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Looking For Advice

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Ambaryerno

NewBee
Registered Member
Jan 9, 2016
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St. Louis, MO
dewyatt.net
I haven't decided 100% what I'll be using for spices, however I'm looking at ones that could have been available either natively or by trade in Migration/Saxon Britain. One I'm looking at is heather tips since I'm already using heather honey. Figured that would be a natural pairing, and might help restore some of the aroma and flavor of the honey if any is lost to boiling. I tried breaking up the step-feeding like this for a bit more control of the final sweetness, as suggested earlier in the thread.

Anyway, to revise:

1) Add 1/2 honey to the water. Boil 10mins if desired.
1A) If boiled cool.
2) Pour it into the carboy.
3) Let stand 24hrs.
4) Hydrate yeast per instructions.
5) Pitch yeast and aerate (aerate 2-3x daily)
6) Once fermentation begins add nutrients
7) At the first sugar break, add 1/2 the remaining honey along with final nutrients.
8) At the second sugar break add 1/2 the remaining honey.
9) Monitor fermentation. Continue adding 1/2 the remaining honey whenever fermentation slows until desired ABV reached or fermentation stops.
10) Rack to secondary fermenter.
11) Add spices.
12) Add honey to desired sweetness.
13) Add oak.
14) Age on oak for two weeks.
15) Test flavor, and if acceptable rack off oak. Otherwise continue aging, checking flavor every two weeks.
16) Bulk age two years total (including time on oak).
17) Bottle and enjoy.
 

Chevette Girl

All around BAD EXAMPLE
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Apr 27, 2010
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I have successfully gotten EC-1118 up to about 18% a few times but always with step-feeding. I know Oskaar doesn't like that it makes fusels but I've found EC-1118 just doesn't like a really high starting gravity the way something like 71B does. It takes its time, so in future batches always rack according to SG, not a given time interval.

As for the boil/no boil, try your own experiments on this with other honeys. I tried a side by side comparison myself some years back and they do taste different, although I'd be hard-pressed to tell you which one I like better. I mostly don't bother with the boiling because it's an unnecessary step. In ancient times you had to boil your water for sanitary reasons, we no longer need to do this.

Your revised list - step 3, wait 24 hours, why are you doing this?

I'd suggest
1) add honey to water (I'd suggest not exceeding 1.125 with EC-1118 ), boil if desired, cool
2) make yeast starter (using goferm if you can get it),
3) pitch, aerate well
4) add first dose of nutrients when you see signs of life

... I'm not sure about the rest of the steps, that might be too much honey to be adding too early. You might ask Oskaar what the best approach is to get a high-ABV sweet traditional, I just know what's worked for me has been starting conservative and then adding more honey later in the process, every time it goes below my minimum sugar threshhold, I add enough to boost it up to my maximum sugar threshhold (how sweet I could stand it) and that way I make sure that wherever it does finally stop, it's not going to be TOO sweet.

You might want to refine your techniques on a few batches with whatever honey you can get locally before you go in for another expensive batch.
 

Squatchy

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Nov 3, 2014
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Denver
I would add that you can't really know how long you will let your oak additions sit in your mead so putting a timeline on it isn't really appropriate. Same with your aging in bulk. You will learn that the mead will tell you it's timeline and not the other way around. Same for your racking schedule. It's my belief that all to often people on this forum rack too soon from primary to secondary. The reason is so it will hurry up and clear. In doing so they may very well be prolonging the overall finish time of their batch. I say this because if you let the yeast stay in suspension for a while once the fermentation begins to slow down the yeast will actually clean up the mess they made. What I mean is they will continue to remove undesirables. by doing this the time it takes to clear and to age out faults will be less by giving the yeast time to do that up front.

You will have to use your own discretion. Rough less versus fine lees are two different things. I'm sure even when talking about rough lees one can leave them in for a while with no ill effect providing you stir the must every day or two to keep everything in suspension rather than allowing everything to pile up on the bottom.
 

Ambaryerno

NewBee
Registered Member
Jan 9, 2016
41
0
0
St. Louis, MO
dewyatt.net
I have successfully gotten EC-1118 up to about 18% a few times but always with step-feeding. I know Oskaar doesn't like that it makes fusels but I've found EC-1118 just doesn't like a really high starting gravity the way something like 71B does. It takes its time, so in future batches always rack according to SG, not a given time interval.

As for the boil/no boil, try your own experiments on this with other honeys. I tried a side by side comparison myself some years back and they do taste different, although I'd be hard-pressed to tell you which one I like better. I mostly don't bother with the boiling because it's an unnecessary step. In ancient times you had to boil your water for sanitary reasons, we no longer need to do this.

Your revised list - step 3, wait 24 hours, why are you doing this?

I'd suggest
1) add honey to water (I'd suggest not exceeding 1.125 with EC-1118 ), boil if desired, cool
2) make yeast starter (using goferm if you can get it),
3) pitch, aerate well
4) add first dose of nutrients when you see signs of life

... I'm not sure about the rest of the steps, that might be too much honey to be adding too early. You might ask Oskaar what the best approach is to get a high-ABV sweet traditional, I just know what's worked for me has been starting conservative and then adding more honey later in the process, every time it goes below my minimum sugar threshhold, I add enough to boost it up to my maximum sugar threshhold (how sweet I could stand it) and that way I make sure that wherever it does finally stop, it's not going to be TOO sweet.

You might want to refine your techniques on a few batches with whatever honey you can get locally before you go in for another expensive batch.
Most of the guides I've read suggest to let it stand 24 hours after boiling before pitching the yeast, so that's why I included it here. I'll definitely consider trying a batch with something local first, although it won't be a good flavor match (though the heather tips might help that a bit).

@Squatchy

I wasn't going to only leave it on the oak 2 weeks. I'd keep it on there as long as long as I need to, I'm just writing in periodic taste-tests to figure out WHEN to remove it from the oak. Also, on this one I would leave it in the primary until fermentation actually stops entirely, even after adding more honey.
 

zpeckler

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Mar 7, 2014
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Newark, De
Most of the guides I've read suggest to let it stand 24 hours after boiling before pitching the yeast, so that's why I included it here.
Resting 24hrs is only necessary if you add sulfite to your must. Otherwise it just provides an opportunity for spoilage organisms to gain a foothold.
 

Farmboyc

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Sep 2, 2015
384
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Most of the guides I've read suggest to let it stand 24 hours after boiling before pitching the yeast, so that's why I included it here.
I think this is likely suggested with the boil method. It is a way to make sure the must had cooled enough to avoid thermal shock of your yeast.

Just make sure that when you pitch your yeast there is no more than a 10 C temperature difference between yeast slurry and must. Less difference is better.

The sooner you get your yeast in the less likely you are to have wild yeasts in the fermentation.
 

Ambaryerno

NewBee
Registered Member
Jan 9, 2016
41
0
0
St. Louis, MO
dewyatt.net
Ok, so:

1) Add 1/2 honey to the water. Boil 10mins if desired.
1A) If boiled cool.
2) Pour it into the carboy.
3) Hydrate yeast per instructions.
4) Pitch yeast and aerate (aerate 2-3x daily)
5) Once fermentation begins add nutrients
6) At the first sugar break, add 1/2 the remaining honey along with final nutrients.
7) At the second sugar break add 1/2 the remaining honey.
8) Monitor fermentation. Continue adding 1/2 the remaining honey whenever fermentation slows until desired ABV reached or fermentation stops.
9) Rack to secondary fermenter.
10) Add spices, honey to desired sweetness, and oak.
11) Bulk age on oak, tasting periodically.
12) Once level of oak acceptable rack off. Remove spice bag when desired flavor reached.
13) Continue bulk aging.
14) Bottle once bulk aging complete.

I haven't changed any of my step-feeding notes yet, pending more information.
 

Squatchy

Lifetime GotMead Patron
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Nov 3, 2014
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Denver
Where I'm from if you divide something into half that equates to two :) You have 3 halfs LOL

The idea is to add your honey, but not in such large doses so that you don't push your gravity back up over 1120 or so. That way you are not putting too much osmotic pressure on your yeast. I personally like to add what I think I need to make ABV% tolerance early on in the fermentation rather than making them work so hard when they are tired and worn out at the end of their life. Can't prove it, but I believe, it makes a difference in the ageing process.
 

Ambaryerno

NewBee
Registered Member
Jan 9, 2016
41
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0
St. Louis, MO
dewyatt.net
I think you're missing what I'm saying. Each time I'm adding honey, I'm using half of what's remaining.

So I add half my starting amount of honey (3.5lbs if I start with 7lbs) to create the must. Then at the first break I'm adding 1.75lbs. Then 14oz at the second break, etc. The idea is feeding more honey in, but in diminishing amounts to both not overwhelm the yeast, while also better controlling the final gravity.
 

Stasis

NewBee
Registered Member
Jan 10, 2014
1,123
9
0
Malta
I personally like to add what I think I need to make ABV% tolerance early on in the fermentation rather than making them work so hard when they are tired and worn out at the end of their life. Can't prove it, but I believe, it makes a difference in the ageing process.
I think this might be what Oskaar meant when he said that step feeding creates fusels. While some step feeding towards the end is inevitable, *maybe* the best approach is to add as much honey as you dare to risk (and is healthy for the yeast) during early and mid-fermentation
 

Chevette Girl

All around BAD EXAMPLE
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Ottawa, ON
I think this might be what Oskaar meant when he said that step feeding creates fusels. While some step feeding towards the end is inevitable, *maybe* the best approach is to add as much honey as you dare to risk (and is healthy for the yeast) during early and mid-fermentation
This is what I recall Oskaar saying, I just haven't done a step-fed batch since I heard that, and personally, I'd rather have some fusels to age out than have it stick too sweet, and it's nice to think the yeast knows when it will poop out but experience tells me they don't read their own labels :)

But if anyone ever finds themselves wondering whether to follow what Oskaar says or what I say, go with Oskaar. I probably would :D
 

Ambaryerno

NewBee
Registered Member
Jan 9, 2016
41
0
0
St. Louis, MO
dewyatt.net
This is what I recall Oskaar saying, I just haven't done a step-fed batch since I heard that, and personally, I'd rather have some fusels to age out than have it stick too sweet, and it's nice to think the yeast knows when it will poop out but experience tells me they don't read their own labels :)

But if anyone ever finds themselves wondering whether to follow what Oskaar says or what I say, go with Oskaar. I probably would :D
Incidentally, is there a converter that calculates how much water to use to get a target volume of must with a given amount of honey? Or is it one of those things I'll just have to convert manually?
 

Mazer828

NewBee
Registered Member
Sep 9, 2015
791
4
0
Inland Empire
If you want to go by pounds of honey, 12 pounds of honey is about a gallon. So then you would take the number of pounds of honey you have subtract that from a gallon and then you have the remaining volume of your must. You can do the same thing if you're adding honey to reach a certain target gravity, if you measure the volume of your honey prior to adding it and what's left in your honey container after you've added your honey. For example if you were adding 15 pounds of honey, that would be one and one quarter gallons. So for a 5 gallon batch you would have three and three quarters gallons of water.
 

Ambaryerno

NewBee
Registered Member
Jan 9, 2016
41
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0
St. Louis, MO
dewyatt.net
Ok, so I have to calculate the volumes manually.

To check my math, *IF* I end up using the full 7lbs of honey, (~.58gal) I'd need .42 gallons of water for my final volume.

Now if I'm step feeding, if I use the calculator on the site to determine my starting gravity I'd need to set my volume as starting honey volume + .42gal. Using the figures I've given in my process would be:

1/2 of target honey = 3.5lb honey = .29gal

.29gal honey + .42gal water = .71gal starting volume.

Using the calculator on the site, this would give me a starting gravity of 1.177, which would much too high.

I'd actually want to start at 2lbs of honey, which would give me .59gal starting volume for the must. This would yield a starting gravity of 1.122. It COULD go higher for starting gravity, but targeting this would give some tolerance. Also, as I calculate how much honey to add while step-feeding, I need to increase my volume along with it.

Sound about right?
 

Farmboyc

NewBee
Registered Member
Sep 2, 2015
384
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0
Ok fair enough. I guess you would need a specific gravity of your honey and work it out from there.

I would just use a large glass sterilized measuring cup but I'm not into the whiz bang math stuff for my hobbies.
 
African Bronze Honey - 50% off for GotMead members