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Beau Erwin

Who wants to make some mead?!

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Without a pure strain you would certainly end up with some lactobacilus bacteria which would sour the mead and some molds strains that would destroy the batch.

 

You can continue to culture a commercial strain if the batch turned out extra special. I have done that with some beer yeasts but you always risk introducing some other pathogens along the way.

Edited by B Finnigan

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You can culture yeast out of a beer or ale that is not pasteurized. Leave a couple of inches in the bottle, and add about half of the bottles worth of malt sugar dissolved in water, and put an airlock on it (which can be as simple as a piece of plastic tube, one end in the bottle, the other in a container of water). It is hard to get pure strain yeast this way, since yeast mutates pretty fast, but I have done it. It's also hard to get enough yeast culture, when you pitch a batch of mead, you want to hit it with a big load of yeast to give it the best chance of inoculating the wort, it's hard for yeast to get a hold in mead, too many complex sugars and proteins. I usually use a yeast nutrient to help things along.

 

If you are brewing beer, or know someone who is brewing, save the gray goop that settles in the primary fermenter. A couple of cups of goo and some yeast starter (a quart of water and 2 cups of malt sugar dissolved in it) will give you a nice, fairly pure strain, yeast culture. I've done this as well, you can get several batches of beer out of a single batch of yeast.

 

Geoff

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I still have several beer yeast cultures in the fridge from over ten years ago. I just bottled some of the sediment in a sterile beer bottle and capped and labeled it. I used one last year after reactivating it and it turned out great.

 

You have to have a tolerant spouse that doesn't mind having yeast cultures in the fridge. I know several guys that got into brewing and then got out after getting too much static on the domestic front. My wife actually drinks more mead and wine then I do so I am actively encouraged (ie nagged) to keep brewing.

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Mead is quite literally capable of giving you Biblical hangovers. Pretty sure there's something in the Bible about someone defeating an army by feeding them mead the night before the battle. Not a bible scholar, sorry.

 

Mead is definitely much easier to manage. I had a batch that sat in the fermenter for over a year after fermentation had stopped. I bottled it, let it age and it was great! Seems much less complicated than wine.

 

Joe Nelson

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I second Geoff's comment on using champagne yeast. It's been several years since I last made a batch of mead, but my best recipe was a spiced cyser (honey and apple cider). A few folks got to try some I brought to Harley's back in 2005 and seemed to like it.

 

These days I'm too far from apple growing territory, and hence can only find cider with sodium benzoate preservative, which kills yeast. Plus with hive collapse, varroa mites, etc wiping out the bees all over the place, it's getting harder to find affordable honey. Those problems aside, there's nothing alcoholic I've found that is better than good mead.

 

Michael

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Ah, my secrets are Irish moss, gypsum and champagne yeast. A bit of citrus or tea go a long way! No oxidation after capping the carboy (but plenty of aeration on the way in,) and giving it time, time, time. Six months to a year in the carboy and six months *minimum* in the bottle. I have some 1 1/2 year old stuff that is just becoming drinkable...

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8 to 15 lbs per 5 gallon batch sounds real low, may work if your yeast is weak, ie, bread or beer yeast, otherwise it'll be drier than a popcorn fart without additional sweetening by means of non-fermentable stuff. I've been doing mead for over ten years now and generally use between 4 and 5 lbs of honey per gallon, and always add some yeast nutrient and citric acid. I don't bother with clarifying, just rack off a couple times before final bottling and after about 4 months from bottling it's good, best after a year imho. Estimate I get about 16-18 per cent with a good champagne yeast or sherry yeast.

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All the recipes I have ever used never called for more then 15 lbs per 5 ga of water. Even when I get to around 10-12 lbs it comes out very sweet with a high specific gravity.

 

I use this website as a starting point for different types of mead.

Mead recipes.

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All the recipes I have ever used never called for more then 15 lbs per 5 ga of water. Even when I get to around 10-12 lbs it comes out very sweet with a high specific gravity.

 

I use this website as a starting point for different types of mead.

Mead recipes.

I just remembered your gallon is quite a bit smaller than the Imperial gallon we use up here. All the same, it sounds like either your yeast is not up to the job or somewhere along the line the batch is getting too warm. Either that or you need a bit of acid in the mix, grape or lemon juice or even strong tea would help. I usually start the batch at a 3 lb/gal ratio and add the extra honey after a couple weeks strong ferment. I can get a dry mead at 4 lb/imp gallon ratio this way, and runs about 15-16 per cent. I've gotten as high as about 18 in the sweeter meads.

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