Monday, December 12, 2016

Homebrew update

Time for an update on the 3-gallon batch of mead I began last week. The must hit the 1/3 sugar break (that means 1/3 of the total available sugars had been consumed by the yeast) on December 5 with a 1.054 specific gravity reading. Following the BOMM protocol, I gave nutrient additions of .75 tsp of DAP and 2.25 tsp of Fermaid K. For the record, I pitched the yeast December 2 around 11 p.m., so I hit the first sugar break at less than three days. I expected the ferment to progress a bit more slowly than it has, as I pitched the yeast directly from the packet rather than building up the yeast numbers via a starter colony, but the yeasties didn't seem to be phased in the slightest.

The temperature has read consistently around 70F. I degassed 3-4 times daily (shaking the fermentor vigorously to release dissolved CO2 from suspension), but no matter how long I shake there's always more CO2 blowing out. A strong yeast smell came from the airlock, and no off odors at that point.

By December 8, the sg reading was 1.020, meaning the must hit the 2/3 sugar break of 1.027 early that morning. I degassed and pitched .75 tsp of DAP (I was getting getting close to the 9 percent alcohol cutoff, at which point yeast cannot metabolized non-organic nitrogen, but not quite there yet) and 1.25 tsp Fermaid K rather than 2.25 tsp, because that's all that I had left. The temperature was around 69F. The ph reading was 3.6. I hoped the additional nutrients I pitched were enough to keep the yeast from stalling out, as the additions were well short of the recommended BOMM nutrients.

I took a taste, and even at that stage I could say this was shaping up to be the best mead I've ever made. It was very clean and smooth, no harsh fusel alcohols present at all (and I know from fusels). It was floral, lightly sweet with strong citrus overtones. It was somewhat effervescent despite the degassing, so I wonder if that contributed to the citrus?

On December 9, Less than 24 hours later, the sg reading was 1.004. The temperature of must was 69F. Citrus still predominated the taste, with some yeastyness creeping in. It was beginning to taste a little hot, with a faint hint of fusels present. I guess the Wyeast 1388 wasn't entirely happy with my skimping on the Fermaid K the last feeding. Fortunately, there was absolutely no sign of this one stalling out. It was the fastest ferment I've ever seen.

On December 10, sg reading hit 1.000, meaning all sugar had been consumed and fermentation was over. The flavor was dry, yeasty, with some moderate harshness from fusels, but not a tremendous amount. The citrus aspect was much diminished. The final alcohol levels were around 10.4 percent. I'd wanted it to be slightly higher, so I dissolved roughly 13 ounces of honey in about a cup and a half of warm water and pitched it into the mead. Renewed fermentation should bring the final alcohol levels up to around the 11.5 percent mark. I expect the renewed fermentation has already finished by December 12, but there remains dissolved CO2 coming out of solution that keeps the airlock bubbling regularly.

The plan now is to let it sit for a week or two and clear, with the suspended yeast and other particles settling out of the solution. Once it's fairly clear, I'll rack into a 3-gallon carboy and begin adding spices and such to turn it into a metheglin. At this point, I'm pretty optimistic I'll have a good, drinkable mead in just a few months. Fingers crossed.

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