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Old 08-03-2008, 11:56 AM   #1
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Default My first mead (melomel)

I've been itching to try something new, so when I got my July/August BYO, I saw the Strawberry Banana Melomel recipe and decided to give it a go. Off the top of my head, the recipe is..

22lbs wildflower honey
18lbs frozen strawberries (in the primary)
4lbs bananas (in the secondary)
3 gallons of water (I used bottled)
71-B yeast and a nutrient/energizer blend

It's been just under 24 hours and when I checked it this morning, it was definitely fermenting already. My 8gal wine pail's lid is bubbled up and I'm just waiting for it to explode. Some of the must got into the airlock, but it seems like its not clogged yet. I think I will go change the air lock in a few, but the BYO article says to do a staggered nutrient addition, so I need to add more this morning, so I'll do that as well. My question is, I keep seeing the term "fruit cap management". The article doesn't really mention what that means other than "punching the cap". So looking around, it appears I need to make sure the fruit doesn't get stuck at the top stalling/killing fermentation. What should I use to "punch the cap"? Can I just use my drill bit wine whip, without the drill, just to gently mix things up? Or is there something else I should be doing?

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Old 08-03-2008, 02:04 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by janzik View Post
I think I will go change the air lock in a few, but the BYO article says to do a staggered nutrient addition, so I need to add more this morning, so I'll do that as well. My question is, I keep seeing the term "fruit cap management". The article doesn't really mention what that means other than "punching the cap". So looking around, it appears I need to make sure the fruit doesn't get stuck at the top stalling/killing fermentation. What should I use to "punch the cap"? Can I just use my drill bit wine whip, without the drill, just to gently mix things up? Or is there something else I should be doing?
Punching the cap down is simply stirring the top of the cap back into the liquid to keep it from drying and, yes, you can use your wine whip. Just make sure you keep everything clean.

Also, when you add the nutrients, make sure you stir it into about a cup of liquid (must is good but water works too) to keep your fermentation from boiling out of the container. Dry nutrient additions wil provoke an immediate and violent reaction in the early stages of fermentation.

I always put my fruit in a straining bag - it makes things much easier.
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Old 08-03-2008, 06:46 PM   #3
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I've read some stuff about staggered nutrient addition over at BrewBoard.com and it sounds pretty good. Have you noticed any differences due to the additions? I have wanted to try it but im too lazy.

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Old 08-03-2008, 10:14 PM   #4
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(This is my first experience with any type of mead, so I couldn't tell you anything, yet).


When I got home, I checked my bucket and it had leaked some outside the lid (super fermentation! woo). I cleaned up the spillage and I should be good for now... How often should I be mixing up the fruit during the early fermentation? Several times a day?

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Old 08-04-2008, 05:39 AM   #5
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I would suggest to do it maybe once every other day for about a week, then leave it alone.

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Old 08-05-2008, 05:00 AM   #6
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I would suggest to do it maybe once every other day for about a week, then leave it alone.
+1...
Man...I've been late to these conversations lately.
Once a day or every other day...but the most important part is the LEAVE IT ALONE after about a week.
You will eventually either introduce oxygen or Bacteria...either way is not good.
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Old 08-05-2008, 05:11 PM   #7
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I've read some stuff about staggered nutrient addition over at BrewBoard.com and it sounds pretty good. Have you noticed any differences due to the additions? I have wanted to try it but im too lazy.
I would be careful with this and make a solution with the nutrient, I have found that when I add anything in powder form to my meads I tend to produce volcanos which while amusing tend to piss me off cause they make a mess. the exception to this is when I rack onto the powdery substance (coke mead?? haha) but if you are doing staggered additions you wouldnt want to rack that often. I would suggest getting a shot glass and making a solution in that then pouring it in.
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Old 08-06-2008, 02:30 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigKahuna View Post
+1...
Man...I've been late to these conversations lately.
Once a day or every other day...but the most important part is the LEAVE IT ALONE after about a week.
You will eventually either introduce oxygen or Bacteria...either way is not good.
My main concern is to make sure I don't infect it. I take the lid off my bucket and I've got a good thick spongey layer that is on the verge of drying out each time I look at it. I followed the recipe to a T and my 8 gallon bucket is near full. I'm not sure what I'm going to be able to rack this into (I can't imagine losing a gallon and a half to sediment after a month in the primary). I may have to find me a couple of smaller carboys...
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Old 09-06-2008, 02:22 PM   #9
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Just wanted to update. I racked to a 6.5 gallon carboy the other day (I was afraid it wasn't going to fit in a 6 gallon, but it was fine). Off the top of my head, I think the gravity was down to 20. I'm pretty sure it isn't infected, based on a taste test. It's definitely a strong taste, almost with an high octane burn, but I liked where it was going. I added the bananas I bought, but the 4+ lbs of bananas turned out to be a little over 3lbs after peeled... so I may buy some more this week and toss some more in there. I think the BYO article said leave it on the bananas for a month, then move it to a tertiary for bulk aging/clearing.

How long would you leave it on the bananas? How long would you leave it in the tertiary before bottling, and how long would you leave it bottled before you started trying some?

I'm figuring, beginning of October, I'll transfer to another carboy and let it sit until at least January(?). Then I'll bottle it and save it until the 1 year mark in August 2009. Any thoughts?

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Old 09-06-2008, 02:39 PM   #10
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I used this same recipe but I didn't do that many strawberries in the primary.
I did however use some in the secondary as well.

Mine has been on the banannas for about 2 weeks now

I hear it's difficult for the bananna flavor to come through so I am considering kicking up the fermenting temp from 68 degrees to 74 to see if I can get some banana flavor to come through.

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