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Old 09-02-2009, 08:39 PM   #1
helicanus
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Default Have I gone wrong?

I'm making my first batch of mead.

I've used 1kg of honey (that's just over 2 pounds, I believe) in a 1 gallon batch. I've also put in the juice and rind of 1 lemon, the juice and rind of 1 orange and a cup of tea. I'm using champagne yeast. I was worried about there not being enough nutrient for the yeast so I put about 1/2 teaspoon of nutrient in too.

The thing is, the initial fermentation was really, really quick. It was bubbling away furiously after a couple of hours and the bubbles slowed right down after just four days. There was about half an inch of sediment at this point so I gave it another couple of days then racked it. The gravity has gone down from 1061 to 990.

I haven't found anything anywhere about fermentation being so quick. Is this going to cause problems?

(Also, I had a taste and it was nasty)

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Old 09-02-2009, 08:52 PM   #2
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On the batch of JAOM that I'm making right now it's still fermenting away after 1 month at ~75 degrees. Four days seems awfully quick. What temperature has it been fermenting at?

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Old 09-02-2009, 10:25 PM   #3
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4 days is fine for a 1.061 mead. Honey is all simple sugars, so in lower concentrations, it will ferment quickly. It will still taste like rocket fuel and need some time to age.

Most meads run 3-5 pounds per gallon and the yeast really have to struggle.

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Old 09-02-2009, 11:26 PM   #4
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You have done nothing at all wrong. As earlier posters have said, it is not at all unusual for a mead with this low of a starting gravity to ferment to dryness in less than a week.

Even in meads that start with higher sugar concentrations, dropping 10 to 15 specific gravity points per day is not uncommon if the yeast are provided with the nitrogen and micronutrients that they need. The old way of making mead, without adding nutrient, or adding only small amounts at the very beginning of fermentation, could result in fermentations that take a month or more to complete. With my meads (and many start at gravities in excess of 1.110), if primary fermentation is not complete after a week, I feel that I've done something wrong!

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Old 09-02-2009, 11:48 PM   #5
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You've done nothing wrong, but made a weak mead. I do them a lot, but add a pound or two of corn sugar. They are easier to drink, but I also make a lot of hardy ones too.

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Old 09-03-2009, 05:15 AM   #6
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If he wants something stronger could he add some more honey and if necessary repitch the yeast? Would the end result still be good? I'm getting into 1 gallon "experimental" batches and wondering what I can adjust as I go without hosing things up.

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Old 09-03-2009, 11:41 AM   #7
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I work in metric so I'd say your actually in close to 11% ABV territory with that attenuation of the champers yeast.

A kilogram of honey is actually 2.2046244......etc. pounds.

To get a US Gallon using that amount of honey with water your starting gravity is actually supposed to be close to 1.079

Pitching in more fermentables is not good as champers yeast has an alcohol tolerance near 18% ABV and will just chew up a lot of additional fermentables.

I don't use champers in Meads myself so I can not comment on how rocket fuel like it tastes but I did use some in a cider kit and that was very disgusting until close to the one year age in the bottle time frame. And even then it was ultra dry and not very exciting.

I get close to 12% ABV out of bog standard US-05 dry yeast.

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Old 09-03-2009, 01:15 PM   #8
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Thanks for the replies, all. The temperature's about 24C (75F), so I guess the yeast has just eaten up all of the sugar.

I was going for a dry mead, so that's fine, but I guess I won't be drinking this one for quite some time.

Incidentally, what happens (chemically) during the ageing process to mellow the flavour?

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Old 09-07-2009, 03:39 PM   #9
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to answer your original question, you are making mead, heck no you haven't gone wrong!

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Old 09-08-2009, 10:52 AM   #10
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helicanus - No real chemical changes if I understand it correctly. It is more that the yeast still suspended will continue to clean up some of the fusual alcohol's, and the flavors in general will start to mellow and blend.
Time and patience is a requirement for making meads, my solution is to keep a full pipe line, bulk age, and bottle and forget about them.

I think I need to start packing up around 5 bottles into sealed containers and burying them on hiking trails in some cool spot. Write up a few treasure maps and go on treasure hunts around 3 years later with friends. Did that a few times long ago until I lost a couple of the maps.

pdilley - I finally got some empty kegs, so I can empty some carboys, so I can empty my primary to make a US-05 mead, I'm looking at 13-14 lbs of honey. Glad to know I'm not off my rocker shooting for the max of 12%.

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