Just Starting

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum:

shadz78

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2022
Messages
20
Reaction score
6
Location
NJ, USA
So I (like all of you here) have decided to embark on brewing my own mead. Started my first batch on 8/17, so I'm about 2 weeks into it. I started by watching some youtube videos from Man Made Mead. Here is the recipe I used:
3 Lbs. Pure N' Simple Honey
1 Gal. of Poland Springs Spring water (used less to fit in carboy)
1 Packet Lavalin 71B Yeast
Original Gravity was 1.09

I prepped the yeast in water before adding to mash. Added Yeast Energizer and Nutrient on a staggered (0/2/4/6) schedule for a total of 1 tsp of Nutrient and 1/2 tsp of energizer. I haven't been religious with my degassing schedule (went a week after the last nutrient/energizer addition), but will be doing this about every 3-4 days or so.
So far everything seems to be doing well. It is currently stored on my workbench in my basement. Smell test today seems to be normal, no weird smells or anything. It actually is starting to smell like a mead. The activity is dying down, though that is probably due to my lack of degassing. Any tips are appreciated.
 

MightyMosin

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
Messages
72
Reaction score
82
When you think its done, take a hydrometer reading. Then check again in 4-7 days to see if it is still the same. If it is, then fermentation is likely done.
When you taste it, you'll have to decide if you want to sweeten it or keep it how it is. In either case you will want to stabilize it with some Potassium Metabisulphite. How much to use is dependent upon what the final pH of your mead is. I'll assume you are in the area of 3.7 pH.
With that in mind you would use the following for 1 gallon:
3.6 pH - .462 grams
3.7 pH - .580 grams
3.8 pH - .731 grams
You can see that based on the pH that the lower pH requires less stabilizing. Those values are based on creating a 50ppm in your mead and doesn't consider how much free SO2 you may already have... testing for that requires added equipment.

Next up is if you want to back sweeten your mead at all. If you don't, then you are done.

If you use Erythritol or some other non fermentable sweetener, then sweeten away.

If you are using a fermentable sweetener like honey, table sugar, lactose or similar, then you need to add some Potassium Sorbate to your mead so that you can "stun" the yeast so that they don't wake up and start to eat what you use to sweeten the mead. You need to add this ~24 hours prior to sweetening your mead.

The amount you use is also dependent on pH, but I haven't found any great references for an "exact" amount. Here's what I use for 1 gallon:
3.6 pH - .666 grams
3.7 pH - .687 grams
3.8 pH - .708 grams

If you are back sweetening with honey. about every .005 of gravity that you want to add will require ~2.1 oz of honey. That should get you in a ballpark of desired sweetness, but I would rely on your taste buds and not just a number to shoot for. Use the numbers to get close and then adjust as you need.

You may want to add a small amount of honey to a small sample (enough to do a hydrometer reading on) and let it sit for a few days to make sure you have enough Potassium Sorbate in your mead. If your sample drops but the bulk doesn't, then you will likely need to add more to stop the yeast.

When you are ready to bottle, add ~ half the Potassium Metabisulphite to the mead that you did originally. That should make your bottled mead shelf stable.
 
OP
OP
shadz78

shadz78

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2022
Messages
20
Reaction score
6
Location
NJ, USA
When you think its done, take a hydrometer reading. Then check again in 4-7 days to see if it is still the same. If it is, then fermentation is likely done.
When you taste it, you'll have to decide if you want to sweeten it or keep it how it is. In either case you will want to stabilize it with some Potassium Metabisulphite. How much to use is dependent upon what the final pH of your mead is. I'll assume you are in the area of 3.7 pH.
With that in mind you would use the following for 1 gallon:
3.6 pH - .462 grams
3.7 pH - .580 grams
3.8 pH - .731 grams
You can see that based on the pH that the lower pH requires less stabilizing. Those values are based on creating a 50ppm in your mead and doesn't consider how much free SO2 you may already have... testing for that requires added equipment.

Next up is if you want to back sweeten your mead at all. If you don't, then you are done.

If you use Erythritol or some other non fermentable sweetener, then sweeten away.

If you are using a fermentable sweetener like honey, table sugar, lactose or similar, then you need to add some Potassium Sorbate to your mead so that you can "stun" the yeast so that they don't wake up and start to eat what you use to sweeten the mead. You need to add this ~24 hours prior to sweetening your mead.

The amount you use is also dependent on pH, but I haven't found any great references for an "exact" amount. Here's what I use for 1 gallon:
3.6 pH - .666 grams
3.7 pH - .687 grams
3.8 pH - .708 grams

If you are back sweetening with honey. about every .005 of gravity that you want to add will require ~2.1 oz of honey. That should get you in a ballpark of desired sweetness, but I would rely on your taste buds and not just a number to shoot for. Use the numbers to get close and then adjust as you need.

You may want to add a small amount of honey to a small sample (enough to do a hydrometer reading on) and let it sit for a few days to make sure you have enough Potassium Sorbate in your mead. If your sample drops but the bulk doesn't, then you will likely need to add more to stop the yeast.

When you are ready to bottle, add ~ half the Potassium Metabisulphite to the mead that you did originally. That should make your bottled mead shelf stable.
Great Info, Thanks! I was wondering, how long should I allow it to ferment? In the videos I watched, it recommended 45-60 days, however, given how much less bubbling (fermentation?) is happening currently, will it still take that long? Also, what temperature should it be stored at (ballpark) to ensure proper fermentation? When I degassed, it picked up a bit, but not too much. As for back sweetening, I'll have to see how it is when it is done. I do prefer sweeter brew, so I may do that, and I would likely use the honey, as I'm not a fan of artificial sweeteners to begin with.
 

SimPilot

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
104
Reaction score
41
how long should I allow it to ferment?

As long as required to either arrive to 1.000 FG (dry) or desired final gravity. Usually it takes about 2-3 weeks. But it will depend on yeast, temperature and nutrient schedule.

given how much less bubbling (fermentation?) is happening currently, will it still take that long?

bubbling is not a good measure for fermentation. Measuring gravity with hydrometer does as "scientific" approach.
what temperature should it be stored at (ballpark) to ensure proper fermentation?
Each yeast has a guide by manufacture that gives you a temp range.
example - https://www.lallemandbrewing.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/TDS_Lalvin-D47-DIGITAL-1.pdf
 

MightyMosin

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
Messages
72
Reaction score
82
Great Info, Thanks! I was wondering, how long should I allow it to ferment? In the videos I watched, it recommended 45-60 days, however, given how much less bubbling (fermentation?) is happening currently, will it still take that long? Also, what temperature should it be stored at (ballpark) to ensure proper fermentation? When I degassed, it picked up a bit, but not too much. As for back sweetening, I'll have to see how it is when it is done. I do prefer sweeter brew, so I may do that, and I would likely use the honey, as I'm not a fan of artificial sweeteners to begin with.
How long is dependent upon a variety of factors: Your starting gravity, yeast used, fermentation temperature, nutrients used, pH, O2 saturation.

Starting Gravity - the higher your gravity, the more sugar to go through and the more time needed.

Yeast Used - Some yeast will tap out sooner, like a lager yeast and some, like a wine yeast, will have a larger tolerance to go to higher alcohol%.

Temperature - Check what the specific yeast recommendations is, but the basic rule is the lower the temperature, the slower the fermentation. A Kvyiek might do well at higher temperatures while a variety of wine yeast will not do well at higher temperatures.

Nutrients - A staggered nutrient addition will provide the needed food to the yeast while, generally, avoiding the bursts of activity from a larger feeding that increases temperatures.

pH - If your must gets too low (~<3.2) you can (but not definitely) see cases where the yeast slow down and will not ferment as fast.

O2 saturation - You should be using a filtered air pump through an oxygenation stone in your must to make sure your must has enough oxygen to properly get on. You can stir and shake all you want but it will never get the O2 level as high as using an air pump. This will make a ton of difference as your yeast colony will start out much stronger than otherwise.

Of all these, I would say proper nutrients, O2 levels and temperature control are your big items to keep in check. With that in mind, I have used SafAle S-04 that has a stated 9-11% tolerance, and have taken it to 14% abv... its all about how you treat the yeast. Pick your yeast based upon what you want to get out of it. I love the SafAle S-04 and US-05 strains and you can get decent ABV with fast fermentation times and pretty fast results as far as drinkability... but you have to look at all the items that are in play and adjust as you go along.

Do you have a pH meter? I consider it a very important piece of kit to have and I just don't brew without it anymore.
 
OP
OP
shadz78

shadz78

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2022
Messages
20
Reaction score
6
Location
NJ, USA
How long is dependent upon a variety of factors: Your starting gravity, yeast used, fermentation temperature, nutrients used, pH, O2 saturation.

Starting Gravity - the higher your gravity, the more sugar to go through and the more time needed.

Yeast Used - Some yeast will tap out sooner, like a lager yeast and some, like a wine yeast, will have a larger tolerance to go to higher alcohol%.

Temperature - Check what the specific yeast recommendations is, but the basic rule is the lower the temperature, the slower the fermentation. A Kvyiek might do well at higher temperatures while a variety of wine yeast will not do well at higher temperatures.

Nutrients - A staggered nutrient addition will provide the needed food to the yeast while, generally, avoiding the bursts of activity from a larger feeding that increases temperatures.

pH - If your must gets too low (~<3.2) you can (but not definitely) see cases where the yeast slow down and will not ferment as fast.

O2 saturation - You should be using a filtered air pump through an oxygenation stone in your must to make sure your must has enough oxygen to properly get on. You can stir and shake all you want but it will never get the O2 level as high as using an air pump. This will make a ton of difference as your yeast colony will start out much stronger than otherwise.

Of all these, I would say proper nutrients, O2 levels and temperature control are your big items to keep in check. With that in mind, I have used SafAle S-04 that has a stated 9-11% tolerance, and have taken it to 14% abv... its all about how you treat the yeast. Pick your yeast based upon what you want to get out of it. I love the SafAle S-04 and US-05 strains and you can get decent ABV with fast fermentation times and pretty fast results as far as drinkability... but you have to look at all the items that are in play and adjust as you go along.

Do you have a pH meter? I consider it a very important piece of kit to have and I just don't brew without it anymore.
MM, thanks for the information. I didn't know about the Ph levels, so i'm going to get some test strips (cheap first) and go from there. I'll also purchase the potassium metabisulfate and sorbate as you have suggested. I knew about one, but (to prevent the yeast from reactivating) but not the other (for shelf stabilization). I haven't done another gravity test, as I need to order the bottling supplies (so I have a way to get a sample out of the carboy without having to tilt it). As soon as I can do another gravity test and compare it to my starting gravity, I'll be able to tell where I'm at. I also was aware of the back sweeting, but thanks for clearing up the process steps for me. I'll post again once I get my supplies and get the testing done.
 

bernardsmith

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2012
Messages
5,614
Reaction score
2,040
Location
Saratoga Springs
You are asking how long you should let a mead (or wine) ferment. The answer is always "as long as it takes for the yeast to consume every last gram of sugar". The only way to know how long that is is to take hydrometer readings. You want the final reading to be 1.000 or lower (.998, .996). But , before that , you want to rack, (transfer by siphoning) the mead (or wine) from the primary fermenter off the gross lees and into a clean and sanitized carboy which you fill up into the neck and then seal with a bung and airlock. That usually means that your primary is a bucket and the volume you begin with is greater than the volume that will fill the secondary carboy. You really don't want any air in the secondary. Air will oxidize the mead - discolor it and spoil the flavors.
And here's the thing: fermentation is not simply the period when the yeast is actively gorging on the sugars. After they have no more sugar to feed on, they still work to consume certain compounds that are best not left in the mead or wine. The wine itself undergoes many, many chemical reactions that change tannins and bond acids with the various alcohols and which allow certain volatile compounds to escape. Fermentation does not just produce alcohol. Half - HALF the weight of the sugar is converted into carbon dioxide and that is a lot of gas, much of which is saturating the liquid. You want to let that gas escape either slowly over time or by stirring vigorously for 20- 30 minutes without introducing air into the liquid. Bottom line: fermentation is not a quick process.
 
OP
OP
shadz78

shadz78

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2022
Messages
20
Reaction score
6
Location
NJ, USA
UPDATE!!!! OK, so I got my bottling materials so I could properly take a sample. I've attached the pictures of the hydrometer reading, but it looks done. I did a taste test and it is drier than I prefer, so I will probably back sweeten it when it is ready. Judging by my reading, I don't think I will have to test again in a few days, since it is reading 1.00. I have potassium metabisulfate and sorbate (as I will be adding additional honey for sweetening). Let me know what you guys think.
20220907_172940.jpg
20220907_172956.jpg
 

bernardsmith

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2012
Messages
5,614
Reaction score
2,040
Location
Saratoga Springs
Looks OK for a very young wine but you really don't want to think about bottling most wines and mead until they are absolutely crystal clear and bright. You should be able to read a newspaper through the carboy without any difficulty. The wine in the chamber looks very hazy. That haze is caused by fruit and protein (pectin) particles , yeast and they are kept in suspension largely because of the CO2 that is saturating the liquid. Half the weight of the sugars the yeast ferment are turned into CO2. And THAT is a heck of a lot of gas...
 
OP
OP
shadz78

shadz78

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2022
Messages
20
Reaction score
6
Location
NJ, USA
UPDATE IN COMING: Ok, so I removed the mead from the brewing carboy by bottle wand to the stainless pot. Cleaned & sanitized the carboy and returned the mead from the pot back to the carboy. Added the estimated amount of sodium metabisulfite to it and now I'm going to let it sit for a bit. I did a taste test last week and it tasted like a dry white wine, so I'm going to back sweeten it with honey. I'll add the potassium sorbate before I do that. Though I do have a question about the back sweetening process. Do I just warm the honey and pour it directly into the mead? Do I mix it with distilled water (like when I made the mash)? I'm assuming since it is sweetening, I would just warm the honey (to make it easier to pour and combine) and pour it in to my desired sweetness level, taste testing as I go? TIA!
 
OP
OP
shadz78

shadz78

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2022
Messages
20
Reaction score
6
Location
NJ, USA
Ok, so I added the potassium sorbate yesterday and back sweetened with honey today. I've got it at my desired sweetness for now. I've placed it back in my basement to sit for a couple of days so I can be sure I added enough sorbate to stun the yeast. I'll let it sit for about another week or so before I bottle it. To all who replied in this thread, thanks for the assistance, it was very helpul/insightful. So far my experience in this community is a positive one.
 

Dan O

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Messages
825
Reaction score
543
Location
HAMPSTEAD
Ok, so I added the potassium sorbate yesterday and back sweetened with honey today. I've got it at my desired sweetness for now. I've placed it back in my basement to sit for a couple of days so I can be sure I added enough sorbate to stun the yeast. I'll let it sit for about another week or so before I bottle it. To all who replied in this thread, thanks for the assistance, it was very helpul/insightful. So far my experience in this community is a positive one.
Did you give the sorbate @ least 24 hours before you added the extra honey? If not, you may....possibly restart fermentation.
I would advise caution & multiple gravity readings over a 2-3 week period to make sure it stays the same. If gravity does NOT remain consistent, then it has started again.
 
OP
OP
shadz78

shadz78

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2022
Messages
20
Reaction score
6
Location
NJ, USA
Did you give the sorbate @ least 24 hours before you added the extra honey? If not, you may....possibly restart fermentation.
I would advise caution & multiple gravity readings over a 2-3 week period to make sure it stays the same. If gravity does NOT remain consistent, then it has started again.
Yes, 24 hours had passed before addition of the honey.
 
OP
OP
shadz78

shadz78

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2022
Messages
20
Reaction score
6
Location
NJ, USA
I would still make sure gravity stays the same before bottling, just air on the side of caution. 😉
I agree. I was going to let it sit for at least a week more before bottling anyway, so I'll do some SG checks during this time. Thanks.
 

bernardsmith

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2012
Messages
5,614
Reaction score
2,040
Location
Saratoga Springs
Just as a point of information: sorbate does not "stun" the yeast. It prevents yeast from budding - reproducing, which is why you are adding BOTH k-meta and K-sorbate. The K-meta acts to kill much of the remaining yeast, the bulk of which you have removed by racking over time; and the sorbate acts to prevent those yeast cells that are robust enough to remain alive after being dosed with SO2 from reproducing, so that when they die, they have not increased the colony size.
 

MightyMosin

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
Messages
72
Reaction score
82
Just as a point of information: sorbate does not "stun" the yeast. It prevents yeast from budding - reproducing, which is why you are adding BOTH k-meta and K-sorbate. The K-meta acts to kill much of the remaining yeast, the bulk of which you have removed by racking over time; and the sorbate acts to prevent those yeast cells that are robust enough to remain alive after being dosed with SO2 from reproducing, so that when they die, they have not increased the colony size.
You are absolutely correct, I just like using the term "stun" to simplify the thought process for people that are just starting out.
 
Top