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Old 11-04-2012, 01:47 PM   #1
Oct 2010
Madison, Alabama
Posts: 419
Liked 51 Times on 41 Posts

I've been an all-grain beer brewer for a couple years. I had the opportunity to pick about 13 pounds of wild blackberries over the summer. I decided I would finally give mead a try. I was targeting a Big Semi Sweet, to Sweet.

Here is the rundown of what I have done so far.

20# Clover honey
4.5g each of Fermaid K, DAP, K2CO3
2 Gallons DI water
1.5 Gallons of filtered tap water
1.5 L/min of O2 for 4 minutes
Pitched Wyeast 4184 Sweet Mead yeast.

That resulted in about 5.5 gallons of must at 38 brix. No heat, No SO4.

+48 Hours
32 Brix
added 2.8g Fermaid K, and DAP
Another 4 mins of O2

+24 Hours
pH was 3.25
Added 1.5g K2CO3

+12 Hours
30 Brix
pH was 3.3
Added 1.5g K2CO3
1.8g Fermaid K, DAP

+12 Hours
Fermentation had begun to shown signs of slowing down. I put the 13 pounds of frozen blackberries into a large pot and brought them up to about 120 or 130 degrees while I smashed them up best I could. After allowing them to cool, I added to the fermentation bucket. The blackberry juice was about 10 brix.

That's where things started to go south! It started foaming like crazy after about 8 hours or so. I transferred about 1/2 the mead into a carboy to give more space in the bucket with all the fruit.

+48 hours
about 21 brix in each container.
Ph of 3.3 on both
Added 2g K2CO3 to each one

+11 Days
pH of both is about 3.6
13 brix
Fermentation is slowed to a crawl
Transferred both into a 3rd single carboy leaving as much sediment and fruit as I could. Topped up to the curve of the neck with boiled and cooled DI water. Pulled a vacuum to degas as much as possible and purged the headspace with CO2.

That was 2 weeks ago. I am still seeing small bubbles in the mead, so there is still some fermentation going on.

Now that I've given you every possible detail of what I've done this far, here is my question:

There is a layer of sediment about 3 or 4 inches thick on the bottom of the carboy. I feel like I need to rack off this sediment but that would lose an awful lot of volume. I don't have any simple mead available to top up with, so I would either have to use water, honey water, or marbles.

Should I wait longer and allow the sediment to compact some, or go ahead and rack and top up? Is it possible to filter out some of the sediment some how? I'm worried to do too much straining for fear of oxidation.

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Old 11-04-2012, 03:05 PM   #2
Jan 2012
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Posts: 2,258
Liked 230 Times on 210 Posts

Welcome to the world of mead making first off.

I would leave the mead on the lees for about 1-2 months and then decide to rack. Most mead recipes don't even rack to secondary till after the first couple months unless you are using Lalvin 71b yeast.

Try to rack into smaller containers for secondary but if you need to then can top off with honey water at about a 50/50 ratio or just under what your starting gravity was.

I am not keen on Brix and have only measured gravity. With the sugars from the blackberries included you probably had a starting gravity of about 1.153. That is really high. Wyeast sweet mead yeast is finicky and only has an ABV tolerance of about 11%. if you do things exactly right then you might hit an ABV of about 11.7% which will only bring you down to a gravity of about 1.07. That is as thick as cough syrup. A sweet to semi sweet gravity is about 1.015-1.02. Give this about another month rack it and measure your gravity. I'll bet you will need a finishing yeast for this batch. I would recommend Lalvin k1V-1116. That should get this droped down to 1.01-1.02. You will need to do a big starter to get the new yeast going.

Here is how I do my starters with good success:

2 cups water
1/2 cup honey
1/4 tsp yeast nutrient
10 fine chopped raisins

Mix it up well and sprinkle dry yeast on top. Cover with paper towel and leave for 2 hours. Then add 1/2 cup of must and wait another two hours. Repeat the last step 3 more times. You should have 4 1/2 cups of starter by the end of the 12 hour ordeal. You should be able to pitch that to finish the mead.
A painting says a thousand words. But a painting while on good mead just looks funny!

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Old 11-04-2012, 06:47 PM   #3
fatbloke's Avatar
Dec 2006
UK - South Coast.
Posts: 2,698
Liked 182 Times on 167 Posts

Well done for that post Arpolis. It saves me posting the same info.....

I just wish I could post how much of a PITA that yeast is.

I'm sure it has its uses, but IMO, the very name of it is misleading, especially for.the new mead maker.......
"What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away". Tom Waits.

Oh, and here's some blog stuff!

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