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Old 06-15-2011, 04:34 PM   #1
SenorPepe
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Default Could use some clarification

Hey all
Apologies in advance for uninformed questions. I've been brewing beer for a little while and have a few simple meads/cysers under my belt but I'd like to get more into it.

Last weekend I went to the local farmer's market and got 5 pounds of unpasteurized, very lightly (or un-) processed stuff. When I took it home and got a good look I was shocked by how dark and full-o-particles it is. Very flavorful. I'd like to highlight the honey but my girlfriend would like a fruit one, preferably peach. I don't know enough about mead to tell if mixing this very flavorful, almost spicy, honey with peaches would be something I want to do. Any thoughts?

Also, I've been taking my meads down dry. I like drier stuff but I'm 6 months into this mead thing and don't yet have one drinkable. Which is fine, but this time I'd like to make it semi-sweet...at this point I'm doing 1 gallon batches--any way to come to semi-sweet without having to buy a whole smack pack or vial? (aside from backsweetening, which I'm also considering). On the topic, how do these semi-sweet yeasts work? Do they leave it semi-sweet because of low alcohol tolerance or poor attenuation? In other words do I have to jack the OG up beyond a certain level for them to finish in range?

Thanks for paying attention this long, and I'd appreciate any help you could give a noob. Cheers

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Old 06-15-2011, 06:32 PM   #2
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Hey all
Apologies in advance for uninformed questions. I've been brewing beer for a little while and have a few simple meads/cysers under my belt but I'd like to get more into it.
Fair enough..... makes sense to me....
Quote:
Last weekend I went to the local farmer's market and got 5 pounds of unpasteurized, very lightly (or un-) processed stuff. When I took it home and got a good look I was shocked by how dark and full-o-particles it is. Very flavorful. I'd like to highlight the honey but my girlfriend would like a fruit one, preferably peach. I don't know enough about mead to tell if mixing this very flavorful, almost spicy, honey with peaches would be something I want to do. Any thoughts?
Don't do it. Save it for a traditional. Any debris in the honey - wax, propolis, bee's/bee parts, etc etc, will normally drop out with the sediment anyway. "They" only normally filter honey etc, because it looks prettier and they don't want to upset urban dwellers who don't understand the difference between processed and unprocessed honey - and just how much is lost with processing, whether it's blending, filtering, heating etc etc. There's no point in heating/pasteurisation of honey. It's already anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, etc etc. You only get problems if you water it down ready for a must or something and then leave it to be exposed to wild yeasts etc. Any heating (apart from warming it gently to get it out the container) seems to remove some of the more subtle aroma elements etc.

I'd be making a 1 gallon batch with it, and keeping about a 1/2lb to back sweeten with.....
Quote:
Also, I've been taking my meads down dry. I like drier stuff but I'm 6 months into this mead thing and don't yet have one drinkable. Which is fine, but this time I'd like to make it semi-sweet...at this point I'm doing 1 gallon batches--any way to come to semi-sweet without having to buy a whole smack pack or vial? (aside from backsweetening, which I'm also considering). On the topic, how do these semi-sweet yeasts work? Do they leave it semi-sweet because of low alcohol tolerance or poor attenuation? In other words do I have to jack the OG up beyond a certain level for them to finish in range?

Thanks for paying attention this long, and I'd appreciate any help you could give a noob. Cheers
It's actually not that easy to say that X is the tolerance of the yeast, so I'll use Y amount of honey to achieve a mead of Z % ABV.

Yes, you can make a batch that will get close, but if you think about it, unless you're an experienced mead maker with all the kit for some quite demanding fermentations, it's easier to work out the rough amount of sugars needed to get a ferment of whatever % ABV you want - in theory.

So, once you start making higher gravity batches, you'll encounter a few issues. For example, if you have an "unenlightened" HBS near by, they'll often just recommend that you use a champagne yeast like EC-1118. Now that has a theoretical tolerance of 18% ABV. Yet to achieve that, you'll need to have a total drop of gravity points of between 132 and 133. More often than not, if it achieves that level of alcohol, you'll have a batch that the great Ken Schramm, would liken to "Listerine" - I just describe it as "medicinal". It's not a fault per se, but it can take a long time for that "alcohol hot" taste to age out.

Me? I like my meads at about 1.010 for a final gravity. So I'll make whatever, ferment it dry and then back sweeten it.

You'll find, with experience, that if you start with too higher gravity, it can be difficult to manage as you need to do all sorts of stuff to prevent a stuck ferment (or even a ferment that just won't start) etc etc. Fermenting dry then back sweetening to taste just happens to be about the easiest method. If you did jack up the OG and then tried to stop an active ferment, you'd find that it's not as easy as it seems.....

I could go on, as there's lots of reasons why back sweetening is easier but you'll learn that yourself, or at least reading about others problems on the forums....

So it's entirely up to you but there's usually a good reason why things are generally done in certain ways - and there's enough people both here and at other forums who've made the same mistakes.

Just remember, making meads is reasonably easy but making "good" meads isn't.......
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Old 06-16-2011, 12:51 AM   #3
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Fat bloke is right. It can be difficult to get a yeast (especially wine yeast) to get all the way too their max tolerance. Adding sorbate and sulfate after it has completly fisihed is the quickest and easyist way to get a semi-sweet mead. If using the sorbate and sulfate are not a good option for you one thing you can try (I was able to do this) is too use a beer yeast strain that ferments clean (no "beer" feusals). You let it go till it dry (under 1.0 on the hydrometer) then slowly add honey (maybe 1 lb at a time) and let it sit for a week in between additions. I used Safale 05 and it it stopped around 11% ABV. It's been sitting now for 3 months with 3 lbs worth of honey additions and the gravity hasn't moved a bit. Of course I'm letting it sit till October before I bottle.

Best of luck.

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Old 06-16-2011, 02:48 PM   #4
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Thanks, guys. That's all really helpful. So I'll go with a traditional to highlight the honey, about 3 pounds or so of honey, find a good yeast strain and let it do it's thing, sorbate and sulfate, and backsweeten. I'm intrigued by the beer yeast idea too but I'll save that one for later. Also nice to get reassurance that not heating this honey is A-OK. I know I've read that in reputable sources but it still makes you think "really?". Anyway, thanks again. Off to the HBS.

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Old 06-16-2011, 03:02 PM   #5
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Depending on your area that fermentation happens I recomend 2 different yeasts that are fairly neutral, considering that you want to highlight the flavor.

For temps 60-70= Lavin D-47
For temps 70-78= Lavin 71B

Both are great yeasts that I have used and ferment well and "flock" well, that is when done cluster to the bottom. After it clears to the point you can read through it just bottle and forget it for 8 months. Then it should be very tasty. If you are looking to be very daring, try step nutrients, and oak it with lightly toasted oak chips, 1 oz for a week or two. Chips infuse very quickly so you only need that long.

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Old 06-16-2011, 03:11 PM   #6
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Thanks for the tips Matrix. I wasn't really looking forward to familiarizing myself with all the wine strains...I've used only 2 or 3 in the past. I'll look into finding some 71B. I've got a nutrient sold by my HBS lying around, Urea and DAP. Is that an acceptable nutrient to use for this mead and in the SNA process?

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Old 06-16-2011, 03:14 PM   #7
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By the way, while I'm at it, might as well pose this question: girlfriend is not gonna give up this fruit mead quest. What should I be using for those? Is the quality of the honey less important then? So much so I could use supermarket honey?

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Old 06-16-2011, 06:30 PM   #8
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By the way, while I'm at it, might as well pose this question: girlfriend is not gonna give up this fruit mead quest. What should I be using for those? Is the quality of the honey less important then? So much so I could use supermarket honey?
SenorPepe,

I have made only mead a few times saving my "good" honey for the traditionals ... I did make a blueberry with Supermarket honey that turned decent, very high FG (in the Dessert range)...finished at 1.054, its really o.k. and its only 4 months old ...thinking it will get even better... my JAOM still taste "hot" so I figure that will just sit in the closet for awhile ....

Funny how you mentioned about your girlfriend only digging the fruited varieties...My wife is the exact opposite saying the traditionals are her fave...

Sorry for the long tangent thinking about racking my Raspberry mead now.....GO With Whatever Honey you Can GET...

Cheers
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Old 06-16-2011, 06:57 PM   #9
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lol nice. I actually did the obligatory JAOM for my first mead, but added a whole package of yeast instead of the 1 tbsp called for, and it got straight on the express train to super-dry town. Finished at around .998. So now I'm not sure what to do with it. It's been sitting for 100 days today and I'm still trying to decide if I should bottle it up and wait forever or stabilize and backsweeten. I'm thinking I'll attempt to do a sweet/semi-sweet with fruit and supermarket honey when I get the chance, unless someone persuades me otherwise.

EDIT: By the way, hot is not even an appropriate adjective for this beast. It tastes, aside from the spices, like moonshine. Didn't take an OG but I think based on others' that its somewhere in the 16-18% range. How Fleischmann's bread yeast did that, I still don't know.

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Old 06-16-2011, 07:40 PM   #10
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lol,

I toned it down...I actually called it Satans Anus at bottling time...Man its going to need some mellowing time.I let it sit for about the same 90-100 days before bottling also..funky flavor

Anyways brew on !!!!

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