Videos of the process

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With my friend’s help I started a couple batches on Tuesday night and actually shot some video on my super-old digital camera. 2004 old. Anyway, it’s a pretty comprehensive look at the different things I do to start a batch. No specific how-to or anything, but it does show off  the equipment I use and the ingredients that go into a batch. First vid with some general info:

 

Second vid with one batch just about finished, the other about to have the yeast pitched:

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Photos of the new meadery

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So here’s some pictures of the new setup for brewing in my basement. More organized, less stuff sitting around taking up space, and more room to brew!

shelves

 

 

 

Here’s the new shelving, so I’ve moved all the brewing much closer to the sink. Still not sure about that fridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

horde

 

 

 

And here’s the whole horde of mead that I have stored for posterity and possible nuclear attack. Note the 55-gallon drum, currently empty (hopefully not for long!)

 

 

 

 

 

blueberry label

 

 

 

And last here are the labels designed by my younger sister who is pretty awesome. Going on the blueberry mead, which is soon to be bottled!

Busy night

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So with some help from a friend I was able to clean up my basement, put up some shelves, organize my brewing equipment, and start two batches. Expect video and pictures forthcoming from the clean-up and the two new batches, but for now I need to record the recipes and get to sleep.

3rd Gen recipe:

  • 1gallon wildflower honey
  • 5tsp fermax yeast nutrient
  • water up to 5 gallons
  • 4 navel oranges
  • 1.5c raisins, chopped
  • Lalvin D47 yeast

Stats:

  • Started: 29 March 2011

Just Orange recipe:

  • 4qts Orange Blossom honey (from Bee Well, though not local)
  • water up to 5 gallons
  • 5tsp Fermax
  • 5 navel oranges
  • Lalvin EC1118 (Prise de Mousse) champagne yeast (water may have been too hot, measured at 110 when I pitched yeast. I monitored my assistant’s work inadequately. Should be okay, we’ll see)

Stats:

  • Started: 29 March 2011

That puts me at 5 currently progressing batches of 5 gallons. That’s definitely the most mead I’ve ever had in production at one time. They’re all turning out great, it’s just a matter of putting the work into bottling them! Comments about yeast and pictures/vid to come later this week.

Video

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Trying to include a video here from my youtube page featuring three meads. I’ll let it speak for itself:

 

And if that doesn’t work, link to it here.

Updates: Bulk Batch, New Tools

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Just some thoughts I’ve had recently:

I think I’m going to attempt my bulk batch very soon. But first I have to consider a few things:

  1. Yeast: The first thing I’m going to do is look categorically at the different kinds of yeast I’ve used (or could use) and determine which one I like the most for a (generally) fruity flavored batch of mead. The Pasteur Champagne yeast is good, but a little too dry for me. Turns out Wyeast 4184 (Sweet Mead) only has an alcohol tolerance of 11%, which explains why the meads I’ve made with that yeast (first orange-cinnamon, cyser, chai#2) are tending to be much sweeter and not quite as alcoholic. Wyeast 4632 (Dry Mead), which I’ve only used so far on the purple starthistle (“spoon”) mead seems to be a good candidate based on its 18% tolerance and how tasty the purple starthistle mead is.
  2. Honey: I have to man up and buy 5 gallons of honey from Bee Well. That’s a lot of honey, honey. Gonna run about $130, I think, which is the cost of my failure.
  3. Primary Fermenter: I’ve got a 55 gallon steel drum. I need a food-safe plastic liner which I’m requiring for my own peace of mind–I don’t trust even the re-finished interior of the drum. Also need a bung for the top which I think I can get from Thomas Creek.
  4. Secondary Fermeter(s): I bought from Thomas Creek two Better Bottle carboys. They are plastic and have a slightly larger opening in the top (standard bung won’t do here), but otherwise they are identical to the glass ones that I have. Online forum posts will indicate die-hard fans one way or the other (glass v. plastic) but I think that the cost (35), the safety (no broken glass if they drop) and the weight difference (why make 5 gallons of water heavier?) are going to help me out. That means I have 5 6-gallon carboys ready to accept whatever comes out of the primary.
  5. Recipe(s): I want to use a variety of fruits so I can theme this batch a “berry bonanza” or something, but harvest times aren’t going to help. I can hit strawberry, blueberry, and peach all at the same time (late June I think) if I’m lucky, but I might need some other ideas. Couldn’t hurt to do a plain mead plus a couple strawberry and blueberry if necessary. Should be delicious.

Laura’s come up with some awesome labels and I’ve started to purchase clear bottles for packaging my mead more awesomely, potentially for sale. Which is illegal, but whatever. The bottles were less expensive than I thought–$14 for 12 bottles (which is just about one batch with a few left over for my quality assurance department) so I think I might make the transition over to official bottles for most of my batches from here out.

I need to upgrade my work space. I’ve got some ideas for buying a utility shelf and putting it right next to the deep sink in my basement with enough shelves for two rows of carboys and a row of equipment on top. Means I gotta do some work to clean up the basement, but it’s for the better. Clear out the old makeshift shelves/desks/work surfaces and make room for stuff that actually works. Could be very advantageous in the long run.

Gonna try using peat moss as a clarifier for one of these batches here soon but I’m a little nervous about it. Never used it before so I don’t know exactly how it works or how to work with it, so I might just avoid it and stick with what I’ve been using so far (gelatin-based clarifier). Dunno.

Lemon Ginger update

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So I racked the Lemon Ginger #2 mead today and it tastes GOOD. A little light on the ginger at first and I think the lemon predominates, but I’m not going to mess with it. My roommate is happy that I’ve made a spicier/drier mead again (makes up for the POM#2 that is delicious but very sweet). I think it tastes remarkably like the first batch of Lemon Ginger mead I made, which I’m very happy about–at this point I’m more happy with consistency than with raw tastiness (cause let’s face it, it all tastes delicious). Stats for the record:

  • Started: 16 Feb 2011
  • Re-started: 26 Feb 2011 (with 1 more packet Red Star champagne yeast and yeast nutrient)
  • Racked: 21 Mar 2011 (no issues)

On a minor note, while I had the sanitizing stuff out I went ahead and stirred up the cranberry mead. It had stopped bubbling almost entirely which worries me so early in the process. At the same time, it was going really fast at the start and the taste when I was finished stirring was pretty great, so I’m not worried about a stuck fermentation or anything. Just a little surprised that it had stopped relatively quickly (11 days after start).

 

Yeast notes

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Just wanted to post about some yeast websites that I’ve been looking at for future reference. I’ve read some mead recipes using “Montrachet” yeast and I hadn’t heard of it before, so I searched for it using Google.

First useful site is at Grape Stomper.  I use Lalvin yeasts frequently, so its breakdown (a list of recommended strains and characteristics of each) for some of the different varieties is helpful. It also gives a short description of each strain which is helpful. Not for mead specifically, but you know…in general.

Second is the discussion in this HomeBrew Talk thread about the right yeast for a cider. If you remember my cyser, I used a Wyeast Sweet Mead yeast (that has worked out very tastily!), but their comments on the Montrachet yeast leads me to respect it perhaps over a champagne yeast. But maybe something else entirely? I think I’m reading too much about non-mead yeasts. Just some thoughts.

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