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Old 12-26-2012, 05:40 AM   #1
DoubleAught
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May 2011
Seymour, Indiana
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So, bought 12 lbs of local honey the other day to try my hand at a simple mead. Mixed it in with 5 gals of water, and a pack of wyeast sweet mead.

Admittingly I didn't do much research before hand, just enough to understand the process.

Couple questions, I had the honey mixed with the water really well, now I notice the bulk of the honey over the past few days has settled to the bottom of the carboy. I'm assuming this is normal but just want to make sure. Also, about how long is good to ferment? 6 mos, 1 yr? Lastly, what can I expect my FG to be around? It started at 1.098 and I'm assuming the sweet yeast would end higher than a dry yeast? Sorry for the basic questions.


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Old 12-26-2012, 05:52 AM   #2
Leadgolem
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Jul 2012
Denver, Colorado
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It's a little odd that your honey settled out like that. My last couple of batches have stayed in solution.

Your fermentation can take about twice as long as a typical beer ferment. Since you didn't add any nutrients to what is basically a nutrient poor solution you could end up with a fermentation time 3-4 times as long. So, 8 weeks wouldn't be a real surprise with what your fermenting.

You would need to check your yeast strain, but my meads usually finish at about 1.000.

The really long part of making mead is the conditioning. You'd want to let it age for at least 6 months before drinking. A year or more is better.


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Old 12-26-2012, 09:35 AM   #3
fatbloke
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Dec 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DoubleAught View Post
So, bought 12 lbs of local honey the other day to try my hand at a simple mead. Mixed it in with 5 gals of water, and a pack of wyeast sweet mead.

Admittingly I didn't do much research before hand, just enough to understand the process.
In truth, minimal research would have given you a basic understanding of fermentation generally, but not so much of the issues that fermenting honey can raise.....

For instance, if you'd researched that yeast, you'd find that it can be finicky as hell. It's known for being problematic with both not starting or causing stuck ferments - it's actually just about the lowest tolerance yeasts I've heard of suggested for meads - it's tolerant to 11% ABV.

A general view of it, is that if you get a reasonable result with it, then that's great, well done, but it's a bigger PITA than it's worth (their dry mead yeast has a much better reputation - but either way, it's just marketing bollocks. How in hells name do they know what yeast strains were originally used when there was little to no understanding of yeasts etc more than about 150 years ago - so to market this/these as "mead" yeasts isn't very helpful).
Quote:
Couple questions, I had the honey mixed with the water really well, now I notice the bulk of the honey over the past few days has settled to the bottom of the carboy. I'm assuming this is normal but just want to make sure. Also, about how long is good to ferment? 6 mos, 1 yr? Lastly, what can I expect my FG to be around? It started at 1.098 and I'm assuming the sweet yeast would end higher than a dry yeast? Sorry for the basic questions.
Honey obviously not mixed in as well as you'd thought. I prefer the "no heat" methods of mixing, as heating can cause loss of aromatics etc. Even if the honey I'm using is crystalised, I just weigh out the amount to be used, then add the water to target volume and leave it alone over night - as that helps to start the dissolving. Then I will use a brewers stirring paddle to mix it in so that the crystals separate out - as if it's got sugar crystals floating in it, then I blitz the hell out of it with a sanitised stick blender. sometimes for 5 minutes or longer - it tends to dissolve the crystals and incorporates the honey completely so it doesn't settle out.

The settling out isn't so much of a problem as the yeast should sort that out, but it can create or give incorrect gravity readings.

Presuming the start of 1.098, a gravity drop of 81 points represents almost exactly 11% ABV - and if your ferment is successful, though would give you an FG of 1.017 which is about the "medium sweet" area. Of course, alcohol tolerance figures are usually worked out with grape musts for wine yeasts, but I couldn't say how they arrived at the 11% tolerance for the sweet mead yeast (the same named but different manufacturer one from White Labs i.e. WL sweet mead yeast, is tolerant to about 15% so I'd guess it's a different strain).

There's no real info about the length of time for a ferment. Some mix musts up and get huge gravity drops in a week, with the last part of the drop to the FG taking a couple more weeks, whereas if you read up about "show meads" (just honey, water and yeast), they can take a very long time, as they're basically under-nourished traditionals, that often end up very sweet as the yeast get to a point where they can't ferment any more as there's no nitrogen or trace elements that the yeast need to do their job fully.

And you make no mention of any nutrients, energiser or other such materials, so unless you're aiming for a show mead, I'd suggest something like FermaidK (or FermaidO), fermax, or something like that (they tend to be tan/biege in colour and look like powder - as opposed to DAP/di-ammonium phosphate, which is also marketed as yeast nutrient but looks like white crystals - the Fermaid/Fermax type is better if you wanted to only use one, but if you like the idea of mixed nutrient, then both are needed. Regular suggested mix is 2 parts fermaid/fermax (tan powder) to 1 part DAP (white crystals) and at 1 teaspoon per gallon, is what the labels often say.
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Old 12-26-2012, 02:20 PM   #4
DoubleAught
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May 2011
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Thanks for the information! I made it Saturday night and noticed signs of fermentation Monday, then yesterday it looked like it was certainly coming into it. I did not add any nutrient, other than what wyeast includes in their pack. That will be something I'll look into for the next batch. I'm pretty excited to try this!
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Old 12-26-2012, 02:49 PM   #5
fatbloke
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Dec 2006
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You'll need to think of it sooner rather than later otherwise you'll get a stuckie....

If the local HBS only does, mainly, the WYeast liquid yeasts then if they mainly keep the wyeast nutrient, that'll do the job. I'd suggest that Fermaidk would be better as its easier to get the data and calculate total nitrogen additions but the wyeast would do just as well at the recommended dose to start with......
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Old 12-26-2012, 03:04 PM   #6
DoubleAught
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May 2011
Seymour, Indiana
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fatbloke View Post
You'll need to think of it sooner rather than later otherwise you'll get a stuckie....

If the local HBS only does, mainly, the WYeast liquid yeasts then if they mainly keep the wyeast nutrient, that'll do the job. I'd suggest that Fermaidk would be better as its easier to get the data and calculate total nitrogen additions but the wyeast would do just as well at the recommended dose to start with......
Thanks fatbloke! I ordered nutrient and an energizer in case they decided to sleep before I get the nutrient in there. Should have them in a couple days.
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Old 12-26-2012, 04:34 PM   #7
WVMJ
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Dec 2012
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Did you follow FB advice and stir the snot out of it again, honey does not separate unless you didnt stit in it well enough. I just use a drill mounted stirrer, much easier than a big spoon. So what kind of local honey did you get, light colored, dark, clover, wildflower? WVMJ

 
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Old 12-26-2012, 08:29 PM   #8
DoubleAught
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May 2011
Seymour, Indiana
Posts: 1,249
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WVMJ View Post
Did you follow FB advice and stir the snot out of it again, honey does not separate unless you didnt stit in it well enough. I just use a drill mounted stirrer, much easier than a big spoon. So what kind of local honey did you get, light colored, dark, clover, wildflower? WVMJ
Yes, and I ordered a drill mounted stirrer. It was local clover honey
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Old 12-26-2012, 08:44 PM   #9
WVMJ
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Dec 2012
Karnage, WV
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I actually had to go out and buy a cheapo drill at XMart, my real drill was so fast on the lowest setting I was always taking a shower in juice, the cheapo 20 dollar drill screams at its highest setting and is just right, it cant get the surf to go up to the lip. Just FYI in case you really crank it up the first time WVMJ

 
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Old 12-26-2012, 09:14 PM   #10
DoubleAught
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May 2011
Seymour, Indiana
Posts: 1,249
Liked 106 Times on 81 Posts


Quote:
Originally Posted by WVMJ View Post
I actually had to go out and buy a cheapo drill at XMart, my real drill was so fast on the lowest setting I was always taking a shower in juice, the cheapo 20 dollar drill screams at its highest setting and is just right, it cant get the surf to go up to the lip. Just FYI in case you really crank it up the first time WVMJ
Haha...thanks. I have a good and cheapo, now I know which one to use.


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