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SwimModSponges

Hey did i tell y'all im making some alcohol?

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I'm fermenting some mead in my basement. 

Except i added blueberries to it, so technically spreaking its not mead if you add fruit, its something called "melomel."

Anyways i got blueberries, rosemary, and thyme fermenting on up with the honey.

Hopefully it will be good.

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i found a place that sells non-gmo, raw, organic, pesticide-free african multi-floral honey for relatively cheap (made a thread about it in that other folder). it would get pricey to make mead from that stuff though. you can get a 60# bucket of domestic raw honey for <$200, which is enough to do like 20 gallons of mead.

what temp are you fermenting at? iirc, mead yeast likes to eat at a little below room temp. upper-midwest basements are probably perfect for it.

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Posted (edited)

The guidelines i saw said keep it between 60-70 so i figured my basement would do well.

Yeast sure are monching away though I tell ya what, bubbling like crazy down there.

My folks keep bees, so i got plenty of honey available. 

In about 2 days i'mma rack it i think, primary fermentation is supposed to be 2-3 weeks but since i've got the fruit in mine i'm going to pull it a little early because I've heard some horror stories about mold and shit.

Anyways once i get it into my secondary carboy i figure i'll let the next fermentation go until October to pull and bottle. 

Again, a little early, but i'm planning on making gift baskets for our families for our wedding. 

Once they're bottled i figure they can age them for about a year before opening.

So i guess i have a long time before i'll be able to say how well it came out.

I'll sample it when i'm racking and bottling for sure but again that's before all the aging that will finish it.

* i got an elder scrolls cook book for Christmas, and its got a whole section on mead. One of the recipes actually recommends serving right after the primary fermentation, and the one i made is actually pretty close to that recipe so who knows, maybe it will be delicious right away?

Edited by SwimModSponges

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Goddamn it, the carboy i was going to use for my secondary fermentation has a much wider mouth than my first one so i wont be able to get my cap, rubber stopper, or airlock in it.

There's always the balloon trick i got from prison i guess...

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i'm not well-studied on mead methods, but it's generally similar to brewing beer once it's in the fermenter. i've had some homebrew meads that were straight out of the fermenter and they tended to be a little wild. aging beer allows the flavors to mingle and develop complexity through some natural chemical reactions over time, so i would assume the same to be true with a good aged mead. 6 months of aging sounds appropriate, and i wish you good luck on your first brew.

i think i'm gonna be making some more beers very soon myself. i was just gifted 50lb of grain to brew up, and i have a few lb of hops in the freezer that are probably getting close to aging out of usefulness. and my grain mill just showed up on the truck yesterday, so i no longer have to order grains pre-milled (opens up a lot of options for ingredients, and you get a fresher-tasting product when you mill it right before dough-in). i'm keeping the next couple brews simple, single-malt pale ales with just one or two hop varieties. time to start really building knowledge on hop characteristics. also trying to read up on water chemistry, and how to get the perfect mix of ph, alkalinity, and hardness for each style. never thought i'd need to flex those chemistry muscles again, but here we are.

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I just went and got another brew kit from a local brew supply store.

Should have all the parts i need then some extra equipment just for the hell of it.

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there's not a homebrew shop within 75 miles of here, so i do most of my shopping online. besides amazon, i frequent a couple sites that have decent pricing if you can wait up to a week for your equipment/supplies.

morebeer.com
ritebrew.com
homebrewing.org

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Nice, yeah, good part about living in wisconsin, I just need to stop at the brew supply store that's right next to the brewery.

No, not that brewery, the other one.

No you're thinking the other other one, that's like half hour away.

I'm talking about the one in town.

No not that one either, that one's pretty corporate, I'm talking about the small one.

(there are so many breweries here man)

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that's getting better around here, but still not great. i have to drive 45 minutes to find the two nearest breweries. but that's a lot better than a year ago, when it took upwards of 75 minutes to reach one.

the licensing to become a brewery/brewpub is tedious, but not terribly complex. as soon as we have a nearby space to build a small brewing rig and processing area, it's on.

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Ok so i got a bit excited about racking, got my timing mixed up. 

Its only been down there a little over a week. 

So i'mma let it go for a while longer. 

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Posted (edited)
49 minutes ago, SwimModSponges said:

Ok so i got a bit excited about racking, got my timing mixed up. 

Its only been down there a little over a week. 

So i'mma let it go for a while longer. 

depending on how long you're seeing active fermentation, you can probably rack to secondary off-schedule. my rule of thumb (for beer) is to wait until after primary fermentation ceases (no bubbles, liquid isn't circulating, yeast has visibly settled out) and then give the yeast a few more days to "clean up" before racking. moving to secondary gets your mead off the yeast and solids that settled out during primary, which can improve clarity and flavor. if you rack too early, you'll bring some yeast and solids to your secondary vessel that will eventually settle out, which may prompt you to want a third racking for extra clarity.

i don't know about that yeast strain, but i would assume 10-14 days at a minimum before it has finished up its primary phase.

Edited by wacky1980
to add: racking too early will shunt the fermentation process and could cause some off-flavors to remain and/or limit gravity reduction.

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My fermentation is still going wild here (totally forgot to add yeast nutrient [the more i look into it, the more i think i did a real hatchet job on this thing] but i figure all the fruit i got in there's giving it plenty to munch).

I'm terrified of mold though.

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Posted (edited)

i've gone both routes, with and without nutrient. imo, dry yeast doesn't seem to benefit in a significant way from using it. ymmv of course, and i rarely brew the same recipe with single variable changes, but i usually hit my marks and that's my big measure of yeast performance.

i would assume beer isn't quite as prone to infection as mead, because hops are a natural antimicrobial. but as long as your gear was cleaned ~very thoroughly~ and you're not letting atmosphere hit your product once it enters the fermenter, infection is relatively rare. the main concern is what's being introduced on the fruit, but again, if it's cleaned up very well beforehand, you'll probably be fine.

Edited by wacky1980

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Posted (edited)
2 minutes ago, wacky1980 said:

~very thoroughly~ 

This is what keeps me up at night.

Part of me says "Kill it, kill it now it won't be good. Destroy this batch and don't talk about it. Start again."

But I'm a big ol' worry wort, you know that.

Edited by SwimModSponges

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19 hours ago, SwimModSponges said:

This is what keeps me up at night.

Part of me says "Kill it, kill it now it won't be good. Destroy this batch and don't talk about it. Start again."

But I'm a big ol' worry wort, you know that.

if you're using new gear, "visibly clean" plus a sanitization round is plenty. it's when you're using older gear that may have microscopic pits/scratches for shit to hide out, when you need to beef up your cleaning methods. if you made a reasonable effort to clean/sanitize, you'll be fine. i've brewed probably ~100 batches of beer, sometimes getting a little drunk and sloppy by the end of the brew, and still never managed to infect a batch.

crap, i probably just jinxed myself.

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That calms me a bit, though one of the fellows i watched on YouTube said "get all the fruit out of there after a week or you're risking mold!"

That's why i was so eager to rack it out.

Still worried it will be terrible, not super sure about doing the gift baskets for the family idea. Thinking about just starting a second round right away maybe using that instead? 

Potential issues with that being a reduction of fermentation time (you said i should be fine with my current timeline so that shouldn't be much worry) and doing a second attempt without knowing exactly how my first one turned out. 

Don't know what i need to fix yet.

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In any case my next recipe is going to be an acerglyn with apple and cinnamon. 

Which would probably be more appropriate for October anyways, but all i had handy the first go-round was blueberries. 

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are you letting it rest in the carboy for the full 6? if you can wiggle a wine thief through the bung (i love brewing terminology), you could draw up a little sample without exposing the rest of the batch to atmosphere. sample it at 1mo, 2mo, etc, until you're satisfied with it. if it tastes like absolute sour shit at 1mo, it's safe to say it's bad and you can dump it and start over. but if it just tastes "green" i.e. flavors are there but still out of balance, you're probably on the right path. 

i guess i need to disclaimer this a bit. i'm making assumptions that mead aging is similar enough to beer aging that these methods are applicable for both. if you have books to read, defer to them. online advice though, it's as reliable as you can imagine in many cases.

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I'm planning to rack at about 3 weeks depending on how my bubbles are doing, i'm going to sample it then.

After i get it in the second carboy i'm just going to let it be for a while (assuming the first sample isn't disgusting), then sample again before bottling.

Some of the advice ive seen recently is to put your fruit in a nylon so you can steep it like a tea bag, so i might check that out for my next one.

The new kit has like a 5 gallon bucket for brewing but i don't know if I want to start on that puppy until I know what I m doing.

 

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looks like a lot of tartrate crystals at the top. They don't hurt anything, but might make your booze a little gritty on the finals pours. Most of them can get removed through filtering them through a cloth. 

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yoday is my 2 week mark, still fermenting like crazy so I'm probably going to give it another week?

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it's got real good color. should clear up once it stops churning and bubbling. i'm excited for you.

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Posted (edited)

Watching this YouTube channel, CS Brewing.

Really exciting stuff i can't wait to try.

One thing I have to say though: i didn't use yeast nutrient or raisins to feed them.

I imagine the blueberries are giving them all they need.

Edited by SwimModSponges

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i've gone both ways with yeast. fermentation seems to be more active when given nutrient during a starter, but i don't see a significant improvement in efficiency and i've not noticed a change in flavor so not sure if it's worth the effort. lately, i've just been pitching dry yeast straight into aerated wort and it's working fine.

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They say the yeast you use makes a difference too. For this one i just used the generic stuff that came with the kit.

Been thinking about growing my own yeast; make a mead thats 100% my own.

Could be fun. 

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you can harvest yeast from your environment, but there's no guarantee the yeast you pick up will be something that produces a tasty beverage. there are actually a few styles of beer that incorporate "spontaneous fermentation" through various methods. one of the most interesting, imo, is the use of a traditional coolship for fermenting lambic-style beers. a coolship is a large open vessel that serves to cool wort after boiling, and also expose it to open air overnight, which allows wild yeast and bacteria to "infect" the wort and kick off a spontaneous fermentation process. the combination of micro-organisms found seasonally in a particular valley in belgium are the most favorable for brewing lambic beers, of anywhere in the world.

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On 5/13/2020 at 12:53 PM, SwimModSponges said:

There's always the balloon trick i got from prison i guess...

...

Jenkem?

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1 hour ago, SwimModSponges said:

Looking into keeping my lees, only briefly heard about it but it sounds pretty efficient. 

you can use several generations of the same yeast from beer fermentation before mutations start to affect quality. i've tried it once and it worked out pretty well. i would assume the same is true with mead as it is with beer but i'm not sure. 

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If by "factory" you mean my folks place.

Bottom just disintegrated, almost like it was slammed into the shelf with enough force to shatter with honey flying everywhere. 

So that was a fun mess to clean.

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Tomorrow is my 3 week mark.

Still bubbling and churning up a storm, I was planning on taking a sample but given how active it still is I think I may as well just let it ride.

 

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Got more honey coming from the parents, also they're growing hops now.

They say they're not going to use it for anything but decoration, supposed to have a real nice smell?

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look at those little fellers grow! one of my favorite plants- not just for their produce, but also because they're just a fun plant to take care of. they can grow up to 1' per day in prime growth season.

i have about half a dozen hops plants in big pots this year, all established / 2nd year plants. one of them is already almost 10' tall and will top out the trellis in another week. the rest are 5' or smaller. the hope is to end up with a few pounds of wet hops to brew a big juicy ipa this fall. 

i haven't noticed their scent so much on the vine, but if you pick off a hop cone and crush it in your hands, the smell is amazing. 

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