PDA

View Full Version : Add k-meta/sorb to carboy of recently racked traditional?



Intheswamp
12-18-2012, 02:17 PM
I got concerned about oxidation so last Saturday (Dec-15-2012) I racked my 3 week old traditional over to a 3-gallon carboy. The SG at racking was 1.009 and both my wife and I were impressed with the taste. I was somewhat surprised by the taste, actually. Anyhow, we liked the taste so if nothing else we now know about how sweet/dry we like it. :)

FWIW...
OG was 1.108
Last SG reading was 1.009
K1-V1116
~3.75# of honey (total of3.25 gallons of must which yielded 3 gallons in carboy, about 500ml for topping off, and about 250ml of some test tube must)
Fermented for 21 days before being rack into carboy

I wasn't sure what to do with the mead at that point being as there had been little to no airlock activity for several days, the SG was getting low, and I was beginning to worry about the excess headspace without having active co2 production. So, I racked it out of the plastic bucket into the glass carboy filling it up into the neck a couple of inches below the stopper. I did not stabilize. There has been no airlock activity other than what I think was a few blips of disturbed co2 coming out...it appears to be very still now.

After thinking about it, with the SG where it is and the taste to our liking I wished I had stabilized it then but I didn't. After reading some more I've concluded that would have been a good thing to do.

So here I am today wondering about stabilizing it. I'm wondering about whether I could thieve some of the must from the carboy (being sanitary about everything, of course), mix the k-meta and sorbate into it and then add this back to the carboy maybe stirring gently with the handle end of my paddle. It seems I've read mostly that folks rack onto the stabilizers but I would think racking again so soon would probably be detrimental to the mead in regards to oxidation.

Would simply mixing the stabilizers in a small amount of thieved mead and adding it back to the carboy work ok?

Thanks,
Ed

veritas
12-18-2012, 03:04 PM
I see no problem with adding your stabilizing agents to your mead as is I often do this without incident. I just mix them with a small amount of water and then mix into mead. I also just wouldn't worry that much about oxidation with a sack mead. Again just me. I'm sure someone with a huge brain can chime in with some more advice!

icedmetal
12-18-2012, 03:14 PM
If you add stabilizers three weeks into a ferment, the yeast still in suspension will happily ignore your intent. Expect that this batch will continue to drop in gravity, regardless of what you do.

Once it has cleared significantly, or you just need to get it off the lees (depends on the yeast you used, I don't know about 1116 and whether or not you'll impart off-flavors sitting on the lees), rack it. Then rack it again, and again, and again. Maybe it won't take racking it that many times, but the point is, you need to remove as much yeast as possible before attempting to stabilize and backsweeten. Yeah, I know, you asked about stabilization, not backsweetening. Well, when this goes bone dry, as it appears it will, if you want that 1.009 back you're going to have to backsweeten ;)

veritas
12-18-2012, 03:25 PM
I would agree with icedmetal if your fermentation is still active. I was under the impression your fermentation was complete. I have had complete fermentation in short periods of time.

Chevette Girl
12-18-2012, 11:22 PM
Check the SG again in a couple of days and if it hasn't changed, I'd assume it's stalled out at a place you like (I've had that happen before too, saves having to backsweeten ;D)and go ahead and stabilize it. I've added stabilizers to must rather than racking onto the chemicals, I don't know if there's much difference as long as you don't get a sudden gas release, which should be mostly mitigated if you mix the powders into some must before adding it to the batch. Icedmetal is correct though, if the fermentation hasn't actually stopped, stabilizing it with active yeast present might not work, in this case I'd be tempted to cold crash it, which pretty much forces the yeast to lay down and go to sleep... then you can rack off the yeast and onto the chemicals.

K1V-1116 is fine on the lees.

Intheswamp
12-19-2012, 01:11 AM
Thanks for the replies. I'm going to wait a day or so and check the gravity again. If it hasn't changed I'll check again in another few days. still no change I may go ahead and stabilize. In regards to cold crashing I don't have refrigerator room to do that. How long does it take to cold crash? Could I do it in an Rubbermaiid ice cooler?

icedmetal, K1V is supposedly good for up to 18 %ABV. As of my last hydrometer test the alcohol would have been at just over 13 %ABV...the K1V could definitely run this drier unless it is stalled out as CG mentioned. I'm beginning to get the understanding that k-meta and sorbate won't stop a head-strong fermentation that the yeast has to be either about exhausted or either cold crashed to allow the stailizers to do their thing.

It will be interesting to see what the next few hydrometer measurements reveal. The mead is *very* still with no airlock activity. It will be an eye opener for this newbee if the fermentation is still happening. I know that bubbling airlocks don't mean much of anything in regards to fermentation but finding out that the mead is still fermenting and giving no visual sign of it will be, how shall I say it...."cool". Ok, I'm a product of the 70's. ;D

Thanks again for the feedback, ya'll.

Ed

Chevette Girl
12-19-2012, 01:32 AM
I've had some musts continue to ferment very slowly with no airlock activity... if it starts getting really clear it's probably about done on its own (although I've had slow fermentation in some musts so clear you couldn't see a flashlight beam through them), the yeast will settle out when it's done wiggling around. Cold crashing sort of artificially forces this, at least till it warms back up again.

As I understand, cold crashing takes a few days to a week at refrigerator temperatures. If you can keep changing the ice in a cooler to chill down to refrigerator temperatures, it should work. I haven't done it with anything bigger than a 2-litre bottle myself because that's all I can fit in my fridge. Keep meaning to try using the garage in the winter, now that the door's insulated it barely goes below freezing and my car doesn't always smell like gasoline since we found the source of the leak.

Intheswamp
12-19-2012, 11:10 AM
The test tube samples had cleared up a lot prior to the racking, The mead is very murky looking when I look through the side of the carboy. It was probably this cloudy while in the fermenter but I couldn't see through the plastic sides. In the half liter of "extra" that I saved it's about as clear "looking" as it appeared in the test tubes. There is a lot of difference from looking through an inch of mead and 12 inches of mead, eh? :) I would imagine, though, that I did stir up some sediment when I racked.

I was thinking about using the weather/season to help cold crash, too. Down here we've been in the 70F range during the day and the 40's at night. It's changing for a spell of 60's/30's for several days. I figure the lower temperatures will help the ice stay frozen longer. In July this wouldn't work so well. :p

Have I got the right understanding of cold crashing?... The mead is subjected to the cold until the yeast drops and the mead clears. The cleared mead is then racked onto the stabilizers leaving the bulk of the yeast behind on the bottom of the original container. This leaves fewer yeast cells for the stabilizers to deal with. 'bout right?

Ed

veritas
12-19-2012, 11:25 AM
You've got the right idea. The cold slows stops the fermentation putting it in a dormant state. It also clears other sediments as well. Looks to me like your on the right path. The only challenge you seem to have is keeping the temp where you want it. Not to sure what your overall mead making plans are or finances but what I and some others do is take an old chest freezer off of craigslist or the like and add a johnson temp control to it. Now you have a large cold crashing unit as well as a place you can use for controlled cool temp fermentation.

YogiBearMead726
12-19-2012, 01:29 PM
Forgive me for sidetracking, but I can't figure out out how 3.75lbs of honey in a must with a total volume of 3.25 gallons could yield an OG of 1.108. You should've needed around 9.75lbs of honey to reach that gravity. Am I missing something?

For what it's worth, I haven't dabbled with stabilizing, as I haven't seen a need to. Though plenty of others here occasionally add more k-meta to help keep free SO2 levels high enough to prevent oxidation similar to winemaking practices.

icedmetal
12-19-2012, 03:06 PM
For what it's worth, I haven't dabbled with stabilizing, as I haven't seen a need to. Though plenty of others here occasionally add more k-meta to help keep free SO2 levels high enough to prevent oxidation similar to winemaking practices.

Unless you never plan to bottle, stabilizing is a must for safety reasons. I say this now, so you can remember it when you're cleaning up the mess.

Chevette Girl
12-19-2012, 03:15 PM
I don't often stabilize either unless I'm backsweetening. A completely dry brew or even if there's residual sugar, a year in the carboy with no change in SG is safe enough for me, I always make a "control" bottle too with a screw-top so I can check now and then to see if there's a hiss... If I bottle before a year is up and there's still any sugar, I will stabilize. So far so good, I've learned my lesson about bottling too early thanks to several popped corks, nothing more exciting than that, and no issues since I started paying more attention to how long it's been in the carboy before I bottle.

Although if you're new, I'd still recommend getting into the habit early on unless you have a reason not to (I do have some friends with sulphite sensitivities).

Intheswamp
12-19-2012, 06:48 PM
veritas, I actually started out thinking about a refrigerator for keg carbonating some sparkling mead...it looks like it could be a multi-function tool. I'm out in the country but currently don't have the shed/storage space to do it. It seems though, that a deep freezer would be somewhat hard to work out of when handling large carboys but I can see how the "floor space" would be much better than an upright. I'm already needing to set up a honey shack to do my extracting and bee equipment storage so maybe incorporate a brewing area, too...just gotta figure out the logistics and finances to get a shed put up. :)

Yogi, thanks for catching my error in regards to the amount of honey. That actually should have read either roughly 9.75# or 3.5 quarts of honey. Looks like my mind merged the two together. :p Sorry about that. What I did was start out with 3 quarts of honey and then kept adding and stirring until the SG reached 1.108...the resulting amount used was right at 3.5 quarts with the weight being a guesstimate. Your spot-on on your estimate of honey required.

Yogi, icemetal, CG, what I'm taking by ya'll's statements is... that if it's bone dry then I don't need to stabilize, which makes sense...if there's nothing for the yeast to feed on then they're not gonna create co2. If on the other hand there's some residual sugar and the fermentation has stopped for some reason or another (not from chemical stabilization) that there is a chance that fermentation could restart and stabilizing it would be like an insurance policy.

I think what I'll do is see how dry the traditional goes and see how we like the taste. If it's good (to us) I won't stabilize. If, on the other hand, it needs backsweetening I'll stabilize. I'd rather not use sulphites if I can keep from it...ya never know when you might run into someone allergic to it. Anyhow, does that sound like a decent, simple plan?

Ed

Chevette Girl
12-19-2012, 07:20 PM
I think what I'll do is see how dry the traditional goes and see how we like the taste. If it's good (to us) I won't stabilize. If, on the other hand, it needs backsweetening I'll stabilize. I'd rather not use sulphites if I can keep from it...ya never know when you might run into someone allergic to it. Anyhow, does that sound like a decent, simple plan?


Sounds like what I'd do :) Sulphites are not a bad thing for most people (and I really do mean most, a lot of the headaches blamed on sulphites are likely from red grape histamines or tannins, and although it is a suspected migraine trigger for a family I know, the asthma trigger is the serious one to watch for), wine already has some produced by the yeast anyway. I just make sure it's right on the label if I've sulphited a must.

Just be aware, stabilizing your wine should prolong its shelf life and protect its flavour and colour, it's not just about bottle bomb prevention. This is why it's recommended. So be aware that a misplaced fear of sulphites may well affect the future of your batch. I don't use 'em for a couple of reasons, primary one being because I'm lazy, secondary because I actually like the sherry-like flavour oxidation gives to wines and I like to see how things age without interference. I may seem like a good meadmaker to emulate in your own endeavours, but in reality, I'm mostly a bad example. How does that Rush song go, "Old enough to know what's right, young enough not to choose it"? ;D

YogiBearMead726
12-19-2012, 09:33 PM
Unless you never plan to bottle, stabilizing is a must for safety reasons. I say this now, so you can remember it when you're cleaning up the mess.

While I appreciate the warning, I don't ever backsweeten batches, so I highly doubt there will be any mess to contend with.

I'll second what CG said above, that stabilizing is more for prolonging the shelf life of the mead (flavor, color, no unwanted bottle bombs). Perhaps when I have something worth bottling and aging for a few decades I'll stabilize it. But for now, I'm in the "lazy boat" as well. :)

Chevette Girl
12-19-2012, 11:19 PM
While I appreciate the warning, I don't ever backsweeten batches, so I highly doubt there will be any mess to contend with.

If it's dry you're pretty safe once it's degassed. If there's any residual sugar at all, bulk age it/drink it quickly/stabilize it are your sensible options. My very first mead held at 1.015 for 6 months so I bottled it, and it became quite messy... fortunately the corks went before the bottles did. Lesson mostly learned.