I have noticed that the fruit meads that I have sampled at my local homebrew club are usually quite cloudy. Last Sunday (4/15/12) I brewed my second ever mead, and I would like for it to be nice and clear if possible.
My brew consisted of 12 pounds clover honey, 3 pounds Vintner's Harvest Raspberry Puree. I held this mixture @ 145F for 30 minutes, Then dumped in a carboy and added water to approx. 5 gallons. Starting gravity was 1.110. Pitched with Wyeast 4632 dry mead yeast. Today (4/20/12) added 1TBSP pectic enzyme.
I was a bit worried about the yeast, because the smack pack was 2 yrs old. No signs of life when smacked. 3 weeks prior to brewing I began rehabilitating the yeast on a stir plate, making progressively higher volume worts with honey, DME, and Fermaid K at about 1.050. Ended up pitching about 150-200 mL yeast cake. Worked great, fermentation was evident in about an hour and has been strong and steady since.
So I guess my question is: Is there anything I could have done differently, or can still do to ensure a nice clear final product?
Thanks for the help!
Keep in mind I'm no expert by any means but folks I have talked too have stated that multiple rackings and of course time help with clarifying as well as some chemicals (which I try not to use personally)
Also if you use an actual store bought juice clarification is much easier as well as you don't have all the particulates except for of course dead yeast and whatever spices/nutrients you add. That being said I haven't seen a raspberry juice for sale anywhere (without preservatives)
I'd try some pectic enzyme post fermentation.
Pectic enzyme is much more effective pre-fermentation. The alcohol inhibits its action.
Cloudy fruit meads probably means folks have pectin issues if their other meads are all clear and it's just the fruit ones that have problems. Your addition of pectinase should help a lot in that respect. Not heating the fruit also helps, though with commercially processed fruit it's probably been heated already. Heat sets the pectins into a gel, which doesn't settle out easily and looks cloudy in your mead.
If you still have haze issues after it's all done, you can try a fining agent. I would give it a good long time to clear on its own if you can though, most often time is the best fining agent.
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Heating sets the pectins, don't do it.
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Pectic enzyme should fix any cloudiness from the pectins in the fruit.
I would have added the pectinase right away, but the local shop was out. My understanding is that you want to add it before/during fermentation, since it breaks pectin down into sugars that are potentially fermentable.
As far as patience, I am definitely willing to wait. My only previous mead stayed in primary two months, secondary two months and tertiary seven months prior to bottling.
Update on my raspberry mead:
So it has been five weeks since I initially brewed up this raspberry mead and I have finally got around to racking over to secondary. I probably could have done this at the three week mark, as fermentation had pretty much stopped at that point.
My first impression was of a strong, almost syrupy/candy sweet raspberry nose with a hint of ethanol in the background. Nice reddish pink color. Quite clear but with a bit of room for improvement. Gravity is .994, so according to the calculator abv is 15.07%. Slightly sour raspberry finishes super dry. Honey, yeast and alcohol apparent in the background. All in all, I am quite happy.
So now a question concerning bulk aging and oxidation: The trub layer that was left behind in the transfer was thicker than I had expected. Combined with the bit I took to check gravity and taste test, there is a fair amount of headspace in the carboy. Will this create any negative issues with regard to oxidation? Is it recommended to purge that space with CO2 or N2 prior to capping with the airlock?
Most people will say if your in the shoulders of the carboy you should be fine. I always pump a generous amount of co2 into my carboy before I rack fruit meads. The next step if you have to much head space for your liking would be marbles or adding some other mead to reduce it.
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