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Old 12-27-2008, 10:23 PM   #1
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Default 2nd Mead Attempt

Well, I just pitched for my second mead attempt last week. The first was done over a year ago, to rave reviews. It was a cyser mead with local ingredients. Raw apple blossom honey (12lb) from the local bee farm and unpasteurized, unflitered apple cider (4gal) from the local farm market. (Guess what they grow in my area). This mixture made 30L (~8gal) of must which just barely fit in my fermenter.

I started a new one with more or less the same ingredients, mostly to get a new batch of same, but with the experience of having done it already. I was thinking about making it a little sweeter this time, so I added an extra pound of dextrose (corn sugar) to the mix. I picked corn sugar over extra honey for two reasons. First, it was slightly cheaper, but also, the last time I pitched, the yeast seemed to take forever to get going, and the local brewmaster told me it might be because honey is hard to break down until yeast really get going. (Unsure of the veracity of that).

In any event, with 12lb of honey and 1lb of dextrose, my starting SG was only 1.070. From reading other's stories, it seems like this might be low. It's in the "table wine" range on my meter, but I was hoping to make a "dessert wine" type, sweeter drink.

Would it be acceptable for me to wait until I would normally rack the first time (in a month or therabouts) and then add another 2 or 3 pounds of dissolved, cooled honey? Would this muck up the process in any way?

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Old 12-27-2008, 10:47 PM   #2
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Welcome!
A couple of things to note. The sugar is not going to give you sweeter mead, it's going to give you dryer mead because it is 100% fermentable.

What kind of yeast did you use? Also, are you planning on carbonating this batch? There is a couple things you can do to make your mead sweeter, however, unless you keg it's pretty hard to do if you plan on carbonating.

I suspect your first batch took a long time to get going if you didn't add nutrient. Honey and water doesn't have the minerals that the yeast needs. The apple cider probably was the only thing that kept the yeast going so you might consider giving your yeast a helping hand and adding some nutrient.

You can easily add more honey at a later date. It is a common practice to "step up" the honey during fermentation.

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Old 12-27-2008, 10:58 PM   #3
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I forgot to mention that I added nutrient both this time and last, as indicated by the directions on the packet. I knew that dextrose was completely fermentable, but I thought perhaps that it would push the abv up enough that it would stop naturally with a bit of honey left, rather than going to complete dryness as it did last time.

I carbonated in beer bottles last time, but I think I'm going to go with a still mead this time.

Additionally, what is the general concensus on filtering before bottling? I'd really like to have a crystal clear product at the end, and when I bottled last time, it ended up with some sediment on bottom of the bottles after several months, as the yeast left in mixture that did the carbonation died off.

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Old 12-28-2008, 03:21 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by SegmentedMonkey View Post
...apple blossom honey (12lb) ... unflitered apple cider (4gal) from the local farm market... This mixture made 30L (~8gal) of must ... I added an extra pound of dextrose (corn sugar) ...my starting SG was only 1.070...
Using your recipe, assuming a typical cider SG of 1.045, and adding water to make 8 gallons, I get an OG of 1.081 Typically, most wine yeasts will be able to ferment that must to dryness.
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Old 12-28-2008, 09:00 PM   #5
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SegmentedMonkey - If your looking to bottle carb you will get some yeast settling on the bottom.

You can minimize this with bulk ageing of the mead in a secondary for 3 months to a year until it becomes crystal clear. A number of people have posted pictures of carboys you could read a newspaper through the mead. Then you could repitch yeast, and add the bottling sugars.

Personally I would just go with a still mead, and bottle it crystal clear.

The last cider I made I added 3 lbs of honey, I wonder what 12 lbs would taste like.

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Old 12-29-2008, 02:32 PM   #6
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The last cider I made I added 3 lbs of honey, I wonder what 12 lbs would taste like.
The last one I made was nearly 14%, using this recipe. I tried it a month or so after bottling and it tasted like a really harsh cider, almost beery, with little honey flavor.

I've got 7 bottles of it left (out of nearly 5 dozen) and I'm going to try cracking one in the next day or so, and saving the rest for New Years eve. These bottles have been sitting in the box in my basement for nearly two years now. Unbeknownst to me, a Christmas visitor found them, knew I home brewed, and decided to try one, thinking it was a beer. Luckily, I wasn't saving them for anything in particular. She said they were great, but really strong, and a really "different tasting beer".

So, to get back to my second question, you recommend bulk aging over filtering? Are there any big downsides to filtering? I've read that it can affect flavor and such, but is this really the case? I'd think that anything big enough to get caught in a coarse filter would have settled out in order to get the clear final product. I guess oxidization could be an issue.
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Old 12-30-2008, 08:10 AM   #7
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So, to get back to my second question, you recommend bulk aging over filtering? Are there any big downsides to filtering?
I have a cheap filter system (I keg everything so the added cost was minimal), and have used it around 3 times. But not once in the last 4 years. If you ensure it is air tight and no air gets in it, it should be fine. BUT:

In my opinion, (limited and blind) filtering is too often used to clear a brew that still needs conditioning and aging. Most meads, ciders, beers will clear on their time cycle, not on yours. I would rather simply allow time to the yeast to finish their thing, if I have an extreme peptic haze from fruits (which I have not used for years), then using sparkoloid(sp?) etc may be in order.

I use time, and when the carboy is clear, I cold crash it for a week. It does not really help in clearing but it freezes the yeast and lees to the bottom of the carboy making racking very easy and super clear.

Short answer if your still reading this, find what works for you.
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