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Old 01-04-2010, 05:36 PM   #1
peter
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Default First time mead brew...have a few questions if you can help

Hey, so I'm new to brewing, have done a gallon of elderflower wine previously about 2 months ago, which turned out a treat, and have currently got a 5 gal mead brew going.

I started the brew (metheglin) about 6 weeks ago 22/11/09, with a starting SG of 1.070. Temperature was initially about 65F for a week or two, though has dropped to the lower end of 48-55F for the past 3-4 weeks. I took a SG reading a few days ago which read 0.99 with bubbles still rising, so ive got a good ABV (10.8%), and would just like a bit of advice on to the best way to proceed now. I'd like the mead to end up sweeter and with a fizz similar to a beer, so I take it that I will be adding more honey to it....but do i add it now (to each bottle directly) and let it condition in bottles or in a different order? Basically what is my next step? Add to bottles with extra honey and let sit? Or let it finish fermenting completely first?

Any advice on how much honey to be adding per L? Have been advised one part honey to one part hot water when adding?

As I mentioned its still bubbling away...I will be putting some of it in corked wine bottles to engrave and give away as gifts, and the rest will be in pressure bottles (ie empty coke bottles)...do I have to worry about too much pressure building up in the wine bottles and corks shooting off?

Should I add any finings/campden powder/stabaliser/etc at any stage?

Sorry for what may seem like basic questions, ive been all over google and looked stuff up but most of it pertains to beer or cider or wine. I'm pritty sure that i know more or less what to do, to be honest I just want to check with a human being that I have it right in my head.

Reeeeeeeeeeally looking forward to the end result

Thanks and cheers!

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Old 01-04-2010, 05:53 PM   #2
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Forgot to mention....no nutrients/energiser/etc used

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Old 01-04-2010, 06:26 PM   #3
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Sweet & sparkling mead is hard to accomplish in bottles (can be done by kegging), easier is sweet & still or dry & sparkling but sweet & sparkling is asking for bottle bombs.

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Old 01-04-2010, 06:51 PM   #4
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The yeast you used is also important to note as each strain has different tolerances.

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Old 01-05-2010, 11:24 AM   #5
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Yeah, sorry I couldn't remember, its Young's Super Wine Yeast Compound.

So as its formulated for high alcohol (anyone know the tolerance?) I believe i've shot myself in the foot in trying to make sweet fizzy mead. Was also wrong when I said no nutrients, as the compound has some in it. So as its my first go and dont want to end up with a rack full of fermenting bombs, I think I'll opt for trying a few still and sweet and a few dry and sparkling (just to be complicated )

....so opinions on best way to proceede with this? As I said, gravity is .990, thought still seeems fairly active....bottle some now and leave in a cold place to condition for the dry sparkling (should I prime with more honey?), and wait for the rest to finish fermenting completely then bottle and add honey for sweet and still?

finings or stabiliser at any stage?

Thanks alot guys, I'm learning

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Old 01-05-2010, 01:24 PM   #6
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slightly revised plan... rack some off to bottles and prime with honey (advice on quantities?) now for dry and sparkling, then rack the remaining off the dead yeast into another 5 gal and add oak chips/cubes, leave to finish fermenting for a while, then into bottles with added honey for sweet still mead.

good idea? bad idea?

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Old 01-05-2010, 03:30 PM   #7
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Default Making sparkling mead

Making sparkling mead is a tricky proposition, in the same way that making sparkling wine is tricky. Sparkling dry mead is a bit simpler - you let the mead go completely dry, add enough honey to prime, and cork/cap, just like beer. If you want to make a sparkling sweet mead, you'll have a few options; one harder and one simpler.

The hard method is Methode Champagnois, where you let the mead go completely dry, then add enough honey to prime, cap it, then when it's completely fermented out the priming, you riddle the bottle on a riddling rack to clear the yeast from the bottle that propagated for the priming. The next part is the tricky part - you have to immerse the bottle's neck upside-down into a super-chilled bath of salt water (below freezing), which freezes the yeast in the neck into a 'plug'. Turn the bottle upright, pop the cap, which will disgorge the plug and then you add back in a 'dosage', which is a mixture of honey and spirits (brandy, or distilled honey brandy) that will both sweeten the mead and prevent further fermentation from the yeast by pushing the alcohol level higher than the yeast can tolerate.

The easier method (but involves more chemicals) is to ferment the mead out completely, add in a wine conditioner like potassium sorbate, which will kill the yeast, then rack into a pressurized keg, back sweeten with honey to taste, then force carbonate the mead. I've done this method, and it works great. You can then fill bottles with something like the 'Beer Gun' from Blichmann (works awesome).

Hope that helps...

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Old 01-05-2010, 04:54 PM   #8
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thanks beo for the advice, thats great those methods deffinately sound doable.

I think I'll try a few of every method...I reckon its the best way to learn...

dry and sparkling
sweet and still
sweet and sparkling easy method
sweet and sparkling hard method

I imagine some will think its probably best to stick with one method, but as this is my second brew and havent tried priming, sweetening, or using secondary or oak chip, etc, and I do have 5 lovely gallons of the great smelling stuff, its a great chance for me to learn a few more methods of brewing technique, as such any advice on questions in posts above would go down a treat

I take it I should wait for fermentation to completely stop (now just below 0.990, bubbling like a glass of coke would be after a hour or so at 50F) before continuing with any method?

cheers guys and gals

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Old 01-05-2010, 05:12 PM   #9
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In all methods, you want to let the mead run dry before you move forward. Residual sugars will get you into trouble as you won't know exactly how many fermentables are left in the mead, and how much more to add for conditioning, etc. If you're really at 0.99, you're probably there, and what you're seeing is just dissolved CO2. Move it into a warmer area and let the mead come up to 65-70 degrees F, and all of that dissolved CO2 should escape.

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Old 01-06-2010, 04:45 PM   #10
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any advice on how much honey to add to prime?

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