Originally Posted by Barleyman
Hello, i am a all grain brewer but i stumbled across 15 lbs of honey. I like 2 make a honey mead (sweet) if i can. Last nite i back sweetened 3 gallons of strawberry wine witch is my 1st attempt 2 make a drinkable wine so any help would b appreciated .
For a first attempt at mead I generally recommend a simple traditional. That way you can learn the basics of mead and how it differs from making beer or even wine.
For a sweet mead thats not too over the top sweet (ie: cloying dessert wine) a decent recipe I could suggest is.
15 pounds of honey
Water to 4.75 gallons
, I use room temp bottled spring water because my tap water isn't great, you can use tap thats been boiled and cooled to room temp if yours tastes good.
with staggered additions
2 packets of Lalvin ICV D-47 yeast
if able to ferment under
2 packets of Lalvin 71B-1122
If ferment temps will be higher (up to 85*F)
Do NOT heat the honey, it is antimocrobial, antibacterial and all around good ****. Applying heat beyond perhaps soaking the container in hot tap water if you absolutely have to to get it out easier, wastes volitile flavor and aroma compounds and has no benefit at all, so why lose the greatness that makes mead what it is?
First sanitize EVERYTHING including stuff you don't know if you might need but as a brewer you already understand that concept
Then combine the honey (save a couple spoonfuls for a later step) and the water and 1/3 of the yeast nutrients based off of package instructions. If using a carboy, plug it and shake it to mix, if using a fermenting bucket stir to combine. it'll take a couple minutes but still making a batch of mead is fractional in time consumption to an all grain brewing day.
If you start getting tired its ok, take a break, even if it seems it may seperate a little there will be more shaking and stirring in a few minutes.
Next, rehydrate your two packets of yeast in water that is 104*-109*F, I like to add 2 tsp of the honey I am using and about 1/4 tsp of yeast nutrient to the water and shake the crap out of it, that mixes it well and gets some oxygen in it then I dump the yeast on top and set it aside for 15 minutes.
Check your must, you've made wine so I'll assume you know thats the mead equivalent of wurt. See if it needs a little more mixing, if so give it a gentle go, you have 15 minutes to kill.
Now the fun, take a hydrometer reading, with the above recipe you should be sitting at approx. 1.113-1.115 which will have the abv potential of 14.8-15% which settles in nicely with the two yeasts mentioned above to finish slightly sweet.
Since you're working at room temps, here is the beauty, no hassle of cooling to pitch temps like in brewing, don't get me wrong I still enjoy brewing, so not bashing it at all, I've just switched to making braggots instead of beer and use a partial mash method.
Now mix up your yeast slurry and pitch it. now shake/stir the bejesus out of the whole thing to mix and oxygenate it. (if you have O2 for brewing that works awesome at this step too)
Airlock it and let her roll....
when you have active fermentation, which could take a little longer than you may expect with beer but also somtimes it's faster. Shake or stir again to off gas (aka aerate), start slow then a little more vigorous as it will foam up, do this til most of the foaming has stopped. If you don't it will erupt at the next step and mead geysers on the ceiling, while funny when it's not you, suck to clean up. Add the second 1/3 of your nutrients, preferably mixed with just enough water to make a real thin paste for ease of mixing, stir her up.
Just remember this isn't a beer so it acts/reacts a little different, you may get some foaming in a simple mead but not the krausen you may be expecting. Also, active fermentation of mead could litterally be a bubble every 5-7 seconds in an airlock, it may be more but if it's not no worries, It's still working, you can see bubbles cascading up the side of a carboy or even on the surface in a bucket.
Now let it settle and be happy, checking hydrometer readings and aerating daily (twice daily aeration is better if time allows) until you are at about 1.075-1.076. Wine yeast likes a lot of oxygen in the begining. At this point give it a final and thorough aeration, really let it degass well and get a fair amount of oxygen in there, then add the final 1/3 of the nutrients again in a paste/slurry, a final mix...Airlock it and forget it for awhile.
When you stop seeing any activity in your airlock check the gravity and write it down, in 2 days try it again, if its the same you know you may be ready for the next step, wait two more days and if the third reading is the same, rack it off the gross lees into a secondary and let it chill there for awhile.
Here is where there is some debate, in one camp people like to rack again anytime the sediment on the bottom gets to maybe 1/4 of an inch thick again, while the other camp says just leave it be there until it is crystal clear.
I like to give it a couple day in my basement where in the cold cellar its about 50*F year round and do a mock cold crashing, if you have a refridgerator with available space that works even better, 48 hours seems good, most everything falls out, then I rack into a aging/clearing vessel and just leave it alone for awhile.
Some like to bottle as soon as it is clear enough to read a newspaper through and your sediment is minimal, others like to bulk age it for sometimes a very long time that is up to you.
I am not a huge fan of using stabilizers and clarifyers like sorbates, sulfates etc. but there is nothing wrong in using them if you wish, just follow the package instructions, I like just letting racking, time, and gravity make sure ferment is done and it is clear.
....Mead is going to test your patience, just getting a clear product could take 3-6 months, getting a drinkable one up to 9 months, getting an enjoyable drink 9-12-18+ months, depending on your actual recipe. Mead ages well and it is encouraged to allow it to do so...if you want to drink it at the end of primary, go for it, it's not poison it's still mead, just don't expect it to taste great (and maybe even like hot rocket fuel), occasionally everything works out and it does taste good then, but in time it will taste amazing. But then that's why we brew beer inbetween, so we have something to drink while waiting
Now, if you also happen to have an empty gallon jug laying around and you want to keep playing with honey, search the recipe threads for JAOM (joes ancient orange mead). It is one of the rare concoctions that you can just set and forget, it uses all ingredients you can buy at the grocery store, including bread yeast, you throw it all in a jug, airlock it, set it somewhere and don't touch it again for a couple months. It's a fun recipe to have sitting on a shelf while your big one is working and it requires no maintainence. At the end you will have a rather pretty crystal clear golden orange colored mead that is sweet as hell like a dessert wine with strong orange and and bitter flavors, not bad stuff, I personally cut it with gingerale as it is too sweet for my tastes to drink straight. But it's cool to watch so I keep making it.
Originally Posted by conpewter
I'd look into doing a Brochet Mead.
Bochet (there isn't an R in it) can be awesome, but for a first mead it can be a little tricky as the rules change a bit, the boiling of the honey, nutrient demands and such, plus the time involved, it needs to age longer and such. I often recommend that people get a couple batches of traditional, a JAOM and maybe a melomel and/or metheglin under their belt before tackling the bochet.