I'll keep the wine bottles for myself 4/30/11 - was crystal clear, so I bottled. It tasted more like a dry white wine to me than a mead, but perhaps that's due to the completeness of the fermentation.
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