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Old 09-18-2012, 01:14 AM   #1
sheblom
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Default First go at Mead, A few questions...

Hi

I have made a few home brew beers now and want to start venturing out into different avenues. I thought making a small batch of mead would be a good experiment. So after some research I have come up with the following recipe. I have also added some questions at the end if any one can point me in the right direction.

Mead recipe:
- 1.5kg of clover honey[I have pure raw honey, from hive to container]
- 4.5L of spring water[1 gallon]
-1 orange
-25 raisins
-1 sachet of Lalvin EC1118 wine yeast
-15g citric acid
-2 Campden tablets
-Yeast engeriser

Step 0ne: Sanatize everything
Step Two: Put honey in hot water to soften up
Step Three: Boil 4.5 litres of water then pour over the honey. Mix up till all honey is liquid.
Step Four: Add two Camdem tables + citric acid. Leave for 24 hours?
Step Five: Next day boil some water and pitch yeast and engergiser into it when it at bout 26c to start the yeast up and leave for 15 min
Step Six: Why yeast is activating, transfer must[honey water mix] to the 5L fermentor, add sanatised raisens and organe to fermentor, take hydromitor reading, and shake to add air to the mixure.
Step Seven: Added yeast to must and shake gently to get yeast plus must to mix
Step Eight: Leave fermentor for a couple of months until liquid starts to cleaver and hydrometor reeding is 0 or below.
Step Nine: Transfer fermented liquid to secoundry, if more sediments settles at the bottom of the fermentor after a couple of months, rack again and leave till livquid and botom are clear.
Step Ten: Leave fermentor until the whole process has been about 6 months since you first made the must
Step Eleven: Bottle your now young mead and leave for another 3 months, the longer the better but after 3 months you should be able to have a nip or two.
So this is my mead recipe that I have come up with to try for the first time after reading and watching a whole bunch of tutorials and techniques on how to make mead.

I have a few questions though, whith me using raw honey is there any thing I will have to do to protext my potential mead from harm by using raw honey? Should I boil the honey or will the campdem tablet be enough to protect my mead from wild yeats and bacteria?
With using the campdem tables, is 2 tablets too many or will one tablet be enough? And should I leave it for 24 hours?
With the citric acid, will 15g be enough, and will just using citric acid be okay? As i have seen a few recipes using both citric and tannic acids.

If you have any advice or see that I will be making a horrible mistake with my mead. Please let me know.
Any advice would be most welcome!
Thanks
Allan

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Old 09-18-2012, 02:19 AM   #2
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I would wait until the mead is in the secondary or tertiary before adding any acid. Don't boil the honey. One or two tablets will be fine, though I hear that honey is usually quite sterile anyway so you may not need any but it doesn't hurt to add them. If you do add camden tabs leave it for a day or two.

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Old 09-18-2012, 02:53 AM   #3
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Call me crazy but 15g of citric acid for one gallon seems like an awful lot... I have about 10g (2 lemons, average 5g citric acid per lemon) in each of my 2 fermenting 5 gallon meads right now and that seems about perfect so far. Don't listen too closely to me though as I am a beginner myself. That just seem like a lot of citric acid. Especially since you also have an orange in there.

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Old 09-18-2012, 02:15 PM   #4
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Step 0ne: Sanatize everything

Good, sanitize all equipment.

Step Two: Put honey in hot water to soften up

I simply warm water and mix throughly. The heat of the water is only to make the honey more easily disolved.

Step Three: Boil 4.5 litres of water then pour over the honey. Mix up till all honey is liquid.

Nix on the boiling, actually when adding water after you mixed the honey throughly I prefer cold water to cool it down closer to room temp for pitching the yeast.

Step Four: Add two Camdem tables + citric acid. Leave for 24 hours?

Not neccessary at all, skip this. Honey doesn't need the Camdem or the citric acid. And really, as long as your temp is below 90 then why wait.

Step Five: Next day boil some water and pitch yeast and engergiser into it when it at bout 26c to start the yeast up and leave for 15 min

The yeast starter I would put together before all the above steps, simply to give it time to get going, I like adding a little fruit juice or sugar, just a touch to get some activity with the yeast. But I pitch the Energizer and Nutrient in with the must after I have the honey mixed well.

Step Six: Why yeast is activating, transfer must[honey water mix] to the 5L fermentor, add sanatised raisens and organe to fermentor, take hydromitor reading, and shake to add air to the mixure.

Ok, here you are using the raisens as your nutrient. Good but I like to toss it all together, yeast included in the brewing bucket and aeriate at that time as I am tossing the yeast. The rasins you can add to the fermenter and pour the must over top of it. Shaking will aereate it to, and the reading is good.

Step Seven: Added yeast to must and shake gently to get yeast plus must to mix

Done already.

Step Eight: Leave fermentor for a couple of months until liquid starts to cleaver and hydrometor reeding is 0 or below.

This is the Primary fermentation. I would think that this is going to take only about a month at most. Take Hydrometer readings every 2 weeks and when you get 2 in a row that are the same THEN you rack to the secondary. Your Hydrometer is the key to understanding when the primary fermentation is done. Also, It is good to agitate it, that is swirl it around a bit for the first couple of weeks, just once a day would be fine. This will also speed up the fermentation.

Step Nine: Transfer fermented liquid to secoundry, if more sediments settles at the bottom of the fermentor after a couple of months, rack again and leave till livquid and botom are clear.

I find that at this stage I rack about every 2-3 months and only a couple of times, a lot of brewers like to top up with fresh water or fill with glass marbels to make the headspace lower. I find that I like the top up method more as you are replacing volume but neither is truely neccessary.

Step Ten: Leave fermentor until the whole process has been about 6 months since you first made the must
Not neccessary to mention. I would skip this step. Your mead is ready to bottle or bulk age when your must is clear enough to read through and you have very little to no sediment, I wouldn't put an arbitary time on it. It's done when it's done.

Step Eleven: Bottle your now young mead and leave for another 3 months, the longer the better but after 3 months you should be able to have a nip or two.

When the mead is clear enough to read through you can bottle and give it at least 6 months to a year to age or you can leave it in the container for that time (Which is called Bulk Aging). Then bottle, if you bulk age for 6 months to a year then it will be ready to drink at bottling time.

I have a few questions though, whith me using raw honey is there any thing I will have to do to protext my potential mead from harm by using raw honey? Should I boil the honey or will the campdem tablet be enough to protect my mead from wild yeats and bacteria?

Raw honey is the best, you don't need ot boil or use campden tablets. Don't consern yourself with the wild yeasts and bacteria. As long as you sanitize your equipment your good. The wild yeasts can't compete with a good wine yeast or even in most cases a good beer yeast. Don't use bread yeast it doesn't clear well.

With using the campdem tables, is 2 tablets too many or will one tablet be enough? And should I leave it for 24 hours?
With the citric acid, will 15g be enough, and will just using citric acid be okay? As i have seen a few recipes using both citric and tannic acids.


I find that citric acid is fine as a litle bit and just prior to bulk aging. It truely isn't neccessary but it can give some bite and tang to a strait honey mead. Many brewers just use a bit of lemon juice or tanic acid, acid blend and the like. I don't use any.

If you have any advice or see that I will be making a horrible mistake with my mead. Please let me know.

No mistakes, just don't boil the honey. You will lose much of the aroma and flavor. Also, I would add a step prior to aging/bottling, I would use 1 oz of light toasted oak chips or cubes and put it in for 3 weeks. This will smooth some of the harshness of the mead. A drop or two of vanilla extract can help too but not neccessary. The other process notes I put above. Happy mead making.

Matrix
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Old 09-20-2012, 02:56 AM   #5
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Hi Guys

Thanks for all the advice, please find an updated recipe and process below with some additional questions:


Mead recipe:
- 1.5kg of clover honey[I have pure raw honey, from hive to container]
- 4.5L of spring water[1 gallon]
-1 orange
-25 raisins
-1 sachet of Lalvin EC1118 wine yeast
-5g citric acid [Optional]
-2 Campden tablets [Optional]
-Yeast engeriser

Step 0ne: Sanatize everything
Step Two: Add honey to warm water to loosen up
Step Three: Add Yeast to blood temp water with either the enigiser or dextrose to get it kick started.
Step Four: Add warmed up honey to warm water and mix to intergrate honey.
Step Five: Add orange pieces and raisens to fermentor
Step Six: Add in honey water mixture and then yeast. Shake to aerate the must and yeast.
Step Seven: Now leave for around about a month, shaking once a day to get yeast active. Once it get closer to the end of the month, start checking once a week the hydromenter reading. Once they are stabe for a few weeks in a row you are then ready to rack off to secoundry.
Step Eight: Transfer fermented liquid to secoundry, if more sediments settles at the bottom of the fermentor after a month, rack again and leave till liquid and bottom are clear. Top off with clean spring water.
Step Nine: Leave fermentor until liquid is clear enough to read a page through[Add citric acid now if needed]
Step Ten: AddOak chips to add flavour and to reduce harshness.
Step Eleven: Once Liquid is clear enough, either leave in fermentor to bulk age or bottle off to age in bottles.
Step Twelve: Once in bottles, leave for 6 months to a year to age before drinking.
A few other questions if you dont mind.
-At what tempreture must the mead ferment at? Its still early spring here[New Zealand] so the temp swings from being quite cold[10c at night] to warmish during the day[maybe 22 - 25c] My place is fermantation nightmare sometimes with my brew, as it is never constant.
-With the topping off after racking. Will this effect the alchol content and what is the best way to top off? Just spring water? or Spting water with some honey to back sweeten? and how much honey should I uses?
-Should I worry about any infection at the bulk aging stage? Is this a good time to add the campton tablets or citric acid if needed? As things get real moldy very quickly here in NZ.
-Should i disinfect the oak chips before i add them to the fermentor? and what is the best way to do this? just let shoak in disinfection solution for a 15min?

Thanks again for all the advice! it is much appreciated. One i have my mead going I will take a picture and post it up. I will also keep updating on the progress.

Thanks again

Churs

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Old 09-20-2012, 03:36 AM   #6
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Temps should stay around 20c - 22c for the yeast you are using; however, it can handle temps as low as 10c for several hours.

I try to never top off if possible because it throws off your target ABV. Rack into a smaller container if you can but if you can not then use water & honey at a 50/50 solution or as close as you can to that. If your orange pieces are cut whole with the rind and all then you need some sweetness to counteract the bitterness you get from the white pith. But befor you top off and back sweeten then you need to stabilize the mead. Use both crushed camden at 1 tablet per gallon and potassium sorbate per instructions. You probably want a gravity of about 1.02 so look at adding about .25kg.

Honey is a natural anti Fungle and anti bacterial substance. My meads have never become infected at bulk aging. I highly suggest the back sweetening as explained above because Lalvin 1118 is a beast and will make this bone dry & your recipe tends to be a bit better when sweetened. So the back sweetening process also preserves the mead further than it would have on it's own.

I have never oaked but do not think it a bad habbit to disinfect them befor pitching. Either soak in some burbon or you can use a couple camden tablets crushed up in a couple cups of water for an hour to make sure the chips are clean.

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Old 09-20-2012, 02:15 PM   #7
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Honey is a natural anti Fungle and anti bacterial substance.

This is not exactly true. Honey in it's natural undiluted state is but once you add water you lose that quality. However, it is not a consern because when you are fermenting the must is contained and protected from the nasties and when it is done fermenting it is at least 10% ABV and that's strong enough to keep new nasties from creeping in but you do need to keep your equipment and anything touching the must sanitary..to a degree.

Now to answer some of your questions:

-At what tempreture must the mead ferment at? Its still early spring here[New Zealand] so the temp swings from being quite cold[10c at night] to warmish during the day[maybe 22 - 25c] My place is fermantation nightmare sometimes with my brew, as it is never constant.

This all depends on your yeast. Try to keep with in the yeast temp range. I believe you are good and Arpolis is correct. If it get's too cold for the yeast it just goes dormant and becomes active when it warms up. If it is too hot then you risk producing off flavors. I am unfamiluar with the celcius temp scale so I am not sure.

-With the topping off after racking. Will this effect the alchol content and what is the best way to top off? Just spring water? or Spting water with some honey to back sweeten? and how much honey should I uses?

It will effect the alcohol content but in many cases not too much. Think about it you are diluting every time you rack but then again 14%+ is too strong for many people to comfortably drink as it is about twice that of beer. As far as "Best" way: I would just add the water, no need to over think it. Same type of water that you used in the Primary will be fine. At first racking I would not add honey. This will keep the yeast more active.

-Should I worry about any infection at the bulk aging stage? Is this a good time to add the campton tablets or citric acid if needed? As things get real moldy very quickly here in NZ.

Not familuar with your area and it's quirks. But keep in mind that at aging time you are at about 12%-14% ABV in most cases. This is no excuse to not sanitize your equipment but as long as you keep your equipment clean, sanitized and be careful about adding stuff to your must you shouldn't have to worry about it. Just age it in a cool dry place, like a basement or kitchen closet or something. If you choose to back sweeten the procedure should happen prior to bulk aging as the introduction of new honey will cloud it up again.
Recomended Backsweetening procedure
1. Stabilze Must: that is adding Potasium Sorbate/Sulfates and possibly a campden tablet or two. This is to stop the yeast from eating the newly introduced sugar. It is best to add the stuff per instructions and give it a day to take care of the yeast.
2. Mix up honey solution 50/50= honey/water is a good mix.
3. Add to taste. Keep in mind that it will end up sweeter once aged but you can add at this time.
4. Let settle and clear again, rack then bulk age.

-Should i disinfect the oak chips before i add them to the fermentor? and what is the best way to do this? just let shoak in disinfection solution for a 15min?

No need. You only need to rinse off any dust and make sure the wood is free of visible mold. You should be using a light or even medium toasted oak. The toast level is a personal choice on flavor. Light will be more fruity-ish and medium will be more carmel-smoky-ish. It shouldn't add too much but just a hint. As I said, keep in mind at the time of oaking you are over 10% ABV. That should be plenty to prevent new growth.

Hope it goes well and don't over think it. From what I read, your process is good, you will enevitably tweek and tween it as you learn.

Matrix
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Old 09-20-2012, 09:05 PM   #8
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Thanks Matrix4b and Arpolis! you guys are champs! Cheers for the patience and taking the time to answer my questions. It is much appreciated!

I will post up some pics of my Mead this weekend once I can get my honey into some form other than liquid!

Thanks again!

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