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View Full Version : Back sweetining, blending, finishing taste targets and the such



Squatchy
12-04-2014, 12:46 AM
I'm at a place with several different batches where I'm trying to dial in the "close to/ or sorta close to" touches, and I have lots of questions.

1. If I have ran dry and am now back sweetening, do I add straight honey and just let the yeast eat it off the bottom? I'm still in primary because I don't think I'm too close to being done feeding the little ones. So I kinda don't want to stir stuff up if I don't need to. It's all pretty murky as is. I have been heating my honey in the container, in hot water and then adding some hot water inside the container to make it a little less thick and then tossing it in the carboy. How do you guys do this???

2. I have no idea of how flavors change from now at mid, to late fermentation. This makes me unsure if I need more of this or less of that. I'm shooting at a moving target in the dark. Will my honey move to the forefront latter? Will my too much of this or that fade in time? These are all "not learnable in linear fashion. Any thoughts?

3. Am I trying to do this balancing act too soon in the equation? I turned a 3.5 gallon batch into a 5 gallon batch by continuing to add more raspberries, then more honey. Back and forth and now I have a full carboy. It still taste very good so I feel I dodged a bullet at this point.

4. I have only , so far to date ran everything way dry, and then I am trying to step feed to a place that is palatable. I have no idea how to add enough honey up front to have them die off before it goes dry.

4b. This brings up a question. Is the final outcome the same taste wise? To run one batch dry and step feed back to ,,, lets just say 1.020. And having another batch run out of steam and ending up at 1.020 before it runs dry. Do both taste the same? I'm guessing the back sweetened one has a more "honey forward" because the added honey didn't go through fermentation.

5. You guys talk about tasting the difference in yeast strains. I'm not sure I even know what a yeast taste like all on it's own, let alone, blended into many other flavors. Can I just mix some yeast and water, ( or even taste it raw/dry) and taste the difference?

I have come to realize. Those of you that are really good mazers have a special knack that goes beyond the science. Like a top shelf chief, you have developed the artful side as well as the scientific side. I have mastered a few things that require melding together the science, and the spiritual/ artful/ craft, side of things to get that magical balance.
But at this point, I'm feeling pretty helpless to do this alone without a hands on mentor. Do you have suggestions or can you relate and have your own little things that have made/will make the shift?

Perhaps his is just my impatience showing it's balding head :)

curgoth
12-04-2014, 01:04 PM
If you're back sweetening, you don't want the yeast eating the honey, right? Rack it to another container to get away from whatever sediment it's sitting on, hit it with sulphite and sorbate to prevent fermentation from starting up again, wait 24 hrs, then take the honey you're adding in a sanitized measuring cup or something and add some of your must until it's dissolved and add that to your sediment free container and stir it in. If it was clear before, it's going to go cloudy again, and you will have to wait some more while it re-clears.

If you don't use sorbate/sulphite to stall out fermentation, you're just giving the yeast more food to turn into alcohol, and you end up with potentially a higher ABV dry mead, unless you max the yeast's alcohol tolerance out. Which with some yeasts can go up to 20+%, and you're sort of at the mercy of your yeasts - sometimes they'll stop when the manufacturer says they should (published ABV ranges), and sometimes they'll go way over.

If you want to know what difference the yeasts make, try a couple 1 gallon batches with the same honey, same recipe etc., but different yeasts, and treat them the same. You're not going to get the flavour notes until it actually ferments something.

Your flavours are going to keep changing over time after it's done fermenting. Honey flavours will deepen, herbal flavours will flatten out, and the burn of alcohol will get softer. Make lots of mead, taste it over time and take a lot of notes.

I'm far from a master, only a few months in myself, but everyone keeps telling me to be patient. Good advice so far!