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firestem4 01-05-2013 09:40 PM

Started my first mead!
 
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Hi all!

I finally got my first mead going today. I got a beer-kit a few weeks ago but I have been more tempted to start a small batch of mead going since It's a bit easier and I don't have all of the equipment I need for brewing beer yet (pots and chillers, blah!)

Anyway, I am making a show mead. I think it will be a medium/sweet mead.

1 Gallon batch with local unprocessed Orange honey. I used about 2.5lbs so hopefully it'll be a tad less sweet. I wanted a dry mead but the LHS only had the sweet mead yeast.

Used bottled arrowhead water
Wyeast 4148.

My O.G. is 1.102 and I just pitched it an hour ago.

Golddiggie 01-05-2013 09:46 PM

IMO, while I use Wyeast for my beers, I'd never use one of their 'mead' yeast strains for a mead. If you do even a short search on that strain you'll find tons of posts of people having issues with it. Also, you'll be lucky if it goes to the full 11% ABV it's rated for. Without using any nutrients, you've got the potential for a lot of issues. Since a show mead is simply honey, water and yeast, with NO nutrients (of any kind) added, it's going to be rough. If you add nutrients, it's then a traditional mead (which most of us opt for).

If they didn't have any Lalvin yeast packets in stock, I'd search for another (decent) LHBS. If the guy behind the counter only recommended the Wyeast strain, due to ignorance, then you need to go in there knowing what you want since he/she's obviously useless when it comes to mead.

BTW, you're looking at finishing around 1.018SG, if it goes that far. So it will be very sweet (almost into the 'desert' range).

firestem4 01-05-2013 09:53 PM

I didn't know which yeast I should be using since this is my very first time doing any homebrewing. I'll just see what happens. This is primarily why I started with a 1 gallon batch in-case something goes wrong I'm not throwing out 5 gallons (which is a lot of expensive honey!!!) or wasted effort.

Should I add some raisins for nutrients? I've read that is pretty good without imparting a significant flavor. If I add the raisins (or other recommendation?) When should I do it, and how long do I keep it in there? And can any store-bought raising like the sun-maid stuff work?

Golddiggie 01-05-2013 10:02 PM

I would add either Fermaid or Fermax or DAP to it for nutrient. Fermaid is usually 1 tsp per gallon of must. So you can add 1 tsp to the batch and see how that helps. I would also aerate/degas it for the first few days. Normally you'll do that until you hit the 1/3 break. Which is the point where 1/3 of the sugar has been consumed by the yeast. Since your batch won't be going to dry, your 1/3 break will be a bit higher. Basically, when you hit 1.056 SG, you don't aerate/degas or add any more nutrient to it.

Go over to the Got Mead? forums to look up more precise nutrient amounts, if you want. I would also suggest getting one of the Lalvin Labs strains that will give you more of what you want, and make up another batch. You can also use the calculator on the main Got Mead? site to figure out about how much honey to use. Still take an OG reading since the amount of sugar in honey can vary from year to year, season to season, and even between batches sold.

Just so you know, adding nutrient will remove it from being a show mead. Really only matters if you were going to enter a competition. I prefer to make mostly traditional meads, since they tend to be easier on me. I also favor local/regional wildflower honey due to the complexity of the flavors and aromas you get in the finished product. If you go for some of that, make sure you get a late season harvest. That will be the darkest, most flavor rich honey you can get. :D Tastes damned good even by itself. Even better when you ferment it and let it finish between 1.006 and 1.018 ... :rockin: Even though my initial batches finished above 1.020. :D

BTW, if you don't care for how this batch is after a year, bottle it up and then set it aside for another year. You'd be amazed at how much it can change in just those 12 months.

firestem4 01-05-2013 10:23 PM

Ok. Thanks for the info. Like I said i'll hold out and see how it goes. No sense in throwing it out until it's gone wrong even if the wyeast isn't the best but i'll get some nutrients for it. I don't care so much for the "show mead", I only called it that because I didn't want to add any fruits, I just wanted to try a straight and true mead for my first time.

I went with the honey cause I thought that might be a nice flavor. That'll be the interesting thing is to try different honey varietals with the mead and see how they come out.

Golddiggie 01-05-2013 10:29 PM

You can get the nutrient either from the LHBS or order it online. I ordered up a pound of Fermax the other week via Amazon. Cost is better than the same amount in 2oz bottles. Since it won't go bad, and I use enough of it (will probably last me 1-2 years depending on how many batches I make) it made sense.

Depending on what part of the country you're in, you could get some really good wildflower honey. I know the stuff from up where I am is insanely great. :drunk: Especially if you get late season harvest stuff, when they do it so that you still get some from the earlier harvest. The complexity of flavors will amaze you (IMO). But, only if there's a good variety of different flowers/plants in the area where the hives are located, If it's mostly orange groves, then you'll get that as the dominant flavor no matter what.

firestem4 01-06-2013 08:17 PM

I picked up some nutrient and added it to the must. I also put the container in a water bath to bring up the temperature a little. It's been hovering at 65-68 and my LHBS recommended I increase the temperature. Since this was my first time I didn't know what i was doing with the smack-pack, I actviated it while it was cold rather than bringing it to room temp first. Will see how it goes.

firestem4 01-08-2013 06:35 PM

Ok so it was a rocky start but the yeasties have finally started bubbling. I was having issues holding a constant and warm temperature so the yeast ended up going dormant. I added some nutrient and a warm water bath and they're finally bubbling slowly. Since I didn't know what I was doing at first I smacked the wyeast pack while it was cold so my pack never inflated even after a few hours warming up.

Does anyone have any recommendation on how to maintain a decent temperature? Our house insulation is kind of poor so the corner of my closet is not ideal for such a small amount of water.

Golddiggie 01-08-2013 06:48 PM

Heating pad and something to insulate with usually does the trick.

nitack 01-09-2013 12:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by firestem4
Ok so it was a rocky start but the yeasties have finally started bubbling. I was having issues holding a constant and warm temperature so the yeast ended up going dormant. I added some nutrient and a warm water bath and they're finally bubbling slowly. Since I didn't know what I was doing at first I smacked the wyeast pack while it was cold so my pack never inflated even after a few hours warming up.

Does anyone have any recommendation on how to maintain a decent temperature? Our house insulation is kind of poor so the corner of my closet is not ideal for such a small amount of water.

65 to 68 is actually a fine temperature for most yeast strains. They will take a little longer to work through the honey, but it will be fine. Warm it up too much and you'll get stressed yeast and bad flavors. Unless you are in a rush to complete fermentation for some reason, you can leave it as is and be good.


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