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Old 02-10-2010, 03:51 PM   #1
WheresOurFish
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Default Sorbate/Sulfite question

I've been reading that you should wait 24 hours after adding sorbate/sulfite before you back-sweeten, to allow for maximum yeast suppression. The question I have is whether waiting longer is counterproductive. Will the desired effects deteriorate over time? Or, could you bulk age after racking onto the additives, then, three months later, decide you want to back-sweeten after getting a better handle on how the flavor/characteristics have aged?

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Old 02-11-2010, 12:01 AM   #2
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Yes. You could even bottle and decided to sweeten the day you open the bottle. I think the 24 hour rule is a minimum, not a maximum.

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Old 02-11-2010, 12:51 AM   #4
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Thanks CWP and Yooper. I fully expected that to be the case, but I didn't want to inadvertantly ruin several months worth of effort just because I wasn't willing to ask a simple question. I'd prefer not to make every possible mistake while I'm learning this art. If I can keep to just the ones I've already made, I'll consider myself particularly lucky. I'm not very optimistic about that, but a guy can dream . . .

Thanks again!

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Old 02-11-2010, 01:41 AM   #5
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If the mead has completed fermentation and is clear, you don't even have to wait 24 hours. You can sweeten right away.

However, even though the sorbate hangs around, the sulfite will dissipate over time and you may need to dose it again later before you sweeten if it is going to be several months (and a racking or two) later.

The question I have is why would you want to wait for several months to sweeten it? Once you add more honey, you'll need to age it for weeks to months to allow the sediment/haze to clear after the honey addition. In addition, you'll want to give it time for the flavor of the honey to integrate in so it doesn't have so much unfermented honey character (unless that's what you're aiming for). To me, the time spent bulk aging serves better with the additional honey added.

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Old 02-11-2010, 02:21 AM   #6
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Thanks for the response, Medsen. I guess the big issue is that since I'm still new to mead making, I'm not sure how the profile of this batch is going to finish out. Initially, the batch I'm referring to has had some bitterness in the finish that I'm not especially excited about. I do expect that it will diminish, since it has already started to do so, even just over the last week, but I don't know for certain whether leaving it as is will leave me with something I find palatable. My initial idea with this mead was to let it ferment dry, then sweeten it until it got to where I liked it. I usually prefer sweet to dry, but, bitterness aside, I'm kind of liking the way this batch is headed, even though it's very dry. (The FG was .994, and stable). However, if the bitterness doesn't fully age out, and I have to add some sweetness to mask it, I will if I have to. I added sorbate/sulfite when I racked it to secondary, (since I was initially going to sweeten it), but didn't know if I'd have to do it again later if I'm eventually convinced that I need to add more honey. Since I like to be prepared ahead of time to reduce the possibility of having to make a hasty, ill-formed decision at the last minute, I wanted to know my options while I have time to make contingency plans.

Yeah, I know, I should probably just go have a beer and chill out . . .

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Old 02-11-2010, 04:26 AM   #7
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Medsen - why would you wait to back sweeten? Because I forgot I was in the mead forum and thought I was in wine... haha!

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Old 02-11-2010, 05:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CandleWineProject View Post
Medsen - why would you wait to back sweeten? Because I forgot I was in the mead forum and thought I was in wine... haha!
Grooaaan....

Actually, waiting for a mead to declare itself is a good idea before deciding to sweeten it. When all the yeast have settled and cleared, you get a much better picture of how it is going to turn out. I just don't usually add sorbate until I'm sure I'm going to sweeten. In your case, I'd plan to give it another dose of sulfite before the sweetening.

The most effective way to manage the sulfite is to measure the free SO2 and adjust it according to the pH of the mead. You'd be surprised how much SO2 gets bound by honey when you sweeten. In my less-than-ideal storage conditions I've found the best way to prevent refermentation is to measure and increase the sulfite after the sweetening so that the binding is taken into account.

Medsen
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