Friday afternoon (yesterday), I ran up to Greenville to check out supplies at Grape & Grains, a local homebrew/wine supply shop. I browsed around for a bit, looking at the options. I had already checked online, and wasn’t seeing as rich an array of supplies. So finally I bugged the proprietor. He was kind and helpful, which I needed.
I was specifically interested in larger vessels – both for primary fermentation and secondary fermentation. I was also interested in getting more air-locks for some of these low-scale vessels I’ve been using. I considered getting sodium metabisulphite for later, but didn’t. I also had decided to get a hydrometer, which I did. Check. Oh, and a siphoning tube set for racking soon. Check.
Secondary fermenter I knew would be a carboy – makes perfect sense. And glass, too. So I got a 6 gallon, glass carboy. Check. Primary fermenter – part of me just wanted a really big glass jug with a screw on top. I didn’t want plastic; I guess an unreasonable goal. My concern was safety, but I was assured that getting the food-grade plastic tub was a good idea, not a safety-concern. Sheer weight of fluids may crack the bottom eventually, though. So, I got the 6.9 gallon food-grade plastic tub with lid. Check.
I didn’t see any yeast around the shop, which I had seen online, but I just hadn’t looked far enough. In my mind I’m thinking mead. I really want to see honey ferment properly. So I was pointed to ICV D47, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. I got two. One should be enough for the tub/carboy to test out mead. The other I can probably divide between maybe strawberries or peaches in a smaller quantity – though I need a vessel. Later.
So I have the vessels. I have wine yeast – not just bread yeast – and I have pears, lots of pears. What I don’t have is enough honey or water. Quick stop at Whole Foods in Greenville, then WalMart ($1.13 for distilled water from Whole Foods, really!?) and I’m set. 1 gallon of honey and 5 gallons of water, a 1:5 ratio since I’m adding fruit. Back home, we start mixing things up. You can see the pictures below as things got started.
AFter assembling ingredients other than yeast, I checked the reading on my new hydrometer, a specific gravity of 1.060. Seems that people expect the SG to much greater than that, 1.085 up to even 1.160, though that is specifically stated for wine – maybe that only applies to grapes. That figure doesn’t take into account sugars from the solid pears. Hmmm. I could add more honey, I suppose.
Once everything was together, I stirred vigorously every fifteen minutes for the next 3 hours. Then, I sealed up the tub (with air-lock in place), and went to bed. Hadn’t yet seen any active bubbling, so a little concerned. Has something gone wrong?
No worries. This morning I found a happily bubbling pear mead. I stirred again, then resealed the tub. I’ll probably stir every 12 hours for the next day or two. So far not seeing any air-lock activity. But then again, I’ve been using solid-piece air-locks, not 3-piece – so I’m not sure what to expect from the 3-piece.