Originally Posted by Auryn
it would appear that my first attempt is going to be a 2 year game of waiting.
I live in south florida, and even with the AC on 70o- the average ambient temperature in the house is somewhere between 70-75o.
At least until november- in the winter it will get down in the 50s for a couple of months if we are lucky this year.
I want to try again- this time small batches.
Anyone have a recipe and yeast recommendation for my current temperatures?
I would like a sweet still mead, not too particular on alcohol content.
The trick isn't to make a batch with a gravity that reflects a certain %ABV, or even trying to create X amount of residual sugars.
Both those methods are actually, surprisingly difficult.
It's easiest (IMO) to just make a batch, using easily available ingredients, but also ingredients that will work well given the environment that the ferment is likely to be in.
So, given your location, the honey is your choice of variety, the water - well it would appear that it's best if it's "soft" water. Hard water, with higher levels of calcium and magnesium salts often can produce meads with flavour issues i.e. it can be harsh tasting (sorry, "harsh" isn't really a good descriptive). Those who go on about using bottled or "spring" water think of it as a "magic bullet". I say bollocks, because it still depends on where it was bottled or what kind of strata the spring runs through. It's considerably easier to use RO/reverse osmosis or distilled water. Then rather than hoping that the yeast will respond to the tiny, almost imperceptible amount of trace elements in the water some way, is better and more manageable/controllable if it's added i.e. use both a combined nutrient, but also fortify it with additional nitrogen - a combo often mentioned is FermaidK and DAP (di-ammonium phosphate). There's various recommendations as to quantity of both.
More importantly, your choice of yeast. Because some yeasts just don't like too much warmth, some will still work but produce fusels and/or off flavours etc etc.
I would suggest something like K1V-1116, because it's a very capable yeast, with low nutrient requirements, a very wide temperature range, is known to produce good results, easily available, etc etc.
A lot of people mention D47, which does make good batches, but it has a very narrow temperature range, which, if exceeded, will produce a lot of fusels, which can take a mega long time to age/mellow, if at all.
K1V has a temperature range of 10C to 35C (50 to 95F), so should work fine in the AC level you mention (some say it's better to keep to the lower end if possible, but I suspect it will do fine at about 70F/21C.
For a straight traditional, there's no real recipe. Just use enough honey to make a must that will give you a gravity reading of about 1.100 to 1.110 (yes you'll need a hydrometer if you haven't already got one). About 3 to 3.5lb of honey watered down to a gallon (or multiples thereof). Those gravity numbers will give between about 13.5 to just under 15% ABV if fermented to 1.000
Now as for wanting a sweet mead, you do the ferment in the "normal" way, let it finish, then it can be racked off the main sediment (a.k.a. gross lees), then stabilised with sulphite and sorbate (as per the pack instructions) and then you can use small amounts of honey (I like to make a 50/50 honey water syrup - it mixes in very easily so you don't need to stir the hell out of the batch), each time a small amount is added and stirred in, you take a gravity reading and then a small taste, repeating the process as necessary to achieve the level of sweetness you like.
When the batch is initially off the sediment, it may indeed taste hideous. That's not unusual for young meads. The additional sugars in the honey used for back sweetening will help mask that.
Equally, if you back sweetened to a level you like, but then allow the batch to finish clearing and age it, only to find that it's recovered some of the honey characteristics lost during the ferment, and seems even sweeter than you remember, you can add some acid. I found that the recommendation from Ashton & Duncans now out of print book "Making Mead", which is a mix of 2 parts malic to 1 part tartaric. Again, add little bits at a time, tasting after each addition, so as not to over do it.
I'm only alluding to a basic traditional type, because there's a plethora of methods to use fruit, as well as all the different types of fruit you could use, some work better than others, but as the fruit we enjoy is relative to our personal preference, it would be foolish for me to say X is good, because you might not be able to get it, or you don't like it.......