View Full Version : starting spec. grav. of melomel?
02-08-2005, 12:49 PM
I just started a batch of blackberry melomel (first batch of any kind of mead I have ever made) and my starting specific gravity was 1.085. I don't know much about these but I didn't think that sounded right judging by the chart that came with the hydrometer. Can anyone with more experience tell me what it should be?
02-08-2005, 01:10 PM
We'd need to know some more about it: batch volume, how much honey and juice you added, and the temperature of the must when you sampled. Note also the adequate mixing (and obviously having all the honey dissolved) is important too to avoid a falsely low reading from layering.
02-08-2005, 01:32 PM
The batch volume is 5 gallons w/ 11lb honey, this recipie called for chopped blackberries instead of juice, so I blended 'em good with some of the water. I mixed it good the night before and let it stand for the campden tablets to sanitize everything (per the instructions) for 24 hours. I didn't mix again before taking the reading and I didn't have a container big enough to do it, so I just took it right out of the fermenter (this is one of those converted 5 gallon bucket-looking things called a poly-fermenter, I think. Got it in a kit.). Should I have mixed again only 24 hours later? I hope not, b/c I already added the yeast after taking the reading last night. Anyway, the temp when I sampled and from here on out is 70 degrees. My hydrometer is calibrated for 60, but I used the conversion. Thanks for the help!
02-08-2005, 03:06 PM
For the honey alone, the starting gravity would be about 1.079 (see the Into link at the top of the page). The sugar content of the blackberries (how much did you use?) is harder to calculate; I'm not at home but off the cuff I'd say straight juice is a gravity of around 1.035 so it depends on how much o' that you had in there.
So your gravity is probably pretty close; don't worry about it now! Your mead will taste the same whether you know the gravity or not :cool:
02-08-2005, 04:27 PM
Relax! Have a homebrew!
Reading sounds good to me. Chances are you could go higher, but at your reading it will be similar ETOH to some wines, that will help others to like it.
If this is your first batch, you really ought to make more!
02-09-2005, 01:26 PM
Uh, four pounds on the blackberries... why do you say that for my first batch I should make more? smile.gif
02-09-2005, 03:23 PM
I'll step in and volunteer that I had my entire first batch polished off months before it was even hitting it's stride; there's just never enough mead!
02-09-2005, 05:39 PM
Make more becasue it ages so well. More varieties...
02-10-2005, 08:09 AM
Well, unfortunately, the kit I got is only one 6 gallon poly fermenter. I had told myself that I ABSOLUTELY WOULD NOT touch it until 4 months after bottling. I'm not sure how well I'll hold myself or my family to that, though smile.gif . Does it always get better with age, or after a few years does it quit getting better?
02-11-2005, 05:28 AM
My experience with blackberry melomel is that the acidity from the blackberries makes it take a bit longer to age than most meads. You might taste it at 4 months and find that it is nasty. Give it time, it'll get tolerable at 9 months and great at 12-15.
The aging depends on both the type of mead and the corking method. With a heavier mead with a lot of acid and tannins behind a good cork, it can continue to improve for 5-10 years. Just like red wine. Simpler meads age more like whites, improving for 2-3 years and then declining.
02-13-2005, 07:51 PM
Hey, just out of curiosity, in the "how-to" posted and in all of the posts I have read so far you guys all seal up and slap on the airlock as soon as you put the yeast in. The instructions that came with this kit say to let it stand covered w/ a towel for 7-10 days w/ yeast on it, then rack it and seal w/ the airlock. Just curious for your different methods/opinions.
02-13-2005, 08:27 PM
>>The instructions that came with this kit say to let it stand covered w/ a towel for 7-10 days w/ yeast on it, then rack it and seal w/ the airlock.<<
Thats how my gramps did it also. But most people tell me to cap right away
02-14-2005, 05:34 AM
I presume leaving it uncovered was so that the yeast had access to oxygen for fermentation. Now that good airlocks exist, I think it is better to aerate well and cover immediately. That way you greatly reduce the risk of contamination.
02-14-2005, 01:19 PM
I'd agree on the airlock. Towels would need to be sanitized somehow, and unless tightly rubber-banded or somesuch could allow fruit flies (also known as the vinegar faeries) to enter :eek: . Serious disappointment.
02-14-2005, 02:04 PM
Hmm, well, probably good advice, but I'm already to day 8 and waiting for the action do die down per the instructions before racking. Maybe I should just go ahead and rack it now.
02-14-2005, 02:25 PM
As long as you rack while there's still some fermentation activity it should be cool. Active fermentation can help absorb some of the O2 that invariably gets introduced by racking.
02-15-2005, 05:18 PM
well, I racked last night and here I sit watching the airlock bubble happily. I'm sure that plenty of O2 was introduced, because my primary is also my secondary. I racked into sanitized water jugs so I could clean the container before putting it back in. Anyway, that airlock is putting out a large bubble about every 1 1/2 seconds, and there is about a gallon of air clearance at the top of the bucket, so I'd say it's displaced most of the air by now.
02-16-2005, 09:39 AM
what I do is make 6 gallon batches, that way every time I rack to a new fermenter I can take a little taste to see whats going on and stiil end up with about 5 gallons when its time to bottle. When I tranfer from 1 fermenter to the other I put co2 in to purge out any oxygen. And ya everybody is right about saying keep making more batches, I have 5 - 6 gallon batches going now. I repitch my same yeast for 5 generations starting with still mead then I made a melomel for my 5th batch. everytime I repitch my yeast it seems to start fermenting quicker and also seems to be more vigorous. making and drinking mead is saaaweeeet cant make or get enough of this stuff. sure am glad im a beekeeper.
02-16-2005, 10:55 AM
beesandy - Notice any difference between batches with fresh yeast and well-used yeast? I did a side-by-side test to see if 5 times used yeast was any different from fresh. The used yeast had FAR less honey flavor and aroma than the fresh. I don't do that anymore.
02-16-2005, 01:53 PM
How do you "reuse" yeast? Put the racked-off part into another batch? I've never heard of that.
02-16-2005, 02:29 PM
ScottS, I hav'nt noticed to much difference from batch to batch. each time I make mead I change the quantities of honey, and tweek things like acid blend and black tea, so my final product will never be the same. Also I use White labs sweet mead yeast. yeast has alot to do with flavoring in all aspects of making mead or beer.
02-16-2005, 02:43 PM
east_stingray, yep, I use glass carboys and when I rack to my secondary I put my airlock right back on the primary and put it in my basement and cover it with a cardboard box, which I do with any mead or beer Im fermenting. When I make my next batch I swirl the yeast to get it mixed good and repitch it after I airate my must with a aquarium pump and air stone. so far it seems to work great. Also another reason for making batch after batch is when you make good beer or mead you usually have more friends stopping by to drink it up, hahaha
02-17-2005, 12:52 PM
I have another question... in these instructions that came with it, after the first racking the instructions say, "Rack the mead again in 2 weeks and again in 5 weeks." Does that mean 5 weeks from now or 5 weeks from the second racking? Thanks, you guys have been a lot of help, and I think I'm going to go glass carbuoy shopping soon.
02-18-2005, 01:15 PM
Yet another question. I'm not even to the second racking yet, but this thing has slowed down to where the airlock bubbles about once ever 10 seconds. Is that normal?? The thing is at about 72 degrees consistently.
02-19-2005, 09:27 AM
Any takers on whether or not I have a stuck fermentation here? I am observing no airlock activity today... temp is around 71.
02-19-2005, 09:37 AM
I rack on a schedule more determined by convenience than by a strict schedule. It's common to rack at some point after the vigorous primary has completed to prevent too much of that big pile of yeast from autolyzing (dying and breaking down), and that can be done either pretty early while fermentation is still active or later to begin the aging and conditioning period. Some folks like to age "on the lees" and feel that the flavor of a little autolysis is part of an enjoyable mead, and some people militantly (perhaps phobically) rack many times over the mead's life.
Racking certainly introduces some oxygen to the mead; a little can be a good thing to help it finish fermenting, degas, and allow a little bit if that oxidized flavor for complexity. Unfortunately it's tough to gauge how much racking will overdo this, and you do lose some mead with each racking too.
My meads tend to fall clear just fine with only a couple rackings. First at some point after fermentation is done (a month or so) and then later as the rest of the gunk falls out (a few months later). I degas manually by stirring gently.
Yet another question. I'm not even to the second racking yet, but this thing has slowed down to where the airlock bubbles about once ever 10 seconds. Is that normal?? The thing is at about 72 degrees consistently. Does that mean you're into the ferment a couple/three weeks? If so that's normal. The initial ferment is pretty vigirous, then tapers off slowly to finish, hopefully fully fermented out if nutrients are good, yeast are healthy, pH is OK and temp is adequate.