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Old 04-29-2006, 01:59 PM   #1
magno
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Default First mead, lots of questions

Well, its official, Im getting married next April or May. It is my goal to have three meads made by then: a traditional, prickly pear cactus from Papazian's book, and at SWMBO's request, a sweet apple cinammon mead. I was going to do the apple cinnamon last figuring with less ABV it will take the least time to age. Since I do not have any prickly pear fruit right now, I was planning on making the traditional first.

First Question: I will be moving in two months, will the first batch be in bottles by then, or should I plan on starting when I get settled in the new place?

Second Question: I have a pale ale in primary right now, should I pitch the must (?) on the ale yeast cake, or would I be much better off getting mead yeast?

Third Question: Any suggestion on types of apples to use, or just go with 100% apple juice?

Many more questions probably to come, and any recipes would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance

-magno



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Old 04-29-2006, 03:06 PM   #2
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First off . . . congratulations!

Now to your questions. No, it probably won't be ready to bottle in two months. But, if you don't get started now, it probably won't be ready by the wedding either. Most meads take at least a year to mature (though six to eight months in, many are not bad). I don't know how far you are moving but I would go ahead and start the mead and then move it in the carboy in your car (in a nice air conditioned enviornment) to your new place. If this isn't possible, go ahead and bottle right before you leave.

Second, you can use your ale yeast but I would recommend either D47 or 71B-1122 (depending on your recipe). Both would work very well for your prickly pear as well (you can also use K1V but it will be more difficult to get a semi sweet as it goes and goes and goes and . . . you get the idea). By the way, I would add half the prickly pears in primary and the other half in secondary. But, up to you.

For your apple cinamon cyser your ale yeast will work fine. Just be aware that it will probably go dry. Most cider/cyser's do. I would just use 100% juice (no sorbates!) for your first batch as finding the right blend of cider apples can be difficult (or so I have been told). I will be racking an apple/pear blend tomorrow into secondary with cinnamon. It is about a month in. To keep it sweeter I am going to sorbate/sulfate it and then backsweeten with some more pear juice.

Hope this helps. Good luck with your batches and your wedding. If you have any more questions, let us know. You might post your recipes too.

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Old 04-29-2006, 11:38 PM   #3
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The traditional mead recipe was compiled from a bunch of recipes off the internet. I guess you cant get too creative with traditional mead...

13 lbs local honey
4 tsp acid blend
5 tsp yeast nutrient
wlp 720 sweet mead yeast

According to promash and the recipes online, this should yield an OG of around 1.100

If I make a starter should I shoot for an SG of 1.040 like I do with my ales, or something higher because of the high OG, or not make a starter at all??

The prickly pear mead recipe from Appendix 5 of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing is:

20 lbs light honey
5-6 lbs ripe prickly pear fruit
.25 tsp yeast nutrient (This seems low, I will use 5 tsp as per the directions on the nutrient)
1 Tbs pectic enzyme
champagne yeast (will probably use white labs)

I have not finalized the apple cinnamon recipe, or the prickly pear one for that matter, but it will be along the lines of:

6-8 lbs honey
4 gal pure apple juice
1 large stick cinnamon
campden tablets (?)
5 tsp yeast nutrient
wlp 720 sweet mead yeast (probably)

I'm not sure what the campden tablets are for, but some cyser recipes I've seen call for them. Is pectic enzyme necessary with apples?

Also not sure about the acid blend. Should I use some in the other recipes? The recipes online say to add it in the "boil" but at the LHBS they said add it after fermentation. Any ideas?

Thanks again

- magno

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Old 05-01-2006, 01:31 AM   #4
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The traditional mead is in primary. I wound up making a 1 qt starter with .45 lbs honey, and pitching about 27 hours after making the starter. The OG was a little low, 1.085, but I am guessing that I did not get a good sample for testing, and I am not willing to sacrifice anymore mead.

I ran the LHBS and a grocery store out of local unprocessed honey, but I wound up with the full 13 lbs.

Now we'll wait and see...

- magno

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Old 05-09-2006, 01:38 PM   #5
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I will be out of town for the next three to five days. The airlock on the mead is bubbling every 16 seconds or so. It has been fermenting for nine days.

Should I rack now or when I get back?

- magno

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Old 05-09-2006, 01:46 PM   #6
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preface: I've never made mead, but since you need an answer soon and the actual mead makers might not see your question in time...

I'd leave it until you got back. Racking too early defeats the point of racking (you'll get a buch of sediment in the secondary if you go too early). If you're bubbling 4 times/minute right now, it's probably going to be another couple of days before things actually stop. There is no harm in leaving it sit in the primary for a couple days after fermentation has ceased.

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Old 05-09-2006, 01:57 PM   #7
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Thanks for the quick response. I shouldn't have waited until the morning that I have to leave.

I will rack when I get home. I was weighing the pros and cons of leaving it and possibly not having a CO2 layer in secondary vs. possibly stunting fermentation or having to re-rack.

Any thoughts on pitching a pale ale on the mead yeast?

- magno

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Old 05-09-2006, 05:14 PM   #8
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Congratulations!

Don't rush racking mead. I learned this the hard way - I racked at 1 blip every 17 seconds and after racking fermentation all but stopped.

I would suggest waiting until you get to less than two bubbles per minute to rack. I suggest also racking to a 5 gal carboy so that airspace is minimized.

I have been doing a lot of un-RDWHAHB worrying over my mead. Experienced meadmakers have told me to stop worrying, stop fussing, and just let it sit, so I will pass that advice along to you.

Cheers

BrewStef

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Old 05-10-2006, 03:06 AM   #9
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Brewstef,

I saw that you were in about the same spot as me a little while ago. The only major difference seems to be that I used nutrient. I am not sure how much more activity this would produce.

- magno

EDIT: Looking over your thread, it looks like the nutrient did jumpstart your fermentation.

I will rack when I return home, and fermentation has slowed down further.

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Old 05-10-2006, 03:39 PM   #10
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Adding nutrient definitely did jumpstart the fermentation, and it is still bubbling away steadily now at around 1 blip every 35 seconds. Swirling the must 3-4 times a day for 2 days helped as well...but from what I have read I do not think this should be done except as a last resort.

Keep us posted, and have a great trip.

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