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View Full Version : Backsweeting and raw, unfermented honey taste



McJeff
01-02-2015, 04:29 PM
I love the control that backsweetening gives you over the batch, but i really just prefer the taste of something that has gone thru a fermentation as a whole. Am i wierd that i can taste a difference. Too be fair some of the stuff ive backsweetened is only 3 months old and some was over sweetened.

Medsen Fey
01-02-2015, 05:34 PM
There may be folks with palates sensitive enough to tell the difference, but after a couple of years of aging the honey is well-enough integrated that I can't tell what is backsweetened and what isn't.

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McJeff
01-02-2015, 05:53 PM
And that's what I guess I'm wondering, is it just because its so new and I was a bit heavy handed. Prob all me

Jim H
01-03-2015, 12:21 PM
I "backsweeten" in order to re-introduce some of the raw unfinished taste back in on purpose - in the same way that in cooking, just before serving you put back in some fresh herbs you used earlier.

I usually only use a 1/4 cup of honey per three gallons after dosing with campden and sorbate. It doesn't actually sweeten much at all and usually I find that over the next week or two the couple of gravity points I added are used up. But, the scent of the honey I used is refreshed. The effects are subtle and mostly affect the scent, not the taste. I have not been able to follow this effect on batches in reserve for more than a year and a half however....

fatbloke
01-04-2015, 12:23 PM
I "backsweeten" in order to re-introduce some of the raw unfinished taste back in on purpose - in the same way that in cooking, just before serving you put back in some fresh herbs you used earlier.

I usually only use a 1/4 cup of honey per three gallons after dosing with campden and sorbate. It doesn't actually sweeten much at all and usually I find that over the next week or two the couple of gravity points I added are used up. But, the scent of the honey I used is refreshed. The effects are subtle and mostly affect the scent, not the taste. I have not been able to follow this effect on batches in reserve for more than a year and a half however....
Whereas, I back sweeten to hydrometer numbers. I let it finish, then add enough honey to raise the gravity by 0.005 before tasting to judge the sweetness level. That way I get my batches to about how sweet I like them and then do the clearing, ageing etc...

p.s. and yes, I stabilise it before sweetening........

Sleepy
01-05-2015, 11:45 PM
Greetings all. I'm also new to the process and have a few questions that fit this thread. My first batch is in bottles aging now, and I'm pretty sure it was dry (I did not test it). I'd like to make a sweet mead with a good kick to it and understand that the right yeast, nutrients, and proper amount of honey will be key. It seems that most recipes and directions I've found for sweet meads require back sweetening and killing off the yeast in order to prevent additional fermentation. I'd like to avoid adding anything/chemicals that may affect the flavor & smell of the final product, so my (multi-part) question is this:
1) Isn't it possible to start with enough honey for fermentation AND have a remainder to sweeten the batch (thus eliminating the need for back sweetening)? That - to me - is a true sweet mead.
2) If the yeast has a point at which it will no longer metabolize sugar - due to alcohol present - then the solution to the equation should be mathematical (given acceptable variations due to temp, yeast being yeast, etc...) I'm not gunning for consistency, just sweetness. Is there a rule of thumb for dry vs. sweet? Something like: add 1/3 or 1/2 more honey to a dry mead recipe to make it sweet? Or is there perhaps a conversion table or metabolizing equation that should be used with each particular strain of yeast?
It seems like you should be able to make a higher octane sweet mead w/o back sweetening.

McJeff
01-06-2015, 11:54 AM
If you want something just to drink and don't care about a consistent product. Then sure you can put more honey in than the yeast can eat and end up residual sweetness.

curgoth
01-06-2015, 12:46 PM
Search on "step-feeding" here for discussions about adding extra honey until the yeast stop eating it. The trick is that the yeast don't stop at a consistent point, so there will be variation. Check the mead calculator (linked from the main gotmead.com page) and play around with some of the calculations.

Medsen Fey
01-06-2015, 06:29 PM
Greetings all. I'm also new to the process and have a few questions that fit this thread. My first batch is in bottles aging now, and I'm pretty sure it was dry (I did not test it).
Word of caution - what seems dry may continue to ferment in bottles and can cause bottle bombs. It is wise to check with a hydrometer.



1) Isn't it possible to start with enough honey for fermentation AND have a remainder to sweeten the batch (thus eliminating the need for back sweetening)?
Yes, this can be done. It helps to master fermentation management, and use reliable yeast and with that you can usually get complete fermentation that will leave you residual sugar. However, even with the best management it can be a bit unpredictable about exactly where the yeast will stop. More importantly, yeast can wake up later (like after bottling) and start fermenting with resulting bottle bombs for as much as 3 years out if they aren't stabilized. This is particularly true of Champagne yeast, and fermentations done cool that are allowed to warm up later. My advice if you want to do this without stabilizing is to plan for some extended aging under airlock at room temp to insure what seems to be done really is DONE.


2) If the yeast has a point at which it will no longer metabolize sugar - due to alcohol present - then the solution to the equation should be mathematical (given acceptable variations due to temp, yeast being yeast, etc...) I'm not gunning for consistency, just sweetness. Is there a rule of thumb for dry vs. sweet? Something like: add 1/3 or 1/2 more honey to a dry mead recipe to make it sweet? Or is there perhaps a conversion table or metabolizing equation that should be used with each particular strain of yeast?
It seems like you should be able to make a higher octane sweet mead w/o back sweetening.

It isn't a perfect mathematical formula, but you can calculate the approximate amount that a yeast will consume based on the ABV tolerance. A 14% ABV yeast, for example, will be able to consume roughly 105 gravity point (100-110 most likely). So if you start with a gravity 1.115, you'll likely end up close to 1.010 if the yeast don't stall on you. If you use consistent nutrients, honey and yeast, you can get recipes that are fairly consistent.

skunkboy
01-07-2015, 01:56 AM
Don't forget that it is always possible to bottle something that is bone dry and add simply syrup or sugar cubes when when pouring to add varying amounts of sweetness...

McJeff
01-07-2015, 09:54 AM
Since we are already talking about backsweetening. What is everyones prefered method to mixing the honey into the mead? I always feel like im over aerating the mead when i stir it in.

icedmetal
01-07-2015, 11:13 AM
Yes, you are introducing some oxygen when you backsweeten. It can be mitigated, but I'm not sure how to completely do away with it. Keep exposed surface area to a minimum, avoid splashing, and the most important thing: use potassium metabisulfite! Its constituents bond with oxygen in the must.

Last time I backsweetened, I considered putting it all into my corny keg, pressurize with argon, then just shake the thing liberally. In the end I just stirred the honey in like normal, thinking that shaking the mead might do it some disservice. Maybe, maybe not. Anyone tried this or similar?

brentG
01-07-2015, 12:45 PM
Isn't it possible to start with enough honey for fermentation AND have a remainder to sweeten the batch (thus eliminating the need for back sweetening)?

I think it's important to note that the reason people are suggesting step-feeding is because you can start with too much honey, thus pissing off the yeast. I think how much is too much depends on the yeast, but the additional honey is added later, after the sugar breaks.

Why not just start with an JAOM? It's sweet and doesn't require chemicals or stabilizing. Hell, it uses bread yeast!

EJM3
01-07-2015, 01:20 PM
That is why a JAOM finishes off sweet, the yeast give out at ~14%, (Mine gave out at 14.9%). If I wanted to get K1V-1116 to do that I would have to add honey to an SG of 1.160 to 1.170, the shock would kill almost any yeast dumped into that, and probably lyse them on contact to boot! So yeast selection is part of that, and from my understanding anything above 1.140 SG is verboten as well. So step feeding yeasts that regularly do 17%, 18% or higher is mandatory!

Plus starting them off at a lower SG can put way less stress on them to produce cleaner ferments, and go way above their alcohol tolerance.

My understanding of matters which may or may not resemble reality.....