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-   -   First attempt at Mead (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f30/first-attempt-mead-109172/)

nitasch 03-17-2009 05:03 PM

First attempt at Mead
Hi all! I am new here, actually I belong to another wine forum, and was told I should come here for more in depth mead conversations and help.

I will just copy and paste my post regarding my mead batch yesterday.

This weekend I bottled my batch of (Australian Chardonnay from kit) and racked the Red Zin into the secondary, and decided to try my hand at Mead.

I thought I would run the recipe by you all and see what you all think.

I researched mead making well before I decided to make wine, and came up with this recipe, which technically is a Metheglyn.

18 lbs Clover Honey
4 Gallons water
2 teaspoons yeast nutrient
2 teaspoons yeast energizer
2 packets Lalvin EC1118 champaigne yeast
1 teaspoon tannn
3 2" sticks cinnamon simmered in one cup water for 30 minutes (sticks discarded before adding)
3 oz pure vanilla extract

It started perking nicely within five hours, and has a surprising molassas scent to it...smells fantastic thus far.

I am anticipating (hoping for) a rich sweeter wine with just a touch of cinnamon..... thinking it will be done in time to bottle and hand out for Christmas, with instructions to let age for a couple months before trying.

**It was suggested that I add more yeast nutrient at sg 1.040...which sounds reasonable.

See any other red flags on this recipe?

As of this AM (day 4) it is still "perking" actively.

Thanks in advance!

claphamsa 03-17-2009 05:44 PM

18lbs in 4 gallons water..... wow that is gonna be one SWEEET meade!

wayneb 03-17-2009 07:10 PM

Well... actually that's not an overly high percentage of honey in the must, especially when you use EC-1118, which is a champagne strain of yeast and can readily take high gravity musts bone dry to 18% ABV or higher.

If you added 4 gallons of water to your 18 lb of honey you then ended up with an initial gravity in the vicinity of 1.115, which will result in about 15.5% ABV when it ferments fully out. With proper care and feeding (i.e. nutrient additions), that EC-1118 will take this one fully dry. Read Hightest's FAQ about staggered nutrient additions and you'll know both when and why to add additional nitrogen bearing nutrient.

No worries about this one going bone dry - you can always backsweeten it later should you want the result to be sweeter than it ends up.

nitasch 03-18-2009 04:57 PM

Thank you Wayneb!

after pitching the yeast and stirring till my arm fell off, my beginning SG read at 1.140.

I think I will pull the lid tonight and check it's progress, and add nutrients if it falls within the guidelines set out by Hightest.

Personally I won't mind if it ends up dry... but I know some of the people I will be gifting it to are not fans of dry wines, so I assume their tastes will be the same with mead.

I suppose I could just back sweeten a portion of the entire batch when the time comes, if in fact I end up with a dry product.

Thanks again for the feedback.

hightest 03-18-2009 06:43 PM


Originally Posted by nitasch (Post 1204809)
...I suppose I could just back sweeten a portion of the entire batch when the time comes, if in fact I end up with a dry product.

I never worry about a mead being too dry as backsweetening is not a big deal (IMO)... ;)

wayneb 03-18-2009 07:00 PM

Interesting. Something just doesn't seem to add up here.

If you're sure of your initial SG reading then I've got to ask, what is the total volume of your must right now? Adding 4 full gallons of water to 18 lb of honey shouldn't give you an initial gravity up as high as 1.140, so I don't really understand how you got there (unless you drew a sample for testing that wasn't fully dissolved and it had more honey in it than the bulk of the must). Now instead, if when you mixed the must you just added sufficient water to that 18 lb of honey to get to 4 gallons total must volume, you should have ended up with an even higher initial gravity than what you measured, say around 1.158 or so. Admittedly, I'm confused.

If your must really was at 1.140 when you started, that is a pretty high starting gravity and even a yeast as hardy as EC-1118 may have a difficult time fermenting in a must that heavy unless you carefully manage the fermentation, introducing oxygen early on and adding nutrients according to a staggered protocol.

nitasch 03-18-2009 07:41 PM


One thing I am 100% certain on was the beginning SG, just consulted my notes to double check... actually I was a little surprised at the reading, and I double checked.

I checked the reading after I had pitched the yeast and stirred it vigorously for 6 minutes (till my arm fell off) so I am absolutey sure that the must was well blended.

NOW, that you brought this up, I started questioning my measurements...

The honey I used came in 5# bottles..I dumped three of them in, and then guessed on how much would leave one pound in the fourth bottle.
Also, I bought exactly four gallons of glacier water from a dispenser at the grocery store.

Since you brought up this discrepency I just checked my mixing room and pulled out the scale to see how much honey I actually left in the fourth bottle, and it is approximately 1 lb 4 oz. which means I actually used almost 19 lbs of honey.... :eek: I did not keep an empty bottle, but I imagine since they are plastic they weigh next to nothing.

I also have approximately 2 quarts water left over in the jug (five gallon water jug, filled with 4 gallons)

The level of the must reads exactly 5 gallons.

BUT, I did rinse the honey bottles with hot water to get all the honey out...so that would account for having some of the left over water.
The yeast nutrient was mixed with a small amount of water and the yeast was rehydrated with water..but nominal amounts really.

The cinammon water and vanilla account for some volume but not vast amounts.

So... I guess I need to change the documented recipe to 19 lbs honey...and god knows how much water exactly....

It appears to be very active at this point. I am going to bust it open tonight and check the sg....see if I can add more nutrients.

It appears I cannot make mead like I cook, I never measure anything and end up with great results in the kitchen... I will be more cautious on the next batch...if I don't screw this one up too bad. :mad:

claphamsa 03-18-2009 07:43 PM

hey, it will still come out great! my meades always taste good, and my measurements usually come out to looks like between 12 and 20 lbs!

the detailed measurements help and all...... but it will still taste fantastic! you just wont know if its 18% or 18.5% alcohol!

nitasch 03-18-2009 07:56 PM


Thanks for the vote of confidence! Glad to know I am not the only one that "guesstimates" :mug:

wayneb 03-19-2009 04:10 PM

I also had good luck in years past with "guesstimated" recipes. But I also had some spectacular failures. :cross:

Still, the takeaway lesson from this is that despite what you think you measured when you mixed your must, trust your hydrometer (or refractometer) to tell you what your initial gravity really is. Especially if you're a seasoned brewer and used to taking hydrometer measurements, that measurement is going to be a far more accurate determination of initial conditions than any calculated estimate of the initial gravity. So, if you're sure you mixed everything completely, then your initial gravity is 1.140. That is, as I said earlier, pretty high even for EC-1118. If it happens to ferment totally dry you'll end up with over 18.5% ABV! That'll be a pretty potent mead. Not bad for a "novice" at meadmaking! :drunk:

BTW - again based on estimates, if you used 19 lbs of honey in just a little over 3 gallons of water, you'd end up with a must volume of almost exactly 5 gallons and the SG would be right on 1.140. Just thought you'd like to know! :)

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