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View Full Version : Clearing a cloudy mead, irrational fears



Tokala
11-02-2011, 02:52 PM
I have two super sweet melomels going right now, a cherry and a pear/peach, and they're both really cloudy. I just tasted the cherry during racking, and oh god is it sweet. This is not a problem at all, but I have this irrational fear that clearing it will kill the flavor. My first batch is less sweet and tastes like mouthwash at the moment. It probably needs more time, lots more. Anyway, should I let the cherry sit for a while more in hopes that it clears? (It's tasty right now but cloudy, I'm really tempted to just bottle it.) Or should I try bentonite? (This is assuming that it's done fermenting... I'll know this for sure in about a week)

Also, apologies for how scattered and fragmented this is, I'm distracted and somewhat out of it from this storm, and the associated power outages.

fatbloke
11-02-2011, 03:33 PM
I have two super sweet melomels going right now, a cherry and a pear/peach, and they're both really cloudy. I just tasted the cherry during racking, and oh god is it sweet. This is not a problem at all, but I have this irrational fear that clearing it will kill the flavor. My first batch is less sweet and tastes like mouthwash at the moment. It probably needs more time, lots more. Anyway, should I let the cherry sit for a while more in hopes that it clears? (It's tasty right now but cloudy, I'm really tempted to just bottle it.) Or should I try bentonite? (This is assuming that it's done fermenting... I'll know this for sure in about a week)

Also, apologies for how scattered and fragmented this is, I'm distracted and somewhat out of it from this storm, and the associated power outages.
Ok, so irrespective of whether you use any finings or not, a batch will usually clear over time, but there's often no real way of predicting how long it'll take. Yes, you can "cold crash" a batch if it's finished fermenting, but without gravity (or other test of remaining sugar content) measurements you won't know if it's finished, or a stuck ferment.

Very sweet, often indicates that you used too much honey in the batch and the yeast has "pooped out" at it's alcohol tolerance, or that the ferment is stuck (there's a number of reasons for that).

So I'd suggest that you try taking some readings to know exactly where the ferment has got too.

Also if you post the whole recipe that you've used and the method/technique then it's much easier to offer advice/suggestions/ideas about where to go next.

As for losing flavour when clearing ? No, the only flavour you'd lose is that of the yeast etc. Bentonite or sparkolloid, are both, I understand, quite "gentle" finings. Personally I've never had any issue with using the 2 part/24 hour finings, from the point of view of taste/flavour. The batch you mention that tastes like mouthwash, well I'd guess that is the "alcohol hot" flavour. Ken Schramm uses the analogy of "Listerine" in his book, I just tend to say that it tastes "medicinal". Either way, it normally mellows with time (it could also be fusels, but without the recipe/method/technique etc, it's hard to tell).

Apart from working out whether the very sweet batch is still fermenting, or whether it's stuck or not, it sounds like you're good to go.

Oh and cold crash would be to chill it close to freezing for a period (3 or 4 days ??) then racking it off the sediment.

Tokala
11-02-2011, 05:21 PM
I'm fairly certain I put way too much honey in, but that's okay. When we get our new hydrometer in, I can take another reading and find out if it's still fermenting. (Unfortunately I don't have a starting gravity reading, but I do have a reading from when I racked it, and a fairly detailed recipe)

As for the mouthwash one, it's not the same "hot" taste I got last time I racked it... I'll post full recipes when I can get to them again.

RightHookCook
11-02-2011, 06:09 PM
If you used normal cherries and not the tart type ones then its pretty normal to ferment into a mouthwash type taste, as fatbloke says medicinal.

Tokala
11-02-2011, 06:17 PM
I'll clarify, (no pun intended), it was actually an orange batch that tasted medicinal. The cherry batch is just cloudy, and I'm not sure it'll clear on its own. I guess my real question is: What are the major problems associated with bottling before it clears? (assuming it's done fermenting and I don't get bottle bombs etc.)

YogiBearMead726
11-02-2011, 07:29 PM
You'd get a bunch (like 1/2" or more) of sediment in each bottle. Not only that, but the yeast that fall out might start to burst, spilling their guts of enzymes into the mead, which can be really nasty tasting depending on what yeast was used.

I have two questions:
How old are these batches? And what is the rush to bottle these? Like others have said, they should clear on their own given enough time (ie, at least six months, maybe even longer depending on the batch specifics). Of course, clarifying agents help speed clearing up, but do little for actual aging, which to me is an essential part of the process.

Tokala
11-03-2011, 12:24 PM
Okay, update with 2 out of the 3 recipes. But first I'll answer the questions. These are extremely young meads, and the rush to bottle the cherry is due to it tasting very good as it is, and my being impatient. Just sampled the peach/pear that I started along with the cherry, and it will certainly need a lot more aging.

As a note, I do not have starting specific gravities for these, because I was impatient and started them before my hydrometer arrived.

Sweet Cherry Melomel:
Started 8/19/2011

1 gallon batch using
4lbs Hannaford brand clover honey
20 rasins
1 bag sweet cherries, pitted and halved (~3lb bag)
1/2 packet Lavlin K1-V1116

Rehydrated yeast in ~100 F water only. Split packet in half with peach pear mead.

Put airlock on and forget about it.

Rack 10/27/2011, color dark red and opaque, SG 1.072
Taste: Deliciously sweet, almost entirely covers the alcohol.
(Will be testing taste and SG again today, will report back soon.)



Pear/Peach Melomel:
Started 8/19/2011

1 gallon batch using:
just under 4lbs Hannaford clover honey (lost some in the honey jars and in a required must pour-off to get it to fit with the fruit)
1 medium sized peach, sliced (no pit)
1 medium ripe bartlet pear, sliced
1 medium not-so-ripe bartlet pear, sliced
~35 rasins
1/2 packet Lavlin K1-V1116

Rehydrated yeast in ~100 F water only, split packet with Cherry Melomel

Put on airlock and forget about it.
(Break hydrometer after racking cherry melomel. Decide to wait until new one arrives to rack the peach pear)

Rack 11/3/11, translucent light peach color, still cloudy.
SG 1.040
Taste - a little hot, has a bit of a burn after it goes down as well, pear is stronger than peach (as expected), but needs to mellow a lot.
(This one I'm in no rush to bottle or clear or anything, it needs to age, and that's fine with me.)



The third batch was the first one started, basically before I knew anything, and that's the one that tastes pretty bad (it didn't last time I racked it about a month ago, but now it's just horrible. Dunno what happened.) That recipe is in the mead log section somewhere, I'll dredge it up later and ask for help on that one in particular. But these two, particularly the cherry, are the ones I wanted to talk about in this thread.


EDIT: Cherry melomel tested again for SG today 11/3/11. SG of 1.074. My SG went up... something is wrong here.