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Old 02-07-2011, 12:05 PM   #1
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Default melomel question

Hey folks, I've got 8 gallons of melomel in fermenters as of last night and they're fermenting happily now. Recipe so far:

24lb local honey
8lb frozen mixed berries (costco)
6 packs red star champagne yeast

Starting gravity: Approx 1.11

The idea is to ferment dry, stabilize, add more fruit and honey to sweeten and flavor. Now I'm thinking that if I wait until AFTER I stabilize I may not get as much fruit goodness. It'd be more like mixing fruit juice with the mead instead of allowing them to really meld together. Going by approx 2lb fruit per finished gallon and we want to end up with 10% abv so about 11.5 gallons, and that these berries come in 4 lb bags we figured on 24 lb fruit.

We steeped about 1lb of fruit in the kettle and put approx 3 1/2 lb into each of two fermenters. Drained the kettle on top of that, added water to get approx 4 gallons liquid per fermenter not including the fruit floating at the top.

If I add 16lb of fruit AFTER fermentation is complete and we've stabilized, with the flavors meld well? Would be incredibly overpowering? I know it is to taste, but in general, we want an easy to drink semi sweet to sweet taste, and to know that there's fruit in it when we drink it. We don't want all the yumminess of the fruit to be scrubbed off by co2.

Should we add half the fruit toward the end of primary and the rest after stabilizing?

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Old 02-07-2011, 08:40 PM   #2
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3 pound of fruit per gallon (32 pound in 11 gallons) is not anywhere near overpowering, though the raspberry in that mix makes it a little "tutti-fruiti" for my tastes.

I'd probably add 12 pounds toward the end of primary and add the rest to secondary after stabilizing. That way you get the complexity with fermented fruit, will maintaining a fresh fruit character that will be strong. With 24 pounds, you'll be adding close to 2 gallons of liquid so you'll be around 10 gallons once you rack off the solids.

That should be good.

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Old 02-07-2011, 09:15 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by MedsenFey View Post
3 pound of fruit per gallon (32 pound in 11 gallons) is not anywhere near overpowering, though the raspberry in that mix makes it a little "tutti-fruiti" for my tastes.

I'd probably add 12 pounds toward the end of primary and add the rest to secondary after stabilizing. That way you get the complexity with fermented fruit, will maintaining a fresh fruit character that will be strong. With 24 pounds, you'll be adding close to 2 gallons of liquid so you'll be around 10 gallons once you rack off the solids.

That should be good.
Thanks, confirmation is always good. We're also going to be diluting it down to about 10%, which according to gotmead's calculator is about 17.06 gallons if I go by 24lb honey and 24lb fruit (even though it doesn't know what to call marionberries - I just called it blueberries and raspberries 10lb each). I realize now that amount of fruit in 17.06 gallons is not much at all. Plus it'll be diluted a bit due to fruit as you mentioned. In this case should I add more after stabilizing than at the end of secondary? The fruit is already a big expense and I'd rather not buy more. just get the most out of what I have left.
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Old 02-07-2011, 10:42 PM   #4
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My only comment: good luck halting fermentation at 10% ABV using champagne yeast and 3lbs of honey / gallon.

Not saying its impossible, but sulfite and sorbate doesn't guarantee a 'stopped fermentation'.

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Old 02-08-2011, 03:48 AM   #5
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My only comment: good luck halting fermentation at 10% ABV using champagne yeast and 3lbs of honey / gallon.

Not saying its impossible, but sulfite and sorbate doesn't guarantee a 'stopped fermentation'.
Sorry I didn't word this better. Once fermentation is complete we'll stabilize, dilute to 10 percent, and backsweeten.
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Old 02-08-2011, 01:10 PM   #6
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I think what Malkore is suggesting is just don't be shocked if the stabilization fails to keep the yeast suppressed. This is a case where measuring the pH and free SO2 to make sure you have a molecular SO2 of at least 0.8 would be useful. With a low level of alcohol, not having enough sulfite and sorbate (at least 200 ppm) may allow the yeast to crank up again.

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Old 02-08-2011, 01:17 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by MedsenFey View Post
I think what Malkore is suggesting is just don't be shocked if the stabilization fails to keep the yeast suppressed. This is a case where measuring the pH and free SO2 to make sure you have a molecular SO2 of at least 0.8 would be useful. With a low level of alcohol, not having enough sulfite and sorbate (at least 200 ppm) may allow the yeast to crank up again.
So would it be better to dilute THEN stabilize or stabilize and then dilute? It seems like it would make sense to dilute then stabilize though I'm also not familiar with pH testing so I could be missing something there.

I can wait until primary fermentation is almost done, rack on top of more fruit for flavor and character while adding water to dilute. Then when that's done rack again onto sorbate then add more honey and fruit for backsweetening and flavor and aroma of the fruit.

Would this not work for some reason?
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Old 02-08-2011, 02:09 PM   #8
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That is also a LOT of yeast. I would cut back to no more than 2 packets per fermenter of 4-6 gal size. I also would think about adding some yeast nutrient and energizer. Just a tablespoon each for the whole batch would be enough.

You may end up with something very tart before you sweeten it up.

Good luck.

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Old 02-08-2011, 02:16 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Matrix4b View Post
That is also a LOT of yeast. I would cut back to no more than 2 packets per fermenter of 4-6 gal size. I also would think about adding some yeast nutrient and energizer. Just a tablespoon each for the whole batch would be enough.

You may end up with something very tart before you sweeten it up.

Good luck.
Yeah I used mr malty's pitching calculator ( I know its for beer but it was the closest thing I had to figure out how much yeast to use) and I do realize it's a lot of yeast. The fruit should take care of the nutrients, at least it has in the last several meads we've made that turned out great. I expect it will taste tart and and strong and tough to drink at least not to my taste before backsweetening. It was 1.1 to start so should go up just a couple of points when adding more fruit. It'll probably end up in three fermenters as that comes out to about 12 gallons of 10%, then with stabilizing and backsweetening it should end up pretty tasty! And we'll have a lot of it
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Old 02-08-2011, 06:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
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So would it be better to dilute THEN stabilize or stabilize and then dilute? It seems like it would make sense to dilute then stabilize though I'm also not familiar with pH testing so I could be missing something there.
It isn't going to make much difference which way you do it. In the end, you get a lower-ABV, batch with residual sugar and Champagne yeast. If the sulfite and sorbate are not high enough, the yeast may start fermenting again. So whatever you do, let this sit at room temp under airlock for a good while before you bottle it up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nikobrew View Post
I can wait until primary fermentation is almost done, rack on top of more fruit for flavor and character while adding water to dilute.
Keep in mind that the fruit you are adding is diluting your ABV as well.

You started with a gravity of 1.110 and had 8 pounds of fruit. The juice released from the fruit has a gravity probably around 1.035 so your effective starting gravity was probably closer to 1.105 (14% potential ABV).

I think I misunderstood previously and thought you wanted to add another 24 pounds, but reading your post again, I'm understanding that you want to add another 16 pounds. If so, I'd probably split it in half and do 8 at the end of primary and 8 in secondary.

8 pounds of fruit will give you close to 0.6 gallon of juice which will have a gravity of around 1.035 (potential alcohol of around 4.6%), so when fermented that will drop your ABV from around 14% (what you get starting at 1.105) down to about 13.3% after the 8 pounds of fruit is fermented. Then if you add another 8 pounds of fruit without fermenting any of the sugar (assuming the stabilization works) you'll be adding 0.6 gallon of liquid with 0% ABV and that will drop the ABV down to about 12.4%. If you then add some honey, you will drop it down even further probably below 12%.

My point to this digression is that you may need very little water added - less than 2 gallons to have the ABV at 10% (if you want it that low - 12% sounds pretty good to me). So consider that carefully before you add a lot of water as you won't be able to easily remove it.

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