hist-brewing: New to brewing, Fermentation question

Jonathan L. Shapiro jls462 at psu.edu
Tue Jun 29 16:25:47 PDT 1999

    Hello, I had a quick question about the fermentation period of mead.  I
had followed the recipe below a few months back as my first experiment in
brewing.  My question has to do with the part about adding the vodka or
grain alcohol to end the fermentation.  Rather than doing this, could I let
the fermentation continue until it stops naturally?  Does anyone have an
idea of about how long that would take as opposed to what is indicated in
the recipe?  Is there an easy way to be sure that fermentation has stopped?
(I have yet to obtain a hydrometer)  And lastly, I assume doing so would
affect the alcohol content of the mead, but will it drastically effect the
flavor?  One of the things I liked about this mead was the fact that it
tasted a bit like an apple pie, so it worked great as a desert drink, though
it did almost seem too sweet for some occasions.
    To be honest, this is the only mead I've ever tasted, so I've no idea
what to expect from other recipes or procedures.  Absolutely any help will
be greatly appreciated.


            Jonathan Shapiro

Basic Small Mead

     Author: Cher Feinstein  (crf at pine.circa.ufl.edu)
     Digest: September 30, 1989, Issue #267


                      2-3           cloves
                      2 sticks      cinnamon
                      2 thin        slices ginger
                      2-4 teaspoons orange peel
                      2 pounds      honey
                      1/4 cup       vodka or grain alcohol


     In a 1-gallon pot, simmer cloves (lightly cracked), cinnamon (broken),
     and  ginger.   Add orange peel.  The amount of orange peel  will  vary
     depending  on  type of honey used.  Use less orange peel  with  orange
     blossom honey, for example.  Simmer.

     Add water to bring volume to 3 quarts.  Return to simmer.  Add  honey,
     stirring constantly.  Do not boil!  Skim off any white scum.  If  scum
     is  yellow, reduce heat.  When no more scum forms, remove  from  heat,
     cover  pot,  and leave overnight.  The next day, strain to  remove  as
     much spice particles as possible.  Pitch yeast.  Replace pot cover.

     Twelve hours later, rack mead to 1-gallon jug, leaving dregs of yeast.
     Top  off jug, bringing to base of neck.  Take a piece of  clean  paper
     towel, fold into quarters, and put over mouth of jug.  Seal with  rub-
     ber  band.  Ferment  for 36 hours, replacing paper towel  whenever  it
     becomes fouled.  Refrigerate 8-12 hours.  Rack to new jug and put back
     in refrigerator for 12 hours.  Add 1/4 cup vodka to kill yeast.   Rack
     to fresh jug.  Refrigerate 3-4 days.  Bottle.


     This is a quickie mead, drinkable in 2 weeks, however, it does improve
     with age.  Aging at least a couple months is recommended. This mead is
     excellent chilled.

     Method:            N/A
     Original Gravity:  N/A
     Final Gravity:     N/A
     Primary Ferment:   2 days
     Secondary Ferment: 2 weeks

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