Backsweetening After Long-Term Bulk Aging

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

AngryTom

Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2019
Messages
11
Reaction score
1
I have several meads that have been bulk aging in carboys for about 2-2.5 years. They stopped fermenting ages ago, then I just racked them and left them. Now, I am moving and I need to bottle them, but I want to sweeten several of them, and I have never backsweetened a mead. I have some questions. I have not added any chemicals to any of them - i.e. - sorbate/sulfite (I would prefer to not add chemicals). Most of them read 1.000 on a hydrometer, if memory serves. Also, several of them have a thin layer of lees at the bottom - I've since figured out how to rack more effectively, but these ones were my earlier batches, and I did not do a good job of racking. I don't think the type of mead matters, but if anyone is interested, they're all five-gallon batches, and the meads are:

- Lord Rhys Chocolate Mead
- Lord Rhys Chocolate Bochet
- Marsh/Swamp Honey Traditional (tastes like dirt)
- Fruit Punch Melomel (wildflower honey with cherries, pineapple, lemon, lime and oranges)
- Bochet - dark and high ABV - probably not sweetening this one


Questions

- Should I rack them off the remaining lees before sweetening?
- If I sweeten any of them, is it possible the yeast could wake up after 2 years?
- What should I use to sweeten them? I've read that sweetening with honey makes it just taste like mead with honey added - is this something I should be concerned with? I would prefer to sweeten with honey, but if there's a better option, I'm all ears
- After I sweeten them, how long should I let them sit to ensure fermentation has not restarted?


Thanks in advance for any input!
 

Maylar

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jun 21, 2014
Messages
4,561
Reaction score
1,781
Location
New Haven County
Questions

- Should I rack them off the remaining lees before sweetening?

Yes. Otherwise when you stir in the sweetener the lees will kick up again and you'll have to wait for it to settle.

- If I sweeten any of them, is it possible the yeast could wake up after 2 years?

Yes. I highly recommend using K-Meta and K-sorbate to prevent that.

- What should I use to sweeten them? I've read that sweetening with honey makes it just taste like mead with honey added - is this something I should be concerned with? I would prefer to sweeten with honey, but if there's a better option, I'm all ears

I challenge anyone to be able to tell that a mead has been back sweetened with honey. I do that on all of my meads. The issue (to me) is that the added honey will cause a haze that will cloud it up again. Fining or filtering can cure that if you care and you're in a hurry to bottle. Otherwise, plain sugar instead of honey would not get cloudy.

- After I sweeten them, how long should I let them sit to ensure fermentation has not restarted?

If you stabilize first you can bottle immediately. Otherwise, put an airlock on it and wait a week.
 
OP
OP
A

AngryTom

Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2019
Messages
11
Reaction score
1
Thanks Maylar. Can you share your stabilizing process with me or direct me to a link you think is helpful? I've read a lot about using sorbate and sulfite, but I've come across a lot of conflicting information, and I'm not entirely sure what the best way to go about it is, Thanks!
 

Maylar

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jun 21, 2014
Messages
4,561
Reaction score
1,781
Location
New Haven County
Potassium Metabisulfite, 1/4 TSP for 5-6 gallons or 1 crushed Campden tablet per gallon. And Potassium Sorbate, usually 1/2 TSP per gallon. Mix 'em in. Simple as that. No need to wait before adding sweetener.
 

Ty520

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 21, 2020
Messages
225
Reaction score
131
I agree with Maylar. Although when I stabilize, i give it a few days, at least.

Although I will say I do have a keen sense of being able to detect meads backsweetened with raw honey ;-)~

Although, longer aging can minimize it - I find it is most easily detectable in meads that are pumped out for sale quickly
 
Top