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Discussion Starter #1
I bought this kit just to try my hand at making mead. https://www.ebay.com/itm/Mead-Making-Kit/153156566890 It contains a 1 gallon glass carboy, stopper with air lock, yeast, and yeast nutrient. (BTW, I have no experience at this, so excuse me if I say something stupid.)

3 days ago I prepared the must, using just over 3 lbs of honey (probably about 3 lbs 2 oz, but I got the calculation confused), 32 oz of elderberry juice (our own, unsweetened), and water to complete the gallon. I also added 1 teaspoon of the included nutrient. I pitched the yeast with the must in the carboy, shook vigorously, and put the stopper/airlock on. It started bubbling within a couple of hours.

Today, 3 days later, it is bubbling well, and smells great. I have "swirled" it a few times over the last couple of days, but never have removed the airlock.

OK, so where do I go from here? I read about racking, so I know I need to get prepared for that, but the basic kit doesn't have a siphon, nor do I have another carboy for the secondary fermentation.

Is is possible to do the secondary fermentation in the same carboy, just siphon out the liquid into a clean container (stainless steel pot), wash out the carboy, and put it back in the carboy for another round?

Also, I don't have bottles - can I "bottle" into the same carboy?

i know this sounds silly, as if I continue to make mead, I will want more equipment, but I want (for right now) to keep it simple, and inexpensive, but still hope for a decent result.

Input and other suggestions to improve my chances for sucess are welcome. Please.:)
 

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I have made mead with a single carboy, siphon into a clean container then siphon back (avoiding adding too much air by pouring it back). I did my first racking when yeast activity seemed to calm down about 30 days, then I racked again at about 2 month intervals..

For bottles I used flip top wine bottles that I found at IKEA, they can be had at amazon here. https://www.amazon.com/Swing-Top-Glass-Bottles-Chalkboard/dp/B01LB1862A

This was my first try at mead and I was very happy with the results, I didn’t use a yeast neutralizer and found that I ended up with slightly carbonated product so I simply removed the rubber gasket from the tops and the gas went away.
 

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A little over a year ago I too tried my hand at making melomel (with cherries) as well and I had no prior brewing experience. It turned out pretty good! YouTube can help with alot of this. I used my own honey and bought a kit from an old chemist guy who runs a home brew shop locally. A little weird but very knowledgable. I found making this mead was like beekeeping, not knowing if something was right or wrong, having so many questions but YT does help ALOT. Best of luck on the brew! maybe we could mail eachother a bottle or two and try each other's success!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you! It smells great when I am near the carboy, here's hoping it turns out well!
 

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First, Swirling the must without removing the airlock is a total waste of time. The purpose of swirling in the early stages of fermentation is to infuse oxygen to grow a healthy yeast. Yeast multiplies in the presence of oxygen and produces alcohol in it's absence. once the fermentation has started CO2 given off dispels any O2 within the container so swirling does nothing. In the future remove the air lock and stir to aid the development of yeast. But only in the first few days of fermentation.

Yes, You can rack into a sterile container them rack back into the carboy. However Mead is very sensitive to Oxidation and doing so can impact the quality of the finished product. Racking should be done is a low splash manner from one carboy to another to reduce O2 infusion. Ideally in a O2 free manner to eliminate exposure to O2. Once racked the mead should be topped up to minimize surface area.


Bottling into a carboy is not a good idea unless you plan on drinking the entire carboy in one sitting. As I stated before Oxidation can effect even ruin a mead. For this reason many serious mead maker often bottle into small vessels that can be consumed entirely after opening.


As for acceptable mead. Most beginners have the pallet of a cave man. So almost anything is acceptable to the uneducated pallet. Learning the finer points from the beginning teaches you the habits necessary to craft a top quality mead. Remember Mead is not about the alcohol. But rather a blending of fine flavor profiles that transcend the alcohol.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
As for acceptable mead. Most beginners have the pallet of a cave man. So almost anything is acceptable to the uneducated pallet. Learning the finer points from the beginning teaches you the habits necessary to craft a top quality mead. Remember Mead is not about the alcohol. But rather a blending of fine flavor profiles that transcend the alcohol.
And some wine snobs have the spelling of a cave man. I assume pallet = palate?

Thanks for that portion of your post that was very useful, which was most of it.
 

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I am hoping to use some of my higher moisture content honey to make mead this winter. My total winemaking experience to date involves sugar, Welch's grape juice concentrate, and Fleischmann's bread yeast. Produced a sweet wine that was acceptable to my uneducated "pallet". I am hoping for decent results, i.e., drinkable, for my first attempt at mead.
 

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Fleischmann's bread yeast.
Here's the rough and dirty deal.
Do you get a hive of yellow jackets for a bee hive? No. Bread yeast is for bread. Get at least a win/beer/champagne yeast.

1# of sugar, granulated/dextrose/whatever = 1% alcohol in 5 gallons. (common carboy size, 23 liters) Base calculations on that.

Most anything other than Grapes, honey, or sugar, is for flavour, not sugar content.

Your whatever-berries and things for flavour, are for flavour. Use them as such, and use grape juice/sugar/honey as the alcohol producing base.

Rough/dirty recipe works tomorrow.
 

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"Get at least a wine/beer/champagne yeast."

Oh, I will. In my defense, the wine making was back in 1975 and I was 15 at the time, using a recipe that was written on an index card. My solution to being unable to purchase alcohol at the time. With the recent increase in home brewing , obtaining the correct yeast will not be a problem. Just wanted to share how desperate times can lead to desparate measures. And I won't be using a dime store balloon as an air lock either.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
An update, in the interim, I have racked it a couple of times, added a little honey, and cold crashed it.

Tasting - first tasted, right off the primary (2 weeks), was pretty awful, very much like a solvent. I added honey at that time. At the next racking, it was too sweet, and I was regretting my decision to add honey. The next taste was at the next racking, and it was mellowing, but a little yeasty.That is when I decided to cold crash it (about a week ago). Today I bottled.

Taste today is quite acceptable. The excessive sweetness and the solvent taste has really mellowed. I am surprised what a difference a few weeks aging made. It would certainly benefit from additional aging, but most of it will not survive this Thanksgiving.

Next batch is going to be a raspberry melomel. I might do a 2-gallon dry traditional, keeping one gallon traditional, and putting the raspberries in the second gallon, in the secondary fermentation. We'll see.
 

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but most of it will not survive this Thanksgiving.
:thumbsup:

Hold back at least a bottle or two for a year so you will know what might have been.

Debating using some more of my unbottled honey to make a raspberry melomel of my own with a couple bags of frozen raspberries from the supermarket. I would use a 14% yeast this time, less alcohol to let the flavors come through better, if it actually works that way.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hold back at least a bottle or two for a year so you will know what might have been.
I'd like to do this, but might fail in my attempt ...

I only made a gallon.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
:thumbsup:

Hold back at least a bottle or two for a year so you will know what might have been.

Debating using some more of my unbottled honey to make a raspberry melomel of my own with a couple bags of frozen raspberries from the supermarket. I would use a 14% yeast this time, less alcohol to let the flavors come through better, if it actually works that way.
Two bottles survived Thanksgiving, one is destined for Christmas, and I will attempt to age the other for a while.

It was quite good overall!

Please post your raspberry recipe and notes when you go there. I intend to do the same in the next month or so.
 

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You can send me the other bottle for "safe keeping". Glad that the melomel came out tasty. When I do the raspberry melomel, I'll post what I did.

Not seeing any more activity in the secondary of the current batch of mead. Either the ethanol is at 18%, or I killed my yeast inadvertantly. Going to let it sit until Christmas and then filter and bottle it up.
 

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You can send me the other bottle for "safe keeping".
Don't worry, I've got it covered. :thumbsup:

I added a little citric acid (less than 1/8 teaspoon per bottle) to them, and I think it brightened them up a little. And now they also have a couple of medium toast American oak cubes in the bottles. Normally this would have been done in the secondary I think, but I am experimenting.

Probably the oak will come out next week. One bottle is destined for Christmas, the other for longer term aging. (None destined for John.)
 

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:cry:
 

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Working on my last bottle of this now, it is SO GOOD! Fruity taste in the mouth, with a bit of a burn in the back of the mouth after swallowing. That is about as sophisticated as I get when describing it, untrained palate and all ...

My wife doesn't like it, my next recipe I will shoot for a little lower abv for her.
 

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:thumbsup:

I would use a 14% yeast this time, less alcohol to let the flavors come through better, if it actually works that way.


My wife doesn't like it, my next recipe I will shoot for a little lower abv for her.
A lower alcohol level (9-10%), is easier to make, easier to ferment out completely, less yeast and off flavours come through and easier to flavour with fruits/berries. Generally, if you can taste the alcohol, it doesn't taste good. It requires a balance of something to 'cover' the alcohol. Less alcohol, the better more subtle things come through.
 

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...and I will attempt to age the other for a while.
I guess 30 more days qualifies as " a while". Letting my stuff age in the bottle for a bit. My son has already gotten into his bottle. Guess he was anxious to see if the old man could pull it off and make a drinkable mead. Happy that your last bottle was the best!
 
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