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  1. Default Goal is sweet. Start 1.100 at 1.020 time to move? Confused

    I am not grasping when I should move to secondary fully. If I started at 1.100 and am now at 1.020? my goal is a sweet mead. Read sweet meads end in range of 1.025? Also Read some say wait to move until completely done fermenting to move but is that the definition of a dry mead? I guess I don't understand what a dry mead is or more exact how to make dry mead.

    I had 8lbs of raisins in dates in primary which I took out for the most part after reading may be better to add I secondary. I will be adding figs and more raisins along with cinnamon to seconday. Once I add those won't the yeast eat those and all the sugar so then it will be a dry mead I also plan to add some bourbon and oak and maybe even a chipolte pepper as I have found I really like heat with my sweet : )

    Thanks for your help

  2. Default

    So I am also new to mead, still on my first batch. But from all the reading and guidance I have gotten on this forum I may be able to help a bit.

    So when people say "dry mead" it means that there is no sugar, or in this case honey left for the yeast to eat leaving you at a gravity reading of 1.00

    From what I have gathered most people run there mead dry in the primary "not sweet" then stabilize and back sweeten to get the sweetness where they want.

    As far as adding the fruit there is a few different options. You can add to primary like you did first. You can add to secondary before stabilizing witch can start your fermentation back up and will result in a more fermented fruit taste. Or you can do what I am doing and add to your secondary after you stabilized your mead. This will hopefully not allow fermentation to start back up and result in a fresher fruit taste.

    Sent from my SM-G935P using Tapatalk

  3. #3

    Default

    "Done fermenting" does not necessarily mean dry. It means the yeast can no longer ferment any sugars in the current must environment. Most of the time it means that they have run out of sugars to eat and the gravity is 1.000 or below.

    It could also mean that the yeast have produced enough alcohol that they have reached their ABV % limit. They effectively fall asleep and can no longer convert sugar to alcohol. If the environment changes then they could start back up again. For example, if you add fruit (which contains a lot of water) you can essentially lower the alcohol concentration and they yeast can go back to work. Or if the temperature changes, or the pH changes, or any number of other things. That's why it's best to allow the yeast to eat all the sugars they can, then rack and stabilize.

    If you want a sweet mead, I would recommend waiting until the gravity stops changing over the course of several days to a week or two. Once everything has stopped, whether that is 1.020 or 1.000 or whatever, then rack of the yeast cake at the bottom and stabilize. If you don't stabilize, that's fine, but leave it under an airlock so if it does ferment more then it doesn't explode. Then add fruit, peppers, oak, honey, etc. Just taste it as it goes along so you can remove peppers/fruit/oak when you've reached the level you want.
    Raisins are NOT nutrients for yeast... but french fries ARE!

  4. Default

    Thank you both, Very helpful!

  5. #5

    Default

    There continues to remain some very stubborn misnomers about certain aspects of fermentation. That continues to hang around forever.

    This is because way too many people answer questions with answers, they have heard over and over, without really having ever actually experienced a particular answer first hand. At one time the world was flat for the same reason. It's a constant battle to try and educate new people with real science based info, when so many others continue to repeat what they have heard from well-meaning people, with no real experience.

    So here is one place that seems to be misunderstood, so I wanted to clarify things for the new mead makes, as well as the confused.

    It seems as though too many think that certain yeast strains were made to make sweet mead, while others were not. This is simply not true. Despite what some manufacturers label a certain strain. (Yes. It's true there are some strains that just so happen to make good mead. And others that are not normally considered by most, to make a good mead). But regardless of what a manufacturer calls a particular strain, they all work the same way.

    Any strain can make a sweet mead. And any mead can go bone dry. It's not about the yeast per se. It's about a particular yeast, and it's tolerance levels to ABV%.

    Every strain has a limit that they can assimilate sugars into ethanol. Once they reach this level, they do not die. They simply go dormant. And can no longer assimilate any more sugars because they have "tapped out" due to their ABV tolerance level. Most yeast can go beyond the listed levels because we superman the crap out of our yeast with the most current science and yeast-derived nutrients. Additions such as Go-Ferm, O2 additions, and SNA protocols and temperature control make them much more robust than they once were. With modern science, and modern additives. It's fairly common to see the yeast go beyond the listed tolerances if everything is done correctly.

    So what determines a sweetness level in our concoctions? The simple answer is, we have a certain amount of residual sugars (RS) left in your finished product. So any yeast strain can be made to have RS in the final product if you have more sugars in the must than the yeast can consume before they "tap out".

    So you can have yeast that taps at 12% ABV in a must with enough sugar points in the must to create 15% ABV because we have more sugars than they can assimilate. This leaves RS behind. The more RS, the sweeter the finished product is. If fewer sugar points were in your must than the yeast can assimilate, your mead would now be bone dry. So even a high alcohol tolerant yeast can have RS if you have added more sugars than they can assimilate.

    This is important to understand!

    By now I'm sure you all own and use a hydrometer right? You can look at it and see any gravity mark also shows the corresponding ABV level as well. Now. Once we understand this, we can now determine how many gravity points we need to add to make any ABV we want to make. Higher ABV's take longer to smooth out, because of the heat from the ethanol in it. For this same reason, lesser alcohol meads smooth out and become drinkable sooner. Smaller ABV meads are easier to drink. You might drink 3 or 4 pours of a 12 % ABV and only one or two 18% ABV meads. I think most wines are in the 12% vicinity.

    Too often. When a newbie gets started, they want to max out the alcohol levels. But most people would probably find a 12% ABV more suitable. A good rule of thumb is it takes one extra month, per ABV point above 12, for mead to lose the heat from the alcohol burn.

    Part of the confusion about this entire concept is people believe you can stop an active fermentation part way through. They think through certain activities; they can halt the process of fermentation at a given ABV. This is virtually impossible. I'm not saying you can't be done. But I am saying it's pretty unlikely you can without causing some related problems that can lead to off flavors. And you will never be able to stop it at a certain place because every biomass is different. The very thing we are trying to avoid.
    Simply put. It's mostly bad information passed along through the ages from the expert parrots. Passing along stuff they have heard, but never tried first hand.

    So here is what is most predictable, and, is most common by far. Pick and ABV you want to create and find the gravity points needed to do this on the hydrometer that you all have by now when you make up your must. Make sure that the grand sum of all your ingredients add up to the appropriate ABV you are seeking. Now. Ferment this dry. Once it's dry, it then is pretty easy to stabilize your mead with additions of SO2 and potassium sorbate. The best way to do this is to cold crash your meads in a cold environment. The colder, the better. Rack off the lees after it has sat in the cold for enough time for the yeast to drop out. Do this to move your must over to a new vessel while leaving the lees behind. Now add the sulfite/sorbate, natural chemicals to stabilize your mead. Once they have done their magic, the yeast can no longer reproduce, or ferment sugar any longer. Now you have frozen your must at the ABV you wanted. Once this is done you can add any combinations of additions to get the finished sweetness level you feel is desirable in your mead. This is called back sweetening.

    I have yet been able to find someone who claims they can tell the difference. Between a back sweetened mead. And one that was left standing at the end of fermentation with residual sugars left behind. We hear these things. And there might be a very rare few who actually can. But no one has ever been able to point it out to me in a blind test. You might be able to tell during the first few weeks. But if left long enough, that things have a chance to integrate. You will be hard-pressed to know the difference.

    Please be aware. Backsweetening should be done prior to fining or filtering. The added honey will add proteins. These proteins will create a haze in a clear mead.

    This is very basic info I know. But I see this same concept tossed around every week on public platforms. What yeast do I use for a sweet mead? How can I have a certain amount of sugar left behind to carbonate my mead naturally and so on?

    I'm not going to get into it here now. But for beginners. If you want a carbonated mead. Just force carbonate it. If you are at a stage where you need to ask how to do this naturally. You're probably not at a place that you should be messing with it anyway. It can be done. But perhaps that will come in a different article
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  6. Default

    Thanks for the clarification Squatchy!

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