Clarifying Mead

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amrmedic

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Ok, I am over a month into my first mead and I already transferred to secondary.

I have never used a clarifying agent even in in my beers, but when I tasted this batch, I was amazed at how well it came out. I am thinking of entering it in competition.

So my question is what clarifying agents are recommended, how to use them and when to add to the mead.

Also, I am into my secondary now and was wondering how much temperature will play into the conditioning. When it was fermenting it was held at a nice solid 67 F, but now it has been sitting in my house at around 76-78 f.
 

Arpolis

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I have yet to use a clarifying agent in my meads too. But I find that after about 2.5 months and about two rackings the mead clears by itself. Even when using tricky bread yeast with horrible floculation. Time cures all it seems. "if you have the patience."
 

TheBrewingMedic

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enetering your first ever mead into a competition? pretty impressive. what type did you make? check the competition rules about fining agents so you enter it in the right category
 

Golddiggie

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In my experience, mead is something that needs TIME to become truly great. Time also makes it super clear. Rushing it will not be of any service to it. Unless it's a really LOW OG mead (under 8% ABV) I would give it a minimum of 6 months. At 12-14%, 9 months or more. At 14-18%, a year minimum is better. Over 18%, plan on a minimum of 18 months before you even THINK about bottling it...

IF you decide to bottle it now, you'll not only need to artificially clear it, but you'll also have to stabilize it to prevent bottle bombs.

Best advice I can give you is to plan on entering it next years competition when it's even better. One thing about mead is it WILL get even better as it ages.

Something else, do not confuse the mead process with brewing beer. The time scales are completely different. Where you can have a beer go from grain to glass in a matter of weeks (depending on your hardware and the recipe) chances of going from yeast pitch to bottle/glass in under 6 months is pretty much nil with mead. Even then, reference above, it's better if you give it longer. I have two 14% batches that I started in early December. I've racked them twice, and will probably rack again soon. I'm not looking to bottle these until at least 9 months from when they were started. More likely, I'll check them at 9 (or 10) months in to see where they're at. IF they're ready, I'll consider bottling them up. If not, I'll simply give them more time. You NEED to be patient with mead. That is, unless you don't want to get the best results possible.
 

offthewagon

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I just bottled my first mead; made it back in November, so it had about 5 months in the primary. It was still kind of cloudy, but not terribly, smelled great, still tasted a little hot but I'm not planning on drinking it for at least another three to four months anyway. What is the benefit to racking it several times? Is it just removing the sediment as it settles?
 

Golddiggie

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I just bottled my first mead; made it back in November, so it had about 5 months in the primary. It was still kind of cloudy, but not terribly, smelled great, still tasted a little hot but I'm not planning on drinking it for at least another three to four months anyway. What is the benefit to racking it several times? Is it just removing the sediment as it settles?
5 months from pitch to bottling is about 7 months too short for anything at/under 14%. If it was stronger, then the time you cut it increases.

If it's not CLEAR, and I mean read through it clear, for a non fruit mead, you don't bottle it. Depending on the yeast strain and how you worked it, you could need several/many months before it becomes clear. Unless you want to rush things by using agents, which won't actually help you in the other steps.
If it's hot, then you need to let it age. In the order of many months. 1-2 years is pretty normal for going from pitch to bottling for batches of mead.

There's more than a few threads about this already, do a bit of searching and you'll get a ton of information.

If you want mead fast, then just buy a bottle. If you're not going to give it the time it needs to become great, then don't waste money on honey. Thinking that you can get mead to bottle even close to where a beer would be ready is just... Well, the word I want to use gets the mod's in a tizzy.

I started a batch of mead today (Sunday) that I don't expect to bottle for at least 2 years. Yes, that's 24 months I'm talking about. I'm going to push the yeast (WLP099) to it's limits with a goal of at least 25% ABV. Even if it goes to bottles in 2 years, I won't be pouring any into glass for at least 3 years from now. I might even just hold off and open one in 4-5 years to see how it's developing. I'm ok with it going even longer before it's really ready to go to glass. I would like it to be ready by the holiday season of 2020 though.

Be patient with mead, or don't bother.
 

nitack

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GD,


Your advice is sound and waiting multiple years will make anyone happier with the results. I think you should consider the fact that as someone who has been doing this for years, you have a supply of aged mead on hand. For someone new to this your suggesting that they have three years before they see any fruits of their efforts.

Perhaps a better suggestion for newer mazers is that they also make some lower ABV batches that will be ready sooner that they can drink while the higher ABV stuff ages.

It is understanding or that a first time or relatively new mead maker would want to be able to taste their product after six months of time invested.
 

Golddiggie

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nitack, ANY mead that's under 14% goes a full year before being bottled. I might consider less time for something under 10%, but I don't make anything that weak (or lame). 14-16% goes 12-14 months as a minimum. Above 16% goes at least 18 months.

If you're not patient, then look to make something else.

Also, I waited for my first batches. When they were almost two years old, they were really getting good (18% batches). The blackberry melomel, at only 14% took even longer to develop.

Rushing a mead almost never ends well. At best, you'll have to let it sit for many months if you bottle it too soon (as offthewagon did).

BTW, I'm planning on making up a lower ABV batch with some of the honey I have left (~25# remains in the bucket). Not yet sure if I'll make a larger ~18% batch, or a couple of smaller batches.

ANYONE thinking about making mead should go over to the Got Mead? forums and read up on how people do this. Some of us are over there as well. One common thing you'll see, though, is giving mead TIME.
 

offthewagon

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thank you nitack, I've been trying to think of a polite way to say "thanks for being a know it all while not answering my question" all morning. You summed it up best. This is my first batch, I know its not going to be the greatest mead ever made, I know there were some things I probably could have done differently. I tasted it, it was a little hot, but not terribly. I think it will be thoroughly drinkable by the end of summer. I do plan on getting a new batch started that I hope to be ready for Christmas of *gasp* 2013.
 

Golddiggie

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thank you nitack, I've been trying to think of a polite way to say "thanks for being a know it all while not answering my question" all morning. You summed it up best. This is my first batch, I know its not going to be the greatest mead ever made, I know there were some things I probably could have done differently. I tasted it, it was a little hot, but not terribly. I think it will be thoroughly drinkable by the end of summer. I do plan on getting a new batch started that I hope to be ready for Christmas of *gasp* 2013.
Ever hear of the term "anything worth doing is worth doing right"?? Cutting corners, getting a meh product as a results is beyond foolish. Spending the money on good (or great) honey and then doing this to it should be criminal.

Rushing the batches through is NOT wise/smart/being intelligent. If you're not going to give it the proper amount of time, then don't bother making it in the first place.

I bet you're also the kind of person that thinks they can make a 16%+ barleywine and have it ready to drink in under 3 months. While it won't kill you, it won't taste all that good. Give that same batch the time it needs and it's completely different.

Do what you want, but making mead like this is a word that starts with "s" and ends in "d"...
 

offthewagon

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I think everyone has been more than aware of the fact that stupid is the word you wanted to use since the first post; if you want my opinion, stupid would be replying with three separate posts telling me how awful my mead is going to be without answering my original question. Which, coincidentally, I don't care about your thoughts on anymore.
 

MarshmallowBlue

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nitack, ANY mead that's under 14% goes a full year before being bottled. I might consider less time for something under 10%, but I don't make anything that weak (or lame). 14-16% goes 12-14 months as a minimum. Above 16% goes at least 18 months.
So I'm to understand all Hydromels are Lame because they are under a certain ABV?

My strawberry Raspberry Melomel dropped crystal clear in 5 months and all my co-workers + people in my brew club enjoyed it. Will it get better with age, absolutely, but I have it in bottles because I don't have 40+ carboys laying around to age for years while I want to make another batch.

A strategy that I use (it's just now pulling into full effect) is to have enough fermenters to yes be able to ferment and clear and a bit of age (you need 5 or 6), then age it in the bottles and you can make a new batch every month.

However I agree that you should use time to clarify your mead. You should only think about using the agents when it should have cleared by now but hasn't. If after 4 or 5 months it's not starting to clear nicely, is when I would consider using one.

Patience is something that takes working on, and I'll be honest that I'm still working on it myself, and as you make more mead you'll learn to appreciate the results of taking longer to let it be great.
 

nitack

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Well GD,

I understand your point, but you don't seem to get mine. Yes, we'd all like to have our meads turn into something phenomenal by giving them them enough time to mature. Unfortunately, some of us want to actually enjoy some mead sooner than three years from now. So giving advice on how to get a best possible quick mead would be much more productive than telling people to wait or give up.

Is a lower ABV weak or "lame"? Well that is a matter of opinion. As knowledgeable as you may be about mead, your human relations skills are desperately wanting.

What I find especially shocking is that your solution is to scare away people who are interested in mead, rather than encouraging them to keep with it. You no doubt think you are doing them some sort of service with your comments, but it really just comes across as condescension and ranting. Way to keep mead making a fringe hobby man.

I can't help but close with this, however much of a pun it is... You catch more flies with HONEY than with vinegar.
 

Inner10

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I did that experiment years ago...the glass of balsamic vinegar caught far more fruit flies than the honey one.

Bottom line is if you want a faster clear mead vacuum degass then dump in hot sparkolloid.
 

jak1010

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The good news is, most meads are going to improve with age. Not quite the case with the person on this thread who discourages others from making it and giving poor feedback. I think the world will run out of honey before that aging process finishes.

offthewagon (and back on track) yes, I find that racking helps with clarifying and leaving the 1-2 inches of sludge/sediment left behind in the primary assists with the calrity of what you transferred off of it. In addition, it also can assist with taste depending on what you're making. I've had batches of spiced meads and melomels sit on the sediment for 8-10 months without noticing any difference in taste and I've had batches of beer that I forgot about, left in the primary too long and can taste it for sure.

Hope this helps.
 
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So giving advice on how to get a best possible quick mead would be much more productive than telling people to wait or give up.
Great mead can be made in months, not years, with a few simple techniques.

In fact, great mead can be made in weeks, if you're extremely dilligent with pH & gravity manipulation and have some filtration equipment. I've tasted three week old mead made by a member on this forum (who's now a pro mazer by the way). But I'm too lazy for that approach.

So, my "quick" mead method (based on discussions with some very talented pro & amateur mazers):

- quality honey
- proper aeration of the must
- staggered nutrient additions
- select your yeast based on what kind you're going to make
- proper yeast pitching rates
- controlled fermentation temperature that is on the lower end of the yeast's tolerance
- daily agitation/aeration/off gassing until about the 1/3rd sugar break
- don't rack until it's done fermenting
- rack monthly after fermentation is done until it's clear
- if needed, stablize and backsweeten (but when you get more familiar with recipes, you can target your FG and adjust the OG as needed)

When I make melomels, I personally ferment with half of the fruit in the primary, and have in the secondary, but that's not a debate I want to have in this thread. ;)

Bottom line: don't use ~18+lbs of crappy honey, EC1118, no nutrients, no aeration, and a fermentation temp of 72+ degrees and then wonder why it tastes like rocket fuel for many months/years.

Good luck! :mug:
 

offthewagon

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Thanks guys, lots of good information, don't worry I'm taking notes. I'll definitely remember to rack it every month after fermentation, that was the biggest issue I ran into with bottling was stirring up what had settled and it sounds like that an easy fix!
 

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