First Batch Guidance

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Hey mead makers,

I’m starting my first ever batch of mead today and I was wondering if I could get some guidance.

I’m fermenting in two 64 oz. beer growlers following a few guides I came across online. I have a pretty good idea of all of the steps that I need to take, but I’m starting to think I’m getting a little overzealous with my flavors…

I have no idea what portions I should use to achieve the flavors I am trying to create.

One mead I would like to taste like apple pie (or at least apples and cinnamon) and the other is a mishmash of juniper, blueberries, lemon & orange rinds.

Batch 1: I was going to put three chopped small Fuji apples into the 64 oz. growler, but I have no idea how much cinnamon to add. I’m using ground cinnamon, which I read has antifungal properties, so I’m worried that adding too much might deactivate the yeast. I also had the thought that the cinnamon could be added in afterwards and then strained through a coffee strainer, but I am unsure what the better method would be. I also plan to use about 1 1/2 lbs. of honey to yield a sweeter mead.

Batch 2: another 64 oz. batch - the juniper and blueberries will be the dominant flavor, but I was told that adding some citrus might counterbalance the very overpowering juniper. I was told that Juniper goes very well with blueberries. How much of the ingredients would you all recommend for optimal flavor? I also plan to use about 1-1.25 lbs. of honey to yield a demi-sec batch.

I believe using 1/4 of a 5 gram packet of Red Star Premier Classique yeast would be appropriate (I read 1/2 packet is good for a full gallon).

Thank you so much for any guidance! I’m excited to see how it turns out, but nervous that I’ll forget something or do something wrong.
 

dvi

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Welcome to mead! It's a fun hobby, albeit a sometimes pricey one.

Individual apples are mostly water and won't lend much flavor. You'll need a lot more than three Fuji apples, but I'd recommend using cider instead of water. Very effective and less lossy. Cinnamon's antimicrobial properties are overstated - Premier Classique will outright ignore it if fed properly - but the flavor might be lost if you add it during primary. For best results, I'd recommend adding spices to secondary in a tea bag and withdrawing them once the preferred level of extraction has been reached.

blueberries, I'd say to either use 4lbs per gallon if added in primary, or half that if used in secondary. In primary, the blueberries will be fermented and take on a more integrated wine-like flavor; in secondary, they will be more like a sangria fruit infusion and will lower the ABV. Neither is a wrong approach - it's more personal preference.

Definitely don't strain your fermented mead through a coffee strainer. That's a good way to oxygenate it and lose all flavor. You'll want to use a syphon to rack it from primary to secondary, limiting oxygen exposure as best you can along the way.

Finally, I'd recommend looking into mead nutrient schedules if you haven't yet. Feeding the yeast properly will help it to ferment cleanly and avoid off-flavors or excessive aging. Keep in mind too that Premier Classique will also eat through most or all of the honey you are using unless it stalls, so you'll probably need to stabilize and backsweeten if you're looking for a sweeter mead.
 

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