Earl Grey Mead?

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Brewing_Ham

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I'm new to brewing and this forum so hello everybody. This will be my first Mead (although I have aided a more experienced Brewer with beer). I saw a similar thread regarding a mint tea Mead and was wondering if anybody saw any potential problems with my brew plan?

1 gallon batch, primary ferm in a bucket secondary in a 1gal carboy.

3lbs Clover Honey
Water for 1gallon brew
Yeast nutrient
Laviln 1118
1/2 a lemon.

My plan is pretty simple, warm my honey In a warm water bath and mix with water to make about a half gallon. Brew up 2 or 3 cups of Earl Grey tea (very strong tea) and add that to the must along with nutrient per directions. Top off to a full gallon with spring water. Take my measurements and pitch. My thought was to add the lemon, juiced, when I rack to the carboy. I also plan on back sweetening at bottleing (after the appropriate treatments to avoid bottle bombs).
Questions, comments, and concerns are greatly appriciated.

73,
The Brewing Ham
 

fatbloke

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I'm new to brewing and this forum so hello everybody. This will be my first Mead (although I have aided a more experienced Brewer with beer). I saw a similar thread regarding a mint tea Mead and was wondering if anybody saw any potential problems with my brew plan?

1 gallon batch, primary ferm in a bucket secondary in a 1gal carboy.

3lbs Clover Honey
Water for 1gallon brew
Yeast nutrient
Laviln 1118
1/2 a lemon.

My plan is pretty simple, warm my honey In a warm water bath and mix with water to make about a half gallon. Brew up 2 or 3 cups of Earl Grey tea (very strong tea) and add that to the must along with nutrient per directions. Top off to a full gallon with spring water. Take my measurements and pitch. My thought was to add the lemon, juiced, when I rack to the carboy. I also plan on back sweetening at bottleing (after the appropriate treatments to avoid bottle bombs).
Questions, comments, and concerns are greatly appriciated.

73,
The Brewing Ham
Hum ? well it will likely work........

Points ?

Well, the lemon juice isn't needed up front, it will impart a bit of a citrus note, but if you're looking for something akin to "lemon tea", then you might need to add it too secondary, but also by adding the zest of the fruit too, for the lemon oils and their associated flavour.

EC-1118 ? A champagne yeast, that happens to blow a lot of the volatile aromatics straight out the airlock (and some of the more subtle flavouring chemicals with it). A better yeast IMO would be K1-V1116 as it's known for better esters and less damaging to the over all flavour.

The tea ? It's likely that the bergamot notes will predominate. Primary fermentation will likely kill pretty much all of the tea flavour unless you make the tea and put it in secondary.....

As for "nutrient" ? check out the differences between "nutrient" and "energiser". Energiser usually has nutrient in it, but it's the other non-nitrogen based elements that help toward good yeast health, not getting a rotten egg/H2S smell early on, etc etc. It's handy to know about SNA a.k.a. "staggered nutrient addition", where you work out how much you need to add, but then add some of it once there's signs of active fermentation, then the rest is added at stages, but before you hit the 1/3rd sugar break (hence why you need to know the starting gravity, so you know when it's dropped by 1/3). This pretty much applies to all inorganic nitrogen sources (which is most energiser and/or nutrient sources - unless it's specifically organic). A good link to read before you go piling in is this one.
 

Arpolis

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FB is spot on on all that. I use Earl grey in a lot of meads/wines of mine. The bergamot oil in Earl grey is volitile and will blow out your airlock in primary. If you want the lemon tea taste to your mead then make a traditional and then add your 3 cups of tea and make it a whole lemon juiced and zested on secondary after fermentation has died down.

On the yeast choice I agree 1118 is a bad idea and 1116 will work much better for you.
 
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Brewing_Ham

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Many thanks to both of you for saving me from myself. I had chosen EC-1118 because I had seen many suggestions that it was a good choice to restart a stuck fermentation which I wanted to avoid to begin with. After some math, I realized that saying I planed to back sweeten would have been a cosmic understatement. So I now have 10 packs of 1118 sitting around. I suppose I will just have to make some sparkling mead down the road eh?
I admit to being more than a little impatient to get my fermenting underway so I did not procure 1116. I started with a 1 gal kit from Midwest which came with Red Star Montrachet Yeast, which is what I pitched. I'm now pretty actively fermenting a traditional to which I will add the prescribed tea and lemon during secondary.

Next questions,
I have seen many mixed opinions on degassing during primary fermentation. In addition to this confusing topic, a basic recipe book was included with my kit and for nearly all of the 101 recipes you are instructed to stir the must daily and take a SG\Temp reading. However, absolutely no mention of stirring or degassing is made in the Complete Meadmaker. It is mentioned in conjunction with aeration in the suggested reading from FB (which was very helpful thanks). For the time being I'm going by the gotmead train of thought and aerating/degassing 2-3 times daily for the next few days. Any thoughts.
Second question. Since I have no experience with this yeast (and little with any yeast in general) how much is temperature going to affect my flavor with this particular strain? I have read that increased temps can stress the mead and produce off flavors to varying degrees. When I pitched yesterday afternoon I left the fermentation bucket in my kitchen and upon getting home from work this morning while degassing ect. The temp of my must was 78*F. I have since moved it to a cooler location which is somewhat less practical. Is the 78-80 range going to kill my mead or am I better off living with the inconvenience?

Finnaly
FB, what I have is simply labeled "Yeast Nutrient" and is a mixture of urea and DAP. Not energizer. My next trip to the brew shop has that on the shopping list.
Once again thank you both, for the help, I'll keep the thread updated with my progress. I can see how this hobby can be addicting :)
 

Arpolis

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I'll give a little info that may make degassing make sense. If a must whether it is mead or wine is too acidic the yeast will stress out and not perform the way you want either giving off flavors or stalling out all together. Honey is naturally acidic in the 3.4 - 3.8 range depending on the honey. This is unlike sugar which is more PH neutral. So a standard mead must has a tendency to be acidic already without other additives. CO2 being produces by yeast when dissolved in water is considered Carbonic acid. So the more dissolved CO2 that is dissolved the lower the PH goes. Since we do not want a must dropping below the 3.4ish range on the PH then mixing/stirring the must to degas it helps keep the PH in check.

I have not used Montrachet yeast before so can not say from experience but moving the jar to a cooler place now will be fine. The yeast should not be damaged to the point of stalling or nothing serious happening. I like to keep most of my brews temps in the 70*F - 76*F range and cooler with some other yeasts.
 

fatbloke

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I'll give a little info that may make degassing make sense. If a must whether it is mead or wine is too acidic the yeast will stress out and not perform the way you want either giving off flavors or stalling out all together. Honey is naturally acidic in the 3.4 - 3.8 range depending on the honey. This is unlike sugar which is more PH neutral. So a standard mead must has a tendency to be acidic already without other additives. CO2 being produces by yeast when dissolved in water is considered Carbonic acid. So the more dissolved CO2 that is dissolved the lower the PH goes. Since we do not want a must dropping below the 3.4ish range on the PH then mixing/stirring the must to degas it helps keep the PH in check.

I have not used Montrachet yeast before so can not say from experience but moving the jar to a cooler place now will be fine. The yeast should not be damaged to the point of stalling or nothing serious happening. I like to keep most of my brews temps in the 70*F - 76*F range and cooler with some other yeasts.
Good stuff there.......

Additionally, you don't actually de-gas at this stage. Stirring/agitation in the early stage (before the 1/3 break) is primarily for aeration of the must to try and get some air/O2 in for yeast development. Yes there is the side effect that nucleation occurs for the carbonic acid to attach to so that it comes out as gaseous CO2.

Degassing is the post-fermentation removal of gasses which is the primary function of that phase of production.

Not being picky per se but the correct terms used help others to follow where the OP is in the making......
 
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Brewing_Ham

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That clears things up nicely. So I have been oxygenating my must (which I believe is just coming out of lag phase) up to this point. Now I just let it do its thing until fermentation slows dramatically correct? And degasing will take place during secondary.
BTW my OG was 1.1084 and at last reading SG was 1.0787 ( if my calculations were correct my first break, 1/3, should be 1.0754) which was taken at the 24 hour mark. Bear with me as my brew bucket is to shallow for my hydrometer and a test jar was not included in my kit ( added to the shopping list). As such I'm using my refractometer and mathematically correcting for the ethanol (a convoluted process at best)
I got the temp down to 66-68*F and it seems to be steady in its current abode. It does seem to be dropping SG pretty quickly. Does it sound as though everything is on track?

Once again I appriciate your input and assistance. I realize this must be the 100th time you have answered these questions, however, your working knowledge of meadmaking is invaluable to us new-bees.
 

Arpolis

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What FB said is good and compliments to what I was trying to get through. The term degassing is not appropriate at these beginning steps and appropriately designated as Aerating which is important for yeast health and colony development because they need dissolved O2 in the must. As a byproduct of doing that you release CO2 which helps to keep PH in check and keep the yeast happy all the way around.

All the experts say to aerate up to the 1/3rd sugar break but I have always been less stringent on that. I usually aerate for 48-72 hours into the brew regardless of gravity. Many will disagree saying there may be oxidation problems or such if you aerate to far into the ferment but I have never had an issue. So take that with a grain of salt and do what feels right for your mead. Once done aerating yes let it sit until the visible active fermentation is gone and feel free to rack off lees into secondary and you can degas just by letting it gas off naturally or vacuum degas. Also slow stirring/rocking can help but that is only really needed to help the mead clear IMO.

Everything sounds on track so far.
 
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Brewing_Ham

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Update:
I aerated up to 48 hours and stopped, since then I've had nothing but steady airlock activity, temp has been stabalized around 72. I found that I couldn't keep 68 stable in my small apartment. I never realized how much varience I had in my ambient temps. I had assumed that they would be small enough to get.buffered out but I suspect that my smaller batch size (1gal) is to small to be effective. Perhaps a 5 gal batch will be better at absorbing the swings. At any rate everything is bubbling right along so to speak. No off smells from the airlock. I shall update again when I get to secondary.
 

FatsSchindee

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Any new updates? How'd this turn out, now that it's been more than a year? Wondering if you added more earl grey tea on secondary or at bottling, or if there's anything else you did (or would do next time) differently...
I'm making an Earl Grey mead, and am wondering about method for getting the tea flavor just right... Thanks!
 

On-target

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When I make an Earlgrey mead I usually just make a traditional and hang about 2 or 3 tea bags per gallon in the secondary. Just pull the tea bags out when you reach your desired flavor saturation.
 

FatsSchindee

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When I make an Earlgrey mead I usually just make a traditional and hang about 2 or 3 tea bags per gallon in the secondary. Just pull the tea bags out when you reach your desired flavor saturation.

That's a good idea. I ended up using 8 bags steeped for 4 minutes in about 3 qts hot water. Added 3 lb honey after it cooled to room temp and topped up to one gal.

I have heard that many of the tea and bergamot flavors get blown out during primary, so I probably will add tea bags to taste in secondary... Thanks!
 
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