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Chimerix
11-18-2006, 04:29 PM
Aloha again!

So, in continuing my long-standing methodology of "shoot first, do research later," it seems I got partly lucky in my first recipe.

I used 20 lbs of honey, and a yeast capable of 18% ABV. If I understand my readings correctly, that means I'll most likely end up with a mead that has a hefty 18% kick, but remains sweet since the yeast will poison itself before finishing the job.

However, I was rather hoping for a sparkling mead, and originally had planned to prime it with a touch more honey at bottling time. Which now seems pointless.

So, as we finally approach the question, how can I get this particular mead to sparkle? Will priming work? Or will I have to resort to more mechanical means with pressurized CO2? And, if so, just how would I go about doing that as cheaply as possible?

Mahalo for the help!
Tom

insanity
11-19-2006, 01:02 AM
I recently made a mead that was poised to finish on the sweet side for my tastes and the honey used. Fermentation was still active but slowing. To ensure it finished drier, I added some water to the mix and airlock activity coninued for several weeks.

So let's pretend I had enough sugars to achieve 14% with a residual SG of 1.030. In my case, I added water and lowered the finishing gravity to about 1.050 with the same potential ABV%. I f I added a little more water, I would think it would ferement dry enough so that a little priming would yield a carbonated product.

Please note: I don't have a lot of expereince with sparkling meads. I've tried to make a few without success. And some of my others have have carbonated without my intent that they do so.

Chimerix
11-21-2006, 07:08 PM
Thanks for the reply, insanity! Good info, but not exactly what I was hoping for.

Maybe I was a little unclear in my first post. I sometimes sacrafice clarity in favor of readability... let me try again.

To make a sweet mead, my understanding is you simply throw in so much honey that the alcohol levels become toxic to the yeast before it is all fermented.

Since the yeast is dead, or at least inactive, due to the alcohol content, is there any reason to think that priming the mead at bottling will yield a sparkling result?

Since the logical answer is "no," how else can I carbonate it?

Thanks again,
Tom

akueck
11-21-2006, 07:51 PM
Not that this will help your current mead, but there are a couple of ways I can think of to make something sweet and sparkling at the same time:

1. Add unfermentable sugar for sweetness. This (mostly dextrose) is one of the reasons beer has residual sugar. Wine yeasts are more aggressive about eating hard-to-digest sugars, so you might have to go with lactose as your unfermentable.

2. In line with the beer idea, use an ale yeast. They don't attenuate as fully as wine yeasts, leaving some sweetness behind.

3. Methode champagnoise. Totally beyond my level of involvement, but very ubercool if you can pull it off.

4. Borrow the keeving idea from cider. Also way beyond my skill and patience level, but also ubercool. (Keeving produces a low nutrient must which the yeast cannot fully ferment. Bottle before it's done and voila!)

And some that might help you now:

5. Force carbonation. Apply an overpressure of CO2 and it will dissolve into your mead (give it at least a week to do so). This requires a keg or similar apparatus. This way, you can carbonate anything!

6. Well-timed bottling & chilling. This one is tricky and might result in some explosions before you get it right. Bottle your mead before it's done fermenting (though very nearly done). Let it carbonate to your liking, then crash cool. If you're lucky the yeast goes dormant before blowing the bottle up and leaves some sugar behind. You'll have to cool the whole batch at once though, so space can be an issue. This is the way you make sweet sparkling sodas at home.

Probably none are all that practical without some extra equipment or lots and lots of practice. Basically, so far as I know, making something sweet and sparkling, without force carbonation, is very difficult. French Champagne and cider houses do it; the rest of us can only emulate.

Chimerix
11-21-2006, 08:28 PM
Mahalo, akueck! That's exactly the sort of info I was hoping for.

My favortie option, by far...


6. Well-timed bottling & chilling. This one is tricky and might result in some explosions before you get it right. Bottle your mead before it's done fermenting (though very nearly done). Let it carbonate to your liking, then crash cool. If you're lucky the yeast goes dormant before blowing the bottle up and leaves some sugar behind.


Woohoo! Mead Grenades!!

Rhianni
11-24-2006, 06:14 PM
Unfortunately I dont think you can make this particular batch naturally sparkling. To get it sparkling you have to have some fermentation continue in the bottle. At 18% it would be very hard for the yeast to continue to ferment though I suppose its possible. You could add all the sugar in the world and the yeast wouldnt touch it if they were alive at all.

One thing you could try is to keg the mead and artifically carbonate it. A friend of mine has soem kegging equipment and is debating this very thing.