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Dadux
04-01-2016, 07:24 AM
Ok so im relateviely new to the world of mead and after some tries i've decided i'd like to try some mead with CO2. i also like my mead sweet so i want to stop fermentation somewhat early, at 13-14%

So i dont know how to do these things and in my country there is not many brewstores so im short on materials and such. i know i can stop fermentation with k-sorbate but i have no idea if i can get it here or if there are simpler/easier ways to do it.
And for the CO2 and gassification part more or less the same, i want to know if and how i can do it with easy-to-obtain materials. I guess if i stop fermentation earlier there would be some CO2 but it will still get lost while in the secondary fermenter.

So any help and/or thoughts you guys can provide would be really appreciated.

Mazer828
04-01-2016, 09:41 AM
Carbonation at the abv you're talking about is pretty simple. No chemicals required to stop the ferment artificially.

I would start by selecting a yeast strain that has an abv tolerance right around where you're thinking. Lalvin 71B-1122 and D47 come to mind, but there are others. Here's a link to a listing of wine yeasts you can select from. There are others, but these are pretty widely available.

http://www.piwine.com/yeast-selection-chart.html

Then start your mead off at an original gravity that will allow the yeast to go to its abv limit and still leave the desired amount of sweetness at the end. Each 7.5 gravity points will result in about 1% abv roughly. So a starting gravity of 1.075 will produce about 10% abv if it goes dry (1.000).

Then ferment your mead until it quits naturally. I recommend using the goferm protocol for yeast hydration, and the TOSNA protocol for your nutrient additions to keep your yeast happy. Learn more at www.meadmaderight.com.

When your mead is done (confirm with successive gravity readings over at least 2-3 weeks) let it clear. You don't have to rack right away, but you can. Once it's crystal clear, I would transfer it to a bottling bucket with a spigot, and mix in my desired amount of priming sugar. I like to use honey, but others don't. There are a variety of charts and calculators online for determining how much priming sugar to add for your final volume to achieve your desired level of carbonation.

Mix your priming sugar in thoroughly without oxygenating, bottle in the appropriate bottle to withstand pressure, and set your bottles in a warm place to condition for a couple of weeks. Voila!

Stasis
04-01-2016, 10:29 AM
You left out the part where you add yeast to restart the fermentation and eat the priming sugar to create CO2.
Problem is Dadux wants his mead sweet so when the ferment is restarted there is no telling how much sugar the yeast will eat and therefore how much CO2 will be produced. This would create a great risk of bottle bombs.
The only way I know to reliably carbonate a sweet mead is through force-carbing using kegs.

Farmboyc
04-01-2016, 12:08 PM
I have had you can use an artifical non-fermebtable sweetener like Stevie to maintain sweetness and still carbonate.

Never tried it but I understand it is an option.

Mazer828
04-01-2016, 02:27 PM
@stasis I left nothing out. I do not add yeast at bottling because it is not necessary. And it introduces another variable that can destabilize the mead; something you do not want to do just prior to bottling.

Dadux
04-01-2016, 02:58 PM
Yes i see what you mean Mazer, or i think so. Just to clarify you say that i should add enough honey to bring its ABV a bit under the point where the yeast dies, then rack and let it rest and then bottle it with extra sugar so the remaining dormant yeast starts again, ferments a bit of the sugar, then dies due to the ABV reaching the maximum where the yeast can live, am i wrong?

I like the idea, could i try to do the same but adding the sugar in the secondary fermenter and closing the exit so no CO2 slips through, then bottle it after a while? r is it unsafe or something? i am just not sure how much preassure the corks can resist.

THanks for the help, guys. its really useful.

Mazer828
04-01-2016, 03:12 PM
There are lots of sugars in honey. Some simple, some complex. Yeast are creatures just like any living thing, when offered a choice they typically do the easiest thing first, then work toward what's more difficult. So yeast will tend to ferment certain sugars before others. When the yeast gets to that point where it is approaching it's alcohol tolerance, and the easy options are slim to none, it will quit.

Now...

You toss in a few more easy options via the addition of a very small, measured, amount of simple sugars, and the yeast will come out of retirement just long enough to take care of those simple sugars and carbonate your mead. Simple, reliable, safe.

So in your case, if you chose a yeast with a 14% ABV tolerance, you could start at an original gravity of 1.120, which has a potential of 16% abv if it goes dry. At 14% though, you're left with about 15 gravity points of sweetness left, which would give you (in my opinion) a pleasantly sweet mead. You can adjust as you choose.

Maylar
04-01-2016, 03:59 PM
There are lots of sugars in honey. Some simple, some complex. Yeast are creatures just like any living thing, when offered a choice they typically do the easiest thing first, then work toward what's more difficult. So yeast will tend to ferment certain sugars before others. When the yeast gets to that point where it is approaching it's alcohol tolerance, and the easy options are slim to none, it will quit.

Now...

You toss in a few more easy options via the addition of a very small, measured, amount of simple sugars, and the yeast will come out of retirement just long enough to take care of those simple sugars and carbonate your mead. Simple, reliable, safe.

So in your case, if you chose a yeast with a 14% ABV tolerance, you could start at an original gravity of 1.120, which has a potential of 16% abv if it goes dry. At 14% though, you're left with about 15 gravity points of sweetness left, which would give you (in my opinion) a pleasantly sweet mead. You can adjust as you choose.

I always understood that when yeast reach their alcohol tolerance they die. No yeast left to carbonate.

Farmboyc
04-01-2016, 04:16 PM
There are lots of sugars in honey. Some simple, some complex. Yeast are creatures just like any living thing, when offered a choice they typically do the easiest thing first, then work toward what's more difficult. So yeast will tend to ferment certain sugars before others. When the yeast gets to that point where it is approaching it's alcohol tolerance, and the easy options are slim to none, it will quit.

Now...

You toss in a few more easy options via the addition of a very small, measured, amount of simple sugars, and the yeast will come out of retirement just long enough to take care of those simple sugars and carbonate your mead. Simple, reliable, safe.

So in your case, if you chose a yeast with a 14% ABV tolerance, you could start at an original gravity of 1.120, which has a potential of 16% abv if it goes dry. At 14% though, you're left with about 15 gravity points of sweetness left, which would give you (in my opinion) a pleasantly sweet mead. You can adjust as you choose.

So just to be clear. You are saying that once the yeast stop fermenting honey you can still add a measured amount of simple sugar (dextrose,sucrose) and because it is easier to metabolize it will carbonate. Once the simple sugar is gone the yeast will quietly go dormant and you will have a sweet carbonated mead.
Is that the gist?
Have you personally done this?

Farmboyc
04-01-2016, 04:19 PM
I like the idea, could i try to do the same but adding the sugar in the secondary fermenter and closing the exit so no CO2 slips through, then bottle it after a while? r is it unsafe or something? i am just not sure how much preassure the corks can resist.
.

Do not put a mead you intend to carbonate in a standard wine bottle. They are not rated to handle pressure.

Use either a champagne bottle or beer bottles. These containers are designed to hold some pressure.

Stasis
04-01-2016, 05:38 PM
Mazer 828, IMO what you are suggesting is way too risky. I've had a couple of bottles pop corks or crack open without intentionally restarting a fermentation of a sweet mead in an enclosed bottle. I'd be absolutely amazed if yeast restart fermentation, then reliably eat the sugar and leave the sugars from honey alone.
Also, if a mead is truly clear there will be little to no yeast left to restart fermentation. I doubt I'll get my two year old mead which stopped because it reached its abv limit, add sugar, and expect it to carbonate.
What you are suggesting might work, but I wouldn't be giving that advice to newer mazers

Mazer828
04-01-2016, 07:59 PM
This has been my method since my home brewing days. The method works just as well for mead as for beer, and according to the same principle. Have I done this personally? Numerous times. I would not give advice that I had not (1) done personally, and (2) observed to be reliable.

I suggest that those who are not familiar with a certain method may wish to withhold their opinions until they have actual experience. Casting stones at someone else's tried and true method only speaks of ignorance and intolerance. When in reality we should all be here, combining and sharing our mutual experiences, to the benefit of all.

Mazer828
04-01-2016, 08:09 PM
@farmboyc you have it exactly. That method has worked reliably for me over many many years.

Farmboyc
04-01-2016, 08:10 PM
@farmboyc you have it exactly. That method has worked reliably for me over many many years.
Well sir now you have my interest. I did not know such a thing was possible.

Stasis
04-01-2016, 08:49 PM
I suggest that those who are not familiar with a certain method may wish to withhold their opinions until they have actual experience. Casting stones at someone else's tried and true method only speaks of ignorance and intolerance. When in reality we should all be here, combining and sharing our mutual experiences, to the benefit of all.

What are you talking about? I did follow up with my own experience and I said that leaving anything sweet and unstabilized was always a risk of bombs (cracked bottles) or popped corks. This means that yeast do, in fact, continue to eat through complex sugars.
I mean, have you never seen anyone on these forums post that an unstabilized mead can restart after months or even years? Why the hell am I ignorant and intolerant?
Are you saying that if a user here is posting dangerous practices we cannot comment on them? But instead we need to risk creating bombs only so that maybe 5 years from now we can come to a dead thread and say our hunch was right?

Here is a post by Medsen where he says: http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php/14804-Sparkling-and-avoiding-bottle-bombs
"As for trying to make a semi-sweet sparkling mead - you cannot do it without serious risk of bottle bombs unless you force carbonate it in a keg. You can naturally carbonate it in PET plastic bottles which will become hard as the CO2 pressure builds, and will not shatter if the pressure is too much.

Attempting to make a sweet sparkler is to invite flying glass shards!"

There are numerous other posts and threads like this all over the internet

Mazer828
04-01-2016, 08:59 PM
Sorry bro. Maybe I came back too strong. Just saying this method has worked reliably for me. For ME. I've never had a problem using this method. And I've been doing this for over twenty years. Again, to each his or her own, but this is a forum where we share ideas and methods.

Mazer828
04-02-2016, 11:56 AM
What are you talking about? I did follow up with my own experience and I said that leaving anything sweet and unstabilized was always a risk of bombs (cracked bottles) or popped corks. This means that yeast do, in fact, continue to eat through complex sugars.
I mean, have you never seen anyone on these forums post that an unstabilized mead can restart after months or even years? Why the hell am I ignorant and intolerant?
Are you saying that if a user here is posting dangerous practices we cannot comment on them? But instead we need to risk creating bombs only so that maybe 5 years from now we can come to a dead thread and say our hunch was right?

Here is a post by Medsen where he says: http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php/14804-Sparkling-and-avoiding-bottle-bombs
"As for trying to make a semi-sweet sparkling mead - you cannot do it without serious risk of bottle bombs unless you force carbonate it in a keg. You can naturally carbonate it in PET plastic bottles which will become hard as the CO2 pressure builds, and will not shatter if the pressure is too much.

Attempting to make a sweet sparkler is to invite flying glass shards!"

There are numerous other posts and threads like this all over the internet
I get it! I totally get it! But I have to wonder what the difference is? You read any home brewing book and the method I described is the method they teach whether you're using a priming sugar or a kraeusen, it all amounts to giving the beer or mead a little more sugar to carbonate with. And it works whether your final gravity is 1.000 or 1.025.

It's no different in my experience with mead than with beer. Others may have had problems, but without meaning to cast stones, maybe their problems lie somewhere else. Introducing another yeast strain at bottling strikes me as a very likely suspect, something I have never done, and don't recommend unless you have done a tremendous amount of research.

Stasis
04-02-2016, 12:24 PM
I think beer remain naturally sweet at the end because of very complex sugars which are impossible for yeast to consume. I have never brewed beer so correct me if I am wrong. During the mash, amylase can break down starch into simpler sugars which yeast are able to consume. Sometimes, depending on numerous factors, some of those complex sugars are not broken down. This results in the beer naturally being unable to ferment down to dryness.
You can add sugar to a finished beer and be certain that yeast can only eat those sugars. Can yeast in beer in fact finish fermenting before they reach their tolerance and still leave some residual sweetness?
Meanwhile, the sugars in mead are all fermentable by yeast. So if a ferment is restarted there is a better chance of the yeast consuming these sugars as well. *Maybe* less of a chance than with simple sugars, but the chance is still there.

The point of adding yeast during the priming is to ensure that the ferment will restart. It would be nice to ensure that the dregs at the bottom of the bottle are minimized, therefore prior to priming you might want to have a very clear mead. Thus the cloudiness and dregs which will be generated will only be from that little yeast and sugar you introduced. The downside is that in a very clear mead which has been idle for months there is little chance of the little yeast inside the bottle to restart fermentation. This is why yeast are also introduced to a dry mead. By adding yeast you should have better control over the mead rather than destabilizing it
Furthermore:
1. The yeast you originally used might be poor at restarting fermentations, the priming yeast is not
2. The priming yeast could give better flavors when aged sur lie in the bottle when compared to your original yeast
3. The priming yeast could flocculate better, therefore the dregs in the bottle might not automatically cloud the whole mead whenever you pour, but might stick to the bottom better

Mazer828
04-02-2016, 03:50 PM
Ok, first off, my apologies to the OP for totally hijacking your thread here!

@stasis, I probably should have taken the time to fully express myself with a keyboard under my fingers, instead of trying to post on my phone. Probably would have gotten all of my thoughts out in a much more intelligent fashion. #lame

Regarding beer, I believe you are correct. When the alpha and beta amylase enzymes break down the long polysaccharides into smaller sugar strings (sucrose, dextrose, maltose, etc) some are fermentable, others are not. There are (I would wager) far more unfermentable sugars remaining in a fermented beer wort than in a fermented mead must. However, I believe you are incorrect in your assertion that all sugars in honey are simple and fermentable. I don't have any scientific basis for this assertion, but my own observations prove it out. And yours do too. What's the difference between a must that has been fermented down from 1.100 to 1.010, and a must that has been fermented down from 1.090 to 1.000, and had 10 gravity points worth of raw honey added back? Taste. You can taste the raw honey. You can taste the simple sugars. With the first batch, I assert that ONE of the reasons you don't taste the "raw" is that the simple sugars are taken first, and what is left are more complex sugars that, when the yeast reaches that certain critical point, they just don't have the umph to continue to metabolize. I have had much success adding simple sugars for bottle conditioning at this point, and carbonating in the bottle without any explosions. None. Not once in over 20 years. And I've been using this method exclusively, because I don't believe in using sorbates or sulfites, and I haven't gotten into kegging.

I also don't add priming yeast. Why? First of all, I've never needed to. I've never had trouble getting a yeast to spontaneously restart and ferment the priming sugar, provided the priming sugar is mostly simple sugars. But I've also never waited 2 years to bottle something I intend to carbonate, because when I bottle condition, I KNOW that there is going to be some sediment/lees, and I accept that. I won't wait 2 years for fully crystal clear mead, I just wait until the primary yeast drop occurs. Once that happens, and I've measured gravity with temp corrections over the course of a few weeks and seen no change, I feel confident to bottle. Again, I haven't lost a single bottle to this method yet. Having said that, I pledge that the moment I DO, I will post here in this forum, and gladly acknowledge that it happened. I know my experience is anecdotal, in terms of the numerous thousands of other meadmakers' collective experience out there. But be that as it may, I offer it nonetheless as worthy of consideration.

I appreciate our discussions, Stasis. You're very educated and experienced, and I always grow from reading your posts. Thanks for putting up with my momentary lapse of decorum.

Stasis
04-02-2016, 04:33 PM
I don't think that all simple sugars can be tasted. In fact in another topic somewhere we were discussing why we can taste raw honey and not sucrose or fructose. BTW by taste I mean something other than the sweetness, of course. In the end another mazer decided to try back-sweetening with sugar rather than honey because he didn't like the taste of honey. Anyway, I think taste alone is an unreliable way how to determine sugar complexity.
I think your approach might have merit, but I'd still post a warning to be on the safe side. Especially since this advice is intended towards newer mazers who might not get the exact technique/ conditions right. I.e. This is what I've been doing for 20 years, although be warned this approach is supposedly not 100% safe because of X.
About adding or not adding yeast. It could definitely work, but saying under which conditions and which yeast would have helped.
When you initially posted, my thought was that you would need to add yeast. This is because I wait at least 6-9 months before I take out my wines or meads out of secondary and bottle. For a higher gravity mead I waited 1year, 9 months before I even really tasted it. It's an old habit I got from winemaking. Each year you rack your carboys during grape season and make room for this year's new wine. Saves up on the disinfecting ;)
My point is, a mazer cannot decide to prime any mead and expect CO2. Maybe crystal clear for some mazers means hitting it with bentonite or sparkalloid and this would also make gassification very difficult because the vast majority of yeast would have fallen out of suspension.

EDIT: Is it possible that you were calculating pressure up to a certain amount of atmospheres, the yeast ate even more sugar from the honey, but it was still below the rating for the bottle? In other words, is it possible that yeast were eating more sugars, creating even more CO2 and you were none the wiser? If this is a possibility, then calculating to the maximum a bottle can handle might be even more risky since there would be no leeway for pressure

Dadux
04-02-2016, 05:16 PM
No problem about the "hijacking" ahaha you guys kinda solved my doubts anyway, and its interesting to read you both.
The truth is i have never personally carbonated the mead and i dont know how much CO2 its produced per sugar unit fermented, so i guess calculating the preassure a bottle can withstand would be hard. Still, it seems like something worth trying, but now that im aware of the risks, i'll be a ton more careful.

Also, Im kinda sure you knew at least part of this stuff but in case you didnt, there it goes:

About the taste of raw honey from backsweetening that is easy. Since honey comes from plants, i can tell you those produces mostly sucrose, then fructose and glucose. Most non-specialized living microorganisms have a regulatory sistems that allows them to just eat the less complex sugars first (they detect and consume them until the cost of absorbing something that is in too low quantity is greater that the cost of actually using energy to separate other more complex sugars into fructose and glucose). so, that means that yes, if you dont add extra raw honey the first thing thst is gonna run out is glucose then fructose then sucrose, then more complex molecules, that also exist in honey such as large polisacharids. this is most likely the reason why the taste is differentif you backsweeten, and also makes sense with what Mazer828 says. Also, the interaction between raw honey and the remains of the fermented honey may vary and change the taste.
Also about what Stasis said, you can taste all kinds of sugars, but they taste slightly different and actually the sweetness is different between different sugars. a 1.010 mead without backsweeten will, most likely, taste a bit less sweet than a 1.010 mead after backsweetening.

Stasis
04-02-2016, 07:58 PM
About taste:
The taste of sugar in wine is a bit fake. When a wine is backsweetened with sucrose the bottle must be aged. After aging the sucrose is broken down into fructose chemically and tastes better. Sucrose is a disaccharid and fructose is a monosaccharid. Sugar is more complex.
Meanwhile, backsweetening with honey which contains mainly glucose and fructose (both monosaccharids) tastes weird.
This is why taste is a bad way to judge complexity: both complex and simple sugars can taste weird when used for backsweetening.

In honey the majority of sugars are glucose and fructose, both of which are monosaccharids and therefore more simple than sugar. This is the opposite of what mazer theorizes. There are also more complex sugars: sucrose (same as sugar) maltose and 'others' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey#Nutritional_and_sugar_profile
Assuming that yeast don't eat the maltose under stressed conditions even though it is a disaccharid like sucrose, and that those 'higher sugars' are also not eaten, we have 8.6% of honey's sugar which are too complex.
To reach 14% abv we need 15lbs of honey. 8.6% of 15lbs is 1.3lbs - this is the amount of maltose and higher sugars in your must. 1.3lbs of honey raises your sg to 1.008.
BUT after a healthy ferment abv can go below 1.000 which means that your complex sugars can probably buffer your sweetness to even less than 0.008 under best case scenario...
Also, the ratio of sugars changes from honey to honey. Sometimes the complex sugars can be more than 8.6%, other times it can be less. This means that calculating or relying on complex sugars to be left behind is dangerous.
If this theory is correct you can only have a stalled ferment at 14% with FG 0.008. Any higher and you risk bombs. This is best case scenario.
I don't think yeast find it all that hard to eat maltose, and even then I wonder if it degrades into glucose like sucrose does by time. Even if it is hard to eat, I wonder if yeast would totally ignore maltose throughout fermentation. If yeast snack on maltose from time to time we are left with only 1.5% of sugars which are very complex and *maybe* remain until the end.

Anyway, yeast often restart a mead ferment which had stuck. There's nothing to argue here. Maybe there is slight oxygenation during bottling, a change in temperature, who knows. Yeast can restart a ferment and eat more than cane sugar, it has happened. Maybe Mazer828 is doing something very specific which creates little risk of bottle bombs, but I don't think it's as easy as using sugar to prime

Dadux
04-03-2016, 07:22 AM
I see what you mean Stasis but i think the question isnt that, or at least that only. the problem would be what happens with yeast when you reach a certain ABV. Lets say i have a yeast that stops fermenting at... 14% ABV.
What does that mean? it means when my ABV is 14, it just dies of toxicity? does it stop fermentation and goes dormant? because, if the second is what actually happens, then what mazer says is totally possible. but if the yeast dies, then obviously is not. I am inclined to believe its the second, because if Mazer says he has done actually that, well, the yeast was obviously alive. Also, i must say that if you add suggars and the mead gets oxigenated a bit, the ABV would slightly go down, so it is possible that the yeast reactivates, fermentates a bit, then goes dormant again. Something simmilar has actually happened to me, when i racked last batch, fermentation restarted for a couple of days.

Stasis
04-03-2016, 08:02 AM
A sweet mead is one that has leftover sugars from honey in it
What mazer is saying is that maybe when yeast go dormant they wake up and ONLY eat the sugar you primed the bottle with because sugar is simple. They leave the sugars from the honey alone because they are complex.
What I am saying is that sugar is actually probably more complex than the sugars left by the honey. If yeast are going to wake up they can eat all the sugars.
It is important to determine EXACTLT how much sugar is eaten because if too much is eaten, too much CO2 is produced and you get an over-pressurized bottle. A bottle bomb.
Mazers do report from time to time that their mead restarts seemingly 'spontaneously', which means they have no problem waking back up and continueing to eat the leftover sugars from honey. Also, there is no saying when a ferment will stall, which means there is no saying what leftover sugars you will have. Even if complex sugars are left exclusively until last, if you finish with a sweet mead it must be low sweetness. Anything above Fg 1.008 in this case would be risky. This 1.008 Fg is totally fictional, made up to show what the best case scenario is. I think the best case scenario never happens though.

What I think might be happening:
Yeast when waking up typically have one factor which has improved their living conditions slightly. This single variable typically improves their conditions just enough to consume just enough sugar to gassify the mead and avoid bottle bombs.
OR
Mazer is bottling mead which hasn't totally degassed. He is not introducing new yeast which minimizes chances of restarted ferments. He is also bottling quite soon after fermentation has stopped. Degassing could happen for a long time after ferment has finished unless a mazer speeds up the process. In normal wine bottles maybe that extra pressure normally breathes out of the cork by time, but when mazer seals the bottle with a crown cap or plastic champagne top the gas from degassing is not released. But I can't see how a non-degassed mead could ever be sparkling. Best I had was slightly effervescent but undetectable bubbles

These are all just theories. The important bit is
BOTTLING A SWEET MEAD WITHOUT STABILIZING IS POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS