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Dec 12, 2017
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Fellow mead lovers,

The purpose of this post is you show all you pros the process I’ve used to get my first mead started (first ferment ever actually) and just hopefully get some feedback and tips. Hope you guys enjoy reading it and can give me some advice for future batches.

So I started with 1/2 gallon of water, I did the boiling method here, as I read different ways and determined I would try this method first. I boiled the water, removed from heat and dissolved in 3lbs 2 oz. of organic raw honey. I then returned to heat and removed what “scum” I could from the mixture(I’ve since discovered that maybe this isn’t the best method to use) nevertheless, I did it this way. I rapidly cooled the mixture in a water bath and added the other half gallon of water, then racked to my primary fermenter, then pitched my Lalvin k1V-1116 yeast, to which I added two small “cuties”(those tiny little oranges).. sliced, 1 whole nutmeg, 1 Cinnamon stick, and a couple cloves(I know they’re strong, but they haven’t seem to have taken over quite yet haha). My OG was 1.090. It has been stored at a consistent 64-72 degrees(weather here in VA is back and forth). At day 3 I measured SG again, and was at 1.076 with about an inch thick of heavy foam on top. Today is day 5 and I have taken a 3rd reading and my SG was down to 1.064, to which I added one more pound of the same honey, raising my must back to a SG of 1.090. At this point I plan to let it ride down to about 1.020 for a sweeter mead at about 12.5% when it’s all said and done. My only concern thus far is that TODAY being day 5, where two days ago I had they thick foam, when I opened it up today I have barely any foam at all, but more of a thin layer of bubbles..should I be worried about the disappearance of my beautiful foam or not stress about it? Thank you if you made it through this long read. I look forward to comments/feedback/advice.

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Hi Nick - and welcome. Brewers love heat, but wine makers and nowadays, mead makers avoid heat. Unless you know that your water is not drinkable there is certainly no need to boil it and heating honey simply destroys all the volatile flavor and aromatic molecules. Doesn't matter what you see or read on self published sites. Avoid heating your raw materials. There is an exception and that is if you intend to caramelize the honey to make a bochet but if that is not your game then keep everything around room temperature.
Adding spices to make what is called a metheglin (same root as "medicine") is often better done in the secondary after the most active phase of fermentation has ended. Two simple reasons: One - active fermentation can blow off much of the aromatics and flavor molecules but those are what you want from spices (or herbs) AND, Two adding spices to your primary means (for the most part) that you are forced to keep the spices in the mead for as long as it takes for the active fermentation to end. That may not be a problem but sometimes you taste the mead and you want to remove the spices (or spice) after three days, after a week... Much easier to do that in the secondary.
Last point: Don't stress. That applies to you and how you treat the yeast. Fermentation is a natural process and the yeast know exactly what to do. Your role is more like the gardener's than the engineer. You provide all the necessary materials and you step out of the way. But that said, I see you added 4 lbs of honey (a starting gravity by calculation of about 1.140 and so a potential ABV of about 18% (you are looking for 20 points of residual sugar so the final ABV may be 16%) my concern is that you don't mention providing the yeast with any nutrients and necessary minerals which they will certainly need if THEY are not to be stressed and so produce hydrogen sulfide, other off-flavors and fusels... That's one reason that many of the self-published articles and videos tell you that mead can take years to age properly. It doesn't. It can be aged like any other wine... in weeks or months... Good luck.

I appreciate all of your knowledge and feedback. I would like to start by saying, you are correct I haven’t added any nutrients to the must, unfortunately the home brew shop was out of stock, and since the fermentation had already kicked off I thought it to be acceptable to just roll with it in regards to the nutrients..although I have considered ordering online to acquire some just in case. Beyond that, as I said, the numbers above are quite accurate regarding my OG of 1.090 and there on.. which is interesting to me what method you used to calculate what gravity I SHOULD have had. I would like to re-state that i added the 3 lbs upon initial mixing of the must, and the additional pound just today. So regardless of what it SHOULD hypothetically read.. the hydrometer doesn’t lie, correct? So using all the standard equations I still get 12.5%, ending at around 1.020SG. My last inquiry, or point, however you see it haha, I take it you would recommend acquiring some nutrient as quickly as possible so to avoid unwanted aromas or flavors? Thanks again I see your posts a lot and can tell you are quite knowledgeable.
(As a side note, I just realized the difference may be where you have calculated it to a gallon of fluid overall, however once the honey was added to the initial must it put me at about 1.4 gallons.. so I divided... I think I used 37ppg by 1.4 gallons to give me 26 points of gravity. Thus bringing me to a TOTAL of 1.116).
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A pound of honey mixed with water to make 1 gallon (not mixed WITH one gallon) will generally raise the gravity of the water by 35 points (1.035). Three pounds of honey mixed to make 1 gallon will raise the gravity by three times that number or 1.105, and 4 lbs will raise the gravity to 1.140. Simple arithmetic. If you mixed the honey WITH one gallon the readings will be less (3 lbs is 1 quart so your starting volume would be 1.25 gallons (US). Just divide the .140 by 1.25 - 1.112 =14.6% ABV, if you still have 20 points of residual sugar then at this time the potential ABV is about 12.6%
For nutrient you could have used baker's yeast. It may be too late now because I don't know that yeast can take up nutrients once the ABV of the mead is greater than 9%. But for the next time, take a tablespoon of baker's yeast and
allow it to proof in a 1/4 cup of water (I would add a teaspoon of sugar) Once the yeast is proofed boil it to kill the yeast. When cooled add to your must The dead cells will have just about all the nutrients the live cells need