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Old 08-04-2011, 12:07 AM   #1
Simple_Man1977
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Default Complete, Utter Newbie With Questions About My First Ever Batch of Mead

Actually, it is my first ever batch of homebrew, period. Also, I will admit right up front that (being my first ever foray into the hobby), I have purchased no specialized equipment beyond an auto siphon for racking. No hydrometers. No special yeasts. Nothing.

I used this recipe: http://www.stormthecastle.com/mead/f...ead-making.htm, which is quite obviously far below the level of expertise in which those on this forum take pride. I hope that doesn't get me laughed off of here after my very first post.

I bottled my first batch of mead at the 12-week mark after racking it at 4 and 8 weeks, respectively. It was completely done with fermentation i.e. no more bubbling in the airlock, and I actually racked it again to be sure to get rid of the sediment before transferring to glass bottles. After bottling, however, something happened that I had not expected: it started bubbling again to the point where it appeared to be carbonated. During the bottling process, I back-sweetened with extra honey (as I have read is an option if you like your wines sweet) and my mead reacted just like you would expect beer to behave when being poured i.e. with a thick, frothy head.

I know that there are things you can do in order to make a wine into a sparkling wine, but I did none of those things. As of now, the bottles have their lids to keep gnats out, etc. (the little morons were drowning themselves in the airlock, trying to get at all that yummy honey) but I did not screw them on tight for fear of creating bottle bombs. I guess I am, more or less, just waiting now for the mead to "go flat" like a pop (soda, for those not in the South) with a loose lid, so I can secure everything and store them for aging.

Does everything I described sound normal or am I way off in left field somewhere? I am so new at this that I have no idea what to expect, so any input would be greatly appreciated. As I learn more about this stuff, I look forward to delving into more of the involved processes, but with my first batch I wanted to do it as simply as possible just to see if it is something I enjoy.

Also, the site I linked to above mentions waiting at least six months to drink the mead, but I have read on this forum that sometimes a year or even longer is better. I can attest that, at its current young age, it tastes like I could use it to run my car How much of a difference is there between a year and six months when it comes to taste?

Thanks in advance!

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Old 08-04-2011, 12:32 PM   #2
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Since you didn't use anything to kill the yeast like campden tablets when you back sweetened it started fermenting again. Time will make it better but you will need to keep oxygen out somehow, either cap it or airlock it.

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Old 08-04-2011, 12:59 PM   #3
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Simple error. As has already been pointed out, without stabilising, the yeast hadn't reached its alcohol tolerance. So by adding honey for backsweetening all you've done is give the yeast more sugar to eat.

In the short term, get them into the fridge (4C or less) for a week or so. While its cold crashing, get a vacu-vin, then once they've been in the fridge for the week, you can take them out and de-gas the bottles.

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Old 08-04-2011, 01:49 PM   #4
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How do you know whether the yeast has reached its alcohol tolerance?

ETA: the OP's recipe looks suspiciously like JAOM.

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Old 08-04-2011, 05:36 PM   #5
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Quote:
How do you know whether the yeast has reached its alcohol tolerance?
Hydrometer readings would be the easiest. If you have a yeast the maxes out at 14%, then if you start with a SG of ~1.107 when you get to 1.000 you'll be at 14% and the yeast should die out from the alcohol.

Quote:
ETA: the OP's recipe looks suspiciously like JAOM.
I remember seeing that page when I was first looking at mead recipes. It's definately JAOM.
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Old 08-04-2011, 07:13 PM   #6
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Will at Storm the Castle's recipe was the one I used as well. Much like the good folks here, he is a gentleman and a great guy. Havent gotten an email from him in a while, however, so I'm hoping he's just busy.

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Old 08-04-2011, 07:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huesmann View Post
How do you know whether the yeast has reached its alcohol tolerance?

ETA: the OP's recipe looks suspiciously like JAOM.
Quote:
Originally Posted by NiteBeest View Post
Hydrometer readings would be the easiest. If you have a yeast the maxes out at 14%, then if you start with a SG of ~1.107 when you get to 1.000 you'll be at 14% and the yeast should die out from the alcohol.



I remember seeing that page when I was first looking at mead recipes. It's definately JAOM.
Yes, indeed it does look like JAO, except where Will has suggested the use of D47 or K1V (and I wouldn't suggest using wine yeast, because IMO it doesn't make for a good dry recipe - all my attempts like that have turned out bloody horrible).

If it's the bread yeast that's been used then there's no way to tell the tolerance, but if it's one of the wine yeasts, especially Lalvin branded ones, then there's usually some info to be found online, as to the max alcohol tolerance.

I use the calculator that Bob, who runs Winesathome wrote/produced. It's a SG minus FG to find the number of gravity points dropped, which correspond to a certain % ABV.

There's also a calculation that gives the result (but I can't remember it, and only recall it being quoted over at Gotmead).

I allude to a preference for Lalvin yeasts, not because they're better than anyone else's particularly, but they publish more in depth data about their products than the rest of the manufacturers, ergo the lalvin yeast chart.

Further to my earlier post, any honey that is available for the yeasties to much, will not only up the pressure but also cause a sediment in the bottles.

So the other way to sort it out, would be to rack/decant the mead back into a fermenter, then hit it with sulphite and sorbate (at the same time) and then let it settle, then re-rack and re bottle....
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Old 08-05-2011, 01:11 AM   #8
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Wow! Thanks for the great responses guys. I sort of had a feeling that my yeasties had only been sleeping and I woke them up by back-sweetening; just needed it confirmed. I guess I'll be ordering some Campden tablets and trying to correct this little SNAFU. Thanks again to everyone, and I look forward to posting and reading more in the future!

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