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Old 12-15-2007, 01:42 AM   #1
colin_rudolph
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Default 1st Mead, some Questions.

Hey all,

I've been making beer for a little while now, mostly Muntons and Brewhouse kits. So naturally when I got assigned a Material culture presentation for my Medieval history class in University I decided I'd make some Mead. So I've got my ingredients and am going to brew it up on Monday, here's my recipe:

15 pounds of Honey
14 grams of Yeast (Champagne wine yeast )
4 tsp acid blend
4 tsp yeast nutrient

I'm supposed to leave it in the primary for about 6 days, then turn it over to the carboy for about two weeks, or until it clears. The book says it should be done in 3 - 4 weeks, the yeast nutrients are supposed to speed it up.
I got the recipe from Charlie Papazian's The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing. So my questions are thus

I. I live in a place that's normally between 14 - 15 degrees Celc. so I'm planning on using a Brew Belt for my Primary and Secondary fermentation. The instructions on the Brew Belt say not to leave it plugged in for longer than 8 days in a row, however it's going to have to be on my fermenters for longer than 8 days, so what do I do when day 8 comes? Do I unplug it for an hour or so and plug it back in? Help!
and II. does this recipe sound decent? I'm making a traditional mead because I want it to be as close to what your average Medieval person would have drank. Thanks, hope someone can answer my question.
Peace,
~Colin

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Old 12-15-2007, 11:52 AM   #2
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Firstly, welcome to HBT!

Your recipe is a pretty traditional mead recipe. With 3 lbs of honey per gallon and champagne yeast, expect this to finish out VERY dry, like in the .990 range. If you want it any sweeter you'll have to add at least 4 more lbs of honey, which you can always do later if you want. Also, this is what nobility would drink, as the peasantry would make mead watery, bland, and probably moldy since they didn't know good sanitation back then

I've never used a brew belt, so I don't have a specific answer for you, but if it were me I would unplug the brewbelt for an hour and back in once a week if the directions say to. I would also leave the must in the primary for at least three weeks, rather than transferring after a week. Sometimes mead fermentation is finicky. So relax, it'll be OK.

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Old 12-15-2007, 02:29 PM   #3
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I have made mead at about the same temperature. Please avoid getting your "brew" too warm, you run the risk of off flavors. How warm does the brew belt get the brew?

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Old 12-15-2007, 02:43 PM   #4
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Well right now, it's close to 12:00 here, so the sun's at it's highest. It's about 56 degrees Fahrenheit inside. The instructions on the Brewbelt say that it will maintain 6 US Gallons at 75 - 80 F.
The book says that my O. G. should be about 1.120 -1.130 and my F.G. should be about 1.020 - 1.035 so according to it, I don't think it'll be all that dry. I don't know though, I've never made Mead before
So should I use the Brew Belt at this temperature? It probably gets colder here at night.
I don't know, I've heard that Mead takes a long time to ferment, but according to my book, with the yeast nutrients and stuff it ought to only take about three weeks or so. He says that once the Mead clears in the secondary - and the F.G. is around 1.020 -30 it should be ready to go.
The main thing I'm worried about though is temperature

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Old 12-15-2007, 02:44 PM   #5
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Thanks for your help on the brewbelt though, that is what I'll do, just unplug for an hour or so.

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Old 12-15-2007, 03:05 PM   #6
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I went through my brewbooks. Here is some info:
My basement temperatures were between 13ºC & 18ºC.
I used 1 teaspoon nutrient/gallon.
Start SG 1.092 End 1.020 Start ferment March16, End ferment April 3
Start SG 1.136 End 1.004 Start ferment November 11, End ferment Dec 2
There were other batches, but poorer notes.
Hope this helps! Please watch the temp & bubbles.

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Old 12-15-2007, 10:18 PM   #7
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Thanks a lot, so do you think I should use the brew belt, seeing as how my temperature usually is between 55 and 60 degrees Farenheit? I've heard that Mead likes it a bit warmer, like 70 - 75 degrees? If I do use the Brew belt what's the warmest I should let it get?

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Old 12-16-2007, 02:20 PM   #8
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While I can not comment on the use of the BrewBelt, I can offer you some other things to consider.

Skip the acid blend. You can lower the pH too much and slow or inhibit fermentation. If you think you need it later, add it a bottling time.

Make sure you aerate the must well prior to pitching to provide the yeast with plenty of oxygen.

And, as for when to rack, let the yeast decide. Wait for fermentation to finish, it could take two weeks or four. Mine finish in two weeks or less, but I have been letting things settle out for week, or a month, before racking to secondary. No rush.

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Old 12-16-2007, 03:14 PM   #9
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Thank you ALPS, to aerate the must should I just put the top on the fermenter and give it a shake, or can I just stir the must really vigorously? If I change the must over from my primary fermenter ( looks like a large plastic bucket) to my secondary (glass carboy) too early will I wreck it? I just wanted to switch it over after a week because the Carboy has an air lock and will prevent airborne bacteria from getting into the must.

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Old 12-16-2007, 03:55 PM   #10
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just a suggestion for the brewbelt.
i found if i left it on all the time my ferments got too warm.
i now use an appliance timer that cycles the belt off and on every 2 hours which keeps my fermentations just right this time of year with basement temps around 64 degrees

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