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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI, USA
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    92

    Default Suggestions for basic mead improvement

    Hi

    I got a bit of a hobby bug the other day because I can't keep bees until next year. I decided on trying to create mead. I've had mead once in the past with my family- it was a very sweet mead and we all decided on trying it that mead is terrible. We generally like dry wines so I set out to create a dry mead in attempt to prove mead can be just as good as any wine. After reading the intro and basics of the compleat meadmaker I decided on a variation of his orange blossum beginner mead recipe.

    Basically its 4 gal water, and 12 lbs of orange blossom honey. Yeast energiser and nutrient were included. Also the brew supply store I visited recommended Lavin EC-1118. I'm also going to be patient and let this mature until around next year at chrismas.

    From what I understand I should end up with a very basic, clean dry mead- almost like a dry white wine I think.

    So far "fred" my 5 gal batch of mead has been alive for only a day and is slowly gurgling away with his fermentation seal. However, last night I wondered to myself- should I add something?

    I immediatly dismissed using any fruits because I didn't want a fruity sweet wine, but now that its still only a day old I'm wondering if there are things to add to my basic mead that will improve it. I don't want to add in anything that is based on flavor preferances, but something that everyone could agree would improve it. Light spices, wood chips, fruits- does anyone have any suggestions to things I should add to improve it?

    I figure everyone likes to put a bit of salt on their food- is there something I can put in my mead that everyone agrees will improve it?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Forest grove, Ore USA
    Posts
    192

    Default Re: Suggestions for basic mead improvement

    Check out this website traditionalmead.com this is my good friend Doug Remington. Doug makes mead professionally. I would suggest at a minimum letting your mead ferment fully and then you can taste it. 12 pounds should dry right out. After the gravity has dropped by about a third you may want to ad a bit of diammonium phosphate to help your yeast along. Doug describes all this on his website. Good luck!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI, USA
    Posts
    92

    Default Re: Suggestions for basic mead improvement

    Another question- I'm worried that I slacked off and didn't sanitize my mead primary fermentation bucket enough (I just gave it a quick clean, but now I see that brewers use specific sanitization products.)
    Is there a way to tell whether the batch will be bad or not before I've waited a full year for this stuff to be ready?

    Also thanks for the suggestions- I read the website and added a 1/4 teaspoon of DAP and the yeast went nuts!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Forest grove, Ore USA
    Posts
    192

    Default Re: Suggestions for basic mead improvement

    Since you stir mead daily to lower carbonic acid just taste it. I keep a five gallon bucket full of sterilizer around because I brew lots of beer and make wine and mead. I use starsan in five gallons of distilled water.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Jefferson Co., WV, USA
    Posts
    157

    Default Re: Suggestions for basic mead improvement

    You can add some potasium metabisulfite to protect your mead while it is fermenting. As far as adding something simple that will help your mead a little oak will go along way. As far as making a traditional mead goes, if you dont include some larva (a source of protein for the yeast in the olden times) and allow the native yeast to ferment your mead you aint making traditional mead, you are making mead the more modern way, honey, clean water, some nutrients added in place of the larva and cultured yeasts! Good luck with your mead, your next batch maybe add some fruit to make it even better WVMJ
    Meadmaking with WVMJ at Meads and Elderberry Winemaking

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Forest grove, Ore USA
    Posts
    192

    Default Re: Suggestions for basic mead improvement

    Sir, metabisulfite is for preserving after fermentation is complete.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Jefferson Co., WV, USA
    Posts
    157

    Default Re: Suggestions for basic mead improvement

    No Sir, in modern winemaking Metabisulfite is used before you even add the yeast to knock down any microbes in your must, especially nice if you have a batch of honey that is high in moisture and you want to get rid of any bugs in it before you pitch your yeast. Also very nice if you want to add fruit and you want to knock down any yeasts that comes on the fruit. You can add it after you rack from secondary to secondary to protect the mead from oxidation while bulk aging and then give it another dose when bottling. You dont have to heat your honey and can keep the flavors it comes with by using KMeta instead! WVMJ
    Meadmaking with WVMJ at Meads and Elderberry Winemaking

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Forest grove, Ore USA
    Posts
    192

    Default Re: Suggestions for basic mead improvement

    Oh good! Your earlier post was really rambling and did not make much sense to me reading it! Sorry for the confusion

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Jefferson Co., WV, USA
    Posts
    157

    Default Re: Suggestions for basic mead improvement

    No Problem Steves, I write slow so some of you folks can read at your own pace. WVMJ
    Meadmaking with WVMJ at Meads and Elderberry Winemaking

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,649

    Default Re: Suggestions for basic mead improvement

    Quote Originally Posted by Steves1967 View Post
    I use starsan in five gallons of distilled water.
    Isn't that a bit overkill using distilled water? Do breweries use distilled water? I wasn't aware they did, if so.
    Regards, Barry

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,046

    Default Re: Suggestions for basic mead improvement

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry View Post
    Isn't that a bit overkill using distilled water? Do breweries use distilled water? I wasn't aware they did, if so.
    No. However folks brewing in extremely-hard-water areas might; it can interfere with the chemistry that supports the acids' actions. Breweries in such areas, when they brew beers with less hard-water pedigree, will often have RO systems for blending down the hardness of their water. Distilled water probably won't hurt anything, but unless one is on really extreme water, totally unsuitable well water, for example, it's probably not a mission-critical expense .
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Forest grove, Ore USA
    Posts
    192

    Default Re: Suggestions for basic mead improvement

    The reason for distilled water for my sterilization medium is that it does not get cloudy. It is a personal aesthetic thing, I rinse my tools after use and store them in the sterilizer bucket and five gallons lasts me for months at a time.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Forest grove, Ore USA
    Posts
    192

    Default Re: Suggestions for basic mead improvement

    For all my other water needs I run the garden hose until it doesn't taste like hose anymore I live in an area with great water.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,046

    Default Re: Suggestions for basic mead improvement

    I have that same 5-gallon bucket! And a spray bottle as well.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,649

    Default Re: Suggestions for basic mead improvement

    Are you kidding about the garden hose? That seems on the other end of the scale from distilled water! I keep 4 gallons of cleaner/sterilizer on hand. All water comes from my tap. What sanitizer do you use?
    Regards, Barry

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Forest grove, Ore USA
    Posts
    192

    Default Re: Suggestions for basic mead improvement

    Like I said, I use starsan for sterilizer. I use water from the hose to make beer ( gets boiled ) ot the tap to make mead and fruit wines and wines and mead get metabisulfite prior to yeast addition. Like I say, I run the hose until it doesn't taste like hose

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI, USA
    Posts
    92

    Default Re: Suggestions for basic mead improvement

    Makes sense to me- I think the only real rule to the water you use for beer is that if it tastes good to you, the beer will taste good. I like hose water, got a nice iron taste to it

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,649

    Default Re: Suggestions for basic mead improvement

    There has to be an interesting name for a beer in there somewhere. Summer Hose Shandy, Hot Rubber Stout . .
    Regards, Barry

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    4,266

    Default Re: Suggestions for basic mead improvement

    Going back to your original question. I made a mead very much as you suggested with the ec-1118 instead of 71B. It produced a roughly 20% ABV mead that is now approaching 14 months old and can hardly be called smooth yet. The honey taste is starting to come on and the Alcohol heat is starting to mellow. If one back sweetened it after sorbate and sufite treatment, it would be a great semisweet mead or one could add fruit and sweeten and get pretty instant gratification. But I think I will leave it alone where it is plotting evil in a 6 1/2 gallon carboy. Patience is a required as you already stated. Your mead is lower Specific gravity than mine was and may very well be a fine drink a year from this Christmas.

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