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Old 04-29-2012, 06:29 AM   #1
Qweegee
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Default First Mead Attempt... Have questions/concerns

Hello all, first I'm just going to go ahead and apologize for the length on this post...
I would love some advice on this first mead I am going to be attempting... I am attempting to make a well balanced Traditional Mead... After reading many of the threads it seems that most favor not heating the honey initially... Here is the recipe I was going to use

15 lbs orange blossom honey
5 gallons spring water
2 teaspoon yeast nutrient (came in little plastic ziploc from home brew store, urea and diammoniun phosphate in parenthesis)
2 teaspoon yeast energizer (also in ziploc)
1 or 2 packages of Red Star Cote des blancs yeast

Originally was going to heat 2 gallons water to 170 Fahrenheit and add the honey allowing it to pasteurize at 160 for 10 minutes then adding to 3 gallons water in fermenter... Seems like I might just mix all 5 gallons of water with honey in sanitized bucket and transfer to my 6.5 gallon fermenter with plenty of aeration from stirring/dumping it in through funnel. (plan to ferment in apartment with thermostat at 70 degrees)
Next planned to rehydrate yeast before pitching First question. Some threads have suggested two packets others just one? What would u suggest for this traditional mead given yeast type and recipe?
Next question some have suggested adding nutrient and energizer in consecutive days or every other day increments apprx 1/2 tsp a day of each... Should I do this or all at once, should I use more than 2 teaspoon of each or less?
Next question many have suggested aeration during the first few days of primary fermentation... Like once a day, give it a good mixing/shake? For the first 3 days or so? Possibly while mixing in nutrients and energizer in the consecutive day addition technique?
Next I plan to rack to a secondary fermenter once most of the bubbling in airlock ceases in apprx a month... Should I do this sooner? Once Certain hydrometer readings steady?
And finally once racked should I continue racking every couple months until it clears and sediment ceases before bottling or just leave it alone for 6 months?...
Thank you in advance for all your input and advice...

Side note: I do plan on also making a dry batch(12lbs) and sweet batch(18lbs) over the next month... Couldn't pass up the Dutch gold deal on 60lbs of orange blossom honey... Any suggestions for those would be welcomed as well... Possibly a sweet melomel. Cherries seem popular?
Thank you again
-Munsoned

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Old 04-29-2012, 10:36 AM   #2
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For most of my meads, I just warm up the honey so it flows better and then overall I'm just mix and stir. A long paint stirrer on a drill is a good tool, and this will also help to aerate the must. (I will say though, that I've found my oxygenation wand has been well worth it's investment too...)

Definitely rehydrate your yeast...pitching it dry will definitely affect the yeast viability. With 15 lbs in about 6 gal final volume your OG will probably be ~ 1.090-1.110. For this level of gravity (1.110), the Mr Malty calculator actually suggests FIVE 5gm packets of dry yeast. I have been using three packets for my 6 gallon batches, and I think I may go up next time...

I would separate your nutrient and energizer roughly into thirds, and add some on the day you brew/pitch, more just after active fermentation starts, then the rest a day or two later. Definitely degas the mead before you add powder...it helps to dissolve the nutrient in a little glass of boiled water before you dump it in.

I think I have more but I'm running late for work...I'll add another post later....

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Old 04-29-2012, 11:39 AM   #3
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You seem to have a decent understanding of the process...

1. If you use any heat just warm the honey or water to about a little above room temperature, just makes the mixing go faster, you can do this with only about a gallon or so of your water if it's easier in small volume to thin the honey down real good then add everything into your fermenter and mix/shake the crap out of it to aerate it. I like doing the initial smaller mixing with a stainless and sanitized wire wisk, can get a good start to aeration that way.

2. Definetely rehydrate, it gives the yeast a good start and cuts down on the lag time (the time it takes for active fermentation to start) I use a method an old mead maker taught me, which is to boil a cup of water for each pack of yeast, let it cool to the hydration temp suggested on the packet usually ~100*F, add a teaspoon of the honey you are using and about 1/4 tsp of nutrients per pack of yeast, stir vigorously or shake well if you can use a sealed container to mix and aerate, pour in the yeast and leave it be for about 15 minutes then stir it up well to make a slurry then pitch it. I would use at least 3 packs for that volume is you have it available.

3. the step feeding of the nutrients is a great idea like biochem described, stirring or swirling (think rotate fermenter back and forth quick like a washing machine agitator) with your top or airlock off to get some of the disolved CO2 out first or it might erupt some like a shaken bottle of beer when the top is popped, this also helps add some welcomed additional oxygen in the early stages.

4. Aeration or some call it degassing, like described above, there are a lot of points of view about which it really is, although it doesnt matter which you want to consider it, the action is the same and it is definetely beneficial.

5. There is no set time frame as there are so many factors that can effect fermentation times, temperature, age of yeast, pH. And going by the airlock isn't the most accurate because vibrations from walking could release some disolved CO2 and make them bubble. The most definitive way to determine when to rack to secondary is to use your hydrometer, when you get three readings all basically the same, spaced out by at least a few days if not a week then rack it.

6. I am a huge proponent of time and nature and racking, I always rack at least 3-4 times total, then letting it bulk age awhile once I have no more sediment really, as long as there is no more than a dusting of sediment in the bottom I leave it be for awhile before considering bottling. You can use fining agents to clear it faster, Stabilizing agents like sorbate and sulfates to bottle faster, thats just not my preference.

7. I have a tendency to sanitize everything thoroughly, even toss some extra equipment like extra mixing spoons, measuring cups anything I may or may not have a use for in a small bucket of starsan solution, so if I do end up needing it, its readily available.

8. Documentation, take notes on everything, honey type and brand, yeast strain and brand, temperatures, volumes, every ingredient, every step you take was it sunny or raining (ok that may be overkill but honey is hygroscopic so who knows it might be useful info) that way if something goes awry you can trace back through and maybe see where an adjustment can be made to resolve it OR better yet it may be the most amazing mead every made and you will want to duplicate it as precisely as you can years from now. plus it is interesting to look back sometimes and see you you personally have adjusted and learned along your new mead making addiction (yes it will become an addiction.

When you are ready to start melomels and such there are a lot of threads about them already or come on back and ask more questions....good luck and enjoy.

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Old 04-29-2012, 02:28 PM   #4
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Thank you for the Excellent advice,
Any more inputs are always still welcomed of course... I can run out and grab some more packets of yeast... 5 seems like a lot but it's not like they are expensive so I will grab em ... Is there a better yeast I should use than the red star cote de blanc? The store clerk suggested it over the lavlin d-47 I believe it was, and said to save that one for the sweet melomel I make...
I didn't think about the honey adding volume... I'm more shooting for approximately 5 net gallons so I can rack the 2ndary to a 5 gallon carboy. Probably a dumb question, however... Does the added honey retain all of its volume when it dissolves into the water? So if I added 1 liter of honey hypothetically to 5 liters of water would it net 6? Or when it dissolved would the volume somehow be less?
Apprx how much water with 15 lbs of honey would I use for gallon net batch?
Another dumb question prlly I plan on buying a big 5 gallon jug of spring water... Should I pre boil this water then cool before making the wort to ensure its free of bacteria?

-Thanks!
-Munsoned

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Old 04-29-2012, 04:29 PM   #5
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Real quick, because I have to get going... The honey does retain the volume when dissolved into the water. If I remember correctly right now 12 pounds of honey is equal to about 1 gallon. So 15 pounds of honey would come out to 1 1/4 gallons. If you're going to buy a jug of spring water from the store there is no need to boil it. It's already been sanitized before they bottled it. You will wind up having some water left over though. Just save it for when you rack. That way you have some sanitized water to top up with.

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Old 04-29-2012, 04:39 PM   #6
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Quote:
Is there a better yeast I should use than the red star cote de blanc? The store clerk suggested it over the lavlin d-47 I believe it was, and said to save that one for the sweet melomel I make...
Here is a link on wine yeasts you can look over, it will really come down to whether you want a sweeter or dryer mead. This chart has great info to help decide how to go.

http://www.winemakermag.com/guide/yeast

Quote:
I didn't think about the honey adding volume... I'm more shooting for approximately 5 net gallons so I can rack the 2ndary to a 5 gallon carboy. Probably a dumb question, however... Does the added honey retain all of its volume when it dissolves into the water? So if I added 1 liter of honey hypothetically to 5 liters of water would it net 6? Or when it dissolved would the volume somehow be less?
Apprx how much water with 15 lbs of honey would I use for gallon net batch?
I'd stick with original plan, one gallon of water for every 3 pounds of honey, the volume does'nt lessen at all when mixed but you are going to loose volume when you rack so if you have 5gal combined of water and honey, you will not fill a 5 gallon carboy with the small amount lost at racking, but with an approx 6.5 gallons in primary you will be able to nicely fill your 5 gallon secondary and if you happen to have maybe a 1 gallon container you can put anything extra in and let it secondary seperately and use that if you need to top off later rackings of your main batch due to more small losses each time.

Quote:
Another dumb question prlly I plan on buying a big 5 gallon jug of spring water... Should I pre boil this water then cool before making the wort to ensure its free of bacteria?
Generally store bought bottled water has already been treated by UV or other things or else there would be algae or other funk in the bottle, so it's good right out of the bottle, just make sure if it is filtered water instead of spring water that it has not been chemically treated with chlorine or something. distilled works ok for main water source but DON'T use it to rehydrate your yeast, plain old boiled tap water is best for that.


I forgot to mention in the earlier post, I also bought a 60# pail of the orange blossom from Dutch Gold, have you tried it yet? It has an amazing rich flavor and color and been told smell, I am asnomic (NO sense of smell at all) so have to use a surrogate to give detailed descriptions of my mead aromas. It's one of the commercial honeys listed as recomended in "the complaet meadmaker" (great book, definitely worth picking up a copy if you don't have it yet) I've been very happy with everything I have made with it.

**Edit: I was just looking, it's odd that your LHBS recomended the cote de blancs over D47 for the sweetness reason, both are listed for blush whines, D47 for dry whites and Cote de blancs for chardonays but the D47 has a predicted 14% alcohol tolerance and the other slightly lower at 12-14% and the D47 actually has better floccuation, at least according to the numbers The D47 has potential to be less sweet than the Cote de blancs
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Old 04-29-2012, 07:44 PM   #7
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"The store clerk suggested it........."

Take that as your lesson. Very few HBS staff know squat about making meads. They deal in wines and beers, and make generalising presumptions for mead.

Meads are made like wines but when it comes to fermentation management, they are quite different.

I prefer to use Lalvin products, mainly because there is more data published about them than any other makers range.

The only real issue with D47, would be that it does have quite a narrow temperature range, so needs to be fermented below 70F as it tends to produce fusels above that. Otherwise its a good yeast for meads.....

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Old 04-30-2012, 04:48 AM   #8
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Thank you all for the excellent advise!!!
I have not had the chance to taste said Dutch honey yet, it is due to arrive in two days, I will let you know what I think when I do get it though... Just brewed a batch of pale ale this morning and plan to rack that to secondary next weekend and get this batch of mead rolling first Sunday of may...
After all your input my final plan is to mix 15 lbs OB honey with 5 gallons spring water, no heat, adding in 2/3 tsp energizer in 6.5 gallon carboy... Rehydrating 5 packs cote des
Blanc yeast with 5 cups heated tap water 1 tsp honey and 1 tsp nutrients, sit 15 min slurry up and pitch... During primary adding 2/3tsp energizer 1/2 tsp nutrient after a couple days once active fermentation starts, then again 2 days after that with a degaussing before each addition, also plan to dissolve said nutrients and energizer in a few cups of warmed spring water to dump in better...
Also plan to rack to a secondary 5 gallon carboy after hydro readings steady over a week... And plan to rack it 2-3 more times every two months or so... I Can't Wait!!!! I will def let y'all know how it turns out!
-Munsoned

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Old 04-30-2012, 11:23 AM   #9
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updates are awesome, always like hearing how everyone is doing, besides in this thread check out the show us your mead in a picture thread, it's fun to see how different meads come out and look especially when its with updates so we can see the progression. I also like checking out the cool labels and names people come up with on there.

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Old 05-05-2012, 12:48 AM   #10
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Alright traditional going per directions... To a T, forgot to take an OG reading... Just pitched 15 min ago... Should I take a quick one with the wine thief or just let it go? Also attached is a pic should I mix that yeast in with the must better or let it work it's magic???

image-1268222823.jpg

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