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Have a couple batches and a couple questions

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Immortals

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Currently I'm sitting on two batches in primary, Raspberry Mead and JAOM .. I started them yesterday! (12/11/14)

Just a couple questions I have for you guys that are very experienced (I am very new to this)

A) I started my Raspberry Mead in a fermenting bucket rather than a 5 gallon carboy for primary, does anyone see a problem with this? I did it because my current carboys are being used and I'm waiting on another to be shipped in the mail.

B) I started my JAOM in a 5 gallon carboy as per the recipe but I was also actually considering to rack it after primary fermentation in efforts to prevent an overly bitter taste from the orange rined that's attached to the fruit, rather than letting it sit in the same carboy for months on end. Two questions to this part, am I correct in the assumption that it may prevent too much bitterness? and secondly what other effects of taste might I see from doing this?

As I said I just started these batches yesterday, so its still very early. Right now they are stored in my closet at about 72F and after 24 hours I'm getting a couple bubbles per minute from the airlocks but nothing vigorous yet. (For the Raspberry I used Lalvin EC1118 and for the JAOM I used Lalvin D-47 instead of bread yeast)

Lastly, should I be shaking or stirring my batches while they are in primary? If so, should I do it before vigorous fermentation starts, after it happens, or both stages?

Thanks in advance guys :) and I'm happy to be a new member of the forum.
 

sheepcat

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Hi, welcome to the forums.

A) I've always used a fermenting bucket for my primaries. The way I see it, a carboy can hold five gallons... might as well try to get five gallons of drinkable liquid in there! So, when I've made melomel, etc., it helps to have a bucket that can hold 6.5-7 gallons... fruit takes up room! I don't think you'll have a problem as long as you rack to a carboy and minimize headspace once primary fermentation is complete.

B) I've never made JOAM, I'm not sure how that'll turn out. I HAVE made orange mead twice, using juice and zest. From what I understand, the pith's added bitterness is offset by bread yeast only reaching 5-7% ABV, so there's a lot of residual sugar. D-47 goes significantly higher than that, so you may need to backsweeten with honey later.

You might want to turn on an A/C if you have one, or wrap your orange in a wet towel. D-47 has a reputation for making a lot of nasty fusels above 68 degrees. If that happens you might need to wait quite some time before drinking.

I'd avoid shaking a fermentation bucket! You want to break up the fruit cap (the CO2 will push it to the top of the container) about three times a day until the SG starts to get low, around 1/3 of where you started. Are you doing staggered nutrient addition? I usually degass/stir when I add my nutrients the first few days.

You should post your recipes!

Anyhow, welcome again! :mug:
 

bernardsmith

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Welcome, Immortals.
Never made the JAOM but the specific ingredients are really required. Bread yeast will not be able to ferment this mead dry but that mead should not be fermented dry. The amount of time in the fermenter with the fruit (the whole oranges cut into - what? eighths? - means that when the bread yeast gives up the ghost and the CO2 is no longer being produced and indeed is being released from the mead the fruit drops to the bottom. At that time the mead is ready to bottle and drink (by all accounts). Change the yeast and the JAOM conditions no longer are the same. The results will be very different. If you chose to pitch another yeast and/or you choose to rack the mead then you are no longer making a JAOM. That is not a problem... but it does mean that you need to know what you are doing ... and it does mean that what you will produce will not be a JAOM. It will be a mead, but not a JAOM.
 
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Hi, welcome to the forums.

A) I've always used a fermenting bucket for my primaries. The way I see it, a carboy can hold five gallons... might as well try to get five gallons of drinkable liquid in there! So, when I've made melomel, etc., it helps to have a bucket that can hold 6.5-7 gallons... fruit takes up room! I don't think you'll have a problem as long as you rack to a carboy and minimize headspace once primary fermentation is complete.

B) I've never made JOAM, I'm not sure how that'll turn out. I HAVE made orange mead twice, using juice and zest. From what I understand, the pith's added bitterness is offset by bread yeast only reaching 5-7% ABV, so there's a lot of residual sugar. D-47 goes significantly higher than that, so you may need to backsweeten with honey later.

You might want to turn on an A/C if you have one, or wrap your orange in a wet towel. D-47 has a reputation for making a lot of nasty fusels above 68 degrees. If that happens you might need to wait quite some time before drinking.

I'd avoid shaking a fermentation bucket! You want to break up the fruit cap (the CO2 will push it to the top of the container) about three times a day until the SG starts to get low, around 1/3 of where you started. Are you doing staggered nutrient addition? I usually degass/stir when I add my nutrients the first few days.

You should post your recipes!

Anyhow, welcome again! :mug:
I wasn't doing staggered nutrient addition. Although I did give nutrient when I pitched the yeast. The forum has a recipe section right? Il have to check it out and share my recipes (Unless you want to see them here :) ). I suppose I ought to start degassing now, primary fermentation has started to become vigorous. Also, thanks for the advice.

EDIT: I just opened my Raspberry to degass, and it smells like golden nectar hahahah. I realize that is likely to change, but hell heres to hoping!

EDIT: @Sheepcat Heres the recipe I used, It looks delicious :) http://www.instructables.com/id/Raspberry-Mead/
As for the JAOM, since I deviated from the recipe (pitched different yeast and I plan to rack it after primary fermentation) I suppose it isn't JAOM, and just an Orange mead haha. I plan to keep a close eye on it with gravity readings, I don't want it to turn out overly dry because of the yeast strain that I used. Once It reaches desired ABV, I can cold crash to slow it down correct? I guess if not then I will back sweeten. . but like I said before my major concern is just the bitterness of the orange rined. Hopefully it turns out good. I will keep you guys posted on the details also as the process comes along (I enjoy the conversation, and with this being my first time the tips are very helpful). I am also going to be starting a batch of Cherry Ale this week but I realize this isn't the right place to be talking about beer, so I doubt I will mention it unless you guys want to hear about it.

@bernardsmith Thank you very much for your insight, it is greatly appreciated.

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bernardsmith

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Thanks for your acknowledgement. I know that brewers "cold crash" but they do so, don't they, after the yeast has stopped fermenting. The cold crashing helps drop dead yeast cells out of suspension and so helps clear their brews. I am not so certain that cold crashing will have a similar effect on viable active yeast. Sure it will help drop a large number of cells out of suspension but I know of no wine maker who uses cold crashing as a means of stopping fermentation. Indeed, the first time I mentioned CC to wine makers they assumed I was referring to removing tartaric acid from the wine. Wine makers age and rack their wines and then when there are very few yeast cells still remaining they add K-meta and K-sorbate. You can try cold crashing ... but my money is on the yeast. Of course, others on this forum with years more experience in mead making than me may disagree.
 
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Thanks for your acknowledgement. I know that brewers "cold crash" but they do so, don't they, after the yeast has stopped fermenting. The cold crashing helps drop dead yeast cells out of suspension and so helps clear their brews. I am not so certain that cold crashing will have a similar effect on viable active yeast. Sure it will help drop a large number of cells out of suspension but I know of no wine maker who uses cold crashing as a means of stopping fermentation. Indeed, the first time I mentioned CC to wine makers they assumed I was referring to removing tartaric acid from the wine. Wine makers age and rack their wines and then when there are very few yeast cells still remaining they add K-meta and K-sorbate. You can try cold crashing ... but my money is on the yeast. Of course, others on this forum with years more experience in mead making than me may disagree.
@bernardsmith So basically its going to turn out however it wants at this point in time. . The determination is based off the type of yeast I pitched + the OG reading. I was kind of hoping I could of prevented it from becoming too strong when I realized that bread yeast will not take the ABV nearly to the extent of the yeast that I did pitch. Live and learn right? If it comes out too bitter and/or hot, I can let it age and see what happens. . or backsweeten it I suppose. I'm very new to the game but I'm enjoying it so far, the only thing thats really going to make me butthurt is if the batch is "ruined" and pretty much tastes like straight ass anyway you look at it. Hell a 5 gallon batch costs about $75 in honey alone, and I have 2 batches. I'm think about trying a wine recipe while these are going also, it should be a little bit cheaper and enhance the learning experience a bit too.
 

bernardsmith

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Nothing ruined at all but you cannot expect the end result to finish as fast as JAOM or to finish like JAOM. You may need to add more nutrient given the ABV of your mead .
You may indeed want to remove the orange pith to reduce the bitterness
 
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Nothing ruined at all but you cannot expect the end result to finish as fast as JAOM or to finish like JAOM. You may need to add more nutrient given the ABV of your mead .
You may indeed want to remove the orange pith to reduce the bitterness
@bernardsmith What would be the consequence of not adding the nutrient? Could I control ABV some by not adding nutrient? The Orange and Raspberry both are in vigorous fermentation right now but the Raspberry is fermenting faster. I can already tell the Orange is going to be bitter too, I could be wrong but I am guessing based on smell.
 

bernardsmith

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In cider making deliberately controlling the amount of nutrition is called keeving and that is a well recognized tool for ensuring that you have a sweeter rather than a drier cider but IMO - unless you really know what you are doing and you really know the characteristics of the yeast you are using and the characteristics of the must to control the ABV ill-providing nutrition for the yeast is likely to result in stressed yeast, the production of hydrogen sulphide (if you are lucky) and other off flavors and aromas (mercaptans).

My suggestion would be (but don't act on this until you think through what the results may be and decide on whether you are OK with them), to calculate how much water you would have needed to dilute your original concentration to provide a starting gravity closer to 1.090. Then add that additional volume of water. You might remove the oranges and allow the mead to ferment dry (about 11.5 % ABV. After you have allowed the mead to age a couple of months (perhaps 4) and the gravity is absolutely stable (should be below 1.000) then you can stabilize the mead by adding k-sorbate AND k-meta. Then you can add more honey (or sugar or agave syrup or corn syrup) to back sweeten the mead. You do this by bench testing - that is taking samples of specific quantities of mead (say 100 CCs) and adding a specific quantities of the sweetener to each sample to find the sweetness you prefer. You can then determine how much sweetener you need to add to your batch to create the same level of sweetness.
4 oz of sugar (about 100 gms (approximately - it's closer to 113 but close enough IMO) ) in one gallon will raise the gravity by 1.010. A wine (or mead) with that level of residual sugar is semi sweet. That may be too sweet for you - or insufficiently sweet. Sweetness is also perceived in terms of the ABV and the amount of acidity in the wine so numbers are less important IMO than balance... but yer pays yer money and yer takes yer chance.
 
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In cider making deliberately controlling the amount of nutrition is called keeving and that is a well recognized tool for ensuring that you have a sweeter rather than a drier cider but IMO - unless you really know what you are doing and you really know the characteristics of the yeast you are using and the characteristics of the must to control the ABV ill-providing nutrition for the yeast is likely to result in stressed yeast, the production of hydrogen sulphide (if you are lucky) and other off flavors and aromas (mercaptans).

My suggestion would be (but don't act on this until you think through what the results may be and decide on whether you are OK with them), to calculate how much water you would have needed to dilute your original concentration to provide a starting gravity closer to 1.090. Then add that additional volume of water. You might remove the oranges and allow the mead to ferment dry (about 11.5 % ABV. After you have allowed the mead to age a couple of months (perhaps 4) and the gravity is absolutely stable (should be below 1.000) then you can stabilize the mead by adding k-sorbate AND k-meta. Then you can add more honey (or sugar or agave syrup or corn syrup) to back sweeten the mead. You do this by bench testing - that is taking samples of specific quantities of mead (say 100 CCs) and adding a specific quantities of the sweetener to each sample to find the sweetness you prefer. You can then determine how much sweetener you need to add to your batch to create the same level of sweetness.
4 oz of sugar (about 100 gms (approximately - it's closer to 113 but close enough IMO) ) in one gallon will raise the gravity by 1.010. A wine (or mead) with that level of residual sugar is semi sweet. That may be too sweet for you - or insufficiently sweet. Sweetness is also perceived in terms of the ABV and the amount of acidity in the wine so numbers are less important IMO than balance... but yer pays yer money and yer takes yer chance.
@bernardsmith

I appreciate the tips and advice, I guess I am just going to have to wait a little while and see how things turn out before I make my choices, although I will definatly rack off of the oranges when I go to secondary and see how bitter/sweet the batch tastes at that point. Currently I am just going from smell which can obviously be false. The Raspberry is currently bubbling at about 1 per second, while the Orange is bubbling about about 1 per 1.5 seconds. Both had an OG of around ~1.120, which I thought was high because the hydrometer sat above the hydrometer scale and I had to give a rough estimate of OG. . but the OG for both batches was also me following the recipes to a tee.
 

bernardsmith

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Counting the number of burps an airlock makes is fun but totally irrelevant.Your hydrometer will provide you with the kind of evidence you need (a change in air pressure or temperature can result in CO2 being out gassed but that out gas of CO2 has nothing to do with the yeast at that time... )
Also, IMO , one orange and its pith is unlikely to produce discernible bitterness in a few days. The orange in JAOM is there to provide acidity, not flavor. In regular mead making because of the way that honey is chemically constructed it has no "buffers" and the action of the yeast can drop the pH to about 3 or lower, so adding acidity while the yeast is still active can - and does - often result in a stalled fermentation. But in a JAOM the acidity of the citrus fruit is slowly expelled as you are not crushing the fruit or pressing the juice. In fact , in the original recipe you are asked not to even stir the liquor. (I think, so that you do not in fact extract more of the acids in the fruit)
In more conventional meads you might add acid blend when you are ready to bottle the mead (or you might add fruit juices to create melomels) in the secondary fermenter (so you are not as concerned that the yeast will be stressed by too low a pH (too much acidity).
 
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Counting the number of burps an airlock makes is fun but totally irrelevant.Your hydrometer will provide you with the kind of evidence you need (a change in air pressure or temperature can result in CO2 being out gassed but that out gas of CO2 has nothing to do with the yeast at that time... )
Also, IMO , one orange and its pith is unlikely to produce discernible bitterness in a few days. The orange in JAOM is there to provide acidity, not flavor. In regular mead making because of the way that honey is chemically constructed it has no "buffers" and the action of the yeast can drop the pH to about 3 or lower, so adding acidity while the yeast is still active can - and does - often result in a stalled fermentation. But in a JAOM the acidity of the citrus fruit is slowly expelled as you are not crushing the fruit or pressing the juice. In fact , in the original recipe you are asked not to even stir the liquor. (I think, so that you do not in fact extract more of the acids in the fruit)
In more conventional meads you might add acid blend when you are ready to bottle the mead (or you might add fruit juices to create melomels) in the secondary fermenter (so you are not as concerned that the yeast will be stressed by too low a pH (too much acidity).
@bernardsmith
You are correct on not stirring with the JAOM recipe, and I have not touched mine either, I have in fact been degassing my raspberry though.
I will certainly keep you updated on the progression to the outcome as well as the outcome itself. Tomorrow evening will be 5 days since I have pitched the yeast so I plan to take a hydrometer reading and a taste sample from the test tube.
 
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@bernardsmith

Just did a hydrometer reading with my wine thief on the two batches. The Raspberry batch is at an estimated 9.13% abv so far while the Orange is estimated at about 3.93% . .as for sampling taste, I feel the raspberry is coming along quite nicely while the orange isn't bad either with only a hint of bitterness. I sampled about 4 oz of each hehe :)
 

sheepcat

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Outstanding, congrats so far. Something I've found, though the article doesn't mention it, is adding more fruit to secondary. It depends on what you're going for; having berries in the primary adds a fruit-wine taste, and in secondary (after fermentation has mostly finished) really adds more fresh fruit taste. Obviously that's not something anyone has to do, but it's what I like. And what's the point of homebrewing if we can't make what we like?
 
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Outstanding, congrats so far. Something I've found, though the article doesn't mention it, is adding more fruit to secondary. It depends on what you're going for; having berries in the primary adds a fruit-wine taste, and in secondary (after fermentation has mostly finished) really adds more fresh fruit taste. Obviously that's not something anyone has to do, but it's what I like. And what's the point of homebrewing if we can't make what we like?
@sheepcat

That sounds like a great idea, I wonder if I could use that to somehow reduce the bitterness from the pith of the orange. I don't think I will touch the raspberry though but the pith bitterness in the orange is still slightly concerning (I'm just going to rack out as soon as primary is finished)

Side question: Do you guys know if I can add pectin enzymes at any point, or is that primarily for before your primary fermentation?
 

RegarRenill

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You can add pectic enzyme either before fermentation or after it's done. It doesn't work as well in th presence of alcohol, so a double dose may be needed if added post-ferm(after racking to secondary).
 
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