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Old 01-22-2013, 09:24 PM   #1
mooney
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Ok so I just got my first 5 gallon, 23l carboy so this is getting serious. And as my sweet berry meads have been the best so far I was thinking of trying another one. Time of year means I'll be using frozen berries and in the supper markets they are cheaper if you buy them mixed than individual types. The choice is their summer fruits which looks to be strawberries, rasps, blue, and red currents. Or what took my interest was the dark fruits, cherries, blackberries, blue berries and black currents. I'll be doing this in 2 buckets to have space for fruit and spare for topping up. And for laziness I'll be putting all the fruit in primary, As that worked in my other berry meads and I don't fancy getting that much fruit threw a carboy neck. I have 6 of 1.34kg pots of set honey but was thinking 5 would be enough? As with fruit and all I'll prob be starting with 7gallons. The yeast I get at the local home brew shop is Youngs. Was gonna just use their red wine yeast. No idea the tolerance so kinda shooting in the dark but know I want to finish about 1.010 to 1.020? Any one got any ideas? I'll be punching down the cap, staggered nutrients while in the buckets. Heard cherries can have a medicinal taste. Should I avoid them? And will a mix of this many berries work? I could shell out a bit more and do a single berry type.

Edit; I have used this yeast before and it dropped out about the 14% mark but i'm not sure it could have been higher I could not take a start gravity because my hydrometer didn't go that high, I have had to get one that goes to 1.170 sent over from America.

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Old 01-24-2013, 10:08 PM   #2
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Ok so I just got my first 5 gallon, 23l carboy so this is getting serious. And as my sweet berry meads have been the best so far I was thinking of trying another one. Time of year means I'll be using frozen berries and in the supper markets they are cheaper if you buy them mixed than individual types. The choice is their summer fruits which looks to be strawberries, rasps, blue, and red currents. Or what took my interest was the dark fruits, cherries, blackberries, blue berries and black currents. I'll be doing this in 2 buckets to have space for fruit and spare for topping up. And for laziness I'll be putting all the fruit in primary, As that worked in my other berry meads and I don't fancy getting that much fruit threw a carboy neck. I have 6 of 1.34kg pots of set honey but was thinking 5 would be enough? As with fruit and all I'll prob be starting with 7gallons. The yeast I get at the local home brew shop is Youngs. Was gonna just use their red wine yeast. No idea the tolerance so kinda shooting in the dark but know I want to finish about 1.010 to 1.020? Any one got any ideas? I'll be punching down the cap, staggered nutrients while in the buckets. Heard cherries can have a medicinal taste. Should I avoid them? And will a mix of this many berries work? I could shell out a bit more and do a single berry type.

Edit; I have used this yeast before and it dropped out about the 14% mark but i'm not sure it could have been higher I could not take a start gravity because my hydrometer didn't go that high, I have had to get one that goes to 1.170 sent over from America.
Well, you don't even post a vague location, so those of us this side of the pond (and who can generally spot a Brit from comments etc - 23 litres is fractionally over 5 imp gallons, whereas 19 litres is 5 US gallons, and other crap like that) can't suggest more local resources or reliable UK based online sellers for some stuff.

You shouldn't need a hydrometer that does more than 1.150 or so, as a gravity drop of 133 points is equal to 18 % anyway, and apart from a few specialist yeasts, that's pretty much gonna be your max anyway.

There's a number of lists that will tell you approximate gravity/sugar contents of fruit kicking around the net, but I don't bother with them. If I'm gonna add a fruit, it's because I like the fruit as it is. So I just work out how much I'm gonna use, then either go for 1/3rd in primary and 2/3rds in secondary, or even all in secondary. I cover my arse some and it depends on what the fruit it, but if you make 5 gallons/23 litres in a 27 litre bucket, you'll actually get more than 4 litres volume of the fruit in the bucket, and if you added it when it gets too something like 1.010, maybe a bit higher like 1.020, you'd get some of the sugars fermenting, but likely more of eh fruit sugars, aromatics etc, being retained, especially if you source yeasts that supply enough of the information in the first place i.e. at least the "usual suspects" from Lalvin/Lallemand. Karl (Duffbeer) over at Winesathome sells them (http://www.hobbywinesupplies.co.uk/). Of course, if Yorkshire is "too foreign" for you, then there may be somewhere closer to suggest...... Don't know.

My local HBS also only keep youngs/Ritchies stuff usually but he does have a brupaks account so I can get anything from Brouwland, as long as I'm not in a rush - unless I want to do a baccy run and head down there as well.

Seriously, I'd urge you to think more on using the fruit in secondary. You do get a much better (IMO) fruit flavour in the batch. More natural, which is why we think of adding fruit to a brew in the first place. If it's all been fermented out in primary, it may retain the colour, but often a lot of the aromatics and nicer flavour points are lost.

For black currants, check out any local places that do "Polish" groceries. They often do a good line in summer fruit in jars, especially stuff like black currants.....
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Old 01-26-2013, 10:31 AM   #3
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Thanks. I'm actually i'm Edinburgh so most places are a trek away. I have tyred adding fruit to the secondary but the issues i'm having are with the space in the carboy it takes up, that's why I started fermenting in a bucket for 10 days with the fruit and passing it threw a cheese cloth and in to the carboy, if I started the mead in the bucket and let it go about ten days before adding the fruit how long would it be wise to leave in the bucket? My elder berry mead has had the berries in secondary 3 months or so and have not dropped, but do look like they have very little coulor left to give. and my kiwis have been in about the same time and have just dropped. This seams like a long time to have the mead sitting in a plastic bucket. as those 2 batches were just 5l the fruit has taken up allot of space, i'm guessing I'll only get 3.5l out of them. So if I added fruit in to my 23l carboy I could be loosing a whole gallon. Is 3 months too long for buckets, I was going to use my 5gallon and 2 gallon buckets leaving space for fruit and foam.

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Old 01-27-2013, 11:16 AM   #4
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I'm quite new to mead brewing, but have just racked a forest fruit melomel. there were cherries in there too, not sure what they'll do to the taste. I used about a pound and a half of frozen fruit in one gallon, it fermented in under 2 weeks and was almost clear at racking time a week later. I did lose a bit to the fruit but topped up with a bit of water. I was going to add more honey in secondary so as not to dilute, but changed my mind and stabilised it. I might try fruit in secondary next time but for this time I'll leave it as is and backsweeten.

you shouldn't need to leave the fruit too long in secondary, a few weeks should be fine, I've never waited for the fruit to drop in a brew (but then I'm a newbie with newbie patience, ie, very little) and most of the colour had gone anyway. a siphon would move the contents more easily - passing through a cheesecloth surely mixes it all up and oxygenates it?

if you placed the fruit in a muslin bag and suspended it in secondary, it would be more easily removed and could be left to drip much of the alcoholic fruity goodness back into the mead (don't squeeze it though) and since it's not mixed with yeasty crap you could eat the fruit over ice cream or use it in cooking or baking so it's not wasted, even if your final volume is a bit less.

it's a shame that supplies over here are often limited, particularly mead yeasts and nutrients. In fact, even decent honey is off- puttingly expensive. Some good mead yeasts are apparently rebranded for the UK market, but can't remember which ones.

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Old 01-27-2013, 02:45 PM   #5
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I'm quite new to mead brewing, but have just racked a forest fruit melomel. there were cherries in there too, not sure what they'll do to the taste. I used about a pound and a half of frozen fruit in one gallon, it fermented in under 2 weeks and was almost clear at racking time a week later. I did lose a bit to the fruit but topped up with a bit of water. I was going to add more honey in secondary so as not to dilute, but changed my mind and stabilised it. I might try fruit in secondary next time but for this time I'll leave it as is and backsweeten.
Well, obviously it depends on whether you just made it up ad hoc, or where following a recipe of some sorts.

When fruit is used in primary, you'll find that the yeast will often (especially if a champagne yeast is used - often on guidance from HBS staff, who invariably know bog all about making meads) blow a lot of the aromatics straight out the airlock. You often also lose some of the more delicate flavours, plus primary fermentation can often reduce what seems like a good level of pigmentation, making the fruit look almost "bleached". Hence the fruit flavour is a fermented fruit flavour i.e. partly why fruit in primary batches never really taste like the original fruit much.
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you shouldn't need to leave the fruit too long in secondary, a few weeks should be fine, I've never waited for the fruit to drop in a brew (but then I'm a newbie with newbie patience, ie, very little) and most of the colour had gone anyway. a siphon would move the contents more easily - passing through a cheesecloth surely mixes it all up and oxygenates it?
Not entirely correct, but as with anything like this with no real standards, it's down to personal choice of the maker. If you've used pectolase, not only does it help with pectins in any fruit that might be in the batch, but it also assists with colour and flavour extraction. The "waiting for the fruit to drop" method harks back to making JAO's inasfaras getting the maximum flavour, colour, etc out of the fruit. Just because something looks a certain colour, it doesn't mean it's got a lot of pigment in the fruit. Strawberry being a good example - always look nice and red, but when used in brewing, usually comes out a straw/amber sort of colour as the little pigment that there is oxidises quickly.

As for using muslin/cheesecloth/etc type materials to separate out any fruit, you'll find that most fruits go soft quite quickly and that when the batch is passed through cloth like that, the fibres/strands act like tiny wires and some of the softened pulp always gets through - plus the material will clog up quite quickly (try filtering a wine or mead that hasn't been cleared, and you'll see how quickly it clogs up).

Meads don't oxidise anywhere as quickly as wines do, so while it's good practice to keep it away from too much additional air/O2 source, it's not gonna oxidise in the blink of an eye. It's just one of those things to be aware of the possibility....
Quote:
if you placed the fruit in a muslin bag and suspended it in secondary, it would be more easily removed and could be left to drip much of the alcoholic fruity goodness back into the mead (don't squeeze it though) and since it's not mixed with yeasty crap you could eat the fruit over ice cream or use it in cooking or baking so it's not wasted, even if your final volume is a bit less.
Completely impractical if the ferment is taking place in a demi-john/carboy. It's just as easy to use a funnel to get the fruit in and then just leave it alone to drop with time - which it will. There's a few caveats i.e. if you've used 71B, which doesn't like sur lie aging, it's probably easiest to have fermented without fruit, then rack the brew off the lees, stabilise to prevent re-fermentation and then add the fruit back to steep in the brew. If a yeast that doesn't have issues like that is used, then you can just rack off the lees straight onto the fruit.

Straining bags are best kept for convenience when fermenting in buckets. Even then, fruit/bag are often added when the batch has got down low, to say, 1.010, then if the yeast hasn't actually hit it's maximum tolerance it doesn't matter if some of the fruit sugars are metabolised. You'll usually be left with some of the fruit sugars and a more fruity flavour in the batch.
Quote:
it's a shame that supplies over here are often limited, particularly mead yeasts and nutrients. In fact, even decent honey is off- puttingly expensive. Some good mead yeasts are apparently rebranded for the UK market, but can't remember which ones.
The UK market for supplies just reflects the size of the market in the first place. There is little call for more exotic yeasts etc, as people are either put off having a go or are just too damn lazy/complacent.

There are NO so called mead yeasts. In fact, the few yeasts sold as "mead yeast" are just marketing bollocks anyway. How the hell do the makers know what strains were used when mead was "big" (pre-norman), when fermentation wasn't fully understood until Pasteur ? and there's nothing in the tiny amount of historic documentation left to point the way. Yes, some of the "historic" recipes might give you a clue i.e. if they refer to anything from a baker, it'll be a bread yeast, or a beer yeast if a brewer is the source - but which types/strains ? Who knows ? Of the 4 (Wyeast and White Labs) only the Wyeast ones seems to be available here, and because they're liquid, they have a much shorter shelf life (being liquid types, they need to be kept chilled), plus the "sweet mead" one is low tolerance and finicky as hell to use - sticking or not starting at all, etc etc - and as they're about 7 times the price of a pack of dry yeast, they're very much an expensive luxury. It's far, far easier to mail order something that is easier to use and of a "known quantity"/ability. It's why I changed to using the Lallemand brand ones like the Lalvin range. Yes, there's only 5 that are easily available in home brew sized packs, but you only have to read through the published literature to get the measure of them and understand how best to use them.

It does seem an issue in Europe period, that they can't be bothered to publish information about yeasts, and only want to give the most basic of information about them.

A good example being, that if you read up on the late Brother Adams' meads, he originally preferred to use a "Maury" yeast. Now as far as I can find out, the closest to that would be Lalvin D21, which you can only find in home brew size packs if you mail order from the US (and even then it seems only from 2 places as they appear to be repackaging it from commercial sized packs). When he could no longer get the "Maury" strain, he moved to using a (the ?) Montpellier strain. Presumably it was packaged as Gervin Varietal "E" - but even that seems to have been discontinued since Muntons took control of the Gervin yeast production. Now if you want that, you'll have to get it the "easy" way.........it's Lalvin K1-V1116, which is an excellent yeast for meads, particularly traditional type ones.

If you want to get the exact same nutrients as you often see mentioned here, or over at Gotmead, you have to mail order. I understand that they are available here, but only in commercial quantities. So you have to compromise......an easily obtained equivalent to FermaidK is Tronozymol and where a nutrient regime also lists DAP/Di-Ammonium Phosphate, Youngs yeast nutrient is a mix of di-ammonium phosphate and the related chemical, ammonium sulphate, both providing ammonia based sources of nitrogen for the yeast.

In a few cases, it's harder to work out what an equivalent might be. Like GoFerm, which is a rehydration nutrient - whether one of the products listed at Brouwland in Belgium would be the same or similar I don't know (any HBS who has a Brupaks account can get the Brouwland stuff - unless you want to do a booze/baccy cruise).

As for honey ? Well we don't seem to have an infrastructure for varietals here. Yes if you contacted your local BBKA branch you may find someone who could supply something close, but it'd still be limited as we don't tend to have huge areas of mono-culture here like they do in parts of main Europe or the US. I'm lucky as I have Paynes about 10 miles up the road, and while they don't carry a huge range of different honey, they have enough to be getting on with and I don't need to pay shipping...... There may be other places in the UK like that, but I have yet to find one...... Still not as cheap as you might find, especially if you search for places in the US, but even then, to get some of the wonderful sounding honey available there, you'd be looking at about the £5 per pound weight and you'd have to get 5 gallons to make it feasible (unless money is no object).
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Old 01-27-2013, 02:57 PM   #6
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Thanks. I'm actually i'm Edinburgh so most places are a trek away. I have tyred adding fruit to the secondary but the issues i'm having are with the space in the carboy it takes up, that's why I started fermenting in a bucket for 10 days with the fruit and passing it threw a cheese cloth and in to the carboy, if I started the mead in the bucket and let it go about ten days before adding the fruit how long would it be wise to leave in the bucket? My elder berry mead has had the berries in secondary 3 months or so and have not dropped, but do look like they have very little coulor left to give. and my kiwis have been in about the same time and have just dropped. This seams like a long time to have the mead sitting in a plastic bucket. as those 2 batches were just 5l the fruit has taken up allot of space, i'm guessing I'll only get 3.5l out of them. So if I added fruit in to my 23l carboy I could be loosing a whole gallon. Is 3 months too long for buckets, I was going to use my 5gallon and 2 gallon buckets leaving space for fruit and foam.
Edinburgh eh ?

What about this lot ?

Google is your friend

You might just be a bit far north to be able to exploit some of the cheaper glassware that's often found on ebay - a lot of the 1 gallon DJ's tend to be collect only. Not to say it's not worth keeping an eye on it though....

Tell you what though. Red/Black fruit often benefits from being heated i.e. elderberries, black currants etc. You can just bring them to a simmer for a couple of minutes, then let them cool and hit them with pectolase/pectic enzyme, then add them to a batch after a day or so.

With Green/white type fruit, if you heat that, you tend to loose a lot of the "fresh" flavour and it tastes "cooked". Apples, pears and Kiwi's being a prime example. Those are better if they're just frozen, thawed and pressed or even just chopped up (skins, pips, the lot) and put in with a little bit of water and sulphites (campden tablets), and pectolase/pectic enzyme for a couple of days (at least 2 or 3, as that allows the sulphites to dissipate when you "punch down the cap"). Or you can just add them chopped up to a bucket based batch to start with, then once you get the gravity down some, strain off the fruit (leaving the sediment), but then either press or wring the hell out of the fruit to get as much flavour as possible (messy as hell job however you accomplish it - same as using fresh/whole grape for a pyment, it goes everywhere unless you've got some quite expensive kit and plenty of space).

Just my tuppence worth.......and yes I've tried most of these ideas/techniques !
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:17 AM   #7
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Ye that home brew shop has just moved it used to just be round the corner from where I live. Its what got me in to brewing. They just moved at Christmas to a much bigger shop, not the size of a cupboard, and in the students area so should drum up more business. and the guy David in there is great for a chat, but they don't have much in the way of yeast. Just Youngs and some ale Yeats. He would prob order them in if I was buying allot if them but I'd only be using a couple.
I did manage to get 4 old 4.5l demijohn on Ebay for 99p half an hours drive away but that's the exception.
So if I do add this fruit in secondary would I be as well doing my brew initially in the bucket, then racking on to the fruit in the carboy and an extra 1gal for topping up one I remove the fruit? And if I heated the fruit I would basically be adding jam without the sugar to secondary. Thanks for all the info, it is confusing all this info from across the pond but i'm a read the recipe and then to hell with it person.
I'll be starting this on Sunday, so I'll just mix up a big batch of traditional and bottle my bramble mead to free up a Demi John for storing the extra that the fruit will take the place of

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Old 01-28-2013, 09:24 PM   #8
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Ye that home brew shop has just moved it used to just be round the corner from where I live. Its what got me in to brewing. They just moved at Christmas to a much bigger shop, not the size of a cupboard, and in the students area so should drum up more business. and the guy David in there is great for a chat, but they don't have much in the way of yeast. Just Youngs and some ale Yeats. He would prob order them in if I was buying allot if them but I'd only be using a couple.
I did manage to get 4 old 4.5l demijohn on Ebay for 99p half an hours drive away but that's the exception.
Sounds a bit like my local HBS. But there's the other point, just because the choice of stuff is a bit limited, don't let it stop you. Yes, if you can get the "good" yeast(s), that just gives you greater, more predictable, repeatable control - which is nice, but you could also end up with "all the gear, but no idea". The majority of ale and beer yeasts will go to 10 or more percent alcohol. If the HBS stocks tronozymol and Youngs yeast nutrient, then you've got local equivalents of FermaidK and pure DAP etc. Just apply the technique etc.
Quote:
So if I do add this fruit in secondary would I be as well doing my brew initially in the bucket, then racking on to the fruit in the carboy and an extra 1gal for topping up one I remove the fruit? And if I heated the fruit I would basically be adding jam without the sugar to secondary. Thanks for all the info, it is confusing all this info from across the pond but i'm a read the recipe and then to hell with it person.
I'll be starting this on Sunday, so I'll just mix up a big batch of traditional and bottle my bramble mead to free up a Demi John for storing the extra that the fruit will take the place of
Not quite like jam minus sugar. You'd need to cook the hell out of the fruit to be like that. It's closer to steam juice extraction. Just that you get a modification of the flavours and colours. If it's just simmered for a couple of minutes, then cooled before adding pectolase/pectic enzyme, not only does the pectolase help with preventing the pectin hazing the brew, but also for colour and flavour extraction (you can get "posh" pectic enzyme called "Rohapect VR-C". It does what straight pectolase does but there's other stuff in it too I understand that help with stability, colour and flavour, etc etc, particularly with "reds". It's not expensive).

I'd say that you could just do a gallon of traditional, in a bucket or a DJ, then just rack onto the fruit. Any extra traditional left can be used for topping up. Just remember, I'd have thought it would be best if you made the traditional in "the usual way", but then step feed it with small increments of honey, until it poops out and won't ferment any further, then that is racked onto the fruit.

Why ?

Well if you like to use DJ's, with fruit, if there's any room for the yeast to continue to ferment and you haven't stabilised etc, you'd have to make sure that you put the fruit in first, then racked up to the shoulders of the DJ, because the fruit will float (google "cap management". it's a wine making phrase) and if the DJ is too full, the fruit can cause a cap, which holds back some/all of the CO2 from the fruit sugars, eventually causing some of the fruit to blow out of the DJ. Very messy. So if there's room to punch the cap down, it would be twice daily for safety, then once it's definitely finished it's ferment, you could top it up and the batch will continue to extract flavour and colour etc.

It's why it's often easier to use buckets for fruit batches as there's more expansion space and it's easier to punch the cap down and less likely end up messy.

At the same time, you can then use a strainer to remove the fruit once the ferment has finished, it can be dumped, it can be funnelled into a DJ and have the batch racked on top for more colour/flavour and it will eventually sink while the main part of the liquid is clearing (oh yes, and while I remember, for any excess liquid, normal "door step" milk bottles are handy as they will take a bung and airlock, and of course, fit into the fridge for storage while the rest is clearing etc at room temp).

See there's so many little things you can do to play around. Just blindly following a recipe isn't guaranteed to give the best results. In fact the only recipe that just seems to work is straight JAO......
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Old 02-04-2013, 10:17 PM   #9
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Thanks well I have started this tonight, did 6 gallon in a 2 gal bucket and 4 in a 5 gal bucket, leaving space for fruit. I want extra for topping up a kiwi mead and an elder berry mead that the fruit has dropped in.
I have it sitting with campden tablets tonight and made a starter With boiled bread yeast and must and Youngs all purpose red wine yeast. Need to pick up more neutriants tomorrow.
Chucked in some blue berries and raisins and earl grey tea as I was drinking it at the time as usual. I'll probably let it go about 10 days before adding the fruit. And keep that in the bucket for 2 Weeks after that? My sg was 1.090 do this could likely go dry but I don't know with this yeast. ether way if all the fruit sugars ferment when I add it atleast the co2 will protect it in the bucket. And I can back sweeten it in a few months once I can get a feel for the taste, i'm thinking all the mix of berries could give a tart taste. I'll have to see. This is just another experiment on a bigger scale.

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Old 02-16-2013, 07:01 AM   #10
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Well the berries are in, and the sg has not risen much just5 points. But the volume has increased allot from the fruit. No idea how to calculate the % now?

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