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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Westen NY
    Posts
    23

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    Hi all. Be gentle as this is my first attempt at mead or brewing anything for that matter. My first mistake was to put five gallons of water in the fermenter and then add the honey. I had gotten 12 lbs of clover honey from a local source and had to keep adding some BJ's stuff until I got it to 1.116. That was as high as I could go because the bucket was full. ( I had already drained some out to make room.) I checked out the PH then and it was under 3 but I wasn't sure because I hadn't calibrated it in a while. Well 8 days after we started the SG was 1.030, the bubbles were down to 20 a minute and the PH was 2.7. I decided to add baking soda to raise the PH to between 3.7 and 4.0. I guestimated the 2 TBS would do the trick. Thinking that there might me some CO2 in the must I stirred it up a little then added the first tbs of baking soda. Some foam I thought was good as the base neutralized the acid. The second tbs was immediately pitched and all hell broke loose. Foam was everywhere, over the top, on the kitchen floor. What a mess. I didn't even stop to stir the must again. I just put the top back on and stuck the bubbler back on. Later when I drew a sample out of the bottom, very slowly to keep the bubble from getting drawn down into the fermenter, the PH it was 4.0. Beginners luck. I used DV10 for a yeast which is supposed to be low PH tolerant and low N tolerant. Anyone have thoughts as to how this might turn out?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Perkasie, PA
    Posts
    1,998

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    Don't worry so much about the pH. It helps inhibit bacteria, and will not be so low once CO2 is not being produced. Just take a pH reading of champagne or even Pepsi....you'll be shocked. The sodium in the baking soda tastes much worse than acid. I even sometimes use acid blend or citric acid to LOWER the pH. My geuss is that the stuff will taste too salty. Don't worry about it, I've ruined tons of beer by trying to adjust things that should've been left alone.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,033

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    Welcome to Beesource Bob! Probably fine in a year [img]smile.gif[/img] . I don't tend to sweat pH much, but then I have very soft water and build serious yeast starters with malt to buffer it. Some people find the flavor from carbonate or other pH-ameliorating additives to be less then ideal (typically describing them as salty), some add them religiously. Good news is, the learning curve tastes good with mead! With beekeeping, the lessons can be a little more "vigorous", though SWMBO walking across a velcro kitchen floor can cost you some serious points .
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Westen NY
    Posts
    23

    Post

    Thanks for the input folks. I guess this might be one of those things that if it ain't broke don't fix it? We started at 1.116 9 days ago and from 1.032 yesterday to 1.026 today and BPM down to 18. I assume we let this go to 1.00 or until it stops going down, at which time I rack? Again thanks for the help.

    Bob

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Posts
    288

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    Bob,

    The baking soda should teach you, if nothing else, to read up before you tinker--as Aspera noted, many mead recipes even call for acid blend.....I've seen few, if any, calling for base. Also, base is usually added as things like calcium carbonate, not baking soda. Not sure how your mead will taste, but I think likely a bit "salty" and off.

    Read about others mistakes and you don't have to do them with your own time and money.....

    As far as racking, up to you.....some like to rack early and often, some go 6 months or more with just stirring. Not familiar with DV10 and it's suitability for lees aging, some yeast add mouthfeel, some begin to add rotten egg instead. Check that out, and if it's good for aging, I'd leave it a good 3 months, stirring gently monthly, before racking to a secondary, then secondary for the next 3-6 months, may or may not rack again depending on sediment levels. Even now, you can taste your mead--expect it to taste like crap, and be really alcoholic and "burny", but you can also look for a salty taste from the baking soda.....no salty note would ease my mind, if it was me, but again, don't be surprised if it also tastes liek you just made a batch of paint thinner--that's fairly normal for a young mead.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Westen NY
    Posts
    23

    Post

    Yep, there is that reading thing. Well let's see. There was the Ken Schramm book, the GotMead forum (many hours there), let's not leave out Brother Adam, some Google groups, etc. You guess you get the idea that I did indeed read. Perhaps my fault is too much reading as it seems that everyone has a different method and that is very confusing to a new meader. I agree that almost everyone uses calcium carbonate to raise PH. I was going to go out to the garage and grab some from the 50 lb bag that I use for salting the driveway but couldn't bring myself to do it. Acid blend is for taste not PH isn't it? Is PH and acid taste a one to one ration? Ken Schramm specifically mentiones the ph range to strive for and that was where I was going in this whole thing. Two TBS in 6 gal of must should not give a noticeable salty taste. At least that was my thinking. I smoke cigars so I probable couldn't taste it anyway. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    I'll wait two more weeks and give it a taste. I'm still getting some very tiny bubbles here and there but the SG Jan 20 was 1.000 so there can't be too much left.

    What do you use to make up must that has been "stolen" for testing? I think it is just boil water and add it in but funny how some basic info is missing from the net. Everyone just assumes.....

    Thanks for the help all.

    Bob

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Posts
    288

    Post

    1. CaCO3 for the drive? Make sure it's not CaCl, or you just re-salted your mead.

    2. Acid is for taste, you are correct. Many now add it at the end for this very reason, as honey can start quite acidic, to the point of being hard on yeast. And many tend to leave it out altogether--it's a matter of taste.

    3. You lose must when you rack, and you lose when you do hydro samples. People can compensate in several ways. For a hydro sample from the must people often don't worry--and when in the carboy they often top with water, because the loss is maybe 2% or less, so you aren't affecting the alcohol or sweetness drastically. For racking, which can leave more loss (especially with fruit present because of the pulp) you can either start a bit stronger and just add water (i.e. figure on a 14% mead being 12% when it finished from topping with water), or you can add in a finished mead/wine/etc., or you can add in more must, pulled and refrigerated, if you have it, or you can add marbles or other intert "stuff" to raise the level of the carboy.


    You're right about everyone having different opinions.....that's why I try to look for both an opinion with some concensus behind it and also (ideally) some rationale. These can be wrong, of course, and as an example I would never, ever use champagne yeast for a light mead where I wanted the honey flavor; not would I boil for 15 minutes. both are fairly common practice though. It is a bit of a maze.....oooh, a pun--get it (maze and "mazers"...wow) lol

    Hopefully you won't taste the baking soda--as you mention, it's not much. I really dislike the taste of it, so I'm glad I didn't do it in MINE, but I wouldn't advise pitching ANYTHING without at least tasting. And mistakes are how anyone learns.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Westen NY
    Posts
    23

    Default The proof is in the tasting

    So here we are 14 months later and time to taste and bottle. It cleared in the carboy several months back by itself to a crystal clear but orangey hue, but it is a quite beautiful yellow in a crystal glass. Taste is slightly hotter than commercial wine but a lovely crisp taste. Not semi sweet but not semi dry either – maybe just above dry is the best way to describe it. Interestingly, it has very different tastes at room temperature and chilled. I could not have asked for a better outcome. Just goes to show you that even first timer brewers get lucky!!! Thank you all for the encouragement and for those who if you haven’t tried – jump in!

    Now it is time to get on a schedule of at least one batch per month.


    Bob

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Reno, NV USA
    Posts
    2,310

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob_Davis View Post
    So here we are 14 months later and time to taste and bottle. It cleared in the carboy several months back by itself to a crystal clear but orangey hue, but it is a quite beautiful yellow in a crystal glass. Taste is slightly hotter than commercial wine but a lovely crisp taste. Not semi sweet but not semi dry either – maybe just above dry is the best way to describe it. Interestingly, it has very different tastes at room temperature and chilled. I could not have asked for a better outcome. Just goes to show you that even first timer brewers get lucky!!! Thank you all for the encouragement and for those who if you haven’t tried – jump in!

    Now it is time to get on a schedule of at least one batch per month.


    Bob
    Since this is an old thread it is probably moot, but adding the right acids instead of baking soda would also have raised the pH. I know that it doesn't sound quite right to some, but adding a blend of citric and tartaric (acid blend used in wine making) would have brought the pH up to the average of the acid blend while also adding some buffering power. A pH of 2.0 is far lower than what is considered optimal for grape wines. A pH of 2.0, though, doesn't really tell you how much acid you have. It's like considering a lit candle a big fire because it burns at 1400 degrees centigrade. One drop of water and out goes the flame. Likewise a pH of 2.0 may not amount to very much acid. In winemaking, it is common to titrate the amount of acid that you have with sodium hydroxide to find out how well it resists changes in pH -which can be converted into gram equivalents of tartaric acid. This is a much better measure of acid content than pH.
    Sorry for the long winded, belated reply, but it may help someone that wants to dig a little deeper into the subject.

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