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MJuric
02-25-2013, 06:57 PM
When is the proper time to back sweeten?

I have a batch that came out pretty strong and despite a higher then expected SG is not very sweet at all.

I made the batch in Sept last year and it was very "Mouth wash" flavored and has improved over time, but is still not "Pleasant".

My question is do I just let this bulk age more and back sweeten some time later or should I back sweeten now and bottle it and then let it age?

My concern is that it might mellow out and then end up to sweet as the sweetness come forward more as it ages...I have a hard time believing that the way it tastes now, but as I said, first time thru.

~Matt

Cajun-Mead
02-25-2013, 07:55 PM
Very interested in the answer to this question.

Medsen Fey
02-25-2013, 08:01 PM
It will help if we have recipe details.

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MJuric
02-25-2013, 09:31 PM
Here's the recipe for this one. This one ended up with an SG ~1.03, which is supposed to be sweet, but for whatever reason is not, almost dry. I'm wondering if my refractometer is not correct.

Started with ~1.5 gals of watermelon juice. All yellow except for one small red I had. 2quarts of mashed strawberries and 3 small limes. Total juices was again ~1.5 gals.

All of the juice was strained thru a #200 screen.

SG of the juice itself was 1.005. I added ~1.5 gals of water. I then added a little over 12#'s of the same honey which brought the SG up to 1.117 with a total volume of ~4gals.

I then added a Campden tablet (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/vbglossar.php?do=showentry&item=Campden+tablet), let it sit for 24 hours.

I then pitched Red Star Montrachet yeast according to package and added 1/2 tsp nutrients as I did the other recipe. I chose the Montrachet because I had read you wanted a bit faster fermentation (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/vbglossar.php?do=showentry&item=fermentation) with the melon types to get the ABV up to prevent bacteria (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/vbglossar.php?do=showentry&item=bacteria) growth on the left overs.

Fermentation (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/vbglossar.php?do=showentry&item=Fermentation) took place pretty quickly starting less than 12 hours later and going pretty strongly by the next day.

I added 1 tsp nutrients at 48 hours.

This mead (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/vbglossar.php?do=showentry&item=mead) was pitched 9/29. SG on 10/7 was 1.069 and is still fermenting, by bubble anyway, more strongly than the other mead (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/vbglossar.php?do=showentry&item=mead).

fatbloke
02-26-2013, 12:17 AM
See AFAIK there's no "proper" time to back sweeten.......

If the batch finished dry (1.000 or lower), it does tend to show up possible flaws, like alcohol hot or lacking in honey character i.e. temporary flaws which usually mellow out.

Back sweetening not only increases the sweetness/FG it also masks some of the "young mead" flaws.

So it then begs the question of how you like your meads ? Dry as a buzzards arse ? Cloyingly dessert sweet ? Tannic bite? Sharp and acidic ?

When I've made a batch and its turned out too dry tasting I will have back sweetened with honey, using a mix of water and honey at 50/50 ratio. I do this incrementally tasting after each addition.

I find that it depends, but have ended up finding that I like them at between 1.010 and 1.020 so I now routinely sweeten as above but aim for 1.010 so that while they're aging, if they recover some honey character and perception of sweetness I won't have over done it.

Even then, I may use acid (my fave mix is 2 parts malic to 1 part tartaric) or tannin.

So as you can cause a haze in an already cleared med with honey I usually back sweeten before its clear so I only have to clear it the once and it can happily sit in bulk for that.

Grimm312
02-26-2013, 02:35 AM
Wouldn't your final sweetness be determined by your FG, and be unaffected by aging? I would have thought it was more a case of the other flavors changing which let's the sweetness become more or less prominent.

fatbloke
02-26-2013, 02:48 AM
Wouldn't your final sweetness be determined by your FG, and be unaffected by aging? I would have thought it was more a case of the other flavors changing which let's the sweetness become more or less prominent.
You can find that while you measure the gravity to find FG and it tastes dry, ageing can, with some batches, increase the perception of sweetness. I've found that can make a back sweetened batch say 1.010 seem a lot sweeter after aging. Why ? I dont know but it'll likely be one of the chemical changes of the aging/mellowing process....

Medsen Fey
02-26-2013, 06:42 AM
If you use a refractometer, you need to use a correction for the alcohol which throws off the refractive index. A mead that is bone dry will easily register a gravity of 1.130-1.140 though they usually report in BRIX. There are calculators like vinocalc that make it easy.

In any event, you can sweeten at any point, but I like to wait a few months and let it clear and to declare itself before doing so. When sweetening, you are better off to sweeten to a point a little less than you think it needs. You can add more later if needed.

Loadnabox
02-26-2013, 10:38 AM
September of 2012 is a pretty young batch

Most of the batches I started under 2 years ago are just now coming into their own.

I would suggest waiting until they're at LEAST 1 year old, if not 2, before making any additions or changes, as the brew will change immensely on it's own in that time.

MJuric
02-26-2013, 12:33 PM
If you use a refractometer, you need to use a correction for the alcohol which throws off the refractive index.

So I went back and did this correction.

My OG was 1.117 on this and my final SG was ~1.04-1.05. After the adjustment calc this leaves me with a .993 to 1.008 adjusted FG. This seems more realistic considering the actual taste.

~Matt

Medsen Fey
02-26-2013, 03:50 PM
You might want to take a hydrometer reading just to be certain where you are and to insure stability after sweetening.

If you used Montrachet, it is likely that the yeast are done and you have the option of sweetening without having to use stabilizing additives. If you do sweeten without stabilizing I'd suggest letting it stay under airlock at 75 F or higher for at least a couple of weeks, and then some protracted aging after that just to be certain the yeast remain dormant. You don't want to risk bottle bombs.

Cal
02-26-2013, 04:35 PM
Will adding water and honey in a 50/50 mix dilute the taste of the mead?

fatbloke
02-26-2013, 04:47 PM
Will adding water and honey in a 50/50 mix dilute the taste of the mead?
That's how I add extra honey too sweeten. It mixes in easily without the need to stir the hell out of it. I havent noticed any changes other than the increase in sweetness. I've also found that it's more controllable as its harder to over do it.....

Loadnabox
02-26-2013, 07:55 PM
That's how I add extra honey too sweeten. It mixes in easily without the need to stir the hell out of it. I havent noticed any changes other than the increase in sweetness. I've also found that it's more controllable as its harder to over do it.....

I use the mead calculator to backsweeten assuming an SG of honey at 1.440, I always round down to ensure I don't over-do it. Three additions tops and I'm usually within 0.001 SG, usually two additions is enough

Vandall
03-03-2013, 12:44 PM
While on the subject of backsweetening, I have a question. I have seen in this forum, somewhere, a post that stated that X amount of honey would raise the gravity of a mead by X points for a given volume batch. I can't seem to figure out the proper search terms to locate it. I know that the Mead Calculator probably can tell me this, but I still have a hard time using it.

Thanks.

Mister Z
03-12-2013, 07:48 AM
While on the subject of backsweetening, I have a question. I have seen in this forum, somewhere, a post that stated that X amount of honey would raise the gravity of a mead by X points for a given volume batch. I can't seem to figure out the proper search terms to locate it. I know that the Mead Calculator probably can tell me this, but I still have a hard time using it.

Thanks.
If I understand your question, this may be what what you were looking for - One percent alcohol per lb of honey for a 5 gallon batch?
http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1938&Itemid=14

Riverat
03-12-2013, 07:20 PM
While on the subject of backsweetening, I have a question. I have seen in this forum, somewhere, a post that stated that X amount of honey would raise the gravity of a mead by X points for a given volume batch. I can't seem to figure out the proper search terms to locate it. I know that the Mead Calculator probably can tell me this, but I still have a hard time using it.

Thanks.

The calculator isn't too hard once you poke around at it enough, for instance to raise your gravity a set number of points assume you are working with your current batch size in plain water as the "target volume", enter that quantity (say 5 gal) and check the little boxe to the left of "Target Volume"
Then enter the number of points you want to increase by, say 10 points so you would use the water (1.000) plus the 10 to enter the total of 1.010 then check the little box to the left of "target gravity" and either tab through or go down and click "calculate" and the quantity in the "additional sugars #1" (leave unchecked)will come out to 1.565 lb (assuming my non metric inputs, use what you need)
Play around with it some and I'll bet you pick up on it pretty quick.

Medsen Fey
03-12-2013, 07:44 PM
As a general rule of thumb, 1 lb of honey in a gallon of liquid will raise the gravity 37-40 points. This varies with the nature of the honey, its moisture content and how accurate your volume measure is.

If you want to know what your honey will do, if you mix 1 oz (wgt) of honey in a cup (240 cc) of liquid, it gives the same gravity increase as you get with 1 pound in a gallon.

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