PDA

View Full Version : Adding Flavors After/During Secondary: Suggestions?



rgd622
01-08-2012, 08:49 PM
First Post!;D

A friend and I have decided to venture into the mead world after having had excellent drunken shenanigans at RenFest.

We have a 5-gal batch that we made from a kit using 15 lbs of white clover honey and Lalvin 71B-1122. It was started mid-November-ish. It's doing quite well and has been in it's secondary for a few weeks.

Now that it's beginning to clarify, we wanted to separate it into 5 1-gal jugs and try different flavors. We're going to keep at least 1, probably 2 gallons as plain. Should we make one of those a bubbly? Can we?

Also, we are trying to decide what to put into the other 3 gallons. We want to do apple for one and were thinking raspberry for another. For the third, we want to do something spicier, or with herbs or something.

Any thoughts/suggestions/quips?

tl;dr:


5 gallons of almost-clear 14% plain mead, we want to split it into 5 gallon jugs, and we need flavor suggestions.

Suggested methods for sanitation of fruits/spices?

Is it too late to think about making it bubbly?

Is there anything glaringly wrong in this post (other than grammar)?


Thank you very much in advanced!

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Extra Credit (AKA ignore these if they prevent you from answering the above):


When you take a gravity reading, what is your specific method and do you put the mead back into the jug?

Exact instructions for sanitation of equipment?

Must: boiled or no?

Lees: useless?

Bottling: Are corks the only way?

Dirty Fermenters: How should i clean them?

Alcohol Content: Able to be lowered?

Removing the Stopper to Smell the Concoction: Sacrilege?

Auto-Siphon: Awesome or Awful?

Chevette Girl
01-08-2012, 09:48 PM
I don't think you really have to worry about tl/dr designations in this place, I've only ever seen one once. Meadmaking has made us all quite patient.

Welcome to the addiction-er, forum! ;D

The possibilities are endless if you're looking at flavouring a traditional mead. A vanilla bean, a cinnamon stick, orange or lemon zest, a handful of fresh or dried herbs (mint, rosemary, sage, oregano would be the first ones off the top of my head, someone around here loves basil-strawberry), a favourite herbal tea, or any fruit you can think of could work. A quick dip in sanitizing solution or boiling water is suggested but not strictly necessary for spices, especially if there's still a little fermentation going on as fermentation trumps most other organisms. If you were planning to stabilize it, you could put whatever it is right before you stabilize it, that should catch anything trying to hitch a ride.

As for bubbly... Unless you have a way to force-carbonate it, it's better to plan that out and make a mead that you know will go completely dry and still be a few percent under your yeast's tolerance. If your mead's at 14% I think that's at or near your yeast's tolerance so even if it does finish dry (under 1.000) the yeast might already be at their limit. Try ten minutes with the forum search tool and see what you can learn, if you have questions after that we'll answer them.

A few questions for you: What was your starting SG, what's your SG now? Has it been stabilized (usually some form of metabisulphtate and potassium sorbate), if not are you planning to, and if so, when? Do you want it to ferment whatever fruits you put in?

Some of us do put our samples back in after checking the SG, as long as you're good about sanitizing everything that comes in contact with the must and keeping your fingers out of it, there shouldn't be much more of a chance of contamination.

Sanitation depends on what you're using and what works for you. I keep two 1-litre mason jars and a spray bottle filled with potassium metabisulphite, anything I can't dip or pour solution over gets sprayed. I've got a bottle washer (it's like a dish with a pump in the middle, you put the bottle over the outlet and push down and it squirts liquid from the dish up into the bottle) that also works for filling up my racking hose with solution when I'm racking or bottling. Other folks use other chemicals and equipment and I'm sure they'll chime in soon. Generally, I always assume everything is dirty so the last thing it does before touching my meads is be sanitized, I could soak it all night in sanitizing solution but if it touches the sink or the countertop, it's no longer sanitized.

Boiled/not boiled? I always boil if I'm using granulated sugar to make a wine but I never boil if I'm using honey. I did an experiment (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16141)a while ago, still need to determine some results and post them though.

71B is one of the yeasts where you don't want to leave the must sitting on the lees for too long. Some of us have made bread from lees and spent fruit, some folks microwave or boil the lees to lyse the yeast cells so they can become food for a subsequent batch, I've been known to use fresh lees from one batch to start another batch, especially if I'm re-using a bag of fruit that's already been fermented once. Now that I'm also making vinegars, I may start saving the lees and refrigerating them to clear it and then dumping whatever's clear into the vinegar bucket...

Corks, caps, screw-tops, Zorks, EZ-caps. Whatever you want/have/can find. Caps allow the least amount of oxygen transfer, sounds like Zorks are kind of expensive, I re-use screw tops after sanitizing them as best I can, and EZ-caps are also expensive. Whether you choose to cap or cork, the capper or corker will be about $15, corks are around $.10 ea and I think caps are less expensive per unit but the bottles are generally smaller so you use more.

I use a pink cleanser that I think might be a perchlorate? anyway it's really good for removing odours and stains from plastic, be careful not to scratch the buckets though, some folks use a soft cloth, I use a plastic dish brush or my bottle brushes, just making sure I don't scrape them with the metal at the centre of the bottle brush. They need a really good rinse afterwards and you still need to use a sanitizer on them right before use.

Two ways to lower alcohol content - adjust the recipe at the start, or dilute it at the end. Diluting it can also dilute the flavour especially if you use water, but if you do it by adding juice, you'll be adding other flavours so it may turn out fine.

Heck no, go ahead and take out the stopper for a sniff, just put it back when you're done, don't let anything fall in in the meantime, and don't do it ten times a day. Oh, and if you're taking a sniff from the bucket while things are in full fermentation, be prepared to land hard on your butt if you get too strong a whiff!

Auto-siphon - I have a pump-style one and don't use it often, I don't have much space overhead and I don't always have an extra set of hands around to make sure the end of the hose stays in the new carboy while I'm making sure the other end isn't stirring up the lees I'm trying to leave behind, I also find it a pain to clean and a pain to sanitize. I also have an automatic bottle filler. Some folks swear by theirs but I loathe mine, it loses a lot through its overflow tube and loses its prime if you're not quick while you're trying to shift from one bottle to the other. However, your mileage may vary and my opinions are just that - opinions.

One thing you will rapidly learn about meadmaking - there is no one way.

skunkboy
01-09-2012, 12:40 AM
For secondary flavors think about what you like to eat and drink. That should give you some clues as to what you might want to start considering, and ask about possible amounts.

mmclean
01-09-2012, 08:14 AM
I've never added fruit in secondary. Don't really plan to either.

Some things I do/would use are oak cubes, vanilla beans, cocoa beans, cinnamon stick, orange/lemmon/line zest or dried peel, spices and/or herbs.

Soyala_Amaya
01-09-2012, 11:02 PM
Should we make one of those a bubbly? Can we?


There are ways to prime with sugars, such as with beer, but you need specific bottles rated for the PSI (champagne bottles), and to be a LOT more careful. Not something I'd recommend for a first time (or even a fifth or sixth timer, it's a more advanced technique easily capable of making bottle bombs.)



5 gallons of almost-clear 14% plain mead, we want to split it into 5 gallon jugs, and we need flavor suggestions.

Really? Just about anything you want! Fruit, spice, vegetables, anything! Go exotic, go traditional, mix it up, have fun with it! There's me and someone else on the board who are currently making bacon mead...so trust me, I mean it when I say anything goes!



Suggested methods for sanitation of fruits/spices?

A quick dip in some sulphite water, or just wash them off well. Make sure all your equipment is clean and your additives are usually pretty safe.



Is it too late to think about making it bubbly?

As stated before, pretty much. It's something you plan, not something you throw together.



When you take a gravity reading, what is your specific method and do you put the mead back into the jug?

I sanitize my sample jar and my hydrometer, and just dump it back in.



Exact instructions for sanitation of equipment?

There are different methods. I usually use a couple hours of soaking in a bleach solution if it's glass, iodophor if it's plastic, or a really good hard scrubbing with hot water if it's not actually going to touch my mead, just be close to it.



Must: boiled or no?

Simple answer...no. Never, don't do it. Be kinder to honey than that.



Lees: useless?

Depending on what you want to do with it, maybe? I wouldn't use it to start another batch, there's a lot of stressed and dead yeast in there which is different than a beer yeast. Chevette Girl gave you some other suggestions, I just toss mine. It's a dollar a packet, it's not worth the effort to em.



Bottling: Are corks the only way?

Depends on the bottles you have. Some bottles will only take a cork, some will only take a cap, and some could go both ways. I use bottles I can cap as I don't have a corker yet.



Dirty Fermenters: How should i clean them?

Lots of scrubbing with a carboy brush, then a good hit with a sanitizing solution.



Alcohol Content: Able to be lowered?

Sure, dilute it with some more honey. It'll make it a bit sweeter, and lower ABV. Just make sure it's stabilized first with a sulphite/sorbate combo. Otherwise the yeast could just decide to keep going with more food.



Removing the Stopper to Smell the Concoction: Sacrilege?

There's not much that sacrilege here. Don't do it 17 times a day, but once every other week or so should be fine. If you're worried, get a little canister of CO2 from your LHBS and spritz it when you're done. I can get a can made for bottling with CO2 for about 15 bucks at mine. No further equipment needed.



Auto-Siphon: Awesome or Awful?

I LOVE mine, but I have head space for it and a hose clip to make sure my hose doesn't move. One good pump and my flow is fine, and I can better keep the tip out of the lees than with just the hose. Oh, and I don't have to put my mouth on the hose to get it started.

As has been stated before, welcome to the addiction! Have fun!

rgd622
01-10-2012, 06:03 PM
Wow! This is, without exception, the most helpful forum I've been on for anything! Thanks for all the awesome suggestions and advice.

SO, here's what I've got goin' on:

We may dilute some, although we are undecided. We were thinking about diluting a gallon of it with apple juice, maybe around half and half to get around 7% ABV. Any apple juice fine? Pasteurize it first or just buy some pasteurized? And we'll definitely stabilize it first. Is it ok to use just Potassium Sorbate for that? I have that on hand.

For one of the other gallons we want to use frozen apple juice concentrate. More or less than one can? Should we stabilize it? Bad idea to begin with?

As for specific gravity, it started at about 1.120 and when I racked it, it had stabilized at about 1.010.

If we add fruit to them, should we use a bag of some sort and what would be the difference in the end result if we stabilize it vs if we just add it and go?

For the last gallon: how does an orange-ginger batch sound? 'Cause we're trying to decide between that and doing straight spices.

This concludes the post-of-many-questions, the sequel. Again, I thank you. 8)

Soyala_Amaya
01-10-2012, 07:14 PM
Any apple juice fine? Pasteurize it first or just buy some pasteurized? And we'll definitely stabilize it first. Is it ok to use just Potassium Sorbate for that? I have that on hand.


Since your fermentation is done, then pick a high quality apple juice that's already pasteurized. Of course, one you enjoy the taste of! Another way to test the combination is to pull off a few ounces and then mix a little bit of your juice into that. Take frequent taste tests as you blend and see what percent you like it at.

As for the sorbate, basically, no. Sorbate alone can be eaten by nasties and create gerinols (sp?) which result in the world's nastiest geranium smell. Not pretty.



For one of the other gallons we want to use frozen apple juice concentrate. More or less than one can? Should we stabilize it? Bad idea to begin with?


Same taste testing notes as before. Concentrate usually takes less than juice because some of the water has been removed.



If we add fruit to them, should we use a bag of some sort and what would be the difference in the end result if we stabilize it vs if we just add it and go?


You can use a bag of some kind, I use a muslin one, it makes for less mess and less lees to take away volume. As for adding it without stabilization, it will dilute your mead a bit and could restart fermentation. Yeast are strange hardy beasties.



For the last gallon: how does an orange-ginger batch sound? 'Cause we're trying to decide between that and doing straight spices.


Sounds good to me. I did a lemon ginger that has been one of the best things I've created so far! I also always advocate spiced meads since commercially they're really hard to find. Lots of melomels and traditonals, but metheligyns don't translate well to the commercial market it seems.

Chevette Girl
01-11-2012, 01:16 AM
I guess Soyala answered just about everything, the only thing I'd add is regarding the apple juice, it's fine to use sorbate IF you also use sulphites. And if you use those, you don't need to pasteurize. And apples contain a lot of pectin, if you end up with a haze that won't go away, you might need some pectic enzyme, half a teaspoon per gallon usually does the trick just fine.

Oh, and if you want to use orange-ginger, use more zest, less juice unless it needs some acidic bite to it. And every time I've done anything other than finely chop or grate my ginger I've been disappointed in it, even thin slices haven't had as much flavour transfer for my batches. Take this with your grain of salt though, anecdotal only :)

You have a pretty potent must and though your yeast is likely at its tolerance, diluting it by adding fruit or juice might make it kick up again so you probably want to give it the sulphite/sorbate one-two-punch if you don't want the yeast to kick up again. Who knows, if you add a bunch of apple juice and it's too sweet, maybe you'll want it to ferment a bit before you try to stop it.

I second the use of fruit bags. Also spice bags (or just tie it in a bit of cheesecloth), grated ginger can be pretty fluffy. We're big on the concept of "learn from my fail" around here ;D

...ok, I guess I did have more than one thing to add :p