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Old 12-29-2011, 03:47 PM   #1
tobinobin
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Default Mead Newbie

Hey all, I recently got interested in brewing; mead and cider specifically. The hobby is ridiculously addictive! I'm constantly checking my cupboard to see how things are progressing. I started brewing on the 17th with a simple mead and turbo cider. Pic of the mead after 5 days attached below. Since then I've been down to the local brewing shop twice and have 2 meads, 2 ciders: one from my own blood, sweat and tears - pressing apples is hard without a press...the process involved multiple buckets, a rolling pin and a blender, as well as some thin cloth for straining - and the other from apple juice, as well as a plum wine / jerkum thing made from fresh plums. It smells and tasted extremely acidic...bit worried about this one. Anyways just here to say hello and thanks for the interesting info on this forum!

PS: I tried a commercial mead - the only mead I could find - from morrisons (UK). It was extremely sweet and the aroma of honey was overwhelming. It was like a really sweet dessert wine. I'm making it my mission to make a more drinkable semi-dry mead for my friends and I (who are also into the idea of mead). Wish me luck!
PPS: Is it possible to make an extremely drinkable mead between the ranges of 8-10%? Any pointers on how to achieve such? Thanks

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Old 12-29-2011, 05:16 PM   #2
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I typically use this yeast chart to figure out what type of yeast to use. This also give me an idea of how much ABV I will achieve.

I got it here.

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Old 12-29-2011, 05:53 PM   #3
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Dry meads are rare as rocking horse sh1t over here, unless you're very lucky or make them yourself.

The place down here that does a number of meads, all except one are the mega sweet, dessert type.

You'll find that its about aiming for the best quality honey you can find, then aiming for 1 or 2 % above your intended strength, fermenting dry and then back sweetening. Dry meads are an acquired taste, so I would suggest an experiment with that batch, letting it finish dry and then back sweetening it with 50/50 honey water syrup a little at a time and then take a gravity reading and taste, to work out your preferred level of sweetness.

Back sweetening with honey can cause a haze in a cleared mead, which is why I sweeten mine to about 1.010-1.015 for a "medium sweet" level. Then I clear it.

The mega sweet dessert meads are about 1.040 out of the bottle.

Have a search for the "Gotmead Newbee guide", it explains most of the current suggested techniques, and while it alludes to supplies available to the US market, you can get either the same stuff mail order or equivalents. Don't believe what you might hear in a home brew shop as most of them know sod all about meads. Plus don't heat the honey and avoid champagne yeast if possible.

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Old 12-29-2011, 06:15 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by fatbloke View Post
Dry meads are rare as rocking horse sh1t over here, unless you're very lucky or make them yourself.

The place down here that does a number of meads, all except one are the mega sweet, dessert type.

You'll find that its about aiming for the best quality honey you can find, then aiming for 1 or 2 % above your intended strength, fermenting dry and then back sweetening. Dry meads are an acquired taste, so I would suggest an experiment with that batch, letting it finish dry and then back sweetening it with 50/50 honey water syrup a little at a time and then take a gravity reading and taste, to work out your preferred level of sweetness.

Back sweetening with honey can cause a haze in a cleared mead, which is why I sweeten mine to about 1.010-1.015 for a "medium sweet" level. Then I clear it.

The mega sweet dessert meads are about 1.040 out of the bottle.

Have a search for the "Gotmead Newbee guide", it explains most of the current suggested techniques, and while it alludes to supplies available to the US market, you can get either the same stuff mail order or equivalents. Don't believe what you might hear in a home brew shop as most of them know sod all about meads. Plus don't heat the honey and avoid champagne yeast if possible.
Thanks for your advice! I do agree with your home brew advice, the guy I talked to did seem a bit clueless / his info completely conflicted with all the reports I was hearing. About the heating, I heard that it's good to heat the honey a bit (not boiling) to skim the foam that rises to the top off? I'll check the mead newbie thread, thanks!
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Old 12-29-2011, 07:17 PM   #5
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Nah! Heating honey is old method/technique.

At most, if it won't come out the jar, just put them in a sink of hand hot water changing the water when it goes cold, till the honey runs.

If you read the Newbee guide you'll see the bit about aeration in the early stages, hence I just scoop it out into a liquidiser with water and blitz it. Nicely aerated and runny is the result.....

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Old 12-30-2011, 12:01 AM   #6
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Hey man,

I'm also new to this mead thing, but unlike you, I haven't started making one quite yet. Still coming up with the cash to get equipment to use.

But i'm interested to keep following your first mead as to how it comes out, so keep us updated.

Also, I tried a California mead (the only one they had at the liquor store). It said it was a medium mead, and it came with some spices in case you feel like making a mulled drink. Chaucers was the brand.

Any comments (besides the ones above) that you think another noob might want to hear?
Anyway, I look forward to hearing how yours comes out!

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Old 12-30-2011, 12:33 AM   #7
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Hey man,

I'm also new to this mead thing, but unlike you, I haven't started making one quite yet. Still coming up with the cash to get equipment to use.

But i'm interested to keep following your first mead as to how it comes out, so keep us updated.

Also, I tried a California mead (the only one they had at the liquor store). It said it was a medium mead, and it came with some spices in case you feel like making a mulled drink. Chaucers was the brand.

Any comments (besides the ones above) that you think another noob might want to hear?
Anyway, I look forward to hearing how yours comes out!
Did you like the taste of the medium? Not sure about the questions. About the budget thing though, you could easily get sufficient equipment + ingredients for one 1 gal batch for under $25 or so. Plastic PET bottles + airlocks should be around $5, the rest of the equipment could be borrowed / in your house already. The honey's probably the most expensive thing I reckon. Good luck anyway! And thanks, I'll update on how it goes. My plan is to let it ferment out then backsweeten a bit for a medium-dry mead.
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Old 12-30-2011, 01:33 AM   #8
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Did you like the taste of the medium? Not sure about the questions. About the budget thing though, you could easily get sufficient equipment + ingredients for one 1 gal batch for under $25 or so. Plastic PET bottles + airlocks should be around $5, the rest of the equipment could be borrowed / in your house already. The honey's probably the most expensive thing I reckon. Good luck anyway! And thanks, I'll update on how it goes. My plan is to let it ferment out then backsweeten a bit for a medium-dry mead.
I did / do (I'm still drinking it, lol) like the taste of the medium. I think anything sweeter would just be too sweet for me. I would like to try a dryer mead, but like what has been said, I probably won't be able to until I make my own.

The questions were really just to see if you had anything to say to a newbie, since you are relatively in the same boat (which you did, lol).

Also, question about your honey: did you buy locally, or get it online?
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Old 12-30-2011, 02:30 AM   #9
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I did / do (I'm still drinking it, lol) like the taste of the medium. I think anything sweeter would just be too sweet for me. I would like to try a dryer mead, but like what has been said, I probably won't be able to until I make my own.

The questions were really just to see if you had anything to say to a newbie, since you are relatively in the same boat (which you did, lol).

Also, question about your honey: did you buy locally, or get it online?
Man, the only mead I can get a hold of in Scotland without ordering online is like a liquor sweetness. I drank the whole bottle, but very slowly heh.

Hmm...comment wise - I guess less from experience but more from reading - experiment with what you brew. Think of it as an experiment of sorts I guess, to figure out what works best for you. Keep everything the same other than the yeast to see what kind of yeast you prefer, keep everything the same other than the amount of honey etc. Try different recipes with spices/fruits etc. I've only personally got two batches of plain show mead brewing at the moment so I'm definitely not speaking from experience lol. Just be patient and remember - when you get time / money to visit the brewery store - there's no such thing as buying too many fermentation vessels / yeast! I regret not just buying like half a dozen demijohns each time.

About the honey...I've been pretty lazy / miserly with that lol...just been using supermarket set clover honey. I would buy locally, but it's pretty frozen here in Scotland and I doubt many beekeepers would be producing / don't know of any locals. Jars of like 340g of orange blossom honey in the supermarket are probably around £4-5 ($7-8 or so) and I'm happy enough just experimenting with the cheaper stuff. I'd be really interested to see what you end up doing for your first batch - keep in contact! Cheers.

@Fatbloke - I had a good read through the newbee guide. It was really in depth and helpful...the spreadsheets/calculators will be really useful to refer to when I try another batch! Thanks man.
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Old 12-30-2011, 03:01 AM   #10
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Man, the only mead I can get a hold of in Scotland without ordering online is like a liquor sweetness. I drank the whole bottle, but very slowly heh.

Hmm...comment wise - I guess less from experience but more from reading - experiment with what you brew. Think of it as an experiment of sorts I guess, to figure out what works best for you. Keep everything the same other than the yeast to see what kind of yeast you prefer, keep everything the same other than the amount of honey etc. Try different recipes with spices/fruits etc. I've only personally got two batches of plain show mead brewing at the moment so I'm definitely not speaking from experience lol. Just be patient and remember - when you get time / money to visit the brewery store - there's no such thing as buying too many fermentation vessels / yeast! I regret not just buying like half a dozen demijohns each time.

About the honey...I've been pretty lazy / miserly with that lol...just been using supermarket set clover honey. I would buy locally, but it's pretty frozen here in Scotland and I doubt many beekeepers would be producing / don't know of any locals. Jars of like 340g of orange blossom honey in the supermarket are probably around £4-5 ($7-8 or so) and I'm happy enough just experimenting with the cheaper stuff. I'd be really interested to see what you end up doing for your first batch - keep in contact! Cheers.

@Fatbloke - I had a good read through the newbee guide. It was really in depth and helpful...the spreadsheets/calculators will be really useful to refer to when I try another batch! Thanks man.
Let me clarify. The medium to me is definitely sweet. It's just sweet enough. Definitely a dessert type drink, in my eyes. But yea, if the commercial stuff over in Glasgow is sweeter, then I can imagine how long it would take to finish, lol.

Yea, everything over here in Maine is getting pretty cold, so I'm not sure if I'll find any local grown, but if the agriculture up here is like the people, there might still be some bees thriving. Yea, I remember prices being pretty steep when I was in Edinburgh, so I can imagine. It is a bit cheaper here, I believe.

I'll definitely keep you in the loop on my turnabout.


Also, do you plan on playing Centurion with a batch? I feel like it could end terrible. Or terribly awesome.
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