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Earendil
03-20-2012, 12:45 PM
10 days ago, I started a Pineapple Melomel using the following recipe, which I gleaned from the Brewboard site (http://www.brewboard.com/index.php?showtopic=11201), making a few adaptations along the way. Here's the recipe I used:

Pineapple Melomel (6-1/2 gallons)
22# Wildflower Honey
3 pineapples (6 pounds of pineapple, peeled, cored and cut in small chunks)
2 packets of Lalvin 71B-1122 Champagne yeast (projected 14% ABV)
4-1/2 gallons filtered water
6-1/2 tsp of DAP/Nutrient
4-1/2 tsp of Energizer/Fermaid-K

Original SG.: 1.125
Target SG: 1.018 to 1.025
pH: 3.87

I followed an aeration and nutrient regime I worked out with Chevette Girl, akueck and others in this thread: http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=19409

Basically, I added 1/2 the Energizer/Fermaid-K at pitch, added 1/2 the DAP/Nutrient at the end of the lag phase and then mixed the remainder of the nutrients/energizers and dosed the must with it during aeration for the first three days of primary fermentation.

The fermentation has been a vigorous one. Initially, because of the addition of the fruit, the pH dropped from 3.87 to 2.96 by the third day; I added 2 tsp of calcium carbonate to bring it back to about 3.7.

It is now 10 days later and I noted a severe drop in activity (based upon the bubbles in the airlock); in fact, it is almost zero. Being concerned and not having checked its SG and pH for about 4 days, I pulled a sample to check it and found that:

SG: 1.000 <----- !!!!
pH: 3.8

It appears to have fermented to complete dryness! This is not what I wanted (or expected from the 71B-1122 yeast). I wanted a final gravity of about 1.020; obviously, I'm about 20 points below that.

My first impulse was to mix another quart or two of honey into a small amount of water and then gently stir it into the must to give the yeast something to eat and to pump the SG up to the medium/medium-sweet target point I wanted. But I thought better (or worse) of it and decided that it would be best to consult others before letting my uncommon sense run away with me. I feel some sense of urgency; after all, my friends (the yeasts) are in there starving and, therefore, subject to stress ...

I tasted it; it doesn't taste bad; it is dry but not unpleasantly so and it has that slightly medicinal taste that pretty much every batch of 71B-1122 I've made has had before aging, but the taste is not bad at all.

So my immediate question is "What, if anything, can I do to recover the SG in the must without ruining it?" Is adding more honey a viable option here? If not, is back-sweetening my only other option?

My longer-term and more profound question (to the degree that I am capable of profundity) is: "How can I better calculate my original gravity?"

We assume that a good fermentation will drop the SG of a must by about 100 points (from 1.124 to 1.024, for example) and establish our original gravity accordingly but this rule of thumb does not take into account the varying amounts of ABV produced by different yeasts. I've been pondering what a better formula might be and I have some ideas that I'll post to this thread later; right now it's the beginning of a very busy workday and I'm already running late. (Actually, it is not unlikely that others have worked this out and I just don't know it yet ... so please tell me.)

Any words of wisdom or advice as to how I can raise the gravity (and sweetness) of this mead (or any other words of wisdom) will be gratefully read and carefully considered!

Thanks to All!

TAKeyser
03-20-2012, 01:09 PM
Every yeast has it's drop and just assuming that a 100 point drop is a good fermentation isn't correct. It would be a bad fermentation for something like EC1118 which should drop about 130 points. D47 and 71B should give about a 105 point drop and would have put you right where you wanted, but as with almost everything in life things don't always work out as they should and you can get larger drops. If you want to backsweeten rack onto Potassium Meta Bisulfite and Potassium sorbate to stabilize (according to the directions on your package) and add the additional honey until you get the sweetness you'd like. If you mix the honey prior to stabilizing you are just providing the yeast with additional sugars that they can go after and you may still end up with a dry mead, just with more alcohol.

TAKeyser
03-20-2012, 01:18 PM
I use Lalvin yeast which seems to be the most common used and to give you some gravity drop ideas you can expect with these yeast

D47 and 71B about 105 points
RC212 and DV10 about 120 points
K1V-1116 and EC1118 about 135 points

these are based off the posted max alcohol which a good fermentation and SNA should produce, but there could be some hardy cells in the packet that could continue past these numbers or you could stall early due to a number of reasons (temp, nutrients, etc.)

triarchy
03-20-2012, 01:59 PM
Any words of wisdom or advice as to how I can raise the gravity (and sweetness) of this mead (or any other words of wisdom) will be gratefully read and carefully considered!

Thanks to All!

I would definately stabilize and backsweeten at this point. Adding more honey will eventually lead you to your desired level of sweetness too, but it will be a bit of a guess on when the yeast will stop making alcohol. You might introduce some off flavors from stressed yeast as well.

Here is my arguement against trying predicting yeast behavior consistantly. I did two high gravity meads last year using 71B (SG 1.145). Both ended up around 1.010, which is quite a bit over tolerance. I used the SNA & management from Oskaar's recipes. Ive found the same basic trend with a few other batches using different yeast as well. For me, I have just decided that predicting what the yeast will do is too hard. They seem to rarely stop at rated tolerance, for me at least. I just read the alcohol tolerance as a minimum number now.

For most of my meads, I just aim for 12-13% ABV and backsweeten to how i want it. This has been working out much better for me and I have control of the process now, for what that is worth.

TAKeyser
03-20-2012, 02:11 PM
I would definately stabilize and backsweeten at this point. Adding more honey will eventually lead you to your desired level of sweetness too, but it will be a bit of a guess on when the yeast will stop making alcohol. You might introduce some off flavors from stressed yeast as well.

Here is my arguement against trying predicting yeast behavior consistantly. I did two high gravity meads last year using 71B (SG 1.145). Both ended up around 1.010, which is quite a bit over tolerance. I used the SNA & management from Oskaar's recipes. Ive found the same basic trend with a few other batches using different yeast as well. For me, I have just decided that predicting what the yeast will do is too hard. They seem to rarely stop at rated tolerance, for me at least. I just read the alcohol tolerance as a minimum number now.

For most of my meads, I just aim for 12-13% ABV and backsweeten to how i want it. This has been working out much better for me and I have control of the process now, for what that is worth.

I've found that most yeasts will go beyond what they are rated for, by about 10-15 points for me, but knowing the base number is a great place to start when choosing the yeast to use. Knowing that 71B is about a 105 drop average and that I get about a 115 drop from it it allows me to better decide which yeast to pick. If I had a must that was at 1.150 and I wanted it to end at 1.015 I wouldn't choose 71B because normally it would stop around 1.035 for me (it's rating would be about 1.045).

The other nice thing about knowing these numbers is in my opinion it is better to go to dry than end too sweet. As dryness is easily corrected with the backsweeten process.

Earendil
03-20-2012, 02:50 PM
Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful replies; I very much appreciate them.

There ought to be a way to factor in the yeast's characteristics into the equation.

It occurred to me that one could use the yeast manufacturer's alcohol tolerance level (14% in the case of 71B-1122) in conjunction with the specific gravity to calculate this. For example, the 14% that 71B-1122 uses represents about .108 in terms of SG. Therefore, if one wanted a sweet mead, one would add another .012 to .020 to this to get a target original gravity of 1.120 to 1.128.

Having said that (and presuming that the logic is ... well ... logical), the over-production of alcohol you have both pointed out seems to be a fact here. My initial mead-making efforts (before I found GotMead.com I worked solely from Ken Schramm's book) seemed to produce very predictable results, in terms of SG and alcohol. I'm inclined to think that part of the difference is the regime of nutrition and aeration I've learned here. I'm considering factoring that in, in future batches by adding another 10 points or so to my original gravity when using this feeding/aeration regime. What do you think?

I like your approach, triarchy, of using 'stop-and-back-sweeten', though I don't like using yeast-killing chemicals (or any unnecessary chemicals) in my meads. Also I want this one to be sparkling, so I'd like to leave them in there, rather than kill them all off and then add more of them. Open to anyone's thoughts on this ...

Rather a pressing question on my mind is 'should I rack now?' to get the mead off the yeast before it becomes stressed? 10 days seems awfully early, but ...

Again, thanks very much for sharing!

TAKeyser
03-20-2012, 03:00 PM
I like your approach, triarchy, of using 'stop-and-back-sweeten', though I don't like using yeast-killing chemicals (or any unnecessary chemicals) in my meads. Also I want this one to be sparkling, so I'd like to leave them in there, rather than kill them all off and then add more of them. Open to anyone's thoughts on this ...

Rather a pressing question on my mind is 'should I rack now?' to get the mead off the yeast before it becomes stressed? 10 days seems awfully early, but ...

Again, thanks very much for sharing!

To answer the second question first, I would wait until I saw the same gravity reading for a few days as I've had meads drop below 1.000 to 0.995, don't ask me how this happens. After that I usually rack into secondary as soon as I can.

As for the yeast-killing chemicals, they're not really chemicals as the ones suggested are natural occurring elements so you are not putting anything inorganic into your meads. In my opinion it's the same as when you added nutrients during the fermentation.

As for the back-sweeten and still make it sparkling there is a thread going on here http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=19491 that discusses the issue from a couple different points of view.

TAKeyser
03-20-2012, 03:07 PM
There ought to be a way to factor in the yeast's characteristics into the equation.

It occurred to me that one could use the yeast manufacturer's alcohol tolerance level (14% in the case of 71B-1122) in conjunction with the specific gravity to calculate this. For example, the 14% that 71B-1122 uses represents about .108 in terms of SG. Therefore, if one wanted a sweet mead, one would add another .012 to .020 to this to get a target original gravity of 1.120 to 1.128.



And to answer this part both Triarchy and I seem to regularly exceed the numbers given for the Yeasts. Through experience I have noticed that when I use 71B it will drop .115 to .120 Just adding more sugars is not going to necessarily provide the results you want because you are providing more sugars for the yeasts to consume. It could still produce a dry mead with a Higher Alcohol Content.

You might not get these same numbers as the environment you make mead is different than mine and things like nutrient additions, aeration and temperature all play a part in fermentation. All I can suggest is use the numbers I listed below as a starting point in choosing your yeasts, but keeps notes on what YOU get out of these strains to see if their is any consistency in YOUR results. It'll take a few batches but you'll start seeing a pattern if one exists.

Matrix4b
03-20-2012, 06:51 PM
I agree here with the stablize and backsweetening option. and Sparkling? From what I understand that if you want sparkling AND sweet you need to force carb method, otherwise it's bottle bomb heaven. That's my two cents.

Matrix

Earendil
03-25-2012, 12:25 PM
After the last time I posted, I waited and measured yeast activity; it continued to bubble every couple of minutes and its SG remained at 1.000 ... So yesterday I racked it into a carboy. It tasted 'hot' and somewhat medicinal but I expect (and fervently hope) that this will level out over time. It didn't taste much like pineapple but the area sure smelled like pineapple! I read a number of postings on brewblogs by people who have made pineapple melomels; most of them said that the must was 'undrinkable' or 'terrible' until it had aged. Then it became anything from wonderful to ambrosial ... I hope mine will follow the latter path.

Having now racked this mead, should I (in your opinions) stabilize it now or should I allow it to take its course in the secondary? Or does it matter? I've never stabilized a mead before; any words of wisdom?

Another question ... how long can one leave a must on the lees, especially in the primary fermentation? The NewBee Guide advises racking at about 2 bubbles/minute, while the yeast is still fairly active. On the other hand, Ken Schramm's book says 'once all activity has ceased'.

I realize that there are a number of variables, here, including the honey, the yeast, the kind of mead, etc., but is there some rule of thumb about how quickly one should (or how slowly one could) get the mead off of the lees? Or how soon the lees will decompose, imparting off-flavors (or worse) to the mead?

Not long ago, I got a chunk of frozen pineapple out of the freezer and tasted it followed by a thin sliver of ginger root; it was AMAZING! If this melomel turns out OK, I'm going to divide it into three 2-gallon carboys and try adding a hint of ginger to one of them and, perhaps, vanilla to another.

This morning, I read back through this thread and I'd just like to express my gratitude to you all for sharing your knowledge and experience. I really appreciate it.

Have a Wonderful Day!

Chevette Girl
03-25-2012, 04:32 PM
Another question ... how long can one leave a must on the lees, especially in the primary fermentation? The NewBee Guide advises racking at about 2 bubbles/minute, while the yeast is still fairly active. On the other hand, Ken Schramm's book says 'once all activity has ceased'.


I think of the Lalvin yeasts, the only one to really worry about is 71B-1122 because it can start autolysing at around 6 weeks.

Generally, you'd want to rack it to secondary when either all activity has stopped (no change in SG over a week) or the SG is close to or below 1.000.

I don't like to leave most things on the lees longer than about two weeks before I rack into secondary, but now and then (especially when I brew in a carboy:rolleyes:) I forget about it and it goes a couple months. I recently did this with 71B myself but I don't know yet if there was any harm done, it smelled and tasted young but nothing worse than that, I'll have to wait until I get a chance to do a taste comparison between it and an almost identical batch with K1V-1116.

TAKeyser
03-25-2012, 07:48 PM
Having now racked this mead, should I (in your opinions) stabilize it now or should I allow it to take its course in the secondary? Or does it matter? I've never stabilized a mead before; any words of wisdom?

There's no rule as when to stabilize, just do it before you backsweeten. I'll usually let it sit in secondary for a while, because more stuff is bound to settle out. I'll eventually rack into a tertiary for aging and that is usually when I stabilize.


Another question ... how long can one leave a must on the lees, especially in the primary fermentation? The NewBee Guide advises racking at about 2 bubbles/minute, while the yeast is still fairly active. On the other hand, Ken Schramm's book says 'once all activity has ceased'.


I never rely on the bubbles in the airlock as an indicator. Once I get the same gravity reading for 4 days I figure fermentation is complete and I'll rack it as soon as I get a chance. Once Fermentation is finished I'll never leave it on the lees for more than a week or two.

Earendil
04-27-2012, 01:35 PM
It is now about 6 weeks since I started the Pineapple Melomel that prompted this thread. I thought it would be useful to follow up on the status of that mead and report a little additional experimentation.

Last time I reported, the must had gone from 1.124 to 1.000 in 11 days, using the nutrient regime worked out with Chevette Girl, akuek and others. Per TAKeyser's advice, I let it sit for another 4 or 5 days and, as it remained at 1.000, I racked it to a glass carboy and let it sit for 5 weeks; then I racked it again about a week ago. It is now aging. I tasted it and, though it tastes a bit 'hot', it has a wonderful aroma and after-taste and I shall be surprised if it doesn't turn out very well (albeit drier than I planned). I'll report back later.

In fact, it tasted so good that I felt impelled to make another one, attempting to compensate for the yeast's 'overshooting the mark' last time. This time, I followed the same recipe given above with a couple of modifications. The recipe is:

Recipe - Pineapple Melomel (6-1/2 gallons)
27# Pumpkin Blossom Honey
7 pineapples, peeled, cored and cut in very small chunks
2 packets of Lalvin 71B-1122 Champagne yeast (projected 14% ABV)
5 gallons filtered water
6-1/2 tsp of DAP/Nutrient
5 tsp of Energizer/Fermaid-K

The nutrient regime was:
1) 2-1/4 tsp Energizer/Fermaid-K at pitch
2) 3-1/4 tsp DAP/Nutrient at the end of lag phase
3) 6 tsp of mixed DAP/Energizer, administered 1 tsp per aeration (twice/day) while punching down the fruit cap

Original SG: 1.140
Original pH: 3.92

You can see that I increased both the honey and the pineapple significantly. I raised the original gravity to 1.140 to try to compensate for the yeast's having consumed ALL of the sugars in the first batch and I added more pineapples because ... well ... they're so GOOD!

They had a sale on Maui Gold Extra-Sweet pineapples at my local food co-op and, by coincidence, I was wearing a shirt I picked up in Maui last time I was there. I volunteer, at my co-op, and while working there that day, a couple from Oahu walked in, recognized the shirt and we chatted. They helped me pick out the best pineapples in the place. For those who want to try this recipe but don't know the inside scoop on choosing pineapples, here are some guidelines:
1) The pineapple should feel slightly soft around the base
2) The base should smell of pineapple somewhat
3) You should be able to pull out one of the inside leaves (of the crown) with a gentle pull
4) There should not be any black spots or soft spots (which indicate bruises)

I pitched the current must two days ago (4-25-2012) in the evening and waited anxiously. The yeast went WILD! This is easily the strongest fermentation I have ever seen. By morning, (Day 1, Aeration 1) the activity was so constant that, using an S-shaped airlock, bubble count could only be estimated. Noted that, aerating and feeding twice a day per the regime worked out earlier, the CO2 production was so great that the flow of CO2 was almost uninterrupted in the lock. At the first feeding/aeration (9:30am) the pH had dropped to 3.4 and gravity had dropped 40 points, from 1.140 to 1.100

At the second feeding/aeration (10:30pm), the pH had dropped to 3.02; used 4 tsp of Calcium Carbonate to bring it back to 3.84. Specific gravity had dropped another 35 points, from 1.100, in the morning, to 1.065 last night.

In other words, this must has gone through the 1/3 sugar break and the 2/3 sugar break in about 24 hours. This may not be unusual but I have never seen it before. And, at the rate it is currently going, I shan't be surprised if this mead, too, goes to a fairly low final gravity. I'm glad I added the extra honey!

This morning (Day 2, aeration 1), the must measures:
Current Gravity: 1.054
Current pH: 3.72

I guess I'm wondering if there is such a thing as an overly-aggressive nutrient regime. Or if the alcohol production figures for yeasts are even more nebulous than I imagined. Or if I should even worry about things like this. If this one goes low, I may find myself drifting towards triarchy's persuasion; regarding the stated ABV as a minimum and back-sweetening as necessary.

I will report the final gravity of this mead in this thread to help others using this recipe to gauge the yeast's consumption of sugars and, perhaps, compensate accordingly.

At any rate, it smells and tastes heavenly and, barring the unforeseen, I know I shall be a happy camper with this mead ... even if I'm not camping!

NOTE: I can see that I've kind of drifted from 'troubleshooting thread' to a virtual mead-log, here. Perhaps I should start another 'Mead Log' thread for this but it seemed so closely connected that I felt impelled to do this as an addition; if I'm violating forum etiquette, let me know.

Chevette Girl
04-27-2012, 02:07 PM
Well, apparently the yeasties LOVED your pineapple selection :) I don't think I've had a fermentation that fast but I'm pretty sure AToE has reported the odd 24-hour fermentaiton.

Although given that this yeast is only rated for 14%, I wouldn't be surprised to see it slowing down in the near future... But what a great start! ;D

Earendil
04-27-2012, 06:06 PM
Well, apparently the yeasties LOVED your pineapple selection :) I don't think I've had a fermentation that fast but I'm pretty sure AToE has reported the odd 24-hour fermentation.

Although given that this yeast is only rated for 14%, I wouldn't be surprised to see it slowing down in the near future... But what a great start! ;D


Thanks for that encouraging word. I think you're right and that it's the pineapple they are going mad for. I was really pleased with the activity but wasn't sure I should be, if you take my meaning. It is still cranking away so fast that bubbles don't really have time to form before they are gone; any faster and it would just be a stream of gas!

I'll keep monitoring, though, and report back periodically. Again, thanks!

Thanks, also, for the signature tag-line; some very good (and very apt) perspective.

Chevette Girl
04-28-2012, 12:27 AM
Thanks, also, for the signature tag-line; some very good (and very apt) perspective.

It's pretty much what my first brew book said too: "Do the best you can and don't worry!" was Terry Garey's repeated suggestion...

Earendil
04-28-2012, 03:23 AM
This evening (Day 2, aeration 2), the must measures:
Current Gravity: 1.036
Current pH: 3.86

The yeast is partying hearty without pause; within 5 minutes of degassing, feeding and aerating, I had over 456 bubbles/minute (standard S-shaped airlock). Within 15 minutes, the bubbles were no longer countable.

The Specific Gravity has gone:

Pitch Day (overnight) - 1.140 to 1.100
Day 1 - 1.100 to 1.052
Day 2 - 1.052 to 1.036

Good Night, All!

Earendil
04-29-2012, 01:12 AM
As you predicted, Chevette Girl, the fermentation has collapsed (relatively speaking). It's now down from 450 bubbles/minute to about 120 bbls/min.

This evening (Day 3, aeration 2), the must measures:
Current Gravity: 1.022
Current pH: 4.13

The Specific Gravity history looks like this:
Pitch Day (overnight) - 1.140 to 1.100
Day 1 - 1.100 to 1.052
Day 2 - 1.052 to 1.036
Day 3 - 1.036 to 1.022

As I mentioned, today is Day 3 from the pitch. I've been following the regime that Chevette Girl, akuek and others helped me work out, (see link above) combined with the NewBees guide that recommends feeding the fermentation for the first 3 days. The idea, as I understand it, is that aeration should take place during the reproductive phase and that NO oxygen should be allowed, after that, in order to prevent sherry-like and other off-flavors.

This fermentation has gone incredibly quickly. As I was giving the mead its last aeration (naturally - I always think of things like this once the plane's wheels have left the ground) the following question occurred to me. The three day period may be meaningless, in a situation where most of the action occurs in the first three days. This raises the question; is there some other criterion that I can use to determine when to stop aerating in situations such as this?

The LAST thing I want to do is take this awesome-looking pineapple mead and make pineapple sherry out of it! I hope to heck I haven't done so already!

Thanks to all for any perspective you can shed on this question!

Earendil
04-29-2012, 04:41 PM
A little more research has not entirely cleared this question up for me. Some recipes call for aerating until the 1/3rd sugar break; others for the 1/2 sugar break; others for 3-5 days. Clearly, though, this one caught me off-guard and I may have ruined it on that account. My mead-making form will henceforth include a warning not to aerate after the 1/2 sugar-break has been reached. Or should it? What is a sensible stopping point in your opinions?

Naturally, I'm kind of freaked thinking that I may have just succeeded in making 6 gallons of pineapple sherry. I'm trying hard to stick to Chevette Girl's tag line (Charlie Papazian's "don't worry about your mead") but it's 'hard, cruel hard' when you've put all this love and attention into making a heavenly mead only to find you've botched it. Or may have botched it ...

Have you ever over-aerated before? How forgiving is the mead in this situation? I have basically aerated twice a day (oxygen for 3 minutes each time) for two days into the fermentation phase.

It still smells good and you can imagine that I am treating it with great care, now; not sloshing or allowing any oxygen contact if I can help it and gently pressing the fruit cap down into the must to moisten it when 'punching down' the cap (not stirring or sloshing). In the long run, of course, I'll find out. I guess I just want to know if I should start another batch and do it RIGHT, this time.

Thank you all for your advice on this and the many other questions I've asked!

P.S. - the current mead (or sherry) is now bubbling at about 60 bubbles/minute; about 1/2 of what it was last night; it was 450 or so three nights ago!

Chevette Girl
04-29-2012, 05:52 PM
Relax... have a beer... now, taste some of your pineapple superferment... does it taste like sherry? No? You're fine then. ;D

The 3-5 days suggestion is for a normal (hah, as if anything's ever normal) fermentation when you don't have a hydrometer.

If it had been my fermentation going that quickly, I'd have increased the dosages I was giving at each aeration, knowing that a few more days was likely to take me past the 1/2 point so I'd be doing fewer aerations.

I try to make the last aeration and feeding somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 (I aim for 1/3 because that's when you want your last feeding, but oxygen until 1/2 is OK and a slightly late feeding, especially if there's not much left because I've been staggering it, shouldn't hurt... Recommending a number of days to keep aerating is, as you see with a fast fermentation, not the most accurate way to do it.

At this point in your must, now that you're probably at 2/3 of the sugars, I'd recommend you skip any further nutrient additions you had left, it IS too late for that now. They obviously didn't need it anyway!

Degassing and breaking up the cap with gentle stirring is still recommended though, nice and gentle with no sloshing, as you indicated.

The late aerations probably didn't hurt anything, remember, some people still do all their primary fermentation in an open crock. And hey, if it turns out to be pineapple sherry... honestly, that sounds pretty tasty, even if it's not the mead of your dreams. But I don't think a couple minutes of oxygen pumped through a ridiculously vigorous fermentation would be enough to damage your mead. And please let me know if I've been proved wrong!

A splash-racking or two has never hurt any mead I've made, even if they were completely still by that point.

Having oxidized a batch of wine, it took a week of storing a 3-gal batch of stabilized, degased wine in an airlocked 5-gal carboy to get a mild oxidation taste. And meads ARE harder to oxidize. I've had worse oxidation through some of my corks (I don't buy that brand anymore, they seem to be too permeable).

Altricious
04-29-2012, 06:04 PM
. I guess I just want to know if I should start another batch and do it RIGHT, this time.

You know, the last time I asked a question like this I was advised something along the lines of "Do both; tell us how it turns out!"

So, presuming you're not too broke to do it, why not make a second batch? You can see if your vigorous fermentation was a fluke and a year from now you can compare both batches to see if there's even a subtle difference from the "wrong" stuff you did.

Earendil
04-29-2012, 07:02 PM
Thanks, Chevette Girl! I laughed at myself when I took your simple but incisive test!

You gave me more than information; you gave me perspective. I had largely reconciled myself to accept whatever happens with grace, but I do want to know how to think and proceed properly in the future. After all, I've got meads to make!

Rule of Thumb: Feeding until 1/3rd sugar-break and aeration until 1/2 sugar-break; I think I've got it.

Rule of Other Thumb: Try to scale feeding/aeration to the projected time to the sugar-break; if a fast fermentation, increase the dosage accordingly (inversely proportional). Makes sense!

Thankfully, there were only two rules; I'm running out of thumbs.

As for feeding; I'm afraid I fed as I aerated, so they got 4tsp of Nutrient/Energizer mixture during that last 2 days.

Thanks Again; your advice and perspective have been really helpful!

Earendil
04-29-2012, 07:22 PM
You know, the last time I asked a question like this I was advised something along the lines of "Do both; tell us how it turns out!"

So, presuming you're not too broke to do it, why not make a second batch? You can see if your vigorous fermentation was a fluke and a year from now you can compare both batches to see if there's even a subtle difference from the "wrong" stuff you did.


What an excellent idea! I will do just that! In a couple of weeks, I'll start another one. Honestly, even now, this one smells (and tastes) so good that I'd love to make another one! I'll try to get it started on the weekend of 5/11-5/12 and will start a mead-log on that one. I'll post a link to it on this thread.

As a preliminary filllip, though, I suspect that the fermentation was not a fluke. I made another pineapple mead (the one that started this thread) and, with a starting gravity of 1.124, it fermented to 1.000 in less than 11 days. The activity was impressive; the best I'd ever seen ... until this one. This one has more pineapples and more honey.

But as I said, I'll report my results in a mead-log for that mead; I'll post more about this one in this thread later.

Thanks, Altricious, for that EXCELLENT idea! Aloha!

Altricious
04-29-2012, 07:29 PM
Thanks, Altricious, for that EXCELLENT idea! Aloha!

I'm simply embracing the GotMead tradition of encouraging everyone's addiction. :)

Chevette Girl
04-29-2012, 07:39 PM
I'm simply embracing the GotMead tradition of encouraging everyone's addiction. :)

Oh, and enabling, don't forget the enabling! :D

Earendil
05-01-2012, 10:28 AM
In the last 2 days, this mead has gone from:

4/28/2012 - Specific Gravity: 1.018
4/29/2012 - Specific Gravity: 1.016
4/30/2012 - Specific Gravity: 1.013

This means that the Lalvin 7B-1122 has taken this mead from 1.140 to 1.013 or a whopping 127 points ... so far. And it's done it in less than a week! TAKeyser and triarchy, take note ...

It looks like I'm headed to back-sweetening land, if I want a sweet pineapple mead.

SO ... on Pineapple Melomel #3 (the one I'm going to start on 5/11), I'm going to go for a 1.160 original gravity ... and at least 7 pineapples. I cannot believe this yeast, which has been so predictable in the past, has gone so bonkers over pineapple! It's like they're at some sort of south-seas Mardi Gras, in there, partying their little buds off!

Question: I'll be leaving tomorrow, to help my family celebrate my father's 86th birthday. I'll be gone for a week and will not be here to punch down the fruit cap. The mead has only been on the fruit for 6 days (but then EVERYTHING has happened in 6 days!). I could arrange for a friend to do a punch-down once or twice a day, while I'm gone. If you were in my spot, would you rack the mead off the fruit at this point? How long should it sit on the fruit? Is there some way to gauge whether the must has gotten pretty much everything it's going to get from the fruit? What would you advise?

Chevette Girl
05-01-2012, 02:24 PM
I generally find with softer fruit that if the fruit is completely mushy and releases almost all its water (if you set it in a strainer or something, and pinching the fruit mush doesn't yield any firm bits or anything), it's probably given you all it's got.

I don't usually find two weeks on the fruit is detrimental, so if you can get someone to punch it down for you that would probably work.

Another option might be to rack it but save the mush and shove it in the freezer, and if when you get back you find it's not pineappley enough for you, you can thaw the mush and put it back in for a few more days.

Earendil
05-01-2012, 03:40 PM
I generally find with softer fruit that if the fruit is completely mushy and releases almost all its water (if you set it in a strainer or something, and pinching the fruit mush doesn't yield any firm bits or anything), it's probably given you all it's got.

I don't usually find two weeks on the fruit is detrimental, so if you can get someone to punch it down for you that would probably work.

Another option might be to rack it but save the mush and shove it in the freezer, and if when you get back you find it's not pineappley enough for you, you can thaw the mush and put it back in for a few more days.



When I punched it down this morning, I tried taking some of the fruit out in a large spoon and tasted it. It tasted like pineapple. Then, thinking that I might just be tasting the must (which is very pineappley), I rinsed it gently to wash off the juice and then ate it; it had almost no flavor at all. It would seem that almost all, if not all, of the pineapple flavor has gone into the must.

I'll taste it again, this afternoon, and if it still seems that way, I think I'm going to rack it, but I will follow your advice and bag and freeze the mush.

By the bye, you mentioned that "two weeks on the fruit is usually not detrimental" (edit:mine); what limit you consider detrimental and what can happen to it that makes it detrimental?

Thanks for the advice! Have a Wonderful Day!

Earendil
05-01-2012, 06:43 PM
Actually, if I find that the mush, once frozen and then thawed, is not as palatable as it might be, it occurs to me that I could just ... you guessed it ... add more pineapple!!

This would be like adding the fruit at the secondary fermentation stage. I can't really see the necessity for doing this; it is pretty intensely pineapple, in there, but just in case ...

Aloha!

Chevette Girl
05-01-2012, 09:43 PM
By the bye, you mentioned that "two weeks on the fruit is usually not detrimental" (edit:mine); what limit you consider detrimental and what can happen to it that makes it detrimental?


I've had a couple of fruits left longer than two weeks start developing a woody taste to them, which did age out. I've also done the JAO thing with a lot of fruits (leaving them in until they sink) and I don't think any of them turned out badly for it.

Most of what you'd want out of your fruit is out after about a week, so you're probably fine to pitch the mush if it doesn't taste like much anymore. Another hint that you've gotten everything you're going to get out of it is that it doesn't taste sweet anymore.

Earendil
07-05-2012, 01:02 AM
It has now been almost 4 months since the Pineapple Mead phase of my life began and I thought it would be a good idea to report my results. I'll summarize the meads I've made, their current status and the things I've learned along the way.

My first Pineapple Mead was started on 3-11-2012 and formed the basis of this thread (see posting #1). Its history can be traced by reading the first dozen or so posts in this thread. I used 3 pineapples and enough honey to take the starting SG to 1.124, desiring a medium-sweet mead.

PLEASE NOTE: All starting SG's are given with the fruit already added.

To my surprise, it fermented from a starting SG of 1.124 to complete dryness; the Lalvin 71B-1122 I used ate all of the .124 of available sugars and did it in 11 days. That mead, now four months old, seems to be maturing reasonably well; it tastes young and is as dry as can be but it has a lovely, almost banana-like nose and a delicate, floral flavour. It's SG, as of today, is 1.000

=======================

Then I started a second Pineapple Mead ("Maui Melomel"), also outlined in this thread (posting #13). I tried to compensate for the pronounced fermentation of the first one by adding more honey and more pineapples (7 pineapples, this time). It had a starting SG of 1.142, an attempt on my part to compensate for the dryness of the first one.

This mead may turn out to be a sherry. The problem was that it fermented much faster than the first one, blowing its way through the 1/3 and 1/2 sugar breaks in about 18 hours!! I was completely unprepared for this possibility; I was used to checking my SG and pH levels once every day or so (which is perfectly satisfactory with a 'normal' fermentation) and was amazed by this kamikaze fermentation rate.

Even worse, I continued my feeding and oxygenation regime for the full three days, as prescribed in the NewBee Guide before I realized that that might not be appropriate (see posting #18 - that's "eighteen", in case the site has inserted a smiley) and by then it was, unfortunately, too late. Also, like the first one, it fermented to a lower gravity than I expected, even with the compensating starting SG, ending up at 1.010.

That mead is now about 10 weeks old and already has a slight sherry-like cast to it, although it is not overwhelming; in fact, I'm not sure it's really even whelming <|;-}>>>. It is darker in colour and more intensely flavoured. I am going to let it age for a year or so and I must say that it tastes pretty good at this time, the faint sherry cast giving the mead an almost 'smoky' flavour (I don't know how else to describe it). I cannot say that I expect much from this mead, though I continue to hope, but if it doesn't become a great mead, it may yet become a good pineapple-sherry mead for sipping, cooking, barbecue sauces, etc.

=======================

Now we get to the third Pineapple Mead ("Pineapple Mayhem"); the one I made following Altricious' excellent advice (see posting #21). This one was made with the same basic recipe shown in posting #1 with several important differences:

1) I increased the honey and the pineapple even more; I took the starting gravity to 1.160 and used 16 small pineapples in it (about 2 gallons of cored, peeled, finely chopped pineapple). I was determined to come out with something medium-sweet or sweet this time; can you tell?

2) I based the feeding regime on one that Chevette Girl recommended and which I adapted somewhat. That regime is basically:
a) Calculate the total DAP/Nutrient at about 1 tsp per gallon
b) Calculate the total Energizer/Fermaid-K at about 3/4 tsp per gallon
c) Add 1/2 the Energizer/Fermaid-K at pitch
d) Add 1/2 the DAP/Nutrient at the end of the lag
e) Mix the remainder of the DAP/Nutrient and the Energizer/Fermaid-K together
and add 1/6 of the mix with each feeding (assuming 2 feedings per day)

NOTE: Step 'e' is based upon a 'normal' fermentation and should be accelerated
if the fermentation is faster than 'normal'. Basically, all the feedings should
take place by the 1/3 sugar break. Aeration should stop after the 1/2 break.

3) This time I monitored the fermentation with care, using all the things I learned (and the advice I got) during the previous attempts. I checked it every 6 hours or so. Per Chevette Girl's excellent advice, I accelerated the feeding and aeration to match the drop in gravity through the 1/2 sugar break and racked it off the fruit after about 9 days, when the fruit, after being rinsed in water, no longer tasted particularly flavourful.

This mead is WONDERFUL!! At this time, it is about 5 weeks old and, even young, it is really promising; in fact, I'm having trouble staying out of it! It has a pronounced pineapple flavour and shows every sign of being ... well ... booty-kicking, to put it in technical terms.

Its only problem is that it is sweeter than I expected; I started with an SG of 1.160, as I mentioned and, based upon the voracious fermentations I experienced with the first two, I thought it would settle at about 1.025 or so. Instead, it settled at 1.060. I can only speculate that the pineapple has some enzyme or component that, beyond a certain level, suppresses the yeast's ability to ferment. I tried cutting a sample of this, adding about 1/3 filtered water and it was nothing short of awesome ... without any real aging at all.

There is another really surprising aspect to this third Pineapple Mead ... well, two, actually. First, there is a sort of smoky layer, about 1-1/2" thick at the top of the mead, as it sits in the carboy. This layer is not opaque nor is there a sharp division between the crystal-clear mead below it and the 'dark' layer on the top.

Second, there is another layer, very close to the colour of the mead, about 1/3 of the way from the bottom of the carboy. In fact, the colour is so close that it is hard to discern unless you are looking at it from slightly above or below the plane of division of the layers. This division, unlike the dark layer on the top, is quite sharp; as sharp as the division between oil and water, though it is so faint that it is, as I said, difficult to discern unless one looks closely. In fact, these layers are interesting enough that I thought I'd show them to you; you can see them at:

http://www.gotmead.com/forum/album.php?albumid=43

I set this carboy up today to rack the mead (last racked on June 10th) and will try to sample each layer tomorrow, if I can, using the racking cane as a pipette, and will report any difference in taste that I can detect in a subsequent posting.

In the meantime, I want to say Mahalo! to TAKeyser, Altricious, Matrix4b, and ESPECIALLY to Chevette Girl, whose guidance and sage advice gave me many formerly-missing links and important insights that have made these Pineapple Meads possible.

And Aloha to All!

P.S. - Y'know? ... I've sampled all three of them (about 1 oz of each) while composing this post and I have to say ... they are all pretty damned good. In fact, I really wish you guys were here in my living room, so we could all share a glass or two ...

Again; Aloha!

Chevette Girl
07-05-2012, 10:30 AM
Well, it certainly sounds like you've benefitted well from this learning experience!!

And if you find you don't really like the dry one so dry, you can always mix it with the extra sweet one. Or make a batch of dry mead and blend it with the overly sweet one.

I suspect the reason that #2 is darker and maybe has that hint of being sherry-like is because of the late aeration causing some oxidation. If you like sherry, you may consider it to be a good thing. I find if it's oxidized like a sherry (rather than cardboard, which I've never had but some folks have reported) it lends a perceived sweetness in taste and aroma to even a dry wine.

As for the photos, it's possible that in photo #1, the layer you're seeing is just a sediment layer dropping out, my JAO's do that. That dark layer in the second and third photos might be oxidation, as you do seem to have a bit of headspace showing. If it tastes more sherry-like than the other layers, that's likely what's happened. Which is also a really cool learning experience for all of us if that is indeed what's going on, I've never seen it oxidize in layers like that :) Eagerly awaiting your report on taste differences!

Earendil
07-05-2012, 12:01 PM
Well, it certainly sounds like you've benefitted well from this learning experience!!

I have indeed! I think I am finally on the road to making reliably good meads. When I started, I ruined at least three or four due to things like leaving the mead on the lees too long, allowing too much exposure to air (in headspace or using oxygen) and other problematic practices that were not mentioned in the books I read when I started out. I have you and the others on the GotMead forums to thank for that ... and I DO thank you!



And if you find you don't really like the dry one so dry, you can always mix it with the extra sweet one. Or make a batch of dry mead and blend it with the overly sweet one.

I'll consider this. Hilariously, though, I found myself quite reconciled to it after drinking an ounce or so ... kind of like Rory Brandybuck, one of Bilbo Baggins' old friends:

Old Rory Brandybuck, in return for much hospitality, got a dozen bottles of Old Winyards: a strong red wine from the Southfarthing, and now quite mature, as it had been laid down by Bilbo's father. Rory quite forgave Bilbo, and voted him a capital fellow after the first bottle.



I suspect the reason that #2 is darker and maybe has that hint of being sherry-like is because of the late aeration causing some oxidation.

That may be; I think so too. In this case, though, it is quite palatable - see quote above! <|;-}>>>



As for the photos, it's possible that in photo #1, the layer you're seeing is just a sediment layer dropping out, my JAO's do that. That dark layer in the second and third photos might be oxidation, as you do seem to have a bit of headspace showing. [...] I've never seen it oxidize in layers like that :)

A sediment layer dropping out did not occur to me but I'll check the layers for clarity and compare them today. I intended to rack it, as it has been on the yeast for about 3 weeks now and it seemed like a good idea. I stuck that yellow marker on the side of the carboy for purposes of illustration but I had the good luck to leave it there and will check today to see if the line has dropped after 24 hours or so. I may go ahead and rack it anyway and let the process complete itself after racking.

As for the dark layer being oxidation, while possible, I doubt it. Oxidation was one of my first lessons on this forum and I've been very careful to layer CO2 on all my meads any time it seems even vaguely appropriate! But I will taste later today and report back ...



Eagerly awaiting your report on taste differences!

As Merry Brandybuck would say "You shall have it!"

Have a Wonderful Day!

Altricious
07-05-2012, 03:32 PM
Altricious' excellent advice

Who, me? I thought I was just feeding your addiction. ;)

My pineapple batches are sitting in carboys being ignored and I haven't started anything new since it's just too hot to ferment things. (I refuse to carry carboys up and down stairs.)

Soyala_Amaya
07-05-2012, 05:22 PM
See, this is when you bring out the belgian yeasts that are SUPPOSED to be fermented hot! Then you get the thick, malty, delicious-ness from them...mmmm. (Can you tell what's waiting in my fridge for me?)

Earendil
07-05-2012, 06:19 PM
Well, Chevette Girl, I've had a chance to check things out and here are my observations:

I had a racking cane that had broken at the crook; I sawed this off and made a pipette out of it. Using that, I carefully sampled each layer of the mead and found that:

1) The dark layer at the top shows no sign whatever of being oxidized. It has an almost caramel-like flavour (again, I'm trying to pick best subjective term, well-aware that it is inadequate) and is very delicious; no hint of sherry-like characteristics here.

2) You were, I think, right about the sedimentation below the yellow marker, though I am not absolutely sure yet. The layer above the line of demarcation is clear as can be; the lower layer is not. The reason I am not sure is this: In taking the cover off of the carboy, this morning, I inadvertently pulled off the marker.

Instead, I made a small mark on the side of the carboy using a micro-point Sharpie. When I came back, some four hours later, I was surprised to find that the level had actually gone up about 1/4", which doesn't seem to make sense; logically, separating sediment should be going down, not up.

I tasted both 'levels' ("The Clear and the Unclear"; sounds like a movie, doesn't it?); both are heavenly. I marked the carboy again and am going to monitor it for the next day or so to see what it does. I'll report back at that time.

Cheers!

Earendil
07-07-2012, 10:47 AM
It's been two days and the layer of sediment(?) has remained very consistent. It seems to fluctuate, gradually rising about 3/16" during the middle of the day and then falling 3/16" at night. I keep the carboy covered and the thermometer shows almost no temperature variation between day and night. The temperature is very consistent at about 68˚-70˚F.

I'm not sure why the sediment seems to remain at this level but it's been over 3 weeks since I racked it off the fruit. I'm going to rack this weekend and will report on its progress as things unfold. I'll be most interested to see whether the dark layer at the top appears after racking and whether the sediment layer reappears. I'll keep you posted.

A Wonderful Weekend to All!

Earendil
09-03-2012, 09:26 PM
I started this thread back in Mid-March, 2012 while making the first of three batches of Pineapple Melomel (it started out as a mead and turned into a research project).

As I had posted information about all three of these meads in this thread, I thought it would be helpful to others who may come along to post follow-up information in the same thread.

With regard to the first batch ("Pineapple Mead", my batch #11):

When we left off, this batch had fermented to complete dryness, going from OG: 1.124 to FG: 1.000 in 11 days. Here is the Reader's Digest condensed version of its history since then:

Racking #1 - Racked into carboy on 3-21-2012 upon advice that fruit in the must
for longer than 2 or 2-1/2 weeks starts diminishing in taste. To my surprise, it had fermented to a final SG: 1.000

Racking #2 - Racked into carboy on 4-21-2012 - SG still 1.000 - tastes dry but mellow and nice

Racking #3 - Racked into carboy on 5-31-2012 - SG still 1.000 - tastes dry but mellow and nice

Racking #4 - Racked into carboy on 5-31-2012 - tastes dry but mellow, with a hint of sherry-like flavor but not unpleasant. I fear that I may have fed and aerated it later than I should, as I wasn't expecting the speed of the primary fermentation (see relevant postings above on aeration and nutrients in posting #31 of this thread, among others). Hopefully, it won't go very far down that path.

Racking #5 - Racked about 1/2 the batch (about 3 gallons) into a plastic fermenter on 9-3-2012, along with the crushed flesh of 4 fresh, ripe pineapples to see what difference in flavor a secondary addition of fruit would make. Saved about 3 gallons without the addition of fruit, in the carboy. CO2'd both containers.

NOTE: In earlier postings, I commented on the formation of a dark, cloudy layer, about 3 inches thick, on the top of the third batch of pineapple mead (my batch #13, dubbed 'Pineapple Mayhem'). When I checked the batch I'm reporting on now (#11) before racking it, I found that there was a layer of very fine sediment, about 2-1/2" thick, on the bottom of the carboy. The layer is so light and 'airy' that it resembles clouds and is as bodiless as clouds. Inevitably, some of this sediment went into each of the half-batches (I encouraged this in the spirit of inquiry); I'll report back on this as well.

You can view this layer in my album: http://www.gotmead.com/forum/album.php?albumid=45


I'll let the fruit-added half sit on the fruit for 2 to 2-1/2 weeks per Chevette Girl's excellent advice and will report back after that to let you know how it and the "no-fruit-added" half shape up.

I'll report on the other two pineapple meads in separate postings to try to keep the sub-threads from getting tangled up.

Best Wishes to All!

Earendil
09-03-2012, 10:18 PM
This mead (my mead #12, dubbed 'Maui Melomel') was started to further explore the insane fermentation rate I discovered in the previous batch (#11, 'Pineapple Mead'). In case you haven't read the earlier posts in this thread dealing with this one, it crashed through the 2/3, 1/2 and 1/3 sugar breaks in less than 24 hours!

Because I didn't expect this (and wasn't clever enough to anticipate the consequences), I fed and aerated this batch according to the NewBee Guide's 3-day course, resulting in both oxygenation and nutrient additions well after these breaks occurred.

I feared that this might result in the sherry-like quality that comes of exposure to oxygen after the 1/2 sugar break. And my fears have proved well-founded. Here's a condensed version of my mead log for this mead:

=========================

5-1-2012 - This morning, the must measures:
Current Gravity: 1.012
Current pH: 4.10

This evening, the must measures:
Current Gravity: 1.012
Current pH: 4.08

Decided to rack the mead off of the fruit into a carboy. Layered with CO2 and capped.

=========================

5-20-2012 - Sampled mead. Already amazingly clear. Tastes 'green' but already has a pronounced pineapple character. I have been ruminating on the amazing nature of these fermentations and have decided that mead #13 will push the envelope even further, taking the original gravity to 1.160 or thereabouts and using even more pineapples. I have decided to start this mead next weekend, if I can get the pineapples. Called the Co-op and talked to the produce manager who called back a couple of days later and said they are going to get a shipment of ripe Maui Gold Extra-Sweet Pineapples on Wednesday the 23rd. They'll be on sale, too! I'm going to go in and get them!

=========================

5-27-2012 - uncapped, smelled it and layered with CO2. Has a wonderfully 'gummy' pineapple smell. SG: 1.010 pH: 4.4

=========================

5-31-2012 - Racked mead - 2nd racking. Mead already pretty clear (though still a bit cloudy). Tastes pretty good (though still quite young). Bear in mind that this mead's fermentation was fed and aerated for longer than it should have been; the fermentation was so fast that I was unaware of it and kept feeding and aerating with oxygen for two days longer than should have been the case. It does have a very faint sherry-like quality but this is quite faint (so far) and it is otherwise quite nice, even though it is far from mature.

pH: 4.7
Specific Gravity: 1.010

=========================

9-1-2012 - Tasted mead - The sherry-like taste has become quite pronounced ... as I feared it would. This mead may turn out OK but I very much doubt it. The sherry-like quality is obvious and, though not unpleasant, is NOT what I want. I'm going to rack it and let it age further but I suspect that it is a cooking sherry. Damn! Damn! Damn!

Actually, I should note that another, earlier batch I made that went down Sherry Lane turned out to be a very passable sherry and is quite good both for drinking (when one wants sherry) and in cooking things like chicken and fish, etc. Perhaps the gods will smile on me with this one, too.

In future, I WILL monitor the first day's fermentation activity at 4-hour intervals, when doing pineapple meads (or ANY fermentation that gallops along like the pineapple ones have) and base my feeding and aeration regime on the rate of fermentation.

=========================

Best Wishes!

Chevette Girl
09-04-2012, 11:09 AM
I always check the SG every time I aerate for the first few days just to monitor in case I have a wild fermentation like this :)

And sherry's not so bad when you want sherry. I've intentionally oxidized a few of my wines and meads just to get the hint of that flavour.