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Angelic Alchemist
03-09-2010, 02:32 PM
12/11/09 - Combined in bucket:

5lbs local raw wildflower honey (Texas bulk from Whole Foods)
2lbs organic white multisource honey (Apitherapy brand, from Vermont)
3.5lbs Distilled Rain Water (Yes, I measured by weight)
5g (1 packet) rehydrated K1V yeast

OG (according to the mead calculator) = 1.205
pH = 3.8
Fed 1T superferment post-lag (24H later)

12/21/09: Racked to secondary carboy. pH = 3.6, SpG unreadable with my hydrometer (need refractometer!)

02/07/10: Racked off gross lees. Didn't bother with the hydrometer. It smells great and tastes even better, but I'm getting this weird growth at the top of the must (see photo). I assume it's a colony of yeast trying to escape being comatosed by alchohol. The must tastes tangy and I assume it's from carbonic acid production, but my paranoid side worries it's a lactobacillus infection. What do you all think?

AToE
03-09-2010, 02:38 PM
I get something like that too, but it's usually whiter. I think it is mostly wax/misc particles from the honey, maybe you're seeing more than usual because of the unusually high concentration of honey in this one?

Medsen Fey
03-09-2010, 03:04 PM
A refractometer isn't going to help you; most refractometers won't go beyond a Brix of about 40. If it is off the scale of your hydrometer (which usually goes to about 1.170) then a regular refractometer won't get you a reading. You'd need a honey refractometer. It might be easier to dilute a sample by 50% and then take a reading.

You've started at such a high gravity that you are likely to have a stuck fermentation with a huge amount of residual sugar. The good news is that such a mildly alcohol syrup will be highly resistant to spoilage organism (just as it is yeast toxic). I don't think that is a bacterial problem.

Medsen

Angelic Alchemist
03-09-2010, 03:19 PM
You've started at such a high gravity that you are likely to have a stuck fermentation with a huge amount of residual sugar. The good news is that such a mildly alcohol syrup will be highly resistant to spoilage organism (just as it is yeast toxic). I don't think that is a bacterial problem.

Medsen

My understanding of Poltorak was that it made dessert meads taste like chalk. I think making alcohol syrup was the whole point of the project.

wayneb
03-09-2010, 04:03 PM
My understanding of Poltorak was that it made dessert meads taste like chalk. I think making alcohol syrup was the whole point of the project.

While that's true to the first order, ;D generally the procedure that's followed is to make a moderately high initial gravity must (on the order of 1.130) that is fermented to the neighborhood of 15-16% ABV, and then to make several small additions of honey to that must until you get up to the final ratio. This allows for more complete fermentation and fuller integration of all the flavors.

However, fermentation "complete" is just the start of the process for a poltorak. You then have to age it for a very, very, verrrrrrry long time (Jadwiga used to be aged in oak barrels for up to 25 years - now there is so much worldwide demand that it only gets held for 6, and there is a definite difference in the final product!). Aging with exposure to oak, and with some means of micro-oxidation, are essential to creating the same kind of integrated drink that the Poles produce.

Medsen Fey
03-09-2010, 04:41 PM
Půłtorak is a High-Alcohol syrup.

Under the EU definition of půłtorak which can be found through the links in this thread (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=15340&highlight=Poltorak):



The physico-chemical indicators typical for

‘půłtorak’ mead are:


— alcohol content: 15-18 % vol.,



I don't think you are going to achieve anywhere close to that. When making a půłtorak, you don't start with all the honey at once as that puts too much osmotic stress on the yeast. At a gravity of 1.200, you reach the point where some yeast will not even be able to start fermenting and those that do will die off prematurely.


I'm not saying that a low-alcohol, super-high sugar mead has to be bad. Tokay essencia (http://finestandrarest.com/tokaji.html) which is a very low-alcohol and and extremely high sugar wine is a revered delicacy. I'm just saying this may not be a viable way to make půłtorak. Something like might be good, but might require an extremely long period of aging in order not to be cloying.




Medsen



P.S. Wayne, you're speeding up. :)

Angelic Alchemist
03-09-2010, 04:56 PM
While that's true to the first order, ;D generally the procedure that's followed is to make a moderately high initial gravity must (on the order of 1.130) that is fermented to the neighborhood of 15-16% ABV, and then to make several small additions of honey to that must until you get up to the final ratio. This allows for more complete fermentation and fuller integration of all the flavors.

However, fermentation "complete" is just the start of the process for a poltorak. You then have to age it for a very, very, verrrrrrry long time (Jadwiga used to be aged in oak barrels for up to 25 years - now there is so much worldwide demand that it only gets held for 6, and there is a definite difference in the final product!). Aging with exposure to oak, and with some means of micro-oxidation, are essential to creating the same kind of integrated drink that the Poles produce.

Yeah, we were joking around about how the batch will be ready to drink for my 40th birthday. I couldn't find any instructions that weren't written in Polish, so I guessed at the techniques. I stayed away from step feeding as I was under the impression it was a no-no, but considering the aging time I suppose it doesn't matter. My friend who had tried a real Poltorak said he detected no notes of oak and just a slight oxidation.

I'll keep looking for that perfect refractometer. The dilution method is brilliant, but I don't want to pull off that much of the volume and throw it away in the end.

Angelic Alchemist
03-09-2010, 05:04 PM
I'm not saying that a low-alcohol, super-high sugar mead has to be bad. Tokay essencia (http://finestandrarest.com/tokaji.html) which is a very low-alcohol and and extremely high sugar wine is a revered delicacy.


Mr. Fey, you have some of the most intresting pearls of knowledge up your sleeves! Thanks for the link, that is just too cool!

jdw03n
03-09-2010, 05:04 PM
! I'd love to make something that would hold for 18 years - would be cool to crack it open on my 50th.