Started My First Mead!

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khiddy

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Well, my first mead is in the fermenter jar, and we'll see how it turns out in four to six months or so!

I cobbled together a recipe based on stuff I've read here and on other forums, as well as two books (Making Wild Wines & Meads and The Alaskan Bootlegger's Bible). Santa should be bringing me a copy of Ken Schramm's Compleat Meadmaker book, so I haven't had a chance to read through that yet, but I hope I didn't screw anything up in this first attempt. Here's the recipe:

46oz Raw Colorado Wildflower Honey
16oz Montana Clover Honey
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1 orange, fresh squeezed
4 teabags of Black Orange Spice Tea
2 Allspice berries
1tsp Pectic Enzyme
1tsp Fermax Yeast Nutrient
1 packet Lalvin EC-1118, rehydrated in 1 cup Orange Juice (reconstituted from frozen concentrate)
Water to top up to 2 gallons

I brought ~1 gallon water to a boil, then poured it into a large stainless steel stockpot and steeped the teabags for 15 minutes, adding the allspice berries as well. When the weak tea had cooled to ~165, I began adding the honey, starting with the crystallized clover honey and then the wildflower honey. The temperature by the time I was done stirring in the honey was down to ~145. Since I wasn't going to use campden tablets, I used the extended warming technique referenced in Malkore's AOM and let the must sit warm for 20 minutes or so while I rehydrated the yeast in the 100*F OJ.

When the must had cooled to ~130*F, I added the pectic enzyme and the yeast nutrient, then sanitized a strainer/funnel and poured the mixture into the fermenter (which had also been sanitized with Star San). Additional cold water was added to top up to 2 gallons. When the must was down to ~78*F, I pitched the yeast (which was at 81*F). This will sit in my fermentation room at ~63*F until signs of primary fermentation subside (3-4 weeks, I figure), then I'll rack into two 1 gallon carboys, adding a cinammon stick to one and leaving the other plain.

Comments? How does it look?
 
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ByCandleLightWinery

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I have yet to start my own mead, but I have also been reading Making Wild Wines & Meads and Ken Schramm's Compleat Meadmaker book, and the two of them don't see eye to eye when it comes to acid additions. At the bottom of page 56, Schramm says in a section on pH, "While many mead recipes call for acid additions, I strongly advise against acid additions prior to the completion of fermentation." Indeed, his basic recipes leave out the citrus juice you used. Any thoughts from other mead makers?
 
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khiddy

khiddy

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I, too, welcome comment from others on the use of additional acid - I've recently read some articles on yeast that point out how lowering the pH below ~3.6 causes additional stress to yeast, yet many mead makers continue to follow that practice. I will say that adding the juice of one orange comes directly from the Joe's/Malkore's Ancient Orange Mead tradition, which I wanted to follow somewhat in order to get a drinkable mead in a much shorter time period than a year.

I think the main changes that I made in my recipe from the JOAM/MOAM model were the addition of black tea to get some tannins, and not using raisins - which are the source of tannins in the JOAM/MOAM recipes. In my mind, since the tea also contained orange peel and some complimentary spices, I hope that it will enhance the flavor rather than adding additional sweetness like the raisins would also bring to the party.

I do intend also to make a 1-gallon batch of a traditional show mead this week to get it started, as I have another 46oz of the Colorado wildflower honey just sitting on the shelf... this stuff isn't going to ferment itself, you know!
 

jamesnsw

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I have yet to start my own mead, but I have also been reading Making Wild Wines & Meads and Ken Schramm's Compleat Meadmaker book, and the two of them don't see eye to eye when it comes to acid additions. At the bottom of page 56, Schramm says in a section on pH, "While many mead recipes call for acid additions, I strongly advise against acid additions prior to the completion of fermentation." Indeed, his basic recipes leave out the citrus juice you used. Any thoughts from other mead makers?
My understanding is that acid additions can lower the pH too much. Also, it's easier to tell after fermentation is done whether or not you want to add acids or not. (Caveat- my first mead is still bubblin' away)
 

fatbloke

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Not familiar with either of the honeys (unsurprisingly).

It mainly looks like a nice recipe though, I like the idea of using allspice and orange. You may still find the need to add a little more orange, not sure if the allspice is as "potent" as cloves (which you do have to be careful of, it's very easy to use to many).

The total honey content i.e. 62 oz's (just under 4lb) might be a little light. It depends on what you're aiming for, because using EC-1118 is probably gonna ferment this "bone dry". I would have suggested a different yeast to start with. It maybe sensible to read up on adding extra honey, because if you like your meads sweet, or at least medium sweet, then you will almost definitely need more honey - whether you'd want to add it during ferment to increase % ABV, or to sulphite, sorbate and then just add it for extra sweetness, is up to you.

In the JAO recipe, I understand that the raisins are for tannins but also additional "body", I would doubt the recipe is enough to actually affect the flavour (25 individual raisins ???).

See how you get on with it, it may be that the recipe works out exactly how you want it, though I'm thinking that you may have to modify the flavour at the end.

Let us know how it's getting on, oh and don't forget to take hydrometer readings.........

regards

fatbloke
 
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khiddy

khiddy

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Thank you for the feedback! I didn't realize (silly me) how little honey I had added - I had intended to have it at 5lbs. I have another 46oz handy. What do you think about this option:

Add 30oz honey on day ~14, along with 1tsp of additional nutrient

Add suphite & sorbate at racking (after hydro reads the same for 3 consecutive days), then add 16oz more honey to increase the body and add sweetness
 
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