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mapeters476
07-26-2015, 03:25 PM
For sweet and semi-sweet meads, is it better to ferment dry and then back sweeten or pick an appropriate yeast that will stop fermenting before consuming all the sugar? For the latter technique, does this stress the yeast and produce off flavors, by forcing the yeast to become inactive due to build up of their own waste products?
I'm currently 10 days into the latter technique and everything seems to be going well.

Thanks
mapeters476

ejcrist
07-26-2015, 06:01 PM
I'm very interested in this as well because I definitely have a sweet tooth. I've read you could back sweeten with cane sugar, honey, corn sugar, or some other stuff (can't remember the name) but of course you have to make sure you don't re-start fermentation. I was thinking the same thing, to just select a yeast with a low alcohol tolerance and add enough honey to get your starting gravity where you want it to leave enough un-fermented honey. That's the way I'd prefer to do it because I read a lot of people could easily distinguish mead back sweetened with sugar vs. mead where the honey was present throughout fermentation. So I'll be interested to see the responses.

bernardsmith
07-26-2015, 08:18 PM
I'm very interested in this as well because I definitely have a sweet tooth. I've read you could back sweeten with cane sugar, honey, corn sugar, or some other stuff (can't remember the name) but of course you have to make sure you don't re-start fermentation. I was thinking the same thing, to just select a yeast with a low alcohol tolerance and add enough honey to get your starting gravity where you want it to leave enough un-fermented honey. That's the way I'd prefer to do it because I read a lot of people could easily distinguish mead back sweetened with sugar vs. mead where the honey was present throughout fermentation. So I'll be interested to see the responses.

I wonder if the folk who claim to be able to distinguish between backsweetened meads and meads that contain residual sugars that were simply left unfermented are tasting the K-meta and K-sorbate. I cannot see how anyone could tell the difference between a mead you made with say a meadowfoam honey that was backsweetened with meadowfoam honey and a meadowfoam mead where the yeast conked out because of its low tolerance for alcohol - the only difference (apart from the yeast) is the stabilizing chemicals and some folk are very sensitive to SO2 ...

randall
07-26-2015, 09:12 PM
I choose to ferment dry. Mostly because I prefer my melomels around 9-10% abv. I can always count on d47 or 71b fermenting a 1.080 or less completely dry which allows me to have absolute control over my sweetness by back sweetening. My issue with leaving residual sugars and relying off the alcohol tolerance is that it's not 100% accurate. I've had many stop at between 13-15% abv leaving my product either too sweet or dryer than I anticipated. I'm also not too fond of checking my gravity every other day.

kuri
07-27-2015, 03:01 AM
I wonder if the folk who claim to be able to distinguish between backsweetened meads and meads that contain residual sugars that were simply left unfermented are tasting the K-meta and K-sorbate. I cannot see how anyone could tell the difference between a mead you made with say a meadowfoam honey that was backsweetened with meadowfoam honey and a meadowfoam mead where the yeast conked out because of its low tolerance for alcohol - the only difference (apart from the yeast) is the stabilizing chemicals and some folk are very sensitive to SO2 ...

I've tried backsweetening and found that it makes the mead taste like honey, the way that a mint tea with honey in it tastes of honey. That's not a flavor I particularly want in my meads. By fermenting dry (and possibly step feeding to reach a level you're happy with) you reduce that honey flavor. In a different thread there was a discussion on how the flavor differs. My take on that discussion is that fermentation does not treat all sugars as equals -- some ferment completely, others not at all. That means you end up with a different sugar profile from backsweetening than you do from fermenting dry.

Note that even if a yeast has fermented something dry, the amount of residual sugar and hence the sweetness will typically depend on the alcohol content for a given honey-yeast combination -- higher alcohol content ends up sweeter. Even for two meads that end at the same FG. Alcohol lowers the FG, so more alcohol needs more residual sugar to balance out at a fixed FG.

JayH
07-27-2015, 12:01 PM
I made a 5 gallon batch a while back with US-05. It finished very sweet (around 1.040). While I don't like anything nearly that sweet, it has proven great for back sweeting other mead that finish too dry. I like the taste better than straight honey, in fact I'm thinking of making another batch just for using this way.

If you use honey, in time the "honey" flavor will blend in with your mead and you won't find it quite as noticeable as you do at first.


Cheers
Jay

Shelley
07-30-2015, 06:29 AM
Option B for me. I use cotes de blanc (D47 also has worked for me), front load my honey, and let it ferment until its done, leaving some residual sugar. I end up with a nice, sweet, after-dinner drink. I've enjoyed the batches I've made, so if there are any off-flavors from the yeasts they're not enough to bother my palate.

ejcrist
08-03-2015, 11:11 PM
Shelly - What starting gravity do you have when using Cotes de Blanc or D47 that leaves you with the right amount of residual sugar? This is what I want to do on my next batch. I haven't plugged the numbers yet but when I do I'm wondering if it'll deviate much from empirical data.

PitBull
08-04-2015, 08:12 AM
Here's a thread as to why backsweetened mead tastes different than residual sugar mead. http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php/24563

Shelley
08-11-2015, 07:03 AM
Shelly - What starting gravity do you have when using Cotes de Blanc or D47 that leaves you with the right amount of residual sugar? This is what I want to do on my next batch. I haven't plugged the numbers yet but when I do I'm wondering if it'll deviate much from empirical data.

Sorry for the delay - I was out of town last week. I have gone as high as 1.3, but settled to 1.1 as my target. That gives me an after-dinner drink that isn't rot-your-teeth sweet. If my FG is about 1.01ish, it'll be just the right amount of sweet.

Goodfellow
08-11-2015, 09:14 PM
Hi everyone! Newbee here. I'm working on my very first batch of mead right now. I started a 6 gallon batch with 18# of raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized local honey with a beautiful flavor profile. I think my rookie mistake is I used Lalvin EC-1118. SG was 1.112 with FG of 1.001 (adjusted for temp). Seems very dry and has a strong alcohol taste. I'm hoping it will mellow as it ages and regain some of the original honey taste. It has been setting for a couple months now, but I'm wondering if anyone has advice on whether to stabilize it and back sweeten as I'm afraid the yeast I used will only continue to process everything is throw at it into alcohol. I intend to back sweeten with the same honey as I started it with. I wanted this to be a semi-sweet mead suitable for giving as Christmas gifts this year. Thoughts or advice?

kuri
08-11-2015, 10:32 PM
EC-1118 will take a while to get rid of the dry strong alcohol taste -- probably about a year from when you first made it. So it might be more appropriate as a Christmas present in 2016 rather than in 2015. Your FG of 1.001 will give the mead a slight sweetness, but if it isn't sweet enough for you, then adding more honey and letting it ferment dry is one way to increase the sweetness. If you've racked off of your gross lees this will be a rather long and slow approach, but the yeast will eventually get the job done. And even if it ferments back down to 1.001 again (highly unlikely but possible) it will be sweeter than it is now. Much more likely it will stop at a higher FG. Of course, stabilizing and back sweetening will get you your sweetness too. Just remember the stabilization part. Without it the yeast will just wake back up and go to town on the new honey addition.

Goodfellow
08-15-2015, 04:58 PM
Kuri, Thanks for the feedback! Could you or anyone else here offer any knowledge on how long it would take the flavors of the new honey used for back sweetening to merge with the honey in the mead? I'm almost certainly going to stabilize and back sweeten. I've read elsewhere that it takes some time for the flavors to turn out right but no specifics.

PapaScout
08-15-2015, 05:20 PM
If you want to drink it this Christmas hit it with some potassium metabisulfate (1/4 tsp - 5 gals), rack it in 30 days, back sweeten to taste (I like around 1.15-1.18 if you're sending me some =)), another month, and then add sparkaloid, another month, bottle in middle of November and stay drunk until middle of January '16. Don't forget to wake up in time for Mardi Gras in New Orleans on February 9th. :) Speaking of which we should have a mead tasting in New Orleans the weekend before Fat Tuesday. Anyone?