First, the back ground, for those who are new to this blog. (Welcome!) All links will open in new tabs, so you won’t lose your place. 🙂
We’ve been keeping a close eye on our baby mead, keeping the temperature at the warm end of the temperature range recommended. If it dropped to 16C, I would turn on the electric heating pad to the “warm” setting, and that would bring it back up to 18C.
We could see bubbles inside the airlock, so there was still active fermentation – something we’re pretty sure had stopped completely well before this point in our first batch. The “burp” had dropped to about 23-27 seconds apart and seemed to be staying there for the past few days, so my daughter and I planned to transfer the must to another 1 gallon glass carboy for a second fermentation today.
The jug we are using are actually from some apple cider that’s been available at the local grocery store for Christmas, so wanting another jug for the second ferment was a nice excuse to get more cider.
It was excellent, mulled with spices. 😀
This meant we could finally test out the auto siphon, too, so we were pretty excited about that.
The first thing we did, though, was use the hydrometer. We didn’t do that with our first batch until the day we bottled it, and the alcohol level was basically 0. So we really wanted to get a reading at this point.
My daughter was on sanitizing duty, and as soon as the needed items were available, I used the wine thief to get a sample to test.
It JUST fit through the neck of the jug! I had not expected that to be a problem, but the wine thief was wider than I remembered it. 😀 The size of the gallon jug also meant I had to take out several samples to get enough to do a reading in the container the hydrometer came with.
Once I dropped it in, it was really obvious that things were good! Before, I could barely get the hydrometer to float at all, but this time, it was much, much higher!
The reading came to 10% alcohol by volume.
Yay!! We have booze!
It was a very exciting moment.
Then, because we weren’t about to pour the sample back into the must, we used it to taste test.
As with our first attempt, there is a light effervescence to it. We could definitely smell both the alcohol and the honey much more strongly than our first batch. It has a rather floral smell to it, at this point.
The taste is quite different, too. For starters, it is MUCH sweeter than before. The honey to water ratio in this batch is higher than our first batch, so I was expecting it to be sweeter. Just not by that much! I hope that means there’s still plenty of sugar to continue the fermentation process.
The next step was to transfer the must to the second jug, leaving the sediment behind. Technically, we could have left it for the entire fermentation, but I’ve read that if it stays longer with the sediment, it can develop an “off” taste.
This is when we discovered that the new auto siphon doesn’t fit in the neck of a 1 gallon carboy!
Right around then, the phone rang. It was the tow truck driver, letting me know he was on his way to pick up my mom’s car. So I had to bundle up and head outside to unlock the gate and get my mom’s car out of the garage, leaving my daughter to dig out and sanitize the racking cane that came with our fermentation kit. By the time I came back, she had successfully done the transfer!
My daughter had moved the carboy out of our new fermentation spot to do all this, so I lay the heating pad flat on the rigid insulation we are using as a base and turned it on to the warm setting. After returning Mead Baby to the spot and swaddling it again, I did a temperature check. The base was 19C, and the must was 18C, so while the heating pad was put in place after the carboy was swaddled in a towel, there was no need to turn it on. We will continue to monitor the temperature and keep an eye on the airlock.
For this second fermentation, we can leave it for as long as we see fit, really. I didn’t get a chance to take a photo, but it is still cloudy and completely opaque at this stage. It should clear over time, though I’ve read that sometimes that can take months. It can be drunk whether cloudy or clear. It’s a matter of preference, from what I’ve read.
I’m really happy with how things are turning out this time. The changes made seem to have made quite a difference! We’re already talking about making our next batch – in the fermentation bucket! – after Christmas, this time using fruit!
I hope my cousin still has 5kg buckets of liquid honey available. 🙂