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.