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View Full Version : Stabilizing and Back-Sweetening... How Exactly?



theWestWinds
11-21-2013, 03:05 PM
I am happy with my mead and am ready to stabilize and rack it, though it came out dryer than I had expected. So I decided to back-sweeten it. The concept is simple, rack it as normal but also add in some more honey (or other sweeteners/flavors). But the exact process is not really spelled out anywhere. So I have a few questions:


1. I had planned on using Potassium Sorbate and Potassium Metabisulfite to stabilize it. But when does this go in? Do I add it into the secondary fermenter when it is empty and rack the mead onto it? Or do I add it to the primary fermenter and then rack into the secondary? Or just add it to the secondary after racking? Is there anything I have to do other than just add it?

2. I understand that I should add any additional ingredients into the secondary while it is empty of mead, and then rack the mead onto it. So if I am just adding a few ounces of honey, do I just put that into the secondary and then rack onto it? Or do I have to dilute it in some water first? Or dilute it in some of my mead first? I read that you should rack and then not mess with it and let it age, but I figured Iíd have to mix the new honey in there, right? I canít just let it sit in a glob at the bottom of the secondary, right? That means shaking it up, right? But Iím not supposed to disturb it or let oxygen get in, right?


Maybe Iím just overthinking all of this and maybe these details are not that important, but I am a details person. So if it doesnít matter, Iíd rather someone tell me instead of me just assuming.


My notes, which include EVERYTHING about my process and mead (the mead is in the details!), are linked below:
Mead of a Westardly Breeze Notes (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1OlE8qw2oobMTb3NmXYVBYE-7Rdo8c3LSiyrzLTaqaQI/edit?usp=sharing)
Orange-Heart Mead Notes (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1G7fBk8ZqKIqhuClGN11LbcMXb_STGG8pHVZyspTcX4U/edit?usp=sharing)
Ishtar's Mead Notes (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CM-HZHY9Qp_ez6cjcJX4UaNl_fUlJbV-KIwyw2Ws-14/edit?usp=sharing) (This was my wife's batch, so there is a bit of info missing in the notes... sorry)


Thanks in advance! Let the mead flow! And drink up!

fatbloke
11-21-2013, 05:15 PM
Over thinking etc.

Rack the brew once finished ( 3 consecutive identical gravity readings each I dividual reading taken 2 or 3 days apart) to your secondary jug/carboy.

You can then just do what you think best or easiest..... either add to the brew or take a bit of the brew, stir the chems into the bit of brew and then mix that into the main body of it.

There's no set method, just what you feel happiest with.

When adding honey again, its up to you but if you did just pour it in, it can sink to the bottom and need a good stir to get it to dissolve in evenly.

I routinely add the honey before clearing, because it can cause a haze in a cleared brew. Then I only have to clear my brews once.

Then chems are added in one go, but sweetening honey and/or acid I add in smallish increments so not to over do it.....

Marshmallow Blue
11-21-2013, 05:16 PM
Rack it onto the stabilizers óORó add the stabilizers after racking. This just makes thier job easier without all that yeast on the bottom.

After you added the stabilizers, wait about a week for it to work and finish what it needs to finish. Then add your few ounces of honey. I usually dissolve it in a tiny bit of water so it blends easier with the mead, but that's a personal thing.

The important part is to let the chems work before adding more honey.

theWestWinds
11-21-2013, 06:37 PM
And I should only have to add the chems once, right? The first time I rack? Not multiple times?

bernardsmith
11-21-2013, 10:17 PM
And I should only have to add the chems once, right? The first time I rack? Not multiple times?

The sorbate, I think, you need add only once but the K-meta - it depends. If you add both and then bottle soon after then the K-meta and K-Sorbate will act together to inhibit reproduction of the yeast but K-meta has a second effect and that is that it will provide enough free SO2 to protect the mead (though I am not so sure that meads are as sensitive to oxidation as fruit wines) from oxidation which is why wine makers tend to add K-meta each time we rack the wine (every 2 or 3 months). If you bulk age the mead two or three months after adding the stabilizers and before bottling you may want to check how much free (unbound) SO2 there is left in the mead. If it is below about 50mg/L then you may want to add some more K-meta before bottling but the amount of free SO2 required is dependent on the pH of the mead or wine. The higher the pH (the less acidic) the more SO2 is needed to protect the wine. I read that mead is not as susceptible to oxidation as say, grapes or apricots or berries but I am always very suspicious of claims made that are not in fact published in peer reviewed journals and I have yet to read anything published in peer reviewed journals that offers evidence that fermented honey is less likely to oxidize than fermented cider.

theWestWinds
11-22-2013, 12:29 PM
Interesting... Though your response leads me to more questions. How do I check for free SO2?

I am with you though, I am a facts and details man. Peer reviewed or GET IT OUTA' HERE! :)

fatbloke
11-22-2013, 02:14 PM
Interesting... Though your response leads me to more questions. How do I check for free SO2?

I am with you though, I am a facts and details man. Peer reviewed or GET IT OUTA' HERE! :)
Whats usually recommended is to rack first time and use sulphite and sorbate, then add extra doses of sulphite every alternate racking i.e. not the second racking but the third, fifth etc......

You can of course, get a bit sciencey, if you want too. I understand that there's free SO2 test kits available. Dunno how much though, I just follow the 1, 3, 5 method......

Medsen Fey
11-23-2013, 08:12 AM
... I read that mead is not as susceptible to oxidation as say, grapes or apricots or berries but I am always very suspicious of claims made that are not in fact published in peer reviewed journals and I have yet to read anything published in peer reviewed journals that offers evidence that fermented honey is less likely to oxidize than fermented cider.

While I am a big believer in scientifically studied claims, and controlled (reproducible) trials, this is one you can easily see (taste & smell actually) for yourself. Open a bottle of white wine and a bottle of traditional mead (or a JAO) and consume a couple of glasses of each (not all by yourself) then stick them back in the fridge and do taste comparison each week until you see a difference.

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Medsen Fey
11-23-2013, 08:28 AM
http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11742

http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=18187

http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=18086

These are some threads on stabilizing. I usually add the sorbate and sulfite at the same time. I mix them in a 1/4 cup of water or less. I pour it in after I rack because I don't want the racking to blow off any of the SO2.

When I add honey I will mix some water or mead into it to make it more liquid so it is easy to stir in. I usually wait a day after stabilizing before adding honey.

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