Author Topic: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years  (Read 4230 times)

Offline cmuzz

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Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« on: February 10, 2011, 07:55:14 AM »
Hello all. First post here. I started brewing mead in the late 80’s and have always been partial to a very dry finish with lots of honey nose. Got my first recipe from “Making Mead: A Complete Guide to the Making of Sweet and Dry Mead, Melomel, Metheglin, Hippocras, Pyment and Cyser by Acton. I made three 5 gallon batches and got very satisfactory results with the following cobbled together recipe:

1.75oz Tartaric
3.25oz Malic
.9oz Tannin
6 pinches Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salt)
15 milligrams B1
6 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Potassium Phosphate / Ammonium Phosphate)
Campden Tabs

15lbs Unfiltered Honey
Champaign Yeast
Water to 5.5 gallons

Mix honey with warm water & acids, tannin & nutrient. Add 2 campden tablets per gallon of must & wait 24-36 hours.
Pitch yeast & ferment for 30-45 days until dry. Temp range 70-75 degrees F.
Rack to 5 gallon carboy. Add 1 campden tablet per gallon. Top off and fit with airlock.
Rack again when heavy deposit forms or 3 months. Add 1 campden tablet per gallon.
Age 3-4 months, then Bottle & mature 1-3 years.

Of course I always had slow and unsteady fermentations, hence the 45 days in the primary. The 6-8 month tasting tasted like rocket fuel, but by the 1-2 year mark I consistently had a spectacular end product. But by the mid 90’s I switched solely to brewing beer because of the instant gratification.

Now I’m missing the taste of my old mead homebrew and have decided to jump back in. WOW! Has the world of mead making changed. It looks like I can rework my old recipe for a much more efficient product. So I need your help.

I picked up some Go-Ferm to help in yeast rehydration. I got Fermaid-K & DAP to take the place of the mag sulfate, B1 & Nutrient. I have studied the Staggered Nutrient Addition and am ready to rock.

Questions:
1) Some sources recommend adding the acids & tannin in the secondary or later. Good advice?
2) I have an air wand & oxygen tank that I use in aerating beer must before pitching yeast. Is that good practice here? Some sources say to do that with every addition of nutrients. Good Advice or just shake or stir each SNA?

Any other advice would be helpful.
Caesar M.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2011, 09:26:31 AM »
The last mead I made fermented out in just a couple of weeks from 1.110 down below 1.000 I added yeast nutrient (About 1 tsp), bee pollen, royal jelly, and propolis (Decontructed 'whole hive' mead). worked great dropped crystal clear after fermentation done. Racked and aged on oak spirals for a couiple of weeks and it is now in the bottle. Havn't tasted it yet. IN march it will be one year and then I can tell you how it actually came out.

Offline cmuzz

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2011, 09:53:57 AM »
I buy completely raw honey from a local bee keeper. Has what he call "unavoidable bee parts" in it. I thought of putting a bit of bee pollen in to suppliment the B vitamins. Roayal jelly sounds cool too.

Do you think all that is overkill?
Caesar M.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2011, 10:46:44 AM »
I buy completely raw honey from a local bee keeper. Has what he call "unavoidable bee parts" in it. I thought of putting a bit of bee pollen in to suppliment the B vitamins. Roayal jelly sounds cool too.

Do you think all that is overkill?

perhaps. It was at least in part a ceremony kind of thing. But as you said the pollen can add some nutrients and propolis is a mild antiseptic so it might help prevent unwanted organisms. Who knows what if anything the royal jelly adds. I got the idea from the Buhner book.

I like "unavoidable bee parts" I want to see that on the label of some raw honey!

Offline cmuzz

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2011, 10:53:55 AM »
http://store.swarmbustinhoney.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=SH&Category_Code=RAW

It is not on the label but on the top of the cap it says "Warning: Contains UBPs (Unavoidable Bee Parts)

Fun folks and I'm glad to have them within driving distance.
Caesar M.

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2011, 11:06:34 AM »
Great prices too, but not with shipping.  I might have to try to get some raw honey from my local apiary, I sometimes get bee parts but I think it's still filtered to some extent.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline cmuzz

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2011, 11:31:21 AM »
Yeah, I pass this place whenever we go to visit the inlaws. Found a bee nose in the latest gallon I bought.

Now that I'm re-reading the site, I think there is enough stuff in there that I won't need to add pollen or Royal Jelly.

What is the common wisdom on using campden tablets these days?
Caesar M.

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2011, 12:03:14 PM »
I don't use campden tablets and don't think they're needed, but feel free. :)
Tom Schmidlin

Offline cmuzz

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2011, 12:20:42 PM »
In the old days it was either boil and loose all that nose or sulfite. It is hard to let go of old paranoia's.

The more I read these days, the more I hear..."Trust the Force"! ;)

Any reason to think that because I'm using such a raw product that there are more chances of wee beasties that could take hold? I'd love not to have to wait that extra day before putting the yeasts in.
Caesar M.

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2011, 12:28:06 PM »
Well, I suppose when they heat it to filter it that could kill some critters, but I don't remember how warm it gets or where I read it.  I haven't used really raw honey like that either, but a strong pitch of yeast should be able to overcome most competing bugs.  Either way, you could try a small test ferment first
Tom Schmidlin

Offline cmuzz

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2011, 12:54:29 PM »
Tom,

Since we seem to be on a roll. What is your thoughts on the acids & tannins. Wait until secondary or add later?

What I'm reading indicates that it should not go in primary or it can overcompensate for acid balance and freak out the yeasts. But doesn't fermentation lower the acid in the must? Maybe at the last feeding of the SNA?

I'm starting to miss the old days when we just threw it all in at the start and left it up to the Gods of brewing.
Caesar M.

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2011, 12:57:45 PM »
I would make the adjustments in secondary (or later) and adjust to taste.  But that's me.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline zorch

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2011, 01:06:12 PM »
1) Some sources recommend adding the acids & tannin in the secondary or later. Good advice?

That's the approach I've taken.   For one, it seems a good idea to not drop the pH of the must too far before your yeast have had a chance to get established.  The pH is going to drop considerably during fermentation anyway, but that's after things are chugging along.

But mostly, since these are essentially 'seasoning' ingredients, I like to wait until the last minute.   I don't add any tannin or acids until I'm getting ready to bottle the batch.  I then will draw a small sample (like 100 ml), and mix in very small amounts of acid until it seems right to me, then scale it up.   It helps to have a scale with at least a  +- 0.1g accuracy for this.   


2) I have an air wand & oxygen tank that I use in aerating beer must before pitching yeast. Is that good practice here? Some sources say to do that with every addition of nutrients. Good Advice or just shake or stir each SNA?

My last batch, I aerated with O2 after every nutrient addition, and had good results.  The bigger issue is avoiding a huge foam-out when you drop in your nutrients - All that powdery stuff creates a ton of nucleation sites for the dissolved CO2 to come out of solution.    I used my Mix-Stir at low speed to de-gas before I added the nutrients, and it seemed to work good.    I suppose you could skip the O2 step and just run the Mix-Stir for a minute or two to drive off CO2 and aerate in one step ( it only takes about 20 seconds to de-gas otherwise).  I haven't tired that... I know using pure O2 worked well the last time, so that's probably what I will do the next time.

Offline cmuzz

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2011, 01:13:39 PM »
Thanks guys. Lots of food for thought here. I'm thinking now that after secondary, I'll go into five 1 gallon jugs and experiment in each.

This sure has been worth the price of admission. :)
Caesar M.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2011, 01:50:34 PM »
In the old days it was either boil and loose all that nose or sulfite. It is hard to let go of old paranoia's.

The more I read these days, the more I hear..."Trust the Force"! ;)

Any reason to think that because I'm using such a raw product that there are more chances of wee beasties that could take hold? I'd love not to have to wait that extra day before putting the yeasts in.

I'm not sure if raw vs filtered makes a difference in risk of infection but I do know that honey is really unhospitable to all microorganisms until it is diluted. There is a small percentage of hydrogen peroxide (HO? H2O2?) in honey produced by the bees to help prevent infection. I think alot of folks these days don't boil or sufite. just warm the honey enough to poor.