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Snobollskrieg
09-17-2014, 07:11 AM
Hello!

First post here, and of course it's a newb-question!

I have just started two batches of melomels, and I'm getting a headache trying to figure the following stuff out:

I'm aiming for a final %ABV of 15%, and I'm gonna backsweeten it a little as well. For both batches, I'm using the good ol' Lalvin K1-V1116 yeast which have an alcohol tolerance of 18%, which means I have to stabilize the mead before I backsweeten it.

Now to the headache!

I don't want to use any potassium sorbate, campden tablets or anything of the sort. I'm trying to keep my mead as natural as I can, so I'm avoiding all the chemicals. I also don't have a big enough freezer, so I can't freeze the yeast. I've read up on several sources (swedish sources mind you) that you can heat up the mead to around 104-122F/40-50C for 10 minutes to kill of the yeast, without inflicting damage on the honey and the taste. Is this true?

Thanks in advance!

mannye
09-17-2014, 07:33 AM
Probably not. However, without using chemicals it's going to be next to impossible, in my opinion, to back-sweeten without some yeast making it through whatever clearing/filtering process. That one yeast cell will turn into millions in no time.

The other thing could be high alcohol content. I'm not sure how high you have to go to ensure 100% you won't have any bottle bombs.

The other thing is to do side by side testing. Try one that you pasteurize and another that you don't. If the flavor is still good, then you're happy!


Sent from my galafreyan transdimensional communicator 100 years from now.

Snobollskrieg
09-17-2014, 07:56 AM
Probably not. However, without using chemicals it's going to be next to impossible, in my opinion, to back-sweeten without some yeast making it through whatever clearing/filtering process. That one yeast cell will turn into millions in no time.

The other thing could be high alcohol content. I'm not sure how high you have to go to ensure 100% you won't have any bottle bombs.

The other thing is to do side by side testing. Try one that you pasteurize and another that you don't. If the flavor is still good, then you're happy!


Sent from my galafreyan transdimensional communicator 100 years from now.

Hmm.. That's a shame really. I really don't want to use any sulfites, campden tablets or anything for stabilizing (fiancée gets a terrible headache from sulfites), but at the same time I don't want to damage the mead by boiling it. I guess I could let it ferment up to 18% which is the tolerance of the yeast, which in turn would make it safe to backsweeten without having it start to ferment again.

mannye
09-17-2014, 08:05 AM
Perhaps.

You could also step feed all the way to the tolerance of the yeast and often when the little buggers finally give out (they don't read the literature so the actual tolerance can vary) you have a batch of mead that's already at the sweetness level you want... You know, let them get to 1.020-.010 then add honey to 1.040 and so on until they poop out. You can have a very dry mead on hand to blend out any over-sweetening and viola, no chems. But I would still clarify and filter fairly aggressively after.


Sent from my galafreyan transdimensional communicator 100 years from now.

Snobollskrieg
09-17-2014, 08:11 AM
That would work as well. I'll have to think about this, I think! And yes, I will still clarify it with bentonite when it's all done, that has been my thought since starting the batches :)

Let's hope the meadgods are good to me with these batches!

mannye
09-17-2014, 08:13 AM
I don't use stabilizing chems either. Not for any health reasons, I'm just lazy.

However, I don't back-sweeten I blend. And I only make traditionals. If I were to make a mel, I would probably add chems.


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fatbloke
09-17-2014, 01:38 PM
Blending could also.restart. Just sweeten with a non-fermentablesweetening. Lactose would work, I think (and maybe add some mouth-feel/body).

Chevette Girl
09-17-2014, 01:47 PM
Perhaps.

You could also step feed all the way to the tolerance of the yeast and often when the little buggers finally give out (they don't read the literature so the actual tolerance can vary) you have a batch of mead that's already at the sweetness level you want... You know, let them get to 1.020-.010 then add honey to 1.040 and so on until they poop out. You can have a very dry mead on hand to blend out any over-sweetening and viola, no chems. But I would still clarify and filter fairly aggressively after.


You have a few options... backsweetening until the yeast quits eating it (also referred to as step-feeding) is one way. I've done it to the point where the yeast's tolerance has been exceeded and have safely (so far) bottled without stabilizing (I'm lazy too). My early batches stopped a little sweet because I'd added lemon juice and it was too acidic (not entirely recommended as it can annoy your yeast enough that they will make off-flavours before they go on strike), but if you do have a batch that quits at a lower alcohol level than it's rated for, you REALLY want to give it at least 6 months (a year is better) in the carboy just to make sure. My first traditional quit early and I thought it was done so I bottled it, but it really hadn't quite finished and I think at least three corks on that batch popped. Very messy but luckily for me the corks went before the bottles exploded. Oh, and freezing? That won't actually kill the yeast reliably. The exception might be if you freeze-concentrate it enough that the alcohol content is raised enough to exceed the yeast's tolerance. You might be OK for that in Sweden and I'm fine in Canada but I think it's not legal to do that in the US. Problem with that trick is that if there's anything wrong with the mead, concentrating it will concentrate any errors too.

If you like sweet meads, try the Joe's Ancient Orange Mead. That uses bread yeast and should give you 10-12% alcohol and leave some residual sweetness and bread yeast is pretty honest about it when it quits, out of over 40 batches of JAO and JAO variants, I've only had two batches keep fermenting in the bottle once they were past 2 months old.

Be careful when blending unstabilized batches that you don't inadvertently end up restarting something, just because the batch is finished and filtered doesn't mean it's devoid of yeast cells that could start up again if the conditions change (ie, given more sugar or the alcohol content is diluted by blending with a weaker batch).

icedmetal
09-17-2014, 02:42 PM
I've heard of some mazers being successful with bottling their cleared mead, then putting the bottles through the dishwasher to pasteurize. I've not done it myself, so I can't tell you much more than, according to the post I read, it worked great, and the flavor was unchanged. I have my doubts about the latter, but the former seems likely...

Midnight Sun
09-17-2014, 03:33 PM
You could consider sterile filtering your mead. This would require using 1.0 and 0.5 micron filters, in that order. I have heard there is some flavor loss after using the 0.5 micron filter, but I have no experience in filtering meads.

mannye
09-17-2014, 04:30 PM
The only difference I've noticed after filtering is an improved mouthfeel and in one case an improved flavor. Other than that I've never noticed a change in flavor. But to clarify I do not filter to .05. That may indeed strip some flavor but I can't say for sure until I try side by side comparisons.


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Stasis
09-17-2014, 05:47 PM
We found out that filtering improves mouth feel and flavor for traditional wines, especially when the taste is sub par. As a new mazer this *could* possibly improve your first few batches and help you avoid chems. Emphasis on that could since we never filtered for chemical avoiding reasons, we always exceeded tolerance when we wanted a sweeter wine. I.e look into it before deciding.
Alternatively, check if glycerin could be digested by yeast. Perhaps there is another form of "artificial" sweetener that cannot be digested by yeast if this does not work. According to LD Carlson "Glycerin can also be known by wine makers as finishing formula. It sweetens, adds body, smooths and mellows wine and liqueurs. For wine, add 1 - 2 ounces per gallon.For liqueurs, add 1 -2 ounces per quart." Again, I am merely going on a hunch here. Good luck!
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/glycerine-finishing-formula.html

Medsen Fey
09-17-2014, 09:06 PM
For stabilizing without chemicals you have options as listed above. They all involve tradeoffs and you have yo choose depending on many factors including budget and technical expertise.

Pasteurization - Very reliable and very quick. Not good carbonated bottles. Will have impact on flavor, but heating has been known to improve some meads and a little caramel character may be quite nice.

Sterile Filtration - you need special equipment and must use an ABSOLUTE filter (not a nominal filter) at less than 0.5 microns. It is fairly quick if you have let the mead clear beforehand. If you don't bottle it right away, nasties can get in and get to work. If done properly there is NO negative impact on flavor.

Step feeding - takes weeks in many cases, and if you don't bulk age it, the yeast can potentially wake up a year or two later.

Starting at a gravity that exceeds yeast ABV tolerance - sometime the yeast stall and leave you too sweet. Restarting similar to step fed batches is possible.

Cold crashing and repeated racking - sometimes they still wake up.

Fortification - Fortified meads can taste very harsh

Most times sulfites are not the cause of headaches with wines - biogenic amines from MLF, oak products, and fusel alcohols are more likely causes.

mannye
09-17-2014, 11:39 PM
Sterile Filtration - you need special equipment and must use an ABSOLUTE filter (not a nominal filter) at less than 0.5 microns. It is fairly quick if you have let the mead clear beforehand. If you don't bottle it right away, nasties can get in and get to work. If done properly there is NO negative impact on flavor.

I did not know that! Yay!

kudapucat
09-18-2014, 04:53 PM
Sterile filtration is very fine filtration though. You lose a little colour sometimes, and folk say you can lose some flavour.
I've also heard it gives a very commercial feel to your brew.
If not clear, it clogs the filter pretty fast, and despite waft many think, it cannot be used to stop a ferment.

Medsen Fey
09-18-2014, 05:23 PM
The biggest risk of impact on flavor comes from oxidation during the filtration, not from the filtration itself. I suspect beer brewers and vintners have more to fear than mead crafters, but with careful technique, and the use of some inert gas or a vacuum pump even they can do it without harming their products.

mannye
09-18-2014, 05:55 PM
I used to filter beer using two corny kegs and a whole house filter. The whole contraption would be purged with Co2 and then I used Co2 to push the beer through.

Now I'm trying to figure out the same contraption with Sanke kegs. It's harder because there is no liquid intake valve.

I have to figure out if my plate filter will work with this or if it will leak all over the place.


Sent from my galafreyan transdimensional communicator 100 years from now.

Stasis
09-18-2014, 06:01 PM
Hey Medsen, any idea on the possibility of sweetening with something that the yeast cannot eat? My gut feeling is that it's a bit too good to be true, and if this were the case the practice would be more widely known. On the other hand, maybe it could work (at least under some circumstances), but there is some drawback which makes this method not so well known.
I tried looking up why anyone would use glycerin rather than sugar, dextrose, or honey but I'm left to believe this is just another alternative.

EDIT: Ok, I have possibly stumbled onto something good here. I tried looking up aspartame in wine, then went here:
http://blog.eckraus.com/blog/wine-making-tricks-and-tips/artificial-sweeteners-to-sweeten-wine
After this site I looked up stevia in winemaking, because Stevia seems to be the best artificial sweetener (artificial as in non-sucrose, it is still a natural ingredient derived from plants). The amount of success stories, including supposedly award winning wines that cannot be distinguished from sugar back sweetened wines is a real thing. In short: maybe look up Stevia too

Medsen Fey
09-18-2014, 10:10 PM
For me stevia leaves an awful aftertaste. Splenda may work. Frankly, I'd rather pasteurize, stabilize, or use a yeast that dies at a low enough ABV.

mannye
09-18-2014, 10:39 PM
For me stevia leaves an awful aftertaste. Splenda may work. Frankly, I'd rather pasteurize, stabilize, or use a yeast that dies at a low enough ABV.

x2 Any artificial sweetener is awful. Much worse than whatever pasteurizing or high ABV will do. As they used to say in Mad Magazine (those were the paper blogs of last century) Blechhhh!

kudapucat
09-19-2014, 05:37 PM
You can always add some non-fermentable sugar to make it a touch less dry.
Adding pear juice to apple cidre works, as there's some in pear (sorbitol)
Lactose (though it's not very sweet) can be used too.
And a few others.

kudapucat
09-19-2014, 05:39 PM
[...] As they used to say in Mad Magazine (those were the paper blogs of last century) Blechhhh!

Yeah. Just try explaining the Mad Fold In. You can't do that with Wordpress!

joemirando
09-23-2014, 10:02 PM
Yeah. Just try explaining the Mad Fold In. You can't do that with Wordpress!

Well you CAN, but it doesn't leave much of the laptop LCD after. <g>

What? ME worry?