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Old 09-09-2013, 02:18 AM   #1
Paul_F
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Default So if a guy was going to "invent" his own Mead (bochet) recipe...

I'm a rank newbie, doing a lot of reading... and planning for my 2nd (or maybe third, depending on how my week-old batch of JAOM comes out) batch of Mead somewhere down the road.

I'm not jumping into creating my own recipe yet... I ain't that smart. Like I said, it's at least six months down the road - just getting head start on understanding more complicated processes than the JAOM calls for.

I'm liking the idea of a Bochet (using a caramelized honey, mostly because I tend to overcomplicate things anyway...).

So would I be right in thinking;
1) a ratio of between 3 and 4 lbs of honey per gallon of water is typical (more=dryer, less=sweeter?)

2) Some form of nutrient for the yeast is necessary (provided by the oranges and raisins in JAOM) - Fermaid? Purina Yeast Chow?

3) Racking from the primary to a secondary (based on what onnna them there hydrometer-things says... I'm still reading on that topic... here and at Gotmead) is necessary to leave the lees behind?

4) Aging in the secondary for months, to a year or more, is typically desirable? Not just to develop flavor, but to make sure the Yeast is done eating, so it won't 'splode any bottles you put it in?

I'm sure I'll have questions about selecting a yeast and various other possible ingredients (I'm leaning towards some dried cherries, a tea bag or two of Early Grey, and some toasted oak chips... but that's very very VERY preliminary.. like I said, months and months from now...


Lastly, I'm thinking about avoiding burning my apartment down, or making national news by being carried off physically by a swarm of bees while caramelizing my own honey by buying some from a place called Bills Bees (80 oz jug of caramelized honey for $25.. and an obscene amount of shipping considering I'm the same state...). Anyone try any Bills Bees caramelized honey?


OK.. enough mental meanderings for now.. (I was going to use another word instead of meanderings, but thought it best to assume this is a family friendly brewing discussion board )
I appreciate any discussion my learning process sparks, even if it tends towards "Dude, just use a proven recipe... ".

Paul F.

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Old 09-09-2013, 03:38 AM   #2
Lungus
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You can safely caramelize your honey by mixing it with water and bringing that to a slow boil and then boil until it is the colour that you want it. I made mine by boiling the honey directly but I've made candy before so I knew what to expect. I boiled the honey until it reached about 350F which is a bit above Hard Crack, almost scorching it. I am new to mead making as well but that didn't stop me from jumping in head first and make my own recipe I call it Burnt Caramel Apple. I added the honey to pure apple cider. It's been a strange ferment and I've read other stories of having a hard ferment with bochets. This ferment stalled for weeks, when suddenly it just started up again. This is fine with me as it was still really sweet, 1.050, so I'm hoping it will get down to 1.015.

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Old 09-09-2013, 04:57 PM   #3
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Simply put, don't by burnt honey. In your large stockpot do it yourself. I did it on the stove. Those that have had trouble with bees have done it outside in the wilderness. And guess what? That's where they are.

Here's what I did: Put 6 pounds of honey in my large stock pot and put it all together and put it on the stove and put the heat on medium. You then stir it. Some say that this wasn't neccessary, me I just didn't want the bottom of my brew stockpot to have burnt honey sticking to it. I stired it and it foamed up rather largely. It was stiring a light foam. I took a drop on a white paper plate every 15 min and at 1/2 hr ever 5 min. I then saw the color change and took it off the heat when I was at a color of my choosing. I waited until it was a dark carmel flavor. Then I mixed in some water. Unfortunately, I didn't let it cool down a bit first so I may have lost a quart of water to steam. But I pressed on, mixed in another 6 pounds of honey and got to 4 gal of water. The reason why I added the 6 pounds of honey and only carmelized 6 was that for the most part, carmelized sugars don't ferment and I wanted some fermentables in there. Now true the camelization process doesn't carmelize ALL of the sugars but I figured I need to add it for a decent ABV%.

That was my primary. Also, Yes you do need yeast nutrients. I use yeast nutrient and yeast energizer, bought from my local brew store. The ratio of honey is ok, personally, I like to use 12 pounds of honey per 5 gal and then stabilze and backsweeten when it's nearly done. This way I get a nice sweet mead. I usually end up with a good one doing 6 pounds of honey in 1/2 gal of water as an addition for backsweetening. But depending on the yeast, more honey doesn't mean sweeter. More Residual Honey, is more sweeter.

You see the difference is a given yeast will have an alcohol tolerance and will eat up to that and sometimes beyond for the more resilient yeasts. The yeast ABV% tolerance is an average. Residual sugar is what sweetness is left over when the yeast die when they reach this limit. So for some yeasts like champaign yeast, the yeast will keep going on the honey going to bone dry until it reaches about 22%. I use D-47, which goes to about 16%, though I have gotten 18% out of it. But as I said, I Stabilze it (stop the yeast from growing so they die off and don't ferment more, Takes a few days.) when it is almost clear, then I add the honey/water mixture. I use potassium sorbate to stablize it. About a tablespoon for a 5 gal or 1/2 teaspoon per gal. does it. Then wait for a few days.

That is when you sweeten to taste.

On your #3, Yes you leave the lees behind, that is the purpose of racking. To get rid of the dead yeast and partially active yeast in the slurry.

On #4, when the mead is clear enough to read newsprint through it, you can bottle. Then you age it for around 8 months to a year. Aging it is simply just letting it sit. The mead will sort of cure and blend, during this time sweetness comes back a little, spice flavor comes back as well as more subltle fruits and other flavors. It is a neccessary process that allows the mead to expell some bad flavors and seperation of a bit of the nasty taste you sometimes get with green or freash mead. You will be supprised.

Hope that this helps

Matrix

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Old 09-09-2013, 05:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
So would I be right in thinking;
1) a ratio of between 3 and 4 lbs of honey per gallon of water is typical (more=dryer, less=sweeter?)
About 3lb honey per gallon is a good average for many. But the level of honey you use will change how much alcohol you can potentially have. For a well done mead once fermentation is done and in secondary the mead will usually need to be aged about 1 month per ABV% before becoming really mature. So a 12% mead may need a whole year where a 6% mead could take 6 months or less. Just something to keep in mind. More or less honey does dont dictate dry or sweet. Dry is just when there is less residual sugar. Sweet is when you have more residual sugar. The amount of alcohol is irrelevant. You can have a sweet 18% ABV mead and a dry 9% ABV mead.

Quote:
2) Some form of nutrient for the yeast is necessary (provided by the oranges and raisins in JAOM) - Fermaid? Purina Yeast Chow?
Nutrients are important. There are many with different philosophy on "the best" nutrient type/regiment so take my words with a grain of salt. I am less interested in brands with my yeast nutrient but rather just making sure I use a yeast nutrient and energizer. Yeast nutrient should be strait DAP. This looks like white crystals. And energizer can be any nutrient blend that has that tan powder look to it. For a Bochet I would use 1tsp per gallon nutrient and 1/2tsp per gallon energizer. I also like to take the amount and split it up over 4 additions. The first (mainly DAP) right at mixing up theist and the 3 others every 24 hours.


Quote:
3) Racking from the primary to a secondary (based on what onnna them there hydrometer-things says... I'm still reading on that topic... here and at Gotmead) is necessary to leave the lees behind?
Yes racking off the lees is important. Look up autolysis. That explains what could happen if you leave the yeast too long. Some yeasts need to be racked off sooner than others but there is always time. I normally make sure to not go over a couple months on the lees at most.
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Old 09-12-2013, 03:21 AM   #5
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Lungus, Matrix4b, and Arpolis;

Thank you all for taking the time to reply!
Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to this thread...
Life has a way of getting in the way of my hobbies!

Your explanations all make things clearer!

I'm still skeptical of caramelizing the honey indoors.. y'all haven't seen what kind of mess I can make with rather mundane foods, much less Honey, LOL. However, I have many months to consider my options carefully before buying or caramelizing my own.

Paul F.
Watching my JAOM fizz lightly - week two.

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