View Full Version : Proper frame of mind?
01-28-2007, 12:41 PM
Greetings All! I've been considering trying my hand at making some mead. I've read recipe's and directions, etc---but the question that bothers me is---how does one go about maximizing the chances for success? If I make up a batch and eagerly anticipate its completion for 6, 8, or 12 months, and it turns out terrible, then I'm going to be really honked off. Then I'll have to be waiting many months to try another batch. How do the more experienced among you handle this?
01-28-2007, 06:57 PM
1) Quality ingredients (use good water, honey and wine yeast)
2) A little planning and research: learn the basics of recipe formulation to make a mead style you'll enjoy in terms of alcohol content and sweet/dryness (see the Intro to Meadmaking (http://www.beesource.com/bee-l/bulletinboard/meadintro.htm)). If you hate dry wines for example, don't make a dry mead and expect to like it much. Similarly with dessert wines and sweet meads. High alcohol meads (16+%), though tempting for the beginner, often take a long time to mellow out to drinkability if they ever do. A good table mead around 12 to 14 % in my opinion is a good starting point.
3) Sanitary technique. Easy newbie mistake: don't start the siphon with your mouth! If you use bleach to sanitize be sure to rinse well with hot water.
4) Patience. Don't bottle too early; use the hydrometer so you don't get bottle grenades.
Really that's all there is too it. Anxiety is probably the biggest killer in meadmaking if you follow those rules :D . Oh and use a grain of common sense when reading online recipes: just 'cuz someone wrote it doesn't mean it's right, or even that you'll enjoy it if it is. The recipes here on Beesource have all been good ones IMO, but I've noted some serious errors on a couple places with recipe collections.
Consider checking out a homebrew club; there HAS to be at least one in Indianapolis. Most brewers explore mead at some point. Taste some and get the recipes of ones you like.
01-29-2007, 12:28 AM
If you know someone who makes mead to make your first batch, that can really help. I think there are many suptle steps that the more experienced will forget to mention.
Also, patience is key. Don't espect to make all kind of changes as it goes on. Just let it go and see what happens.
01-29-2007, 06:06 AM
In addition, I'd recommend doing a quicky wine kit first, it won't take up your carboy long, and you get a feel for the process. Plus you can enjoy a glass of wine in just a few months, while your waiting for your mead to clear or whatever.
01-29-2007, 05:21 PM
I do not know much about subtle steps needed to follow.
I'd say just find a basic recipe and make it. As far as patience is concerned, I'd say the bigger batch you can make (5G vs 1G) the better you can learn the virtues of waiting. Might take 2-3 years to mellow out nicely but be nice to sample along the way.
Read mead makers digest!
01-30-2007, 09:20 AM
Don't wait until it's finshed to make another batch. If it's good you will also kick yourself becasue you will have to wait another 12 months to have more on hand. I try and make a batch about every 3 months. I mix it up so it's something different each time. And I try and always save at least 5 bottles for future years. If it's really good this is often hard to do though.
01-30-2007, 03:47 PM
"Easy newbie mistake: don't start the siphon with your mouth!"
01-30-2007, 07:41 PM
Keep a simple log book of what you do for each batch. It's bad enough to screw up a batch -- it happens. But it's 100 times worse to make a batch that tastes better than anything you've ever had -- but you can't repeat it because you can't remember what went in it. Don't ask me how I know.
02-01-2007, 10:24 AM
Thanks for the feedback Everyone. I think the key might be to make smaller batches more often. Still have to do more learning before actually starting. Again...thanks!
02-09-2007, 06:28 AM
1. Gotmead.com--no disrespect to this place, it's great, but this is a bee site with a handful of mazers; the other is a mazer site (with a handful of beekeepers).
2. There's 2 major camps on starting--make multiple small batches because you can try several styles right away (carlo rossi gallon jugs are cheap and easy to find, also use much less honey per batch than a 5-gal carboy), or make a big batch right away because if you do gallons you only get 5 wine bottles or 10 beer bottles per batch--for something that's supposed to age 1-3 years before it's "good", that doesn't leave many chances to taste before you're out of bottles in 1-gallon batches. My personal advice: Make 1-3 3-5 gallon batches over the next year (you can try a varietal sweet mead or 2, as well as a mel. or 2 with fruit), as well as a couple gallons of "quicker" meads such as Joe's Ancient Orange--that way you can start tasting SOMETHING at 3 months already, while the "proper" meads do their thing.
3. For a plain mead or "white" fruit mead, Narbonne often matures more rapidly than D47. Champagne yeast and others that burn to 18-20% should be avoided unless you shoot for 12-14% alc. and then plan to stabilize and back-sweeten or run to dryness at the 12-14%. You'll be waiting much longer if you try making high-alcohol mead than you already have to.
All food for thought.....I have a Joe's Ancient Orange going right now, ready in April......starting to look good. No other honey right now, so blackberry mels, straight mead on D47, etc. will have to wait for now.