• PATRONS: Did you know we've a chat function for you now? Look to the bottom of the screen, you can chat, set up rooms, talk to each other individually or in groups! Click 'Chat' at the right side of the chat window to open the chat up.
  • Love Gotmead and want to see it grow? Then consider supporting the site and becoming a Patron! If you're logged in, click on your username to the right of the menu to see how as little as $30/year can get you access to the patron areas and the patron Facebook group and to support Gotmead!
  • We now have a Patron-exclusive Facebook group! Patrons my join at The Gotmead Patron Group. You MUST answer the questions, providing your Patron membership, when you request to join so I can verify your Patron membership. If the questions aren't answered, the request will be turned down.

Is my first attempt still viable ?

African Bronze Honey - 50% off for GotMead members
Etowah Meadery - Drink Unique

Andyox

NewBee
Registered Member
Mar 10, 2012
34
0
0
Oxfordshire, UK
Hi,
*I'm new to home brewing and too Mead, so I thought I would post a few questions about my first Mead batch, I was expecting from my searching a more vigorous bubbling mixture..

First of all, recipe and what'll have done so far :
* Honey: 2 kilos (4 lbs) - waitrose jar honey
* Juice from one Orange
*Juice from one Lemon
* 4.5 litres (1 gallon water)
* 1 level teaspoon of *youngs pectolase in 1/2 a cup of lukewarm water
* 4 level teaspoons of Tron O Zymol yeast nutrient and energiser salts
* 1 sachet champagne yeast

9 March 2012
* Cleaned everything with boiling water and rinsed*
* Sterilised with VWP the rinsed in cold water 5 times

* Brought water to simmer in large deep pan
* Added 2 kilos of honey
* Kept at simmering point for 20 minutes, while skimming frothy stuff off the top and stirring
* Poured mixture into 5 litre fermenting bucket
*Loosely laid lid on top of bucket to allow to cool
* 4 hours later, took temperature having cleaned and sterilised thermometer : 31 degrees centigrade*
* Added yeast into jug of boiled water that had cooled down to 30 degrees
Waited 15 minutes stirring yeast
Added yeast,fruit juices, pectin enzyme and nutrient into bucket mixture
Poured boiling water over metal spoon and used spoon to stir mixture
Place hydrometer Into bucket, reading was 1.121
Replaced lid loosely

Observed small bubbles over surface of liquid in bucket

10 March 2012
* had a look in bucket - a few bubbles *bubbling nothing vigorous , no froth

My questions:
* I should I be seeing a lot of bubbling and frothing more than the limited small bubbles I am seeing ?
* How long should I wait until I move the mixture into a glass demijohn with airlock ?
* How frequently should I use the hydrometer
* Can I pour boiling water over the hydrometer instead of boiling and sterilising each time i use it ?
Do indeed to stir the mixture or just wiggle the bucket or demijohn ?

Thanks for any pointers

Andy
 

mmclean

NewBee
Registered Member
Jul 22, 2010
1,128
1
0
Tennessee Valley
Hello Andyox,

Welcome to GOTMEAD?

I will put a hand to some of your questions, but some I will leave the rest to someone more familiar to your local.

First I would recommend you read through the newbee guide. You can find it in the tool bar to your left. Lots of updated infomation.

Your recipe seems to be guite old. Some of the changes we have made to meadcrafting in the last 30-40 years have vastly inproved our mead and the craft.

First, most of us don't cook our honey. We can debate if it helps or hurts the mead, but I think we all agree that it isn't necessary.

The lemon juice is to add acid for taste. Most of the time your mead will not need any acid added, and if it does, add it at the end of fermatation, and only as needed for taste.

Up front acid can stress and stall your yeast. This is most likely why you are not getting a strong ferment. Can you test your pH? Yeast are happy around 3.4.

I will rack when the ferment is almost over, but no more than 3 weeks on gross lees.

You should introduce oxygen once or twice a day,up to the 1/3 surar break.
 

Riverat

Premium Patron
Premium Patron
Do take the time to study the "Newbee Guide" the link is to the left here and it is very imformative.

You won't see the activity level you find in beer, not a lot of bubbling or froth
Do get some air in your must by stirring / whisking at least once a day until the grav drops to 1.07 or so and get it under an airlock around 1.06 or so
I would have spread the nutrients out a few days over the fermentation and maybe less but I'm not familiar with that brand, but you should be fine.
 

fatbloke

good egg/snappy dresser.....
GotMead Patron
Hi,
-----%<-----
My questions:
* I should I be seeing a lot of bubbling and frothing more than the limited small bubbles I am seeing ?
* How long should I wait until I move the mixture into a glass demijohn with airlock ?
* How frequently should I use the hydrometer
* Can I pour boiling water over the hydrometer instead of boiling and sterilising each time i use it ?
Do indeed to stir the mixture or just wiggle the bucket or demijohn ?

Thanks for any pointers

Andy
Bubbles and froth ? Sometimes, sometimes not. You heated the honey/water, so probably not. A lot of batches will just look like there's small bubbles bursting on the surface, especially if it's supermarket honey, that will have been processed to hell and back and is blended for eating, not mead making, though it probably should be fine.

Moving the mix from a bucket to a DJ ? well that's subject to controversy, because if you move it while it's still fermenting, you can actually remove a lot of the yeast, which can give rise to a stuck ferment, or at least a slow down. I used to just mix it all into a DJ, add the nutrients etc and then just let it go, now I mix in a bucket, let it ferment dry, then rack it to a DJ, off the gross lees.

If you get into it big time, a bucket is handy as it's considerably easier to deal with fruit etc.

The hydrometer testing ? Well it depends on whether you want to follow the guidance and method of "SNA" (staggered nutrient addition) or not. Because presumably, you took a reading before pitching the yeast, so you know where you started ? The SNA method is to do with working out how much nutrients (the US members here term nutrient as DAP - diammonium phosphate, and energiser as the "tan powder" like nutrients - the most commonly mentioned here being Fermaid K, but Tronozymol is very similar i.e. it has the micro nutrients, vitamins, etc as well as some DAP), which are then halved in quantity, or smaller, depending on how many doses you want to use, but 2 is quite common. You'd then start the ferment (with the first half of the nutrients), but aerate/stir it at least once daily, checking the gravity as well, and when you get to the 1/3rd sugar break (if the start gravity was 1.100, then the 1/3rd point is obviously 1.066) you aerate and add the second half of the required nutrient, then air lock it off and let it finish. Some like to split the nutrients down to smaller doses, and aerate down to the 1/2 break. I just do the former, which seems to work out fine.

As for the hygiene regime, well while we don't have to be quite so obsessive as the beer makers tend to be, it's good practice to use hot water (doesn't have to be boiling, actually it's safer not to be as the heat shock of boiling water onto glass can crack/shatter the DJ), using a bottle brush to make sure it's clean inside, then mix up the VWP and treat it with that according to the instructions (haven't used it, I do the main cleaing with Ritchies Cleaning stuff, but I have to double check the rinsing as it's bleach based and bleach can take a lot of rinsing - then I just using 5 crushed campden tablets mixed into a pint of water, with 1 teaspoon of citric acid. Which is kept in a spray. I just wash and rinse, then spray with the campden/citric mix and let it have 3 or 4 minutes contact time, before emptying out any excess, then do the mixing or whatever.

Your stirring or just wiggle the bucket/DJ question ? Well, again, if it's being aerated, I reckon stirring or at least something to get some air/bubbles into the mix. If you're just trying to keep as much yeast and other sediment in suspension, then just swirling the fermenter should be Ok.

The 2 points that jumped out to me in your original post, is that you heated the must - which is old technique. Plus you used champagne yeast, which is often what's suggested by home brew shops who know little or nothing of mead making. The heating will remove a lot of the aromatics and possibly some of the more subtle flavouring elements that the honey may contain (more important with expensive varietal honey, and/or raw honey if you can find it). Champagne yeast does similar but when it's fermenting. It's not to say that it's bad to use, but there's better yeasts out there, whether they're available in your local HBS or whether you end up mail ordering.

Your meads will only be as good as the quality and flavour of your honey, which is why it's often better to have a dig around locally to see if you can track down any bee keepers etc. Raw honey is best as even with bits of comb and other hive debris in it, it's less processed and more likely to have nicer aromas, flavours etc than the majority of the super market stuff. Even stuff like Rowse brand varietals would be better, but processed for consistency and of course, more expensive.

http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=108&Itemid=14 is the link to the gotmead "NewBee guide" (linked in the yellow box to the left as well). It's worth the read.

Your biggest thing will be learning the patience that mead making requires. It can be relatively easy and simple, but once it's cleared and finished, it often tastes bloody horrible and requires ageing, often for 6 months to a year, or more. The transformation is amazing. Plus if you find somewhere locally that sells meads, they're likely to be "dessert mead" type and very, very sweet.

My blog has some UK based links for supplies etc (as well as others that I use in the US). I get my lalvin yeasts mail order, as well as stuff like GoFerm rehydration nutrient (which is different from the likes of FermaidK, tronozymol, etc) and Fermaid K. The GoFerm and FermaidK come from a seller on Ebay, but is still in the US. I've yet to find anyone who sells it here.....
 

Andyox

NewBee
Registered Member
Mar 10, 2012
34
0
0
Oxfordshire, UK
Hi,
Thanks for all your replies, I shall go throught the Newbee section.

I think it is an old recipe as you have suggested - I bought First Steps in Winemaking by CJJ Berry, quite an old book and got the Mead recipe there - the only book in the home brew store that had Mead in the index :)

The Homebrew store I was in didn't know a lot about Mead tbh, so they suggested the champage yeast.

Having had a quick look at the Newbee section I see there are a lot of yeast types, yikes !

The bucket is bubbling away now, lots of tiny little bubbles :)

I will look for some ph strips and try and find a UK supplier of some of the materials I have seen listed in the newbee section - guessing import tax is pretty hefty

Thanks for all the info, now to go reading the Newbee section some more as the kids are off-loaded to the grandparents for the day :)

Cheers

Andy
 

Chevette Girl

All around BAD EXAMPLE
Moderator
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Apr 27, 2010
8,398
18
0
Ottawa, ON
Welcome to the forum, Andyox!

There's nothing strictly wrong with using champagne yeast, especially on a first try, and if it's a relatively slow ferment as meads sometimes are, there's a chance it'll retain more of the flavours and aromas that champagne yeasts are known to blow off. I've used champagne yeasts for years and been quite happy with the results and it's only by comparing batches that are identical except for the yeast that I can pick out any difference...

And when you do aerate your mead you may well find that it does get pretty fizzy after all! :)
 

Andyox

NewBee
Registered Member
Mar 10, 2012
34
0
0
Oxfordshire, UK
Hi Chevette Girl,

Thanks for you reply.

BTW - checked my yeast - I used "Gervin Varietal C Yeast (GV10) to 5 gal" which the HB shop said was champagne yeast. I used the whole sachet, hope that wasnt too much, my bucket is 5 litres max, which is about 1 gallon, eek!

Yep, gave it a little stir this morning, and it got all fizzy - the small bubbles that fatbloke mentioned, as I got the honey from the supermarket :)

I had a sly sniff of the smell too, wow, makes your eyes water.

Day 3 now, be good to de-bucket and put into a demijohn with an airlock so that I can move it all into the garage and not worry about burping the bucket.

Perhaps next weekend I should get a bucket with a hole for an airlock so that I don't need to worry about active dissasembly of the bucket due to gas build up if I don't 'burp' it one day :) (My wife has requested a cherry brandy tasting Mead, hence the planned bucket purchasing excursion next weekend - sheesh, this is my first mead and first brewing, I think she has high hopes :p )

I hope I can wrap the demijohns with airlocks in a towel later on in the year when winter approaches- my plan was to leave them in the garage until bottling time (not got to that section in the newbee guide yet) and then pop them in the wine racks in the garage - but the temperature can go up and down a bit here (UK random weather), so a little unsure about the garage side of things.

I wonder how many people get their hydrometers stuck in the demijohn, hmm, I guess that is a benefit for leaving things in a bucket for a bit ?

Right, back to reading.

Cheers

Andy
 
Last edited:

fatbloke

good egg/snappy dresser.....
GotMead Patron
You may find that the garage, in late Autumn, Winter and early Spring might be a little too cold, with either very slow or non-existent fermentation.

About 18 to 20 C seems to be the best level. Yet unless you can get a brew belt with adjustable temp range (only ones I've seen seem to be set/fixed at 24C), then maybe the old "under the stairs" trick might have to be brought into play......

As for having your bucket sealed and having to "burp" it ? A lot of people will only have the bucket covered with some muslin/cheese cloth type material. Whereas, you could equally get away with caterers cling wrap (wide enough to cover the bucket and down the sides a little) and larger elastic bands. Any pressure build up will find it's way out, and the batch is still covered from dust and other undesirables, but can still retain enough of a protective blanket of CO2.

Extra DJ's ? Probably ebay for the cheapest, but you will probably have to watch out for someone close enough to drive it, as most seem to be sold on a "collect only" basis - but also car boot sales, charity shops and freecycle etc. Better than paying 6 or 7 quid for a new one.

Better bottles are fine for the fermenting part. Not sure whether I'd keep any in one for ageing though, prefer glass.
 

Chevette Girl

All around BAD EXAMPLE
Moderator
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Apr 27, 2010
8,398
18
0
Ottawa, ON
Hehe, hydrometer in the demijohn, huh? I've always been afraid of that happening so I will tie waxed (not minted) dental floss tightly a few times around the top, or once or twice I've used sanitized cotton string, if it weighs it down at all you can then do a check with water and just add the difference to what your must measured.
 

hepcat

NewBee
Registered Member
Feb 7, 2012
280
0
0
Central Florida
Hehe, hydrometer in the demijohn, huh? I've always been afraid of that happening so I will tie waxed (not minted) dental floss tightly a few times around the top, or once or twice I've used sanitized cotton string, if it weighs it down at all you can then do a check with water and just add the difference to what your must measured.
LOL, I've wondered if anybody does that. I just make a little extra must for testing/tasting and use a hydrometer test tube that I got at the local LHBS for a couple dollars. My LHBS has glass and plastic ones. I got the plastic one(cheaper). I clean it by wrapping a piece of an old t-shirt around a bottle brush so I don't scratch it up.cool:
 

Andyox

NewBee
Registered Member
Mar 10, 2012
34
0
0
Oxfordshire, UK
Hi,
Wow activity in the bucket !

I got back from work today,and there is a huge amount of foam all over the surface of the buckets contents.

So, days 1-3 were little bubbles and day 4 is foamtastic

Hmm scrape the foam and freeze it - Mead ice lolly :)

Andy
 

Chevette Girl

All around BAD EXAMPLE
Moderator
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Apr 27, 2010
8,398
18
0
Ottawa, ON
LOL, I've wondered if anybody does that.
My wine thief doesn't fit in my 1-gal batches so if I forget to divert a test-tube full when I rack for the first time, it's the safest way I've found to grab a reading... if it's topped right up and I'm sure it won't sink too far down for me to get it, I've put the sanitized hydrometer right into the carboy with my sanitized fingers but usually I make sure there's a safety line of dental floss just in case, plus I do TRY to avoid sticking my fingers in my musts wherever possible...

And Andyox, sounds like things are going just fine! And a mead ice lolly might be good, there should still be significant sugar in the foam at this point ;D
 

TAKeyser

NewBee
Registered Member
Mar 4, 2012
1,228
3
0
47
Detroit, MI
I've always wondered why they don't make a wine thief that fits in the standard one gallon carboys, or at least I've never seen one.
 

Chevette Girl

All around BAD EXAMPLE
Moderator
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Apr 27, 2010
8,398
18
0
Ottawa, ON
I've always wondered why they don't make a wine thief that fits in the standard one gallon carboys, or at least I've never seen one.
<sigh> I do so hate using the turkey baster.

I suspect it's because if they made it any narrower you couldn't just plunk the hydrometer into the thief.
 

TAKeyser

NewBee
Registered Member
Mar 4, 2012
1,228
3
0
47
Detroit, MI
<sigh> I do so hate using the turkey baster.

I suspect it's because if they made it any narrower you couldn't just plunk the hydrometer into the thief.
I find the turkey baster to be a PITA.

Even if the Hydrometer didn't fit it could still be transferred into a Hydrometer tube, which would still be much easier than the turkey baster.
 

TAKeyser

NewBee
Registered Member
Mar 4, 2012
1,228
3
0
47
Detroit, MI
I just take a sample with a turkey baster to take a sample and put it into my test jar (cheap and plastic), test and return to the fermenter.

So far, no infections/contamination as I rinse and spray everything with sanitiser...
That's my method now, I just hate using the turkey baster it's a pain. I return the sample as well and I've never had an issue with doing it this way.
 
African Bronze Honey - 50% off for GotMead members
Etowah Meadery - Drink Unique