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Old 04-20-2014, 05:11 PM   #1
MetzgersBrauhaus
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Default 2 batches, same recipe, different results...what now?

Okay guys,

Back in November, I had the need for mead. Long story short, I got the idea to make two batches, one to drink clean and relatively young, the other to age in a barrel I have in the basement for a year or two. Wanted to see the different.

Went to a local honey place that sells good stuff, and lots of varietals (in quantity!).

So in each roughly 6gal batch, there is:
17lbs blueberry honey
2.5oz buckwheat honey
12oz bee pollen (wanted to do something interesting)
1tsp yeast nutrient
1tsp energizer

Made a 2-step, 2L starter of Wyeast 4184 (Sweet Mead) and pitched.

Measured OG for both batches was 1.149 on the dot.

Made first batch 11/09/2013. Second batch was made 01/26/2014, and pitched on the first one's yeast cake. Now here's where the fun begins.

Mead 1:
01/26/2014: Transferred off lees. Tested SG @ 1.050. Added 1tsp nutrient.
01/28/2014: No further action seen. Added 1 packet Lalvin 1116.

Mead 2:
01/28/2014: Saw no fermentation action. Repitched 3 pkts Lalvin 1116.

03/15/2014:
Mead 2 down to 1.020. Mead 1 stuck at 1.049. Huh?

Transferred Mead 2 to secondary (it's work was done), transferred Mead 1 back to original lees to try and knock the gravity down a bit more.

04/20/2014:
Mead 1 only down to 1.041.

So, two questions:
1. What the heck am I going to do with Mead 1? I mean, it tastes good if you like cloyingly sweet. But do I try and pitch more yeast? Or...pitch the mead? Or what?

2. Both of them, due to the proteins in the pollen, are cloudy. I thought some of the cloudiness would have dropped out of Mead 2 (been sitting at cellar temp the past few months), but not really. I wanted to avoid using sulfites etc to keep it somewhat "natural" and also didn't want it to be completely still. But, am I shooting myself in the foot here?

EDIT: If you want more detail about what I did, I have a blog post about it here:
https://metzgerbrewing.wordpress.com...lau-sack-mead/

Thanks for the help, guys!

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Old 04-21-2014, 12:06 PM   #2
loveofrose
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Originally Posted by MetzgersBrauhaus View Post
Okay guys,

Back in November, I had the need for mead. Long story short, I got the idea to make two batches, one to drink clean and relatively young, the other to age in a barrel I have in the basement for a year or two. Wanted to see the different.

Went to a local honey place that sells good stuff, and lots of varietals (in quantity!).

So in each roughly 6gal batch, there is:
17lbs blueberry honey
2.5oz buckwheat honey
12oz bee pollen (wanted to do something interesting)
1tsp yeast nutrient
1tsp energizer

Made a 2-step, 2L starter of Wyeast 4184 (Sweet Mead) and pitched.

Measured OG for both batches was 1.149 on the dot.

Made first batch 11/09/2013. Second batch was made 01/26/2014, and pitched on the first one's yeast cake. Now here's where the fun begins.

Mead 1:
01/26/2014: Transferred off lees. Tested SG @ 1.050. Added 1tsp nutrient.
01/28/2014: No further action seen. Added 1 packet Lalvin 1116.

Mead 2:
01/28/2014: Saw no fermentation action. Repitched 3 pkts Lalvin 1116.

03/15/2014:
Mead 2 down to 1.020. Mead 1 stuck at 1.049. Huh?

Transferred Mead 2 to secondary (it's work was done), transferred Mead 1 back to original lees to try and knock the gravity down a bit more.

04/20/2014:
Mead 1 only down to 1.041.

So, two questions:
1. What the heck am I going to do with Mead 1? I mean, it tastes good if you like cloyingly sweet. But do I try and pitch more yeast? Or...pitch the mead? Or what?

2. Both of them, due to the proteins in the pollen, are cloudy. I thought some of the cloudiness would have dropped out of Mead 2 (been sitting at cellar temp the past few months), but not really. I wanted to avoid using sulfites etc to keep it somewhat "natural" and also didn't want it to be completely still. But, am I shooting myself in the foot here?

EDIT: If you want more detail about what I did, I have a blog post about it here:
https://metzgerbrewing.wordpress.com...lau-sack-mead/

Thanks for the help, guys!

Lots of newbee mistakes here. I'll try to catch them all so it doesn't happen again.

First of all, know thy yeast. Wyeast Sweet Mead is a PITA. It has a tolerance of 11%. That means if your starting gravity was 1.149, then 1.065 is all it can do on paper. You got better than that, so count yourself lucky. The problem is you still have pancake syrup. FG of 1.000 considered dry. 1.000-1.01 is semisweet while 1.01-1.02 is considered sweet. 1.02+ is considered dessert sweet to pancake syrup. Your choices now are to make a dry mead at 2 lbs honey per gallon and blend it OR Bottle and use it as a mixer with bourbon OR try to restart with UvaFerm43 from morewine.com. Repitching with 1116 was a good try, but conditions are just to harsh. You need a super yeast like UvaFerm43 to have a chance and even then it's pretty slim without an acclimated starter.

Second issue is racking too early. I generally don't rack until I hit either 1.000 for dry mead or my target for ABV tolerance of my yeast. You have to look up the yeast info and run calculations for that.

SG of 1.149 is really too high in general. For carefully managed high ABV yeast with proper degassing and SNAs , this would still be a tough gravity. Generally, it is much better to start with a gravity of 1.12, let it go dry, then step feed honey to 1.02. At this point, let the gravity drop and repeat until the yeast give up. Alternatively, you can stabilize and backsweeten as well. These methods have the advantage of complete control over FG so that you don't end up with pancake syrup.

As for your question on clearing, it will be sparkling clear despite the bee pollen if you give it enough time. Or hit it with SuperKleer.

My suggestion is make a JAOM (Joes Ancient Orange Mead) to get started, then make a BOMM (Bray's One Month Mead) to learn good practices with degassing, SNAs, and pH buffering. After you learn/master those techniques, then try another sack mead.


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Old 04-21-2014, 06:23 PM   #3
MetzgersBrauhaus
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I certainly appreciate the effort in catching all my (myriad) mistakes. I was certainly feeling "ambitious" for my first mead(s). I, like many before me I'm sure, said, "hey, I've made several pretty darn good extract beers with honey...why not a mead?"

Then I thought, "if I'm going to do a mead, I'm going to do a mead.

Yeah, I can be a bit of a dunce at times.

Anyway, I'll try and pick up some of that Uvaferm, and SuperKleer, and see if I can't save this sucker. In the mean time, while that's doing it's work, I may just try one or both of those other meads, if for no other reason than they sound good!

Thanks!

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