View Full Version : Backsweetening-a-melomel-fermented-with-71B-1122

05-02-2015, 01:19 PM
I have a little less than 4 gallons of a melomel that I fermented using 71B-1122 yeast. The OG was 1.103 and the gravity when I put it into secondary was 1.000. I suspect, however, that the current gravity is perhaps slightly less than that, because I have vented the keg a couple of times since, which indicates to me that the yeast has still got a bit of life. As such, with the current ABV probably a little less than 14%, I suspect the yeast could resume activity if I added honey. (I used 71B-1122 with a previous melomel starting with a higher OG and got an ABV of 15.0%.)

I'm an experienced homebrewer, but very much a mead newbie (4 batches). I have read that using potassium sorbate is a no-no with 71B-1122 because it involves a malo-lactic fermentation. A friend of mine with more mead experiences says that I'd be OK with potassium sorbate if I also used potassium metabisulfate, yet MoreBeer / MoreWine basically says don't use it at all in this situation. Unless a number of you with experience with this yeast tell me that I've got nothing to worry about, my current inclination is to proceed without any sort of preservative.

One way for me to do this would simply be to add enough honey to get my gravity up to about 1.02 and see what happens. If the yeast is still active, it will eat some of that, but it wouldn't eat all of it. Once I am satisfied the yeast is done, I can add more honey if I feel it to be necessary.

Another alternative would be to ice the mead. This would clearly increase the alcohol to the point that the yeast wouldn't eat any more sugar. My concern with this approach, however, is that I've never done it before. I certainly don't see how I could do it without exposure to oxygen.

Suggestions? Tips? Advice? My current leaning is to ice about a gallon of it and try that approach. (I wouldn't be able to ice an entire keg, anyway.) The idea is that I'd do this with additional gallons if I like the result. The reservation I have with this is effects of oxidation may not show up for months. I also don't know how much flavors might change over time with something like this. I think they wouldn't change quickly with the high alcohol, but I simply have no experience with this.

P.S. I posted this elsewhere on Got Mead, but got very few views (and those probably by bots). So I'm reposting on the newbies' forum, because I most certainly am a newbie (at mead).

05-02-2015, 04:00 PM
Potassium sorbate and potassium metabisulfate should be used in tandem. The latter stuns the yeast and the former prevents continued reproduction, as I understand it at least. I have never read that the combo should not be used with 71B. Sorbate alone can be eaten by yeast and produces off flavors, possibly in malolactic fermentation. I have used the combo regularly to stabilize 71B batches with no problems.

05-02-2015, 08:18 PM
You haven't given us your intention or desired purpose. If you want it at 1020 then raise it to that point and keep feeding it back up to that point until they croak. If you want it less you may find they croak with to much sugar if you push it up farther than you want it.

What I mean is,,,,, if you want it to finish it at 1010,,, but feed it up to 1020 what happens if they croak at 1016. See my point? I think if you iced some now the concentration would not be good at all. I have only used 71-b a few times. My experience is it takes a while to start to come around. I have added vodka to stop fermentation. Can't hardly even tell after a while. 71-b run to the end is a little hot already.

05-02-2015, 09:30 PM
To edblanford, the reason I was skeptical about using potassium sorbate, even in tandem with campden tablets, was on the MoreBeer / MoreWine site. The URL is http://www.morebeer.com/products/sorbistat-potassium-sorbate.html.

To squatchy, I was pretty happy with the taste of the mead as it was, but I wanted it to be sweeter. It was *very* dry. About a 1.020 is my best guess of where I want it. So if I added honey to get it to 1.020 and the yeast didn't do anything more, then that would be good with me. Your comment about 71-B run to the end getting a little hot discourages me from that approach. I don't mind having more alcohol, but it certainly isn't my objective.

I'd never thought of using vodka. If I'm at 14% ABV now and cheap vodka is 40%, I'd need 5.12 ounces of vodka to make a gallon of 14% ABV into 133 ounces of 15% ABV. If I used 8 ounces (for good measure), then that would be one part in 17, which I agree would be awfully hard to taste. And maybe a whole lot safer than fiddling with chemicals.

As for the icing, it is a procedure that seems interesting and would certainly kill any chances of additional fermentation. My thought is that I'd add the honey to a gallon milk container, then mead up to about 2/3's full, then put a good dose of CO2 in the bottle before capping. I'd then shake it up to mix the honey before putting in the freezer to get slushy. I still think that I may do that to see how it works out, but with the expectation that I'd use the vodka trick on the rest unless my iced batch turned out really good. Another reason the icing attracts me is that the mead currently has very good flavor, but it's quite delicate. What I've read gives me the expectation that the icing may bring out the flavors somewhat more, which would be good for this batch.

In any event, thanks for the good input!

05-03-2015, 09:27 AM
the hotness I wasspeaking about was refering to the alcohol content, not any off flavors from the yeast.

05-03-2015, 03:00 PM
I know homebrewing much better than meadmaking. With beer, if you want to get something with a super-high alcohol content (like 13-14% and greater), you start with with an OG of no more than about 1.10, but then you add sugar and nutrients a couple of times after the fermentation has already eaten a lot of the fermentables. But in doing this, it's easy to get a beer that tastes "hot." For this reason (among others), homebrewers don't do this very often. Yes, you want alcohol in your beer, but you also want it to taste good. It's very hard to make a good-tasting balanced beer with 16% ABV. At best, it ends up being a little overly sweet.

My reading (no experience) with mead is that a person can make some real rocket fuel using a similar approach with mead, but that the result is likely to taste very alcoholic, versus a more pleasant mix of flavors that doesn't taste overly alcoholic. So I can see why a person might want to be careful with continuing to add honey until the fermentation completely ceases.

05-04-2015, 08:10 PM
Lactobaccillus and a couple other strains can metabolize sorbic acid, creating gerianols. I agree that using the potassium sorbate after MLF is a bad idea unless you nuke the bacteria first.

BUT - I think that's only for MLF - even though 71-B will metabolize small amounts of malic acid it's not the same as actual malolactic fermentation. I've used 71-B with k-meta/potassium sorbate with no problems several times.