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Toxxyc

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I posted this elsewhere as well, so here goes:

So this weekend I started another mead. Fermenter can't be standing empty, so I got it running. I made a 25 liter batch, biggest batch of anything to date. My aim was originally a 10% ABV dry traditional I could stabilise and backsweeten to around 1.01 for a semi-sweet offering, but the honey I got (Macadamia & Sunflower) was a bit stronger than anticipated so I slightly overshot my gravity. I ended up at 1.081, for an estimated ABV of 10.8% ABV in the end. Not bad at all, so I'm happy with how it turned out.

Recipe:
6.3kg (13.9lb) of honey, as discussed above.
1 Packet Lalvin 71B wine yeast
RO water (but not blank RO, has a very good water profile).
Fermaid O, feeding according to TOSNA 2.0.

I used the mead calculator and it said I need just over 5 grams of yeast. One packet is 5 grams, so I figured I'll take the risk, since I only had one packet of yeast. Anyway, I got this mead under way. Everything seems to have gone absolutely perfect. Storytime:

Yesterday morning I took the little buckets of honey and placed them in a big pot on the stove, and poured boiling water in around them to get the honey more liquid, so it can be poured. We currently have a terrible cold front in South Africa, and my RO water temps in the fermenter sat at 14°C. Way too cold. So I sanitized a big container, tapped off a lot of the water (8l), and started heating the fermenter up a bit. At 16°C I felt comfortable to add the now-warm honey, and added 6.3kg of the honey.

Once the honey was added, I closed up the fermenter and shook the living daylights out of it. I took a hydrometer reading and it stuck at 1.1 dead. Perfect. I closed up the fermenter again and shook it again. Another reading - 1.1 again. Good. That means the honey was properly dissolved and I don't have some honey lying at the bottom, undissolved. The fermenter was not at the level it should have been and where I calculated at, so I topped it up with warm water bit by bit. I stirred and checked temps. The fermenter temperature was at 26°C, so I added some more cold water to the 25l (6.6gal) mark and hit the 24°C mark. Perfect.

The honey seems to have been slightly sweeter or more dehydrated than the GotMead calculator's norm, and I slightly overshot my gravity. I aimed for 1.075 with my caluclated volume and weight, and measured 1.08 perfectly. Temperature correction at 24°C gives me 1.081, which is slightly over, but I'm still happy with it. If I ferment it to completely dry, I'll come in at just-just under 11% ABV, which is fine.

During the time of mixing the honey and water and all that, I rehydrated my yeast. Got a clean glass with 60ml of warm water at 40°C. The packet says 35°C-40°C but it felt just too hot for me, so I let it sit until I got around 36°C. Added the yeast. Let it sit for a bit and stirred it in. The yeast rehydrated beautifully (best I've managed to date, maybe it helps to follow instructions) and the slurry came down in temp slooooowly. Because I don't have Go-Ferm and I was worried about the yeast's lifetime in the water, I dissolved the first dose of Fermaid O in some warm water and added it to the yeast at 15 minutes. I also introduced a small amount of must at 20 minutes to give the yeast something to chew on in the meantime. This sent the yeast into overdrive and in 2 minutes the slurry in the glass was visibly moving around. First time I've seen yeast THIS active.

By the time I've added the must, the yeast slurry was at 25°C. Must was at 24°C, so I pitched at around 28 minutes. The fermenter's lid was still a bit wet with honey water and to avoid ants I decided to wash it first. Washed it, sanitized it and when I got back to the fermenter, there was already visible fermentation in the mead. I've never ever seen a fermentation start this fast. From now on, I'll ALWAYS rehydrate. Always. The yeast looks just so incredibly happy, it's not even funny. I placed the lid on the fermenter, slipped in the airlock and it took just half an hour before the first bubbles started pushing through.

I stood the fermenter in our bedroom last night (because the rest of the house is just too cold right now), and by bedtime the mead was at the perfect aimed for 20°C. Bubbles are slow, but strong and constant, as I expected from fermenting in the lower end of the yeast's temperature range. Very happy with the ferment so far. Second nutrient addition is due for this afternoon. Can't wait!

UPDATE: OK so fermenter is now staying in the bedroom. I'm DAMN glad my fermenter seals airtight, because ants discovered the fact that it's pretty much a 30l bucket containing 6.3kg of honey. They can't get it, but they're caked around the tap and everywhere on the fermenter I guess a drop of the must fell and dried. I washed the fermenter well before I pitched, but I guess they're after every single drop they can get. Anyway.

I added the second nutrient addition yesterday. Fermenter is staying in the bedroom, simply because the rest of what I have is too cold. There's no point in placing the fermenter in my fermentation fridge when the fridge is sitting at 16°C for the best part of the day, and I don't yet have a heating pad. Will have to invest sometime soon. Pet shop here I come!

Anyway, on the ferment. The smell from the fermenter is amazing. I'm loving this. It's a lot cleaner smelling than the last ferment I did, and I suspect it's because I'm using 71B instead of the Abbaye yeast I used last time. I'll compare the two now, and then I'll know if it's worth using a wine yeast when apparently the Abbaye yeasts make a mead that's "ready faster". Let's see.

I'll be taking a hydrometer reading this afternoon. I HOPE I haven't reached the 1/3rd sugar break yet, but something tells me "you're there already". Time will tell.

EDIT: That being said - does anyone know where in SA we can find Go-Ferm? It seems to be non-existent in SA...
 

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Wow, great notes and obviously have done your homework. I can not help with sourcing GoFerm in SA.

However, as you have demonstrated. It is not absolutely necessary to use. Many nutrients including the mixed Must can be used to rehydrate yeast in your starter.

As long as you have a good healthy yeast colony prior to pitch you are good to go. (Regardelss of the Nutrient used)

Consider adjusting your TOSNA nutrients up a bit in your first addition.

Consider using an additional packet of yeast its relatively inexpensive and definately will not hurt.
 
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Toxxyc

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Yeah I wasn't expecting such a big batch, so I only bought one packet of yeast. It was supposed to be enough, since the packets are suitable for 23-liter batches. I overpitched the honey though, so I added a bit more water up to 25l, which is why the yeast was just-just too little.

Regarding the feedings - I slightly increased the feedings from the start as well. The protocol gave me 4.6g per feeding, and I upped that to 5g. It's Fermaid O, so it seriously can't hurt the yeast or the must. At all.

As an update, I pitched my second-to-last feeding yesterday. I didn't take a gravity reading (because I'm lazy and don't enjoy tapping off and pouring back all the time), but will do so this afternoon. The airlock is getting more and more active, with more than 2 bubbles a second by now. It's no indication of a healthy fermentation, I know, but it's nice to see it's increasing.

The smell is excellent. Lightly floral, but obviously still sickly sweet. Not getting a lot of sour notes as I expected, and I suspect that's the yeast's doing. I am fermenting in the lower end of it's temperature range, and I chose this temperature as a hopefully good balance between fermentation speed and flavour production. So let's see how this will go.
 
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Hey I almost forgot about this thread here as well. Anyway, I'll post my notes to date here:

Fermenting at 20°C. Rehydrated yeast and pitched at 24°C. Cooled down slowly overnight to 20°C, where it’s been sitting. In fermentation chamber set to 20°C, with a 1°C tolerance up or down and a 5 minute buffer time on the cooling side.

1st Sugar Break (1.054): Friday evening, 26th July.2019. Measured 1.056 on last feeding.

NOTES:

2019/07/22: Fed 5g Fermaid O after 24 hours. Smell from fermenter is just honey.

2019/07/23: Fed 5g Fermaid O after 48 hours. Measured gravity - 1.071. Smell from fermenter is sweet and honey.

2019/07/24: Fed 5g Fermaid O after 72 hours. Smell is still very sweet, but a slight touch of yeast is coming through.

2019/07/26: Fed 5g Fermaid O at 1/3rd Sugar Break (as above). Yeast smell seems to have mellowed, and while still there, there’s now more focus on the floral side of the honey. Sweetness is dying down. Degassed properly and stirred up yeast colony into suspension.

2019/07/30: Taste test (about 10ml). Mead is very cloudy (as expected). On the nose is floral notes, with macadamia coming through. Taste is very clean. Slight dry taste, not mouthfeel, contributed to the macadamia honey. Dry is not negative, but provides depth to the mead. Mead is obviously still very sweet, as the gravity is still far from done. There are notes of alcohol, but it’s not hot, so that’s a good thing. Mead seems to be going along very well, with no off flavours I could detect (granted, I am inexperienced). I was expecting a more sour note from the yeast and the fermentation, but I’m not getting it. I’ll taste again tomorrow and see if I can pick up those notes.

2019/07/31: Another taste test (about 25ml this time). Mead is still cloudy, nothing changed there. Nose is sweet, sugary and floral. There is a whiff of macadamia still coming through, and maybe I’m looking for it but I can get the sunflower as well. Taste is still very clean. Dry is starting to give way to more nutty taste. Very sweet still but alcohol is starting to come on a little stronger. Smooth and very nice, like sipping a sweet port or muscadel style wine, but not as strong. There is a slight hint of sour from the yeast, but it’s still not prominent at all. The sour I did get was from carbonation out the fermenter. Not “yeasty”. Typical “white wine” notes are starting to show, and I’m really glad, as that’s what I was looking for. I’ll let it sit for a few more days before doing another taste test.
EDIT: Came back just to say this as I sipped the last drops - this stuff is GREAT.

2019/08/04: Properly degassed. Fermentation is starting to slow down, so I opened the fermenter and used my brew spoon to degas for a good few minutes. Stirred up the less as well to suspend all the yeast again. The scent from the fermenter is starting to showcase the yeast’s contribution. The smell is turning strongly toward the tropical fruit side. Macadamia and sunflower on the taste, but the nose is getting fruity. The alcohol is coming in stronger now, and the mead is drying out well. White wine notes are also picking up, and this is reminding me of a Sauvignon Blanc white. This is turning out to be better than I expected, sooner. Good stuff. Good stuff.

2019/08/06: Checked in on the mead in the chamber. Airlock is quieting down, with only one odd bubble every now and again. I didn’t open the fermenter to check, but I’m pretty sure the fermentation is nearing the end. I’ll do a gravity check over the weekend to check where it’s at.
 
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2019/08/09: Gravity check. 0.997. Fermentation is complete. Taste test reveals a very clean, fruity mead with a strong white wine character. Alcohol is there, but not hot at all. No off flavours or bad qualities. Dry, obviously, but clean and refreshing on the tongue. Nose is hard to detect for now, but I’m getting a pretty clean, fresh, fruity scent. Not tropical fruit like mango or guava, but more like white grapes with a slightly soury-yeasty scent in the background. Not negative, as expected. Good stuff. Will be drinkable sooner than previous batch for sure.

2019/08/10: Cold crashed. Set fermentation chamber to 2°C.

2019/08/13: Racked off lees. Unfined the mead in the fermenter is already very, very clear. Very happy with how clear it turned just from cold crashing. Racked 23l into a sanitized container and added 2.4g Potassium Metabisulfite. Degassed and moved back to fridge at 2°C.

2019/08/14: Added 4.9g Potassium Sorbate. Used the higher end of the spectrum to cater for not knowing the pH of the mead.

2019/08/15: Upon realizing that degassing will take significantly longer if the mead is cold, I removed it from the fridge and let it warm up to room temperature. Shook the bottle and burped off the gas every time I went past it. Eventually the burped gas got less and less, so I’m hoping I’m close to still now.

2019/08/17: Gave a second dose (0.8g) of Potassium Metabisulfite. I was worried about free SO2 levels so I fed another small dose.

2019/08/18: Added 1.05kg of honey to backsweeten. According to calculations this should hit in the 1.009~1.011 mark up from 0.997. I did a quick taste test and it seems I might be on the money here. The sweetness is not detectable, but it just breaks the coarse dryness from the brut mead beforehand. I am fairly sure my SO2 levels are OK, since I can’t detect any SO2 in the quick sample I had, and I was looking for it. As a final note - this mead is great. It’s not entirely drinkable just yet, I still want to fine/clarify it, but there are absolutely no off flavours and it’s really, really clean. Clarity is already improving a lot, but since the addition of the backsweetening honey it’s clouded up a little bit again, as was expected. I love this, it’s fantastic.
 
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Fined the batch last night using the Brulosophy gelatin method. Let's see how well it works for meads.
 
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2019/08/19: Fined using gelatin. Fined when mead sat at 6.5°C and turned the temp controller down to 2°C.

2019/09/01: Racked off the little bit of lees that was in the bottle. Gelatin failed miserably, as it’s not the correct fining agent. Next time I’ll have to try a different fining agent. After rack the mead was still very cloudy, nowhere near clear.

2019/09/05: Bottled. Had no other choice. Batch has to be handed over and it’s not clearing, but the mead itself tastes fantastic. Not overly sweet, and quite honey-ish. Very, very good. Pretty floral with a strong nose of honey, but obviously “green”. Pity about the clarity not being up to scratch, but that’s part of the fun.
 
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After handing over, the buddy I made it for gave me response last night. "Bro, this is bloody good", was his words. Happiness. Let's hope this stuff hits the market and we can start actively working on getting a meadery going!
 
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Heh he just stopped by to drop off more honey. He wants more. Drank 5 bottles over the weekend with some friends, so I guess it doesn't taste too bad for them :D
 
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I'm actually going to exactly replicate the previous recipe and method. I'm even going to use the same yeast (I saved it). The only difference will be at the end. Two differences, actually:

1. I'll be using a different clarifying agent. I can get my hands on zeolite, some specific form of bentonite or whatever it actually is, but apparently it works without absorbing too much of the mead/wine you're clarifying with it. So, it's going to be a nice test to see how it turns out.
2. I'll be carbonating half the batch, brut, before stabilizing and backsweetening the rest.

I'll also hopefully be introducing the next step in my process from here on - pH testing on stabilizing and bottling day, for more accurate free SO2 levels in the mead in the bottle. It's a process to perfect my method, and I think I'm well on my way.
 

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I'm actually going to exactly replicate the previous recipe and method. I'm even going to use the same yeast (I saved it). The only difference will be at the end. Two differences, actually:

1. I'll be using a different clarifying agent. I can get my hands on zeolite, some specific form of bentonite or whatever it actually is, but apparently it works without absorbing too much of the mead/wine you're clarifying with it. So, it's going to be a nice test to see how it turns out.
2. I'll be carbonating half the batch, brut, before stabilizing and backsweetening the rest.

I'll also hopefully be introducing the next step in my process from here on - pH testing on stabilizing and bottling day, for more accurate free SO2 levels in the mead in the bottle. It's a process to perfect my method, and I think I'm well on my way.
You can also try adding either cacl or gypsum, or a mix of both, to bring up the calcium levels to about 80 to 100. This helps the yeast to flocc out immensely and maybe you won't need any clarifying agent at all. This was discussed somewhere else in this forum and others had good results with it. Do you know the calcium levels of the water you have used for your last batch?
 
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Yeah I used RO water with a very specific chemical composition. I think I'm going to try the zeolite for this batch first. Adding gypsum or calcium will raise the pH of the mead, which it not something I'm specifically looking for now. The higher the pH, the more preservatives I need to add to prevent renewed fermentation if I want to add more honey to backsweeten, and I want to avoid that for now. It's more calculations I want to avoid. I want my pH to remain as low or as close to 3.5 as possible, not raise it. I'd rather use bentonite or zeolite or some other clarifying agent that will work without impacting the pH for now.

I'm also not 100% sure how calcium or gypsum will change the taste or mouthfeel of the mead. For something robust like a beer or cider, sure, but mead is pretty damn delicate. I just realized it again with this batch - one skew move and you taste it in the mead. I'm careful of adding stuff at the end, which it actually why I tried fining with gelatin for this batch first. Didn't work, but at least now I know :D
 

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Yeah I used RO water with a very specific chemical composition. I think I'm going to try the zeolite for this batch first. Adding gypsum or calcium will raise the pH of the mead, which it not something I'm specifically looking for now. The higher the pH, the more preservatives I need to add to prevent renewed fermentation if I want to add more honey to backsweeten, and I want to avoid that for now. It's more calculations I want to avoid. I want my pH to remain as low or as close to 3.5 as possible, not raise it. I'd rather use bentonite or zeolite or some other clarifying agent that will work without impacting the pH for now.

I'm also not 100% sure how calcium or gypsum will change the taste or mouthfeel of the mead. For something robust like a beer or cider, sure, but mead is pretty damn delicate. I just realized it again with this batch - one skew move and you taste it in the mead. I'm careful of adding stuff at the end, which it actually why I tried fining with gelatin for this batch first. Didn't work, but at least now I know :D
From what I have read, the detrimental impact of clarifying agents is much higher than any effect that calcium has on taste or mouthfeel. I tried it myself, using only cacl to up the levels to 100ppm, but have not had a chance to taste it. It was clarifying well though.

Not sure about the pH thing. Usually the yeast brings it into its own range anyway, the initial water pH doesn't really matter imo, as the salts are added to the unfermented mead, prior to the yeast.
 

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What you could do is, just add cacl pre fermentation till you reach 80-100ppm calcium, ferment as normal and then see if it drops clear quicker as the previous batch. If it doesn't, you can still use your clarifying agent and if it does clear well, you're good anyway.
 
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I'd rather not start playing with that right, specially since I really don't know what it'll do. I'll use the bentonite or zeolite for now. It apparently doesn't change anything on the flavour and it's the recommended clarifying agent for use in white wines, specially the styles where mead come in. It just seems easier, so that's what I'll aim for.

I checked the water profile I use - it's got 8mg/l Ca in solution. That's apparently the same as 8ppm, so that's not a lot. At all. I guess I could try adding a bit more anyway, but I'll have to check what impact it has on the pH. Let's see what I decide over the weekend... :D
 

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I'd rather not start playing with that right, specially since I really don't know what it'll do. I'll use the bentonite or zeolite for now. It apparently doesn't change anything on the flavour and it's the recommended clarifying agent for use in white wines, specially the styles where mead come in. It just seems easier, so that's what I'll aim for.

I checked the water profile I use - it's got 8mg/l Ca in solution. That's apparently the same as 8ppm, so that's not a lot. At all. I guess I could try adding a bit more anyway, but I'll have to check what impact it has on the pH. Let's see what I decide over the weekend... :D
As I said before, you add it pre fermentation. The pre fermentation pH is not relevant for the final ph as the yeast will change the pH to it's own needs anyway during fermentation.

8ppm is nothing, no wonder that you cannot get it to clear. There is an easy calculator on brewers friend, just calculate the amount you need to raise the ppm by 50 to 100 and throw calcium chloride in together with the honey, job done.

Clarifying agents always remove aroma, that's the nature of the beast, otherwise they wouldn't work as a clarifying agent. Some of them remove more and some less, but it's always a trade off.
 
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Yeah maybe it's not the worst idea. It's not expensive, and you use only a tiny amount from what I can see. Think I should make a stop at the brew shop before the weekend then. Wife's not going to like it... :D
 

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Yeah maybe it's not the worst idea. It's not expensive, and you use only a tiny amount from what I can see. Think I should make a stop at the brew shop before the weekend then. Wife's not going to like it... :D
Hehehe, yeah, she will hopefully then be pleased with the result.

I have bought a few hundred grams of calcium chloride two years ago, still not even finished with half of it. I use between one and two grams per 15l, depending on the beverage. It lasts for ages... But try to keep it tightly closed as it attracts water.
 

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Oh, and please let us know how it turns out, both the discussion with the wife (seems to be a hot topic atm) and if the added calcium speeds up the clarification. A proper with/without test that you are providing here is really helpful for others.
 
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Considering I already have a "without", I'm sure I'll be able to see if the calcium does anything. I'm not going to spend weeks waiting for clarity though, to be very clear here, if it's not clearing up better a week after cold crashing, I'm adding zeolite, so just keep that in mind :p
 

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Considering I already have a "without", I'm sure I'll be able to see if the calcium does anything. I'm not going to spend weeks waiting for clarity though, to be very clear here, if it's not clearing up better a week after cold crashing, I'm adding zeolite, so just keep that in mind :p
Of course, I would do exactly the same. It's just so easy for you to see the difference, you said it yourself, as you already have the before. I would shoot for the upper range of calcium, just to make sure it's not because of low levels again. Meaning going for in between 80 and 100ppm.
 
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Yep I'll aim for around 90ppm. Calculations are pretty simple - you get 40ppm from doing 1g in 10l, so 2.5g in 10l would do 100ppm. 5g in 25l will do just under 100ppm, around the 90ppm mark if my guesstimate is accurate enough.
 

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Yep I'll aim for around 90ppm. Calculations are pretty simple - you get 40ppm from doing 1g in 10l, so 2.5g in 10l would do 100ppm. 5g in 25l will do just under 100ppm, around the 90ppm mark if my guesstimate is accurate enough.
Yep, that matches what I remember out of my head regarding the numbers I used.

It can be a bit tough to dissolve but I guess that when fermentation kicks in plus the additional stirring etc. It should dissolve with time on its own.
Oh, and btw. The chloride you are also providing with it, might even enhance the honey flavour a bit.
 
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Yep, that matches what I remember out of my head regarding the numbers I used.

It can be a bit tough to dissolve but I guess that when fermentation kicks in plus the additional stirring etc. It should dissolve with time on its own.
Oh, and btw. The chloride you are also providing with it, might even enhance the honey flavour a bit.
I'm still in two minds about calcium chloride vs calcium bicarbonate. Chloride will reduce the pH, which is what I want, apparently, while bicarb will buffer it higher. On the numbers, mine on the Chloride was MISTAKEN. It seems more accurate numbers are:

1gram per gallon will raise the calcium ppm to 72. So if I take 1gram per gallon + the 8ppm I have, I'll hit 80ppm per gallon. That translates to 6 grams in a 6 gallon batch to get to 80ppm, so if I add 7 grams in the 6 gallon batch I should be on the money. Using this as source for the numbers: https://brewmart.co.za/shop/index.php?route=product/product&path=115&product_id=168
 

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Yep, that matches what I remember out of my head regarding the numbers I used.

It can be a bit tough to dissolve but I guess that when fermentation kicks in plus the additional stirring etc. It should dissolve with time on its own.
I just checked, 1 gram per us gallon should give you 72ppm ca, plus the 8 you already got it's 80, so you are correct now.

I wouldn't use calcium carbonate, I read that most of it actually never dissolves so it won't do your mead any good.
 
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Alright, so I started the batch over the weekend. Added CaCl2 as per the packet instructions into the dissolving water and went for it. Dissolved the honey, got the yeast cake from the previous batch to temp, fed it and pitched. Got a good, active ferment going. Will see how to CaCl2 plays a role in about 2 to 3 weeks' time!
 

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Alright, so I started the batch over the weekend. Added CaCl2 as per the packet instructions into the dissolving water and went for it. Dissolved the honey, got the yeast cake from the previous batch to temp, fed it and pitched. Got a good, active ferment going. Will see how to CaCl2 plays a role in about 2 to 3 weeks' time!
Nice. How much did you use?
 
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12g. The packet stated 1gram to 10l for 18ppm. I calculated it as 2.5g for 25l for 18ppm, multiplied by 4 to give 72ppm. The water had 8ppm so I added one gram extra just to break the 80ppm mark properly.
 

Miraculix

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12g. The packet stated 1gram to 10l for 18ppm. I calculated it as 2.5g for 25l for 18ppm, multiplied by 4 to give 72ppm. The water had 8ppm so I added one gram extra just to break the 80ppm mark properly.
Well, I don't know how you calculated that, but according to this calculator,

https://www.brewersfriend.com/water-chemistry/

You've overshot it quite a bit, ending up with about 140ppm.

At least we will know now if it does something or not! Or maybe your package already took some accumulated water into account, as the salt attracts and binds water from the air and then the weight increases.

I don't think that this will have a major impact on the taste, it will certainly be interesting to see what happens.
The chloride might enhance sweetness and flavour a bit, which wouldn't be that bad I guess.

Edit: the calculator gives 27ppm with 1 gram in 10 litres.
 
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