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Bentonite before or after Fermentation?

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HonestlyJely

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Hi! So I'm coming up with my first mead recipe / process and am thinking I might use Bentonite AND Sparklloid to help me mead clear quickly.

According to many winemakers online they like to add Bentonite to their must so that it circulates during primary fermentation. (They do caution to not use too much otherwise you'll strip the wine of some desirable flavors).

1) Has anyone tried this with mead? I've only seen Bentonite used after fermentation with meads so far, so I'm curious.

My thinking in using Bentonite and Sparklloid is that Bentonite has a negative charge and Sparklloid has a positive one. So by using both, I hope to get a clear mead very quickly. This brings us to my 2nd question

2) Should I bother using both? Bentonite is also supposed to slow the fermentation down which is desirable to avoid stressing the yeast and creating fusel alcohols. So I was thinking Bentonite in the must, then later after racking use the Sparklloid.

A couple of notes on my process:
2lbs of honey in a 1 gallon batch, fermented until dry. (To about 9.5% ABV)
Using Ec-1118 yeast rehydrated with Go-Ferm
Then using Fermaid-O and SNAs

I'll be degassing/aerating regularly until about 1/3 sugar break in a bucket, then rack to carboy to let primary finish.

After fermentation is done. I'll add K-meta & K-Sorbate to stabilize (I plan to back sweeten)
And then add the Sparklloid.

1 month later I'll rack again and backsweeten. From there I'll either bulk age or, if it's tasty, just bottle it.

This is my first mead and I'm pretty determined to get it right. My goal is to have a standard Mead that's tasty and drinkable in 3-6 months.

I know I started this post as a question about Bentonite, but this is pretty much my whole recipe at this point, so any feedback would be great!
 

bernardsmith

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Hi HonestlyJely and welcome to this forum. I don't know that bentonite strips flavor from a mead or wine, though I hear that it can strip some color. I would, though be more concerned with the yeast you have selected as a prime suspect when it comes to stripping flavor. EC 1118 is an aggressive yeast.
You don't say what honey you intend to use but if your mead is a one character play and the honey is the only actor on stage then you might want that honey to have a complexity of flavor that can hold the stage for the whole performance. That suggests to me a honey other than wildflower or clover which, in my opinion, are great in supporting roles and great vehicles for fruit, floral, herbal or characters with spice. Honey that can hold its own does not need to cost an arm and a leg. Orange blossom honey is wonderful, as can be raspberry honey.

Last point, Finings are fine (pun intended) if you are hell bent in drinking your mead sooner rather than later but mead will clear by itself if you give it enough time and you remove the CO2 from the mead allowing all particulates to settle to the bottom. In other words, while you can use bentonite in the primary to enable the production of CO2 to keep the clay in suspension and you can use Sparkaloid you really don't need to use either.
 

bkboiler

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Last couple kits i made had me add the bentonite near the beginning if i remember correctly...that was for red wine...

i purchased some sparkalloid to help clear a strawberry wine that was almost "ropy" looking (not infected, though). But the sparkalloid directions on the bag put me off..needed me to mix with a large proportion of water to add to the clearing wine...would have diluted the product too much...
I always meant to look into it further to see if it was just a typo.
 

bernardsmith

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I think kit manufacturers suggest adding Bentonite to the primary because the action of the yeast as it produces CO2 will tend to force the Bentonite up towards the surface and as the Bentonite climbs up to the surface of the wine on the wings of CO2, the weight of the proteins and other particles it collects to itself due to its electrical charge will force it back down towards the bottom and so you get the Bentonite in constant motion rising and pulling particles out of suspension as it falls, the yeast and not the winemaker doing all the work.
 
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