Author Topic: Thinking about trying my had at mead  (Read 1076 times)

Offline RadRedFox

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Thinking about trying my had at mead
« on: June 16, 2014, 01:19:36 PM »
Hi all.

I'm looking at trying my hand at brewing up some mead. This will be my first stint into home brewing so I was wondering what sort of equipment everyone would suggest using as well as the type of honey,yeast and yeast food to use. And of course if anyone has recipe to suggest trying I'm all ears.

Thanks much

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Thinking about trying my had at mead
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2014, 02:33:11 PM »
you will need a bucket and... well that's really about it.

mead is light on equipment because you are basically dissolving honey in water and adding yeast. Others on here will be able to give you more detail but the basic list is:

1 fermenter with a capacity 20% - 25% larger than the batch size you are interested in making (so 1 gallon jug is good for .75 gallons of mead and a 6-7 gallon bucket will be good for a 5 gallon batch.

Sanitizer to make sure your equipment such as it is is sanitary (available at any brew supply outlet)

you may want campden tablets which will help prevent any wild yeasts and bacteria that might be present in the honey from taking hold and creating a product that is different from what you imagined.

Honey - ~1 gallon (~12 lbs) makes 5 gallons of moderate strength (10-12% ABV) mead you can adjust from there. wildflower is a good starting honey. the character of the honey minus the sweetness is what will come through in the finished product (hopefully)

generally wine yeast is used for mead making although there are mead yeasts and I imagine a passable brew could be made with beer yeasts as well.

yeast nutrient is important when making mead as honey is short on nutrients. a variety of products are available at your local homebrew supply or online at someplace like morebeer, northern brewer, midwest supplied, etc.

at some point your mead will be mostly done and I believe it is still standard practice to move the mead to secondary for clarification and ageing. you will want a fermenter with just about exactly the capacity of your batch at this point, very little headspace is desired.

you'll need some hose to transfer the mead from primary to secondary, a racking cane, and a stopper or bung, either with a hole for an airlock or with a one way valve built in to seal your secondary fermenter.
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Offline vinnieb

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Re: Thinking about trying my had at mead
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2014, 03:32:26 AM »
Mortica covered it.  Not much is needed for meade.  The nutrient is big, you'll a bunch of that.  Even when you rack to secondary, you'll need to add more nutrient.  Also have a blow off tube at the ready.  I had a couple of Meades really take off and needed to remove my airlock and install a blow off tube. 

On meade days, I usually get an orange to eat...and I drop the peels into the fermentor.

Offline RadRedFox

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Re: Thinking about trying my had at mead
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2014, 09:26:39 AM »
Awesome, thanks guys. I've heard of using orange peels or other similar things to feed the yeast before, but wouldn't that change the flavor of the mead?

Offline Wheat_Brewer

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Re: Thinking about trying my had at mead
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2014, 07:24:40 AM »
Any additions of flavoring, fruit (technically that becomes a melomel), etc drastically changes the flavoring of mead. There's nothing wrong with it and can be quite good but if this is the first try at your recipe I would suggest a straight mead so you get the process down and know what your base flavor tastes like before you start making changes.

The only other thing I have to add to Mort's post is to have lots of patience. Let it ferment in the primary for about 2 weeks (or until done but generally 2 weeks), move to a secondary and forget about it for about 6-12 months. Just put the secondary with your mead in a cool and dark spot. When it clears it clears, don't try to rush it for the first batch. I made that mistakemy first batch and still wish I would have just waited to let the mead be ready when it's ready, not when I want it to be ready.
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Offline dkfick

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Re: Thinking about trying my had at mead
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2014, 07:28:13 AM »
I would add that KMETA shouldn't be necessary in a mead as honey is antibacterial and should already be free of spoilage bacteria and yeast. But yes... Nutrients, nutrients, nutrients.  If you smell any sulfur... Add more nutrients.  Degassing is pretty important as well.  It not only knocks the co2 out of solution to help keep the yeast healthy but it introduces oxygen to the must which will also help the yeast.
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Offline udubdawg

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Re: Thinking about trying my had at mead
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2014, 07:43:56 AM »
degas, THEN add more nutrients.

or, set your video camera up and post the vid for us if you do it in the reverse order.   ;D

a refractometer and a good quality lees stirrer and pH meter will make life easier too, though are not absolutely vital.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Thinking about trying my had at mead
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2014, 07:45:36 AM »
I would add that KMETA shouldn't be necessary in a mead as honey is antibacterial and should already be free of spoilage bacteria and yeast. But yes... Nutrients, nutrients, nutrients.  If you smell any sulfur... Add more nutrients.  Degassing is pretty important as well.  It not only knocks the co2 out of solution to help keep the yeast healthy but it introduces oxygen to the must which will also help the yeast.

almost certainly true. While there are a few hearty wild yeasts that will cling to honey the cell counts are low enough as to be a non issue. Just being exhaustive
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Offline BrewArk

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Re: Thinking about trying my had at mead
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2014, 09:10:00 AM »
(Much) Later, when your fermentation is done.  Bentonite has always worked really well to clarify my meads. 

Personally, when finishing, I prefer to add potassium sorbate stabilizer, and then back add some honey to sweeten up my meads too.
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Offline dkfick

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Re: Thinking about trying my had at mead
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2014, 09:32:43 AM »
I'm a big fan of Sparkelloid for fining my meads as it doesn't impart any off flavors if you leave it in there too long and it does an excellent job at clarifying and leaving behind the flavors.
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Offline pete b

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Re: Thinking about trying my had at mead
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2014, 12:15:40 PM »
My girlfriend and I make 12-15 batches of mead every year, mostly melomels from seasonal fruit. She has been doing this since the mid nineties and over the years she has learned what isn't necessary. We don't use yeast nutrients or Camden tablets and have done hundreds of batches with no fermentation problems. we also don't use any finings and get a clear product. I think the most important thing is to be patient: 10 days to 2 weeks in the primary, stirring everyday, rack to carboys filled up into the bottom of the neck and leave at a fairly warm temperature (70ish) for 4-6 months (if its at the longer end we will rack off the lees after about 4 months) then rack into new carboys and put in a cool place (our cellar is usually 55-60) for at least 6 months but longer if you can stand it. We usually bottle about 1 1/2 years after starting. I think the long secondary fermentation and aerating everyday during the first is why we don't need yeast nutrient. I can't recall a stalled fermentation. As far as sulfites go mead doesn't seem very susceptible to infection and to me getting a product with no sulfites is one reason we make our own. We do put a Camden tablet in the water we soak our corks in to prevent the corks from getting moldy/infected. We have also found that by racking a couple times and aging a long enough time the mead almost always comes out clear.
A couple more pieces of equipment: a stand up corker, corks, and bottles, something to prevent light from getting to the carboys if you don't have a constantly dark place (we use pillowcases with a hole cut for the airlock), and mesh bags for holding fruit in the primary. Also, if your using fruit and bring to a boil or use  boiling water to steep it in, pectic enzyme.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2014, 12:19:34 PM by pete b »
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Offline RadRedFox

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Re: Thinking about trying my had at mead
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2014, 05:11:50 PM »
Oh, wow, lots of new info. Thanks guys. I'm probably going to start with a more traditional mead, not a melomel, at least until I get a successful batch or two done, but its definitely something I do in the future. How is degassing achieved, is it simply done by string the mead?

Offline pete b

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Re: Thinking about trying my had at mead
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2014, 05:37:09 PM »
Oh, wow, lots of new info. Thanks guys. I'm probably going to start with a more traditional mead, not a melomel, at least until I get a successful batch or two done, but its definitely something I do in the future. How is degassing achieved, is it simply done by string the mead?
I stir it with a paddle once a day during primary. You don't want to whip it around like you might when you are aerating before pitching yeast, I go a couple times around then give a little resistance backwards and that's it. I've heard of aerating in the secondary but don't think its necessary. I assume racking accomplishes that.
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Offline dkfick

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Re: Thinking about trying my had at mead
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2014, 06:04:04 PM »
I whip it like mad 3 times a day. I want to introduce o2 and get all the co2 out.

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Offline pete b

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Re: Thinking about trying my had at mead
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2014, 06:26:19 PM »
I whip it like mad 3 times a day. I want to introduce o2 and get all the co2 out.

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Do you do that all through primary. I tend to get less vigorous as the days pass. Also, with melomels, I have a bag of fruit in there that would make whipping it hard. I would think that just bringing the mead from underneath to the surface would do the trick.
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