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Old 04-22-2010, 02:07 PM   #1
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Default Thinking of trying out mead-making

I'm thinking of trying my first mead, but I'm curious about what I should know first. I skimmed the chapter on mead in Papazian's book, and I thought it made mead-making sound like a lot of fun. However, I figured I could get some more current advice from this group.

I liked the sound of his prickly pear mead, but this far north, cactus fruit is rare and expensive. Any good recipes for a first time mead maker that would work well with affordable NJ fruits? I'm thinking maybe blueberries?

Also, how much does a 3 or 5 gallon batch of mead usually cost? I'm thinking I'll be going to either my homebrew store or farmer's market to buy that much honey. I already have yeast nutrient, campden tablets, and yeast energizer.

And should I use a 6 gallon fermenter for 5 gallons of mead, or is my 5 gallon carboy (which I use for wine-ish recipes) safe? Does it develop any sort of krauzen?

And do all mead recipes take about 6 months a year to condition? I'm thinking I'd like to make a mead for this Halloween to throw a Wickerman party.


Sorry for all the questions. I just don't want to go in blind. My late father made a batch, and it was disappointing by my mom's account, so I don't want to blow a lot of ingredients.
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Old 04-22-2010, 02:09 PM   #2
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PS: I've made beer and apfelwein, so I'm not completely new to home-fermenting.

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Old 04-22-2010, 02:54 PM   #3
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I have made blueberry mead and it is in the third racking stage now (can't remember what it's called) I put half the berries and most of the honey in the primary and then racked over the other half of the berries and another pound of the honey in the secondary, after about 10 days in the secondary I racked into two gallon jugs with airlocks to age, and the second jug had much sediment in it... But I didn't use a mesh bag for my fruit and I regret it!! it was a pain to rack out from under all those berries and they got sucked up the racking cane etc... I will be using a fruit bag next time..
But the primary and secondary were done in my brew buckets.

Cost wise the honey was $2 a pound and the berries were $8 per bucket this summer (those big ice cream buckets full)
I used 6 pounds honey and 4 pounds blueberries and the juice and zest from two lemons.. I hope that gives you a kind of cost basis to go on. I made two gallons. Ran out of honey and berries or I would have made more!
The flavor is very nice and fruity and it did ferment out really dry, but not like the white grape/peach mead that I did earlier that is like rocket fuel.. so I am hoping that it will be ready quicker than one year! and that the flavor holds thru with aging. Oh and the color is just beautiful and deep red.
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Old 04-22-2010, 02:57 PM   #4
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Yeah, I'm thinking I'll use food-grade buckets for the meads, since they ferment so long. Good tip on the bags for the fruit.

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Old 04-22-2010, 03:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVarmy View Post
Yeah, I'm thinking I'll use food-grade buckets for the meads, since they ferment so long. Good tip on the bags for the fruit.
You can use buckets for primary, but not for secondary. The headspace is just too wide. You'll need a carboy, with a very narrow opening, and top up to near the bung for secondary.

I'd start with 5.5 gallons or so, to have 5 gallons in the carboy topped up.
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Old 04-22-2010, 07:28 PM   #6
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Oh man! I used buckets for the primary and the secondary, but after the secondary I put the wine into glass, is that gonna screw it up too much?
The airlock during the secondary bubbled quite alot during the 10 or so days it was in the bucket.
it looks ok.
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Old 04-22-2010, 07:50 PM   #7
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Well, I have a free 5 gallon carboy. I was thinking of using either a used frosting tub (like you can get from donut shops) or a Lowes bucket for the primary if it doesn't have too much of a head. Secondary is only a few weeks, right?

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Old 04-22-2010, 08:00 PM   #8
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Primary is just a few weeks.

Secondary is like 6-12 months.

More like 12.

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Old 04-22-2010, 08:06 PM   #9
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Oooh. Fair enough. I could always just make apfelwein in buckets, I guess. Or bite the bullet and buy another fermenter. We need a smiley face that's just hemorrhaging cash on this site.

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Primary: Edwort's Robust Porter, Hard Lemonade
Secondary: Air
Bottled: Apfelwein, Wheat Stout, Edwort's Haus Pale Ale
Thinking about: more Citrus Hefeweizen, Strawberry Blonde, Apple Graff, Lambics

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Old 04-22-2010, 08:40 PM   #10
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......We need a smiley face that's just hemorrhaging cash on this site.
+1 Just bought 20 food grade buckets, but I need more stinking carboys.....
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