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chirhotec
05-09-2013, 01:09 AM
So, I'm getting married in August, and having a couple successful batches of mead under my belt, decided I'd make a few variations to serve at the reception. I did some 1 gallon experiments, and decided on three variations: standard semi-sweet mead, berry mix mead and prickly pear mead.

The base recipe (semi-sweet) is this:
5 gallon batch (end volume)
15lbs local wildflower honey
wheat beer yeast (gets to about 13.5% ABV)
OG =~ 1.110, FG =~ 1.005
I boil the must for about 15 minutes, as suggested by Charles Papazian in his book.

For the melomels I decided I'd add the fruit in secondary, as I've read that the fruit flavors are more prominent, and they worked out better in my few 1 gallon experiments that I did.

The step-by-step:

2013.03.10 - Made 8 gallons of the base recipe, split into 2x 4-gallon batches to add the fruit to later. specific gravity at 1.110

2013.04.11 - Racked the meads into carboys. specific gravity at 1.006

Then for the prickly pear mead, I took 40 prickly pears, and after pealing them had about 7.25lbs of fruit. I added 1/2 gallon of water, heated it all up (did not boil), mashed the fruit, and filtered. I ended up with a gallon of prickly pear juice, which I added to the racked mead. The specific gravity at this point was 1.010.

The berry mix was to be Pomegranate, Blueberry and Acai. Since I couldn't find the fresh fruit I wanted, and realizing I'd probably just end up juicing them anyways, I skipped straight to buying juice (supposedly, hopefully 100% juice). 1/2 gallon of pom, 1/2 gallon of acai, and maybe a pint to a quart of blueberry. Did not record the specific gravity

The problem is, I forgot I needed to add more honey. So, when giving a sample of the prickly pear to some mead loving friends and the fiance, we all quickly realized it was too watered down.

2013.04.24 - Finally got a hold of my honey supplier. Since there is some debate about boiling vs not boiling, I figured I'd add the little bit of extra honey without boiling in water.

So I added 3-3.5 lbs of honey to both meads, which promptly sunk straight to the bottom, even under the sediment that had fallen out. :BangHead:

I added some more yeast nutrient, but it didn't really seem to help. Bubbling increased a little, but not much.

So now what? Will the honey eventually get eaten up by the yeast and the alcohol disperse throughout the mead? (I only have 2.5 months to finish this up) Should I re-pitch more yeast to do that? Maybe rack the mead, try to dissolve the honey in a little more hot water and add back to the mead?

WVMJack
05-09-2013, 03:55 AM
Stir stir stir You have to get it into solution now or you will never have a chance of getting done. You are probably going to have to degass when the fermentation stops, stabalize and fine to get rid of the protiens in the honey you just added. Good Luck, WVMJ

chirhotec
05-09-2013, 07:10 PM
Ok, so I picked up this from my local homebrew store:
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/mix-stir-agitator-rod.html

Worked great to mix all the honey at the bottom of the berry mead. Only thing is, it didn't really come with directions. Looking at the notes on that link, it says

The mix-stir is very effective at de-gassing your wine and it should not be used for more than a few 10-15 second bursts. If you over-use the mix-stir you risk adding oxygen to your wine.

I ran the drill wand for about 3-4 minutes nonstop, and that mixed all the honey back into the mead. Should I now be worried about oxidation?

For my prickly pear mead, there was a lot of sediment on both the top and bottom, so I racked that one to a different carboy. With all the sediment gone, I was actually back to under 4.5 gallons. And there really was only a thin layer of honey at the bottom once I drained the sediment off it. I lost some when trying to remove the sediment, but the rest I put back in and stirred it up. I also pulled off a little for a taste test tomorrow, and if its too weak I'll try to estimate what I lost during the racking process.


I've never heard of de-gassing before, so I just looked up a few videos on it. Should I be doing this with all my meads?
When should it be done?
Is there a concern with oxidation? (that link above suggests yes, all the videos suggest no).
In what way is the flavor improved? (by any chance does is decrease the alcohol heat taste? that is my main concern with having the meads ready in time by August).

Thanks again for all the help!

akueck
05-09-2013, 08:03 PM
If the mead is fermenting, the yeast will consume the oxygen and you should be fine.

Chevette Girl
05-10-2013, 12:45 PM
I've never heard of de-gassing before, so I just looked up a few videos on it. Should I be doing this with all my meads?
When should it be done?
Is there a concern with oxidation? (that link above suggests yes, all the videos suggest no).
In what way is the flavor improved? (by any chance does is decrease the alcohol heat taste? that is my main concern with having the meads ready in time by August).


Degassing is really only something you need to worry about when you're in a hurry, if you're bottling it before it's had enough time to age and let the carbon dioxide dissipate on its own.

When you add a fining agent (to clear up your mead and make it drop all its sediment before you bottle) after you've stabilized your meads (so they don't keep fermenting), you need it to be degassed before you fine it, or else the CO2 can mess with your fining agent.

The little bit of bite you might get from the carbon dioxide on your tongue (think soda water) will go away with degassing but that hot alcohol bite? I think you're stuck with it until it ages out. It can be useful during fermentation (and happens naturally when you aerate, which you do on purpose at the beginning of fermentation) because it removes some of the yeast's byproducts so they have an easier time of it, and some of the experiments folks have done around here where they've kept their must degassed by keeping it on a stirplate until fermentation is complete do suggest that it can prevent that hot alcohol burn from developing, but I don't think degassing it now will have much effect on the alcohol burn this late in the game. Backsweetening it may help cover it up while it ages...

As Akueck said, don't sweat the oxidation issue so long as there's still fermentation going on. You just don't want to do more than gently stir a must that's completed fermentation. If you're splashing it around, you risk oxidation, if all the motion is happening below the surface, you're all good.

Good luck and enjoy your wedding!