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Old 04-19-2012, 09:03 PM   #1
DrVertebrae
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Default 4th mead - traditional

I put together a fourth one today. Its a traditional made with honey from the Texas Bee Keepers Guild. 9 1/2 lbs to 3 gal vol with D47 yeast. This will be the first one I haven't pasteurized. No heat at all except warming some of the water to aid in dispersal of the honey.

With my background in molecular and microbiology, it is difficult to grow a bug in unsterilized medium. But, from what I have read, the honey/water mix is apparently difficult to contaminate as long as general sterile technique is maintained. And, of course, bugs that grow in the blood don't like the environment of alcoholic/acidic mead.


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Old 04-19-2012, 09:56 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by DrVertebrae View Post
I put together a fourth one today. Its a traditional made with honey from the Texas Bee Keepers Guild. 9 1/2 lbs to 3 gal vol with D47 yeast. This will be the first one I haven't pasteurized. No heat at all except warming some of the water to aid in dispersal of the honey.
Well, it's really no good quoting water to weight ratio's. The differing levels of sugar in different honey will modify the gravity. It's better to have a rough guesstimate of how much honey you'll need, then get a little more. Mix the batch, say, 3 or 3 and a 1/2 lb per gallon then take a reading.

Plus, it's a honey must we're alluding too, not a beer wort. There's no need to heat honey (even if it's crystalised some - just mix is in a sanitised liquidiser or blender - it's hygroscopic so will mix relatively easily, plus a good blitzing gets plenty of air/O2 into it). It's natures most naturally sterile substance (yes I know about the possibilities, but it's been used for millenia with no real issues - "they" weren't as obsessed as we tend to be these days).

Also, there's reason to boil beer worts, whereas with a honey must, all the sugars are readily fermentable.

D47 ? Ok, but make sure you keep it below 70F/21C as it's known as a bugger for producing fusels if fermented too high.
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With my background in molecular and microbiology, it is difficult to grow a bug in unsterilized medium. But, from what I have read, the honey/water mix is apparently difficult to contaminate as long as general sterile technique is maintained. And, of course, bugs that grow in the blood don't like the environment of alcoholic/acidic mead.
Beer people tend to be obsessive, to keep their recipes absolute. Meads, while similar to wines in the making are also different. Especially as some of the suggested/recommended techniques are heresy to wine/beer makers. It's usually enough to maintain a good general level of hygiene, because you don't want wild yeast or stuff like acetobacter getting in there.

For your gravity considerations, D47 is good for about 14% (that's the published tolerance, but the data alludes to grape musts - careful management can often get you a higher %ABV) so something like 1.110 (presuming dry as 1.000 - and yes I know it's easy to get it dryer) should give you 14% and a tiny bit of residual sweetness <1% plus it should be reasonably easy to manage....


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Old 04-20-2012, 02:54 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info fatbloke. Any advice I can get is appreciated.

I do find it interesting that many mead makers want to boil their honey while others view it as heresy. We'll see. I've not been able to taste boiled versus unheated versus anything in between. I think there is a thread on this forum where exactly such an experiment was done and he got a small group to rate both. The preferences were interesting.

I didn't know that about D47 and its tendency to produce fusels, as you put it. I was concerned about temp however, and have this one at 66F currently so I guess I'm ok in that regard. So far.

As to the water content of the honey you are very correct. I haven't gotten to the level of pre-setting OG's as yet. I'll grab a refractometer soon and then apply that aspect of it a bit. Right now I'm just playing with it. From the reading I've done, it seems to be fairly hard not to get pretty tasty mead. The commercial ones I have tried have all been radically different as well. The surprise of the differences is a big part of the fun. It's kind of the same with home brewing beer. I'm never going to produce something for production so I don't need the precision needed to get that consistency. Right now I'm trying to avoid the deeper science of this. I've done science too long. Right now I'me like Captain Kirk and his ambivalent heading, "That a way".
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Old 04-28-2012, 03:53 PM   #4
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Just an update. This one is still churning it up pretty well. The degassing is interesting. I just tip the three gal jug on its side and swirl. I never knew the build up of CO2 was so significant. I haven't done this with my other meads. One question. I am well into the stage II fermentation. Should I continue to degas?
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Old 04-28-2012, 05:12 PM   #5
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Just an update. This one is still churning it up pretty well. The degassing is interesting. I just tip the three gal jug on its side and swirl. I never knew the build up of CO2 was so significant. I haven't done this with my other meads. One question. I am well into the stage II fermentation. Should I continue to degas?
I know it's semantics, but I like to use the appropriate terminology at the correct time i.e. once it's mixed and started to ferment, the stirring process is more correctly considered aeration (doesn't have to be stirring either, it can be pumped air or even pure O2) as the purpose is yeast cell development.

A bi-product happens to be the release of CO2. Which is because there is a high enough level of carbonic acid produced by the yeast, to nucleate onto some of the yeast cells as free CO2. As the carbonic acid is converted to free CO2, it also has an unintentional bonus of helping to reduce pH swings in the ferment as well

De-gassing is actually the removal of residual CO2/carbonic acid from a finished ferment - consider a beer, and the CO2 in it is partly to carbonate but also for taste, yet with meads, it's usually not wanted, so can be removed by agitating a stoppered carboy, or with vacuum (from a vacuum pump, or even a Mityvac brake bleeding pump and tubing - hell you'd even remove some of the CO2 when running a batch through a filter).

If you wanted to just gently swirl the active ferment to keep the yeast cells and other sediment in solution better, then as long as the fermenter is still airlocked etc, you'd also achieve some reduction of CO2 within the batch, but without compromising the anaerobic stage of the fermentation.
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Old 04-29-2012, 07:04 PM   #6
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Fatbloke: what about degassing during fermentation? Doesn't excess CO2 stress the yeast. One of the stickies at the top says its a good practice.
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Old 04-29-2012, 08:15 PM   #7
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Fatbloke: what about degassing during fermentation? Doesn't excess CO2 stress the yeast. One of the stickies at the top says its a good practice.
There has been much thought and commentary on this.

Aeration in the early stages of the ferment is to get some more air/O2 into the must for yeast development.

De-gassing after the ferment is done to remove the carbonic acid generated by the ferment. It helps with the flavour as well as helping it clearing - though some will de-gas prior to bottling.

The CO2 comes out naturally during the ferment as you'll be aware, but with the chemical soup that is a mead ferment, there are a number of acids that form and decay, causing some quite wild pH swings, most you can do little about, but gently swirling or stirring a live ferment keeps the sediment in suspension, creating nucleation points allowing the carbonic acid to come out of solution as CO2, hence the increase in bubble activity. Which is why its thought to be good practice.

If you looked up swirl plate magnetic stirrer batches on the net, you will find anecdotal evidence of quicker ferments and also quicker clearing.

Either way, the yeast can become stressed by lack of nutrient/energiser, of of the obvious one i.e. the build up of alcoholic content, to the point where it dies off at the maximum level the strain can manage a.k.a. its alcohol tolerance. The tolerance numbers published allude to grape musts, which explains why well managed honey/mead musts can sometimes exceed the published tolerance.
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Old 04-29-2012, 08:42 PM   #8
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Maybe we should just start calling it gaseous exchange. some will always call it aeration for adding oxygen, others will stand firm that it is degassing to release surplus disolved CO2 in suspension...well by aerating you automatically induce release of CO2 and by degassing you automatically introduce O2....either way you want to look at it, it's good for making your yeast happy and your ferment going nicely. so since at the very basic O2 goes in CO2 comes out, there is an exchange of gasses...can't we all just get along and find a common phrase? lol I know, I know, someone will read this and cringe as there is more to it than all that and someone will want to explain the differences in the processes, but I think gaseous exchange sounds cool so gonna use it in my notes from now on.


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