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Wildflower Honey? (and other newbie questions)


I’ve been giving some thought to trying my hand at mead-making. I’ve been giving more thought to it since deciding to make a honey porter and being advised to try wildflower honey. I need 8 oz. of honey for that, but if I buy it from Northern Brewer I’ll have two and a half pounds left over. Thus: mead!

Thus my first question: would 2.5 lbs. of wildflower honey be enough for a gallon of mead? More importantly, would it make a good mead? Or would I be better served finding the honey for the beer somewhere else, and trying this at a later date with some other honey?

Assuming I should continue with a wildflower mead, I have a few questions about the mechanics thereof. For starters, would a one-gallon jug be sufficient? Or is there as much loss in mead-making as in brewing beer? Related to that, is an airlock generally good enough or would I need a blowoff tube?

Is the recipe simply: honey, water, yeast, yeast nutrients? And is the initial process simply heat to 150° F for half an hour, cool, add other ingredients, shake vigorously?

What yeast should I use to make a semi-sweet mead? Also, am I right in thinking that a semi-sweet mead is a good way to start, as it would allow me to extrapolate the flavor toward dry and sweet?

How long should I expect it to take in the primary and secondary fermenters? I’ve read everything from a few weeks in each to two months in one, ten months in the other.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Here is my standard batch:

Orange Blossom Mead

Date _____________ Temp ___________

• 15 lbs Orange Blossom Honey (they sell it at NB)

• 2 ½ tsp. of Fermaid-K (yeast energizer) and 5 tsp. DAP diammonium phosphate (Yeast Nutrient)

• K1-V1116— 59-86° F, alcohol tolerance 18%

• 3.75 gallons of water

• Two cups of water in microwave for 2 minutes added to honey container to dissolve residual honey.

• 8 gallon bucket and lid for primary

O.G.: ________

Moved to secondary ________________________ S.G. ___________________

Bottled: _______________ Date: _________________ F.G. _____________________

Don’t start this batch if the temperature is above 66 degrees. 60-62 max, or lower is even better.

Pour one gallon of water in the sanitized bucket, then add all the honey. Microwave water as stated above and shake it inside the honey containers to dissolve the rest of the honey. Pour into the must. Stir until you have mixed the honey and water as much as possible.

Add the rest of the water up to five gallons.

Aerate the must a bunch. I have a drill attachment that I use. The yeast need a bunch of oxygen at the beginning of fermentation.

After you aerate add the energizer and nutrient. If you don’t use energizer and nutrient the batch will either get stuck or suck. Honey is a very hostile environment for yeast. Don’t add the energizer and nutrient before you aerate—there is a possibility of a chemical reaction causing a mead volcano blasting sticky must everywhere.

Add the yeast, you can hydrate or not. This particular yeast is a monster fermenter, and it finishes very clean.

Primary for two months. Yes, two months. It should go from around 1.10 to around .998. Even though it will be totally dry it will still seem somewhat sweet.

Secondary in a regular carboy for ten more months. It will be astonishingly great. The ABV will be around 14%.

The more it ages, the better it gets.

Thanks for the advice!

Since this is just a test, for me, I don’t think I’ll go as far as making five gallons of it. But I’ll definitely incorporate your advice into my recipe. I’ve changed the yeast and added the yeast energizer to my shopping list.

Regarding aeration, will vigorous shaking do the job well enough? I don’t have any fancy aeration gadgets, and can’t really afford them, especially not for what amounts to a test batch. I’ll only be making a gallon of mead, so I was thinking of putting the mead and half the water in a gallon jug (plastic, to avoid broken glass and severed arteries) and shaking it until my arms fall off. Does that sound good, or am I doomed?

Sure, that should work just fine.

Excellent! I have a plan. Thanks again for the advice. :slight_smile:

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