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Old 09-06-2012, 11:27 PM   #1
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So my mead is pretty much done, I suppose. Its pretty sweet (1.031) but palatable. I would like it a little dryer (say 1.02), but its already at 14% ABV and I am afraid that if I dry it out too much by accident, it will be undrinkable. How should I stabilize my mead? I do have potassium sorbate and campden tabs, but I'd rather not use them. I do have room in my kegerator; can I cold stabilize it at 40*F?

Also, if any of you have any fantastic ideas about how I can get my mead down to 1.02(ish) and keep it there, I'd love to hear them. I already tried pitching EC-1118, but there was too much alcohol in the mead and the yeast did not propagate. I didn't make a starter, and I suppose I could, but I am afraid of drying the mead out completely (as previously stated)...



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Old 09-06-2012, 11:34 PM   #2
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EC-1118 can go to 18% or so in a happy environment, but starting it now probably won't work (as you may have found). Often, if you start with a lower OG and use yeast nutrients and incremental feeding, you can push it up to 18% or so. Even if you make a starter, and add some of the mead to the starter little by little to acclimate it, it won't go "too dry"- it just can't.

It sounds like you've got a dessert mead on your hands here, so I'd let it sit for a while to see if it is going to go any lower. If not, you can stabilize and bottle when clear. If it's too sweet, you can try the EC1118 with a starter to see if you can get it to drop another 10-15 points or so.



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Old 09-06-2012, 11:48 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper
EC-1118 can go to 18% or so in a happy environment, but starting it now probably won't work (as you may have found). Often, if you start with a lower OG and use yeast nutrients and incremental feeding, you can push it up to 18% or so. Even if you make a starter, and add some of the mead to the starter little by little to acclimate it, it won't go "too dry"- it just can't.

It sounds like you've got a dessert mead on your hands here, so I'd let it sit for a while to see if it is going to go any lower. If not, you can stabilize and bottle when clear. If it's too sweet, you can try the EC1118 with a starter to see if you can get it to drop another 10-15 points or so.
Yes, it is definitely a dessert mead. Its tasty, but its really friggin' sweet. That is an interesting point about the acclimation of the yeast (that it wont ferment completely dry), Yooper, and I didn't think about it. I think I'll make a starter with the EC-1118 and try to get it down to 1.015 or 1.02. How big of a starter should I make? The mead has cleared and it hasn't dropped any gravity points in months, so I think its time to take some action; the mead doesn't seem like its gonna ferment any more on its own.
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Old 09-06-2012, 11:59 PM   #4
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Also, when it comes time to "stabilize" the wine, how should I do it? I have heard mixed opinions about cold stabilization and if this works to kill of the yeast (especially a yeast like EC-1118 ). I do have campden tabs and potassium sorbate, but I am hesitant to use these because I have heard that they can ruin a wine's color.

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Old 09-07-2012, 12:02 AM   #5
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Another option would be to make a dry mead then back blend in a ratio to your liking. Of course, that requires waiting for another batch.

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Old 09-07-2012, 01:08 AM   #6
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You won't have to stabilize this mead- it'll conk out way before it's dry.

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Old 09-07-2012, 01:46 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper
You won't have to stabilize this mead- it'll conk out way before it's dry.
That's what I like to hear. Since this is my first mead, how do I know when its completely "conked-out" and I can bottle it with no worry? Also, if I'm going to make a starter for the EC-1118, should it be a 16 oz starter, or should I go bigger, like a quart starter?
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Old 09-07-2012, 12:17 PM   #8
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If it has already been sitting clear for months then whatever yeast you have already used has "conked out". Another potential option instead of trying to pitch more of the 1118 monster and hope it drops it to 1.02 and decides to stop instead of to .998 then waiting for it to clear again etc. etc. is to experiment with balancing the flavors.

Even a dessert mead can be made non nauseating with some tannens, acid blend, or capsicum balancing.

Experiment with small (like 6oz) samples with the acid blend, adding small amounts of acid blend until it is the way you like it then do a little math to add the appropriate amount to the big batch.

Then there is the oak/tea options, aging on some oak cubes can not only enhance the flavor of many meads, even a sweet one can become amazing with the flavors and smokiness taosted oak can impart, using a tea you like is also a great way to add flavor and both options will add tannens that help mellow everything and well as balance sweetness some. There is also tannen powder available on the market if you're looking for a simpler route.

Finally you can go the sweet heat option. adding some spicy peppers of your choice, letting them soak awhile and taste testing your mead until the desired level of heat is reached then pulling the peppers out.

I'm not saying you shouldn't throw some more yeast in there, and try to scare the gravity down a little bit, just IMO it becomes a cat and mouse game, because like you I try not to use any chemical stabilization/finings. So if the repitch takes off by some chance, remember yeast has a mind of it's own and is only mostly predictable, and you drop below 1.00 and don't like it dry you have to try to bring it back with backsweetening and then you are pretty much forced to stabilize and then there is the whole waiting and reclearing and racking a few more times and oxidation potential and, and, and.......


Or, you could just make mead cocktails like I do with JAOM which is way to sweet straight for me but in a tall glass with lots of ice and a shot of gingerale is really nice.

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Old 09-07-2012, 12:24 PM   #9
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If it's already at 14%, though, it just will not go to much lower- maybe to 16-18% or so- so I wouldn't worry about it getting below 1.000 or even 1.020, as it just can't happen.

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Old 09-07-2012, 12:51 PM   #10
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a 2-4% change in abv is potentially a .015-.035 change in gravity ..... last time I thought something just couldn't happen, like there was no possible damn way it could occur, well false sense of security went out the window when it did happen....not saying it will, not even suggesting it is likely, just saying it's possible.



(That occurence was an early batch of mead using the fickle wyeast, yeah I was uneducated and didnt know better, sweet mead smack pack...finished sweet alright, so I freaked, googled for help, took first suggestion, rehydrated a pack of 1118, pitched it, ducked the geyser, capped with a blowoff tube and let her rip...the bottles that are left have a nice pucker factor to their dryness. Very drinkable as I like dry wine, I'm also contemplating trying it in a chicken marsala and a couple pasta recipes)



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