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HowardVic
05-04-2013, 09:54 AM
Hi everybuddy, long time...

I was aiming for a medium sweet mead with an alcohol content around 14% with the following recipe, however, the mead, in its third week of fermentation which is almost at its end, is too dry and I suspect, by tasting it after taking a hydrometer reading this morning, not close to 14% alcohol content.

Is it too late to add more honey and yeast nutrient and give a good aeration with a drill driven paddle to get it sweeter and higher in alcohol content or is the drill paddle aeration a risk for oxidation and bacteria contamination at this late state?

If not, am I in time to make a sparking mead since “champagne” meads are dryer?

Recipe:

Day 1: Thursday, April 18
79 gallons of water
40 gallons of honey
Sweet Mead Yeast (suffient for 200 gallons of must)

3 Scale Hydrometer Reading for April 18 at 9:22 pm:

% sugar balling – 28%
potential alcohol by volume – 14.5%
Specific Gravity – 10%
PH – 6.0

Day 6: Wednesday, April 24

3 Scale Hydromter Reading for Thursday at 1:19 pm

% sugar balling – 15%
potential alcohol by volume – 7%
Specifici Gravity – 62%
PH – 6.0

On Wednesday, April 24 at 1:43 pm addded 2 gallons of Passion Fruit pulp, 3 gallons rosemary/cardamom tea and yeast nutrient, aerated and added to must in fermentation tank for a total of 124 gallons of must.

Day 16: Saturday, May 4
3 Scale Hydromter Reading at 8:40 am

% sugar balling – 2%
potential alcohol by volume – 1% two notches below yellow band that says “bottle”
Specifici Gravity – 10%
PH – 6.0

Thank you in advance for your much needed feedback.

Later...

fatbloke
05-04-2013, 10:29 AM
I'd like to help but what those readings mean ? they might as well be in Kanji...

Gravity readings are routinely 4 figures/3 decimal points measured from 1.000 which is water. Below 1.000 usually indicates a dry ferment i.e. 0.990 etc, 1.010 would be about medium and much above 1.020 would be sweet - plus there's the ones that are considered as "dessert" meads (which I find too sweet for my likeing) which would be in the 1.040 region.

Potential Alcohol scales on a hydrometer are a waste of space IMO

So it's making the decyphering of your figures hard work.

Sweet Mead Yeast ? Whose ? The Wyeast one is a PITA IMO. Finicky to use and with a low alcohol tolerance (11% ABV from memory). The White Labs one has a tolerance of 15% ABV, but I haven't tried that as it's not available here. I believe both makers dry mead yeasts are rated as 18% ABV, which is "champagne yeast" territory.

Irrespective of your readings and my not following them, too sweeten, you will have to know the tolerance of the yeast and how much, if any, room for refermentation there is or might be. Because if there's any possibility of fermentation restarting, you'd have to stabilise it first, usually that's done with sulphites and sorbate.

You could then, just add enough honey (obviously in small increments, but the size of the increments is dependant on the batch size) to raise the FG by, say, 5 points, before tasting it. You'd want to sweeten it to "almost" sweet enough as it may well recover some of the perception of sweetness with ageing.

Also, you'd have to keep an eye on the batch as it's sweetened, because honey can cause a haze in a batch that's already clear, which is protein in the honey I believe. That will drop out with time, usually, but equally it may need some form of finings to shift it.

In any case, that's one big mutha of a batch........

HowardVic
05-04-2013, 10:53 AM
Greetings Fatbloke. Thanks for your feedback. keep it coming.

Hydrometer in hand, I revised the previous specific gravity readings as being:

3 Scale Hydrometer Reading for April 18 at 9:22 pm:

% sugar balling – 28%
potential alcohol by volume – 14.5%
Specific Gravity – 1.010
PH – 6.0

Day 6: Wednesday, April 24

3 Scale Hydromter Reading for Thursday at 1:19 pm

% sugar balling – 15%
potential alcohol by volume – 7%
Specifici Gravity – 1.062
PH – 6.0

On Wednesday, April 24 at 1:43 pm addded 2 gallons of Passion Fruit pulp, 3 gallons rosemary/cardamom tea and yeast nutrient, aerated and added to must in fermentation tank for a total of 124 gallons of must.

Day 16: Saturday, May 4
3 Scale Hydromter Reading at 8:40 am

% sugar balling – 2%
potential alcohol by volume – 1% two notches below yellow band that says “bottle”
Specifici Gravity – 1.010%
PH – 6.0

It's odd that the first and most recent specific gravity readings are the same. ???

The yeast I am using is White Labs Sweet Mead Yeast WLP720 is "...Slightly fruity and will tolerate alcohol concentrations up to 15%..."

So, if there is still some fermentation (very slow) going on, is it safe to add, maybe, two or three more gallons of honey mixed with two gallons of water and yeast nutrient and aerate it with the paddle in order to sweetened it?

Thank you in advance for your much needed feedback.

ke3ju
05-04-2013, 10:59 AM
At 14.5% PA, I'm sure you first SG reading was meant to be 1.100, not 1.010...

Sent from my VS930 4G using Tapatalk 2

HowardVic
05-04-2013, 11:22 AM
Hi ke3ju. Thanx for your input.

Question 1: Is to too late to sweeten as in my last message?

Question 2: If it is too late to sweeten, then, I will go for a sparkling mead but can it be back sweetened before bottling or will the added honey before bottling have to do?

I still have to rack it and clarify it with Bentonite. I intend on letting it age in second fermenter before bottling it. If I go for the sparkling mead, then, I don't have to stabelize it so as to keep the fermentation in the corked champagne bottles?

Ok, then, corrected 3 scale hydrometer readings should be:

3 Scale Hydrometer Reading for April 18 at 9:22 pm:

% sugar balling – 28%
potential alcohol by volume – 14.5%
Specific Gravity – 1.100
PH – 6.0

Day 6: Wednesday, April 24

3 Scale Hydromter Reading for Thursday at 1:19 pm

% sugar balling – 15%
potential alcohol by volume – 7%
Specifici Gravity – 1.620
PH – 6.0

On Wednesday, April 24 at 1:43 pm addded 2 gallons of Passion Fruit pulp, 3 gallons rosemary/cardamom tea and yeast nutrient, aerated and added to must in fermentation tank for a total of 124 gallons of must.

Day 16: Saturday, May 4
3 Scale Hydromter Reading at 8:40 am

% sugar balling – 2%
potential alcohol by volume – 1% two notches below yellow band that says “bottle”
Specifici Gravity – 1.100
PH – 6.0

Obviously, I am a GotMead larva with a lot of learning to do.

Thanx again. Keep the feedback coming.

fatbloke
05-04-2013, 02:48 PM
Well, presuming a starting gravity of 1.100 and a current(ish) gravity of 1.010 ? the 90 point drop in gravity equates to about 12.2% ABV.

So, if I recall correctly, with the White Labs sweet mead being tolerant to 15% ABV, I would suggest that you should let it continue as it is and ferment dry. Which it should do.

Then, once you've had 3 consecutive, identical gravity readings, each one taken 2 or 3 days apart so all three are taken across about a week, you can consider it finished.

To have achieved 15%, you would need a gravity drop of about 110 to 111 points.

So as it's possible that there may be scope for refermentation if further fermentable sugars are added, I'd suggest that it would need stabilising with sulphites and sorbate, and only then think about adding further honey to back sweeten it.

When I plan on back sweetening a batch, I usually do that before it's clear, because honey can haze a clear batch. By doing the sweetening at that stage, I only have to clear it once, either just leaving it to clear over time or using some finings to clear it quickly.

HowardVic
05-04-2013, 03:55 PM
Thanks Fatbloke.

The hydrometer reading this morning for specific gravity was 1.100 not 1.010 which is odd it would return to the starting specific gravity of three weeks ago when two weeks ago it was 1.620 unless I misread this mornings reading.

Just took another hydrometer reading to be sure and the specific gravity is 1.010 as you indicated, Fatbloke.

Isn't odd the specific gravity returned to the starting point of 1.010?

Therefore, the revised hydrometer readings for specific gravity are:

April 18 at 9:12 pm - 1.010
April 24 at 1:19 pm - 1.062
May 4 at 8:40 am - 1.010
May 4 at 4:10 pm - 1.010

Thanx again.

HowardVic
05-04-2013, 06:03 PM
The first paragraph in my last post should have read as follows:

The hydrometer reading this morning for specific gravity was 1.010 which is odd it would return to the starting specific gravity of three weeks ago when two weeks ago it was 1.620 unless I misread this mornings reading.

Isn't odd the specific gravity returned to the starting point of 1.010?

Therefore, the revised hydrometer readings for specific gravity are:

April 18 at 9:12 pm - 1.010
April 24 at 1:19 pm - 1.062
May 4 at 8:40 am - 1.010
May 4 at 4:10 pm - 1.010

Thanx again.

fatbloke
05-04-2013, 08:43 PM
I think you mis-read it the first time. There's no way in hell that what is effectively 2 parts water to 1 part honey would be 1.010

The numbers you list suggest that it started low, then jumped up and back down again - a physical impossibility.

My guess is that you've transposed the numbers. I can't suggest otherwise as I don't know how to use the mead calculator.

Also, 1.620 is either a typo or bad note taking. No yeast would be able to start fermenting as far as I'm aware. That's far too higher reading.

To my knowledge hydrometers calibrated for brewing usually go up to 1.150, with a few being marked a bit further to 1.200 and generally down to 0.980

So while I made a guess, you won't know if it's finished until you've had the 3 readings taken across a week as I mentioned earlier.

Either way, without an accurate starting gravity, if the final does settle out at 1.010, I'd still stabilise before adding more honey (which is fermentable) as that could be dangerous once it hits the glass.......

HowardVic
05-04-2013, 09:45 PM
Evening Fatbloke et al.

In a nutshell:

(1) I will follow your advice, fatbloke, regarding the back sweetening since it will give the mead more of a honey aroma and darken the color to a golden amber.

(2) Found lots of Youtube videos on hydrometer readings with the search key words "three scale hydrometer" which I will check out tomorrow.

(3) Your blog is a repository (Library of Alexandria of meadery) of useful info on mead making. Will read more of it tomorrow.

Thanx.

Good night, Everybuddy.

HowardVic
05-05-2013, 05:03 PM
Greetings.

The 124 gallons of must is in a 132 gallon fermenting tank. I will be adding 5 gallons of honey when it is stabilized. Do I dilute each gallon in about 2 gallons of water and add it to the tank slowly stirring with a long paddle and repeat for the remaining 4 gallons of honey in increments of one gallon and 2 gallons of water at a time so as not to risk contamination if I were to use the paddle attached to a drill?

Or would adding 5 increments of 2 gallons of water reduce the alcohol content, therefore, I should add 2 gallons of honey and 1 gallon of water in a five gallon container, stir add to must in tank, add another 2 gallons of honey in 1 gallon of water, stir and add to tank and, finally, 1 gallon of honey in 1 gallon of water, stir and add to tank?

Thanks.

HowardVic
05-05-2013, 08:04 PM
Night cap: I've read several times over how the must as to be stabilized to make sure the fermentation is completely done before back sweetening, however, if I was originally aiming for a 14% alcohol content instead of the current 12.5%, then, by adding the 5 gallons of honey without stabilizing might just trigger the fermentation to start again and raise the alcohol content. Yes?

Tomorrow is another day... ;D

Good night.

Chevette Girl
05-05-2013, 09:36 PM
If we take your amounts to the Mead Calculator (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=745&Itemid=16), I'm guessing you'll have a higher starting gravity than that, something more along the lines of Joe's Ancient Orange... yeah, if I enter the total volume to be 124 gallons as you've said and the addition #1 to be 40 gallons of honey, I get a specific gravity of 1.139 which if fermented out to 1.010 means your actual alcohol content is more like 16.5%, presuming your honey wasn't watered down somehow before you got it. I'm suspecting that your initial reading of 1.100 was lower than it should have been because the honey wasn't completely mixed and some of it was on the bottom and your SG sample came from the top where there was more water... but that's just my suspicion, there may well be other factors as well.

You can also find out using the Mead Calculator how much honey you need to add to get a desired level of sweetness by specific gravity, rather than decide you're going to dump in 5 gallons of honey just because you can, you might want to take a mug of your mead and sweeten it with honey slowly while tasting it, when it tastes right, then check and record its specific gravity, then you can use the Mead Calculator to determine how much honey you need for your backsweetening to that level that you know is not going to be too sweet.

Stabilizing it before adding the honey would probably be a good idea, although if you don't before you add more honey and it eats some of the honey you add (you'll know because the SG will drop), you could just add even more honey and step-feed it like this until the yeast have eaten all they can.

When I don't just dump the honey in straight (which I usually do because I'm lazy and it'll dissolve eventually), I prefer to mix a small amount of my must into the honey to get it to mix better with the whole batch, but you have to already know how much honey you're adding. Adding water to the honey before you add it to the must just dilutes everything. For filling headspace, I like to use the same proportion of honey to water that I started out with, it should ferment out as far as the initial batch ever did.

I don't think adding honey incrementally or in a single dose makes any difference at all when it comes to contamination. Just sanitize everything that comes into contact with your meads.

HowardVic
05-06-2013, 11:24 PM
Hi Chevette Girl.

I saw your post earlier this evening (It's 11:18 pm in the Caribbean) but I've been working with the mead since this morning and I had to make a pit stop at Home Depot because I couldn't find the tube clamps for my pump to transfer/rack from primary fermenter to the second and a few other gliches that slowed everything down a few hours off schedule.

My computer is on the blink so I am going to copy and paste your post to a document, print it and read it tomorrow morning 'cause I am too pooped to pop.

A thousand thanks for your feedback which I was hoping you'd come through with sooner or later. Greatly appreciated.

Light outs!

ZZZZzzzzzzzzz.... :sleepy1:

fatbloke
05-07-2013, 02:21 PM
Hi Chevette Girl.

I saw your post earlier this evening (It's 11:18 pm in the Caribbean) but I've been working with the mead since this morning and I had to make a pit stop at Home Depot because I couldn't find the tube clamps for my pump to transfer/rack from primary fermenter to the second and a few other gliches that slowed everything down a few hours off schedule.

My computer is on the blink so I am going to copy and paste your post to a document, print it and read it tomorrow morning 'cause I am too pooped to pop.

A thousand thanks for your feedback which I was hoping you'd come through with sooner or later. Greatly appreciated.

Light outs!

ZZZZzzzzzzzzz.... :sleepy1:
It's hardly surprising you're knackered Howard. After all, that's a commercial sized batch.......

As for computers on the blink ? Tell me about it...... sunday and yesterday trying to sort mine...... thank god for smartphones :D especially as I probably won't get home till thursday.....

HowardVic
05-07-2013, 06:17 PM
Hi Fatbloke.

Yep, I have a lot of deleting to do in my PC. I like to download music from cyberspace. SOMA FM online Good stuff. Not the ancient soma people drank or ate to communicate with the gods.

Ok, so next step after stabilizing is clarification with Bentonite and let bulk age for two months before bottling.

Later, all...