Simple Mead in a Hot Climate

Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:59 pm

I tried mead for the first time while back in the US last month. It was actually more like a barley wine with honey, but tastey nontheless. So the other day I looked up "easy mead recipes" for the hell of it, and came across some people making still mead with common grocery store items (1 gallon mead = 2 lbs honey, 20 raisins, baker's yeast, and an orange or another fruit to tweak the flavor)...

Since I have no easy access to ingredients here in Thailand (especially good yeast), this recipe intrigued me as a fun little side experiment. They recommend racking to a secondary and leaving it for 6+ months, and I don't mind waiting this long, or even a year+ if it will turn out decent. I'm just concerned that the average 80F (and 90+ when I'm out of town) temperature in my house will be too much for the baker's yeast to handle. I'd probably make a 5 gallon batch. I figure if I'm going to wait a year I may as well make a lot of it!

With that being said, is this simple recipe worth trying, or will the high temps just spoil any effort I make?

If it is do-able, any suggestions on a good fruit to add other than oranges, or an easy tweak to the recipe that will improve it?
In the fermenter: Nada

In the cellar: Super Citra APA

On deck: Bugeaters' Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Amber
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DonMoleon
 
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Re: Simple Mead in a Hot Climate

Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:21 am

Yeast can "handle" temperatures up to 110 degrees. As a matter of fact they like those temperatures better. The flavor they make at that temperature is another story but you should try it. At most you lose a few bucks for a couple pounds of honey and a pack of yeast depending on what you can find there. What is the native fermented beverage there? You might have more success making whatever that is.
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ziggy
 
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Re: Simple Mead in a Hot Climate

Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:55 am

2 lbs per gallon would make a pretty thin mead. I'd recommend 3.5 to 5 lbs. per gallon.
Try and find some fresh yeast. Maybe from a local baker. Baker might be a good source of honey too.
If the mead tastes good after fermentation is done then drink it if you want.
It's a noble experiment given your limited ingredients.
Good luck! :jnj
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captain carrot
 
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Re: Simple Mead in a Hot Climate

Wed Jan 30, 2013 6:42 am

At that temperature you will get a lot of alcohol hotness on it.

Is it possible for you to get some sort of in wall air conditioner that you can temp control a very small space for fermenting?
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Re: Simple Mead in a Hot Climate

Wed Jan 30, 2013 8:26 am

Good tip with using more honey and finding fresh yeast. Thanks!

I have plenty of air conditioners in my house, but my electric bill will go through the roof if I keep an A/C running on high 24/7 for 6-12 months (I am currently running an A/C full-time in my smallest bedroom just to keep my current batch of beer at 7OF, and that's even with the fermenter sitting in a tub of cool water and a wet t-shirt covering it. It's HOT in Bangkok!)... so a dedicated year-round A/C is not an option for the mead unfortunately.
In the fermenter: Nada

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DonMoleon
 
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Re: Simple Mead in a Hot Climate

Wed Jan 30, 2013 8:42 am

It is less than optimal, but if you can keep the temp down during the first few weeks of the ferment, you can then let it sit at 70+ for the rest of the year. The high alcohols will only be formed at first during the primary fermentation. After that, you are mainly just speeding up the oxidizing processes while slowing the clarifying processes.
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Re: Simple Mead in a Hot Climate

Wed Jan 30, 2013 8:57 am

adamK wrote:It is less than optimal, but if you can keep the temp down during the first few weeks of the ferment, you can then let it sit at 70+ for the rest of the year. The high alcohols will only be formed at first during the primary fermentation. After that, you are mainly just speeding up the oxidizing processes while slowing the clarifying processes.


Keeping it around 70F for a few weeks is do-able, since I can just time it with my next batch of beer (realistically a few months down the road). However, for the remaining months it will have to deal with temps of around 90F on avergae, with swings of 5F or so in either direction...

How much yeast will I need for a 5 gallon batch with twice the amount of honey (approx. 20 lbs)?
In the fermenter: Nada

In the cellar: Super Citra APA

On deck: Bugeaters' Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Amber
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DonMoleon
 
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Re: Simple Mead in a Hot Climate

Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:34 am

DonMoleon wrote:Good tip with using more honey and finding fresh yeast. Thanks!

I have plenty of air conditioners in my house, but my electric bill will go through the roof if I keep an A/C running on high 24/7 for 6-12 months (I am currently running an A/C full-time in my smallest bedroom just to keep my current batch of beer at 7OF, and that's even with the fermenter sitting in a tub of cool water and a wet t-shirt covering it. It's HOT in Bangkok!)... so a dedicated year-round A/C is not an option for the mead unfortunately.


My thought would be to build a small chamber big enough to put 2-3 carboys in. Cheap plywood, a little insulation & your A/C wouldn't have to work very hard at all. If you spent a little extra on good insulation it might be effective enough that you may barely notice the electricity charge. Wood is a pretty amazing insulator by itself. If I were building one, OSB plywood is dirt cheap here so I'd probably double it up on the sides & top then line the inside with that blue (sometimes pink) foam board. I'm rather OCD, so I'd add a little spray foam on the inside creases. 1 stop at Lowe's for less than $100 I could probably build 2 of them (not including the A/C units).

I'm sure the materials available to you are probably different or at the very least at a different price point, but it may worth looking into. It's an insulated box - you could make it out of almost anything. If cost isn't a big deal you could go a little nicer on the supplies, stain the outside to look like a cabinet or chest. A digital single stage temp controller would be another nice option.
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