General Category > Other Fermentables

First Mead

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From my own experience and research, aeration of the must is beneficial during the first part of fermentation - usually described as the point at which 1/3 of the available fermentables have been consumed.  Up until that point, I degas and aerate at the same time. For the final 2/3 of fermentation, I degas much more gently. I haven't tried it yet, but I've seen youtube videos where people use vacuum pumps to degas wine.

I do tend to prefer dry meads myself, but my first mead finished with a really high gravity, and I didn't like it at all for a really long time because I found it cloying. It's a bit over four years old now, and it has turned into a very nice sipper.

brown stout:

--- Quote from: guido on November 27, 2012, 05:47:44 AM ---
--- Quote from: punatic on November 26, 2012, 11:12:19 PM ---
--- Quote from: svejk on November 25, 2012, 06:59:12 PM ---I think it is common for first meads to be under attenuated because the must is low in nutrients and the CO2 needs to be driven out of the must to allow the yeast to finish the job.

--- End quote ---

I make "under attenuated" meads on purpose, regularly.  I like low alcohol sweet meads.  Back-sweetening does not give the same flavor profile.  Never tried driving out the carbon dioxide.  Seems like taking a chance on making a sherry-like mead by introducing oxygen at the wrong time.

--- End quote ---

Staggered nutrient additions and de-gassing have done wonders for my meads.  Full attenuation, yet they retain a certain "sweetness," even though the gravity is low.  De-gassing won't introduce any off flavors as long as it's done during the first few days of primary fermentation.  I have a wand that I hook up to a power drill and let 'er fly.  Trick is you need a large 7.9 gallon bucket during this time.  The foam will be incredible and you might lose some must otherwise.  Once fermentation slows, I transfer to a carboy.  There's an excellent article by Steve Piatz called "Making Mead the Easy Way."  I'm sure you could find it on Google.  I highly recommend the article.

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Should I use a 7.9 gallon bucket in the beginning to be safe.( for 5 gallon batch)  I was going to use one of my 6.5 gallon glass carboys and am worried now about the foaming and ability to aerate.

I much prefer to use the big buckets for my meads, but assuming you're careful, 1.5 gallons of space can certainly be enough for you.  Start really slow, take your time, keep from scratching up your equipment, and get a bunch of CO2 out of solution before you mix in that next staggered nutrient addition if you're adding them.

I primary ferment my meads in a 10 gallon SS Volrath stockpot with a lid - a semi-open fermenter.  The extra head space is especially nice when fermenting on fruit.  The lid is easy to open when making nutrient additions and punching down the cap twice a day.  When the fermentation has slowed, but not finished, I rack into 25L glass carboys to finish and clear.

The SS stock pot is easy to sterilze.  I put a couple of inches of water in it, put the top on it, and bring it to a boil for 15 minutes or so.  I've been using it as a fermenter for about 10 years now, ever since I went to sanke kegs for HLT and wort kettle.

In that time I've never had an infected batch.  The lid is not airlocked and does not seal,but it fits flush to the pot so the CO2 escapes easily.  The ease of access, extra head space and chemical free sanitizing make the stockpot my favorite primary mead fermenter.


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