Mead - the homebrew thread

Discussion in 'Brewing & Beer Knowledge' started by quirkzoo, Oct 25, 2013.

  1. axeman9182

    axeman9182

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2013
    Anybody have recommendations for a target FG for a short mead? I mixed up four gallons of mango short mead with an OG of 1.060 and I'm assuming it'll ferment all the way out. Planned on then backsweetening and kegging it.
     
  2. jvanaus

    jvanaus

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Location:
    Chicagoish, Illinois
    Moved my initial two batches to secondary today and the differences between the two were pretty surprising.

    Batch 1: primary in a 2 gallon bucket
    One lb clover (costco)
    Three lbs Arizona wildflower (amazon)
    Mixture of 71b (2.5g) and Safale 05 (3g) both rehydrated
    1 tsp DAP at pitch
    1/2 tsp Ferm K at pitch
    OG: 1.141
    G at secondary: 1.041
    Estimated ABV: 13.13

    Batch 2: primary in a 1 gallon glass jug
    Three lbs 11 oz clover (costco) - basically whatever was left over from the first batch's one lb
    Mixture of 71b (2.5g) and Safale 05 (3g) both rehydrated
    1 tsp DAP at pitch
    1/2 tsp Ferm K at pitch
    OG: 1.145
    G at secondary: 1.06
    Estimated ABV: 11.16

    Both fermented for 15 days in primary essentially using the same yeast and nutrients, degassed on the same schedule, but one ended up with a higher gravity in second reading than the other. I should have taken more gravity readings, and will need to take a few more to ensure fermentation is complete before bottling, but I find it strange that one batch is a full 2% higher. Could be the quality of honey or maybe the bucket provided a better environment - or pretty much anything else...

    Interested to see how they both turn out and if this is my FG (doubt it) then it's very odd to me. I like sweet meads, so it should be a fine first try.
     
  3. Beerontwowheels

    Beerontwowheels

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    Apr 11, 2013
    Location:
    MD
    Did these have equal amounts of water added? Interesting that B1 had about 5 more ounces of honey but a lesser OG than B2.

    I probably would have left these in primary a bit longer to clear/settle. 15 days seems a pretty short time. A month is more standard for me.
     
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  4. mjohnson17

    mjohnson17

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    Chicagoland
    How much water did you add to both? I assume total volume on Batch 2 was 1 gal since it was a 1gal jug, but Batch 1 would have been up to 2 gallons. Sounds like with OGs so close together the volume was probably similar, but not exact.
    That would probably account for the majority of your difference. The other could be difference in fermentation, even though it was the same yeast and nutrient schedule, every fermentation is slightly different.
     
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  5. jvanaus

    jvanaus

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    Oct 22, 2014
    Location:
    Chicagoish, Illinois
    Both were one gallon batches, adding water to the honey until it hit the one gallon mark. Given there was less honey in my glass jar, there was probably slightly more water in the jug. I did make a "one gallon" mark on the plastic bucket, which is probably not as precise as I think it is, but it's close enough for me.

    The mead is very cloudy at this point, and I did see some signs of fermentation when I racked to secondary, so I probably should have waited a few more days, as Beerontwowheels commented. I was reading about off flavors when the mead sits on the yeast cake for too long, so I got worried. Obviously, wanting to avoid that if possible but having it sit an extra two weeks probably wouldn't hurt anything.

    I'm planning on taking another gravity reading in about a week, and then re-rack if necessary to get a secondary yeast cake gone. Then I'll bulk age until clear, which I'm assuming will take roughly six months.

    Thanks for the comments - looking forward to trying these in a few months. Probably going to put together a cyser this weekend with some honey I found at a farmer's market in Kenosha - apple blossom based, so I'm pretty excited about this one.
     
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  6. Beerontwowheels

    Beerontwowheels

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    IMO, you racked too early the first time. You want the yeast to finish fermenting and then precipitate out. I don't think you need to rack anything for 3-4 weeks at earliest. Let the yeast finishing fermenting and then give them some time to drop out. Take it easy and be patient, it will pay off.

    You're not going to get any off flavors from the yeast. It would take a much larger batch to impose the pressures needed to have that happen. Or - you would need to let it sit in primary for a few years. Even then, who knows.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
  7. jvanaus

    jvanaus

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    Oct 22, 2014
    Location:
    Chicagoish, Illinois
    Thanks for the advice - all good things to know and to keep in mind for the next batch. I think part of it was also that I'm used to brewing beer where 15 days in primary is about the right amount of time, so I need to step back and change my mindset.

    Given how cloudy it still is, I'm thinking I'll have to re-rack at some point for bulk aging before bottling anyway. Just creating more work for myself, but.. oh well. :oops:
     
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  8. quirk6

    quirk6

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    Sep 30, 2013
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Brewed a batch of black currant and blackberry mead a while ago, it turned out great. I got excited and started 3 more batches, all of which wound up with plastic-y flavors. I haven't tried it since, but this talk is kind of making want to give it another try.
     
  9. mjohnson17

    mjohnson17

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    Location:
    Chicagoland
    The #1 piece of advice I'd give for mead making: have patients. Time is your friend when making a mead. Forget the brewing mindset of quick fermentations.

    As a reference point - most of my meads are in primary for about a month.

    Time will do wonders for a lot of off flavors too. I don't remember if I said it here or another forum, but a banana mead I did had the worst fusal alcohol flavors for the longest time, probably about a year. But I was patient and just let it sit and it eventually turned a corner and now tastes like banana fosters.
     
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  10. Beerontwowheels

    Beerontwowheels

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    MD
    Listening to the meadmakr podcast and I've heard two professionals (Ken Schramm being one of them) now poop on Fermaid O. DAP and Fermaid K seem to be preferred.

    Thoughts Naegerbomb ?
     
  11. mjohnson17

    mjohnson17

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    Chicagoland
    Great question!

    The only real difference I know is that Fermaid-O is organic Nitrogen, and that it appears you have to use almost twice as much, but that it's an easier digestible form of Nitrogen for the yeast. But I'm curious to hear what the professionals think. I'll hang up and listen, thanks.
     
  12. Beerontwowheels

    Beerontwowheels

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    MD
    If you haven't listened to the podcast, I'd recommend checking out a few episodes. The approach described by wiltznucs for capturing peanut flavor was pretty interesting. Didn't really have any interest in making a mead with peanuts, but now I feel like I have to try it.
     
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  13. Naegerbomb

    Naegerbomb

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2014
    So I'm not totally sure what podcast you're talking about - but we use Fermaid O and DAP here at the meadery (so Ken Schramm shouldn't be pooping on Fermaid O). Maybe he was pooping on using "just Fermaid O"?

    One reason we use O instead of K is that the TTB has limits on the use of Fermaid K due to something in it called thiamine hydrochloride. Our recipe submissions are just easier if we use Fermaid O (and we're going to use DAP as a source of nitrogen anyway). If you wanted to go totally organic you could just use Fermaid O, but I don't recommend this for flavor and stability reasons.

    Probably the most concise and thorough collection of information about nutrients in meadmaking is a white paper written by a guy named Travis Blount-Elliott (/u/balathustrius) who has been very active on /r/mead for many years. His work was the basis for the calculations used by the Meadmakr's own "Advanced Nutrient Calculator", which does a great job I think. If you calculate the PPM of YAN that you need for your recipe, it does a pretty good job of calculating the total weight of Fermaid and DAP that you need (and then you just need to split it according to your own schedule, i.e. number of times to add nutrients and when).

    Our nutrient regimen at the meadery follows the recipe in this article pretty well (scaled up a bit) - it was first published in Zymurgy 2/2015. Except we use Fermaid O.
     
  14. Beerontwowheels

    Beerontwowheels

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2013
    Location:
    MD
    Hey James - thanks for responding. I've been listening to a few different podcasts about mead so I went back and found the source which led to my question. Here you go: Beersmith Episode #143 which aired on February 22, 2017.

    Around the 46 minute mark, Ken states: 'I'm not as comfortable with using the levels of nutrient that are required if you're going to use Fermaid O. You've got to use a lot of it. That means leaving behind an awful lot of yeast hulls in your liquid that you don't need to have there. The thing that is attractive about DAP is that it's virtually entirely utilized by the yeast. There's nothing left of it when the yeast are done with it.'

    I think you're right in that Ken is raising concerns with using 'just' Fermaid O because of the levels you would need. I didn't interpret it that way when I first listened to the podcast.

    As always, I appreciate you weighing in and sharing information. I'll check those links out this evening. Trying to sharpen up my knowledge on best practices for fermentation. My next mead project will be 15 gallons of a traditional that's destined for a small bourbon barrel.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2017
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  15. Naegerbomb

    Naegerbomb

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    Aug 22, 2014
    Anytime, friend. You can always email me if you have any urgent questions: james@schrammsmead.com and jnaeger@gmail.com. It's good that you're doing your research before doing a traditional - they are not super forgiving.

    What kind of barrel did you get? I've filled a few 15-gallon Journeyman Featherbone barrels this year, they've all been super fun.
     
  16. Beerontwowheels

    Beerontwowheels

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    Apr 11, 2013
    Location:
    MD
    Haven't mixed up the musts yet, so haven't sourced a barrel yet. Finding something recently emptied will be the priority. If the mead spends a few more weeks in tertiary while I source something fresh, I won't stress about it.
     
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  17. axeman9182

    axeman9182

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    Apr 5, 2013
    Batch #2 (raspberry melomel) and Batch #3 (mango short mead) are bottled and kegged respectively. Up next is an apple pie cyser I think.
     
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  18. RLD

    RLD

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2015
    Location:
    Central PA
    Made two small batches of mead yesterday. Japanese wineberry and a Red Currant. Both fermented with raw orange blossom honey. Decided to give the SNA Naegerbomb posted a try. First time using Fermaid O.

    wineberry mead
    [​IMG]
     
  19. Shartelby

    Shartelby

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2017
    Location:
    BoomTown
    I've never made mead. I've drank a decent amount of it, and I'm interested in giving it a go; considering some of the home-brew equipment can be dual purposed. I want to thank everyone here for all the great info and resources.

    The twist: I'd like to make spontaneous mead. I can't find many (if any) resources on this topic. Have any of you tasted, or attempted to make spontaneous mead? Are there resources you can recommend? Also, thoughts/opinions on this would be appreciated as well.
     
  20. mjohnson17

    mjohnson17

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    Apr 12, 2013
    Location:
    Chicagoland
    I'm not familiar with any resources out there on Spontaneous mead. Have you checked Got Mead?

    I've tasted a handful of spontaneous meads, and they've been, for the most part, really good. Four Fires made a spontaneous pyment with some ice wine grapes from around Niagara Falls, which was awesome. Schramms has their Apple Reserve spontaneously fermented, but that was a small batch only available in their taproom.
     
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