Spike Brewing 12.5 Conical Fermenter Giveaway - Enter Now!

Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Mead Forum > My first mead, AHS Sweet Traditional Mead Kit

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 02-04-2008, 02:28 PM   #1
Jumbo82
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Jumbo82's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Plymouth, New Hampshire
Posts: 499
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

Default My first mead, AHS Sweet Traditional Mead Kit

I've never brewed (or even tasted) mead before, but last weekend when AHS had a 10% off sale I decided to purchase a mead kit. The kit was $61.28 (~$55 with the discount) and came with 15lbs of honey, an additive pack, and Red Star Champagne yeast. The O.G. is 1.100 and will finish with 11.5% ABV according to the instructions. I started the batch on Sunday at noon and this morning I noticed that occasional bubbles were coming out of the airlock, which is a good sign. As per the directions, I heated up the honey in ~2.5 gallons of water on the stove, stiring to avoid sticking. The directions said to heat to 185 degrees for 20 minutes, but I had some trouble maintaining this temperature. I was at 175 for a while, so I turned up the burner. When it hit 185 degrees, I turned it back down a bit, but the temp on the thermometer continued to rise to 200 degrees. I took the kettle off the stove until the temp came back down, but it was near 200 for several minutes. I've read that over-heating honey can negatively affect the flavor, but hopefully I didn't do too much damage in this short amount of time. Other recipes I've seen have said to heat to other temps, like 160 degrees. Whats the deal with this variation? Does it have to do with the amount of honey that is being dissolved?

I cooled the kettle down by placing it on the snow on my back porch (I should have bought a wort chiller last weekend too...) for about an hour. I then poured it into a 6 gallon carboy, added cold tap water to the 5 gallon mark, and pitched the Red Star yeast. The directions say to rack to a secondary for 6 months after fermentation is complete (this is from memory since I'm at work, might not be exact). I'm thinking I should rack to a 5 gallon carboy in about a month to get the mead off the sediment, and then rack again a few months later. Does this seem reasonable?

I considered making just a 1 gallon first batch since I've never even tried the stuff, but since it takes so long to make I'd like to have something to show for my efforts. Has anybody else ever used an AHS mead kit or used a similar recipe? I figured the kit would be a safe first batch. If I make another batch (maybe a cyser..), I think I'll get my honey from an apiary. I've seen places with 5 gallon buckets for $85-95. Thats around a $1.50/lb. Eh, I wish I could find a place that sells commercial mead so I could find out whether I even like the stuff before I go nuts (I'll probably have to order a bottle online...). My stuff will probably turn out better anyway. I love homebrewing.

__________________

Last edited by Jumbo82; 02-04-2008 at 02:31 PM.
Jumbo82 is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-04-2008, 03:17 PM   #2
sirsloop
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: South River, NJ
Posts: 2,592
Liked 17 Times on 15 Posts
Likes Given: 1

Default

Well... if you get honey real hot it can diminish some of the flavor. They say to heat the mead to kill any bacteria or whatever. I think its hooey. I warm up some liquid and mixed my honey in... maybe 120°F. I wouldn't rush it as far as racking to secondary. I'd leave it on the lees for like 6-8 weeks then rack it to another carboy. At that time fermentation should be mostly completed. If the mead finishes dry, you could always add some potassium sorbate and campden to stop the yeasties, then add raw honey into the mix to give the flavor a little boost and sweeten it up. I'm sure it will turn out fine... just RDWHAHB and let it age

__________________
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~___//_ ____________________________~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~_/ [][]| | /```\/```\/```\/```\/```\ |~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~_/_______| |____NOW TRIPLE HOPPED______|~~~~~~~~~~
~~~___/[_]| 00 /| | \,,,/\,,,/\,,,/\,,,/\,,,/ |~~~~~~~~~~
~~|___|___|___/_| |___________________________|~~~~~~~~~~
~~|=(*)[________]==(*)(*)=| \________/=(*)(*)=|~~~~~~~~~~
sirsloop is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-04-2008, 03:35 PM   #3
flowerysong
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
flowerysong's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 287
Liked 2 Times on 2 Posts

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jumbo82
Other recipes I've seen have said to heat to other temps, like 160 degrees. Whats the deal with this variation? Does it have to do with the amount of honey that is being dissolved?
No, it has to do with preference on the part of the recipe formulator. AHS is attempting to make the kit as foolproof as possible, and recommend a higher temperature so that people who have badly calibrated thermometers or get impatient and take it off the heat a little early will probably still have pasteurized the must. It's possible to heat it to lower temperatures and nevertheless have good pasteurization, so other recipes will state those temperatures.

Personally, I'm willing to accept the slightly higher chance of infection that goes with not pasteurizing the wort and just warm the container of honey a bit in warm water to make it easier to pour. Heating honey has a detrimental effect on its flavour and aroma.
__________________

Primary #1 - Empty
Primary #2 - Empty
Secondary #1 - The Jolly Toper's Undrinkable Ale
Secondary #2 - Empty

flowerysong is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-04-2008, 04:15 PM   #4
Jumbo82
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Jumbo82's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Plymouth, New Hampshire
Posts: 499
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

Default

Thanks guys, next time I won't heat it nearly as much. I suppose this batch might end up a bit on the bland side, but nothing to do now except take sirsloop's advice and RDWHAHB.

__________________
Jumbo82 is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-04-2008, 06:25 PM   #5
flowerysong
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
flowerysong's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 287
Liked 2 Times on 2 Posts

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jumbo82
Thanks guys, next time I won't heat it nearly as much. I suppose this batch might end up a bit on the bland side
I really wouldn't worry about it, to be honest. It's possible to make excellent meads with pasteurization or without, and one can also produce horrible meads both ways. Pick a method that you're comfortable with, and go with that.

It shouldn't be bland; the change is usually a loss of the lighter aromatics and occasionally some caramelisation. You should still get a solid honey taste as well as any flavour contribution from the yeast used.

Speaking of yeast, after re-reading your original post I think this is going to finish stronger and drier than you're expecting; Red Star Champagne yeast can tolerate up to 14-15% ABV.

There's no need to rush getting it into secondary. Waiting until it's finished fermenting will help prevent stressing the yeast and minimise the accompanying potential for off flavours, and yeast autolysis shouldn't become a concern unless you're leaving it in primary for several months. If you feel like adding an additional racking or two while bulk aging it shouldn't hurt anything, but keep in mind that every time you rack is another chance to pick up an infection or oxidize your wine, so don't overdo it.
__________________

Primary #1 - Empty
Primary #2 - Empty
Secondary #1 - The Jolly Toper's Undrinkable Ale
Secondary #2 - Empty

flowerysong is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-04-2008, 06:51 PM   #6
Jumbo82
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Jumbo82's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Plymouth, New Hampshire
Posts: 499
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

Default

Its nice to hear that I should still have some good flavor on this mead. As for the alcohol content, I was a bit curious about this myself. I checked out both the Dry and Sweet Traditional Mead Kits on this page http://www.austinhomebrew.com/index.php?cPath=178_454_456_143 . The Dry has a starting O.G. of 1.090 and ends up at 13% ABV, while the Sweet has an O.G. of 1.100 and finishes with 11.5% ABV. Both kits give Red Star Champagne yeast as one of the options. I just assumed that Red Star wouldn't ferment out the last of the sugars in the Sweet Kit, but it sounds like it will. They should have put something in the description of the kit that explained the difference in yeasts. I actually wouldn't mind a dry mead, but SWMBO isn't a fan of dry wines. I suppose I could check the F.G. and kill the yeast with a tablet... Or add more honey to put it outside of the tolerance of Red Star... Eh, I'll probably just chock it up to experience and start another batch in a few weeks with the right yeast.

__________________
Jumbo82 is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-04-2008, 07:09 PM   #7
Jumbo82
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Jumbo82's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Plymouth, New Hampshire
Posts: 499
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

Default

Flowerysong, that Milljag Shee cyser in your profile looks pretty good. Maybe I'll try that one next. So just to be clear, if I rack to a secondary after 6-8 weeks, you'd recommend leaving it in the secondary for another 6 months or so of clearing/bulk aging before bottling? Once bottled, I assume it can be drank then or aged longer if needed/desired (sorry for the noob mead questions).

__________________
Jumbo82 is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-04-2008, 08:15 PM   #8
sirsloop
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: South River, NJ
Posts: 2,592
Liked 17 Times on 15 Posts
Likes Given: 1

Default

I think the sweet mead specific yeast must have a low alcohol tolerance or something. Honey is highly fermentable. Like all wine yeast, and most ale yeast should be able to survive 10% ABV. They will all continue to metabolize the honey until there is none left or they are all dead from alcohol. So I think in most cases when making a sweet mead you're going to end up knocking out the yeasties then back sweetening. This "sweet mead" yeast they make... maybe it can only handle like 9% ABV, then they yeast give up leaving a sweeter beverage. I've only used regular wine yeasts...

__________________
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~___//_ ____________________________~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~_/ [][]| | /```\/```\/```\/```\/```\ |~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~_/_______| |____NOW TRIPLE HOPPED______|~~~~~~~~~~
~~~___/[_]| 00 /| | \,,,/\,,,/\,,,/\,,,/\,,,/ |~~~~~~~~~~
~~|___|___|___/_| |___________________________|~~~~~~~~~~
~~|=(*)[________]==(*)(*)=| \________/=(*)(*)=|~~~~~~~~~~
sirsloop is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-05-2008, 04:34 PM   #9
flowerysong
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
flowerysong's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 287
Liked 2 Times on 2 Posts

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jumbo82
So just to be clear, if I rack to a secondary after 6-8 weeks, you'd recommend leaving it in the secondary for another 6 months or so of clearing/bulk aging before bottling? Once bottled, I assume it can be drank then or aged longer if needed/desired (sorry for the noob mead questions).
Yes. At 6 months it will probably still be a bit on the young side, but it should be somewhat drinkable.
__________________

Primary #1 - Empty
Primary #2 - Empty
Secondary #1 - The Jolly Toper's Undrinkable Ale
Secondary #2 - Empty

flowerysong is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Reply


Quick Reply
Message:
Options
Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Mead newbie question: how to make a bottle conditioned, sweet, sparkling mead? weirdboy Mead Forum 36 05-28-2010 06:24 AM
Traditional Clover Mead for Blending--Foam Over! jkpq45 Mead Forum 1 10-07-2009 02:58 PM
Looking for The most traditional Mead 3MindsBeer Mead Forum 1 10-20-2008 09:35 PM
Traditional Mead Bottled today. User_05_28_08 Home Brewing Photo Forum 9 05-23-2008 08:00 PM
Sweet Mead Saintdanmic Mead Forum 3 09-12-2007 09:20 PM