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View Full Version : Blackberry Melomel, questions and concerns.



ghostynoises
07-15-2012, 03:41 PM
Here's the recipe, before you judge, I went super cheapo because I knew I would likely mess this up ;)

3lbs Costco clover honey
1lbs Blackberries
2 packets of yeast mixed with nutrient from a DIY Federweiser kit (1 packet is designed to ferment a 64 oz bottle of juice, so since I was making 128 oz of mead I used 2)
Water to bring the volume up to a gallon

OG=1.111
SG=1.018 (adjusted for ambient temp)

First off, and I know you guys are gonna make fun of me but, I used water from my PUR faucet filter. I know you really should use distilled or spring water but, like I said, I went super cheap in case I totally blew this. First, being the nerd I am, I researched and calculated the volumes of all the ingredients combined so I knew I needed something like .732 gallons of water, I don't remember. So I measured the water and the honey and got it started heating. Meanwhile, I proceeded to make a critical mistake, I thought I would rather puree the blackberries and filter them out later. I will never do that again and I'll tell you why, it's the reason I have a concern in the first place. The blackberry puree caused a massive issue during racking. I ended up having to pour the mead over a funnel covered in cheese cloth into the next carboy. So, now, the yeast has completely stopped. There is no activity, but there is a lot of lees at the bottom of the carboy. I'm worried that over-exposing and agitating the yeast killed it? Given that the calculator says I should be roughly at 11.9% alcohol content, but the calculator and the yeast from the kit both say they should reach 14-ish% did I kill/stop/halt the yeast accidentally or is it rather that my bargain crap yeast is actually not going to be able to make it to 14%? I'm not particularly concerned about hitting the target, I just wanna know if I should just try to clarify my mead now or try to restart the fermentation.

fatbloke
07-15-2012, 04:29 PM
Here's the recipe, before you judge, I went super cheapo because I knew I would likely mess this up ;)

3lbs Costco clover honey
1lbs Blackberries
2 packets of yeast mixed with nutrient from a DIY Federweiser kit (1 packet is designed to ferment a 64 oz bottle of juice, so since I was making 128 oz of mead I used 2)
Water to bring the volume up to a gallon

OG=1.111
SG=1.018 (adjusted for ambient temp)

First off, and I know you guys are gonna make fun of me but, I used water from my PUR faucet filter. I know you really should use distilled or spring water but, like I said, I went super cheap in case I totally blew this. First, being the nerd I am, I researched and calculated the volumes of all the ingredients combined so I knew I needed something like .732 gallons of water, I don't remember. So I measured the water and the honey and got it started heating. Meanwhile, I proceeded to make a critical mistake, I thought I would rather puree the blackberries and filter them out later. I will never do that again and I'll tell you why, it's the reason I have a concern in the first place. The blackberry puree caused a massive issue during racking. I ended up having to pour the mead over a funnel covered in cheese cloth into the next carboy. So, now, the yeast has completely stopped. There is no activity, but there is a lot of lees at the bottom of the carboy. I'm worried that over-exposing and agitating the yeast killed it? Given that the calculator says I should be roughly at 11.9% alcohol content, but the calculator and the yeast from the kit both say they should reach 14-ish% did I kill/stop/halt the yeast accidentally or is it rather that my bargain crap yeast is actually not going to be able to make it to 14%? I'm not particularly concerned about hitting the target, I just wanna know if I should just try to clarify my mead now or try to restart the fermentation.
The stage you mention that you're at, I would say that it's probably best to stabilise it with sulphite (probably as campden tablets) and sorbate.

There may be plenty of lees, but there will also be yeast cells still in suspension. There's many things you can do that could, potentially, restart the ferment, and you don't want that once it's in bottles, so hitting it with the stabilising chem's is the first thing to do to prevent that.

Also, as you don't say what the yeast actually was (brand/type) there is no way of knowing whether it's one that will be Ok for "sur lie"/batonnage ageing.

With that in mind, I'd suggest that you use some finings to clear it reasonably quickly, then once it's cleared, get it into bottles (not hard as you point out it's only a 1 gallon batch), then age it that way.

Then have a read of the NewBee guide (linked in the left hand yellow dialogue box). It's a bit of a read, but has a mega amount of guidance/information.

Including, not heating honey musts. There's no need (a number of reasons why not, but a lot of them relate to lost aromatics and more subtle flavours in varietal honey). Also, for the yeast to be able to get to the fruit juice/flavours quickly, it's enough to just freeze the fruit for a couple of days, then defrost it and add it. It's still handy if you can work with a bucket and contain the fruit in a spice/hops type bag. Never blitz it, as the food processor/blender/liquidiser will shatter the seeds that can impart some bitterness to the brew.

p.s. Oh and it's just occurred to me, that if you wanted too, once it's been stabilised, have a little taste, and if you wanted a bit more of the fruit flavour, you can just put another 1lb of blackberries in for another couple of weeks - putting fruit into secondary is a way of increasing the fruit flavour/colour, and it can often make for a batch that is drinkable sooner, needing less ageing time (and if it's just been frozen/thawed or even just whole/fresh, it should be a million times easier to rack the fruit out afterwards) - plus you probably need to add some pectic enzyme, otherwise without it, you may end up with a pectin haze from the fruit......

Chevette Girl
07-15-2012, 05:01 PM
And don't worry about cheaping out on your water, you've still done more than I usually do - I use straight tap juice, any water you'd drink straight up is fine to make mead or wine with. And you don't really want to use distilled water, you want some dissolved minerals and such in your water.

And I've found my blackberry mels to be pretty resistant to oxidation. For next time, just mush them up... and if you brew in a bucket instead of a carboy you can use a fruit bag, which really saves on cleanup and racking losses!

If you only just filtered the stuff out today, give it a few hours or a day or so to see if it's just slowed down at the moment. "overexposure and agitation" won't kill yeast, and racking it off the yeast too early can stop them but if you had to pour it through cheesecloth, I'm sure you got most of the yeast transferred. It's possible it's stopped where it is, but it's also possible that the recent agiataion's just knocked all the CO2 out of the must for now and it's going to take it a while to build back up to a point where it starts releasing it again and showing as airlock activity.

akueck
07-15-2012, 08:38 PM
It's possible it's stopped where it is, but it's also possible that the recent agiataion's just knocked all the CO2 out of the must for now and it's going to take it a while to build back up to a point where it starts releasing it again and showing as airlock activity.

I vote for this one. ;D

And PUR water is fancy for these parts. Next you'll be telling us you shipped in some rainwater from Antarctica (http://www.dogfish.com/brews-spirits/the-brews/occassional-rarities/pangaea.htm).

ghostynoises
07-16-2012, 12:38 AM
@fatbloke, Well, the brand of the yeast is unavailable. The yeast/nutrient combo packets came from this kit here. (http://spikeyourjuice.com/ecart/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=135&vmcchk=1&Itemid=135) So, I'm imagining that it's bargain basement yeast and it shouldn't age on the lees.

@Chevette Girl, No, unfortunately I racked it four days ago so I'm thinking the yeast is just done, as there has been zero activity for those four days.

@akueck, Lol, well, I worked on hydrogen generating electrolysis equipment for awhile so water quality was a big issue. Guess I'm just being over cautious. If the mead tastes okay on PUR water then I'll just go with that. The issue is that the tap water here is so hard we walk on it for fun :P

Chevette Girl
07-16-2012, 02:46 AM
@Chevette Girl, No, unfortunately I racked it four days ago so I'm thinking the yeast is just done, as there has been zero activity for those four days.

@akueck, Lol, well, I worked on hydrogen generating electrolysis equipment for awhile so water quality was a big issue. Guess I'm just being over cautious. If the mead tastes okay on PUR water then I'll just go with that. The issue is that the tap water here is so hard we walk on it for fun :P


Yep, sounds done... hope you like it that sweet, although if you want it drier, we have ways...

I did a summer stint working for the municipal water plant so I know exactly what's in our tap juice and I sitll drink it. For my first batch ever, I ran about 3 gallons through a Britta filter and swore never again... And if I could get my mother's well water more easily, I would brew with it, it tastes awesome even though it's pretty hard too, that does work fine as long as you don't have sulphur or iron. My to-brew list includes making a slough of otherwise 1-gal traditional batches using well, untreated tap, distilled, reverse osmosis and softened/Britta filtered waters just to see if I could actually taste a difference. I'm told it matters in beers but I haven't noticed yet in wines or meads.

Honestly though I think the fanciest water use I've heard of is TheAlchemist and her Berkley filtered lake water, rain or melted snow :)

ghostynoises
07-17-2012, 09:51 PM
So I grabbed some campden tablets and some pectic enzyme. I'm going to treat my mead tonight. The question I have now is, is there a specific order or timetable I should adhere to when adding these two chemicals or can I just add them at the same time? And on a side note, I bought some Red Star Premier Cuvée and some nutrient and energizer and some local all-natural honey and another 1g carboy and I'm going to start a new batch of mead as well wooo!

Chevette Girl
07-18-2012, 01:39 AM
To stabilize, you want postassium sorbate and campden tablets... pectinase is just for either helping break down fruit before fermentation or clearing pectic haze after fermentation.