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swampbee
10-18-2005, 10:20 PM
I'm a beer brewer who recently started keeping bees...and making mead. I'm four weeks into fermentation of a blackberry melomel (including two weeks on the fruit) and I'm racking this weekend. I sulfited when racking to the fruit. After reading The Compleat Meadmaker, I'm considering not sufiting again. Is this too risky for aging?

Also I plan to add an acid blend at bottling. I notice some recipes don't call for acid additions. Thoughts?

Lastly, does anyone have experience (positive or negative) with aging soft fruit meads with oak chips?

Cheers,

swampbee

WRATHWILDE
10-19-2005, 01:05 AM
Let me be the 1st to welcome you to the forum swampbee!

Oak Thread...
http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_smf&Itemid=103&topic=2451.0

For the most part Acid additions are not necessary, you should be fine without it.

Again sulfiting is Optional, I happen to be Sulfite sensitive so it is something I never do .

Wrathwilde

Pewter_of_Deodar
10-19-2005, 10:15 AM
Sulfates and sulfites are never mandatory...

They are also not generally associated with "racking" but are an optional part of sterilizing raw fruit being added to a must or preventing additional fermentation prior to backsweetening and bottling...

If you use proper sanitation techniques on the equipment and containers you use for this racking, you should not need additional sulfites merely because you are racking...

Hope that is clear...

Good luck!

Oskaar
10-19-2005, 01:12 PM
Slight correction there Pewter.

When people do choose to add additional sulfites past the ones that are produced as a natural part of fermentation (EC-1118 will produce between 30 - 50 ppm of sulfites during fermentation) they are generally associated with racking because they are added at racking time at a rate of about 50 ppm.

When using fruit (as in melomels) sulfite additions are generally at a level of 100 ppm which will not adversely affect the mead flavor or character. Sulfites also have beneficial effects for long term aging, color retention, oxidation prevention, and other benefits.

Here's a link to a good article on sulfites:

http://members.tripod.com/~BRotter/SO2.htm

Suffice it to say that there are very differing viewpoints on sulfiting one's mead. Many people do not add sulfites due to health concerns for asthmatics, people with sulfite sensitivities or allergies; which are good reasons for not adding sulfites. There are also meadmakers with a committement to "natural meadmaking" which precludes the addition of sulfites. Clearly it is a good idea to label your bottles when sulfites are added. The decision to sulfite or not sulfite ones mead is up the the meadmaker.

For the record I do not sulfite my mead, and I label all of my meads with a note that sufites are produced as a natural part of fermentation. EC-1118 and a few other yeasts will produce up to 50 ppm of sulfites under certain conditions which can trigger a reaction in people who are sensitive to sulfites, so I feel it is good practice to give that information and allow people to make their own informed decisions.

Cheers,

Oskaar

swampbee
10-19-2005, 10:29 PM
Oskar, Wrathwilde, and Pewter:

Thanks so much for the welcome, the advice, and link to oak aging. I used EC-1118) and sulfited (100ppm) the fruit before adding to the fermented must. Given what you've told me, I will skip further additions, keep everything clean, forgo the acids, and age in the carboy for six months before bottling.

I might age with the white oak cubes for two months (in the plastic fermenter) before racking to the carboy.

Any issue with keeping the mead in plastic for two months?

Again, much thanks.... :)

WRATHWILDE
10-20-2005, 12:36 AM
Any issue with keeping the mead in plastic for two months?


Two months shouldn't be a problem.

Wrathwilde

deck99
10-26-2005, 11:00 PM
Oskarr,
Since you don't use sulphites do you boil in the beginning processes?

Thanks,

deck

Oskaar
10-26-2005, 11:02 PM
No need to, you don't boil wine, no need to boil honey either.

Cheers,

Oskaar

Pewter_of_Deodar
10-27-2005, 11:24 AM
Since you don't use sulphites do you boil in the beginning processes?


I don't use chemicals and I do HEAT my must but I never BOIL it. There was a thread in which Dan posted some numbers on how long you have to spend at a certain temperature in order to pasteurize/sterilize the must. I heat 2 gallons of my initial water/juice to 170F and allow it to cool from there while adding the spices to it (in essence making a tea). I then reheat it to 170F while adding the honey. 170F also seems to be a good temperature because the whisking I do begins to produce a skum at about that temperature that will not be produced at lower temps. Part of my recipe calls for skimming that skum off before transferring the must to a fermentation vessel.

Good luck and have fun!

Oskaar
10-27-2005, 01:28 PM
I didn't specify in my post below but I don't heat my must as a rule when making mead. I prefer the flavor, aroma, structure and complexity in the meads I make when I don't heat or boil the must. There are a couple of meads that I make where I heat the must but these are for family and friends that want a certain period recipe.

To me there is no need to heat, pasteurize or remove the scum unless you are recreating a period/historical recipe. This is backed up by research as noted below. However, that doesn't mean you can't make a good mead if you boil because I have made some very nice ones using heat/pasteurization. Just be sure that you are aware of the source of the recipe and the techniques therein. Many historical/period recipes will say to boil, pasteurize or otherwise heat your honey which as noted below is not necessary, and in my opinion deprives your mead of protiens, enzymes, aroma and flavor characteristics that would be there if the must was not heated.

Here's some other nuggets from Dan McFeeley on heating, boiling and meadmaking:

Heating and Pasteurizing table:
http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_smf&Itemid=103&topic=2545.msg20257#msg20257

Heating and Pasteurizing effects:
http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_smf&Itemid=103&topic=2603.msg20965#msg20965

Modern History of Meadmaking:
http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_smf&Itemid=103&topic=1862.msg14812#msg14812

McFeeley on Acton and Duncan on acid (in mead that is):
http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_smf&Itemid=103&topic=2293.msg18305#msg18305

Hope that helps,

Oskaar

Dmntd
10-27-2005, 01:49 PM
You're still the man Oskaar, 8)

I've searched for those post numerous time's, and can never find them when I want them.

Anthony

deck99
10-27-2005, 09:40 PM
Oskaar,
Do you always use a processed honey? If you don't heat or sulphite are there any concerns with aging your mead?

One more question, do you use acid blends in your meads to adjust levels?

Thanks for everyone's replies. This seems like it will even more fun than making wine.

deck

Oskaar
10-27-2005, 10:28 PM
The honey I use is minimally processed, and I use raw whenever I can. Many honeys are heated or pasteurized before they are packed and sold. I make sure to inquire about their processing techniques before I buy honey from them. Heating as mentioned in several different threads (use the search tool to find them) destroys certain enzymes, protiens and floral characters and aromas that make each honey unique and lend to the complexity of the mead.

I haven't had problems aging my meads, past a couple of years. I am considering sulfites in a couple of batches to aid in preventing oxidation, providing color stabilization and retaining flavor/freshness characters.

I don't use acid blend, no need. If perchance it becomes necessary to balance the flavor then I'll add acid at the end.

Cheers,

Oskaar