I found myself in Santa Rosa today and took the opportunity to swing by The Beverage People for a little free advice. The very kind woman behind the counter spent quite a while with me, answering questions and sharing wisdom.
It turns out that the mead is on the right track, despite a few errors. The yeast nutrient I was sold by the guys at The Oak Barrel in Berkeley was not up to the task of mead, being designed for beer, so my mead yeasties have been well-fed on sugar but otherwise malnourished (like most of America’s kids). So she gave me a different nutrient, specially designed for mead. Mix it in and the little guys will be bleching again in no time.
She also reassured me that I was reading my hydrometer correctly, which is good since I was having my doubts. When the specific gravity reaches 1.040 – 1.035 I should rack it off the dead yeast and into the carboy. Now that the yeasts have taken their vitamins, my advisor said that the mead should reach that level in two or three weeks. Not enough time to press the carboy into service for a batch of beer. After it’s racked to the carboy, it should sit until the SG drops to about 1.020 or so (it won’t go much lower than that), then bottled and allowed to age a few more months.
So it’ll be a while yet, but it looks like things are well on target for a grand unveiling somewhere between August and October.