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Old 07-19-2010, 02:52 AM   #1
coreire
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Default Help with first mead with EC 1118

I'm planning to make my 1st mead next weekend. The homebrew shop near me doesn't have a great selection of yeasts, so I can't get most of the ones in the recipes on here. They do have Youngs dessert wine/high alcohol yeast, Youngs champagne yeast, and Lalvin EC-1118.

I read that the 1118 will ferment to 18%, so I'm trying to calculate what OG I need to ferment this mead to be sweet.
I'm using http://brew.stderr.net/mead_og_calc.html to calculate what OG I'll get when adding the honey.
I'm using http://www.angelfire.com/wi3/johnsons/abv1.html to calculate ABV.

I'm aiming to make 4.5L (about 1.2 gallons), so I've worked out that I need:
.75L water and 5lbs of honey.
That should leave me with 1.18 gallons with an OG of 1.151.
Will the EC-1118 ferment to 18% and leave me with an FG of around 1.1?
Also, I'm still trying to decide whether to make orange or vanilla, maybe 1 of each. Should I add the orange/vanilla at the start, or rack onto it later?

I'm fairly new to brewing in general (I've done a few batches of cider which turned out good), so I just want to make sure I'm not screwing up my amounts/making mistakes here.

Thanks.

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Old 07-19-2010, 12:12 PM   #2
gratus fermentatio
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I've tried to make these same calculations with EC1118 & the yeast petered out a little early & left me with a very sweet cyser. At the time, I didn't know about staggerd nutrient additions (SNA), but I've since learned that the SNA can keep yeast from petering out early. I've also learned that it's better to "feed the yeast" than to try to calculate it all at once.

Start with an OG that you know the yeast will have no problems fermenting out, when they've eaten all that sugar (honey), add more. You can keep adding (feeding) honey to the yeast in small increments untill it reaches the level of alcohol & sweetness you want, up to a point of course. This way you are more likely to get what you want for an end product rather than risking a too sweet mead.

I'd save the oranges and/or vanilla beans for secondary and/or tertiary; you'll get more flavour that way. Regards, GF.

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Old 11-19-2010, 06:29 AM   #3
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How does 1118 fare against other yeasts when it comes to making mead? (With appropriate nutrients and energizers, course.)

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Old 11-19-2010, 01:09 PM   #4
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If you want a sweet mead with EC-1118, my suggestion would be not to try to push it to 18% ABV. This will leave you with a hot, rocket-fuel batch that will take a long, long time to smooth out. It will have the strength of Madeira wine, and will be something that you can drink in small sips, but not something your going to have a couple of glasses of with dinner. While there is something to be said for high ABV meads when aged properly, that may not be what you want for your first batch.

If you want something sweet that will be nice to drink within the next year, You might want to start with enough honey to produce a gravity of about 1.095, then let the EC-1118 ferment dry using nutrients. When dry, you can stabilize the mead with sorbate and sulfite, and add honey to backsweeten it up to exactly the point where you think it tastes best. You'll have something that suits your tastes at around 13% ABV that will be very pleasant to drink in 12 months or less.

Medsen

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Old 11-19-2010, 03:22 PM   #5
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I agree with everything medsen said. Don't make a high gravity mead just because your yeast ferments high. I've never had anything good at 18% that wasn't fortified with brandy or everclear, or a Madiera wine.

Also, if you want to add orange flavor, add orange zest, not juice.

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Old 11-20-2010, 07:35 AM   #6
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Thanks everyone

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Old 11-20-2010, 02:39 PM   #7
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For more reading on the subject, do a search for Poltarak (sp) and other polish style meads. They are high ABV and very sweet, using methods summarized by gratus fermentiio above. Medsen's advice is probably the wisest method, pretty much fool proof.

If using medsen's method, make sure you add your stabilizers to the mead, then your backsweetening juice/solution/honey. I made the mistake (using ec-1118) of adding the stabilizers to the honey solution, then into the mead. The stabilizers didn't work because they got bound up in the sugar, or some such. I believe it was Medsen who gave me that advice at some point.

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