PDA

View Full Version : First Timers FG question



Ingnacious
03-26-2011, 10:25 PM
Greetings all,

After making 18 batches of beer and trying some amazing meads at my club's holiday party, I decided to try my hand at my first mead. I have been browsing the forums here for a while to get my feet wet with info and thought it time to ask a few questions to help me out. Browsing the forums, it is possible I missed an existing thread on this topic, so here I am asking anyway. First off, started with a kit from my LHBS and went from there. The following is my recipe that I used and the process I went through for this 'experiment'. Did a 5 gal batch that I want to split into two half batches, one for a cherry melomel and one for a straight (maybe depending on the flavor) meads. All depending on how these go, I may split each again by half and do still and sparkling. Anyhow, I digress...

Melomel Kit

12 lbs of orange blossom honey
~5 lbs of regular honey
12g Nutriferm Energy (yeast hull based nutrient)
4 package of mead nutrient (each package = 1/2 tsp yeast nutrient and 1/4 tsp yeast energizer)
2 package Lalvin 71B-1122 yeast
OG 1.100
FG 1.000 (as of right now, no current / VERY little airlock activity)

I started off with water from the 'water island' at my grocery store. Upon further research, perhaps this was not the best idea. Not sure though.

I boiled the water for 15 minutes, shut off the heat then added the crystalized orange blossom honey. I used the same technique for the crystalized regular honey. After mixing the different musts together, I chilled in an ice bath. In my carboy I added one package of mead nutrient and dissolved with some water. After the must chilled to ~ 75 F, I added to the fermenter - 5.25 gal. Re-hydrated the yeast with the 12g nutriferm energy in warm water and let set for about 10 minutes. Aerated the must as best I could and pitched yeast, OG was 1.100. After 8-10 hours I had a VERY vigorous fermentation happening (approx 2 bubbles / sec). Followed the schedule for the remaining three packages of mead nutrient at 24, 48, 72 hours. The fermentation stayed at 70 for three weeks.

Today was the first time I have taken a gravity - 1.000 and I tried it and it smells very nice, very similar to the honey I used. I can also smell the alcohol. I honestly was not expecting to get this low of a gravity and, although it smells and tastes okay, it is too dry for my interests. I made the mistake of not having any original must left over, but I have yet to add the cherries in one half of the batch. When I rack to my secondaries, I will purge the head space with CO2.

Now that I may have bored you with the above, my questions:

What would be the best way to back sweeten to make a semi-sweet mead since I do not have any original must? How can I do this without getting an additional fermentation?

Since I do not have a good way to crash the mead outside of putting it into a keg and 'lagering' it for a while, is there another way to force the yeast to hibernate without chemicals?

Would crashing in a keg cause any problems? After this crashing period, going back into carboys at approximately 58 F be an issue?

Should I rack to a secondary 5 gal carboy to get the mead off of the yeast and age / clarify it here before I split the batch and add the cherries?

I guess that is all for now. I greatly appreciate any help that you may be able to offer on this subject and keeping me on the right track. Thanks for the valuable info that I have come across here and I am looking forward to producing some fantastic meads!

Prost!

akueck
03-26-2011, 11:15 PM
Hi Ignacious and Welcome!

Congrats on a successful fermentation. 71B is a good yeast for reliable, easy fermentations. The catch is that it doesn't do well on the lees, so I would suggest racking it once it starts dropping out sediment.

Racking into a keg and then into glass is no problem. Cold crashing will speed clearing, but isn't essential.

You'd definitely want to stabilize before backsweetening. Going from 1.100 to 1.000 is within the alcohol tolerance of 71B, so adding more sugar now could restart fermentation. You can do a forum search on stabilization, sulfite/sorbate, or backsweetening and get a lot of good information. WayneB and Medsen have had some good posts on the topic.

It isn't necessary to sweeten with the original must, you can use anything you want. For example, if you stabilize before adding fruit you will have a good chance of preserving all the fresh fruit character and the sugars from the fruit. Or you can use honey, maple syrup, peppermint candy, or jujubees. Check around the forum and you'll see there are no rules. :p

You can clarify before adding fruit, especially if you don't want to ferment the fruit sugars. You can also just add the fruit and it will clear up over time on its own.

tweak'e
03-26-2011, 11:30 PM
Since I do not have a good way to crash the mead outside of putting it into a keg and 'lagering' it for a while, is there another way to force the yeast to hibernate without chemicals?



nice going on the first mead 8)

trouble with cold crashing is yeast can wake back up later on while its in the bottle. without chemicals you could either pasteurize it which can loose a bit of taste or sterile filter it which will strip out some of the flavor to.
which is why stabilizing it with chemicals is popular and requires less equipment.

fatbloke
03-27-2011, 04:41 AM
Well, that 100 point drop will currently represent about 13.5% ABV, so it's still feasible that the yeast could go further.

Hence, I would cold crash it, then rack it off the lees. Then sorbate and sulphite to stabilise it, give it a couple of days, then back sweeten to 1.010 with honey syrup (50/50 honey water), and only then start the clearing process properly (finings or whatever).

The reason why I suggest you back sweeten first, is because you can often get hazing from back sweetening with honey, so rather than clearing it first, if you back sweeten, then clear, you'd only need to clear it the once. Plus, because you've already got it racked off the gross lees, you're unlikely to experience any autolysis of the yeast etc......

A good choice of yeast for a first attempt though, it does seem to produce quite a good flavour when the mead is young, which when you first start brewing mead, is encouraging.

regards

fatbloke

Ingnacious
03-27-2011, 03:29 PM
Thanks all for your expertise and suggestions. For now, I have decided to rack to a secondary carboy and let the temp drop to the mid 50's of my basement. I'll let it sit like this for a month or more (I'll be moving sooner than I want to) and let things settle down and out. I won't worry about adding the cherries and back sweetening until later. I'll keep you posted when I make any additional moves.

Prost!

mccann51
03-27-2011, 08:13 PM
Aging it a bit before backsweetening is a good idea, as you'll be amazed how much apparent sweetness returns to the mead once the alcohol has mellowed a bit. I've had meads that I was absolutely sure were too dry, and then after just a month or two aging have suddenly become "just right".

AToE
03-27-2011, 08:39 PM
I can't restate that enough, I've got meads that finished at or below 1.000 and taste just perfectly sweet.

Ingnacious
04-06-2011, 10:12 AM
Thank you all very much for your advice. I'll be letting it age and keep and eye on the amount of yeast that will be settling out in the secondary carboy. Another question I have is - when in the secondary, should I rack off the smaller amount of yeast at some point, or the 'dusting' of yeast a good thing for the flavor profile?

I'll keep you posted the next time I give it a taste.

Prost!

AToE
04-06-2011, 12:46 PM
Thank you all very much for your advice. I'll be letting it age and keep and eye on the amount of yeast that will be settling out in the secondary carboy. Another question I have is - when in the secondary, should I rack off the smaller amount of yeast at some point, or the 'dusting' of yeast a good thing for the flavor profile?

I'll keep you posted the next time I give it a taste.

Prost!

With this specific yeast you want to stay off the lees as much as possible. I generally like to rack out of secondary and into tertiary no later than about 1.5 months after racking out of primary into secondary. That generally will take care of most of the sediment that drops, but after another 4-8 months I do need to rack at least once more.

71B is the only yeast I've seen that actually comes with a warning against attempting lees aging. Now, others yeasts can indeed do something "good" for the mead (good depends on the type of mead and personal preference here). Try some searches for "sur lees" to get an idea of what's involved in lees aging (usually periodic stirring) and what it brings to the mead.

Medsen Fey
04-06-2011, 03:21 PM
You're close enough to the alcohol tolerance level of the yeast that if you add more honey (or any other sweetener that doesn't dilute too much) you may find the yeast don't ferment more (or not much more in any case). Cold crashing in a keg may potentially lessen the chance of more fermentation, though it is certainly not a reliable way to prevent re-fermentation.

One nice thing about a keg - if you cold crash and then rack off the lees to another keg, if you sweeten it isn't a problem if fermentation starts up again. You'll just have it pressurizing the keg and you can release the pressure from the pressure-relief valve.