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-   -   sweet mead ready to rack?? (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f30/sweet-mead-ready-rack-347878/)

Auryn 08-15-2012 08:03 PM

sweet mead ready to rack??
 
Hello all.
Erika here.
Total newbie. I apologize for posting this here but I figured it was more appropriate than in the Newbie board.
Sorry if it goes a little long but I figured it would be best to provide all the pertinent information.

So 2 sundays ago I made my very first batch of mead- after reading about it
ad-nauseum for a year.

My goal is to make a very sweet mead, alcohol content not super important.
I used 15 lbs of clover honey for a 5 lb batch. No heat method.
Lalvin D-47 yeast (2 packets) as per the "sweet show mead" recipe in "the Complete mead maker" by Ken Schramm.

I tried taking an OG and potential alcohol reading with my Hydrometer on the first day. I got 1.040- I am assuming that because I had a 2" thick layer of honey at the bottom I wasn't getting a true reading.
I aerated the Must with an electric stick mixer for about 10 minutes.
PH of my water is 7.0
the must was at about 6.8

it has been sitting in the darkest corner of our house- ambient temperature between 70-75o (its south Florida, its the best I can get)
Fermentation began within 12 hrs- about 1 bubble every second. Today is day 11. I tested on day 8- taste was ok- still a bit yeasty, not very sweet- all the honey was gone from the bottom. Nice mouth feel - a bit alcoholy back taste and aroma but not unpleasant.
I took another gravity reading (used a test tube don't worry)- It almost got to 1.050
PH reading was about 3.5

The bubbles are now down to once every 6 seconds or so ( I know that is not an accurate gauge).

What do I do/wait for?? I can vaguely see a yeast cake and the bottom of the white plastic fermenter.
Everything I have read online relates to dry meads being ready.

I want a nice soft sweet mead. I really don't like dry meads (or spirits of any kind).

Thank you
sorry for the dissertation

biochemedic 08-16-2012 04:58 AM

It's going to be hard to predict when your mead will be "ready"...but if you're only 2 weeks in, it's not ready!

It's good you're taking all sorts of measurements, unfortunately your OG was obviously erroneous (invest in a drill and a paint stirrer...well worth it!); keep good notes, they will help you later (the memory will fail you!)

Practially, though, what I would do is this: Let it go until it starts to clear, then take serial gravity measurements over the course of several days. If they're consistent, your yeast is done with what it is capable of in the current environment. IF it's dry, and you want it sweeter, stabilize it with potassium sorbate and potassium metabisulfite, and slowly add honey back in to your desired level of sweetness. Your OG should have been in the 1.110-1.115 range with 15 lbs honey in a 5 gal batch size, if you end up any lower than 1.010, you've probably reached the yeast's tolerance (D47 is "rated" to 14%, and 1.115 down to 1.010 should yield ~14%). Be aware though, the yeast doesn't know it's rated to 14%...if you seem to have hit a stable gravity above 1.010-1.015, and want to keep it there, I'd go ahead and stabilize before you rack or bottle it, just to avoid restarting fermentation and/or creating bottle bombs...

Auryn 08-16-2012 08:27 PM

Thanks for taking the time.
I very much appreciate it.
I will start taking some gravity readings today for the rest of the week.
I can vaguely start seeing a yeast cake forming at the bottom.
My fermenter is opaque white so hard to tell.


I am thinking that when I rack it, to put it in individual gallon glass carboys and play around with some different flavors.

Auryn 08-17-2012 04:43 PM

Tested last night
PH at 3.4
gravity at 1.019
tasted like 86 octane and no sweetness left

biochemedic 08-17-2012 10:45 PM

Surprising you didn't have any perception of sweetness...1.019 is high range semi-sweet. I can't say I'm surprised at you describing it as somewhat hot...I've never personally used D-47, but I've read a lot of anecdotal experience here that is is especially good at producing fuesel alcohols, particularly at warmer temps (and if your ambient temps are in the low 70's, your actual fluid temp in the carboy may be a bit hotter in primary due to heat from yeast metabolism).

Give it some more time, consider stabilizing and backsweetening a little more if you still want it sweeter, then give it some more time. This one may not be really drinkable for a year (or two)...

Auryn 08-18-2012 08:04 PM

I guess I shouldn't be surprised I screwed it up on my first try.
I think I will stabilize it, put it into secondary and forget about it for a while.

Now I have to find a good recipe and yeast choice that will produce a sweet soft flavored mead that doesn't take an elephant's gestation period to become drinkable

any suggestions??

I am thinking of making smaller batches with a couple of different recipes so if I screw up it will be on a smaller scale.
I need something that can handle temps in the lower 70s, at least until winter comes

fatbloke 08-19-2012 12:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Auryn (Post 4342337)
I guess I shouldn't be surprised I screwed it up on my first try.
I think I will stabilize it, put it into secondary and forget about it for a while.

Now I have to find a good recipe and yeast choice that will produce a sweet soft flavored mead that doesn't take an elephant's gestation period to become drinkable

any suggestions??

I am thinking of making smaller batches with a couple of different recipes so if I screw up it will be on a smaller scale.
I need something that can handle temps in the lower 70s, at least until winter comes

For traditional batches, K1V-1116 will manage from 50F to 95F. It's known to produce good batches of traditionals.

It will also ferment to 18% ABV, so rather than trying to mess about with making musts to achieve a certain %, then trying to stop the ferment or using so much honey that you have residual sugars, it's easier to pick a certain strength, something between 12 to 14% ABV is reasonable. You ferment that dry, then back sweeten it, incrementally to your desired level i.e. add a little bit of honey at a time and mix it in gently, then take a gravity reading and a little taste - you can repeat the procedure until you reach your preferred level of sweetness.

The sweetest of commercial meads are known as "dessert" meads, they tend to have a final gravity IRO 1.035 to 1.040

2olddogs 09-01-2012 12:12 AM

Auryn, So here is what I could suggest for your next batch - (And even this one) - Chill. You seem really worried about producing the very best batch the very first time. That never happens. If it did, why would you ever make another. Some suggestions I would make are the following:

Glass Carbouy - Mead take a long time to ferment and to mature. Ifyou have not already done so get your mead off the plastic and on some glass. You are probably already on the edge of picking up plastic flavors.

Time - Honey has lots of little "wild" things in it. Pollen, yeasts, bee legs... Those things impart a wild and or "Hot" flavor to the mead when young. If you are using raw honey you shuld expect to age it at least 12 months if not 24 for it to really smooth out. My brother brewed a blueberry mead that was hateful to drink at 12 months. Last month we cracked a bottle and it was smooth as water and sweet as spring. 12 years!

I agree with back sweetening to taste if you really want something sweet. I lean towards the dry side myself so I will admit have not done that often.

I like your idea of smaller batches. That is a great way to try subtle variations and see what they produce. Great note taking is essential.

Most of all, Have fun. I wish you great luck and great drinking!

2olddogs

Auryn 09-30-2012 03:50 PM

Hi all
sorry to have been gone so long- crazyness around here.

So I decided to go ahead and pass this first test into a glass carboy.
We recently cleared out the spare fridge we have in the garage. We use it for drinks only- would it be advisable to put the glass carboy in there where I can keep the temperature in whatever range I want???

I am planning on starting my small 1 gl batches in the next few weeks.
I bought some K1V-1116 so I was thinking of doing a batch of that in the house and a batch of D-47 in the garage fridge and see what happens

Arpolis 09-30-2012 06:51 PM

If you want a traditional mead to not take 2 years to be really drinkable then think low ABV. Try about 2 lb of honey in a gallon with you 1116 yeast and measure the gravity closely. At about 1.02 throw it is the fridge and get it as close to 40*F as possible. That should throw the yeast into dormancy. Once clear rack the mead into a new jug with a crushed Camden tablet and potassium sorbate.

That's what I did for one of my meads and it worked great.

Your OG should be around 1.072 and with a FG of 1.02 will just give you over 7% ABV. That will age out in half the time.


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