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Old 11-05-2007, 02:42 PM   #1
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Default My first mead is in the carboy

After searching around for all the ingredients I needed (the honey was the hardest to find -- go figure), I finally got everything I required last week to start brewing my first mead. On Saturday, I had cobbled together a basic recipe, which I hope will work out in the end.

My ingredients list:
9L of bottled spring water
3kg of clover honey
5 cinnamon sticks
5 Campden tablets
3 tsp. of yeast nutrient
1 packet of Lalvin 71B-1122 wine yeast (recommended by the guy in one of the local make-your-own-wine stores -- I couldn't find any D47)

After cleaning and sterilizing, I poured the water into my brew pot and heated until it was boiling. Then I took it off the heat and poured in the 3kg of clover honey, stirring it into the water. Then I put it back on the stove and brought it back up to a boil.

I had just purchased some cinnamon sticks for a winter/Christmas ale I plan to make, so once the mix was boiling, I threw in a few. I thought two or three would be too few, so I tossed in five. Within ten minutes, I was barely smelling the honey anymore. The cinnamon smell was overpowering.

I boiled it all for 45 minutes, stirring frequently and occasionally skimming the foam off the top and discarding it. After 30 minutes of boiling, I fished three of the cinnamon sticks out (I was worried it would end up too cinnamony).

Then I cooled it all and let it sit until it got to room temperature.

I added five Campden tablets, as I was a bit concerned that maybe there would still be some unwanted bacteria. This is the part of the process I'm most worried about, as I only barely understand the purpose of the Campden tablets (having never made wine).

I poured everything into a carboy and let it sit over night (I can only hope enough oxygen got back into the mix). The next afternoon (yesterday), I prepared the packet of yeast and 3tsp of yeast nutrient, and then pitched it into the mix. I put the airlock in place and moved the carboy to the storage room in my basement.

It doesn't look like the fermentation has kicked in yet, and I'm worried I made a mistake somewhere that will ruin my batch. How long does it usually take before I start seeing fermentation activity? Granted, it hasn't even been 24 hours yet, but I'm a worrying sort.

Chris



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Old 11-05-2007, 05:35 PM   #2
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that's too much boiling. you pretty much destroyed the honey aromas.

also, the cinnamon flavor might get killed by the yeast. generally its 'safer' to add spices or fruit in the secondary stage, so the yeast doesn't have a strong interaction. luckily you can easily make a spice 'tea' at secondary to add as much cinnamon flavor as you like, if its lacking.

as far as the boiling of honey goes, you can do it the way you did to remove some of the proteins, but at the expense of aroma and flavor.
otherwise, get the water just boiling, then kill the heat and dissolve the honey into the hot water, which pasteurizes it and doesn't kill as much aroma.

some just add raw honey to the fermenter, and sterile water. my first mead/cyser was done like that, and it was fine. I didn't age it long enough so it had a 'lighter fluid' twang to it.



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Old 11-05-2007, 05:42 PM   #3
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Too much boiling? Oops. Oh well. I'll know better for next time, at which point I'll try what you suggested.

If I want to add cinnamon again in secondary, what would be the best way to do it? By "spice tea," do you mean to boil cinnamon in water and then add the water to the secondary?

Thanks for the comments and tips, by the way.

Chris

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Old 11-05-2007, 07:37 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctalbot
Too much boiling? Oops. Oh well. I'll know better for next time, at which point I'll try what you suggested.

If I want to add cinnamon again in secondary, what would be the best way to do it? By "spice tea," do you mean to boil cinnamon in water and then add the water to the secondary?

Thanks for the comments and tips, by the way.

Chris
There's a school of thought that says any boiling is too much. On the mead, cyser and another cyser we've done lately we only warmed up half the water to 100 F just to make it easier to dissolve the honey. The first two turned out very well and the third (second cyser) is still fermenting, but we have high hopes.

Honey is naturally antibiotic and when you innoculate it with yeast, if all goes well, they should out-compete everything else in there until the alchohol content is too high for anything else to live anyway.
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Old 11-05-2007, 10:45 PM   #5
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do some searching, you can use campden tabs to 'sanitize' the day before you pitch yeast. oops I see you already did that...so really boiling and campden was double duty.

and yes, I do mean simply steeping spices in a small amount of hot water, then putting that into the secondary a little at a time, with gentle stirring and tasting.

I've boiled my honey before too, not for that long, but long enough to get the proteins to foam up and get skimmed off.

the cinnamon would have masked some of the honey aroma anyways.
and you can always feed more honey later if its too dry after primary ends.

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Old 11-06-2007, 01:02 PM   #6
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Thanks again for the helpful tips, malklore and Moonpile.

I'm starting to get a little worried I screwed up the batch, as it doesn't appear to be doing anything. By this point, shouldn't it be bubbling a bit due to fermentation -- or something? (With beer, I use pails, so I'm not really sure what it should look like.)

Chris

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Old 11-06-2007, 01:54 PM   #7
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I don't really know much about Campden tablets, but I'm wondering if they hadn't dissipated or whatever it is they do and they just killed the yeast you put in there?

Maybe someone else who has used Campden can comment on that?

Whether or not that's the case, pitching more yeast is probably not a bad idea.

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Old 11-06-2007, 03:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonpile
Whether or not that's the case, pitching more yeast is probably not a bad idea.
Okay. I'll get another packet or two of the 71B-1122 yeast and prepare it. Would it also make sense to use more nutrient than the 3 tsp. that I put in with the yeast?

Chris
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Old 11-06-2007, 04:24 PM   #9
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Honestly, I'd check out some of the sources on nutrients. Hightest's Page is a good starting point.

Look at his "Making a Basic Mead" and "Staggered Nutrient Additions (SNA)" articles, though frankly, I have yet to try SNA since I brew at a friend's house and he probably doesn't want to obsessively check over it.

I've used Fermax, adding 5 tsp to a mead and 2.5 tsp to a cyser. Fermax is not one of the one's Hightest discusses however, and frankly I don't know what's in it. I was told by the LHBS where I bought it to use 1 tsp per gallon, and so I did. I used less in the cyser, because I was told that apple juice has some of the nutrients that honey alone lacks, though the cyser fermentation was by far my slowest so far (big cake of Wyeast 3068). The mead with 5tsp in 5 gal fermented to dryness in 3 weeks with Cotes de Rhone yeast.

EDIT: oh, and don't worry. As long as you get that fermentation started you'll be fine, boil or no boil, nutrients or no nutrients. I'd ask your LHBS about the Campden tablets issue or hope someone who know's of what they speak with regards to them sees this thread.

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Old 11-06-2007, 04:53 PM   #10
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A bit of reading suggests that the Campden tablets can slow up the start of yeast fermentation, and since I apparently didn't use them entirely properly (it looks like they're supposed to be crushed before added ), that could very well be the reason it's so slow to start. I'm going to give it another couple of days and see what happens.

I'll check out those links and do more reading on mead-making, though.

Thanks again.

Chris



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