View Full Version : I need some post-fermentation, pre-bottling advice.

03-05-2006, 12:20 AM
I have two melomels that have just finished their secondary fermentations: five gallons of black cherry, five gallons of blueberry/orange/vanilla. When last I tested them, they both had excellent body, and fairly complex flavor profiles (well, "complex" for half-fermented products anyway) with a solid fruit character, but now that their fermentations have finished that flavor seems to have vanished.

The black cherry melomel has virtually NO cherry on the nose, none on the tongue, and is generally lacking body, and tastes very....raw. I understand that some age will do wonders for the "raw" flavor, but I am concerned about it's lack of body and cherry character. I used a bit of both black cherries, and black cherry juice in the primary, and more cherries in the secondary, hoping for a more complex and varied cherry flavors, but alas it seems that hasn't happened. I am considering adding some black cherry juice concentrate, and some more crushed fruit, but as I do not want an overly alcoholic product, I am concerned with fermentation restarting and raising the alcohol level. Can I/should I/will I get results if I stabalize, then add the aforementioned cherries and juice?

The blueberry/orange/vanilla has a similar problem; the flavor profile is nearly one-dimensional. Although the nose is FANTASTIC (best aroma I've EVER encountered in a fermented beverage, no contest), it is difficult to detect the blueberry flavor, and the vanilla is absolutely nonexistant (the orange level is just about right thouth, so hey). I used a vanilla bean, orange zest, and both blueberry juice and whole fruits in the primary, and more blueberries in the secondary, as abve, shooting for more complex flavors. Unfortunately with this batch, sulfiting, then adding more flavor-adders isn't an option; I have intended this to be a sparkling mead from day one. So, what to do? Toss in more blueberries and wait? Also, I do not currently have access to a vanilla bean; is organic vanilla extract OK to use? Will there be a difference in the final flavor? While I care about the black cherry, THIS is the mead I really want to succeed. Being a newbie, any advice at all would be most welcome.

Oh, also, about sulfiting; I've googled, and searched the forums here, but I'm finding very mixed results. Is there a "proper" ammount of stablizing agents to use pre-bulk-aging and/or pre-bottling?

Thanks again.


03-05-2006, 02:48 PM

It sounds to me like these are just young. Give them two or three years, and you'll find those delicate flavors returning, and new levels of complexity appearing. It's difficult sometimes for even experienced people to anticipate what a finely aged mead will become, so it's not surprising for you assume there's something wrong or grossly lacking here, but I think you should leave them to sit for a while and then visit them again. You'll be simply amazed.


03-06-2006, 03:54 PM
I agree with Lost - Depending on the yeast used and the temp during ferment, mead is often harsh just at the end of fermentation. Flavors are masked or hidden by the harshness and esters. Age will help mellow that out and bring the fruit flavors back to the front.

Dunno about his time-frame of 2 to 3 years; it really depends on the yeast used. With Lalvin 71B-1122, I've had harsh melomels mellow out nicely after 6 months to a year.

Sulfiting - Try to use as little as possible. Potassium Metabisulphite powder - 1/4 tsp adds about 50ppm to 5 gallons of must. This is more than enough to kill just about anything. Only in extreme cases do you need to exceed that level. This level will also affect residual yeast - if you want to make it a sparkling mead you may need to cut it down by half to none if you can get away with it, and give it some rest time before bottling (a week to 2 weeks).