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Discussion Starter #21
Dan, how do you make the honey vinegar?
 

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Discussion Starter #22
Another update. After a little psyching myself up, I tasted the mead from the coffee filter set up. Still has a definite yeasty taste and is very sweet, but no other off flavors that I could discern. No hint of Jet A.
 

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As mentioned, time is the magic ingredient. I opened 2 bottles of Acerglyn (Maple Mead) this week. One spiced. One not. They were started on New Years Day, 2017. Both were better than anything you could buy at the store. And both were twice as good as bottles from the same batch that I opened and tried a year ago.
 

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Dan, how do you make the honey vinegar?
The basics are pretty straightforward. Begin by making mead. I would mix honey and water to a specific gravity that resulted in an alcohol content lower than that rated for the yeast I was using. I wanted complete fermentation.
Once fermentation is complete, I would mix in some vinegar mother. I would close the container using a fine weave cloth as the conversion from mead to vinegar is aerobic. Over time that process will run to completion.
The tricky part is making sure that the resulting vinegar has neither an acid content that is too high or too low. I made sure that my initial specific gravity would result in an acid content above 5%. I titrated the final vinegar and would add distilled water to dilute to achieve 5% acid content.
An interesting extension bulletin from 1935 on making vinegar from honey.

https://archive.lib.msu.edu/DMC/Ag. Ext. 2007-Chelsie/PDF/e149.pdf
 

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Discussion Starter #25 (Edited)
Thanks for the link Dan, good stuff. Uh, what exactly is a vinegar eel? Sounds disgusting.

Ok, I googled it. They are disgusting. Tiny little worms (nematodes) living in and destroying ones vinegar.
 

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Discussion Starter #26
Since transferring the mead to the secondary, I noticed that I no longer was generating CO2. As I mentioned in another thread recently, I tend to keep the house a little on the cool side in the winter. Apparently, too cool for fermentation to continue. So, last night I moved the carboy in front of a heater and was pleased to see CO2 bubbles forming again. Of course, I couldn't leave the carboy full of mead in the middle of the floor, so I took some quick measurements and discovered it would fit in my incubator. Just put it inside and set the thermostat to 80° F. We will see what happens.
 

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My attempt at Mead was such a disaster that I'm REALLY hesitant to try again. This thread is heartening though.
 

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Discussion Starter #28
The carboy has been in the incubator for a month now and is no longer bubbling. At last check the SG was still higher than it should be indicating that the fermentation may not be complete. Talked to the guy at the home brew shop and he recommended adding more DAP and another package of the EC1118 yeast. Going to give that a try. Meantime, bought some D47 for the sweet wine, and stuff to bottle and cork the mead when it is done. Suddenly realized how valuable all the empties I have been tossing out really are. Case of 12-750 ml bottles set me back $16.50 plus corks. Quickly dug through the trash and "rescued" several bottles.

This is my first experience with using a corker and it is cool to put the cork INTO the bottle since all my previous experience has been with taking them out:) So now I have an empty bottle with a cork in it. Hmmm.
 

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Discussion Starter #29 (Edited)
I finally got around to checking the SG of the mead. Sure enough, fermentation stopped at 1.032, or about 25 points shy of my goal. Mixed up another packet of the 1118 and dumped it in with a tsp. of DAP right behind it. Gently stirred so as not to add oxygen to the mead and put the airlock back in. Now we wait.

20 minutes later and...we are back making greenhouse gases. Albeit quite slowly for the time being.
 

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Discussion Starter #30
Well the bubbling stopped a few days later. I let the mead sit until today. It is a beautiful deep amber colored and quite clear. Did not bother with the hydrometer and just bottled it all up. All totaled I got 12-750ml bottles of regular sweet mead and 8-750ml bottles of cinnamon metheglyn. The mead tastes good and is very sweet and strong, almost like a brandy. I definitely want to try a raspberry melomel after the next honey harvest.
 

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Thanks J. Not bad at all for a first attempt. Want to go a bit drier next time around too.
 

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I only tried mead once and didn't care for it. But if you can get it dry and more like brandy, I would give it a go. J
 

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I am going to start a dry 10-12% ABV today or tomorrow. A gallon of it will get raspberries in the secondary, and the remainder will be converted to vinager.

I use one gallon equipment, because I don't drink much (haven't finished the Mel I started in October yet), and to reduce risk as well. I also like the freedom of small batches. I will push the space in my primary bucket to get 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 gallons from it, which will be split into 2 1-gallon carboys for the secondary.
 

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Two things-

(1) When going for a high gravity mead, you may need to use a method called 'blasting'- instead of adding more yeast at some later time, you hold back on some of the honey instead, and add it when the initial primary ferment starts to slow down. Too much honey in the beginning may make it difficult for the yeast to ferment to completion. You might want to start with only 10lbs (2lbs/gal, for a 5gal batch), and then add the second 10lbs after the initial ferment has peaked.

(2) If you make vinegar, in addition to something that you want to be drinkable, make sure that you keep the two operations completely separate.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
Thanks for the tip. I will try that the next time I go for a high ABV mead. My next batch will be more traditional at 14% as a raspberry melomel. Waiting on the girls to do their job.
 

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Re: A question about feeding

I've made wine.
I've made whiskey.
I've made beer.
When I had some extra "play" honey, I made mead..... it was the most disgusting thing ever and I pitched it and have zero inclination to try again.
What a disaster that was!
I had a friend who tried to make mead. Got poured down the drain. Found out that if you use honey with natural yeast you are gambling that the yeast is a good one. What we read about this is that it is either really good or really bad. So maybe something to sterilize of kill natural yeasts, and then use a proven commercial variety.
 

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Best wines I have made; Slow fermented cherry/grape. Sure wish I had written down the yeast variety. Took something like 6 months to complete. Took it to a party/cookout and carried it around pouring occasional glasses. Got a superior complement, overheard 2 friends, "I say we knock him in the head and steal the jug".

Second was elderberry/blackberry/gooseberry, called it 'old black goose' 1st year it caused some bad headaches in some people. After aging for 2 years that disappeared.

The process of step fermenting also depends on the ability of the yeast to withstand the rising alcohol %. Maybe switch to a champagne yeast in the second stage? Lot of science here. Maybe added yeast nutrients as well? Probably better to experiment in gallon batches. So many variables.
 

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Just to note depending on goals, one can add either malt or lactose which aren't fermentable. I used them to make a cider sweet enough for SWIMBO to drink :) You can also ferment it to whatever ABV you are interested in attaining, then killing the yeast with a few possible techniques, then adding fermentable sweeteners to achieve the flavor you want. This will generally keep you from bottle conditioning it for carbonation. So you can either use compressed CO2 or an advanced secondary pitch technique but I have never tried it.
 
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