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Mikeymu
08-15-2012, 01:07 AM
I wondered if it were possible to use enough honey so that the %abv went to the value at which the yeast was killed off, then you wouldn't need to use chemicals to stop the ferment. If this were true then you could either back-sweeten or put more honey into the must in the first place to get the flavour you wanted.

Chevette Girl
08-15-2012, 02:08 AM
There are ways of running the yeast to its maximum tolerance. Step-feeding is the one I've been using lately myself.

You can also let it finish naturally and then add something like brandy or vodka with a high alcohol content to fortify your mead.

Starting with a really high starting gravity though, that usually just results in a stuck ferment. Which is kind of what we do with JAO, and if you've done it, you know how sweet that is.

And it doesn't usually kill the yeast outright, it just deactivates them, makes them hibernate... And sometimes for no good reason we can see, they can reactivate, even years after you think they were done.

Oh, and chemicals aren't usually used to stop the ferment, they're added after the fermentation stops naturally to keep it from restarting. Don't be afraid of the chemicals...

Mikeymu
08-15-2012, 08:59 AM
Thanks Chevette Girl. I'm glad to have found such a friendly and helpful forum.

Chemicals it is!

akueck
08-15-2012, 09:25 PM
There's a factor taking into account sugar and alcohol that, over a certain number, generally means "all things die". Can't remember the name of it, haha. I think it started with a D. Perhaps someone else will remember it, but it was discussed here on the forum not too long ago.

Medsen Fey
08-17-2012, 01:34 AM
There's a factor taking into account sugar and alcohol that, over a certain number, generally means "all things die". Can't remember the name of it, haha. I think it started with a D.

That would be "Delle units"

And yes, you can let a ferment reach the ABV tolerance of the yeast, and then add more honey. However, there are some caveats. For one, it may limit your choice of yeast if you prefer to keep your ABV down below 14% which I often do. Secondly, yeast are unpredictable and may shoot past their expected tolerance level leaving you with a hotter mead than you intended. Worse yet, some yeast have been documented to restart fermenting as much as 2-3 years later if they have not been stabilized, so this approach could easily leave you with a bottle bomb.



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Mikeymu
08-17-2012, 04:26 AM
Thanks Medsen Fey, the thought of a bottle bomb is enough justification to get some bentonite.

Off to the local homebrew shop!

Oh and I can see I'll have to drink the elderberry and the rhubarb wines I bottled faster than anticipated! What a shame. :)

Medsen Fey
08-17-2012, 06:59 AM
Thanks Medsen Fey, the thought of a bottle bomb is enough justification to get some bentonite.



Actually, you'll be wanting some potassium sorbate & potassium metabisulfite to stabilize.



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Mikeymu
08-17-2012, 11:31 AM
Thanks Mr Fey.

After adding those two chemicals, what would be a suitable length of time to wait before back-sweetening?

Medsen Fey
08-17-2012, 01:29 PM
You can sweeten immediately after adding them, but I usually prefer to wait at least a day. Of course, I procrastinate on doing just about everything which accounts for most of my success as a mead crafter.

Chevette Girl
08-17-2012, 07:51 PM
If your elderberry and rhubarb wines have gone dry, you probably won't have bottle bombs because there's no sugar left for the yeast to turn into carbon dioxide.

If you pop one open and it's fizzy, refrigerate the rest and get drinking them quickly... or pour them back into a carboy and let them finish, or stabilize and re-bottle.

Mikeymu
08-18-2012, 01:58 AM
If your elderberry and rhubarb wines have gone dry, you probably won't have bottle bombs because there's no sugar left for the yeast to turn into carbon dioxide.

If you pop one open and it's fizzy, refrigerate the rest and get drinking them quickly... or pour them back into a carboy and let them finish, or stabilize and re-bottle.

Thanks, that seems like good, easy-to-follow advice, although I'm puzzled because I have another rhubarb in a demijohn that is down to 0.990, and after racking onto a crushed campden tablet and adding pot sorbate it appears to have restarted bubbling through the airlock!

Of course, there's a larger space at the top of the jar because of racking now, and I wonder if that's something to do with the renewed activity. I also have a spiced orange mead (not the recipe JAO from this venerable site) that's done the same.

Medsen Fey
08-18-2012, 07:37 AM
If it is bubbling but the gravity is stable, you may just have some de-gassing.

It is wise to get rid of that headspace. You want to protect finished mead from air exposure.

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hepcat
08-20-2012, 09:38 PM
If your elderberry and rhubarb wines have gone dry, you probably won't have bottle bombs because there's no sugar left for the yeast to turn into carbon dioxide.

I distinctly remember on another thread recently, you saying after the op stated their SG was 'well below 1.000' and wanted to bottle, that they shouldn't because they might get bottle bombs. What's different now?

Chevette Girl
08-22-2012, 01:20 AM
I distinctly remember on another thread recently, you saying after the op stated their SG was 'well below 1.000' and wanted to bottle, that they shouldn't because they might get bottle bombs. What's different now?

Don't recall it specifically, might have had to do with what their definition of "well below" was (it can go as low as 0.980) or it might not have had a chance to degas. Or I might have been smoking something :p What's different in this case? I did say PROBABLY, and I DID recommend cracking one open to see if it's fizzy.

Having done this myself a lot in my early winemaking days when I was anxious to bottle, after the first cork blew, I started making sure I kept a control (usually the last bottle to fill which contained some yeast in the lees from the bottom) in a screw-top bottle so I can check to see if it's carbing up, then I know if the whole batch is at risk of becoming bottle bombs. Now I'm too lazy to bottle so everything sits around in the carboy long enough that it shouldn't be a problem. But I still do regular checks on anything I bottle without stabilizing.

And as Apathetik said last year, "I reserve the right to be wrong on this and all other matters" ;D