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Redleg
03-19-2004, 08:48 AM
Hey, all...

I've been using a combination of bentonite and sparkalloid as an initial fining method for quite some time. Basically, boil together 2 Tbsps each of bentonite and sparkalloid in about 2 cups of water for 10 minutes, then slowly add and stir to primary. Wait 2 weeks, and rack off the lees. Works like a charm...

I currently have 2 batches that I decided to omit the bentonite and just add sparkalloid. The sparkalloid my local HB shop had was of the cold-mix variety, requiring no initial boiling...just add water and add to primary.

So, after adding the usual 2 tablespoons of sparkalloid to my mead and then stirring slowly, I returned 2 weeks later to find a sparkalloid "floe" on the surface of the mead. Additionaly, the mead was still cloudy as anything, though visible fermentation ended weeks prior.

A few nights ago, I added bentonite, and am waiting for the results right now.

Has anybody else had varying results with hot versus cold-mix sparkalloid as a primary fining agent?

Brian

veektor
03-21-2005, 01:06 AM
I'm still not sure about the Sparkalloid right now. I used it to clear two batches of mead, one had bentonite in it for a week prior, the other one did not. Both meads cleared within a couple of days. The one with bentonite was an older batch, so I racked it after a week and bottled it. I was too lazy to research about sweetening mead at the time, so I just bottled half of the batch as it was, dry. Next, I added some honey to the rest and bottled it. Holy crap! Almost immediately I realized that what was a perfectly clear mead started precipitating again! I am baffled as to why adding honey would cause more precipitation. I have decided that for the future I will rack, sweeten, let it sit for a couple of weeks, then bottle.

Anyone else have an idea as to the cause of sediment after sweetening?

ancjr
03-21-2005, 01:54 AM
Secondary fermentation from not eliminating the live yeast?

Oskaar
03-21-2005, 02:05 AM
Pretty much, or turbidity from the added honey if it's unprocessed and not totally clear as with most that I've seen.

Oskaar

JoeM
03-21-2005, 02:48 AM
I agree...its either yeast sediment from renewed fermentation, or protein precipitate from the honey...probably a combination of both.

P.S. If what you're telling us is that you added more honey to a dry mead without stabilizing it and then immediately bottled...you should be careful in the future because that could be a recipe for bottle bombs (aka the ol' glass grenades).

veektor
03-21-2005, 02:30 PM
OK, I tried to skim some posts on this board before asking a possibly stupid question: how was I supposed to stabilize it? I thought that by racking the cleared mead off the lees I was safe from restarting fermentation.

The sediment looks rather whitish in color, does not resemble the creamy color of yeast at all, though that could be deceptive. I really hope it is the proteins from honey, rather than restarted fermentation. Mainly because the sediment appeared so quickly, in less than 1 hour after honey was mixed in.

The threat of bottle bombs provides me an excuse to start drinking this mead very quickly, just to ensure the safety ;) Not my preference, really, because the mead tastes too complicated, or bold (not sure how else to describe the taste, it was made with wildflower honey). It really could use some aging for the taste to mellow out. But, if duty requires me to drink it up early, I will be sure to perform my obligation diligently.

veektor
03-21-2005, 02:32 PM
Pretty much, or turbidity from the added honey if it's unprocessed and not totally clear as with most that I've seen.

Oskaar


Thank you for making me go to Webster.com to look up "turbidity". I can't help but learn new things on this forum ;D

JoeM
03-21-2005, 04:51 PM
Racking off the lees is not an assurance by any means that fermentation will not restart. I usually rack my beers once or even twice before bottling and always carbonate them without a problem. no matter how carefully you rack there are always live yeast cells suspended in the solution. The only way to really ensure that your fermentation wont restart if you are adding more sugar is by either stabilizing with sorbate, or doing a bulk age for an extended period of time...at least a year, to ensure all the yeast have died.

veektor
03-21-2005, 07:05 PM
I had to pick up some bottle brushes over lunch break today and I remembered to ask about a stabilizer. Now I own a package of potassium sorbate, which I'll be sure to use before bottling my next batch. Thanks for the advice!

Lagerman64
04-04-2005, 03:30 PM
I've never had any problems with sparkalloid, I think it's great. I only break it out for the problem meads. Works every time.

Jmattioli
04-04-2005, 10:36 PM
Ditto. Lagermann.
Joe

veektor
06-14-2005, 01:31 AM
Racking off the lees is not an assurance by any means that fermentation will not restart. I usually rack my beers once or even twice before bottling and always carbonate them without a problem. no matter how carefully you rack there are always live yeast cells suspended in the solution. The only way to really ensure that your fermentation wont restart if you are adding more sugar is by either stabilizing with sorbate, or doing a bulk age for an extended period of time...at least a year, to ensure all the yeast have died.
11th Commandment: Thou shalt sorbate thy sweetened meade before bottling the damn thing.

So I was desperate one night and popped open a bottle of the dry mead. I noticed it was a little sparkly, just a tad, really. But that made me think: "If this one got carbonation in it, what about the sweet mead?". As I may have mentioned before, I bottled the first half as it was (dry), but sweetened the rest. I really did not notice any activity in the bottles or any cork movements...until I turned the bottles on their side, that is...
Two days after turning the bottles I noticed some mold in my very damp basement (cellar). Upon looking around, I saw that somehow I managed to stack empty bottles in the box of my sweet mead. "Weird!", I thought, "I don't remember doing something silly like that." It took me a few minutes to realize there were four corks on the floor. I also noticed one bottle had a cork half way out. When I brought that bottle upstairs, it only took a couple of minutes in the warm house for the cork to pop and the bubbly to start spilling over. It would not have been so bad if the mead had managed to mature somewhat by now, but it hasn't, and had an unpleasant aftertaste. All the sediment that sat at the bottom was stirred up by the rising bubbles. Would have been sad if it wasn't so damn funny to watch.

So here is my question for the elders: is it worth the trouble to decant my 6 left over bottles of sweet (and sparkling) mead into a small carboy, let the sediment settle, sorbate, then bottle again? They seem to be sitting quietly in the fridge right now, but I'm sure they'll start popping once I get them out, and I don't have enough fridge room to keep them for several months. Thank you kindly for all the past and future advice!

lostnbronx
06-15-2005, 02:40 AM
Veektor,

It would certainly be worth it to me -- that's over a gallon of mead you're talking about!

Outside of any bacterial infection issues you might have (probably not so critical in this case), you may or may not have extra oxidation from opening the bottle and racking; it'll be bubbling out suspended CO2, which will act as something of a security blanket, I should think, for the transfer. Since this mead has become sparkling, I'd actually pour it into a gallon jug from the bottles, rather than rack it in (which will help remove some of the CO2) and then I'd waterlock it. Let it sit and outgas/ferment until it's still, then either bulk age as is, or rack off the lees and bulk age. You can always sparkle it again, if you want to, at bottling time, or just stabilize and bottle them as a still mead.

If you choose to stabilize, you'll be in the unique position of having made the same exact bottles of mead as first a sparkling beverage, and then as a still one! Cool!

-David