to boil or not to boil?

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nickwin

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I'm a beginner brewer, and like many other people on this forum I started out by reading The Joy of Home Brewing. I stumbled across Papazian's "Barkshack Ginger Mead" recipe and I think I am going to give it a try. This will be my first attempt at making mead, and my main question is, should I boil the honey and water as it says to do in the book, or should it just be heated to pasturize like many other recipes call for to preserve the flavor of the honey?

If I don't boil, should I leave out the irish moss?

Also, is there any thing I should know about that's not mentioned in the very short mead section of TJOHB?
 

0202

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I'm new to this and know nothing about mead.

But Irish Moss works by melting into gelatin which coagulates with
proteins to bring them out of solution. I wouldn't add Irish moss
unless you were going to heat it to a hot enough temperature to
become gelatinous.
 
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nickwin

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ok, so no boil. What about the Irish moss? Will it do its thing in hot water, or does it really need a hard boil?

Also, does anyone have any advice on how much ginger to use? Papazian's recipe is very vague, calling for 1-6 oz. I like strong/spicy ginger beer, so I'm thinking about using 4 oz. I don't want to over do it though.
 

gratus fermentatio

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I wouldn't use the irish moss. When I make straight mead, I use warm water from the tap & a blender to mix/areate the must. I've never used irish moss & honestly see no reason to with mead. I do use yeast nutrient, yeast energizer & diammonium phosphate (D.A.P.) they really do make a difference. Any proteins in the honey should either be broken down, and/or fall out with the lees during fermentation. You might want to add some pectic enzyme when you add the ginger, this will help to break down any pectins you might get from the ginger.

I'd also sulfite the ginger before adding it to the must to ward off any possible infections from the skin of the root. If you really like ginger that much, I'd say you figured it just right, you can always add more if you need to later, it's eaiser to add to a must than it is to take away from it. Regards, GF
 
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nickwin

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Thanks for the pointers gratus. Can you explain a little more about sulfiting(?) the ginger? I'm pretty new to this and havent heard that term before.
 

gratus fermentatio

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Thanks for the pointers gratus. Can you explain a little more about sulfiting(?) the ginger? I'm pretty new to this and havent heard that term before.
Sulfite is sulphur dioxide (SO2) & is the most common way to sanitize the must and/or adjuncts. Most of us use campden tablets as they're premeasured & easy to use. There are 2 kinds: sodium metabisulphate & potassium metabisulphate, sometimes called "K-meta." I use the potassium metabisulphate as I don't want a sodium buildup in my wine/mead.

The way it works is by binding/displacing the oxygen in the must. Most things that will infect your must require oxygen at this stage of the game, so they die off when they can't get any. You just crush the correct amount of tablets into a fine powder & dissolve it into about a 1/2 cup of warm water, add it to the must & give it a good stir; then just wait a minimum of 12 hours & stir it real good to reintroduce oxygen before you pitch in your yeast/starter and/or pectic enzyme.

SO2 also protects the must/wine/mead from oxidation after fermentation has completed. I once lost a 3 gallon batch of sack mead to oxidation because I didn't sulfite before racking. Now you could sulfite just the ginger, or you could just sulfite the whole batch of must after you add the ginger. The latter is likely the safest way to go, just use 1 campden tablet per gallon of must.

Hope you find this info useful. Regards, GF.

EDIT: If you haven't read it yet, read this; it'll help answer questions you didn't even know to ask yet. http://www.amazon.com/dp/0937381802/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20
 
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blackwaterbrewer

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don't boil the mead. i have made barckshacks around 10 times. before y0ou make it , be sure you are willing to wait at least 15 months. if you don't, it will taste like **** and you won't want to brew mead anymore. ferment in primary for no more than 4 days, secondary for 2 weeks and leave it in the third carboy for at least 9 months before bottling. esperiment with different fruits. don't use pineapple ( trust me, its foul! ) blueberries and some blueberry extract will make a mead that tastes like cotton candy, but i would use a Sweet Mead yeast instead of champagne yeast.
 

northcountry

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look people there are pros and cons of every process, i made my first mead by following papas book, and made an amazing barkshack. In fact 3 years later, I finally drank the last one that was in the bottom drawer of the fridge, it was AMAZING, it had a clean crisp honey ginger taste that was unbeatable, in fact recently I have been bringing enough water to just the boiling point, where some bubbles are being created on the bottom of the pot, then turning heat off, and dumping in the honey, the honey flavor is still present, as much as any quality commercial mead, and its easier to dissolve, plus, you can put your stirring spoon in there to sterilize. Again, you can do either, as evidenced by this writers experiement.
http://www.washingtonwinemaker.com/blog/2008/10/28/making-mead-testing-the-controversy-over-boiling/
Do it for yourself, and have a double blind taste test, over the course of months, and years.
 

hightest

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Sulfite is sulphur dioxide (SO2)...
Actually, sulfite is SO3 not SO2... ;)

Although the majority of your reply is accurate, I felt it necessary to mention this "oversight" to prevent misinforming those who would not know the difference between the two.

In reality, the conversion of a metabisulfite to the ion that provides oxidation protection is somewhat more complex, and involves the conversion of free SO2 [erroneously reffered to as sulfites] into molecular SO2 [the ion that protects].
 

gratus fermentatio

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Actually, sulfite is SO3 not SO2... ;)

Although the majority of your reply is accurate, I felt it necessary to mention this "oversight" to prevent misinforming those who would not know the difference between the two.

In reality, the conversion of a metabisulfite to the ion that provides oxidation protection is somewhat more complex, and involves the conversion of free SO2 [erroneously reffered to as sulfites] into molecular SO2 [the ion that protects].
Potassium metabisulfite, K2S2O5, is a white crystalline powder with a pungent sulfur odour. The main use for the chemical is as an antioxidant or chemical sterilant. It is a sulfite and is chemically very similar to sodium metabisulfite, with which it is sometimes used interchangeably. Potassium metabisulfite is generally preferred out of the two as it does not contribute sodium to the diet.

Potassium metabisulfite has a monoclinic crystal structure which decomposes at 190°C, yielding potassium oxide and sulfur dioxide:

K2S2O5(s) → K2O(s) + 2SO2(g)

Potassium metabisulfite is a common wine or must additive, where it forms sulfur dioxide gas (SO2). This both prevents most wild microorganisms from growing, and it acts as a potent antioxidant, protecting both the color, and delicate flavors of wine.

Typical dosage is 1/4 tsp potassium metabisulfite per 6 gallon bucket of must (yielding roughly 75 ppm of SO2) prior to fermentation, and 1/2 tsp per 6 gallon bucket (150 ppm of SO2) at bottling.

Winemaking equipment is sanitized by spraying with a 1% SO2 (2 tsp potassium metabisulfite per L) solution.

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This article is about the molecule SO3. For the ion SO32-, see Sulfite.
Sulfur trioxide (also spelled sulphur trioxide) is the chemical compound with the formula SO3. In the gaseous form, this species is a significant pollutant, being the primary agent in acid rain. It is prepared on massive scales as a precursor to sulfuric acid.

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Sulfites (also sulphites) are compounds that contain the sulfite ion SO32− (IUPAC name sulfate(IV) ion).

The structure of the sulfite anion can be described with three equivalent resonance structures. In each resonance structure, the sulfur atom is double-bonded to one oxygen atom with a formal charge of zero (neutral), and sulfur is singly bonded to the other two oxygen atoms, which each carry a formal charge of -1, together accounting for the -2 charge on the anion. There is also a non-bonded lone pair on the sulfur, so the structure predicted by VSEPR theory is trigonal pyramidal, as in ammonia (NH3). In the hybrid resonance structure, the S-O bonds are equivalently of bond order one and one-third.
 
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