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Mead: The Odyssey

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OOC92

NewBee
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I really want to start making mead. I found a bare-bones recipe which looks like it was based on Joe's Mighty Orange Mead recipe. Here is the link:

Bare-Bones Recipe

My main question is can you use a water airlock on a regular every day jug?

Thanks

OOC92
 

wayneb

Lifetime Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Re: Poorman's Mead recipe?

"Regular every day" as in a plastic milk jug? Then no, unfortunately, since the neck is not stiff enough on most of those plastic milk jugs to form a good airtight seal with the stopper for the lock. Beware, you'll also get a lot of oxygen infiltration with one of those thin-walled plastic jugs, too, so they are good only for a short-term primary fermentation. Also be aware that the balloon method is not without pitfalls, since it tends to keep CO2 under pressure over your mead. Not a good thing long-term, as that can slow fermentation by stressing your yeast.

A one-gallon glass jug works wonderfully, though, for both fermentation and extended aging under a lock, when used with a properly sized stopper!
 

OOC92

NewBee
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Re: Poorman's Mead recipe?

Yeah it made me itch too, I found a place here in New Orleans called "Brew Ha Ha" that has beermaking supplies. You would think that this city was FILLED with them. If the inspiration is still with me tomorrow, Ill take a drive.

Thanks
 

OOC92

NewBee
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Re: Poorman's Mead recipe?

Alright, I cheated. I just had to know what everyone was talking about. Went to the mainstream wineshop and bought a bottle of what this forum appears to call 'honey flavored biological waste'. Yes, you guessed it, a bottle of Chaucer's mead. I was psyched, feeling very Beowulf, when suddenly I read the reviews here and there. I plan on drinking it at my local cigar shoppe with a good maduro to retreat to.

The good news is when I make my own, I can go nowhere but UP!
 

sandman

Premium Patron
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Feb 5, 2007
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Re: Poorman's Mead recipe?

Just don't use the spice bag that's usually included around the neck of the bottle. :icon_puke_r:
Chaucer's is drinkable, but one you start making your own you'll literally go without before buying it again. At least I won't...
 

OOC92

NewBee
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Re: Poorman's Mead recipe?

Well I have two problems with Chaucer:

1. So laced with honey that when I was done I felt as if I had lipstick on. It was caked ALL over my lips. They should have NOT added the secondary honey.

2. I am a rum drinker, straight or with diet coke, so the extra sugar knocked everyone at the cigar shoppe for a loop. The sugar crash was intense.

However, I hit a snag in my Mead Odyssey. The ONLY place in New Orleans to close down has turned out to be another victim of Katrina. I want to make a gallon but I lack the proper vessel and airlock; any suggestions where I can get them?

As a side note, my native cigar shoppe loved the taste and wants more. So now I am torn between making a 1 gallon experiment or investing in a 5 gallon project, an suggestions?
 

OOC92

NewBee
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Austin's is looking pretty good, but I will look thanks!

Alright apparently I have found backers who want me to do a 5 gallon mead. Now originally I was going to do Joe's Ancient Orange. Is it advisable for a unbelievable novice to start with a five gallons of mead rather than Joe's easy gallon?
 

sandman

Premium Patron
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2-4 months most likely. JAO is drinkable as soon as it clears, but aging definitely helps smooth it out and integrate the flavors better. It just gets better with age.

As far as scaling it goes, Go easy on scaling the bread yeast. In the 5 gallon batch I made I only used 1/2 of an extra portion of yeast and it came out just fine. You might also cut back a bit on the orange rinds. If you go with the full 5 oranges, you might consider peeling one or two of them to cut back on the pithiness a bit.

Hope that helps,
:cheers:
 

wayneb

Lifetime Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
'Quickly' in this case means usually very drinkable in about 90 days. Drinkable essentially as soon as it clears. It does tend to finish a bit too sweet for my taste, but it is invariably a crowd pleaser, since it is what mead is "expected" to be by those who haven't tasted much mead before. It will be sweet, but not as cloying as Chaucer's... :icon_puke_l: 17 lbs of honey is only a gallon and a half. ;D And this recipe doesn't need anything more fancy than the bulk clover honey that you can get from Costco or Sam's Club or a similar warehouse store. BTW, 5 oranges won't look like a whole lot once they're cut up and stuffed through the narrow end of your carboy -- but expect to have to clean up the outside of the glass once you're done with the stuffing.

BTW, I was only semi-serious with my comment about hefting the 5 gallon carboy. ;) I wouldn't advise "shaking" the whole thing to aerate it, unless you happen to be built like Arnold Schwarzenegger. But I would recommend thorough aeration at the start, because yeast need that hit of oxygen to really get going and to reproduce with flexible cell walls that support vigorous fermentation. For aerating large batches like this, if you can, mix up the honey and water in a large food grade bucket. Then whip the surface of the must with a santized wire whisk to expose as much of the must to air as possible. Then add the dry ingredients and the oranges to the carboy, and pour the aerated honey/water mixture into the carboy using a large sanitized funnel.

Note the use of "sanitized." Basically, sanitize everything that comes in contact with your must as you mix this all up.
 

OOC92

NewBee
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Jun 12, 2008
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Somewhere in between

Well it looks like I am going with this kit:

http://leeners.com/UBS-Equipment.html

But that changes by the minute. I was rather disappointed at the fact that it is not a classic 5 gallon carboy. But I guess I can make 3 gallons to start- cheaper too. Also the kit comes with 6 pounds of honey can you use different honeys- as in mix two different honeys together?
 

OOC92

NewBee
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Jun 12, 2008
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Ok new plan. I discussed it with the cigar mead hall and this is the conclusion we came to:

It seems that we do not want one giant vat of an experiment. Rather three simple recipes to try out in 3 carboys similiar to Jack's Ancient Orange in that they ferment in the prime carboy like JAO. And yes that is one gallon each.

1. Ancient Orange: 1 carboy, one stopper, one airlock.

2. A dry simple mead: 1 carboy, one stopper, one airlock.

3. A vanilla or chocolate mead: 1 carboy, one stopper, one airlock.

Suggestions: TWO other simple recipes to fill 2 & 3?

Thanks to the Hall!

PS: Am I over-complicating things?
 

OOC92

NewBee
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It has involved even more. Now the owner of the cigar shoppe by my house wants to actually do the mead experiment. We decided to turn into a friendly competition. We are both doing JAO and I am using local honey and he is doing generic store bought honey.

We are still just doing, carboys, stoppers, airlocks and a siphon. One question, after 2.5 months the mead is siphoned, is it drinkable? And must one wait for the oranges to drop?

Turns out this is fast becoming my mead log. Should it be moved? Given nothing has started YET- but oh it will!
 

Wolfie

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When you start a bona-fied brewlog I'd post to the brewlog sec, But don worry about it.

I recommend going with vanilla over chocolate, chocolate can be a tricky one and takes notoriously long to clear.
As for jugs 4 & 5 how about Joes Flash Pyment you could also try lemon melomel the dangerous cyser or the cinnful cyser (both apple cider based meads)
or you could of course make a simple chocolate mead ;) If you do I would look to find cocoa nibs at your health food store or on e-bay (youd be amazed at what you'll find on e-bay) ans skip the powder, it's clearing time is an epic I'm sure your not ready to tack on the beginning of your odyssey.

Best of luck!

[/wolfie]
 

OOC92

NewBee
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Jun 12, 2008
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Hate to disappoint, but I think we are going to start with a simple JAO. One carboy, but I am considering your vanilla option. You will have to excuse my trepidation, I have never fermented anything before and there is NO brew shop here.

I thought of doing the flash grape, but I wanted something that can be done in one vessel. Is the flash grape that hard to make... The instructions are a bit unclear. But I am willing.
 

wayneb

Lifetime Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Don't worry - we're not disappointed! ;D Seriously, you're just the beneficiary of the information overload that comes from asking a question on this forum! :laughing7: If we are overwhelming you with choices, please understand that it is just our collective enthusiasm as we all try to help.

BTW - I think that your decision to start with the Ancient Orange recipe is a good one, since most people who use that recipe are happy with it. Personally, I wouldn't do Joe's Pyment, especially if it is your first time, since in my experience it comes out rather too much like a bottle of MD Red Grape. I've made a version of it regularly years ago, and from time to time I make more, just to ensure that I have a source of red cooking mead around.
 
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