PDA

View Full Version : Fermentation "done"?



DGettere
06-22-2009, 12:04 PM
How do you know when the mead is "done" fermenting? I know you can say when the hydrometer stays at the same gravity for a few days. So then I will have a finished mead, but how can I determine how sweet of a mead I want?

Should I always let it ferment out the whole way then backsweeten? Should I stop fermentation when I'm at my desired gravity? Or plan it out so that there is remaining sweetness after the yeast poops out?

skunkboy
06-22-2009, 01:33 PM
You could do any of those three according to personal taste.

Some people don't like using chemicals to stabilize their mead, so they let it run and put in enough honey so that it should remain sweet. If it ends up too sweet you can blend in some dryer mead.

If you want it to have a specific gravity when it is done (ie. 1.025) you would probably
want to let it run pretty dry, treat it, and then add more honey back to sweeten it again.

akueck
06-22-2009, 02:49 PM
Should I always let it ferment out the whole way then backsweeten? Should I stop fermentation when I'm at my desired gravity? Or plan it out so that there is remaining sweetness after the yeast poops out?

Skunkboy is correct, all three are used and it is mostly a matter of personal preference or sometimes happenstance when things don't go according to plan. If you don't mind using chemicals, stopping a fermentation might be a good way to go. The issues here are 1) how do you stop an active fermentation? and 2) when do you stop it? Since the flavors evolve over time, it can be difficult to gauge how sweet the mead will taste 6 months or 2 years into the future, especially when you are tasting things like yeast still in suspension. Also, the yeast might not want to stop, so you might end up with less sugar than you intend anway. This method is probably best after you have made a recipe a few times already and know what SG you like it to be at the end. Then you can wait until you hit that level and crash cool + rack and treat with chemicals.

Planning some extra sugar in there is a good way to go, but has some caveats too. I have done this with a few meads now, and all have chewed through more sugar than they were "supposed to". Again, this method is one that might not work as planned the first time but you will be able to make adjustments from iteration to iteration to get where you want to be.

Backsweetening is probably best for a one-off kind of experiment since you can do it without prior knowledge of how the yeast is going to behave. The issue here is making sure you don't get refermentation of the new sugars. Also some people don't like the "raw" honey flavor as much as the "fermented" flavor, but many folks can't tell the difference. With good chemical stabilization or sterile filtration, you should be able to backsweeten successfully. I would suggest not worrying about the SG, but aiming to add sweetness until it tastes best to you. You can then check the SG and use that to plan future batches using other methods, if you so choose.

Medsen Fey
06-22-2009, 04:30 PM
While it is true that you can use any of the approaches, for the new mead-maker, stabilizing and backsweetening is by far the easiest way to get the level of sweetness you want, without overpowering it with alcohol.

Also, knowing it is done entails a little more than just seeing a stable gravity for a few days. You can be stuck and still have a stable gravity only to find later that it unsticks after you bottle it. It helps to know the starting gravity, the final gravity, and which yeast you used.

If you post up your recipe details, folks here can help you decide where it stands.