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Old 07-16-2012, 02:57 AM   #1
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Default Joyce Miller's Pyment Recipe

For my first excursion into mead-wines (pyments?) I read Joyce Miller's recipe from Mead Lover's Digest on http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?opt...107&Itemid=459

And used it as a guideline for the following experiment:
~4lbs clover honey
~3lbs green seedless grapes
~1lb black Corinth Table Grapes
1 packet rehydrated Red Star Pasteur Champagne Yeast

I dissolved the Honey in about 1.5 gallons of water and brought slowly to just barely boiling. Stemmed the grapes and gave them a few pulses in the food processor. Decanted about a gallon of my honey-water mixture into the sanitized fermenter and added the grapes along with 2tsp of yeast nutrient, bringing the temp back up to 160F. I held it there for 30 minutes and then cooled in an ice bath. It took forever, but I eventually got the temperature down to 70F and pitched the rehydrated yeast. I gave her a real good stir and took an OG reading (1.080).

Sealed her up and by the next day the yeast were going bonkers, they floated the grape mash up to the top of the fermenter and were just bubbling merrily along. It was pretty cool to watch, and the aroma was awesome.

Now, I have no idea what to expect. It's been about a week and the yeast have settled down visibly. I'm going to start taking gravity readings this week, but what should I be looking for? Will the champagne yeast dry it out to the point it will need backsweetening? Do I need to strain the grapes out soon, or wait until fermentation stops? Should I expect to add more nutrient?

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Old 07-16-2012, 09:36 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CAUK View Post
For my first excursion into mead-wines (pyments?) I read Joyce Miller's recipe from Mead Lover's Digest on http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?opt...107&Itemid=459

And used it as a guideline for the following experiment:
~4lbs clover honey
~3lbs green seedless grapes
~1lb black Corinth Table Grapes
1 packet rehydrated Red Star Pasteur Champagne Yeast
Ok, that doesn't look too bad at all.
Quote:
I dissolved the Honey in about 1.5 gallons of water and brought slowly to just barely boiling. Stemmed the grapes and gave them a few pulses in the food processor. Decanted about a gallon of my honey-water mixture into the sanitized fermenter and added the grapes along with 2tsp of yeast nutrient, bringing the temp back up to 160F. I held it there for 30 minutes and then cooled in an ice bath. It took forever, but I eventually got the temperature down to 70F and pitched the rehydrated yeast. I gave her a real good stir and took an OG reading (1.080).
Oh dear! that method is likely to have boiled off a lot of the aromatics from the honey, and probably any of the more subtle flavour elements - Heating honey musts is an old technique, that's not really required, for a number of reasons. Plus there's no need to blitz the grapes either - that just splits some of the seeds, which can impart some bitterness.

Fruit is fine if you just freeze it for a couple of days, then thaw it out, and if you're still worried that the yeast won't get to the fruit sugars quick enough, then you can just squidge it with your hands or a potato masher.

I'm surprised to see that the gravity was as low as that - I'd have thought it would be about that with 4lb of honey into 1.5 gallons of water!
Quote:
Sealed her up and by the next day the yeast were going bonkers, they floated the grape mash up to the top of the fermenter and were just bubbling merrily along. It was pretty cool to watch, and the aroma was awesome.

Now, I have no idea what to expect. It's been about a week and the yeast have settled down visibly. I'm going to start taking gravity readings this week, but what should I be looking for? Will the champagne yeast dry it out to the point it will need backsweetening? Do I need to strain the grapes out soon, or wait until fermentation stops? Should I expect to add more nutrient?
Well there's no surprise that it's fermenting well. I'd suggest that you either "punch the cap down", or just swirl the fermenter gently to try and get the skins and other fruit debris down into the liquid - probably at least once a day.

A start gravity of 1.080, if it ferments down to 1.000, is about 10.8% ABV, which is quite low for a mead. Even if it ferments down to 0.990, it's only about 12.2% ABV, still low-ish. I'd suggest that given the yeast has a tolerance of at least 16% it's likely to ferment dry.

I would just keep swirling the fermenter to keep the skins/debris moist. Then once it's stopped bubbling, leave it alone until the skins etc have sunk to the bottom. Then rack it off and take a gravity reading. Presuming you still have some of the honey/water must, you could use that for topping up/back sweetening (I like to use a syrup mix of 50/50 water and honey). You'd have to stabilise it first i.e. sulphites/campden tablet(s) and potassium sorbate. Once that's been added (as per the pack instructions), you take a gravity reading, then add a little of the honey/water mix, stir that in gently, then take another reading, and a little taste. Keep repeating those stages until it gets to the sweetness/flavour you like, then lock it off and let it clear on it's own.
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Old 07-16-2012, 02:14 PM   #3
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I suspect the heating is intended to sterilize the grapes.

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Old 07-16-2012, 04:00 PM   #4
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I suspect the heating is intended to sterilize the grapes.
Yes, quite possibly, but do commercial wine makers sterilise/sanitise grapes with heat ?

Erm........ no.

If the OP was worried about any grapes that may have carried a bit of wild yeast, then a quick rinse in sulphite solution prior to freezing/thawing would have done the job.

Then if he was still worried ? K1V-1116 would have sorted out anything else....

Just my tuppence worth.....
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Old 07-17-2012, 01:11 PM   #5
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The OP was simply following the instructions in the recipe, which say to pasteurize, hence the 160º heating.

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Old 07-18-2012, 12:32 PM   #6
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I was following Miller's recipe, though with the small batch I probably could have reduced the pasteurization. I appreciate the nice detailed feedback from fatbloke, and I've been agitating the fermenter every day. The solids have mostly fallen back down to the bottom of the jar. I'm considering adding more honey to the must, since its only been 10 days, to bring the OG up closer to 1.100.

Since the aging process is so much longer than beer, do I have to wait a whole year to taste it? Let me clarify, I'd like to start a new batch in the Fall, a full-size batch. But, if it will take a year after fermentation for the flavor profile to mature, how can I evaluate the recipe and make adjustments to the "green" mead?

Or, does meading just take the patience of a saint?

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Old 07-19-2012, 12:49 PM   #7
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You can taste it whenever you want! At this point, I would advise you to bottle your small batch in small bottles--either beer bottles or 375ml wine bottles, rather than full fifths. Then over the next few months, open a bottle and see how you like it, and if it changes (make notes).

That said, there is a lot of patience involved.

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Old 07-20-2012, 01:41 PM   #8
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I hadn't considered bottling in beer bottles. Do you suppose crown caps or swing-tops would keep the mead/wine as well as a cork?

I just took a gravity reading 10 days into fermentation (SG = 0.994) and fatbloke's predictions were spot on, about 11% ABV and it smells like cheap perfume. I think I'm going to mix in more honey to bring the SG up to about 1.010 and try to get it up to about 16% ABV, hoping that the yeast go dormant before all the sugars are fermented. Should I another teaspoon of yeast nutrient, too?

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Old 07-20-2012, 02:15 PM   #9
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No, that isn't necessary. They only need nutrient during the growth phase.

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