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Old 02-13-2012, 01:23 AM   #1
wonderfulwino37
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Default new to mead, I'm getting a kit..couple questions

I'm getting this

http://store.homebrewheaven.com/nect...Questions=True

Basically this is whats included

1 Container of Premium Pacific NW Honey (11.5 lbs. in all!)
1 Package of Homebrew Heaven's Mead Blend (Secret Stuff Maynard)
2 Packages of Wine Yeast - 10g minimum
1 Package of Campden Tablets (a sterilizing sulphite)
1 Package of Potassium Sorbate (a stabilizer)
1 Package of 2-part Wine Finings (a clarifier)

I'd like to split this, have maybe half carbonated in beer bottles and the other non carbonated in wine bottles. What would be the easiest way to do this? I did read something about if you carbonate, to not add the stabilizer, is this true?

Also I want to add flavors. I was thinking Blueberry, vanilla and cinnamon. When would be good to add these? During first or second fermentation? Also, any advice on quantities for these?

I have been looking around online for a while looking at info for this stuff, but its still kind of confusing, and I love these forums. So any feedback is appreciated. Thanks!

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Old 02-13-2012, 01:36 AM   #2
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Meh... it's a lowly ~10% ABV mead... All well and good IF that's what you're after. Personally, I won't go lower than 14%, which is what certain strains of yeast I use will go to (Lalvin yeast strains). With all the 'secret squirrel' BS on that recipe, I'd not go there. Also, time will help you to clear out the mead. I see no need to use any finings in it. I also don't see a need to use stabilizers IF you do it up right and give it long enough. IF you want it done fast (where it won't be it's best) then fine, go ahead. Also, TWO packets of yeast is over-kill. I use a single packet of the yeast linked to above for 5 gallon batches (and smaller too) without any issue at all.

If this is your first mead, I'd go very basic. Make a traditional mead, using honey that YOU like the flavor of. Get local honey if at all possible that you would otherwise eat. I've been doing this with my batches and they come out beyond great. I've had people that have had other meads before, not enjoyed them at all, only to try mine and LOVE it. Mine is what they imagined mead would taste like.

Once you have a solid mead under your belt, then start making other batches and experiment with flavor additions. Add those post fermentation though. IME, it's better to add them once the yeast is fully done than to add them at the start, or during fermentation. You'll get much better flavors this way.

I would also shelf the carbonated idea for a later batch. IMO, it's not something a novice/newbee should try.

Also, using hot tap water (unfiltered) is a supreme BAD idea IMO. I would use filtered/bottled water to start with. IF you really wanted to, you could warm it up on the stove some. But, you don't need to. Put the honey into a warm water bath for a while, before pouring it into the primary.

Look over at the forums on the Got Mead site to get a better idea of how mead can be made with far less trouble.

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Old 02-13-2012, 02:07 AM   #3
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hmm.ok, maybe i'll skip the kit route and look at some recipes. I'll admit I'm pretty excited to start so maybe I wanted to take on too much with my first batch

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Old 02-13-2012, 03:12 AM   #4
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I know how you feel, but I would advise cutting your teeth before going up to your elbows in t-bones.

For my first three batches, I made two traditional meads and one blackberry melomel. The traditional batches were identical except in size (one in a 5 gallon and one in a 3 gallon carboy). I did a lower OG for the melomel, but added some of the blackberries at start of fermentation. I'll never do that again. It feels like I simply tossed away all the flavor I could have gotten from those berries by doing that. The traditional batches, however came out beyond great (lesson learned there).

I learned a few things from those batches, that have helped me in other batches. IMO, the KISS principle should really be followed, at least until you've done a few batches. Learn the process first, then start experimenting with different things.

Right now I have three batches in process. Two of them (using 71B-1122) are done fermenting already and have been racked twice. The third batch is still going, and is in it's original vessel. All were started on 12/4/11 and 12/5/11. The one that's still going was formulated to go to 21%, the other two to 14%. I planned for them to not go to dry at that level, but leave a little sweetness behind. I won't know if they've hit the mark for some time though. I won't take a sample, even on the ones that are finished, for a few months. I want to give them time to develop more before I pull a sample. One of these used grade B maple syrup instead of honey. That one looks, and smells GREAT. I've already ordered more of the same syrup in order to make a stronger batch (using either EC-1118 or K1-V1116 yeast).

I'm also planning on starting a couple more traditional mead batches soon. I'll probably make one to about 14% with D-47, then another to 18% with EC-1118 and probably another to 21% with the Eau de Vie (Wyeast liquid) yeasts. All of these yeasts will make for rather different end products. Even though I'm using the exact same batch of honey (from the 5 gallon/60# bucket I have on hand).

My only 'issue' with all of these batches is having a place to keep them before they're ready for bottles... Since that won't be for several months, I'll have to find spots to keep these while they age. I prefer to bulk age since that gives you greater flexibility to correct things as needed. I would advise not rushing to bottle a batch of mead, ever. Even a ~10% batch will benefit from several months in bulk form, aging. If you have a cool basement, and you can clear away a spot for the batches, store them there during the warmer months. I plan to bottle the batches started in December, around November, or so. Since they're going to be sealed up in my keg fermenters, I really don't have any issue letting them go longer. I'm actually planning on letting them go until I have a keezer built that I can cold crash them in and then bottle from the kegs. It worked really well for the last of my initial batches (aged it on oak for a bit first). I plan to chill it down longer though, so that I get even less sediment in the bottles (there's very, very little in that batch).

BTW, don't try to impose beer fermentation time frames to mead. Not going to happen. The 14% batches I made (mentioned above) were done fermenting after a month. The third batch is working on it's third month in primary. It's probably not going to be transferred until early March, IF it's done that is. It could go even longer, so that it clears better.

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Old 02-13-2012, 10:10 AM   #5
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I just looked at the HBH link and also concluded pretty much what Golddiggie has posted.

One thing I like to point out, is that when making batches, whether from kits or recipes, if you're in a location that tends to get warm, then don't use D47 yeast unless you have the kit to control the fermentation temperature, because it's known to produce fusels at ferments over 70F. Golddiggie already alluded to a good yeast to go with, as it works well in traditionals and has one of the widest temperature range tolerances, and that's K1V-1116 (Montpellier strain - and that far south in France, and it get's bloody hot at times, so it's got a good pedigree).

An easy recipe to start off with, it the

as you can get all the ingredients from the local grocery store and you just need a 1 gallon jug/carboy. Just stick to the recipe as is, and you pretty much can't go wrong. It's a good one to start with.......
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Old 02-13-2012, 01:34 PM   #6
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Golddiggie, would you please make sure you post your experience with the Eau de Vie yeast? I'm interested in trying it out at some point.

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Old 02-13-2012, 01:53 PM   #7
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I'm not necessarily disagreeing with the others, but I think you can look at a couple points in a different way.

First of all, the "Customer Questions" section of the linked page answers some of the issues.

Most importantly, you can make a fine mead with that kit. As a novice, doing a lower gravity mead can probably yield you drinkable results faster, especially if you can't control temps to minimize the creation of fuesel alcohols. Managing the fermentation well will help though...be sure to read up on staggered nutrient additions. I'd assume that the "secret stuff" is some sort of nutrient blend, but you may get better results if you understand nutrient additions and add it in a stepwise fashion over the first few days of fermentation.

Regarding water, there is nothing intrinsicly wrong with tap water, assuming your water tastes good from the tap. I'm fairly assured that Kent, WA has safe water free of coliforms and other nasties. If you want to be complete though, you could call your water board and see if they use chlorine or chloramines to treat the water. If so, this brings up another way to look at the stabilizing products, specifically the Campden, as it can be used to treat water and remove chlorine and chloramines. If you find out it's just hypochlorite or chlorine that is used, you can just boil the water, or even just let it sit out in the bucket for a couple days before brewing.

I do agree that you probably don't *need* the stabilizing, unless you're going to backsweeten. Also, the finings are probably not necessary, assuming you let this bulk condition and clear properly before bottling, as Golddiggie mentions.

I do like that the kit is a 5 gallon batch...FWIW, as I was drinking the results, I wished I didn't waste time on the three 1 gallon batches I did when I first started...

Yeast: unless you're prepared to make a starter, I'd recommend you use dry yeast to start. I also would debate that using 2 packets/10 grams of dry yeast is not overkill, but perfectly fine, and probably appropriate and better. You will get a much more appropriate pitch rate with 2 packets (I generally use 3 packets for my usual meads which tend to start around 1.110-1-130). It's pretty hard to overpitch, and you will get a much quicker, and healthier fermentation with a larger yeast mass.
BTW, the "Customer Questions" mentions that they use KV-1116. You can debate what yeast is best for a traditional mead (I happen to really like the Wyeast Dry Mead strain), but that will work fine. Don't forget to look up/read up on rehydration (available on the Lalvin website).

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Old 02-13-2012, 07:21 PM   #8
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Well thanks for all the input guys. I decided to keep it simple stupid and went for the JAOM 1 gallon recipe(Just got back from the store). At least I can get started and I can take more time to figure out what my first 5 gallon batch will be

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