hist-brewing: My first mead.

JazzboBob at aol.com JazzboBob at aol.com
Mon Nov 19 20:44:51 PST 2001

My first reaction before offering any advice is the need to better understand 
how you brewed this mead. To begin with, what volume of mead did you make?  
You did not offer a beginning and final gravity reading so I have no idea 
what strength mead you have brewed. Honey averages around 35 points per 
gallon but can vary quite a bit.  Also, many recipes are unclear as to 
putting the quantity of honey into 5 gallons of water (netting a greater 
overall volume) or adding the honey & water to get a total volume of 5 
gallons.  This can have quite an impact on the strength.
Since you have used wine bottles that cannot stand up to pressure and you 
have signs of continuing fermentation, I would drink this mead quickly before 
you develop bombs.  It would also help to keep the mead cold to slow down the 
yeast activity.
I am an advocate of bottling in Champagne bottles if there is any question as 
to the possibility of a continuing residual fermentation after bottling.  It 
only takes a drop of 3 Specific Gravity points to create the normal 
carbonation in beer so it doesn't take too much residual fermentation in a 
bottle to become overcarbonated.
Campden tablets and sulfur will slow down yeast but not kill it off entirely 
so don't depend on that to stop a fermentation from coming back to life.
More information about your brewing technique might explain what happened.  
You exhibit signs of a slow, long, and drawn out fermentation.  This is 
usually caused by underpitching the quantity of yeast, not having enough 
oxyengenation at the beggining of fermentation to allow the yeast to grow 
properly in the respiration stage, unstable cold fermentation temputures 
causing the yeast to slow down and go into shock, and a general lack of 
nutrients in honey. All these problems are exasperated with a higher gravity 
fermentation.  IF YOU used 17 pounds of honey in a total volume of 5 gallons, 
you may have started with a gravity of around 120.  Not a problem under ideal 
conditions, but a bit challenging for an underpitched sweet mead yeast.  The 
sweet taste and bubbles are possible hints of a hung fermentation even after 
clearing.  There probably was a minimal of fermentation activity even though 
the mead appeared clear to your naked eye. When you started to rack the mead 
for bottling, you released some suspended CO2 out of solution.  Even flat 
mead will hold some amount of CO2, especially if it is cold.  But without 
gravity readings, we are all working in the dark.  Get a hydrometer for a few 
bucks and keep better notes to learn for future brews.
Host a party and have some fun emptying those bottles.
Bob Grossman


I am new to mead brewing and have been lurking on the list for about a
year now.  I have a couple questions if no one minds.  I have just
bottled my first batch and want to make sure I did the right thing. I am
including my recipe.
On 11/9/00
   17 lbs. Local buckwheat honey
   3 t yeast nutrient
   2 t acid blend
   1/2 t tannin
   Jasmine tea
   St. Pats sweet mead yeast
The fermentation started off with a bang and I racked a little over a
month later.  It then slowed way down.  I racked once during the next
year.  It took a year to clear.  I didn't take readings as this being my
first try.  It wasn't an active batch, in fact I thought it would never
clear and would have to dump it.  It is a beautiful clear gold and I
decided to bottle it today.  Therein lies my question.  I noticed when I
was bottling that bubbles were forming on the siphon tube.  There were
bubbles in the bottles after corking also.  I tasted it (several times
;-)) and it is wonderful but I did not taste carbonation.  It is sweet
with a pretty good kick.  I was sure it would have to age another year
having read mead may take a year after bottling before it tastes good.
My question is, did I bottle to soon and will my corks fly out? I am
hoping after all my patience I didn't ruin it.  Any help would be
greatly appreciated.  

Lauri Murakami
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