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Old 09-07-2011, 06:42 PM   #1
ChickenDelicious
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Default Whoa... that was FAST! (Question from a first-timer)

Hi everyone,

The Question: is the fact that my mead cleared really, really quickly a sign that something has gone wrong?

The Details:
I decided to have a go at making mead after reading Papazian's prickly pear recipe (I've been doing beer for a couple years). I followed that recipe almost exactly, with a few minor exceptions: I think I only had about 3.5 -4 lbs. of prickly pear fruit (vs. the 5-6 he recommends), and I used about 17 or 18 lbs of honey (vs. 20 lbs. in the recipe).

Fermentation started just fine in the primary, with an O.G. of 1.12. After three weeks, the SG seemed stable at about 1.03, so I racked to the secondary. I settled in and waited for the mead to clear, which according to Papazian could take anywhere from a few months to a couple years.

BAM. One week and a few days later, I can see right through the mead. There's some sediment at the bottom, and a tiny bit floating on top, but otherwise it's crystal, and a deep red/gold color.

So... did something go wrong? Is it normal for this mead to clear this quickly? Any advice is appreciated.

P.S. I've been lurking on these forums for a while, and I just gotta say that it's great to see such a friendly, helpful community.

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Old 09-07-2011, 06:59 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChickenDelicious View Post
Hi everyone,

The Question: is the fact that my mead cleared really, really quickly a sign that something has gone wrong?

The Details:
I decided to have a go at making mead after reading Papazian's prickly pear recipe (I've been doing beer for a couple years). I followed that recipe almost exactly, with a few minor exceptions: I think I only had about 3.5 -4 lbs. of prickly pear fruit (vs. the 5-6 he recommends), and I used about 17 or 18 lbs of honey (vs. 20 lbs. in the recipe).

Fermentation started just fine in the primary, with an O.G. of 1.12. After three weeks, the SG seemed stable at about 1.03, so I racked to the secondary. I settled in and waited for the mead to clear, which according to Papazian could take anywhere from a few months to a couple years.

BAM. One week and a few days later, I can see right through the mead. There's some sediment at the bottom, and a tiny bit floating on top, but otherwise it's crystal, and a deep red/gold color.

So... did something go wrong? Is it normal for this mead to clear this quickly? Any advice is appreciated.

P.S. I've been lurking on these forums for a while, and I just gotta say that it's great to see such a friendly, helpful community.
Well, you'd need to post the exact list of ingredients and method for a "proper" diagnosis.

Now say that the SG was 1.120 (it's normally expressed with 3 decimal points) and it was steady at 1.030 ? Well that's still pretty sweet as the gravity difference is 90 points which converts to about 12.2 % ABV - which isn't bad as it's well within the levels of "normal" wines.

It would depend on what the yeast you used, as to whether it's likely to be considered "stuck" as opposed to finished.

The 1.030 reading ? How long and how many tests gave you the conclusion of "stable" ?

Did Charlie P's recipe/method say anything about the numbers he got with his version ?

If you made the same volume but with less honey and less fruit, then again, it depends on the yeast.

If, for example, you used something "typical", a lot of them will go to 14% ABV, which would have equated to about 104/105 gravity point drop, which would still allow for some residual sugars leaving some sweetness I'm thinking of "medium" sweet area (going by the numbers there, not the possible taste).

Perhaps, not knowing of what prickly pear is like, it might be that it tastes acceptable, so it can be stabilised, racked and bottled. But, given the numbers you've quoted, I'm thinking stuck ferment, which mean bottling shouldn't be contemplated yet, as there's too much available sugar still in there and it's entirely feasible that you'd be making some lovely bottle bombs.

Hence it depends on what you want to do next.....
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Old 09-07-2011, 07:20 PM   #3
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As far as clearing goes, the nutrients in the fruit can cause the fast clearing. Whenever I do a batch with black berries or raspberries they drop clear within a week of reaching .997. I've been told this was the enzymes/nutrients in the fruit that caused them to clear fast. Also, last year I did a batch of prickly pear following Papazian's recipe and it cleared after only a couple of months.

Fatbloke it right. There maybe a stuck fermentation if your readings are right. If it taste good though you may just consider stabilizing and letting it bulk age for 6 months to a year. Even though it's clear it still is best to bulk age. You'll get a better taste and more consistant results.

Welcome to the site.

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Old 09-07-2011, 07:57 PM   #4
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Thanks for the responses! Here's some more information:

Ingredients were:
Approx. 17.5 lbs. honey
Approx. 3.5 lbs. prickly pear fruit, chopped, boiled, and strained (which sets the pectin, but is necessary for this kind of fruit)
1/4 tsp. yeast nutrient
1 tbl. pectin enzyme
2 packets Red Star dried and rehydrated champagne yeast

The O.G. turned out to be slightly lower than predicted by the recipe (perhaps because I had slightly less honey and fruit), but the and S.G. was right within the predicted range (1.025-1.050). I tested it three times over about a week and a half, and it didn't change from that, so I racked it.

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