Please help me with my first brew ever
Alright, this is going to be my first time trying to brew anything, so I need some advice. I found a recipe that is supposed to make some good mead, but I'm not sure on the reliability of the source. So, I need your help to look through the recipe and tell me if it looks like it'll work.
If it'll work, I've got a few questions:
-Could I sweeten it up a little by adding more honey? If so, would 5 lbs of honey per gallon of mix be good or should I stick with a lower amount, only raising it to, say, 3.5 or 4 lbs? (I like mine on the sweet side)
-Could I use the same recipe, but with lemon or strawberries or apple instead of the orange? (I'm looking at making 2 batches at the same time to try different flavors and I'd like to know my options)
-Are this yeast and this nutrient good choices for this recipe?
-Is there anything you'd like to change about the recipe that might help ensure I get a good batch?
Thanks guys, this is going to be my first attempt at brewing anything so I don't really know much and any input you guys have would be incredibly helpful.
3 lbs honey
1 packet yeast (5 grams)
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
1 whole orange (sliced, leave peels on)
-Mix the honey and enough water to make 1 gallon
-Boil the honey/water mix
-As it boils, skim the foam that forms off the top
-when no more foam forms, allow the mixture to cool to room temperature
-transfer the mix to the carboy
-Add orange slices
-Add yeast packet
-add yeast nutrient
-Leave to ferment in a dark place for about six weeks at 65-75 degrees
-When it clears up, siphon off/filter to remove sediment
-Drinkable at this point, though can be bottled and left for longer for a better flavor.
I would recommend using the search function and reading the stickies. That said, adding more honey will not sweeten the mead, the yeast will just eat the sugar and make more alcohol. Yes, you could use really any fruit. I am not familiar with the common yeasts used to make mead, but what you have there will work fine I'm sure.
Adding more honey WILL eventually sweeten the mead. I think even a mead made with distillers yeast would end sweet at 5lb per gallon(!!!). It would taste godawful though.
I would definitely search this site. I recommend trying joes ancient orange mead first, it's easy and seems fool proof and delicious.
Sorry that I'm such a noob, but we all have to start somewhere. :p
Don't boil your honey! Your recipe isn't very good, to be honest. Sure, it's honey and water, but you'll need to do some nutrient additions and if you want a sweet mead, you'll stabilize when it's finished and then sweeten with more honey at that time.
I'd take a look at our recipe database. There aren't a ton of recipes, but there are some good ones. Also, the "sticky" threads at the top of this forum have hints to help you with how to do the staggered nutrient additions. And one last time- don't boil your honey! :D
People boil it to pasteurize and help dissolve the honey but it not necessary just heat to 110° if you must. There recipe you have is very basic but will give you a basic understanding of what a Mead is and will taste like. Good luck happy brewing
One thing that I would like to make perfectly clear: Drinkable at 6 weeks at the first racking? No. Try it in 6 months AFTER it clears enough to read through. Most meads take 6 months to a year to age, longer if you have adjuncts that have oils that need to break down such as chocolate or coffee.
Oh, and DON'T BOIL THE HONEY. sorry, that can't be emphansized enough. Scraping the foam off the top is all well and good but if you do it until you have no foam you are going to be there a long time and ruin your honey. You see honey foams up very well when heated naturally. And the foam you are scraping off are sometimes good ingredients that are the reason we buy non-filtered honey. And if you boil your honey too much you end up carmelizing and burning the honey too much. This is a style of it's own called a Bochett. If done right it tastes good but that isn't your goal.
The other thing that strikes me is that your recipie does not mention oaking. I suspect that this is a recipie that is so old that it just is taken for granted that you will be putting it in an oak barrel. A lot of process changes, already suggested, in mead making have been made to improve mead since that time.
In modern times, I suggest that as it's clearing you put 1 oz of lightly toasted oak chips (or cubes) in with your mead in like a hops bag for easier removal. Leave in for about 3-4 weeks. It will make the mead smoother and that little of oak doesn't contribuite too much to the taste but does wonders as it's aging.
That being said, and the mention of step feeding (hydrometer needed), adding nutrients, proper racking and lees maintanence, and being careful is really all that's needed, aside from some good honey.
Hope it turns out well, don't get disapointed with the taste once it's out of the primary fermentation (that's the 6 or so weeks).
I'm setting up to brew 4 half gallon batches of various recipes tomorrow, and I had some last minute questions. I've seen in some recipes that some people scrape just the outer layer of the orange's skin (so, not deep enough to see white) into the mix and squeeze the juice into the mix, rather than putting whole slices in. What is the purpose of that? I'm guessing it's to avoid undesirable flavors in the white of the orange? Is it something that I should do?
Thanks for all the help, guys.
The basic JAO recipe, uses whole oranges. Ok, so in most cases, if you just wanted a hint of orange flavour etc, then you could indeed just "zest" the orange and then use either segmented flesh or juice, along with the "zest".
Now the JOA recipe is designed so that a new mead maker can get all the ingredients from a grocery store/shop easily and then just mix it up as per the instructions, including the use of bread yeast. Now normally, you wouldn't use the white pith off the orange as it imparts some bitterness, but with JAO it's included because with the amount of honey used, the bread yeast will poop out leaving some residual sweetness and balances the pithy bitterness.
So if you're gonna make an orange flavoured batch of "normal" melomel/fruit mead, then segmented flesh and zest, or whole fruit if it's a JAO.
Also, there's not a lot of point in trying to make a million tiny batches. The smaller the batch, the more you lose with racking and other processes used in the actual making.
Hence I'd suggest a 1 gallon JAO to start with, and after you've had that on the go for a week or two, it gives you time to research about getting some small amounts of nutrients/energiser/etc for a 1 gallon traditional or maybe another "normal" melomel.
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