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Old 12-14-2010, 11:14 PM   #1
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Default Conflicting info, noob needs advice on strawberry melomel

My friends and I made a strawberry melomel on Friday. We have no idea what we were doing so we "wing-ed" it based of a batch of simple mead we made last spring.

Mistake 1, the recipe last spring did not have any SG readings taken and we used 5# honey/gallon. We did that again. We used 24# Honey, ~5# Strawberries, topped off to ~5.5 gals and had an OG of 1.168ish

Added a standard dose of Fermax and Pectic Enzyme for a 5 gal. batch and pitched EC-1118 (told you we didn't know what we were doing )

So now we have a high gravity strawberry melomel burping away at 60*F ambient. I've been rocking/swirling the carboy 3-4 times a day to submerge the fruit and degas some CO2.

My question, when do I rack off the fruit? Some people say when the fruit turns white (which it almost is) and some say to wait until the primary is done.

Please help me shepard this disaster through to something that can be drinkable!

Any and all advice/criticism welcome!

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Old 12-15-2010, 12:38 AM   #2
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My question, when do I rack off the fruit? Some people say when the fruit turns white (which it almost is) and some say to wait until the primary is done.
I have found 7 days on fruit works good for me. That just happens to be my primary time though Most people can just rack after 7 days, or put the fruit in a fruit bag and soak it in the primary for that time. Nothing good can happen by continuing to break that much pectin down.
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Old 12-15-2010, 01:58 AM   #3
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I have found 7 days on fruit works good for me. That just happens to be my primary time though Most people can just rack after 7 days, or put the fruit in a fruit bag and soak it in the primary for that time. Nothing good can happen by continuing to break that much pectin down.
So do you stabilize or arrest fermentation at that point, or is that just how this style (berry melomel ) or type of recipe happens to work out for you?
With this gravity I'm more than a little worried, I expect primary fermentation to take much longer than 7 days, no? Can racking during active fermentation cause it to stall?

Ah, maybe I'll spend more time with search and stickies

Thanks for the input, I think you're right, the strawberries have given just about all they can at this point, and I would like to get it off them soon.
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Old 12-15-2010, 04:37 PM   #4
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While it is possible for racking to stall some meads (particularly those that are already struggling, or near the end), it is unlikely to happen with EC-1118. Having started at a very high gravity, it is very possible that the yeast will poop out a bit early, but that may actually make your batch drinkable sooner by keeping the alcohol a little lower.

Once you rack, you can let it ferment to completion.

What you are likely to find is that 5 pound of strawberry isn't nearly enough, so be prepared to add more once fermentation is finished to give you more strawberry flavor.

Medsen

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Old 12-15-2010, 06:29 PM   #5
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Thanks Medsen.

How many pounds for the secondary, 10? 15?

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Old 12-17-2010, 08:30 PM   #6
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It depends on how strong you want the flavor. You can add it in stage, 5 pounds at a time until it gets where you want it. 10-15 pounds should make it quite bold.

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Old 03-24-2011, 03:48 AM   #7
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So this has been going for awhile now.

I racked it after a week or so when the fruit was blanched, and then again 6 weeks after that to move it off the lees. That was about 6 weeks ago. At the second racking the SG had dropped to about 1.090ish. I had read the sticky on yeast nutrients additions, so in addition to a dose of DAP in the beginning, I also added some at this point. I didn't have the time or money to chase down the specific nutrient suggested in the sticky, so I was hopping the DAP would at least help.
Ambient temps have been right around 60*F
Now the gravity is right around 1.058, so about 14.4% abv. We used Lalvin EC-1118 which should be able to get to about 18%, and that would leave an FG of about 1.040ish right?

Pretty (very ) sweet and a lot of body yes? The most recent hydro sample tasted that way. It was pretty sweet and thick, but not too hot thanks to all the remaining fermentables. Not much strawberry though. A slight blush to the gold color of the mead, which is kind of cool.

It has started clearing on its own, just starting at the top there is about a 1/4" of crystal clear melomel.

My thoughts were to let it clear on its own then rack it onto 3-5 lbs. of chopped up strawberries in a nylon bag. the leave it for a month wrack again and bulk age as needed.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can encourage these yeasties to keep chugging along all the way through 18% can I get them to 20%? I'm not worried about alcohol content so much as drying it out. Anything I can do?

Also, I know more strawberries wont help the FG any, but how many pounds can I get in there before it's just too sweet, or is it already? I would like to get more strawberry in there if possible but...

Should I be using Campden Tablets to inhibit other bugs or will it knock down the yeast too?

Any and all help, advice or suggestions welcome

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Old 03-24-2011, 05:24 PM   #8
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This is the problem I mentioned due to starting at such a high gravity. It causes the yeast to poop out early.

If you add more strawberries you will perk up the flavor, and you will add acidity to balance the sugar. What's more, you will dilute the ABV and the sugar so that it may ferment more and bring the gravity down to a level where it isn't cloying.

If that doesn't get the yeast going again, using UvaFerm 43 and creating an acclimated starter may work.

If all that fails, make a gallon (or 2) of very strong, and dry mead and blend in in.

I hope that helps.

Medsen

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Old 03-24-2011, 08:36 PM   #9
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Thanks Medsen,

The yeast are still going, but I don't know how much more they can handle. That's why I was wondering what could get them through to the finish.

Do you have any suggestions regarding Campden or K meta additions?

Thanks again for the help, maybe I'll add more strawberries sooner then I had planned.

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Old 03-24-2011, 08:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Do you have any suggestions regarding Campden or K meta additions?

Thanks again for the help, maybe I'll add more strawberries sooner then I had planned.
Adding more strawberries sooner sounds like the way I'd handle it.

1 Campden tablet per gallon (or the equivalent) after fermentation is complete would be where I'd start.
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