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Old 01-16-2013, 03:10 PM   #1
DaSwede
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Default First mead, please verify my process?

Hi! I'm a beer brewer, but recently I've been addicted to mead, specifically off-dry meads. So now I want to make my own off-dry blackberry mead, but I'm still a bit fuzzy on the process. Can you more knowledgeable guys verify/clarify my process?

Recipe:
12# wildflower honey
96oz (2 cans) vintners blackberry puree
Lalvin 71b-1122 yeast
Go-Ferm for rehydration
FermaidK
DAP
Potassium Sorbate
Campden Tablets (1/gallon; ground)

1. Rehydrate yeast with water and Go-Ferm
2. Heat 2 gallons water to 100 degrees; take off heat
3. Add honey to water, stir to disolve
4. Add 2 gallons water and blackberry puree to sanitized bucket
5. Add must to bucket and top off to 5 gallons (if needed)
6. Add 4.5g of FermaidK and DAP and stir
7. Cool to < 80 degrees
8. Take SG and temp reading
9. Pitch yeast, aerate, close lid and add airlock (would blowoff tube be needed at all?)
10. At start of active fermentation: open bucket; stir to degas (?); stir in 2.8g of FermaidK and DAP
11. Midway through fermentation: open bucket; stir to degas (?); stir in 1.8g of FermaidK and DAP
12. Once FG is stable at ~1.000 or below; rack to secondary
13. Wait 1-3 months; if not clear enough; rack to tertiary and wait 1-3 months
14. Taste; if too dry, add potassium sorbate (how much?) & campden to stop fermentation; add honey to taste in 10oz increments (should it be racked again to clarify after these additions?)
15. Bottle

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Old 01-16-2013, 09:47 PM   #2
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Potassium sorbate = 1/2 tsp per gallon, should say on your container. You don't need to rack after adding stabilizers. BUT, when using 71b, you should rack when there is a significant amount of yeast lees (maybe around 1/4 inch) to prevent off flavors common with this strain.

You may have to rack 3 or more times, so take care that you minimize oxidation. One common defense against oxidation is to "top up" with must after each racking. So maybe think about making 5.5 gallons as opposed to 5 and keep the excess in separate container until needed.

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Old 01-16-2013, 11:44 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaSwede View Post
Hi! I'm a beer brewer, but recently I've been addicted to mead, specifically off-dry meads. So now I want to make my own off-dry blackberry mead, but I'm still a bit fuzzy on the process. Can you more knowledgeable guys verify/clarify my process?

Recipe:
12# wildflower honey
96oz (2 cans) vintners blackberry puree
Lalvin 71b-1122 yeast
Go-Ferm for rehydration
FermaidK
DAP
Potassium Sorbate
Campden Tablets (1/gallon; ground)

First relax, if you already know how to make beer you know yeast are alive, you know how to keep things very clean and I think this is easier than all that cooking you have to do to start a beer.

1. Rehydrate yeast with water and Go-Ferm
OK

2. Heat 2 gallons water to 100 degrees; take off heat
No need to heat water to melt honey, just stir it in.

3. Add honey to water, stir to disolve

4. Add 2 gallons water and blackberry puree to sanitized bucket
You will get a much better blackberry taste if you use 2 cans, 1 can in 5 gal is weak, you could instead add a can of elderberry base and it would be better as a dry mead

5. Add must to bucket and top off to 5 gallons (if needed)
6. Add 4.5g of FermaidK and DAP and stir

7. Cool to < 80 degrees
dont heat it and you wont have to worry about cooling it

8. Take SG and temp reading
And give it a taste to see if its balanced, do you have enough acid, I know hard to tell with all the honey but if you cant taste any acidity it might not be enough, easy to get a TA kit to find out what the TA is.

9. Pitch yeast, aerate, close lid and add airlock (would blowoff tube be needed at all?)
Ferment in a bucket, top with a towel, forget about a lid or blowoff tube, you want to be able to stir easily and the yeast will soon make enough CO2 to protect the mead plus you want a little air for the yeast at the beginning

10. At start of active fermentation: open bucket; stir to degas (?); stir in 2.8g of FermaidK and DAP
Good but you are stirring the yeast up off the bottom, not degassing yet

11. Midway through fermentation: open bucket; stir to degas (?); stir in 1.8g of FermaidK and DAP
How much DAP you putting in here? I think the fermaid would be good enough at this time.

12. Once FG is stable at ~1.000 or below; rack to secondary
YOu can rack to a carboy anywhere below 1.02

13. Wait 1-3 months; if not clear enough; rack to tertiary and wait 1-3 months
Winemakers dont have tertiaries, just endless secondaries Some people get carried away with racking if they see any little deposit, we do a racking about 1 or 2 months after transferring from the primary when the yeast gets thick on the bottom, after that it can be much longer, 3-6 months, whenever it looks like its cleared but still has stuff on the bottom.

14. Taste; if too dry, add potassium sorbate (how much?) & campden to stop fermentation; add honey to taste in 10oz increments (should it be racked again to clarify after these additions?)
The fermentation should have stopped long before this point, if you add honey to backsweeten you are also adding proteins so it will cloud up, fining is an option to speed up the clearing, superkleer, sparkaloid, bentonite are good choices. The sorbate stops the leftover yeast from reproducing, the KM protects the mead from oxidation, microbes etc.

15. Bottle
Drink first bottle after all bottles are filled or during filling, open another in a couple of weeks, keep opening them and enjoy, this wont take years to age but do save a few for long term tasting.

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Old 01-17-2013, 01:18 PM   #4
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@snuesen: Thanks! If I were to increase the batch size to 5.5 gallons, would I need to add more honey?

@WVMJ: Thank you! Does the towel over the bucket need to be sanitized? Also, don't stir for step 10, but stir for step 11?

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Old 01-17-2013, 02:04 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by DaSwede View Post
@snuesen: Thanks! If I were to increase the batch size to 5.5 gallons, would I need to add more honey?
Instead of guessing, use the calculation tool that's readily available.

Quote:
@WVMJ: Thank you! Does the towel over the bucket need to be sanitized? Also, don't stir for step 10, but stir for step 11?
Yes, soak it in Star San and then secure it over the top. IMO/IME, this is really only good for bucket fermenting with fruit. I've used carboys (and other vessels with small openings) without issue. Just get something that can fit inside to degas and aerate the must.

BTW, you ONLY aerate/degas and add nutrients until you hit the 1/3 break. After that, you don't do jack squat (except for racking)...

Look at the newbee's guide on the Got Mead? site and then read up in the forums. 99.95% of the people in the forums use the no-heat method these days. IF you do warm the must/honey up, stay under 100-110F and cool it down to the proper yeast pitching temperature before you pitch the yeast in.

Also, 71b is NOT a good choice for a first mead. If you're looking to go to 14%, D47 would be a much better choice. It's more forgiving, and you won't need to rack (the first time) quickly like you will with 71b. Basically, you want to get the mead off the lees (with 71b) as soon as fermentation is done (within a few days).

I also don't move my batches until they are confirmed finished fermenting. I use a CO2 push to move ALL that I ferment these days, so I have zero concerns about oxygen getting to it. But, proper racking/transfers will also be safe and you don't need to do it while the batch is still fermenting. If anything, you're better off waiting until it IS finished, and the yeast has had time to flocculate.

You'll also want to know the sugar concentration of the juice you'll be adding. That way you can add the parameter into the calculation tool. Keep in mind, also, that a blackberry mead could take a couple of years (or more) to become good to drink. I made one in November 2010 and it was just not good young. Almost two years after making it, it's finally good to drink, and getting better all the time...

You could be better off just making a traditional the first time. That way you don't get too frustrated when you cannot drink the mead for 1-2 years after making it.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:04 PM   #6
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I think GD needs to stir his meads more often to be drinking them sooner. Since DaSwede is using canned blackberries it would probably get done sooner than using real berries, but even with real berries you shouldnt have to wait so long. There is a difference in being drinkable and being at its peak, drinkable can be less than 6 months, peaking might be more like a year or 5, depends on how you make it.

We like to ferment in buckets so I can stir like crazy to get everything mixed in, also, you wont see someone using a bucket post a message saying they had a volcano when they added something to their mead and it squirted all over the floor.

As far as the towel goes, a nice clean dry tight weave is all you need, I never bother to sanitize the towel, its not supposed to touch the mead, and if it does its already clean. If you do happen to have the foam reach it just replace with another towel.

Stir a couple of times a day until the last day when its getting near 1.02 or lower and let the bigger junk settle down to the bottom so you dont carry it over when you rack. Nowadays I just let it go all the way until to 1.01 or even lower if it is still churning a little so that I can leave more junk in the primary bucket when transferring. WVMJ

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Old 01-17-2013, 11:20 PM   #7
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I think GD needs to stir his meads more often to be drinking them sooner.
Here we go again

With my first (and so far only) melomel, which was with blackberries, it was meh (at best) after 7-8 months. Add 12-15 months to that and it's completely different and many times better. Also, blackberries are a more tricky fruit to use. If you want something done quick, you're probably better off picking a different fruit addition.
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Waiting/Carbonating: 12.5% Wee Honey II, 8.9% Old Ale, English Brown Ale, Lickah ESB, Mocha Porter II
Fermenting
K1:
K2: Epic mead
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Aging:mead
Mead [bottled]:Oaked Wildflower Traditional, Mocha Madness, Blackberry Melomel, maple wine
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:41 PM   #8
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Hi GD, thought that would wake you up, I agree, there is a difference between drinkable and peak. we make elderberry wines, they will give you a good education in drinkable vs peak over several years time. But, DS is using blackberry in a can and they dont have seeds etc to deal with and generally are done sooner so a blackberries in a can is a good first choice, also a trad would be too, but another thing to consider is its easier to get introduced into meads through melomels and go into the straight stuff (maybe, thats they we we are doing it.) WVMJ

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Old 01-17-2013, 11:56 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by WVMJ View Post
Hi GD, thought that would wake you up, I agree, there is a difference between drinkable and peak. we make elderberry wines, they will give you a good education in drinkable vs peak over several years time. But, DS is using blackberry in a can and they dont have seeds etc to deal with and generally are done sooner so a blackberries in a can is a good first choice, also a trad would be too, but another thing to consider is its easier to get introduced into meads through melomels and go into the straight stuff (maybe, thats they we we are doing it.) WVMJ
Meh... My initial batches were two traditional and the blackberry. All started on the same day. I didn't have any issues with seeds in the blackberry. I just put the fruit into a bowl, and used the spud masher on it. Since I didn't use the blender (which I don't have) or immersion mixer, no seeds were cut. I actually still have some frozen berries that I never added to the batch.
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On Tap: Caramel Ale, Mocha Porter II, MO SMaSH IPA
Waiting/Carbonating: 12.5% Wee Honey II, 8.9% Old Ale, English Brown Ale, Lickah ESB, Mocha Porter II
Fermenting
K1:
K2: Epic mead
K3: TripSix
On Deck: Caramel Ale
Aging:mead
Mead [bottled]:Oaked Wildflower Traditional, Mocha Madness, Blackberry Melomel, maple wine
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