Mead: What now?

For those making mead and related drinks
DaveyT
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Mead: What now?

Post by DaveyT » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:56 pm

Hello
On New Year's Eve I made a batch of the ancient spiced mead as per the recipe on the other thread. I used baker's yeast with 1.2 kg of honey in ~4.5 l of water. I didn't take a gravity reading when I made it for various reasons. I've also added other spices. It fermented very actively for at least three weeks.
What shall I do now? It's still sitting in it's water bottle demijohn and the fruit is still clinging to the surface of the liquid. I added some saffron a few weeks ago and gave it a slight stir and lots of years fell off the orange segments making heed the warning that I ought to wait until the fruit drops.
Can the mead take being in the primary FV for any longer? It's been more than sixty days!
It smells great so I don't think anything bad has happened yet.

Atb
David
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Cpt.Frederickson
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Re: Mead: What now?

Post by Cpt.Frederickson » Sat Mar 09, 2013 12:16 am

Should be fine mate. You might consider taking a gravity reading to get an idea of how much unfermented sugar is left, then checking back and repeating after a week or so. Then you'll have a good idea where the ferment is, and whether to rack or not.
The Hand of Doom Brewery and Meadery
Fermenting -
Conditioning - Meads - Raspberry Melomel yeast test, Vanilla Cinnamon Metheglyn, Orange Melomel.
Drinking - Youngs AAA Kit; Leatherwood Traditional Mead, Cyser, Ginger Metheglyn.
Planning - Some kits until I can get back to AG, then a hoppy porter, Jim's ESB, some American Red.

DaveyT
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Re: Mead: What now?

Post by DaveyT » Sat Mar 09, 2013 10:34 pm

Thanks for the reply.
Would there be any danger leaving it until the fruit falls? I'm reluctant to ake a gravity reading as I'd have to siphon it out. Having said that, there's probably enough alcohol in there to sterilize an operating theatre let alone my tinkering.
How long do you usually leave yours?
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Re: Mead: What now?

Post by Cpt.Frederickson » Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:20 am

Providing you sanitise your equipment well you should be fine, I take regular gravity readings and haven't had a problem so far. I'd be inclined not to leave it too long just in case you get off flavours from the yeast autolysing.
I usually rack to secondary once the fermentation is pretty much over (anything from a week to three weeks, for me) then rack again once it has cleared sufficiently. By that point it can sit for a while to age and drop out any remaining matter. If its troublesome, I'll fine it in secondary or tertiary before racking. Lastly, bulk age.
The Hand of Doom Brewery and Meadery
Fermenting -
Conditioning - Meads - Raspberry Melomel yeast test, Vanilla Cinnamon Metheglyn, Orange Melomel.
Drinking - Youngs AAA Kit; Leatherwood Traditional Mead, Cyser, Ginger Metheglyn.
Planning - Some kits until I can get back to AG, then a hoppy porter, Jim's ESB, some American Red.

DaveyT
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Posts: 525
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Re: Mead: What now?

Post by DaveyT » Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:54 am

Do you think I could put it into a plastic bottle the same size as the one it's in to age it, then bottle it from that in a month or two? Or would the plastic prove unsuitable making bottling it now be better?
Summer's around the corner here so my flat is going to be around 24C most days until October. I could put it into a plastic bottle then find somewhere cooler at the in-law's place. Or glass bottles, of course.
Apologies for all the questions, but one more thing: Can I use the caronation calculators I use for my beers or would I need something else?
Again, apologies for the questions: this is my first mead so I'm a bit green. It's smells awesome.
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Re: Mead: What now?

Post by Cpt.Frederickson » Sun Mar 10, 2013 11:44 am

No dramas Davey, mead is a very different beast to beers and it takes a while to get your head around some of the stuff. Personally I wouldn't bottle for some time, particularly if your flat gets pretty warm.
I've never made a JAOM (Joe's Ancient Orange spiced Mead, which this is) so have always used wine yeast rather than bread. Aside from that, I am aware of a few 'rules'; follow the recipe EXACTLY; it should finish sweet, making it drinkable earlier than other meads.
This second part is why I urge the gravity reading. If you get consistent readings spread out over more than a week (say, gravity readings every two or three days) then you can be pretty sure its finished.
As to bottling, here's where it can get tricky, hence my recommending a long term secondary/tertiary. If you bottle too early, a few things can happen; off flavours and spontaneous fermentation, leading to bottle bombs. And as your temps are set to increase in your flat, this is a real risk.
You can use plastic for secondary, but getting some proper glass demijohns would be a good idea.
If I were you you I would rack now to a secondary (plastic or glass) and leave until all remaining sediment has dropped (cold crashing for about a week can help here) then rack the clear mead to a third bottle. Bulk age for a month or more and then bottle away.
Lastly, to carbonation. This can be extremely difficult with mead, due to the nature of sugars in your honey. That is, they are all fermentable (pretty much) so it is quite common (with wine yeast, at least) to get final gravity readings of 0.992 etc. With beer, this just doesn't happen, there are too many unfermentables in there to get it below 1.000. Personally, I've yet to attempt carbonation due to the risks and the lack of appropriate equipment. Those who do try, often use 'method champenoise', but thats pretty damn complicated. Others will keg it and force carb, but you need a lot of kit for that. I'd say keep it still and enjoy yourself, rather than end up in A&E!

Check out the NewBee Guide on Gotmead, this site is full of info and is extremely useful in learning mead making techniques. Plus, there are hundreds of threads about JAOM in particular on their forum. Joe Mattioli, the guy who created the recipe is a member.

Hope all thats been of some use to you mate
The Hand of Doom Brewery and Meadery
Fermenting -
Conditioning - Meads - Raspberry Melomel yeast test, Vanilla Cinnamon Metheglyn, Orange Melomel.
Drinking - Youngs AAA Kit; Leatherwood Traditional Mead, Cyser, Ginger Metheglyn.
Planning - Some kits until I can get back to AG, then a hoppy porter, Jim's ESB, some American Red.

DaveyT
Lost in an Alcoholic Haze
Posts: 525
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Re: Mead: What now?

Post by DaveyT » Sun Mar 10, 2013 2:52 pm

Excellent post! Thanks a lot for all that. Everything's a lot clearer now. I'll rack the mead into a secondary bottle then let it settle out for a bit before racking it again and bottling later still.
I'll try and get a photo or two up but my time's a bit scarce. I was meant to bottle some beer last night but our daughter's stomach bug had other ideas.
Again, thanks; most informative and most appreciated.

David
Evolution didn't end with us growing thumbs.
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Re: Mead: What now?

Post by Cpt.Frederickson » Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:35 pm

Good man. Always good to see someone getting in to meads, I think they're great fun to make, even though patience is required!
One thing I forgot...stabilising before bottling. Adding potassium sorbate and campden/metabisulphite (potassium is better, but sodium will do at a pinch). This can help to knock out any remaining yeasties and castrate them at the same time.
Hope you give the newbee guide a good read, and the forum there is also excellent.
The Hand of Doom Brewery and Meadery
Fermenting -
Conditioning - Meads - Raspberry Melomel yeast test, Vanilla Cinnamon Metheglyn, Orange Melomel.
Drinking - Youngs AAA Kit; Leatherwood Traditional Mead, Cyser, Ginger Metheglyn.
Planning - Some kits until I can get back to AG, then a hoppy porter, Jim's ESB, some American Red.

DaveyT
Lost in an Alcoholic Haze
Posts: 525
Joined: Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:58 pm
Location: Las Palmas, GC

Re: Mead: What now?

Post by DaveyT » Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:27 pm

Got round to bottling the beer last night so decided to stick the siphon tube in my mead and rack the mead off too.
So, below are two pictures: before and after. The after is a bit worrying as there's loads of headspace above the mead. I jokingly told Goodwife DaveyT that it just meant I might have to bottle the mead at the weekend, but I'm starting to think this might be the case. Will it oxidise if I leave it? I don't want honey vinegar!
I didn't take a gravity reading as I thought this might happen and I didn't want to make it worse by drawing more off into my sight tube.

Bit nervous now!

Image

Image

Edited to get the photos up. Hope they work now.
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Re: Mead: What now?

Post by Cpt.Frederickson » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:58 am

Top it up with some water and you'll be fine. Hope you sanitised between brews...
Don't worry about oxidation, it takes a while for that to happen. You'll be fine to thief a sample.
The Hand of Doom Brewery and Meadery
Fermenting -
Conditioning - Meads - Raspberry Melomel yeast test, Vanilla Cinnamon Metheglyn, Orange Melomel.
Drinking - Youngs AAA Kit; Leatherwood Traditional Mead, Cyser, Ginger Metheglyn.
Planning - Some kits until I can get back to AG, then a hoppy porter, Jim's ESB, some American Red.

DaveyT
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Posts: 525
Joined: Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:58 pm
Location: Las Palmas, GC

Re: Mead: What now?

Post by DaveyT » Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:23 pm

Excellent. That's put my mind at rest. I'm reluctant to top up before I take a gravity reading and I think I'm a bit knackered to start faffing around with sterilizing tubes.
I'll let you know what it is.
I did the appropriate cleaning between siphons. It looks good, like, I have to admit. I'm impressed at how low maintenance it's been up to now. I'll check out that website and see what the next one might be. Or I might just tinker with this recipe. A whole new world awaits!

Thanks again
David
Evolution didn't end with us growing thumbs.
Bill Hicks

fatbloke

Re: Mead: What now?

Post by fatbloke » Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:20 pm

Just a quick one David,

Have you tasted it yet at all ?

Only because the recipe calls for 3 and 1/2 lb of honey, and that is in 1 US gallon. 3 and 1/2 lb equates to 1.58kg so you'd be 380grammes light on sweetness.

So what's the point of me raising this ?

Well Darren hasn't made a JAO according to one of his posts, whereas I have, a number of times and the first couple of times I did the classic mistake and made it to a gallon, an Imperial gallon i.e. 4.55 litres instead of being religious in sticking to the recipe which would have been 1 US gallon or 3.78 litres.

Now a lot of newer mead makers have a crack, but then they try and modify it a touch by using a wine yeast and discover why you don't mess with it. Wine yeast will ferment dry and the main, focused taste is then the bitterness that comes from the pith part of the orange skin. It doesn't make for a good dry recipe.

You appear to have been a bit light on the honey, as well as making it to 1 imp gallon/4.5 litres. So you need to taste it to make sure that it doesn't taste bitter.

It does come out fine if it's made to 1 imp gallon, but with the amount of honey as per the recipe. Skimping on the honey may bring it closer to the result above when using wine yeast.

And while I understand that Joe himself would likely consider any deviation from the original recipe as "voiding the warranty" (he does occasionally post over at Gotmead, and a few of the older members and at least one of the admins has met/knows him). Yet I've had to make my batches with Allinsons yeast, as well as tesco's and Co-op own brand too. They've all come out fine but as I've explained above.

Hope that makes sense.

DaveyT
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Re: Mead: What now?

Post by DaveyT » Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:21 pm

That does make sense; thanks for the tip. I'll try it next week when my brother's in town and let you know what it's like.
It's started producing bubbles since I racked it into a secondary fermentor. It smells nice, though; I have to let the gas out every so often as I have a screw cap on it not an airlock.
I originally left out honey to make it less strong. I was hoping to brew something that would leave me capable of dealing with my kids during the night, to be honest.

Thanks again
David
Evolution didn't end with us growing thumbs.
Bill Hicks

fatbloke

Re: Mead: What now?

Post by fatbloke » Sat Apr 20, 2013 8:59 am

DaveyT wrote:That does make sense; thanks for the tip. I'll try it next week when my brother's in town and let you know what it's like.
It's started producing bubbles since I racked it into a secondary fermentor. It smells nice, though; I have to let the gas out every so often as I have a screw cap on it not an airlock.
I originally left out honey to make it less strong. I was hoping to brew something that would leave me capable of dealing with my kids during the night, to be honest.

Thanks again
David
Well that would suggest why it's better to stick to the recipe as closely as possible.

JAO using bread yeast, will go to approx 12%, but often less. Just make a batch as close to benchmark as possible, but take a gravity reading of the must to give you SG and FG numbers. They're easily converted to tell you how strong it's likely to be (the SG will be slightly out, because you wouldn't be able to account for the fruit sugars in the raisins or orange, but it won't be that far out).

Whereas messing with the honey level is more likely to give you a batch where the flavour is affected, possibly in a negative way as I said earlier i.e. the drier it is, the nastier it can taste.

DaveyT
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Re: Mead: What now?

Post by DaveyT » Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:26 am

I sampled the mead for the first time at the weekend and I was pretty happy with the results.
The final taste is the nicest and makes me think of boozy marmelade. As it's marmelade, I'm wondering whether the honey is coming through quite sweetly. The orange flavour is very pleasant so I'm not complaining about that.
The initial flavour, though, is not fantastic and I'm wondering whether that would be the pith. I also think it might be tannins (is there tea in the recipe? I'm at work atm away from my notes). Will it iron out over time?
As I say, palatable so far but not perfect.
Incidentally, how much honey would be the right amount for 4.75l according to the recipe?

Thanks again for the input.

David
Evolution didn't end with us growing thumbs.
Bill Hicks

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