In which Ricky the Meadmaker answers questions about seeing no bubbles through the air lock, distributing mead in Germany (he’s not), brewing with figs, brewing with herbal tea, and more!
As many of you know, I'm going to be on stage at the Vermont Burlesque Festival this evening, and right now I'm wearing a sweater. And under that sweater, I'm wearing a flannel shirt. Under that flannel shirt, I'm wearing a T shirt. Under that T shirt, I'm wearing my costume.
Welcome to Ask the Meadmaker, where I, Ricky the Meadmaker, answer your questions about mead making, mead drinking, mead brewing, and really any questions you're willing to send to me. Our first question this week comes from Jameson Brown, who is making a Viking style honey wine and he is having an issue. He has put everything together. He has put his yeast in there and he's not seeing, in his words, any carbon process through the filter. I think what he means is no bubbling through the airlock and a lot of things can cause this. One of them that I don't think I've mentioned before is he didn't put the bung in or the lid on correctly. It could just be that you're having a very active fermentation and the gas isn't going through the bubble lock.
Our next question comes from somebody where I really should have looked up the pronunciation of his name before I started answering the question. Trajan. That's definitely wrong. He wants to know if I plan on selling my mead in Germany anytime soon. He is in the armed forces there and thinks that Germans would love it. Members of the US Armed Forces would probably also like it. The answer is, Trajan, unfortunately, I'm not even selling in New Hampshire or Massachusetts yet, so I'll probably work on that first.
I don't know if you can hear, but our cinematographer is up early from her nap.
This is fabulous. I actually know the answer to the next guy's question, which sounds bad for a guy that is supposed to be answering questions, but this one's really exciting because it seems super esoteric and I'm just kind of proud that I know it. He, Jeremy, made a batch of mead where he chopped in a bunch of figs and now it reeks. He has made so many batches of mead and only had one problem before. What is going on? It smells like methane. Did he do something wrong? No, you did not. What you're smelling is sulfur dioxide. Most dried fruit is preserved with sulfites, which is why people thinking they get headaches from red wine is probably false if they've ever successfully eaten raisins, or plums, or apricots or anything really. So, the chances are that the figs are just off-gassing that sulfite. Maybe waiting will help. The other thing to do is don't use figs.
This next question comes from my mom who I think wrote in a long time ago, and then she had probably a ridiculous question, but this is a great question. She wanted to know if you could use celestial seasonings in the brewing of mead. If so, when would you add it? And using herbs packets of any sort, tea or herbal teas, there is one risk. When you dry certain herbs and grind them up to make tea, certain compounds are released that lead to bitterness. So, if you're going to use anything that comes in a little sachet in your mead, put it in towards the end of fermentation, even in secondary aging, then taste it every day and get it right off as soon as it starts to get bitter.
As everybody knows, every director wants to be an on-screen talent someday. So, Nora will be joining me for the last question. Look how big she's getting! She can stand up on her own.
It's a perfect question because Katie says, “First off, your baby is sooooo cute. Hold on, I have to recover from the cuteness.” Oh, me too. She asked a bunch of questions here that I've answered in other places. Katie, go look at the backlog, but there's a really good one. What is the proper specific gravity to bottle if I want a sparkling mead? I don't know that I've answered this before. Don't do it. Don't try to hit a mark and then bottle and hope you get the right number of bubbles. It can be done. But I will tell you commercial manufacturers who do that still have bottles explode from time to time. Just dry it all the way out and throw in some priming sugar.
That's our last question this week. Keep sending your questions and I'll get to them as soon as possible. Cheers.