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  1. #1
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    Default Newbie process for first mead batch - suggestions?

    I am a total newbie, but in my readings on this post, talks with local wine equipment supplier and gotmead.com I am ready to start my first batch. Here is what I am doing. I would be happy for some feedback.
    First I have a wine kit designed for your own fresh fruit. It includes 7.9 gal primary fermenter, 5gall 2nd fermenter, brush/spoons/hydrometer, racking tube /hoses, sanitizer and the stoppers and such. I also have corks/bottles (1/2 size bottles) and corker.

    For my first batch going to make a variation of Joe’s Ancient Orange/Spice mead
    15 lbs of my girls output (spring basswood/wildflower mix)
    4 gal water
    5 Large oranges (cut in 1/8ths, rind and all)
    cup raisins
    5 sticks of cinnamon
    3 whole cloves
    3 pinches of nutmeg and allspice (optional )
    3 packs of Lalvin wine yeast 1116
    5 Campden Tablets

    Here are my steps:

    1) Clean all equipment with the wine kit sanitizer.
    2) Mix honey with warm water put in 1st stage fermenter
    3) Clean/Sanitize outside of oranges, add in oranges, raisins and spices
    4) Add in 5 crushed campden tablets stir
    5) Mix yeast with a cup of warm water add to fermenter, mix VERY thoroughly to aerate put on fermenter lid
    6) After 24h, stir a bit, put on airlock, keep in 65-75 deg dark location
    7) In 2-3 weeks or so fermentation will slow and it will be time to rack to the 2nd stage. This will happen when hydrometer is at ~1.020
    8) Rack into carboy. Leaving sediment behind and trying not to splash keeping air contact down.
    9) Sanitizer airlock and install on carboy.
    10) Finish Fermenting for 1-3 month (will decide later how long)
    11) Sanitize bottles
    12) Bottle
    13) Wait 6mths to 12mth
    14) Enjoy



    Now my local wine guy told me to use 3 packs of the Lalvin 1116, that seems a bit much, but he tells me that often mead does not start yeast very well and best to go large. However, not sure, thinking of only using 2 packs. Also he recommended using the campden, but I’m not so sure I will.

    Any suggestions to my process? This will take me the better part of a year, so I would like to get this as something I will enjoy and don’t want to mess up.

    Thanks!!
    Last edited by pokerman11; 08-03-2010 at 05:45 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Islip Terrace, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Newbie process for first mead batch - suggestions?

    definitely not an expert, i have 1 gallon of JAOM aging as we speak, started in April. but i have brewed a few batches of beer and wine, and have read lots and lots about mead...I do know that JAOM needs a fair amount of aging to mellow out flavors, what i have read people do, is zest the orange, and add the flesh with no white pith, the source of bitterness/ick...the raisins will provide a form of yeast nutrient, you might want to add yeast energizer too...yeast takes a while to take off in mead, make sure you aerate well, and you might want to make a starter yeast culture, so the yeasties are ready and rarin to go into the must...gotmead.com and homebrewtalk.com are filled with gurus with a lot more experience than me...good luck and the best tasting mead is the one from your own hives...it is the nectar of the gods after all...

    PS: campden is there to kill any other yeasties other than the lavlin 116, the lag time takes a while, so thats why a starter culture is probably better, then you can forgoe campden...but there a million different ways to go...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Palm Harbor, Fl USA
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    463

    Default Re: Newbie process for first mead batch - suggestions?

    IME oxygenating the must and starter yields plenty of yeast with one packet, but I don;t see anything wrong with using more to start. Yeast is cheap enough.
    My wife says I have ADD, but, hey look- a chicken!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    North East, OH
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    Default Re: Newbie process for first mead batch - suggestions?

    Thanks for the tips so far. I started a batch Friday. I included the orange 'zest' and the flesh/juice but no white stuff.

    I only used two packs of yeast, let it sit in warm water for 15min (wtih a few crushed rasions in there, then thru it in the must. After 24h -opened up and gave a little stirr.

    I'm getting pretty good action now at the airlock, so going to just let it now sit for a few weeks until the action really slows down then will test and rack.

    When I rack - do I syphon from the bottom - There will be chuncks of stuff in there so it may clog up my hose - any tricks to racking? I won't be able to see anythign as it's in one of those white buckets so do I take the lid off for racking?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Islip Terrace, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Newbie process for first mead batch - suggestions?

    you can try a stainless steel kitchen scrubbie (brand new AND sanitized of course! you can siphon carefully and quitely, or you rack from the primary into a carboy secondary and rack again after about a week...the lavlin should settle pretty thickly though...good luck! action at the airlock is a very good thing...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Palm Harbor, Fl USA
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    Default Re: Newbie process for first mead batch - suggestions?

    I try to keep the cane up high, and follow the fluid (must) level down as I siphon. Keeps it a little cleaner. It took me several batches to get past trying to save every drop. Keep posting with Q's and good luck
    My wife says I have ADD, but, hey look- a chicken!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Default Re: Newbie process for first mead batch - suggestions?

    I think it is getting close to bottle time. I have very little action at my airlock - say one burpe every three min. Just to be sure, that I'm not stuck I took 1/2 cup water mixed in two teaspoons of yeast nutrient, and my 2nd pack of yeast and then dumped in. It has been two months in after my first (and only) racking. My temp is down to 67 degrees, as we get closer to winter.

    I'll think I'll give it another week, but how much action should be at the airlock at this stage? Think it is time to bottle?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    Bellingham, WA, USA
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    Default Re: Newbie process for first mead batch - suggestions?

    I'd be really suprised if it's done already at 2 months, that's MUCH faster than I've ever fermented it. But, if you're getting burps every few minutes, I think you can bottle, but expect a little carbonation. I prefer mine with just a tiny bit of fizz, kinda like champaign

    IMHO quick-brewed mead tends toward being a bit off for my tastes. Mine always takes about a year to ferment nice and slow. There's a local meadery that pumps out big batches in a short time, but I think their mead seems different than any slow variety I've tried.

    I've always heated the honey a tiny bit when starting a batch. I like to mix 1:1 honey to water by volume in my brew pot and bring it all to about 160-170 degrees F. I think turn off the heat and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes. I then immediately pour into a fermentation vessel with COLD water already in it. Remember not to have to much water in there that you can't get the whole must in. That sterilizes the honey without changing the flavor too much, avoiding anything that might be in the honey already. I've tasted a couple of unsterilized meads that have gone bad...

    Now, when I start with my own honey... Then I think I'll try some mead from raw.

  9. #9
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    May 2010
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    Default Re: Newbie process for first mead batch - suggestions?

    I'd wait until you've no action at all, then bottle. +Bulk aging seems to be better for the end product. But I'm still a rookie.
    My wife says I have ADD, but, hey look- a chicken!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
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    Default Re: Newbie process for first mead batch - suggestions?

    Three words will elegantly sum up the important elements of deciding when to bottle: 1) hydrometer, 2) bottlebomb, and 3) hydrometer. The outer two bracket the consequences of not using them .

    Bulk aging is NEVER a bad idea, unless sanitation was insufficient or you're in plastic. Bottling too early, even by not that much, will at best mean your guests (or your ceiling) will be wearing the mead when you open it . Without using a hydrometer, anyone but an experienced meadmaker won't really know for sure. Look for 1) unchanging SG readings a couple months apart, and an alcohol content around what the yeast would tolerate or 2) fermented to below 1.000.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Newbie process for first mead batch - suggestions?

    Last week I added some yeast nutrient and another pack of yeast. I still am not getting any new action. Perhaps a burp every five min. I took a small sample for my SG. Showing a SG of 1.000

    I also took a taste - man it is just plain nasty tasting. No sweetness, but very bad - wow, yuck, just pure nasty. I hope this is normal at this stage.

    I am in a plastic carboy, so I think it is time to bottle and then let it sit for a while.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Newbie process for first mead batch - suggestions?

    Never had a batch that wasn't at least drinkable throughout, but I've never gotten one down to 1.000 either. Did you use a dry white wine yeast? Given the low gravity and age of your mead you'll probably need to bottle and let it age for a good long time. A year perhaps?

    If you're going to age, Set aside a few small bottles, 12 oz or less. That way you can taste smaller amounts as you go.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Newbie process for first mead batch - suggestions?

    This stuff is not drinkable. Smells like 'old wine' that you get from leftovers sitting around the house a few days later , or perhaps a bit like fresh cider gone bad but not a vinager smell- not sure I'm just not that much of a wine drinker to give a good description. I can very much taste the alcohol.

    I used Lalvin wine yeast 1116, and took another reading today with a better SG and it is slightly under 1 - say even .999.

    I'm lost on what to due now. Bottle it and hope for the best in a year - or do I have a lost batch?

    I do have some 1/2 wine bottles and corking equipment.

  14. #14
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    Sep 2010
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    Default Re: Newbie process for first mead batch - suggestions?

    It's possible it got contaminated with someone that was in the honey, which is why I always try to pasteurize mine before fermenting. Saves my yeasties from wild critters. The speed with which it ferments says to me that something funny was going on, because I've never seen mead ferment that quickly without being kept really warm and constantly fed nutrients and more yeast.

    If you're the experimenting type, and can avoid expecting much, I'd sit on it for a while. Should be safe to rack and let sit for a few more months. Once you get SG readings (remember to correct for temperature!) that are the same a month apart you could bottle. Assuming of course you can spare the time and bottles on something that may well never work out.

    Good luck, and don't loose hope in making mead - it really is easy, and well worth the occasional setback to enjoy a bottle with friends.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Newbie process for first mead batch - suggestions?

    I took a sample down to my wine supply store (One of the advantages of buying local).

    They told me that I'm fine, it is not contaminated and that I'm probably finished. The time it takes varies but two months is nothing to worry about, and probably due to the agressive strain of yeast I used.. The taste is so bad as it is VERY high in alchol content, but bottle it and give it a year.

    I'm out of action for a few weeks but will bottle it then, and put on the shelf for a year.

    I did buy some smaller 1gal glass jugs. Going to try a few smaller batches next, which is what I probably should have done to start with (until I find a receipe I like)

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Newbie process for first mead batch - suggestions?

    Good to hear, and glad you have someone to bring it too for another opinion!

  17. #17
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Newbie process for first mead batch - suggestions?

    Quote Originally Posted by pokerman11 View Post
    The taste is so bad as it is VERY high in alchol content,
    I have found this to be quite normal for homebrew mead. All the ones I've had have a very pronounced alcohol/medicinal finish. I did try some store bought mead about two weeks ago that was very good.
    Regards, Barry

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Newbie process for first mead batch - suggestions?

    So Barry you are telling me that my homebrew is going to be bad?? Oh say it isn't so!!

    Actualy, I suspected it was going to be really dry after reading more. But MAN o MAN this stuff is like drinking minerial spirts. It's so bad that my original though was this just 'aint right - no WAY this is brewing correctly, it has to be vinigar or somthing growing in there. And come to find out this is 'normal'. Oh well, lets see what it's like in a year

    Next time going to use a Lalvin D-47 and a straight honey/water/yeast (nutrient &energizer) receipe. I don't think all that fruit and spices I put in will do anything for me other than to mess up my tastbuds. I'm after the taste of honeywine, not 'other'

  19. #19
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    Sep 2010
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    Bellingham, WA, USA
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    Default Re: Newbie process for first mead batch - suggestions?

    I highly recommend a mead yeast from Wyeast. You can get either a dry or sweet variety from most local homebrew supply shops.

    http://www.wyeastlab.com/rw_yeaststr...tail.cfm?ID=58
    http://www.wyeastlab.com/rw_yeaststr...tail.cfm?ID=44

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
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    Default Re: Newbie process for first mead batch - suggestions?

    Quote Originally Posted by pokerman11 View Post
    So Barry you are telling me that my homebrew is going to be bad?? Oh say it isn't so!!
    Not my place to say that. Only shared my personal experience. I have finally gone the honey beer route. If I want potent tasting stuff, I'll have a glass of sherry.
    Regards, Barry

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