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Old 03-30-2011, 04:49 PM   #11
chicagobrew
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My wife went to Lahser (class of 96). Small world.

I'm not sure where the hives are located. They're supposed to be in pesticide-free wildflower fields, so I doubt that is Cranbrook. The company is Stakich Inc. I'll check into it and see what I can find out.

I've decided to give it a go this weekend. I'm going to do a traditional semi-sweet mead, but I'll add some spices at bottling if it doesn't turn out like I hope. If it's not ready to go by Christmas I'll either label it with the suggestion to age or delay giving it for a year.

Thanks to everyone for the input.

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Old 03-30-2011, 04:53 PM   #12
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If you make a more modest ABV mead, it could be ready by xmas (this year)... You could go with a traditional, or melomel, depending on what you really want to do. If you can get your hands on some good, fresh, fruit, go the melomel route.

For recipes, it's really not that involved... Depending on your ABV target, and how much you want to do with it, you could simple mix the honey with water (warm at most), add some DAP, rehydrate the yeast (I prefer Lalvin strains for my mead) and get it started... I would suggest leaving a decent amount of head space in the fermenter for it... Especially if you're going to aerate until the 1/3 break happens... There's a lot of good method advise on the Got Mead? website...

I would also use the mead calculator tool from the Got Mead? site to help figure out how much honey to add to the batch, to get your ABV goal... I would advise using a bit less initially, so that it will go dry, then add more until the yeast konks out. Once that happens, don't back-sweeten too much. Get it close to where you want it to finish (a bit drier is good) and then bottle it up... I would plan on at least 6 months before bottling a lower ABV mead... By lower, I'm talking ~14% ABV...

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On Tap: Caramel Ale, Mocha Porter II, MO SMaSH IPA
Waiting/Carbonating: 12.5% Wee Honey II, 8.9% Old Ale, English Brown Ale, Lickah ESB, Mocha Porter II
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Old 03-30-2011, 05:27 PM   #13
chicagobrew
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Gold,

That's kind of my plan. I chose D47 because of the lower alcohol tolerance. This is going to be for gifts, so it needs to appeal to a fairly wide range of people.

Can you check this for me? Here's how I went about my calculations. I want this thing to finish in the 1.008-1.015 range. So, I figured out that with an FG of 1.008 and and ABV of 14% I would get an OG of 1.115. If the yeast get a little over excited and go past 1.008 I can backsweeten or leave it be. If they stop short, 12% ABV should about 1.022, so I'm not too sweet. If it stops way short we'll have to talk about other options at that time. How attenuative do you usually find D47 to be? Do you see 14% regularly?

From there I worked back into a water volume of 3.77 gallons. In reality, I'm going to just put the hydrometer in the bucket and fill with water until I get to my OG.

Nutrients and energizer will be according to the schedule in the sticky. I'll also try some of the potassium carbonate for buffering. Degas is to be done 1-3x per day for the 1st 7-10 days or until not necessary. Rack to secondary when done fermenting and every 1-3 months after that until clear. Bottle and age to taste.

Is this how you figure out your recipes? Sound about right?

A couple more questions for you.
1. When you rack to secondary you'll invariably end up with a bit less than 5g. Do you top off to minimize head space or leave it be?
2. When would you suggest I bottle this? Is it better to bulk age and then bottle just prior to consumption, or do you bottle as soon as clear and age in bottle?

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Old 03-30-2011, 05:32 PM   #14
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Actually 2 more questions.

3. With regards to degassing, why is oxidation not a problem with meads? We certainly wouldn't stir a beer like this.
4. If I wanted to make this mead as a 12% ABV, for example, could I just lower the OG and then hit it with potassium sorbate when I get to my desired FG? Or, would the preferred method be to let it ferment all the way out and then backsweeten?

I appreciate the help. These were the things I can't find in the forum and weren't in the Compleat Meadmaker as far as I saw.

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Old 03-30-2011, 05:44 PM   #15
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If you're making a ~5 gallon batch, I would use 12-14# of honey initially... It's better to have it go dry, while the yeast is still alive, adding some of the reserved honey until it cries 'uncle' than have it finish too sweet. You can simply let it ferment fully (it could go down to .990) and then add ~1/2# at a time at that point... If you want to short the batch for water, so that it's a bit stronger, that could be ok, just be careful. Keep in mind, 12# of honey is 1 gallon of volume. Which means, 1# takes up about 10.6 fluid ounces for volume... So, if you reserve 1-3# of honey, you're only talking about ~1 quart of volume less. I would split the difference and only short the batch about 1 pint, if at all.

I tried to get my first traditional batches to finish to a target ABV/FG... I added too much honey, so it's not going there. I wanted in the area of 1.010, but I'll be lucky if it gets to 1.020...

I wouldn't use potassium carbonate unless the must has a really low PH... Like under 3.2... Use some test strips to determine that before you add any pot. carb. to the batch... I've not needed it in any of my batches of mead. The only thing I needed to add it to was my hard lemonade, due to how much acid is in lemonade...

If you want, you can make a bit more than 5 gallons of must, initially, and reserve 1-2 quarts... IF you do that, just be aware that you'll need more honey in order to get where you want it... I would simply not worry about it that much...

IF you have, or get, a refractometer and use one of the tools to offset for alcohol, you'll lose much less during the process. Or just sanitize everything that will touch it once you start the batch and simply pour the hydrometer sample back in. You'll not lose all that much from trub when racking. You'll lose more from blow-off (if you use a primary that's a bit tight, like I did) and hydrometer samples. I think it would be safe to feed, degass, and aerate each day for ~4-5 days, then take another hydrometer reading. If it's getting close to the 1/3 break, then take readings each day after that... Since you're OG will be in the area of 1.100, figure the 1/3 break as being around 1.063... at that point, you can leave it alone to finish... It could take the balance of a month before it's actually done fermenting. Take a reading at that time, to confirm. I would add the additional honey, a bit at a time, while still in that carboy/fermenter... Once it's finished, and stable, rack.

I would also stop adding honey when you hit about 1.006... That way, it will get better with age and you won't have issues.

This is how I plan on making my future batches... Plan on letting it ferment to dry, with yeast still viable, then add more honey to get it to the tolerance of the yeast, and beyond, then add a bit of sweetness before aging...

You could also tell the people you're giving bottles to (give them two if you can) to give it a few months, then open one. Let the other go until the following fall before having it.

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On Tap: Caramel Ale, Mocha Porter II, MO SMaSH IPA
Waiting/Carbonating: 12.5% Wee Honey II, 8.9% Old Ale, English Brown Ale, Lickah ESB, Mocha Porter II
Fermenting
K1:
K2: Epic mead
K3: TripSix
On Deck: Caramel Ale
Aging:mead
Mead [bottled]:Oaked Wildflower Traditional, Mocha Madness, Blackberry Melomel, maple wine
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Old 03-30-2011, 05:47 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chicagobrew View Post
Actually 2 more questions.

3. With regards to degassing, why is oxidation not a problem with meads? We certainly wouldn't stir a beer like this.
For mead, the yeast needs more oxygen due to the harsh environment it's pitched into. Giving it oxygen until the 1/3 break helps with this.

Quote:
4. If I wanted to make this mead as a 12% ABV, for example, could I just lower the OG and then hit it with potassium sorbate when I get to my desired FG? Or, would the preferred method be to let it ferment all the way out and then backsweeten?

I appreciate the help. These were the things I can't find in the forum and weren't in the Compleat Meadmaker as far as I saw.
I think I might have answered this one in the post just before this one... Have you looked on the Got Mead? site yet??

Personally, I'm not treating my mead batches with stabilizers... I want them as pure as possible. While some people consider the chemicals as not being an issue there, I'm going the more traditional/old school mode in mine... Also using the KISS protocol...
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Hopping Tango Brewery

跟猴子比丟屎 ・ Gun HOE-tze bee DIO-se

On Tap: Caramel Ale, Mocha Porter II, MO SMaSH IPA
Waiting/Carbonating: 12.5% Wee Honey II, 8.9% Old Ale, English Brown Ale, Lickah ESB, Mocha Porter II
Fermenting
K1:
K2: Epic mead
K3: TripSix
On Deck: Caramel Ale
Aging:mead
Mead [bottled]:Oaked Wildflower Traditional, Mocha Madness, Blackberry Melomel, maple wine
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Old 03-31-2011, 12:17 PM   #17
chicagobrew
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Gold,

I think I get it now. Thanks for the help. I just checked out some threads at gotmead and there's a ton of great stuff. I've got a lot to learn, but I think I can put together a pretty good mead now. I'm going to try to do a lower gravity (12%ish) version and then backsweeten to taste. Hopefully, this should allow it to age a little quicker and be ready for Christmas.

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Old 04-06-2011, 06:04 PM   #18
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Thanks to everyone for their input. The mead is happily bubbling away and has dropped from and OG of 1.090 (started evening 4/2) to about 1.045 as of this morning. SNA was done according to hightest's sticky and the must was degassed/aerated several times daily until it hit the 1/3 break. She's on her own now.

Recipe:
2.2lbs clover honey
14lbs wildflower honey (it was raw and must have had a lot of wax in it because I didn't think I'd need more than 13lbs to get to the OG)
water to 6gals
nutrients per hightest's schedule
2 packs d47, rehydrated

The plan from here is to let it ferment out and then rack to secondary. Rerack every 1-3 months after that until clear. Somewhere around 5-6 months I'm going to sulfite/sorbate to stabilize and then start backsweetening it. I aim to get it to about 1.010 or so. Once the backsweetening is complete and mead is cleared I'll bottle and age. I hope it's ready by Christmas, but we'll see. I'm definitely going to stash a couple bottles in the cellar for a few years to see how they age.

Any one see any problems with the above plan?

Thanks again for all of the help. I really appreciate all of the good advice.

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