View Full Version : First time Melomel

09-14-2012, 09:50 AM
I just put one of my first gallon batches SG @ 1.003 over 2.5 lbs of mixed berries (frozen and then pureed) and roughly 16 hours later put in potassium sorbate to make sure the fermentation was finished. It is now overflowing, which I realized could be a problem in primary fermentation, but I didn't realize it could happen during secondary too... can I open it up and pour a little out (Into a glass!) or should I let it sit and continue to overflow through the airlock?

09-14-2012, 12:17 PM
Sounds like, from your description, that you have restarted the fermentation. While you can remove some of the must to try to keep it from overflowing into the airlock, obviously this is something that you don't want to happen again in the future.

We've said it before in earlier posts, but it bears repeating again - Potassium Sorbate is a necessary, but not sufficient, ingredient in the chemical mix to completely stabilize a sweet mead. Sorbate forms sorbic acid when dissolved in a mead must, and sorbic acid acts as a form of "birth control" for yeast cells. It prevents them from successfully budding and forming new daughter cells. However, it does not kill currently active cells, so if there were any active cells remaining in your must when you racked over the fruit, they just happily began chewing on all the sugar that the fruit brought along to the mix.

Sulphites (actually the molecular sulphur dioxide that forms when sulphites are dissolved in a mead) will kill active cells once you reach their toxic threshold concentration. Many wine yeast strains can tolerate a lot of sulphite - upwards of 300 ppm if the fermentation is at the peak of the active phase, so you'll want to add sulphite only after the fermentation has all but finished. At that time, an addition of both sulphite and sorbate will do two things: 1) it will kill most yeast stragglers - those cells that for one reason or another hang around even when most of the fermentable sugar is gone, and 2) for the few that survive, they will be prevented from ever reproducing so even if they continue to ferment a bit longer, there are so few of them that they won't really do much before they finally expire on their own.

There is another reason to add sulphite along with sorbate in any mead or wine that you want to stabilize, BTW. In addition to providing the "one-two punch" that should prevent any refermentation from starting, the sulphite will also kill malolactic bacteria. You need to ensure that malolactic cultures do not start digesting the sorbate that you've added. If the MLF bacteria go to town on your sorbate, the result is a nasty smelling chemical called geraniol (similar to the aroma in citronella candles), that will never break down and will effectively spoil your mead.

09-15-2012, 12:07 PM
Does sulfite mean potassium or sodium metabisulfite? Where can I order some online? Thanks! Quick replies appreciated

09-15-2012, 01:49 PM
Check your PMs. ;D

09-16-2012, 01:35 AM
Man, I'll just say this, anti-foam is your friend with melomels. I've done a few now and they all overflowed like crazy, especially strawberry. Once I started using anti-foam I was in complete shock. Do yourself a favor and pick some up. A few drops will stop the foam in its tracks and so far I've seen nothing bad come from it. I will never make another melomel, I'm sure without it because just like you I have had ridiculous foam problems otherwise. Trust me you'll be amazed at the outcome if you use it.

09-16-2012, 04:17 AM
Seen a couple of Kelvins posts alluding to "anti-foam drops".

A bit like me singing the praises of D21.......

Like D21, anti-foam drops are something I haven't seen in HBS here. Are they normally for wines/meads or beers ?

I'd have to mail order in any case.......

09-16-2012, 07:00 AM
oh man, I tell ya bro, it is ridiculous. I mean it's not like you are trying to destroy the krausen you are just depleting all tat foam that for some reason real fruit seems to always have. Not kidding, 2 or 3 drops and the foam is gone and your drink is none the worse for it.
I only shout the praises because I have found it to be just stupid good. I mean I've had some batches foaming over for days and I got sick of emptying my spill over vessel and just got the anti-foam... it worked in like 1 minute.

Just try it man, you'll see. I DARE you to make a heavy fruit melomel and let it foam for a day then put the anti-foam drops in it.

You'll see what I mean.

09-16-2012, 07:01 AM
I'm not sure where to get it. My LHBS had it.

09-19-2012, 09:39 PM
FWIW, most LHBS supplied anti-foam drops are just a Simethicone suspension (polydimethylsiloxane) in water. If you cannot find the anti-foam at a brewer's supply, then try infant anti-gas drops from your local druggist/chemist/pharmacist (gotta cover all the English speaking variants on this one!). It is the same thing. Get the unflavored liquid, of course.