Another First Mead Batch
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    lee county, fl, usa
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    1,196

    Default Another First Mead Batch

    I bought a Vintner 1 gallon wine starter kit from a wine shop. It uses a pail for the first ferment, which right off I didn't like. I've never made wine or Mead before. Only Kombucha.

    After watching you tube videos that used carboys for first firment, not pails, here is what I did. I used sanitizing powder as directed for the pail, then poured that water into wash basin for sanitizing everything else, surfaces and continually rinsed my hands in the solution.

    I used a gallon of spring water, poured half into a pot to warm up water to dissolve honey. Brought it to about 100 degrees. I used half a cup of that water in a separate dish to activate one pack Fleishmans yeast and set that aside. I sanitized an orange and cut it into wedges. Had a cinnamon stick, 1 clove, and handful of raisins also ready. I poured 3 lbs of orange blossom honey into the warm water pot and mixed til dissolved. Poured that into the Vintner pail, added more spring water and the other ingredients, and stirred for about 10 min from bottom to top to aerate it. I added the yeast and stirred another 5 or so minutes.

    I put the lid on as tight as it would go, and added the air lock to the lid (after filling halfway with water). To me, it seemed like the lid should have been tighter, a better fit. I wrapped saran wrap around the edge but I doubt that did anything.

    I put that lid on at 2 pm on Friday and put the pail in a cabinet in my extracting room and shut the door. Itís the coolest room in my house. It is now about 1 am on Monday. I have checked the air lock many times. I checked a few minutes ago, and I have yet to see one single bubble come up. Because it is in a pail and not a carboy, I have no idea whatís going on inside, but I have a bad feeling about this. Shouldnít I be seeing air bubbles coming through by now in the airlock?

    If I have ruined it, is there anything at all I can do? The kit also has a carboy for second ferment. Maybe I should have started with that, and picked up another carboy in the next few weeks.

    I did not use the hydrometer included in the set. Not sure why I didnít.
    Thanks for any help.
    Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Prvb 16:24
    March 2010; +/- 50 hives, TF

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
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    6,101

    Default Re: Another First Mead Batch

    As I learned from the fine folks here.....never trust an airlock to judge ferment. I had a batch that I swore wasn't starting (also in a pail) and it was doing just fine. That doesn't mean that yours is or isn't, just that my airlock had no bubbles even though the ferment had started. To your point, the hydrometer is the best tool for the job in this case. I'd probably just pop the lid and check it out and take a reading while you're at it. Better to get a late baseline than no baseline at all. Just my thoughts.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    lee county, fl, usa
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    1,196

    Default Re: Another First Mead Batch

    Thanks for the reply! I didn't know it was "allowed" to open pail once it started.

    I did a measurement at exactly day 4. It is indeed starting to fizz. Thank goodness! The brix is at 13. The alcohol level (I am totally unfamiliar with hydrometers) is 1.66. I have no idea if that's good or not. (I sanitized the test tube and everything I used.)

    I did not return the test mead to the pail.

    Unusual for me--I did very little research before I started this project. Someone asked me to make them a gallon of Mead, I watched a couple of videos that made it look so easy, bought a Vintners kit, and here I am. The Mead recipe I am following has the first ferment going for 1 month before transfer to 1 gallon carboy. I used the video by Kilted Brewer.
    Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Prvb 16:24
    March 2010; +/- 50 hives, TF

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
    Posts
    5,400

    Default Re: Another First Mead Batch

    GRRRRR I hate you tube, with it,s half baked experts showing half fast techniques they either do not properly explain or possibly even understand themselves. Rant over!
    Now let me see if I can build a fermentation foundation for you to build on. Although many have heard me express the evils of oxidation in mead. There are times when Oxygen is necessary Particularly when making a JAOM or melomel. Yeast works in two ways it multiplies aerobically (in the presence of Oxygen) and creates alcohol anaerobically (in The absence of oxygen). When starting A JAOM we need the yeast to multiply in order to be able to sustain a healthy ferment. When the yeast is actively fermenting there is really no need to worry about Oxidation. In fact oxygen helps the yeast. This is the reason a primary fermentation vessel is a bucket. It allows the maser the ability to infuse Oxygen into the must to promote yeast development. The Co2 produced by the fermenting yeast provides a shield over the surface of the must inhibiting oxygen from entering. so during the first 5 days of fermentation stirring the must is actually beneficial. Once the Specific Gravity (SG) declines to around 1.025 in a dry ferment than it is racked into a carboy and an air lock is affixed. In a bucket one need not worry about air lock bubbling as the fizz of the ferment can be plainly seen. I know many are looking for the float and sink of the orange but they can be transferred to the carboy if desired, and are not really necessary as indicators.
    Your Hydrometer reading is inaccurate. 1.66 would be an imposable reading as most hydrometers only go to 1.175. A brix of 13 would equate to a SG of 1.050 which would be a potential alcohol of 6%. Not sufficient to prevent spoilage.
    A hydrometer usually has 3 scales on it. Potential alcohol. Brix/balling and SG In mead and wine making SG is most commonly used, and one generally wants to keep Potential alcohol above 10% for reasons of spoilage.

    BTW I know the recipe called for Fleishmans yeast but in reality it is a bread yeast and does not do a proper job with meads or wined. It is unpredictable, and can lead to off flavors. Many unrefined cave men will tell you that is bull, they have successfully used bread beer and other yeasts for mead and wine and it turned out "Great". However consistency and reliability often prove differently. IMHO

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Manassas, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    3,080

    Default Re: Another First Mead Batch

    I have tried vinyl cling wrap around the lid of a storage container to seal it up in a CO2 fumigation test. Based on several trials, I can say it did nothing to stop gas loss against a slow leak. It may reduce a draft in a wide-open gap, but it won't seal tight.

    I would predict the same in a fermentation system.

    White food-grade buckets with gaskets can seal up tight, but I find it takes a 3-pound rubber mallet to adequately persuade them to seat fully. If they do, you'll also need tools to remove the lid.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    lee county, fl, usa
    Posts
    1,196

    Default Re: Another First Mead Batch

    I am not only disappointed in you tube but also the wine making shop where I bought my kit. I talked to him about yeast--he could have sold me proper yeast with my kit as it's something I asked about. I also told him it's my first attempt, and the only thing he focused on was selling the kit. That should have clued me.

    Yeah, the hydrometer. I had to get out my super duper magnifier and yes, whatever equates the 13/14 brix was my reading. I'm not sure how well I stirred before taking sample.

    If there is any particular you tube that you are aware might be good? At one point I found a Vintner, pretty lengthy and I had to leave and now I can't find it again. It at least taught about hydrometer reading.

    So, I can pretty much figure I just ruined 3 pounds of orange blossom honey, correct?
    Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Prvb 16:24
    March 2010; +/- 50 hives, TF

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