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Blueberry Melomel

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jrigal

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Sep 27, 2005
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Got a newbie question. Well, it's more of a recipe check. This is my first attempt at making mead, and I'm going to try a blueberry version. I was going to use the Blue Heaven recipe on this site, but it's tough for an amateur to follow. So, I recruited my father, who makes wine, and we revised it. I want this to be sweet mead, but I don't want to end up with kool-aid. I have a few questions.

First, my tentative plans are to use 10 lbs of clover honey and one can of Oregon Blueberry Puree to make 3 gallons. I want a nice balance of the honey and the blueberries. Any adjustments?

Second, tannins and acids, are they necessary? Do I need them to keep it from being too sweet? If so, how much is recommended? At first I was thinking of using 1/2 a lemon or an acid blend, and chamomile tea for the tannin. Now I'm thinking of leaving all this out. Any thoughts?
 

WRATHWILDE

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Welcome to the forum!

You can leave out the lemon & tea. If you want more of the blueberry flavor to come through, add them in the secondary. Hope that Helps.

Wrathwilde
 

Oskaar

Got Mead Partner
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Dec 26, 2004
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Welcome JR,

I'd take Wrath's advice and skip the lemon and tea up front. The fruit will give you your initial tannin content, as well as some acid.

What kind of mead do you want? Sweet, semi-sweet, semi-dry or dry? You'll need to factor the amount of honey against the type of yeast you're using in order to end up where you want to be.

You'll also need to burn some time reading up on the yeast you choose to use in order to ensure that you are giving it all the things it needs to grow up happy, heathy and industrious.

If you post up your full recipe with the type of yeast and how you will prepare the must, we can give you some opinions. Something that no one here is afraid to express! LOL

Cheers,

Oskaar
 

jrigal

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Sep 27, 2005
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I want to make a sweet mead. I'm used to the sweet commercial variety available at home. I'm also used to the sweet homemade wines made in this area and I would like to capture the best of both. Here's my recipe:

For 3 Gallons:

10 lbs honey
1 can blueberry puree
white labs liquid sweet mead yeast
2-3 gallons pure spring water
1 cup white grape juice
1 1/2 tsp tannin or 2 chamomile tea bags
1/3 lemon smushed or an acid blend

Twelve hours before:

Make a starter. Put grape juice in a sterile mason jar. Add a dash of lemon juice. Add yeast. Swirl to aerate. Cover lightly. Should be going after about five hours.

The must:

Heat one gallon of water to almost boiling. Remove from heat, add honey, and stir
until dissolved. Flash pastuerize by heating to 160F and hold there for 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to a simmer. Skim any scum that rises to the surface.

-Stir in the blueberry puree (and tea bags if using). Allow to simmer 5-10 minutes.
-Pour into fermenter through cheesecloth or a strainer.
-When the must cools to 70-75 degrees, add the yeast (which should be fermenting vigorously).
-Add the smushed lemon or an acid blend.
-Top with pure spring water to 3 gallons. Cover and install airlock.
-Rack every 4-6 weeks. Should be ready for bottling after 6 months. Age 6 months in the bottle.

That's it. As I am new to this, advice is defineately welcomed. Like I said before, looks like I'll be leaving out the acid and the tannin. The yeast is liquid already and says "pitchable" on the bottle. Do I need a starter? Or can I just pitch it just as it is into my cooled must? If I do need one, how does this starter sound?
 

zweitracht

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Oct 14, 2004
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jrigal said:
I want to make a sweet mead. I'm used to the sweet commercial variety available at home. I'm also used to the sweet homemade wines made in this area and I would like to capture the best of both. Here's my recipe:

For 3 Gallons:

10 lbs honey
1 can blueberry puree
white labs liquid sweet mead yeast
2-3 gallons pure spring water
1 cup white grape juice
1 1/2 tsp tannin or 2 chamomile tea bags
1/3 lemon smushed or an acid blend
The puree is canned, and the honey has been pasteurized,
so the only truly gaping contamination point would be the cup
of grape juice. For all I know, it was pasteurized too.
I wouldn't be too worried about a starter
for this one. That said, it is never, never wrong to make
a starter. Nothing like sending the beasties end already
foaming at the mouth!

You may also want to add some pectic enzyme to keep the
blueberries and grape juice from hazing up your finished
product. This works best when added at musting time.

-- Zw
 

jrigal

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Sep 27, 2005
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The more I read, I'm beginning to wonder about the white labs sweet mead yeast. I'm starting to think I should have just found some D-47. Any thoughts?
 

Oskaar

Got Mead Partner
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Dec 26, 2004
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I personally don't care for the White Labs sweet mead yeasts. On the other hand, I love their Ale yeasts!

Cheers,

Oskaar
 

Pewter_of_Deodar

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Sep 23, 2004
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Cedar Rapids, IA
jrigal said:
1 cup white grape juice
1 1/2 tsp tannin or 2 chamomile tea bags
1/3 lemon smushed or an acid blend
Just a few comments/questions...
1. What is the purpose of the grape juice?
2. You may not need the tannin because of using the puree.
3. You may not need the acid because of using the puree.

jrigal said:
-Stir in the blueberry puree (and tea bags if using). Allow to simmer 5-10 minutes.
-Pour into fermenter through cheesecloth or a strainer.
-Add the smushed lemon or an acid blend.
A few more comments/questions...
1. I wouldn't heat the fruit. At most put it in the carboy and pour the heated must onto it to cool.
2. I wouldn't strain the must until after the fermentation. A few minutes of simmering will not get everything that you want out of your puree. Straining will remove a lot of the puree before it has been utilized.
3. I added 1/2 cup of orange juice to my blueberry and blackberry wines I just started. It didn't need it and I won't do it next time. There is enough acid in the purees to make this unnecessary.

Best of luck,
Pewter
 

byathread

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Registered Member
Mar 8, 2005
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Boulder County, CO
I think you'll be okay with your recipe. But, here's what I would do:

1.) Skip the tannin and the acid (acid is best added post-fermentation anyway).
2.) Do not heat the must. I have had success with the no-heat method (and its just plain easy).
3.) Haven't used WL Sweet mead yeast, but I hear its a slow to get going. I'd make a starter with honey, water and a pinch of nutrient (usually to about 1/2 the gravity of the actual must).
4.) I'd use some nutrient (DAP, Fermaid K, yeast hulls, dried fruit - dr. blueberries perhaps)
5.) I'd also probably add the puree to the secondary to preserve more blueberry flavor

However you decide to go, please document it in the Brewlog section so we can all benefit from your experiences.

Best of luck!
Kirk
 

Brewbear

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Registered Member
May 10, 2005
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Just keep in mind that "sweet mead" on the label means absolutely zilch if you don't have enough fermentable sugars in the must to begin with.
http://www.gotmead.com/making-mead/mead-calculator.shtml
http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/strains.asp
The first link is to the mead calculator, you can figure out how much honey to use for a given batch. The second link is to a description of different yeasts. Depending on your yeast, its alcohol tolerance, you can tailor your must to ferment dry or sweet or in between.

Ted
 

jrigal

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Sep 27, 2005
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I used the mead calculator and this is what it gave me. I entered in 10 lbs honey, and I guessed the equivalent in pounds for thefor Oregon Puree to be about 5 lbs of blueberries. I set the target volume at 3.0 gallons. It showed a SG of 1.126 and a ABV of 17.09%. I'm new to this, so maybe someone could interpret this information (I tried the calculator help button, but the page is apparently down).

The sweet mead yeast I plan to use tolerates up to 15% alcohol.

All I have is plastic fermenter buckets (with lids and airlocks). Is this suitable? I know glass is suggested and if this all goes good, then I'll upgrade next time.

I reworked the recipe, taking out the acid and tannin. I think I'll add the blueberry to the secondary as well, but I don't want to overpower the honey. I also changed the starter to a honey/water mix. Do I still need the dash of lemon juice in the starter? Or is nutrient and/or energizer enough?
 

Oskaar

Got Mead Partner
Administrator
Dec 26, 2004
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In my experience it's been more effective to add acid toward the end if you need to balance the flavor.

I haven't found that adding acid up front really helps the overall ferment unless the combination of honey and fruit is deficient in acid, which melomels are generally not in my experience. In fact, adding acid can throw your pH too low and cause a sluggish or stuck fermentation.

Cheers,

Oskaar
 

WRATHWILDE

Lifetime Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Mar 19, 2005
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Dubuque, Iowa
www.zazzle.com
jrigal said:
All I have is plastic fermenter buckets (with lids and airlocks). Is this suitable? I know glass is suggested and if this all goes good, then I'll upgrade next time.
If you wait till you have a glass secondary to add the fruit you will also keep from staining your plastic primary... which is very possible with blueberry. Get yourself 2 glass carboys to rack into if possible... you will use them for years to come. ;D That way you can rack into a glass secondary for the fruit additions, and rack to glass again to age. Just my 2 cents.

Wrathwilde
 

scout

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Sep 4, 2005
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scoutbrewblog.blogspot.com
And if you decide that meadmaking is not for you, then the glass jugs work beautifully for bottling gallons of water in preparation for a hurricane, I can tell you from experience! *big grins*
 

jrigal

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Registered Member
Sep 27, 2005
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Thanks for the advice. I start tomorrow. I would like to add half the puree before and half after, but I don't think I want to risk all the sanitation issues trying to keep 1/2 a can of the puree. First timer here, you know. I got a few weeks to track down those glass carboys. Nobody here carries them, so looks like I'll be looking for the them online. There just so expensive to ship.
Here's the changed recipe:
For 3 Gallons:

10 lbs honey
1 can blueberry puree
white labs liquid sweet mead yeast
2-3 gallons pure spring water
yeast nutrient

Twelve hours before:

Make a starter. Mix honey and warm water in a sterile mason jar. Add yeast nutrient.
Add yeast. Swirl to aerate. Cover lightly. Should be going after about five hours. (Doing this because I'm not too sure about the sweet mead yeast, and I don't want any issues)

The must:

-Mix honey and water until dissolved in fermenter.
-Add the yeast (which should be fermenting vigorously).
-Top with pure spring water to 3 gallons. Cover and install airlock.
-After 4-6 weeks, rack into secondary containing the blueberry puree. Aerate.
-Bottle after clearing.

Scout, I see your from Houston. I feel your pain on that hurricane situation. I'm in north Louisiana. Great advice! ;D
 

scout

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Sep 4, 2005
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scoutbrewblog.blogspot.com
Northern Louisiana, eh? I feel your pain on receiving all the evacuees! :) I'm on the far west side of the city, so all in all it was a pretty disappointing storm for us - just lack of gas and groceries and a slew of problems selling/buying our house(s). We got less than an inch of rain that day, and very little break in the major heat wave we've been having. I had to go apologize to all my plants after telling them I wasn't watering them because of the deluge coming. *big grins*

We were very lucky weather-wise, and I know that, but ever since I played in the eye of Alicia when I was a little girl, I have had a fondness for hurricanes. :)
 

jrigal

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Sep 27, 2005
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Okay, so the must is set up. I actually decided to use campden tablets in the must to sterilize - being the first, I wanted to minimize my chances for messing it up. It sits waiting. At the same time, I made a starter consisting of about two parts must, one part spring water (to lower the gravity as suggested), 1/2 tsp nutrient, and 1/2 tsp energizer. I followed the directions on the yeast (white labs liquid sweet mead) and pitched it to the starter. Ten hours later, nothing is happening in the starter. I added a little more nutrient and 2 hours later, still nothing.

How long should I wait before I give up and pitch a pack of D-47 that I have on standby in the fridge?
 

intothefray

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Aug 11, 2005
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I believe if you use campden tablets to sanatize the must you need to let it sit 12-24 hours before adding the yeast. Otherwise the SO2 kills your yeasties.
 

jrigal

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Sep 27, 2005
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Yeah, I still haven't pitched the yeast/starter. I pulled it out before I added the campden tablets. I may have spoke to soon, it just started bubbling lightly in the starter jar. It's nothing like the D-47 yeast in the Cyser that I have going next to it. That stuff is foaming like a rabid dog. I capped the must after adding the campden tablets. Was I supposed to do that? I was worried about fruit flies. There's about 1/2 a bucket of head space in the fermenter. Will it still evaporate out after 24 hours?

So many newbie questions, I know, but hey gotta learn somewhere.
 
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