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Robintun
03-25-2009, 01:49 PM
Just a general question and maybe I am not fulling understanding clearing, but do higher FG meads tend to take longer to clear if everything else is constant? For example, if you make 3 batches with all the same ingredients except in one you have 12#, second you have 15# and 3rd you have 18# of honey, would they clear at the same rate after fermentation was complete assuming that the yeast was good to ~14% and theoretically the first one was dry to 12% (saying 1% per # - I know it is not that simple, just trying to keep the question simple) second was sweeter at 14% (most sugars used) and the third was really sweet 14% with a lot of residual? And if you have that much residual in the third, is it possible that it would never fully clear and remain mildly milky? Or does it not work that way at all?

DaleP
03-25-2009, 02:07 PM
Yes they do, the more sugar left in the mead the thicker the mead. Most clearing is a function of gravity, the less resistance the minute particles have to overcome, the quicker they fall.

Robintun
03-25-2009, 02:28 PM
Thank you for the very simple reply, exactly what I was wondering. So I have a desert mead going that I believe is about as close as done as it will get, ~14% ABV by OG to SG, I would have to check my log. I think the last SG I got on it was right around 1.045 two weeks ago after racking it. The dryer meads have since cleared and taste great already only a few short months since starting them. The desert mead batch is still far from clear. I will try to be patient and give it a few weeks to months to clear on its own (it has been racked twice) as I do not like adding additives due to my wife's allergies. My last little sample of it though tasted good enough to drink even if it was not clear ;) Patients is the hardest lesson I am learning with mead though. And I think I got lucky with this bulk batch of wildflower honey as these batches had the overwhelming aroma of apples while fermenting which has, so far, carried over well. Could not smell or taste that in the honey initially like with most varietal honeys though.

DaleP
03-25-2009, 04:09 PM
The apple smell may be a byproduct of the yeast not the honey. Considered a fault in most beers, doesn't mean its a fault in mead. What yeast did you use?

Robintun
03-30-2009, 05:44 PM
Sorry for the slow reply Dale, wanted to just cut and paste recipes from my logs. Each of these three had a similar sweet apple smell despite two different yeasts. Berry is starting to overtake the apple aroma in the second but it is still there. I have heard using normal table sugar in the brewing process can add a granny smith apple flavor that is sour. I am not good at describing smells or tastes but this has a fragrant apple smell as if you walked into a local farmer's market selling a variety of fresh apples, not like apple juice or cider. And notice that the Sweet Mead (desert mead currently) has a much higher current S.G. than I mentioned above. It is still quite uniformly cloudy.

Sweet Mead
11/6/08
18 lb of Wildflower honey (from Dutch Gold Honey)
Lalvin ICV D-47 (Saccaromyces cerevisiae)
Glass carboy filled with filtered water to at least 4 gallons
1 teaspoon Superferment (added later)
Temp at time of O.G. : 72F
O.G. Uncorrected: 1.150 (20% PAC on hydrometer)
3/15/09 SG 1.065 at 57F

Blueberry Medium Sweeter Mead
11/6/08
15 lb of Wildflower honey (mostly from new 2nd 5 gallon pail from Dutch Gold Honey)
3Pounds 1 Ounce of Blueberry Pure
Lalvin 71B-1122 (Saccaromyces cerevisiae)
5 Gallons fill line on plastic primary fermenter with filtered water
~1 teaspoon pectic enzyme
2 teaspoons Superferment (added later)
Temp at time of O.G. : 76F
O.G. Uncorrected: 1.118 (16% on hydrometer)
3/14/09 SG 1.014 at 56F

Dry Mead
11/6/08
11 lb of Wildflower honey (from Dutch Gold Honey)
Lalvin ICV D-47 (Saccaromyces cerevisiae)
Glass carboy filled with filtered water to at least 4 gallons
1 teaspoon Superferment (added later)
Temp at time of O.G. : 72F
O.G. Uncorrected: 1.090 (12% on hydrometer)
FG: 1.006 (03/14/09, Temp: 56F, 0.6% on hydrometer, 1.5 )
Estimated AC: 11.4%
17 wine bottles (and 1 small ice wine bottle) and 12 beer bottles

DaleP
03-30-2009, 05:53 PM
I defer this subject to one much wiser than myself, Karst. He has a much broader understanding of how/why the yeast contributes this apple smell than I.

STLBrewer
03-31-2009, 10:04 AM
I second that! Karst, please help explain this phenomenon...

Good call, Dale!

wayneb
03-31-2009, 12:11 PM
Well, since Karst hasn't been back to reply, I'll provide a little info on this. The "green apple" aroma comes from an organic compound called acetaldehyde, which is a natural byproduct of fermentation. In fact, it is a precursor to ethanol production and the fact that some acetaldehyde ends up in the must is a sign that your yeast were somewhat stressed and didn't do the full conversion on some sugars. Some yeast strains are more prone to create acetaldehyde than others, and fermentation of some sugars (like raw cane) will increase yeast stress and result in more acetaldehyde production. Likewise, other environmental stressors (high temperature, excessively high or low pH, insufficient oxygenation early in the fermentation, etc.) can stress your yeast and cause the production of noticeable acetaldehyde.

It does naturally decompose with time, so aging will reduce the problem if you're willing to wait.

Medsen Fey
03-31-2009, 01:42 PM
While waiting for Karst to respond, I'll also give you what I can. The green apple smell can come from a variety of components. Acetaldehyde is one which is produced by the yeast during fermentation, and which is then converted into alcohol. Oxidation (and some spoilage organisms) can lead to conversion of alcohol back to acetaldehyde which can produce the apple aroma, but usually also has some of the nutty, sherry-like aroma. This would generally be considered a flaw in most beers and wines (Madeiras and Sherry being exceptions). One can bind the acetaldehyde readily with a little sulfite to clear it, and take steps to protect the mead from oxygen.

In addition to acetaldehyde, there are a variety of esters that can give and apple aroma including hexyl acetate, ethyl octanoate, fructone, methyl butanoate, and pentyl pentanoate among others. Ester production in yeast depends on many factors including the strain, the temperature, fermentation conditions (gravity, oxygenation, etc.)the availability of medium chain fatty acid precursors, and the activity of various genes which have been identified, and which are being studied. These compounds, rather than being a flaw, contribute greatly to the pleasing aroma of a wine or mead, and thus all the study.

So to me, having some apple aroma that doesn't have the oxidized nature of sherry in a mead is just fine and actually makes for a very pleasing aroma. On the other hand, if you are developing oxidation, you should act quickly to rectify the problem.

I hope that helps.

Medsen

Robintun
03-31-2009, 07:53 PM
Thanks for those explanations. I do not believe that is the type of apple odor I am smelling. It is not at all the green apple smell or taste and is quite pleasing to me. I used to like to go in the closed room I had them in while they were fermenting because it made the hole room smell tasty.

I also stopped at my brew supplier today and mentioned the cloudy high gravity mead and he said the same thing you all have. He did suggest using "Super-Kleer K.C." if it still is not clearing a month or so after fermentation is complete. Was only $3 so I bought it just in case. He also said it is possible if it stays at a high SG it may never clear just because it is "thicker".

Medsen Fey
03-31-2009, 08:04 PM
For clearing the mead, the best remedy is time (perhaps at a cold temperature). Even very sweet meads will clear, but it may take more than 6 months to do so. You can use various fining agents or filtration if you are in a hurry, but with mead making, it never pays to be in a hurry.

wayneb
03-31-2009, 10:51 PM
One thing to keep in mind about Super Kleer, is that it contains chitosan as one of the active ingredients. Chitosan is a protein refined from shellfish. It essentially binds to some of the agents that cause haze, and then precipitates to the bottom of the carboy allowing you to rack the clear mead off of the top. However, some folks are extremely allergic to shellfish and although I have not heard of a single case where Super Kleer caused an allergic reaction, some folks refrain from using it - to be absolutely safe.

I agree wholeheartedly with Medsen. All meads clear with time, but sometimes the amount of time is measured in significant fractions of a year. Patience is a meadmaker's best trait. :)

Robintun
03-31-2009, 11:09 PM
I agree wholeheartedly with Medsen. All meads clear with time, but sometimes the amount of time is measured in significant fractions of a year. Patience is a meadmaker's best trait. :)

Ah yes, and this is why I eventually took up brewing beer too ;). But now that you have confirmed that even this mead will clear with time, I am more interested in just waiting. I was under the impression that some meads had things like pectin in them that absolutely would not clear without assistance. This is the only reason I have used the pectic enzyme in the blueberry mead at the advice of some here. I would not even use the Superferment except that every source I have read insists some additive must be used in making mead or it will turn out poorly. I can not even use Campden Tablets due to the allergies some of my family members have, so thank you for cluing me into that issue about Super Kleer. Overly cautious it may be as you said, but better to be safe than sorry. And what is a few extra months anyway, since it will just force me to let it age longer. As it already tastes good at just 4 months, forcing my patients is probably a good thing in this instance.

wayneb
04-01-2009, 10:29 AM
Yes, pectins are the most persistent source of haze in a finished melomel but with enough time even they will eventually decompose and the mead becomes clearer. That, however, can literally take years. I made many cysers back in my early meadmaking days without using pectic enzymes and we routinely drank them hazy -- figuring that they would always stay that way. Well, about 12 years after I bottled one particular batch I found a bottle of it that I'd squirreled away and forgotten about. When I poured a glass, the liquid was clear and bright as a gemstone.

I'm not advocating that anyone PLAN to be that patient -- pectinase is a miracle-worker for high pectin fruits -- but I do know that time eventually clears (almost) all meads! ;D

Medsen Fey
04-01-2009, 10:58 AM
but I do know that time eventually clears (almost) all meads! ;D

While I try to practice patience, mine usually runs out after 9-12 months. If it hasn't cleared by then, I start fining/filtering.

And when using fruits, pectinase is definitely a good idea. I was even reading in Acton & Duncan's book, "Progressive Winemaking" (Thanks again, Brimminghorn) that they recommend using it even when fruits have not been heated. The reason being is that pectins, even without being set with heat, may act as a protective colloid to keep more particles in suspension. Removing the pectins with enzymes may prevent that from occurring.

Good Mazing!
Medsen