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SebastianS 01-28-2013 04:43 AM

Some questions from a first timer!
 
Evening everyone!

As many others I've seen post, I'm also a first timer starting down the mead making path. I've made the decision to ferment a 5 gallon batch. There are just a few things I'd like to run by you folks.

I'd like to go as all natural as possible. There's been plenty of videos I've seen of people not using any nutrient or energizer whatsoever, and having great results. Personally, I'd like to use bee pollen as a nutrient to keep the yeast happy and healthy. There's a video of a bee keeper from Michigan who uses just that as nutrient(approximately 1 cup for a 5 gallon batch) and he says it adds a bit more flavour to the mead to. I've emailed me personally and he says it's the only way he does it, and that it's worked every time. I just thought I'd see what you guys think of said method? Have any of you prepared mead this way?

Next up is royal jelly. Jam packed with loads of nutritional content, it's even healthier than bee pollen. Has anyone used royal jelly? Alongside bee pollen or just on its own? I'm considering looking into this as an additive, but I most likely will just go with bee pollen. I've done a lot of research into mead making this past month and have yet to find anything on the use of royal jelly.

And lastly, honey. A lot of people use Wildflower honey. However, a friend of mine suggested I actually stay away from it, as it can leave a burnt rubbery smell once the mead is all finished. Has this happened to anyone else? I've only heard this from him, and think it might've been a poor quality honey, and not a common problem. Either way I plan on using Summer Blossom(a mix of clover and summer floral) if this Wildflower issue has been experienced by others.

I believe that's it. Everything else is all very straight forward. I'll use a food grade plastic fermenting pail for the primary before racking it into a glass carboy, and use all the necessary equipment of course. I'll be using Lalvin's 71b-1122, I feel that's prefect for my taste. Oh, one last question. I recently tried Buckwheat honey. Robust, and is all 'round great. Who here has made a Buckwheat mead? How was that turned out? I think I'd like to try a little 1 gallon batch of that.

saramc 01-28-2013 02:25 PM

Welcome to the forum! I cannot speak to using bee pollen or royal jelly, but there is a thread on here, recent in fact, about whole hive mead...so it does talk about some of your questions. I have also read that bee pollen is a great natural nutrient, since pollen is one of the richest and purest natural foods, consisting of up to 35% protein, 10% sugars, carbohydrates, enzymes, minerals, and vitamins A (carotenes), B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (nicotinic acid), B5 (panothenic acid), C (ascorbic acid), H (biotin), and R (rutine)--makes sense.
- I would not think many use royal jelly because it is just as expensive as imported caviar, plus many beefolks rely upon royal jelly to feed larvae and any larvae destined to be queen eat royal jelly exclusively. But in the scheme of things I think royal jelly could be used since it is simply digested pollen and honey/nectar mixed with a chemical secreted from a gland in a nursing bee's head and is used by some as a dietary supplement and fertility stimulant. It is loaded with all of the B vitamins---but I think bee pollen would be just as good a choice.
- In regard to honey choice, many of us use wildflower honey with great success but you need to know what wild flowers are in your bee's flightpath. Perhaps some flower is contributing to the burnt smell/taste that is mentioned? It could even be the yeast that was used, the fermentation temp, etc..
- Going natural--buckwheat honey is a great nutrient, and I typically add 2 oz per gallon. Alone it is considered by many to have an intense, aggressive flavor (I adore it right out of the jar!)...but if you would like to see what is like on its own in a mead, then definitely make a small batch, worse case scenario you use it for blending, for topping up, etc.

Enjoy your mead! Sara

Matrix4b 01-28-2013 08:26 PM

I have made a Blueberry Vanilla mead with buckwheat honey. It turned out great.

Not sure on your questions as I haven't used bee pollen or royal jelly. Personally if you want to go "natural" as you say, the cheaper option would be to get some bread yeast and boil it in some water. This kills the yeast and it provides nutrients for the yeast. A friend uses that method for nutrients exclusively.

Something to keep in mind that Lavin 71B you don't want the lees to build up too far or stay on the lees for too long. It can contribute to off flavors. I recomend that after you rack it off of the primary you keep an eye on it and don't let the lees build up over a 1/4 inch. It should be a racking of about every 2 to 2 1/2 months or so. Also, when you rack it like that it does clear quicker.

I also recomend that you oak it with lightly toasted oak. It's still natural method as mead used to be aged in oak barrels and hey it's just wood. Just rinse the dust off the wood chips or cubes first.

Good luck.

Matrix

SebastianS 01-29-2013 02:50 AM

Thanks for replying you two! Glad to be here amongst you fellow meaders!

Saramc, you're absolutely right about the pollen. It's jam packed with all those goodies. Great for mead, yeast, and especially us humans too! I actually checked out and posted in that thread a few days ago(but solely on thoughts of me deciding to go as naturally as possible). It's where I first caught a wind of the royal jelly as an option. However, considering the price and perhaps even my ability to find it fresh, I'll just go with the bee pollen. It's worked for others. I doubt I need so many nutrients for the yeast, that'd I'd get from adding royal jelly and even propolis on top of the pollen. I'm going for Dutchman's Gold, a fairly local small business here in Ontario. They've won awards, have been making fantastic honey and've been selling their other bee products for over 30 years! They'll be able to answer my questions so I can decide whether their Wildflower will be good to use!

I'll see if my friend can shed some light on this mead issue he had...

Thanks for the heads up regarding the Lalvin 71b, Matrix4b. I'll make sure to keep an eye on it once it's been racked. I wasn't expecting you to say not to let it build up past a 1/4 inch. Especially for a 5 gallon batch. But I will heed that warning and make sure to rack it off into a fresh carboy every 2 to 2 1/2 months. The oak chips/cubes sound like a great addition to add some extra character to the mead. How much would you have to add to a 5 gallon batch? And I'm correct in guessing that it's added during primary, yeah?

I love Buckwheat! I've been snacking on it daily(no more than a tablespoonful or two), the jar I purchased recently. I've been looking into and consuming bee byproducts even more now. They've so much to offer us health-wise! I'll try my hand at a small gallon batch of Buckwheat mead in a bit. That blueberry vanilla buckwheat mead does sound great, Matrix4b!

Talk to you all soon!

TheBrewingMedic 01-29-2013 01:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SebastianS (Post 4838337)

I'll see if my friend can shed some light on this mead issue he had...

Ask him about what yeast he used and technique as well, but could have something to do with his off smells

I've only ever used buckwheat in an irish stout style braggot and it works/tasted great

Matrix4b 01-29-2013 06:08 PM

For oaking a 5 gal batch:

Amount: I use 1 oz chips
Time: about 3 weeks (doesn't add much character but smooths it out) I sometimes go as long as a month.
Timing: I add it toward the end, at about the last racking when it's starting to get clear.
Type of Oak: I usually use American Oak, lightly toasted is my favorite.

Lightly toasted Oak: Very light fruity character, smooths nicely, for use with delicate fruits or light fruits.
Medium toasted oak: Kinda carmelly overtones a bit more robust than light, some of the more earthy or robust spices and fruits would be good.
Heavy Toasted oak: A nice smokey notes that many scotch or whisky drinkers really apreciate. Best for use in a dark or heavy flavor.

Note: if you use cubes up the time a bit more by about a week or two. Some use spirals (expensive) but the spirals take much longer and can be used to oak for several months.

Oh, also if you are a barbqer or enjoy smoked meads, when done oaking keep the oak for smoking meat and fish with, It's great!

Hope this helps.

Matrix

SebastianS 01-30-2013 05:00 PM

Great tips and info, thank you! A best friend's dad makes homemade wine, and he uses oak chips to add character to those wines. I'll just ask him where he buys his.

I love barbecuing and love smoked meats! I'll make sure not to throw them out!

Thanks, TheBrewingMedic. We'll solve this mystery, no doubt in my mind! I'm not too familar with what a braggot is, I've seen the name used a bit here and there, but I've never really looked into it. However you've practically sold me on it. Buckwheat? Great! Irish style stout? Great! Haha!

Matrix4b 01-30-2013 10:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SebastianS (Post 4844412)
Great tips and info, thank you! A best friend's dad makes homemade wine, and he uses oak chips to add character to those wines. I'll just ask him where he buys his.

I love barbecuing and love smoked meats! I'll make sure not to throw them out!

Thanks, TheBrewingMedic. We'll solve this mystery, no doubt in my mind! I'm not too familar with what a braggot is, I've seen the name used a bit here and there, but I've never really looked into it. However you've practically sold me on it. Buckwheat? Great! Irish style stout? Great! Haha!

A braggot is sort of like a cross between beer and mead. Basically it is a mead with some of the fermentables being from grains or a beer with some of the fermentables being from honey. Which ever way you look at it you are making a sort of hybrid. Many like it.

Matrix

SebastianS 01-31-2013 04:50 AM

That sounds delicious! I'd try my hand at that down the road.


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