First mead batch, need input please

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absentmathis

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Hi guys,

I'm an avid beer brewer and have just entered the world of mead and need some advice. I've started with a half batch with cheap honey, some yeast energizer, and a dry champaign yeast. I intended to only have 2.5 gallons but somehow mis-measured and have closer to 4 gallons. This was perhaps due to honey adding more volume maybe than does dry extract with my beer... Anyway, got roughly 4 gallons in a 5 gal carboy. I want add blueberries/extract to half of the batch, but don't know how best to do so and avoid too much airspace.

The batch has fermented for a little over two weeks and seems to be slowed to barely expelling anything. I only have 5+ gallon fermenters, will splitting this into two vessels cause trouble with too much oxygen? How do I prep the blueberries?

Should I bottle half in large containers (22+ oz bottles) and use my two gallon jugs for the secondary with berries?

Any advice would be much appreciated!
 

fatbloke

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Hi guys,

I'm an avid beer brewer and have just entered the world of mead and need some advice. I've started with a half batch with cheap honey, some yeast energizer, and a dry champaign yeast. I intended to only have 2.5 gallons but somehow mis-measured and have closer to 4 gallons. This was perhaps due to honey adding more volume maybe than does dry extract with my beer... Anyway, got roughly 4 gallons in a 5 gal carboy. I want add blueberries/extract to half of the batch, but don't know how best to do so and avoid too much airspace.

The batch has fermented for a little over two weeks and seems to be slowed to barely expelling anything. I only have 5+ gallon fermenters, will splitting this into two vessels cause trouble with too much oxygen? How do I prep the blueberries?

Should I bottle half in large containers (22+ oz bottles) and use my two gallon jugs for the secondary with berries?

Any advice would be much appreciated!
Once the ferment is complete (you'll only know with hydrometer readings - bubble rate is a very poor method of judging it's progress), then head space is likely to affect the brew, so while it's in the primary fermenter it's fine as there's a protective layer of CO2.

Just the ingredients you mention, it's likely to come out OK, but possibly a little mediocre/uninspiring if the honey was as cheap or below premium as you suggest. So your idea of using something to pep it up a bit will not only improve the taste, it should make it drinkable earlier.

The secret will be in your readings. The higher the alcohol, the likely longer period it will need to be aged (young meads do often taste hideous, especially dry meads - we're not familiar with the taste or idea of a honey product that doesn't taste sweet).

I'd suggest something like, work out how much you want to add the blueberries too (approximately - there's gonna be plenty of suggestions of the weight of fruit to liquid).

So with the idea of how much fruit to liquid (for example, say 2lb of blueberry to the gallon), you take the fruit, freeze it for 3 or 4 days so it's hard as nails and there's no possible unfrozen liquid in it. Then take it out and defrost it (this action aids the break down of the cells/membrane within the fruit). Whatever you do, don't be tempted to blitz the fruit in a food processor, the seeds will get crunched/smashed and can release some bitterness.

The defrosted fruit is in turn, then poured into a carboy with any liquid that has come out of the defrosted fruit and the mead is racked/siphoned onto it, as close as the neck of the fermenter will allow to minimise airspace. I would also add 1 crushed campden tablet per gallon. Then just stopper it and leave it to extract the colour/flavour (an addition of some pectic enzyme - see the pack for amounts - would not only help deal with any possible pectin haze you could get, but also helps with colour and flavour extraction). Leave it to do it's thing for a month or two.

The rest that doesn't get fruit added, can be bottled in beer bottles for ageing - which allows you to drink one every couple of weeks/month (or whatever time period you can manage) and follow the progress of it's ageing to understand how the amazing changes occur in meads as they age (I'd suggest that you used the smallest beer bottles you can find, then just taste 1 every two months).

Oh, and before I forget, you will need to stabilise the batch before you think about adding any fruit - as it contains fermentable sugars, and it's likely that even if it was clear before adding the fruit, it could restart fermentation and make for bottle bombs - which can be, erm, rather unhealthy. Especially if someones in their vicinity when one of them explodes......

Hopefully all that makes sense.......
 
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absentmathis

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Thanks FB, that's all great info. A few follow up questions... Unfortunately I did not get an original gravity reading as I could not find my thief at the time - is there a way to estimate what the reading should be to indicate fermenting is complete? Right now the batch is still pretty hazy.

Also, how do I stabilize the batch? I'm thinking you mean kill any active yeast...will the campden tablet take care of this?

Thanks again!
 

fatbloke

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Thanks FB, that's all great info. A few follow up questions... Unfortunately I did not get an original gravity reading as I could not find my thief at the time - is there a way to estimate what the reading should be to indicate fermenting is complete? Right now the batch is still pretty hazy.
Ok, so it's still hazy, then just leave it "as is" until you can find the thief/hydrometer. You will want to see 3 identical gravities, each one taken a couple of days apart or across a period of a week. I'd have thought that given the numbers you've mentioned so far, it's likely that it will go dry anyway.
Also, how do I stabilize the batch? I'm thinking you mean kill any active yeast...will the campden tablet take care of this?

Thanks again!
Stabilising is done with both, campden tablets/sulphite powder (which ever you have or usually use) and potassium sorbate. You can crush the campden tablet and put that into the receiveing container, along with the sorbate and rack onto it, or you can take a little must and mix the crushed campden, then another little bit of must to dissolve the sorbate and put it into the batch. campden would normally be at a rate of 1 tablet per gallon and the sorbate (from memory) is half a tsp per gallon - should be some instructions/guidance on the label (sorbate is sometimes just labelled as "wine stabiliser").

I tend to leave it a week or so to just make sure that any remaining yeast cells have had their fix.
 

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