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Old 02-15-2011, 10:58 PM   #1
YoungBerry
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Default First mead question

Next week I'm going to be starting my first mead (first anything, actually, so this is going to be really adventurous for me), and I had a question or two:

So I'm just making a basic one gallon batch (small apartment, etc), and was going to use this recipe:

1 gallon water
3 lbs clover honey
3 vanilla beans
16oz frozen strawberries (or whatever a single bag in the freezer section of the grocery store is, not a lot)

What kind of yeast should I use for a sweet mead? And, as I was reading the strawberry mead thread, is there major risks of explosions from this recipe? I know it's not a lot of strawberries, I just want a little bit of a taste and maybe color, but nothing major. I figure I'll stick them, and the vanilla, in a cloth bag in the primary to let them do their thing. If it's not enough strawberry flavor for me I'll just adjust the recipe for next time.

Also, should I be adding tea to this? I'm an avid tea drinker, so I have a huge variety to choose from, and any advice on that would be great. I know it has to be of the black tea family, I was thinking a good breakfast tea (or possibly Market Spice, if any of you are familiar with the Pike Place Market specialty).

Gah, I'm so excited about starting this, but really nervous too.

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Old 02-16-2011, 12:29 PM   #2
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Sounds like a tasty recipe to me. I'd save the fruit/vanilla for secondary though, you'll get more fruit flavour that way. You didn't mention yeast nutrient/energizer, I'd add a dose to primary to insure a healthy fermentation. I'd freeze/thaw/freeze/thaw those berries before crushing & adding them, and a dose of pectic enzyme will also help to extract more flavour & clear. Hope that helps. Regards, GF.

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Old 02-16-2011, 06:25 PM   #3
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From what I've hear 3 vanilla bean per gallon is too much. People seem to recommend no more than 1 per gallon. I don't have any experience with it on my own though. Best of luck!

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Old 02-16-2011, 09:36 PM   #4
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I'm honestly not sure if you'll notice one flavor over the other. I'm not saying don't do this, just saying don't be surprised if the strawberry dominates.

I would only use 1 vanilla bean per gallon. You can always add more, but you can't subtract flavor afterwards.

And I agree as well to do fruits/herbs in secondary, or at least AFTER primary is over. many delicate compounds (like aromatics in vanilla) get carried away during active primary by the CO2.

skip the tea...I never use it. but others swear by it. I think the strawberry tartness will balance the mead out though. you can always add tannins after fermentation ends.

side note: be sure to use staggered nutrient additions and degas primary for the first week. your mead will be much better. I'd use narbone 71-B yeast...for all my meads.

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Old 02-17-2011, 12:57 AM   #5
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Gosh, as I was reading his post, I almost though Malkore was going to forget to plug 71B! (I guess this also answers my question from the other thread too....)

I also usually add tannin and/or acid blend at the end (to taste), unless it's a recipe that I have really dialed in (like my cyser) and I know it will need tannin...I still add the acid blend at the end to avoid it affecting the pH of the primary.

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Old 02-17-2011, 01:02 AM   #6
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I like Lalvin Labs yeast for my meads... I think D47 would be a good choice there. It's alcohol tolerance is 14%, which is lower than what your potential alcohol will be for the batch. This is a good thing if you don't want a carbonated melomel. If you DO want carbonation, then you could go with something like EC-1118. EC-1118 might be a bit more first time user friendly, since it has a wider temperature range to it. Just make sure you hydrate it fully/properly (as per Lalvin instructions) before pitching.

I would also add the fruit post primary fermentation. Add the vanilla bean(s) one at a time after the fruit is done. Typically you leave fruit in mead for 5-7 days (you could go a little longer, but it's not recommended). I would be ready to rack off the fruit, rather than trying to use a bag to contain it. Letting it be free within the mead will give you better extraction. Same with the vanilla bean(s)...

For the vanilla bean, taste the mead after a week. Then taste at least every few days. When you hit a good point with the flavor, rack again.

You'll want to rack off of things, for a few reasons. First you leave all the flavor element behind. This stops the flavor addition and allows you to go to the next flavor element without worry. Second, you leave more yeast behind, getting you closer to a clear finished product. Your melomel won't be see-through clear (most likely) in a glass, but you'll leave haze behind (for the most part).

I would suggest making the batch a little larger... Say 5 quarts, with 4 pounds of honey. This way, you'll compensate for any loss when you rack. Start fermenting in a 2 gallon pail, racking to a second one (you can get them from most LHBS shops). Pick up some DAP and read up on using it (gotmead.com is another great source of mead making wisdom)... You'll want to degass, aerate, and feed the yeast until you are past the 1/3 break (1/3 of the sugars consumed by the yeast). At that point, just sit back and wait for them to finish. Once done, start adding your flavor elements... Age for a spell (usually a few months or more) and then enjoy... You could have something good in 6 months, but it could be great in 12 months (from start)... Mead will get better with age, so squirrel a few away and try them every year... Bulk age for as long as you can... Then bottle it up...

Personally, I started three mead batches just before Thanksgiving 2010, with a fourth just after... I hope that the blackberry melomel I have going is ready for drinking in a few more months. Or at least closer to being ready. I don't expect the traditional batches to really be ready for drinking until the fall/winter time frame... The last batch could be 12-18 months before it's ready (from when I started it), or longer...

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Old 02-17-2011, 10:37 PM   #7
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The reason I like the 71-B so much is from last year's NHC info on mead. A bunch of hte local brewclub guys went, all mead makers as well as beer makers, and they were knocked out by how great the meads were that followed the staggered nutrients, degassing in primary, and they'd used 71-B.

Its not the end-all-be-all yeast, but it does a great job on mead. Far better than wyeast sweet mead (which I've used several times). I made good mead with the old Edme ale yeast (now fermentis S-33) because it could hit 14% abv, but it was harsh and needed aging.

of course now i want to try S-33 with staggered nutes, degassing...and see how it comes out

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Old 02-17-2011, 10:45 PM   #8
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I wanted to use the Wyeast 4347 Eau de Vie in my first batches, but the LHBS was all out... So I went with EC-1118 for the traditionals, and D47 for the melomel... I fed them, and watered them, and pet them, and called them George... Doing well so far... My target was more ABV mead, so I knew I'd need to age them for at least some time before they would be fit for humans... Although they're getting really good already. I'll probably use EC-1118 again, with my next batch of mead...

I make sure to always have at least one packet in the fridge at all times... Never know when you're going to want/need to use some.

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