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First mead from a Northern Brewer mead kit


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#1 glennh2os

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Posted 25 December 2011 - 07:30 PM

Wife bought me a basic sweet mead kit from Northern Brewer. I brew a bunch so I have all the fermenting equipment needed. There directions are pretty simple, and it looks like its a no-boil/heat method. Couple of questions for you experienced mead folks..1. Wyeast sweet mead yeast was provided. Is one smack pack sufficient for decent fermentation? When I'm brewing I generally get a starter going when I use a smack pack. 2. I know I'll need to secondary it for a while. Typically when I long term a brew (lagering etc..) I secondary in a corney keg . Any issues with secondary in stainless where mead is concerned?
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#2 DieselGopher

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 08:28 AM

Throw that yeast out. Get some dry wine yeast, like D47 or 71B. I prefer 71B. Two packets are needed.

So much this!!! either of those will make a nice mead, and work much better than the Wyeast.
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#3 Genesee Ted

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 10:33 AM

I agree, but I have made some great meads with the Wyeast Dry Mead yeast. I hear poor things of the Sweet though.

#4 Corbin

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 10:04 AM

I wish I would have seen this before saturday. I ordered my first kit from Midwest and I too went with the Wyeast smack pack. I need to do some more reading though on mead to prepare for my brew day.
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#5 armagh

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 11:04 AM

I wish I would have seen this before saturday. I ordered my first kit from Midwest and I too went with the Wyeast smack pack. I need to do some more reading though on mead to prepare for my brew day.

Going from memory here, but the sweet mead yeast Wyeast sells is Irish Ale yeast. There were protracted discussions about this back on the GB and I believe some one pulled a quote from Wyeast or some other credible authority to this effect.
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#6 MtnBrewer

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 11:25 AM

Going from memory here, but the sweet mead yeast Wyeast sells is Irish Ale yeast. There were protracted discussions about this back on the GB and I believe some one pulled a quote from Wyeast or some other credible authority to this effect.

That's what I remember too.

#7 Corbin

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 12:08 PM

Going from memory here, but the sweet mead yeast Wyeast sells is Irish Ale yeast. There were protracted discussions about this back on the GB and I believe some one pulled a quote from Wyeast or some other credible authority to this effect.

So do you guys not recommend using this yeast? Sorry to hijack the thread.
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#8 armagh

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 12:29 PM

So do you guys not recommend using this yeast? Sorry to hijack the thread.

In theory, the yeast can ferment up to 12%. That said, I'd find a good wine yeast. Honey is a nutrient-poor fermentation medium and has a low pH, which is suboptimal for yeast. There are ways to adjust pH and bolster the available nutrients with additions - staged ot otherwise. But if I had $1 for every thread I've seen about the poor performance and resulting stuck fermentations with Wyeast sweet mead yeast I'd be that much closer to retirement.
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#9 MtnBrewer

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 12:30 PM

So do you guys not recommend using this yeast? Sorry to hijack the thread.

I can't give you any personal experience with it. But I've seen a lot of people have stuck fermentations using that yeast. So based on that I wouldn't recommend it, no. In my mind, there's no reason to use anything other than dry wine yeast for meads. With wine yeasts, the situation is the opposite of beer yeasts. There is a much larger variety of dry wine yeasts than liquid and you don't need a starter, just pitch however much yeast you need.

#10 Genesee Ted

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 09:11 AM

Not to mention they are way cheaper than the liquid yeasts.

#11 Corbin

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 01:48 PM

My kit showed up today. It came with one packet of dry champagne yeast and a smack pack of Wyeast 4632 Dry mead yeast. Would it be advisable to use both or just the champagne yeast? Also could you guys look over the instuctions that came with the kit for me? Curious if you would do anything different than what is listed.3. Procedure Mix 12 pounds of honey into 1 gallon of hot water until honey is completelydissolved. Top off with up to 5 gallon of cool water. Add 5 teaspoons of yeast nutrient to themixture.4. Fermentation If you are using dry yeast, you can re-hydrate the yeast in luke-warm water(90-100 degrees), let it stand for 10 minutes and pour into the mead, or you can just sprinklethe dry yeast over the top of the mead. If you are using liquid yeast, follow the directions on thepacket. Approximately 3-4 days after adding the yeast you should start to notice a healthyfermentation taking place. Due to the complex sugars in honey, fermentation may take up to 1week to begin. A blow off tube may also be necessary, especially with higher fermentationtemps (70 degrees +).You can be sure that the yeast is done by taking a hydrometer readingthree days in a row and getting the same reading, a gradual lowering of the reading willindicate a slower or unfinished fermentation. Be patient. Once the one month of fermentation iscomplete, transfer to a glass carboy. Be sure that there is only 1 inch of headspace betweenthe mead and the airlock. If making 5 gallons use a 5 gallon carboy, 6 gallons use a 6 galloncarboy. Large airspaces could promote a vinegar result. If making dry mead, add acid blendat this time.Leave in the glass carboy for 3-4 months then bottle.5. Bottling At bottling time, heat 1 cup of water and add 3/4c (5oz.) of corn sugar provided inthe kit. Bring the solution to a slow boil for five minutes, then cover with a sanitized lid and letcool. Sanitize your bottling bucket, tubing, bottle filler, caps and bottles. You will need tosanitize 48 - 54 twelve oz. bottles, or 24-28 twenty-two oz. bottles or 24-28 750 mL winebottles. The dishwasher may be used for sanitizing the bottles by using the heat of the drycycle. Sanitize caps or corks in a sanitation solution. After everything is sanitized, add the cornsugar mix to the bottling bucket, siphon mead from your fermenter into your bottling bucket andfill the bottles using a bottle filler. If making Melomel, add the fruit extract at this time. Cap yourbottles and you're done. Note: If you want to have still mead (non-carbonated) omit the primingsugar and bottle in wine bottles with a cork. Store your mead in a cool (60-70 degrees), darkplace for an additional 2 to 4 months. Not on a cool basement floor in winter. Meads storeespecially well and can be enjoyed anywhere from 6 months to 3 years after fermentation
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#12 armagh

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 04:37 PM

Hold on.12 pounds of honey is roughly = to one gal. of liquid. Mix that with one gallon H2O and you have 2 gals. liquid. Add 5 gals. H2O and you have one gallon fermentables to 6 gal. liquid. Go to the FAQs in this section and look for the mead spread sheet calculator and enter those volumes.
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#13 MtnBrewer

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 04:55 PM

Hold on.12 pounds of honey is roughly = to one gal. of liquid. Mix that with one gallon H2O and you have 2 gals. liquid. Add 5 gals. H2O and you have one gallon fermentables to 6 gal. liquid. Go to the FAQs in this section and look for the mead spread sheet calculator and enter those volumes.

It says up to 5 gallons. What he really wants to do is add the honey to a couple of gallons of cold water and then top up to 5 gallons. There are a lot of questionable things in those instructions. For example, it shouldn't take a week for fermentation to start and you shouldn't be doing fermentations at temps higher than 70. Also you won't need a blowoff tube.I'm not sure what to do about the yeast. I don't have experience with either one.

#14 Genesee Ted

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 09:27 PM

Wyeast Dry Mead yeast is really good. I have made fantastic meads with it. I would not use the Champagne yeast. I have made bone dry 18% ABV meads with the Dry Mead yeast alone. Make sure to provide the proper nutes and you will be rewarded. Alright. These instructions are a bit crappy. Yeah, it will work that way, but if you are going to go through all the time and expense to make mead, do it right. Read the Staggered Nutrient Addition FAQ that is on here. Do at the very least an improvised version of this. Also, the must needs O2. If you do these 2 things, you should have this sucker finished fermenting in less than 2 weeks. Even that seems long to me. It is not uncommon for my meads to ferment 12% ABV in a week using these techniques. The instructions are designed to make things simple for noobs, and the end product will be good, but not up to the full potential. If you want this to end up sweet, you will need to sulfite at some point to kill the yeast. I like dry meads, so I never do this. If I want sweet mead, I finish the fermentation, and then slowly feed more honey until the yeast crap out. Then adjust to taste. Go only a bit at a time because it is easier to add more than take it out.

#15 Corbin

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 06:06 AM

Thanks for the help guys. I feel like an idiot not noticing the FAQ on most of this. Hopefully my last question for a bit. I plan on letting this sit in a 5g carboy for at least three months. How many times will I need to transfer roughly? I know I will be transfering from the primary obviously but do some of you transfer every six weeks or let it sit the whole time in one carboy? Does anyone bottle mead in beer bottles or is it all wine bottles you guys?
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#16 armagh

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 06:58 AM

Transfer once from primary to secondary and let it sit until it's ready. Some people get bent about leaving mead on the lees for a long time fearing autolysis. I do not share the fear. Autolysis (there is an FAQ on this) can add desirable characteristics to mead. In fact, it is a hallmark component in some of the most expensive Champagnes. More Wine actually sells a product (or used to) called Sur Lie that mimics this effect in a shorter time frame. FWIW, I believe Wyeast's dry mead yeast is derived from a Champagne yeast, I want to say Prise de Mousse, but I am prepared to be corrected as this is from memory.As far as bottling, for a still mead, anything you like. For a sparkler, Champagne bottles with those plastic corks with wire cages are the safest option. Those bottles are meant to take the pressures. That said, I have used 750ml snap-caps for sparklers with no ill effects.ETA: there may be as many different opinions about how long/ how often to leave it before transferring as there are meadmakers on this board, so take mine with the requisite grains of sand.

Edited by armagh, 05 April 2012 - 07:18 AM.

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#17 MtnBrewer

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 08:34 AM

ETA: there may be as many different opinions about how long/ how often to leave it before transferring as there are meadmakers on this board, so take mine with the requisite grains of sand.

I totally concur, armagh. It's not the racking that clears the mead but the time in between. Rack once when fermentation is complete and then again when you bottle. The one exception might be 71B, which doesn't handle sur lie aging very well and it's best to get it off that yeast stat.Sand?

#18 armagh

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 10:41 AM

Sand?

You use "salt" over here?
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#19 MtnBrewer

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 12:08 PM

Like salt through the hourglass.....these...are the days of our lives. Just doesn't sound the same.

#20 Genesee Ted

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 07:58 PM

I have my process down pat. Do your primary. Crash it if you can, if not, give it a week to settle. Rack off the yeast and hit it with Sparkelloid. Bottle or rack again if your sediment did not pancake.


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