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Old 06-17-2011, 05:44 PM   #1
dougdecinces
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Default Mead questions (first timer)

High all. I have been brewing for about 6 months, but will be making my first mead soon. I have a general understanding of how the process will work, but I was hoping I could get some answers to some of the questions I had.

I have a mulberry tree on my yard and as such will be making a morat (mulberry mead). Here is the recipe for a 2.5 gallon batch:

5 lbs clover honey
2.25 lbs mulberries
1 vanilla bean
some as of yet unknown amount of ginger

The expected OG will be about 1.070-1.080. Here are my questions:

*I plan on using 1056 Wyeast American Ale yeast. What kind of FG should I expect using this? My hope is that it ends up around 1.010.

*I want this ready by Christmas. If I plan on brewing it in early August, will that give me enough time? I'm hoping 2 months fermenting and 2.5 months bottle aging.

*Should I scrap the ginger and/or vanilla? Keep them? Do you have any recommendations for other fruits or spices for this mead?

Thank you in advance.

Steve

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Old 06-17-2011, 08:37 PM   #2
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I am by no means an experienced mead maker, but 2 things concern me:

1. I didn't think ale yeast can get the job done. Champagne yeast is used so that you can get EtOH levels into the double digits.

2. Most of the posts I have read talk about months and months of primary, secondary, tertiary, quartrinary (etc.) fermentation time. Maybe a smiple mead can mature that quickly into something enjoyable.

Again, take my answers with a grain a salt. Somebody more knowlegable is bound to come along...

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Old 06-17-2011, 08:56 PM   #3
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Also no expert, and I've not used tht yeast, but ale yeasts can go a long way. My cyser using Safale S-04 was still going strong at 15% before I cold crashed it. The Wyeast site says it can reach 11% and the gotmead calculator recons:
SG of 1.077 and ABV of 10.37%, so my reconning is that it will go all the way to dry.

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Old 06-18-2011, 02:05 AM   #4
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I have made a few meads, and here are my thoughts. Champagne is a home run, fast/reliable and you won't have to worry about shutdown if it's too strong. Aging...4 months MAY be enough. Mead I have made has not been good at 3 months...you cam drink it but the fermeted honey taste overpowers it. I had a grape mead that was trash at 3 months (cough syrup taste) and really decent at 7months. I bulk aged until EVERYTHING fell down. I just check secondary and watched for a stop in the accumulation at the bottom. You could try aging in smaller (1gallon) jugs, that could speed it up. If it's not ready in 4 months, just give it time. Honey+high alcohol=longer aging, unfortunately.

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Old 06-18-2011, 02:19 AM   #5
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Forgot to mention, I did a blueberry mead (hand crushed the blueberries) and at 6-8 months it was dynamite! Blueberries gave a nice rose color and crushing them added a tannic wine-like finish. Of note though, you really should add acid to your mead. Just get an acid blend at your brew store and you can either add to desirable pH or titrated acidity....of if you don't do that yet being new, add acid to taste. You should add slowly (maybe 1/2 tsp per gallon at a time). You will appreciate the taste lose that flatness and gain a nice acidic "bite".

One more thing, campden tabs (aka potassium metabisulfite)...use very sparingly, if at all. I spoke to a local mead maker in Columbus OH and he told me to never use them. He explained how the honey acts as a natural preservative. I will say I have never had a batch turn. Open bottles lasted me around 3 weeks without turning bad...and that's impressive.

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Old 06-18-2011, 02:25 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dougdecinces View Post
High all. I have been brewing for about 6 months, but will be making my first mead soon. I have a general understanding of how the process will work, but I was hoping I could get some answers to some of the questions I had.

I have a mulberry tree on my yard and as such will be making a morat (mulberry mead). Here is the recipe for a 2.5 gallon batch:

5 lbs clover honey
2.25 lbs mulberries
1 vanilla bean
some as of yet unknown amount of ginger

The expected OG will be about 1.070-1.080. Here are my questions:

*I plan on using 1056 Wyeast American Ale yeast. What kind of FG should I expect using this? My hope is that it ends up around 1.010.

*I want this ready by Christmas. If I plan on brewing it in early August, will that give me enough time? I'm hoping 2 months fermenting and 2.5 months bottle aging.

*Should I scrap the ginger and/or vanilla? Keep them? Do you have any recommendations for other fruits or spices for this mead?

Thank you in advance.

Steve
Champagne yeast would be the way to go. I would also get an Acid Blend and a good quality Yeast nutrient(follow package instructions). Personally i would up the mulberries to 5lbs. Run them through a blender with some water and Peptic enzyme, let them sit for an hour then heat to 160 degrees and hold there for 60 min to pasteurize and kill off any bacteria/wild yeast on them. I would scrap the Ginger and Vanilla idea as well. Just my .02
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Old 06-18-2011, 02:41 AM   #7
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Quote:
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One more thing, campden tabs (aka potassium metabisulfite)...use very sparingly, if at all.
I think those are recommended so that you dont have re-fermentation in the bottle that blows the corks out lol (yes had that personally happen on a batch of mead that spend 3 months in primary!)
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Old 06-18-2011, 02:49 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fanoffermentation View Post
Forgot to mention, I did a blueberry mead (hand crushed the blueberries) and at 6-8 months it was dynamite! Blueberries gave a nice rose color and crushing them added a tannic wine-like finish. Of note though, you really should add acid to your mead. Just get an acid blend at your brew store and you can either add to desirable pH or titrated acidity....of if you don't do that yet being new, add acid to taste. You should add slowly (maybe 1/2 tsp per gallon at a time). You will appreciate the taste lose that flatness and gain a nice acidic "bite".

One more thing, campden tabs (aka potassium metabisulfite)...use very sparingly, if at all. I spoke to a local mead maker in Columbus OH and he told me to never use them. He explained how the honey acts as a natural preservative. I will say I have never had a batch turn. Open bottles lasted me around 3 weeks without turning bad...and that's impressive.
Regarding the acid: Is this necessary if I'm making a sparkling melomel? Will the carbonic acid be enough to give it that desired flavor?

Regarding processing the fruit: would it be fine, then, to just add the fruit to the primary without pasteurizing or treating it? I want to make sure I understand you correctly, and I'm getting all kinds of different answers on the subject when I do forum searches.
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Old 06-18-2011, 02:51 AM   #9
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I have not had that happen, but once would make a campden user out of a guy. Just do the math and keep it in the <50ppm neighborhood. You don't want the taste affecting your brew. >50 is the low end of what some people can notice, or so I've read.

The one you had blow, did it have adjuncts like fruit or raisins or some variable like that? Maybe it was some malolactic thing you had going on that blew the thing.

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Old 06-18-2011, 02:59 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dougdecinces

Regarding the acid: Is this necessary if I'm making a sparkling melomel? Will the carbonic acid be enough to give it that desired flavor?

Regarding processing the fruit: would it be fine, then, to just add the fruit to the primary without pasteurizing or treating it? I want to make sure I understand you correctly, and I'm getting all kinds of different answers on the subject when I do forum searches.
I honestly think the flavor will be flat without acid. That being said, I like acidity, so it's all subjective. I have seen plenty of recipes that call for lemon juice, you can easily use that for an acid source. I would take a small amount of your honey/water boiled/pasteurized mix and taste it, then add just a little amount of acid and see what your senses tell you. I always felt that if it tasted good in the beginning, it had a better chance of tasting good in the end!

I think processing the fruit (pasteurization) is certainly safest. I'll be honest and say it was early in my experiences and I just wiped the fruit down in a metabisulfite solution before crushing it and dumping in the primary bucket. I guess it's a testament to the antimicrobial properties of honey!
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