Fifty Batches and counting...

I've been making Meads and Beers since January 1992. In that time I've made over fifty batches, mostly meads but lots of beer in there too. Never dropped one, Thank God, but I've had several spills and boil overs, and one, most recently, explosion. Almond fragments everywhere, it wasn't pretty. But after a week of cleaning up the mess I got back up on the horse and started the recipe again, this time being a bit more careful to keep the fermentation lock clean.

I may put some recipes in here in the future, but as a general rule, my advice to new brewers is to keep your Original Gravities low, especially on meads, and then if you want more alcohol, add in more honey later in the ferment. Its more trouble to do it this way (more time, more sanitation), but you will get better overall results. I would say to shoot for an Original Gravity of no more than 1.100. When that drops to 1.050 - 1.030 you can rack to another fermenter and add some more honey. The overall amount of honey fermented will be greater than if you had started at say 1.150 and tried to let it go all in one batch. I know, I've tried. Not that you should be shooting for maximum alcohol in any case. The idea is to get something worthwhile to drink, not to push the limits of biology, chemistry and the law.

Another good tip with meads is adjuncts. The yeast really prefers to have something other than honey to chew on, so go ahead and add in blueberries, peaches, apples, raisins, raspberries, walnuts or almonds (but be CAREFUL!!). The ferment will go a LOT faster and may even get a little out of hand.

Lastly, watch your temperatures. I've gotten lucky and gotten drinkable meads and beers made in the summertime, but they were cool summers and the primary ferment was finished by the time the heat really hit. Keep it under 70F !! In fact most brewers would tell you 65F was a maximum temp and they are probably right. Cool temps make things slow down and you may be impatient, but you don't want to rush your brew and have it taste like acetone. 60F is fine for ales and meads. Any cooler than 50F and you are being maybe a little TOO cautious. By the way, I've had a bit of bad luck with alfalfa honey ferments in this regard. Definitely keep it cool, under 60F at all times.


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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 June, 1997