Originally Posted by Driftless
...Anyone have a strong argument against adding honey in mid-ferment? It kicks the activity up again... is this bad? Is it best to wait till the end, smack the yeast down, then sweeten to taste?
Quite the opposite. My standard mead-making practice is to formulate a recipe, and allow the must to ferment until the yeast has exhausted its ability to continue further.
I never attempt to forcibly stop the yeast - too many bad things can result from that practice as I learned from Dr. Clayton Cone a few years ago.
Only then do I make a decision whether, or not, to backsweeten. When I do add more honey, it is never pasteurized or sanitized in any way. Typically, I warm the honey to ~115°F to improve its being dissolved into the existing must. I have never had any infection using this method, but I do get consistent backsweetening results because I calculate how much honey I need to get to the SG I find suits my taste (keep brew records) and add that amount in one step.
You may not have what you believe is an infection. Form what I understand once an infection takes hold, the mead's taste is altered.
In my experience, visually the surface of some mead musts look nasty. Presently, my Barbera pyment (in the secondary) is slowly fermenting (~4 points/wk). The must has a white-ish flim with various sized bubbles scattered over its surface. Yet, I am not concerned. My weekly 2ml SG samples have a wonderfull aroma and taste.
I don't know if you really have an infection, but from your post I see nothing that points a finger at something that might have been a reason for one. However, here are a couple of factors (besides unsanitary practices) that might allow an infection to develop:
- Must abv below 10%
- Must pH above 4.0
- Late (and excessive) nutrient additions