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Old 02-13-2006, 06:38 PM   #1
WhatsOnTap
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Default First stab at mead...

Hey guys, my brother talked me into fermenting a batch of mead because he loves it and I thought I could bounce a couple questions off you. First, I have 10 lbs clover honey and I want to do a semi-sweet batch of 5 gal US, but the batch size can be reduced if needed. I really want an ABV of 9-11 plus percent. I was also kicking around the idea of using orange and ginger, but it's not a necessity. Also, I read somewhere that Saaz hops are good in mead?

I read on a mead site that I could pitch the must on top of the yeast cake of an ale, and by doing that I can acheive a fast ferment without yeast nutrients normally used in the must.

I would appreciate any advice and recipes you guys could swing my way regarding these circumstances and preferences!

-WOT

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Old 02-14-2006, 02:52 AM   #2
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10 lbs is a little on the light side for five gallons of mead. If you want a sweet mead I'd at least go with 15 lbs. If you've never tried making mead before Joe's Ancient Orange is an excellent mead to start with. The mead calculator elsewhere on that site will help you get your mix right.

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Primary 1: AIR (no 5 gal carboy's left to rack to *cry* must buy more!)
Primary 2: AIR
Primary 3: 1 gal Joe's Ancient Orange Mead Start 2/10/06
Primary 4 1 gal Cyser OG 1.105 start 2/11/06
Primary 5 1 gal Maple Mead
Secondary 1: 5 gal Cider OG 1.085 Start 2/4/06
Secondary 2: 5 gal Mead Grav 1.032 Start 2/2/06
Secondary 3: 1 gal Cider
Secondary 4: 1 gal spiced Cider start 2/11/06

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Old 02-14-2006, 03:04 AM   #3
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I would second that 10 lbs of honey is light for mead. I did my first batch of mead a bit ago and used 7 lbs for 2 gallons. It was incredible. I loved that recipe and just ordered 20 lbs of the same honey (Honeyville's raw Colorado wildflower honey) to do a five gallon batch (following the wildflower mead recipe on http://www.greydragon.org/brewing/mead.html) and my coworkers are already salivating in anticipation.

I don't think any amount of tricks will help you speed up the fermentation. I used the exact same recipe with two different honeys, the first being the Colorado mountain wildflower and the second being a Czech mountain wildflower. The first was done in 3 months. The second is still not done five months into the process. Meads depend too much on the honey you use to predict them accurately. The honey determines the chemistry of the wort and every honey will be different.

The advice a friend gave me before I did my first mead was to keep it simple. The more complicated recipes are more likely to mess up. It worked well for me.

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Old 02-14-2006, 03:07 AM   #4
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Jesus. Most meads I see are between 10-12 lbs of honey. The crap you guys are making that calls for 7lbs in 2 GALLONS is berzerk.

Blargh!

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Old 02-14-2006, 03:57 PM   #5
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Default Fermenting...

Well, I made a 5 gal batch yesterday with 10 lbs. honey, 1.5 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp cloves. I added 3 black tea bags for tannin (Helps clarify???) and scooped off all the scum. Then I cooled it and while cooling I racked my red ale to the keg (secondary).

I threw the cooled must on top of the cake and topped up to 5 gal with cool H2O. The ferment temp was 68 on the nose (I don't know how I lucked out on that one) and it started bubbling within 30 minutes of pitching.

Last night it was bubbling at once every 3 sec. and this morning it had stopped. I sterilized the lid and pulled it off, stirred with a sterilized spoon, and tasted. Still too sweet, but not bad! There was a 1/2 inch thick bubble foam layer on top. Put it back in the closet and it's bubbling at once every 30 sec. or so. How often do you guys' airlocks bubble on a mead ferment? does mine sound a little faster or not?

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Old 02-14-2006, 04:23 PM   #6
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Your SG with that little honey is only going to be about 1.074... which is very low for a mead which usually is in the range of 1.085 to 1.110. As it is your mead is going to be about 9% AVB and be dry as a bone. You said you wanted a sweet mead wich is why I recommended at least 15lbs of honey to give you a starting SG of 1.110 which would have come out at 14% ABV and been sweet depending upon the yeast you use. I

You say it's sweet now but the yeast will eat that sweetness away. As soon as your fermentation drops to less than 1 bubble a min rack it to a secondary and then wait. Most meads need to be aged at least a year before they are any good.

Personally my next mead after I rack my current over to a secondary is going to be a 5 gal batch with 10lbs honey and 4 lbs maple syrup.. I've heard good things about it. Though I might try a smaller 1 gallon batch to test it out. My spiced cider should be ready to rack soon.

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-Brandon

Primary 1: AIR (no 5 gal carboy's left to rack to *cry* must buy more!)
Primary 2: AIR
Primary 3: 1 gal Joe's Ancient Orange Mead Start 2/10/06
Primary 4 1 gal Cyser OG 1.105 start 2/11/06
Primary 5 1 gal Maple Mead
Secondary 1: 5 gal Cider OG 1.085 Start 2/4/06
Secondary 2: 5 gal Mead Grav 1.032 Start 2/2/06
Secondary 3: 1 gal Cider
Secondary 4: 1 gal spiced Cider start 2/11/06


Last edited by brandonj; 02-14-2006 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 02-14-2006, 04:51 PM   #7
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Thanks for the heads-up. I did an analysis on the recipator and I got an est. ABV of 10.3%. I may add another 5 lbs as the first wave winds down, then rack at 1 bubble/min. like you say.

Or I may add honey to sweeten, then campden it and rack to secondary. If it's not strong enough (10% seems like an okay strength to me, but who knows) then I might just add some 100 proof vodka or 190 proof grain alcohol. Is this unholy to do? I was also thinking about force carbonating to get it sparkling, then bottle. Let me know if I'm off track or not, please!

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Old 02-14-2006, 05:17 PM   #8
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I haven't had much experience with progressive feeding but I hear it can add some odd qualities. Force carbonating should be fine. As for adding sweetness to a finished mead I try not to.

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-Brandon

Primary 1: AIR (no 5 gal carboy's left to rack to *cry* must buy more!)
Primary 2: AIR
Primary 3: 1 gal Joe's Ancient Orange Mead Start 2/10/06
Primary 4 1 gal Cyser OG 1.105 start 2/11/06
Primary 5 1 gal Maple Mead
Secondary 1: 5 gal Cider OG 1.085 Start 2/4/06
Secondary 2: 5 gal Mead Grav 1.032 Start 2/2/06
Secondary 3: 1 gal Cider
Secondary 4: 1 gal spiced Cider start 2/11/06

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Old 02-14-2006, 07:49 PM   #9
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I guess I'll just have to wing it on this batch and hope time is on my side! Either that or go for an ale strength semi-sweet (8 or 9% ABV) and campden it/force carb.. Heck, maybe it will condition faster that way...

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Old 02-14-2006, 10:02 PM   #10
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Re: amount of honey in a gallon of mead
Specifically, Mindflux's comment
Now I have a tub of 24# of honey sitting on the floor next to me. Eyeballing it, it looks like its volume IS about 2 gallons. My volume estimates might be slightly off -- it might be 1.5 gallons -- but that's .75-1.0 gal/12 # of honey. You said you use 10-12 # PER GALLON? That's almost pure honey. That can't be right because yeast can't live in a sugar concentration that high. The cells would have no water left in them. Moreover, the sugars wouldn't even stay in solution because the solubility of sugar in water is not that high. When I made my mead with 7#/2gal = 3.5#/1gal, much of the sugar crashed out of solution when the must cooled because the solubility of the sugar in water wasn't high enough to keep it dissolved. The sugar only dissolved when the fermentation increased the alchohol concentration (and thus the solubility of sugar in the solution) and decreased the sugar concentration.

Are you sure your numbers are right?

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