Author Topic: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years  (Read 4374 times)

Offline kenschramm

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2011, 05:46:04 AM »
That's my take on it - I don't heat at all.  Two other things strike me as big improvements over practice in the "olden days."

1) Not acidifying until fermentation is complete.  Having your pH fall below 3.1 or so can really stress out your yeast.  Actually, cmuzz, there is so little buffer in honey that it is very possible to have your pH crash when the yeast population absorbs its nutrients.  Fermentation will also add CO2, which will yield carbonic acid. And acidifying to taste after fermentation is a lot more precise than adding arbitrary amounts before fermentation.

2) Use of nutrients. Very few honeys can deliver more than 20 ppm of available nitrogen, and a 12% fermentation will go off most smoothly with about 300 ppm.  Not enough N stresses they yeast too, and is responsible for the development of higher alcohols, which can give you a nasty hangover, even if you do not over-imbibe.  I use a staggered nutrient addition program.

Ken
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Offline cmuzz

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2011, 07:46:42 AM »
I am totally sold on all the advances that have been developed over the last years. And, thank you all for your help getting this old timer up to speed.

Saturday evening, I rehydrated my yeast in Go-Ferm (25 minutes). I dissolved 15 lbs of honey in warm water, no sulfites. Pitched the yeast, aerated the 5 gallons and made sure all was fully mixed.

By next AM there was some slight bubbling. I added DAP & Fermaid-K and oxygenated the must. Within a few hours, I have been getting the most vigorous fermentation, I have ever seen in a mead. In fact, it rivals the most vigorous fermentations I have seen in many of my batches of beer. I will continue with another nutrient addition and another oxygen blast when I see that 30% drop in the SG.

When I think back to the week or so that it took to get a slow and steady fermentation going with my original recipe, I am amazed that I had the patience to do that 3 times. No wonder we relied so much on the sulfites. Who knows what could have taken hold in that must without them.

Ken, I’m sure that holding back on the acids is also a big contributing factor to how much these little buggers are partying in that carboy. Rock on little yeasties!
Caesar M.

Offline kenschramm

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2011, 05:35:27 PM »
Keep us posted on how things go.  I'm curious to know how the batch come out.

KDS
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Offline cmuzz

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #18 on: February 28, 2011, 10:21:13 AM »
I’m amazed at how this is progressing. I started the fermentation on 2/12. Yesterday 2/27 I took the final of 3 gravity readings and fermentation has ceased. Original Gravity 1.11 & Final at 1.00. So, I racked to the secondary and put it away in a dark corner to sit for a bit. It is still a hazy golden color. I’ll look at it in a month or so to monitor how it is clearing.

It's quite interesting that the flavor is no way near the old rocket fuel taste of years gone by, just thinly winey and very much in need of adjustments with some tannins and acid. I’ll hold off on that until bottling time in maybe 6-9 months.

Meanwhile, I’m going to follow the old procedure of racking every 2 months or so, unless common wisdom has changed. What do you think?
Caesar M.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #19 on: February 28, 2011, 12:34:37 PM »
I’m amazed at how this is progressing. I started the fermentation on 2/12. Yesterday 2/27 I took the final of 3 gravity readings and fermentation has ceased. Original Gravity 1.11 & Final at 1.00. So, I racked to the secondary and put it away in a dark corner to sit for a bit. It is still a hazy golden color. I’ll look at it in a month or so to monitor how it is clearing.

It's quite interesting that the flavor is no way near the old rocket fuel taste of years gone by, just thinly winey and very much in need of adjustments with some tannins and acid. I’ll hold off on that until bottling time in maybe 6-9 months.

Meanwhile, I’m going to follow the old procedure of racking every 2 months or so, unless common wisdom has changed. What do you think?


sounds good! I am not sure about multiple racking. The thinking behind that is to avoid yeast eating yeast flavours. however, at least with beer, the current wisdom is that is not too much of a problem for a month or two. but I would imagine if you are going to bulk age for a year you would want to rack at least once to get it off any lees that settle in secondary.
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Offline cmuzz

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #20 on: April 25, 2011, 01:11:07 PM »
Wower! Racked again after 2 months. There was quite a bit of sediment and we are clearing nicely. Still a bit of a golden haze.

But the flavor is lovely. Not as full and round as I am used to, but I have not added the acids and tannins yet. However, I am very satisfied with the flavor and aroma.

I'll be patient and wait another month or so before splitting the batch and trying the additions. I feel the urge to get another batch going. I don't want to be without a bottle of this in my cellar. And I'm not good at laying down bottles for too long.

Thanks again for your input. To be continued...
Caesar M.

Offline punatic

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #21 on: April 25, 2011, 02:47:25 PM »
I suspect the "rocket fuel" flavors were acid additions related. 

A finished gravity of 1.000 is pretty dry.  Try back-sweetening a bottle or so of the mead with honey and see if that doesn't bump up the honey aromas and flavors a bit.  Keep track of the proportions you use when back-sweetening, so if you like it, you can scale it up to larger volumes.
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Offline cmuzz

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #22 on: April 26, 2011, 09:34:09 AM »
Quote
I suspect the "rocket fuel" flavors were acid additions related. 
I never thought of that. After a year or so of aging, that was totally gone and the flavors & aroma had no hint of it.

I do prefer a very dry mead, hence the low FG. But since I'm dividing this batch into gallons to test the additions, I might as well try the back sweetning on one.

Thanks.
Caesar M.

Offline cmuzz

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #23 on: June 14, 2011, 02:53:17 PM »
OK, decided that my old additions were what I wanted for final flavor. It just gave the roundness and mouthfeel that I remembered. Just toned it down a notch for the 5 gallon batch:
1.5 oz Tartaric
3.0 oz Malic
.8 oz Tannin

It is in the bottles, corked and resting.
Caesar M.

Offline Pawtucket Patriot

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #24 on: August 15, 2011, 09:46:54 AM »
OK, decided that my old additions were what I wanted for final flavor. It just gave the roundness and mouthfeel that I remembered. Just toned it down a notch for the 5 gallon batch:
1.5 oz Tartaric
3.0 oz Malic
.8 oz Tannin

It is in the bottles, corked and resting.


Adding these acids and the tannin is interesting to me. I've only made one mead, but I'm curious as to whether this is a common practice these days. I imagine you have a pretty well-tuned palate to be able to know what to add and how much.

After a year of aging, the dry mead I bottled yesterday still tastes like rocket fuel. I'm really hoping it mellows with age.
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Offline cmuzz

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #25 on: August 15, 2011, 01:34:00 PM »
I have spent a lot of time drinking and just know what pleases me. This batch was made with a whole different type of honey than what I was used to and fine tuning these flavors has been a challenge. But that just means that I need to make more. ;D

Pawtucket Patriot, Post your recipe and maybe we can add some insight on your experience.

Caesar M.

Offline Pawtucket Patriot

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #26 on: August 15, 2011, 07:10:15 PM »
My 5 gallon recipe was as follows:

O.G. 1.104, F.G. 1.000, ABV 13.9%
14 lbs clover honey
2 x 5g sachets of Lavlin D-47 (I now realize that this was probably overkill on the yeast)

I heated 2 gallons of water to 115F and added it to my bucket fermentor.  Then, I added the honey and two more gallons of water and mixed in 4.5g each of Fermaid-K and DAP.  I rehydrated the yeast in 104F water, along with 10g Go-Ferm.  After proofing for 1.5 hours (I realize I should have only let it proof for 15-30 minutes), I pitched the yeast to 80 degree must.

24 hours after pitching, fermentation temp was 75.  At this point, I added 2.8g each Fermaid-K and DAP.

48 hours after pitching, fermentation temp was 75.  I added 1.8g each Fermaid-K and DAP.

14 days after pitching, the mead hit terminal gravity.

I know I fermented this strain too high.  If I use it again, I'll ferment closer to 65.  I think I'll probably experiment with backsweetening meads that finish this dry. 

What's interesting about this mead is that the aroma is not solvent-like.  There is no acetone aroma or anything.  It's got a slight apple aroma with a light honey note.  But it tastes really hot.  I'm thinking this will decrease with age, but it may take several years.

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Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #27 on: August 15, 2011, 08:10:48 PM »
In a bone-dry mead, there's not much to balance the alcohol.  It does need to age out.  It takes a deft hand with the acidity as well, since alcohol + acidity will give it a real bite.

2 packets of yeast is not too much.  Fermenting cooler would help.  Try 71B sometime and see if you like it better than D-47.

Give the backsweetening a try on a small scale and see how it improves the drinkability.  But start cellaring what you've got.  How old is it now?  I don't normally even taste them until 6 months.  Of course, Curt's meads are gone by the time they're 6 months old, so there are a lot of differences in approach.
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Offline Pawtucket Patriot

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #28 on: August 16, 2011, 05:02:10 AM »
In a bone-dry mead, there's not much to balance the alcohol.  It does need to age out.  It takes a deft hand with the acidity as well, since alcohol + acidity will give it a real bite.

2 packets of yeast is not too much.  Fermenting cooler would help.  Try 71B sometime and see if you like it better than D-47.

Give the backsweetening a try on a small scale and see how it improves the drinkability.  But start cellaring what you've got.  How old is it now?  I don't normally even taste them until 6 months.  Of course, Curt's meads are gone by the time they're 6 months old, so there are a lot of differences in approach.

Gordon, thanks for the reply.  The mead is just a little over a year old now.  It was brewed in July 2010.

I read (somewhere -- I thought it was a reputable source) that the dry yeast pitching rate for mead is 1g/gal, which is why I thought pitching 10g to 5 gallons was overkill.  Is there a more preferable pitching rate out there?

I'm going to use 71B for my next mead, which will be a semi-sweet mead made from orange blossom honey.  I'll basically be following the same no-heat procedure as is outlined in the BJCP mead study guide.  Is this Curt's method?
« Last Edit: August 16, 2011, 05:03:46 AM by Pawtucket Patriot »
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Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #29 on: August 16, 2011, 06:06:20 PM »
Curt's method, my method, Steve Fletty's method, Thomas Eibner's method, ...  Probably a dozen or so NHC mead medals there. But we all got it from Ken Schramm. It's all his research.
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