Originally Posted by w8indq
Hi, ive been reading through what problems people have had with batches so heres my story hopefully you can help me out. Im from new zealand so units will be metric etc.
4.5 kg of manuka honey (very dark native honey)
13.5l of nz spring water
50ml of vanilla extract
2 cinnamon sticks
wine yeast (good brand just cant remember make)
Ok, but I notice no mention of yeast nutrients of any kind.....
Done all the normal things to start the must etc and fermented at 23 degrees ceciius, starting sg of 1.085 fermentation took a while amd finished at 1.002 from memory have rackd a few times now and its a beautiful golden colour and clear as, bu im not sure if its tasting right a mouthful and all you get is an intense alchol taste and very sweet but the aftertaste is a nice honey and vanilla but i have nothing to compare it to, is this right for a mead i started making 4months ago?
Does it just need time to age or should i check ph etc? Any help or advice would be great,
Well, if you didn't use nutrient, then it's good to have reached 1.002
You've racked it, it's gone clear (presumably to the definition of clear being "that you can read a newspaper through it). Which is also good.
Now you mention a few taste issues....... Not knowing what the yeast was, there's a few yeasts that "have issues" i.e. D47, while a good yeast for traditionals, is known to produce fusels if fermented at over 70F/21C (with honey musts - I don't know about using it for grape musts), which might be the intense alcohol taste you allude too. Or 71B also is good for traditionals (and some other melomels - it metabolises something like 1/3 of any malic acid that might come from the fruit - depends on the fruit).
Notwithstanding the points above, it's more likely that you're describing the "alcohol hot" flavour that you can often get with new/young batches. Presuming this is what we're alluding to, then it's not an issue as it mellows with age usually, though of course, how long it takes varies from batch to batch etc.
Generally, young meads aren't particularly good, but when you age them the transformation is amazing - it's almost like you're tasting something completely different.
There are a couple of things you can do to mask any "young" flavours. Back sweetening is the main one as that gives you a more sweet flavour that covers some of the alcohol hot, yet it may be that you need some acid, or tannin to give it some bite, so you don't feel that you're tasting watered down honey. Of course, it's usual to do these additions both "too taste", but also after it's aged for a while.
I find that if I'm back sweetening with honey, it's easiest to do that to a chosen level, once the ferment has finished and it's been stabilised with sulphite and sorbate (which prevent any refermentation that could result from the addition of more fermentable sugars, especially if there's still some alcohol tolerance left in the yeast - and yes, even if the batch is completely clear, there will be some yeast cells still present, unless you've run it through a "sterile" filter of some sort). Back sweetening with honey can cause a haze in a clear mead (protein I believe), hence I like to back sweeten to the level of sweetness I usually like i.e. 1.010 to 1.015 and I do that before clearing, as it's a pain to have to clear it a second time.
Acid additions ? Well I like to use the mix suggested by Ashton & Duncan in their now, out of print, "Making Mead" book (you can usually find a copy cheap on Amazon markets). It's a mix of 2 parts malic to 1 part tartaric (I don't like to use citric in most meads, unless they had some citrus fruit in them, as it can make them taste too "lemony"). I add it half a teaspoon at a time, gently mix/stir it in, then taste.
Tannin ? I just use grape tannin powder from the home brew shop. I take a little of the must in a sanitised jar, then add half a tsp of the powder, put the lid on and shake the hell out of it (grape tannin is very fine, "sticky" powder that can make sticky lumps easily, so I mix it like this to try and avoid that). Then add it in, stir and taste a little. With tannin addition like this, I've found that after 24 hours or so, you can often get another sediment dropping out. Which is fine as you just leave it for a couple of days, maybe a week and then taste, and rack it off.
Even after describing all that lot for you, I'd still suggest that you just bottle the cleared mead and leave it for a minimum of 6 months. You can bottle it in small bottles i.e. beer bottles if you can find corks/stoppers for them, or even get a capper and crown caps and use those. It makes it easier to taste a bottle periodically to see how it's getting on.
That way, you can follow how it's progressing while you set too, with your next batch.
Luckily for you, being in NZ, the manuka honey is gonna be a hell of a lot cheaper than it is here..........