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Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Mead Forum > Backsweeten and Stabilization Q's
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Old 02-24-2013, 05:20 PM   #1
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Default Backsweeten and Stabilization Q's

Mazers:
Two returning home brewers with limited experience with wines - we "speak" in terms of beer.

Mead:
15# of wildflower (darker than I have seen before, complex taste) honey, one campden to get rid of chloramines, 5 gals water. Fed twice with Kferm during the ferment. No boil. Some tannin added, I think 1/4 tsp per 5 gallons offhand. I've never used that before but the guy at the LHBS nearly insisted that I needed it. Also used pectic enzyme, just in case.

Current Status:
My mead is in the secondary and is finished or damned close. It is below 1.000 and finished or nearly finished dropping. I also cooked up some sparkaloid and added that. It is dry but tasty, definitely "hot" and will need to age.

Goal:
I'd like to add some sweetness back into it, and set it aside to bulk age before bottling.

Sweetening?
I keep seeing 1.010 as a "common" number for sweetening. I realize this is incredibly subjective but the apparent experience of those using it, and their (again apparent) tastes seem to indicate this might be close to where I want it. I need to have a target, something other than "to taste" because my taste changes with the hour. If I have figured it correctly, I need 1.1# of sugar to get here.

Stabilizing?
One campden/gallon + 1/4tsp/gal Sorbate? I also have access to Potassium Benzoate and Potassium Salycilate (in like 100#+ of each, no that was not a typo) if either of those would be better.

Plans?
So plans are (please correct me if I am off) let it cold crash a couple weeks, rack and top off with sweetener and stabilizers, and forget it for a while at ~65F. Or am I way off?

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Old 02-24-2013, 06:15 PM   #2
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Forgot to include the yeast: Wyeast 4632 "Dry Mead". Why use this if I wanted something semi-sweet? Great question - I gots no answer.

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Old 02-24-2013, 06:34 PM   #3
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Well IMO so called "mead yeast" is complete bollocks. How the hell do the makers know what yeasts were originally used ? The vikings didn't really record stuff like that and I haven't heard of any recipes that mention yeast strains in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles.....

Anyway, cold crash isn't generally required. It's routine to add sulphites (often as 1 crushed campden tablet per gallon) and sorbate (my pack says a half teaspoon per gallon) once you've racked it off the gross lees. Then you should only normally add further finings every other racking.

I like to stabilise and then add my back sweetening to my desired level (usually 1.010 to 1.015) before clearing because back sweetening with honey can cause a protein haze and its a PITA to clear a batch twice. If the honey character recovers during aging then I just add a bit of acid (a mix of 2 parts malic to 1 part tartaric). I only add tannin if I think it needs "something" (sorry can't really explain that further).

Aging ? 6 months minimum usually longer.....

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Old 02-24-2013, 11:43 PM   #4
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Thanks for the reply John.

So you answered a question I did not have - back-sweetening with honey. If my 1.1-1.2# of sugar would give me 1.010 then I would guess 1.5-1.6# of honey.

I'm not clear on what you meant by the following:

Quote:
If the honey character recovers during aging
I would hope the honey comes through no matter what ... do you mean if it becomes "too much" then you balance with acid?

Any experience with the potassium benzoate? The comments I have read about a geranium character from the sorbate are putting me off.
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Old 02-25-2013, 12:44 AM   #5
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By the way; I found a great calculator to convert various measures:

http://www.calculator.org/property.a...ecific+gravity

It says that 1.010 (or +0.010), which is 10 g/l comes to 0.08345404265 lb/gal (US) or 0.4# for 5 gallons ... which is less than I thought it would be.

The Wiki article on Sweetness of Wine says as medium dry is up to 12 g/l and medium is up to 45 g/l. Given that I think I will target 20 g/l and add 0.83# of sugar which converts to ~1# honey.

My calculations seem right?

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Old 02-25-2013, 04:31 AM   #6
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The sweetness recovering with age thing ? You can finish a ferment get is all cleared etc and it will taste dry as a buzzards arse in a sand storm.

Yet you age it, and not only do "young" tastes like "alcohol hot" mellow but it can seem to recover a perception of sweetness as opposed to actual measurable sweetness. I was alluding to the possibility of having both when back sweetening.

It's one of the reasons I just back sweeten to 1.010 to maybe 1.015 so it doesn't become an over powering "cloying" sweetness to taste. If it did thats when I add a bit of acid and/or tannin, as a mask.

I back sweeten before clearing so if the honey does cause some protein hazing it generally drops out with the other fermented sediments.

And I don't use numbers to guide the sweetening, apart from a hydrometer. I mix honey and water 50/50 then add it in small increments. Tasting and measuring between each addition. Just that to my taste I find it usually ends up nice in the range mentioned above though I've had a few batches that have tasted good at 1.005 or so

It's not exact science and maths I known but I prefer to judge with my sense of taste/smell......

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Old 02-25-2013, 11:42 AM   #7
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Thanks again.

Part of it is my comfort level with the craft after such a long time off. Shooting for a number gives me some assurance I'm not completely off the reservation.

Since I added the sparkaloid in there a couple days ago, you think I could just stir that back up as I add the kmeta, kbenz and honey?

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