Brew log: monofloral traditional mead experiments

Gallon jugs and honey waiting to achieve a perfect union

I started a parallel set of one-gallon batches the other day, keeping the recipes constant but the type of honey used different, specifically for the purpose of seeing how the different honeys ended up developing over time. On the first day, I put together the musts with the following recipe:

  • 4 pounds honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon RJS yeast nutrient (diamonnium phosphate, yeast hulls, magnesium sulphate)
  • Lalvin D-47 yeast
  • Water to 150 ounces (up to the shoulder of the 160 oz carboy)

Initial gravity readings were between 1.114 and 1.132, which gives a potential alcohol of anywhere from 15% to 17%. Ambient temperature is about 18-19°C, or roughly 64-66°F. The ideal temperature range for the D-47 is reported as 59-68°F, so I should be fine for the time it’ll take for the yeast to stop their activity. I should consider moving on to a yeast with a broader temperature tolerance if I’m going to brew in the spring and summer, though, since stressed yeast create off flavours.

The musts after a good shaking to aerate and mix

And the honeys were from the blossoms of:

  • Blackberry
  • Blueberry
  • Raspberry
  • Cranberry
  • Orange
  • Borage

All of the above were from the Main Street Honey Shoppe, except the raspberry, which was from Creighton Valley Apiaries. Clover is pictured in the image, but I swapped it out for the cranberry at the last minute.

The starter after 24 hours

In the meantime, I’d also made a starter of yeast, honey, nutrient, and water, and allowed it to activate for 24 hours. I normally don’t make starters, but since the word is that it’s hard to make honey and water ferment, I decided to make the extra effort and get a good yeast colony started. I used this starter, as well as an extra dusting of yeast in the carboys, to inoculate each of the jugs.

The blueberry batch was the first to show signs of activity, and vigorously too, at the 24-hour mark (which is when I added an additional 1/4 tsp of nutrient per jug). The rest followed suit within a few hours after that, except the borage honey, which took until about 48 hours to start foaming. Once I was satisfied that there would be no overflowing, I made additional musts at 1.12 SG and 1/8 tsp yeast nutrient to top the carboys right up to their necks. I used Kirkland honey to top up the raspberry, since I only had exactly 4 pounds for the initial must, and the flavour was close enough to the raspberry.

And now, time to put these away and forget about them for a month or so, at which point the yeast should have settled down enough for a racking.

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