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Adding hops to mead

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SilensMort

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Hey all, I have been doing some small batches of mead for a long time. a gallon at a time and I am scaling up to my first five gallon batch. I think I've anticipated everything as far as equipment and all that it's my recipe that I am looking at for some help. I am doing a hibiscus/hops/strawberry and I can't really find anything on this kind of combination. I know hops and hibiscus go well as much as strawberries and hibiscus go well. I'm going to use Ekuanot hops for that little bit of 'interesting', but I do not know what kind of ratio I should use in preparing it. I've never done hops before.

thoughts?
 

bernardsmith

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Hiya Silencemort - and welcome.
I occasionally make a hopped mead and because I make 1 gallon batches I tend to use 0.5 oz of hops per gallon. My preference is to boil the hops in water (NOT in the must - mead ain't beer and boiling honey boils off flavor and aroma ). Hops do not need sugar to utilize the oils /acids. But preferable is a slightly acidic water so I might drop a little lemon juice into the water.
As I say, mead ain't beer. There is no residual sugar left in mead unless you plan for that (unlike beer, where you can stand on your eyelashes and the beer won't get below about 1.015. So beer is SWEET!) To counterbalance the inherent sweetness of ales folk have been adding hops (or gruit herbs) but they tend to look for the bitterness from the hops. That requires a boil time of about 60 minutes. With mead - again, unless you plan for this, the final gravity is likely to be 1.000 or even lower so there is no need for added bitterness. What you then want from the hops is flavor. To extract flavor boil time should be 10- 15 minutes.
If you want aroma you might dry hop. Dry hopping means that you add the hops (or pellets) to your carboy without any cooking. I would dry hop shortly before you are ready to bottle - A week - 10 days is the maximum amount of time you want the hops to be in contact with the mead. More than that and the alcohol will extract grassy flavors from the hops.
Good luck!
 
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SilensMort

SilensMort

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I appreciate the feedback! I've been seeing a few recipes between .5 oz and 2 oz for a 5 gallon batch. I was thinking 1oz steeped in the water with the hibiscus and strawberries, but was planning for all of that to go into the fermentation. I think I'll adjust to be able to remove the hops, then. I'm thinking standard Muslin bag for that? now I'm thinking the same for the hibiscus, too. I can always adjust those later as needed if there needs to be more of a particular flavor.
 

bernardsmith

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Others may disagree but I would strain off the hops as soon as the cooking time has ended. With the hibiscus I would allow them to remain in the primary until In was ready to rack the wine off the yeast and into a secondary but if you are making an hibiscus tea (boiling them in either water or the hopped water) I might simply allow the tea to quietly cool to room temperature and then strain off the flowers..
 
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SilensMort

SilensMort

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I think I'll try the bag since I'm going to combine everything into one boil like I normally do. worst I can do is have it not work and have to dry hop it later.
 
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SilensMort

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so... after going through several threads and seeing many failed wild yeast attempts I have one other question. I have never had a super active fermentation with my wild yeasts and never had to worry about blow off (I've never even used an airlock before planning for this batch). but I am thinking that maybe I've been lucky on two fronts: 1. I have never had a failed batch 2. I have never had overly active yeast to worry about blow off.

Should I A.) get some back up yeast as some cover my butt just in case and B.) should I be worried about having stuff on hand to rig up a blow-off if that backup is needed?
 

bernardsmith

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Again, others may have a very different perspective on this but indigenous yeasts tend not to be as cell count rich as lab cultured yeasts which are designed to provide us with about 35 million cells/ml/plato. so you are working with perhaps a tiny fraction of that number. Tiny. So your first fermentation is not going to be so very vigorous and may indeed have all kinds of signs of stress... A blow off tube may speak more to your high hopes than to reality. We are talking more about a mouse here, not an elephant. o_O
What I typically do is to encourage the cells to bud (reproduce) by providing a natural starter and so aim for a starting gravity of about 1.040 and when that has fermented dry use this batch as my starter for a second batch at my desired SG.
 
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SilensMort

SilensMort

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right now I'm looking at a starting gravity of about 1.084- 12# honey topped up to 5 gallons If I did the math right. which also turns out to 1 part honey to 4 parts other liquid that my original recipe I'm scaling up to calls for.

but as far as the yeast/blow off maybe I worded it poorly.

I did purchase yeast nutrient to add this time because of the large batch.

also, I was only asking if I needed a blow off tube if I added lab yeast to the mix, not if the wild yeast takes off on its own. ambient temperature will be around 65 degrees as with all my previous small batches.
 

Timmead

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If adding hops/aroma to secondary, should I boil said hops in 500ml of extra water or use part of the ferment?
For 1 gallon btw
 

bernardsmith

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I don't know if I can say what you "should" do but what I do when I add hops is to boil the hops in the water that I will be using to add to the honey when everything cools down. No extra water because the amount of water I will be adding will absolutely determine the ABV of the finished mead... The boil time will depend on the amount of flavor vs bitterness I am seeking from those hops.
 

A-man

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I agree with bernardsmith though if I understand you correctly and you just want aroma from the hops then you wont boil them at all. You should use full cone hops, not pelletized, and place them in a nylon bag (sanitized beforehand of course) and let them sit in your secondary for 5-7 days then remove them.
 

Timmead

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I've already got 4gals bubbling, I've put 10 dates in tonight (day7) for extra nutrients as fermentation has slowed down/stalled.
I'm going to rack them into 4demijohns in one or two weeks and use 2 as fruit mead and the other 2 as hopped mead.
I'm wanting for ibu and aroma, already have the necessary hops in natural(?) Coned form not pellets but not 100% sure how to add them i.e. boil some of the ready mead or use fresh water not dry hopping
 
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