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Old 12-22-2012, 12:26 PM   #1
vlahul
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Default HELP* My first meadory

Hello there,

I'm Florin from Romania. I post here amongst US people since there is no such comunity in Europe and obviously likely unknown in Romania.

I plan to open a big-scale meadory here in Romania. I hope to receive as much feedback/advices/experience exchange as possible from you guys.

Dunno how to start, ill try to take it easy, bellow:

I am doing my first tests for two recipes of mead, that i intend to mass-production. It is 2.5 months already since i brewed it and honestly i am little disapointed about the fermenting time (yes, i know it takes 6-18 months for a good mead, but i tried to accelerate if possible due to financial considerations).

My first recipe is plain dry mead, using the simplest recipe:

~ 5 kg of poliflore honey (i ****ed it up on quantiy, wrong measures - should have been 6.5~ kg)...would get more dry i guess
- 15 litres of bottled water
- 2 litres of grapes must (like poured grapes) with the purpose of helping on fermenting the "slow honey fermenting"
- 5***** class wine yeast (from my father which leads one of biggest winery in Romania)
- yeast food (or how is called?)

****

For above, i tried to make the simplest mead recipe in my view (comparable to old vikings mead)

For the second recipe:

- used 7 kg of honey
- 12 litres of water
- 1 litre of orange juice (100% natural, home grown)
- 2 litres of grapes must
- 5 batons of cinamon

More like a melomel, still not much of fruits added.

*******************

Now, the dry recipe is 2 weakers old (aprox early Oct), while the "melomel" it is 2 weeks older in brewing.

My mistakes on brewing (i assume):

1. kept the recipes in a 15-22 C degrees room (had no other place to deposit as it was too cold with winter coming)..so i kept in my home.

2. normal room (used one of the bathrooms) with daylight/nightime as usual. As i heard, daylight might hurt the recipe?


Upon regular tasting (aprox 1-2 a month...also this might hurt the fermenting by adding oxigen into the recipe, even thou it was few seconds i took a small 100 grames??).... the 2nd recipe (with more honey/fruits) always taste more and more better, really encouraging in my view. The dry one is sour as hell...even thou it got more clear in the meantime and less sour (still sour as hell).

Now, i am aware of the fact that a dry mead needs at least 6-12 months of botleing before juding the taste. Only ~3 months past of fermenting which is almost done (i assume like maximum 7-10 days and its done). Still, that "sour as hell" would go in time, while aging? or is it the recipe compromised?

The 2nd recipe is absolutely gorgeous in my opinion, at the moment it tastes almost like a natural fruit juice (still fermenting althou) and it got very strong alcohol (have not measure it yet, but it is at least 11 in my taste).


I know it sounds little bit too much of a beginner, but i am here to learn new things from your experience.

Any advices is really appreciated.

Once i have finished with my own recipe (a succesfully one especially in time speaking terms...i need it ready in 6 months...ready for sales), i can start the big scale production.


For me is a perfect business that i love so much, only that i hope to find the right ingredients/process of producing the mead.

I can buy the honey for 1$ per kg. So with 5000$ can get 5 tones, from which i can produce nearly 15,0000 bottles of 75 cl.

I have the botling/producing platform already, i only need the recipe, which i am testing right now and i am not too happy about it.

Hope to hear from you soon!
Please excuse my lack of english, hope i made myself understandable.

All the respect for you guys, the mead lovers! (we don't have anything like this in Europe...as a comunity speaking).

cheers,
Florin

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Old 12-22-2012, 04:47 PM   #2
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Hello fellow mead dreamer. I do not have a meadery but have thought about it several times. Don't take my words as fact here but I would like to share in what I think would help you out.

Your original post does not give what the original gravity Is on your recipes. Just going off of your dry mead it looks like it would be somewhere at 14% - 15% ABV. If you want a short turn around on making a must to bottling for sale then there are several factors to control.

First is initial gravity so you can tell where the final ABV will be. Not all honey is created equal and the amount of sugars lent by the honey can be different from hive to hive or even early spring honey verses late harvest honey. Because of this I might suggest mixing all ingredients like your grape must, nutrient and water all together and then add honey until you get the desired gravity you want. The higher the alcohol the longer the aging is needed for a quality product. I personally would not go much over 12% ABV if I was just starting out and may want a maximum of 4-6 months till bottling. 12% ABV is a starting gravity of about 1.088. 11% ABV is 1.08. 10% ABV is 1.072. So on and so forth.

Your original recipe is honey, water, grape juice, nutrient. This puts it in the pyment category. Your sour taste is probably a product of two things. One is probably still suspended yeast. when the gravity has dropped to 0.998 then you can use a finning (clearing) agent to remove the yeast more quickly. Something like bentonite would work good here. The second thing that may be making the mead sour is malic acid. Grape juice has a fare amount of malic acid which can be very tart in a dry mead. The way I would fix that is to not use champagne yeast and switch to Lalvin 71B. That is a great yeast the metabolizes malic acid and is also a great yeast for making decent young wines/meads.

So to recap on the above I would lower the honey a bit and focus on a specific gravity rather than the amount of honey. You should get a more consistent product that way. Also if possible switch yeast and use finning agents to clear out the yeast.

Now there are other ways of creating a better product sooner as well. This includes technique over ingredients. The first and most crucial thing you can do is staggered yeast nutrient (food) additions. The average yeast nutrient addition would be like 1tsp of yeast nutrients per 4 liters or so. Instead of adding all nutrients up front you add nutrients in steps up until 1/3 of the fermentation is complete. So if your Original Gravity is at 1.088 then I would add in 1/2tsp per 4 liters up front, another 1/4 tsp per 4 liters when the must hits a gravity of 1.078. Another 1/4 tsp per 4 liters when the must hits a gravity of 1.068. Finally the last amount of 1/4 tsp per 4 liters when the must hits a gravity of 1.058. That helps keep the yeast strong and with less stress.

Another thing you can do is to provide lots of oxygen in the early stages of fermentation up till the 1/3 of the fermentation is complete. Have a pure Oxygen tank with an air stone dropped In the must each time you add nutrients and let the oxygen run for a few minutes. The yeast need the oxygen to build a strong colony so oxygen is your friend at first. After the gravity would drop from 1.088 to 1.058 for instance you would then stop adding oxygen and keep the oxygen exposure as little as possible from there.

Now a lot of famous commercial meads seem to be much sweeter because the added sweetness covers up alcohol hotness and other defects that normally age out. When your must is done fermenting and you have added finning agents to clear the must then it may be wise to add stabilizing agents like Camden tablets and potassium sorbate to halt further fermentation and then add honey back to the must until you hot a gravity of about 1.02-1.03.

I am sure there are other things that could be done to help you out but that's what I can think of at the moment. Good luck with your venture.

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Old 12-23-2012, 08:02 PM   #3
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I've had many the same dream, but I'll wait till I get a few hundred batches under my belt. If there is no urgency to start your meadery right away, I'd advise the same patience.

Enthusiasm is no substitute for experience, especially with something like mead, where so many of the variables are out of your control.

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Old 12-24-2012, 10:23 AM   #4
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I'd advise a good search over at Gotmead, as there's a number of people who've "gone Pro" with their mead making.

Yes, their info would be from the US market perspective, but I shouldn't have thought that it would take much to tailor that to the Romanian market.

Plus, a good search for Polish mead recipes may help, as it's a hell of a lot closer to Romania than the US - some of the recipe/types would probably prove to be well received....

Just don't expect to have anything ready to sell in less than a year or two. Meads benefit greatly from the ageing process, with a lot of young meads being not very nice at all.

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Old 12-24-2012, 12:27 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by fatbloke View Post
I'd advise a good search over at Gotmead, as there's a number of people who've "gone Pro" with their mead making.

Yes, their info would be from the US market perspective, but I shouldn't have thought that it would take much to tailor that to the Romanian market.

Plus, a good search for Polish mead recipes may help, as it's a hell of a lot closer to Romania than the US - some of the recipe/types would probably prove to be well received....

Just don't expect to have anything ready to sell in less than a year or two. Meads benefit greatly from the ageing process, with a lot of young meads being not very nice at all.
Hello and Merry Xmass to all of you.

Thanks for the replies, it helped me a lot already. I will post a reply for each of you separatelly, starting with the last


Fatbloke:

I've already checked Gotmead constantly, still have not paid attention to other people's experience (will check again from this perspective).

i believe US market is much more difficult to archieve, since is more like a premium market on one hand and on the other hand very few US citizens have the cult of mead...unlike other European countries who have hundreds of years or even thousands of years of mead legacy. So selling in Europe is much easier than in US, especially in Eastern Europe were mead used to be #1 alcoholic drink in the past and now it is completely gone. Moreover, Eastern Europe is #1 world provider of honey (as in country production), especially Romania/Bulgaria... so the honey is cheapest in world maybe.

Speaking of Poland, which you mentioned: they are the only major producer in Europe (and a major one in world also). France produce about 2000 tones a year all over (which is insignifiant...for such a big country).

As about the polish one, the dry mead it gets insanelly expensive, mostly because it takes a lot of time to age and the lemon mead (sort of their speciality) is more a "girl" drink.

My aim is to master the simplest procedure of a 1 year/ready to drink/mead so i can sell it next year by this time.

I cant wait for experience since it does not seems that difficult to learn first of all...second of all i have this only business in near future (quit everything else) so i really must start it or get out of $$$$.

My father in law is the director of one of biggest wine producers in Romania, i have access to all his facilities as mead producing is similar to wine, so that helps me a lot.

However, i need the proper recipe/ingredients/timing/etc all by myself since this is totally uncommon here and nobody knows anything about it in all country. This is my only worry.

When i started my first mead i thought is simple...making a joke: as long as viking barbarians or my ancestors made this mead so easy without the present knowledge/tehniqu...why would I not?

However, i missed a few critical steps such as the heat (been 15-22 degrees C all the fermenting time) and the light (been exposed to daytime).

Also i put all-at-once ingredients (such as nutrients, honey, water, etc).


Bottomline questions:

1. what is the minimum "ready dry mead" possible? 3 months of fermenting? 6 months?

2. adding grapes must does accelerate the fermenting process as I assume? if yes, what ratio? adding 2 litres of grape must for 20 litres of honey+water is insignifiant?

thanks for you reply!
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Old 12-24-2012, 12:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nitack View Post
I've had many the same dream, but I'll wait till I get a few hundred batches under my belt. If there is no urgency to start your meadery right away, I'd advise the same patience.

Enthusiasm is no substitute for experience, especially with something like mead, where so many of the variables are out of your control.
Merry Xmass also to you Nitack

i totally agree with your view about patience, still it is not my case unfortunatelly.

i gave up everything else for the 2013 to start this business. one way or another i must make it, even if it takes 50% of my starting mead to be undrinkable.

i must try this now since is no other way and i dont hope to get rich out of it. at least not in the first couple of years )).

I only invest aprox 10,000 USD for 5 tones of honey into 15 tones of mead, out of which i hope i can sell at least 30%.

If not, in 2014 for sure will make it.

For now, i need to master the simplest mead recipe and know all the variables as you mentioned.

thanks for your words.
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Old 12-24-2012, 12:37 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arpolis View Post
Hello fellow mead dreamer. I do not have a meadery but have thought about it several times. Don't take my words as fact here but I would like to share in what I think would help you out.

Your original post does not give what the original gravity Is on your recipes. Just going off of your dry mead it looks like it would be somewhere at 14% - 15% ABV. If you want a short turn around on making a must to bottling for sale then there are several factors to control.

First is initial gravity so you can tell where the final ABV will be. Not all honey is created equal and the amount of sugars lent by the honey can be different from hive to hive or even early spring honey verses late harvest honey. Because of this I might suggest mixing all ingredients like your grape must, nutrient and water all together and then add honey until you get the desired gravity you want. The higher the alcohol the longer the aging is needed for a quality product. I personally would not go much over 12% ABV if I was just starting out and may want a maximum of 4-6 months till bottling. 12% ABV is a starting gravity of about 1.088. 11% ABV is 1.08. 10% ABV is 1.072. So on and so forth.

Your original recipe is honey, water, grape juice, nutrient. This puts it in the pyment category. Your sour taste is probably a product of two things. One is probably still suspended yeast. when the gravity has dropped to 0.998 then you can use a finning (clearing) agent to remove the yeast more quickly. Something like bentonite would work good here. The second thing that may be making the mead sour is malic acid. Grape juice has a fare amount of malic acid which can be very tart in a dry mead. The way I would fix that is to not use champagne yeast and switch to Lalvin 71B. That is a great yeast the metabolizes malic acid and is also a great yeast for making decent young wines/meads.

So to recap on the above I would lower the honey a bit and focus on a specific gravity rather than the amount of honey. You should get a more consistent product that way. Also if possible switch yeast and use finning agents to clear out the yeast.

Now there are other ways of creating a better product sooner as well. This includes technique over ingredients. The first and most crucial thing you can do is staggered yeast nutrient (food) additions. The average yeast nutrient addition would be like 1tsp of yeast nutrients per 4 liters or so. Instead of adding all nutrients up front you add nutrients in steps up until 1/3 of the fermentation is complete. So if your Original Gravity is at 1.088 then I would add in 1/2tsp per 4 liters up front, another 1/4 tsp per 4 liters when the must hits a gravity of 1.078. Another 1/4 tsp per 4 liters when the must hits a gravity of 1.068. Finally the last amount of 1/4 tsp per 4 liters when the must hits a gravity of 1.058. That helps keep the yeast strong and with less stress.

Another thing you can do is to provide lots of oxygen in the early stages of fermentation up till the 1/3 of the fermentation is complete. Have a pure Oxygen tank with an air stone dropped In the must each time you add nutrients and let the oxygen run for a few minutes. The yeast need the oxygen to build a strong colony so oxygen is your friend at first. After the gravity would drop from 1.088 to 1.058 for instance you would then stop adding oxygen and keep the oxygen exposure as little as possible from there.

Now a lot of famous commercial meads seem to be much sweeter because the added sweetness covers up alcohol hotness and other defects that normally age out. When your must is done fermenting and you have added finning agents to clear the must then it may be wise to add stabilizing agents like Camden tablets and potassium sorbate to halt further fermentation and then add honey back to the must until you hot a gravity of about 1.02-1.03.

I am sure there are other things that could be done to help you out but that's what I can think of at the moment. Good luck with your venture.

Hello Arposis and Happy Xmass to you too!

I would begin with my admiration to your expertise in mead. It is sad that on my 30 years i have not met any Romanian with such expertise. Would have been a great partner to start this. We don't even have this product on market so what can be expected.

I already absorbed lot of information from what you wrote.


First thing i'll do is to buy some instruments to measure the alcohol and other stuff, to see the exact situation of the mead.

In my opinion my first mead it is not compromised, it is only "behind". Once i know what it needs to get back on the right way everything will be fine.

I will take some measurements and get back to you.

Still, as funny as it is...as a mead lover for me is drinkable... i already got 2 litres out of it, hehehehe.

I doubt it will last 1-2 months from now on. The alcohol level is very good for me (quite strong in fact, above 10 degrees id say). Still i am far from satisfied about the taste, but that is because of my mistake.

Most likely i will start 2 more meads in January, doing them "by the book".

On this subject - of starting 2 other meads, can you give your best 2 coins on the steps of making it?

PS: bentonite and sulfites and other such things are absolutelly no solution for me. i hate chemicals in drinks. I aim for the most natural possible mead, there is no other option.
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Old 12-24-2012, 09:29 PM   #8
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It's been my experience ( admittedly not a lot) that simpler recipes age faster, joes ancient orange for example. The more flavors you add the more you need to age to develop those complex flavors. I love making mead cysers because they taste good young and taste amazing with only several months aging, so good in fact none of my cysers have made it past the 6 month mark without meeting their glorious ends. So my advice is keep your recipe simple, and maybe try a cyser and see if you like it.

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Old 12-24-2012, 10:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vlahul

Hello Arposis and Happy Xmass to you too!

I would begin with my admiration to your expertise in mead. It is sad that on my 30 years i have not met any Romanian with such expertise. Would have been a great partner to start this. We don't even have this product on market so what can be expected.

I already absorbed lot of information from what you wrote.

First thing i'll do is to buy some instruments to measure the alcohol and other stuff, to see the exact situation of the mead.

In my opinion my first mead it is not compromised, it is only "behind". Once i know what it needs to get back on the right way everything will be fine.

I will take some measurements and get back to you.

Still, as funny as it is...as a mead lover for me is drinkable... i already got 2 litres out of it, hehehehe.

I doubt it will last 1-2 months from now on. The alcohol level is very good for me (quite strong in fact, above 10 degrees id say). Still i am far from satisfied about the taste, but that is because of my mistake.

Most likely i will start 2 more meads in January, doing them "by the book".

On this subject - of starting 2 other meads, can you give your best 2 coins on the steps of making it?

PS: bentonite and sulfites and other such things are absolutelly no solution for me. i hate chemicals in drinks. I aim for the most natural possible mead, there is no other option.
If you won't do bentonite or sulfites then you have a long road ahead of you. For clarifying you will either need to wait out the yeast to drop out naturally (could take many months) or cold crash and stabalizing. To stabalizing your options are pasturizing (you might lose flavors) or wait till the yeast hits its tolerance (some strains of yeast may throw out off flavors if you take it to the max).
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Old 12-25-2012, 01:34 AM   #10
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First I would like to commend anyone willing to do the extra work to not use "chemicals" in their mead. But I must say that Bentonite is not a complex chemical/man made compound. Bentonite is simply a type of clay that works as a binding agent. It sticks to proteins, solids and tannins which allow them to drop out of the must more readily. So to keep with your "no chemicals" idea Bentonite should be fine. Without a clearing agent then that can add months to the clearing process for quality product. You could get fine micron filters but those have issues with stripping meads of some of their delicate aromas.

Still a sweet mead will sell younger than a dry mead. As FB said you are looking 1-2 years for a dry mead to really shine. If Camden and sorbate are to not be used then you could pasteurize your must and then back sweeten. Doing this on large scale is hard for me to imagine but the idea would be to get the must to 88* Celsius or 190*F for 10 minutes. That should kill the yeast and then you can add additional honey to bring your gravity up to 1.02 - 1.03. You could add more honey than the yeast can handle so basically the ABV rises above the yeasts limits and you have left over sugar in the mead making it sweet but you often end up with a 15%+ ABV drink which as alluded before the higher the ABV the longer the aging so that fights a loosing battle. Ether getting the mead stabilized with camden and sorbate or pasteurizing to allow you to back sweeten is the best way to go in my opinion.

Adding grape must is the same as adding any type of juice. Don’t think of grape must as an additive to speed up fermentation. Using proper stepped nutrients, degassing & aerating are more important for that factor. Any juices or other adjuncts added are mainly for flavor.

So when you start a new batch I would follow something like this:

First get a hydrometer and learn to use/understand the readings.

Pick your recipe and mix in the water and other adjuncts (grape must, nutrients, spices....) now add in small portions of honey and mixing the must super well. After each honey addition measure the gravity with the hydrometer and repeat the process until you hit the gravity you want. For instance 1.088 for about a 12% ABV drink. Once at the appropriate gravity take the time to properly aerate your must for 5 – 10 minutes. An oxygen tank with an air stone works best to introduce oxygen to the must at this point. Connecting a "wine whip" to a drill works well too and that is what I use. Instead of a professional wine whip I actually use a metal coat hanger bent and chucked into the drill. If the two above options can't be used then taking a long spoon and just whipping it up by hand can be done.

Hopefully you are able to get a hold of Lalvin yeast like Lalvin 71B if using juices or Lalvin K1-V1116 for traditional meads with no other flavorings. Those are just my recommendations but you can research different yeasts to see if others would suite your purpose. Before adding the yeast it would be good to rehydrate dried yeast or make a small starter for liquid yeasts. There are lots of threads on this site and GotMead for proper rehydrating or making starters so you can read up on that there. Once the yeast is properly taken care of then pitch that into the must.

I do not protect my meads/wines from sunlight really and do not notice any bad effects. Less sunlight might help but I would be less worried about this. Fermenting temperature is about 68*F - 75*F or 20*C – 23*C for me usually. Some yeasts need to be cooler but Lalvin 71B and Lalvin 1116 work well in these temperature ranges.

Now every 10 - 12 hours you continually measure your gravity and add nutrients at 2-3 different evenly spaced intervals until 1/3 of the fermentation is complete. You can usually estimate that the ending gravity is 0.998. It can go lower but for estimating the 1/3 mark the 0.998 will work fine as an estimated end. Like I insinuated in previous post I like to add a little more nutrients then the recommended doses because Mead musts a notorious for having less nutrients than wine musts & they can do with the extra help.

Each time you check the gravity up to the 1/3 sugar break point it is good to introduce oxygen and de-gas the must. You degas first by gently rocking the Carboy on its edge to stir it a bit and slowly being more and more vigorous. This is easier if you use a bucket rather than the Carboy because you can just take a long spoon and slowly mix the must. Once degassed well now aerate as you did when you mixed up the must for the first time.

After the fermentation is 1/3 done then let her sit. 3-6 weeks later when fermentation looks to be done check the gravity again. When you get 3 consecutive gravity readings over a 6 day period that have not changed then fermentation is done. Add bentonite and allow the must to clear. Rack the mead into a secondary container and allow for final clearing. Wait 30 days if there is any sediment at the bottom of the Carboy rack into a new clean container. Wait another 30 days and see if there is any more sediment. Repeat process until there is no more sediment. This can take 3+ months sometimes but with bentonite added you can considerably cut down the time on this step.

At this point you can add chemicals "which I do" or pasteurize to kill off yeast and back sweeten with honey to the gravity you want. This will cloudy up the mead again so will need another 1-3 weeks to clear again. From this point most of us let the mead sit until the mead is 12+ months old and then bottle. You can sample the mead month over month & you can bottle when the taste is appropriate.

All of the above is a general guideline to a normal fermentation schedule and standard practices in my opinion. Now all you need to do is figure out the recipe you want to use and try it out.

If you are going to add grape must then make a proper Pyment. For a 20 liter batch you are looking at about 13 liters grape must and only about 2 kg honey to reach the 1.088 gravity point.

As Bodhi86 suggested you can look into making a Cyser which is Apple Mead. Fresh Cider is usually best used for good Cysers. Cider usually has a lower sugar content than grape must so compared to the Pyment you could up the liters of juice to 17 and still use about 2kg of honey or keep the juice at 13 liters and up the honey to about 3 kg.

A traditional mead would just have about 6 kg honey with water to 20 liters & proper nutrients. Usually 5 – 6 tsp of yeast nutrients per 20 liter batch.

Read around on the GotMead sight some more and also look up Jack Keller in google because he has tones of recipe ideas. My only personal suggestion is that Mead normally does not need grape tannin and acid blends added as seen in some recipes. If I want to add Tannin for the bittering effect I like to make a strong black tea and add that to my must or cold steep the tea in the must while fermenting. Best of luck to you.

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