Mead!

Discussion in 'Random Chat' started by Turambar, Aug 30, 2011.

  1. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    Soooo... I need to have a new project in my life. And I am edging towards mead.

    It's supposed to be pretty simple. Still, there are some specific issues I am trying to work out on beforehand :)


    Anyone got any experience with mead apart from emptying the flagon?
     
  2. bloodfiredeath

    bloodfiredeath Die by the Sword

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    I don't, but I have been meaning to have a go.
    I do however have a lot of experience with fermentation and making alcoholic beverages, so may possibly be able to answer any questions.
     
  3. Anduil

    Anduil New Member

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    I tasted mead for first time in my visit to Scotland. Me and a friend just passed towards a whisky shop in Inverness and he told me to buy a good whisky for our families in Greece. So when we entered the shop we saw a huge amount of meads in the middle. Imagine that till that day i didn't know that there was mead and that it was a honey wine that produced back in middleages for first time. So i asked my friend if he know about it. And he told me no answer. So i bought one bottle. Just to taste it. It was a mead that is produced in Moniak castle for those that know brands in mead. When i returned in hotel and drink that staff,I went back in the whisky shop to buy four more bottles. My friend bought two more. It is pity that in my country there is no mead at all :( I don't know which country has the holdings of origin of mead but the scotish one was really nice! Everytime that i go abroad mead is first choice for drink.
     
  4. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    :D

    Well, in my experience, mead hovers around 10% alcohol, whilst still keeping a distinct sweet taste. I would assume the wort sugar content would hover somewhere between 15 and 20%?

    Also, there is the issue regarding the brewing temp and the yeast. There are many different yeasts and many different brewing temps (well, actually, there are two, but you know what I mean :)). I would assume somewhere between 25° and 35° would do the trick for mead? And it would be best to procure a grape yeast - or at least wine yeast - culture?

    The thing I'm really worried about is the filtration step. Is there anything within domestic use - and fit to be used with consumable products - which could filtrate out the yeast? Or would it be a better idea to brew 13%, let the yeast precipitate and add water if there's need to tone the whole thing down a bit?

    There is another thing I'm really worried about - protein. There's extremely little of that in honey or, that is to say, it's extremely low on nitrous compounds from which to procure the necessary amino acids. And the same would go for phosphates. Would I have to add anything to the brewing mix to compensate for that?
     
  5. Kelmourne

    Kelmourne The Savage Hippy

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    Mead is always a worthy project.

    I know this great brand called Middle Mountain thats roughly from where I am. They use all sorts of spices to make their mead taste amazing, like cranberries, lavender, and black currants.

    http://middlemountainmead.com/
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2011
  6. bloodfiredeath

    bloodfiredeath Die by the Sword

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    I can only guess here, as my experience with sweet beverages is limited to "Sticky" wines (i.e Botrytis affected white wines). So in that context, it is highly probable that the Residual Sugar (RS) would be around that mark. It is hard to tell not knowing the initial content of sugar to start with. I know with the sticky I have made in the past, I started with roughly 18 baume (roughly 33 brix) and would ferment down to around 7 - 8 baume, which would give me a good 7.5 grams RS. The best idea is to check it constantly (taste) during ferment and decide when it has reached the sweetness that you desire and then stopping the ferment at that point with a combination of chilling and Sulfur dioxide. Quite often high sugar wines tend to end their ferments naturally at a certain point, depending on yeast chose, but dont rely on it!!

    I presume you are in Celcius there? (I dont use the other archaic one). Personally I prefer to ferment whites slowly and at cooler temperature than reds, and would assume the same for mead (though I dont know). Anything from 11 to 18 degrees usually, though toward the end of the ferment I may let it spike a bit in order to burn out any sugar, but as you wish to keep some RS that is irrelevant. The cooler temps will slow all fermentation kinetics, and may even cause a sluggish or stuck ferment, which is undesirable. It is kind of a gut feeling combined with constant analysis to get it right and will take a while to get to where you want it. The hotter the ferment in white grape must the more extracted and phenolic it becomes and too many aromatics are burnt away. I am not sure whether or not this would happen with mead.
    As far as yeasts go, there are many wine yeasts might be worth looking at the website from the company's Lallemand http://www.lallemandwine.com/spip.php?rubrique33&id_mot=19&lang=en(I use a lot of their yeasts) or Laffort http://www.laffort.com/en/products/zymaflore-yeasts. Make sure you purchase one for sweet wines!! Otherwise you could just let it ferment naturally but this can be fraught with danger, and result in microbiologically unstable product.


    The easiest way to filter the mead is by merely letting the yeast etc (what we call "lee's) drop out naturally over time with the help of chilling. It would take a good week. Then you can "rack" off of the "lees", i.e transfer the clear liquid from the vessel to another leaving the heavy solids behind.
    This will not get it really clear, probably down to 100 -150 NTU (Turbidity units) and I am not sure what you are after. Multiple racking over time will continue to drop the NTU, but in order to get it really low, you will want some form of filter. And in my experience most small cheap filters block up constantly and drive you mad, or the good ones cost about 1000 bucks (AUD). I would avoid adding water if possible as it will dilute the flavour (and alcohol! :p) and "wash" out the pallete, making it thin and hard.


    I am not sure why you need protein, in white wine it is something we try to remove as it tends to cause a haze that is undesirable. Is there a particular reason you want more protein?

    Hope that helps, any questions on this just ask and I will try to explain it better! :)
     
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  7. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    Awesome, BFD :) How did you get into the alcoholic business - or is this just a hobby as well?

    It'll be experimenting a lot before anything happens, of course. But it's nice to get some input, that's for sure.

    Generally, you do need some protein or nitrogen source for the yeast to grow. If there's a very limited amount of protein or nitrate compound in the mixture, the yeast growth will be capped, severely crippling the brewing process. The same goes for phosphates. Somewhere in a dusty corner I've got a biotech degree - and this is one of the few things I learned ;) Where fruit pulp or malt is concerned, the natural protein concentration is more than sufficient to support the yeast culture. Honey, however, is an entirely different matter altogether.

    And yes, it was the celcius scale, sorry. I suppose white wine comes closest to mead - and what temp would you have that ferment? In any scale? :p


    Still not sure about the yeast though. The companies you quote seem to have some impressive stocks - but the question is - do I really need 500g of yeast for 20-odd litre batches :D
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2011
  8. bloodfiredeath

    bloodfiredeath Die by the Sword

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    Lets just say it pays my mortgage and whatnot!! ;)



    Well one thing about yeast is that they love to be fed nutrients like DAP (Di-ammonium Phosphate) but you have to be very careful that they don't become reliant on the supplements for food and decide not to use the available sugars. Available Nitrogen is critical as well and checking the YAN (Yeast assimilable nitrogen) of the must is advised. The critical phase is during inoculation of the must with yeast and the lag phase before the ferment really takes off. It is extremely important to get the initial prep of your yeast correct with regard to temp and adapting it to your must, getting this right can save some grief later on. I try not to use DAP much anymore, but instead use Thiazote in conjunction with some other ferment aids. It is advisble to only add DAP or Thiazote or whatever you use only sparingly (200 ppm) or if Hydrogen Sulphide becomes a problem. I would recommend it at 9 - 10 baume only unless sulfides are an issue, but racking aerately or using copper sulfate (about .25 ppm) or an ingress of Nitrogen (gas) can achieve the same affect, but racking or Nitrogen additions can blow off aromatics. Never use DAP during the initial inoculation of the must.
    White Wine ferments vary from Variety to variety, but typically the more aromatic the variety the slower and cooler the ferment, some places have 6 + month ferments, though the average is about 20 days. Though logistics plays a huge part in timing these days.
    White ferments usually run between 11-18 degrees depending on Yeast selection, but with a sticky it would be more likely to be 15-18 degrees.
    500 grams is overkill for what you need, but a local brew shop should have smaller amounts or maybe you could get a trial batch from the bigger company's. If you get stuck I can send you some if that is easier.

    Are you fermenting in Carboys or Stainless steel? or just old buckets?? :p
    Always remember...Cleanliness is paramount!!
     
  9. jake1964

    jake1964 Old enough to be your dad

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    ...and it cuts out the middleman. ;)
     
  10. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    Decent :D

    This man is a treasure trove.

    I really am in the planning phase right now. I'm looking at what I need and where to get what I need from. So far I've learned that malted barley is usually added to give the yeast some nutrients to move about, whilst the honey delivers the motherload where sugars are concerned. It'll be a lot of play to keep the yeast up for long enough to get above 10% alcohol, which I am aiming for. And yeah, malted barley is yet another can of worms, which I won't bother you with :)

    The DAP/Thiazote thing could come in handy, though. Honey is really low on anything considered nutrient. And I don't want to edge my mead towards beer anyway, by having to add too much malts.

    Well, thanks for your input. I really don't know how yeast behaves on honey, so I suppose there's only testing. A lot :)

    Yeah. So far, I've gained a few addresses which could give me a nice yeast stock. There's even a few vineyards around (hopeless in this climate, I tell you :p).

    For now, I intend to ask the city brewery for a small sample of theirs.

    kekeke - don't worry about cleanliness. I know about cleanliness - sterile even. I've read about people using pressure cookers - I suppose that's a bit over the top. But yeah, you're right. Yeast doesn't like competition. And neither does your mead.

    For now, I'm planning to ferment in small volumes, about 2 liters, to get my bearings and work out a decent recipe and procedure. From there on in, I want to upscale to about 20 ltr batches, for which the carboy would be excellent^^
    If push comes to shove, I can always upgrade towards stainless, though I suppose that sort of surpasses hobby stage.
     
  11. Greybeard

    Greybeard Geezer

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    I haven't had mead in twenty years. Where can I order a barrel?