View Full Version : New recipe lab experiment

01-25-2015, 11:55 PM
OK, so I'm working in the lab again, and I am using the Mead Calculator. First, how accurate is it?
I am working on a recipe using cherry juice and apple juice, and both have sugars amounting to just a pinch over 1 cup. I have figured that into the calculator along with 8 pounds of honey. I am trying to reach a specific SG so that the yeast I want to use (Cotes des Blancs) poops out before it eats all the sugar (somewhere around 15%) resulting in a semi-sweet concoction. This is a 3 gallon batch using 2 pounds of fresh blackberries in primary and 2 pounds in secondary. This yeast is said to accentuate fruity compounds, and that is what I'm trying to accomplish. A fruity, somewhat sweet drink. Off the wall, I'm sure, but thats how I move...LOL

So here it is, lab experiment #6;

10 pounds wildflower
96 oz tart cherry juice
128 oz apple juice
Spring water to fill 3 gallons
2 pounds fresh blackberries in a fruit bag (sitting on 3 campdens and pectic enzyme 24 hours before pitch) 2 pounds in secondary

Cotes des Blancs yeast
1 tsp nutrient at pitch
1/2 tsp nutrient 1/4 tsp DAP day 2
1/2 tsp nutrient 1/4 tsp DAP day 3
Ariate the crap out of it at pitch
Stir 3 times a day for first 3 days
Degas 3 times a day for maybe a week thereafter

Is this off the wall or what?

Medsen Fey
01-26-2015, 06:48 AM
The calculator works pretty well, but will give rough estimates. It is very helpful for planning a batch but is no substitute for taking measurements.

The batch you are describing sounds tasty. However, if you start a batch with a gallon of apple juice, gal of tart cherry juice, and 10 pound of honey, you are going to have a gravity well in excess of the maximum of CdB (about 1.105 or 14%ABV). The apples may push the yeast a little farther, but CdB is usually good at stopping. With that said. You may need a lot higher final gravity to balance all that tart cherry.


01-26-2015, 12:50 PM
I am using a yeast that is said to work the alcohol level between 12 - 15%. I'm shooting for something around the lower end to leave some sweetness behind. I would like to try and not backsweeten this batch, so I want residual sugars, thats why the 10 pounds of honey for a 3 gallon batch. I also accounted for the little over 1 cup of combined sugar in the juices (something like 52 teaspoons). I also don't want to use chems to stop fermentation, I would like it to stop on its own.

On second thought, maybe I'm going the wrong way, is starving the yeast the way to go? Less honey? Bottom line, I want an alcohol level around 10-12%, but also want some sweetness. The women in my life like sweet things!

01-26-2015, 01:35 PM
OK, I think I have this figured out, I was looking at it the wrong way. I want an final something around 10-12%, so 6 pounds of honey with the 1+ cup of sugar in the combined juices should get me there with an SG of about 1.084. I think that's more reasonable. I may have to back sweeten after all.

Medsen Fey
01-26-2015, 01:50 PM
When you decide not to use stabilizing agents, it makes things complex, and frequently, unpredictable. If you want to stop at 12%, you need a yeast that stops at 12%. The Wyeast sweet mead strain, which is notoriously finicky stops there. Montrachet will usually stop at 13%. The other wine yeast go to 14% or better. An ale yeast such as 1056 may be a good choice topping out at 11-12%. All bets are off when it comes to apples because they can really rev up the yeast.

Not knowing exactly where they will stop means you have to be prepared to add more honey at the end, or start with a gravity that may leave you too sweet if the yeast poops out on the early side. I prefer to err on having it too dry.

I typically try to start with a gravity about 10 points higher than I think the yeast can go. Then if I need it sweeter I add more, because you can always add more honey, but you can't easily take it out if you finish too sweet.

The tricky part is to age it long enough at room temp to be sure that the yeast won't wake up and cause a bottle bomb.


01-26-2015, 02:11 PM
I think I'm going this way..

6 pounds wildflower
96 oz cherry
128 oz apple (combined juices = 1.1 cups of sugar)
Spring water to fill 3 gallons
2 pounds fresh blackberries in a fruit bag (sitting on 3 campdens and pectic enzyme 24 hours before pitch) 2 pounds in secondary
Cotes des Blancs
The stated feeding regimen

SG should be around 1.084
ABV about 11.24%

This after I rack my 5 gallon experiment into the glass carboy from the primary bucket. Where's my lab coat??

Medsen Fey
01-26-2015, 02:38 PM
OK. Sounds good so far.
How do you plan to sweeten?


01-26-2015, 03:21 PM
Honey, honey! Always honey. I hate sugar anymore, I know its needed sometimes, but when I cook I strictly use honey if the recipe calls for a sweetner. Cakes, breads, even my oatmeal in the morning. Even IT isn't your everyday Quaker Oats crap. I use Coaches Oats, steel cut, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup milk, a big tablespoon of honey, 1/2 tsp vanilla, handfull of dehydrated cherries and zest off half an orange. You eat that, and you'll never eat oatmeal the old fashioned way again!

01-26-2015, 03:31 PM
By the way, we successfully racked my 5 gallon orange mead into the glass carboy this morning. FG was at 1.000, stayed there for 4 days, so I'm happy with that, We started at 1.111 with 15 lbs of orange blossom, juice and zest from 5 oranges, 8 oz of bee pollen, and nutrients at pitch. Left it alone except to stir it the first 3 days, other than that, the lid never came off until I started checking gravity about a week and a half ago. Batch was pitched on 1/5, tastes like a semi-sweet wine right now. Small bite to it at around 14%, but I think it will mellow with time. I'm happy, first big batch.

Medsen Fey
01-26-2015, 03:50 PM
Let me rephrase my question.
How do you plan to sweeten your mead without having the yeast eat all the honey you add?


01-26-2015, 04:10 PM
Well, if I have to stop it and back-sweeten, I'll do that I guess. I'll have to watch the gravity as we go.

01-27-2015, 12:39 AM
There is no reliable way to stop them other to let them finish, hit them with K-Meta & K-Sorbate then backsweeten. I am going to be trying out a way to make a sweet batch with only boiled bread yeast as my nutrient source, starting off with a little too much honey for them in the beginning, then watching to make sure I get my results. The thread is here (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php/24000-First-batch-of-2015-Dry-trad-for-mel-base).

01-27-2015, 12:50 AM
I have always read that providing more sugar than they can eat, the alcohol will usually kill the yeast off leaving residual sugars behind. But what do I know, I just put up the worlds smallest active carboy on display in The Hive section...

Medsen is going to think I drank all my mead while racking today...LOL

01-27-2015, 04:58 AM
I wouldn't say it kills them off, anymore than drinking kills you off, just a HORRIBLE hangover, muddle your way through the day, then find out it was the wrong day, wrong job and wrong wife, I mean life!!! Umm, what was I here for?? OH YEAH!! The alcohol just puts them into a drunken stupor that they can groggily fake their way through things if they are disturbed. Disturbances can be as simple as moving the bottle and causing "Wow what a party, MORE SUGAR!! Whooo hooo!!", to bottling and getting "Nope, I'm done thanks, gotta get home to the wife and kids to hibernate" when you want to carb things.

Yeastie beasties are fickle little basetards, so tread lightly where your perceptions of them are coming from. I have found that they will do as they do, and F you! But most of the time behave within certain parameters predictably. I have been finding out that the yeast contribute more that anything I can do. Pre, during or post ferment, to the end product. IME YMMV

Medsen Fey
01-27-2015, 06:49 AM
I have always read that providing more sugar than they can eat, the alcohol will usually kill the yeast off leaving residual sugars behind.

This is true, but can be unpredictable, and can leave you with more alcohol in your batch than you'd like, making things harsh.

One can also pasteurize, or use sterile filtration, or possibly sustained pressure to prevent yeast from fermenting more is you don't want to use sorbate and sulfite.


01-27-2015, 05:06 PM
I think it was discussed one time that you would need over 120 PSI, by one of your experiments I believe Medsen?? Fermenting in a keg I think it was, can't seem to find that thread though...

Here is that one and a MEA of epic proportions to boot!!

First Medsens' OP (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php/17094-Whoever-said-fermentation-won-t-occur-under-pressure) on the matter.
Then the mother of a MEA (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php/17094-Whoever-said-fermentation-won-t-occur-under-pressure)

Medsen Fey
01-27-2015, 05:45 PM
Pressure is not an efficient way to stop an active fermentation, but if stored under Champagne-level pressure (say 60-80 psi) the yeast cells will be demolished in a few months which would then allow safe sweetening. This is theoretical, and hasn't been demonstrated, but would be a fun project if someone has some time and wants to do a little research. I'd like to know how many weeks do you have to wait?


01-27-2015, 06:03 PM
Back sweetening could kind of end up like step feeding when you do not hit the batch with chemicals. Unless you wait for a long time. Even then it's never a sure thing. We used to do many batches of wine and every now and then a batch would re-start a bit. Sometimes we'd bottle a wine which had been dormant for 1 or 2 years and it would pop the corks. Probably something to do with moving the wine and a bit of aeration. Having said that we did get the hang of not using chemicals but it requires pooping out those yeasts, a lot of patience, and always being prepared for the possibility of a bottle popping a cork. We never stored our bottles horizontally. My dad says that during the first summer after we'd make a batch a lot of the wine used to restart. He actually said all, or almost all but I don't believe this. I think at least some of those were just expanding with the raised temperature and blowing bubbles of air out the airlock.
On a positive note you could be luckier than us by racking a bit more. I think our batches could have used at least another racking before summer arrived.