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Old 05-01-2011, 06:54 PM   #1
bikerverde
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Default First time brewing Mead.. Might have to throw it out

Hi. I'm new to brewing and to this forum and I can really use some advice.

Yesterday I and a friend bought our first Mead Brewing kit. It came with instructions that we read over and over and we thought we understood it well enough, but at the end of the day we think we messed up bad.

here are the instructions we used: http://morebeer.com/public/pdf/wmead.pdf

1. When we where doing to Go-Ferm soak with the liquid yeast my friend didn't use distilled water.

2. We used 5 gallons of water instead of 4 gallons. My reasoning was since we where making 5 gallons of mead we need 5 gallons of water. I didn't take into account the honey would add extra volume.

3. We didn't put water in the airlock. When we where done mixing and everything we let it set over night and there are no signs of foaming or fermentation.

So at this point should we throw it out or is there any way of salvaging it?

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Old 05-01-2011, 07:03 PM   #2
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your mead is fine. RDWHAHB. put water in the airlock and let it do its thing. you will need to give it some more nutrients every now and then to keep the yeast happy.

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Old 05-01-2011, 07:04 PM   #3
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Relax. You haven't done anything we all here haven't done.

1. Not using distilled water is not a big deal.
2. Adding too much water will make your mead end up a bit lighter, and with less ABV, but not bad in any way.
3. Just put sanitized water and/or vodka in your airlock now.

Just chill and wait a while. It should take off within a couple of days. Meads ferment slowly anyways.

Welcome to the club !

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Old 05-01-2011, 07:29 PM   #4
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Thank you both so much!.. This is a big relief.. I almost thought I flushed some mead and money down the drain.

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Old 05-01-2011, 08:52 PM   #5
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You're cool, bikerverde. Fill the airlock like the previous posters said, and put it away for a *long* time... I had one mead sit in primary for 18 months before it started tasting amazing.

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Old 05-01-2011, 09:15 PM   #6
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Some thoughts on 1&3 (but the main point is that, like the others said, it'll be fine)
1- Some of the reason distilled water is used, is because it creates a base line water. So no matter where you are, the water's going to be the same. Using tap water may be slightly different due to mineral content. (City A's water is different than city B's water), and this could result in minor differences in tastes. Not bad, just potentially different.

The primary reason for this difference in taste is if your water tastes bad when you try drinking it from the tap. (Sulfury, or too chlorinated for example.) If you normally drink from the tap, you should be fine. If you think your tap water smells like rotten eggs, use distilled.

Even then, with the yeast soak, as long as your water isn't highly chlorinated (which has the potential of killing some yeast) you'll be fine (so don't use pool water). If you're using water directly from a mountain stream, you'll probably want to avoid it since it could have it's own yeast/bacterial growths.

3- if you stuck the airlock on and didn't add water, won't be a problem. The airlock mostly provides two things. allowing the liquid to vent co2 so it doesn't burst the bucket/carboy, and preventing unwanted things from getting in (mostly this second one).
Usually the outgoing co2 means that there's not too much of an issue about unwanted yeast or bacteria going in. The main things you're preventing are insects from crawling in. Unless you want the acetobacter on them potentially creating vinegar.
The water (and the cap, assuing it's there) means that the bugs will drown before ever being able to get to the liquid. (See posts on fruitflys and spiders found in airlocks) So... yeah, don't leave it empty for months.

Also, there's a great mead subform to poke around in too.

Oh yeah, #2, probably around a 2% abv difference? 8% instead of 10, or 10 instead of 13% depending on the amount of honey that was used. I do this sort of thing with my beer & mead all the time. Either on purpose or by accident. Usually by accident.

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Old 05-06-2011, 07:41 PM   #7
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Also how do know when the 1/3 sugar depletion stage starts. I heard this stage was when the airlock starts bubbling less than once every 30 seconds, but i'm not quite sure how reliable that source is. Do we transfer the mead to a carboy at this stage or should we just leave it in the ferment bucket?

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Old 05-06-2011, 07:52 PM   #8
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The best way to determine the 1/3 sugar depletion stage is to take hydrometer readings. When the hydrometer reading in points (ignoring the 1 before the decimal) is down 1/3 from the OG point value, you're there.

Also, don't be alarmed if there aren't many visible signs of fermentation in the must. Traditional meads don't form a krausen the way beers do during fermentation, which I believe is due to a lack of proteins in most honey. Unless there's fruit or something else in it, it's very common for a mead fermentation to not show all the foam and funk that makes beer fermentation such a spectacle. Your mead should still be fine.

Definitely also check out the mead forum on this board, as there is a ton of priceless information there. Otherwise, RDWHAHB and enjoy!

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Old 05-06-2011, 07:55 PM   #9
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I've never made mead, so I can't say anything about how you do tell.... but rate of fermentation lock bubbles doesn't really tell you much of anything. I find that with my carboys, since I have a good seal on them, I can kinda get a vague idea of how fast fermentation is going based on ferm lock activity, but a) I would never rely on it, b) YMMV, and c) if you don't have a perfectly airtight seal (which is very common with buckets, not so much with carboys) then you may see no bubbles at all. Which is no problem, it just means you shouldn't ever rely on that as a definitive indicator of anything.

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Old 05-06-2011, 08:16 PM   #10
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Thanks, really do appreciate the help. The only problem is that we were pretty confident after we watched a series of youtube videos and thought we could go through all of these processes by simply keeping a timeline. With that being said we don't have a hydrometer. So we were thinking about switching over to a carboy in a two weeks period.

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