Mixed Berry Melomel Problem

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VuduMead

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Hello,

I recently made my second batch of mead following the mixed berry recipe in "the complete guide to making mead" by Steve Platz.

It blew through gravity points and fermented really quickly. It only sat with the fruit in 5 gal bucket primary for 11 days before I had to rack it into a 3 gal glass secondary. Its SG was 1.200 and got down to .998.
The goal was to create a sweet/ semi sweet mead, but as you can see its DRY. I stirred the must 3 times a day. Everything was sanitized with Star San.

As i mentioned this only my second mead and im not sure what to do at this point. It tastes really strong of Alcohol and didnt really flavor much from the 6kgs of berries I used.

My questions is what should I do now with this 3 gal batch:
A) Learn more about changing flavor profile post fermentation? How can I attempt to make this a more enjoyable mead?
B) Should I ABC split test and what should I do for those tests?
C) What would you do in my position?


Mead log sheet


Batch Name:Mixed Berry
Mead Type:Melomel
Date:2/13/2021Target Batch Size:3 galTarget OG:1.206 after fruitTarget FG:1.032
Water Source and Treatment: 3.75 cullligan water campden treated (1 tablet)
INGREDIENTS
AmountIngredient Date Added
6kgMixed BerriesFeb 13
5.53 kgcostco HoneyFeb 13
3.75galculligan waterFeb 13
Actual SG:1.200Actual Volume:18L
NUTRIENT MIXTURE
AmountNutrient Name
3gfermaid k
6gDAP
STAGGERED NUTRIENT ADDITIONS
AmountDate AddedNotes
3g2/13/202175f
2g2/15/202180f
2g2/18/202175f
2g2/20/202174f
YEAST
Rehydration
Yeast Strain:71bYeast Amount Used (g):5g
Rehydration Nutrient:naRehydration Nutrient Amount (g):0
Rehydration Water Source:CulliganRehydration Water Amount (ml):250
Rehydration Temperature:38c/100f
Rehydration Time:17min
COMBINING YEAST WITH MUST
Yeast Temperature:34c/93fMust Temperature:34c/93f
MEASUREMENTS
WhenSGTemperatureNotes
2/15/20211.0726c/80f
2/18/20211.02224c/75f
2/22/2021<1.01074fBubbles are not being produced by the airlock. Racked to secondary
2/24/20210.99873fBought a deeper sample cylinder to take hydrometer readings.
 

Kyzaboy89

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Just inquiring to double check, was your original gravity really 1.200? That seems unbelievably high for your water to honey ratio, should've been in the 1.115 range at most and the fruit would add some but I've never seen that much. Just checking, fruit helps feed yeast and ferments can go quick.
 
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VuduMead

VuduMead

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Before the addition of the berries it was 1.138
 

madscientist451

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Before the addition of the berries it was 1.138
Adding fruit doesn't raise the gravity. Most fruit is 90-95% water so fruit additions will reduce the gravity of a high gravity mead must. That's why your mead finished dry. When you added 6 kg of fruit you should have run a dilution calculation figuring something like 5L of juice at 1.050? I'm putting a question mark here because I'm not 100% sure, but someone more knowledgeable will offer some guidance.
So if you want your mead to finish at 1.020, start there, and add gravity points (honey) to max out whatever yeast you are using. Plug in your fruit additions and then you'll need even more honey. There's probably a better way of explaining it. but that's basically how I do it.
 

Kyzaboy89

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Ok, I was calculating based on average honey but similarly, how are you gaining 60 points from adding fruit? Were they pureed, juiced or whole?

Also if your yeast (71B) took gravity from 1.2 all the way to 0.998, that means your abv would be around 25%... If that is so keep the yeast, that is unheard-of in my book even for higher abv yeasts.
 

Kyzaboy89

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Adding fruit doesn't raise the gravity. Most fruit is 90-95% water so fruit additions will reduce the gravity of a high gravity mead must. That's why your mead finished dry. When you added 6 kg of fruit you should have run a dilution calculation figuring something like 5L of juice at 1.050? I'm putting a question mark here because I'm not 100% sure, but someone more knowledgeable will offer some guidance.
So if you want your mead to finish at 1.020, start there, and add gravity points (honey) to max out whatever yeast you are using. Plug in your fruit additions and then you'll need even more honey. There's probably a better way of explaining it. but that's basically how I do it.
On this note my habit is to place juice in a bag after it's been frozen/thawed and pour a gallon of water on it. After 24 hours I'll hand crush the juices out and take a reading, based on that gravity I will add honey to it. Even using the fruit bits in the bag in primary, I've only seen a gravity wiggle of maybe 4 points. Easiest way I've come up with to have a standard means of calculating what's actually in my fermenter.
 
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VuduMead

VuduMead

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Ok, I was calculating based on average honey but similarly, how are you gaining 60 points from adding fruit? Were they pureed, juiced or whole?

Also if your yeast (71B) took gravity from 1.2 all the way to 0.998, that means your abv would be around 25%... If that is so keep the yeast, that is unheard-of in my book even for higher abv yeasts.
hmm thats odd. In the recipe in the book Steve Platz writes "OG 1.206 (Before fruit addition; effective OG about 1.138)"
unless im reading the the above statement incorrectly, he also gained ~60 points from the addition of the fruit. The fruit was crushed, not juiced or pureed.
I am also confused by the ABV.
 

Kyzaboy89

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Yes, not saying it's impossible, just in my study and experience have never heard of this or experienced it so count me very curious and very interested.
 
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VuduMead

VuduMead

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I had to bring the OG up to 1.200 by adding more honey after the addition of the fruit, since in the recipe the target OG was 1.206. Ill measure it again incase i made an error but the FG was measured at .998. I had to buy a deeper graduated cylinder because my hydrometer was touching the bottom.

I should clarify the 1.138 wasnt a measurement I took, it was the value given in the book. I thought it would be similar.
 

Kyzaboy89

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Oh ok, I admire you spreadsheet or notes layout you gave, very well down from my opinion, and thank you for clarifying. Still very surprised and interested to know how this went dry from 1.2
 
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VuduMead

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Yes, not saying it's impossible, just in my study and experience have never heard of this or experienced it so count me very curious and very interested.
To be honest it doesnt make sense that the yeast could be capable of producing that high ABV, I must have made a mistake somewhere in the chain, but i had to take a gravity reading multiple times while adding honey to get it up 1.200. I thought it was right but it must not be?
Either way, I have 3 gallons of dry mead with not alot of berry notes that I want to learn and try to improve in secondary. Do you have any ideas?
 

Kyzaboy89

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Yes! Sorry I'll park my curiosity for a minute and get back to your point haha. With fruit in primary fermentation I've found a few things that work but the two I prefer are this.

1.) Let it age 6 months and sample, once the alcohol and flavors start to meld together, any harshness should be fading or gone and fruit begins to come forward. I prefer semi sweet so backsweetening and transferring off lee's happens at this point while stabilizing. At 12 months I'll sample again and even young, most of mine have lost almost, if not all harshness and alcohol notes are barely there. Fruit forward on the nose and across the palette, acid/tannin to follow and other features. In a nutshell, age is easy and works on many aspects of mead while letting things come together naturally.

2.) Rack off lee's and stabilize to prevent secondary fermentation, add more fruit or just the juice to top up and or backsweeten a little, then age for a few months until it clears and works itself together. Sample and if it's good and there's no further fermentation activity bottle or bulk age, your preference.

That's how I like to do it, I'll let carboys age longer than a year if it's not where I want it. Fruit meads and wines tend to taste sweeter with age so just take it slow if you can. My last blackberry wouldn't clear, even with finings, or taste appealing until 10 months. At a year I bottled and we are struggling to leave any for next year.
 

Dan O

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Maybe the 1.200 was a misprint in the book ? Just throwing it out there. Editor's make mistakes, too. Though, they don't like to admit it 🙄🤣🤣
 

madscientist451

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If you stabilize and backsweeten, a little bit of fruit flavors might come back. My experience has been that fruit flavors/aroma are easily lost during primary fermentation, so I've been doing primary with honey/water, and adding a bag of fruit to the bucket after a week or so when most of the primary is finished. The water in the fruit will reduce the ABV and the yeast will get going again, but it seems I don't lose as much fruit flavor using this method.
Many pro mead makers like to put everything in at the beginning to keep their batches going on a schedule, but they will usually use a massive amount of fruit and not much water, since the fruit is mostly water.
 
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VuduMead

VuduMead

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Yes! Sorry I'll park my curiosity for a minute and get back to your point haha. With fruit in primary fermentation I've found a few things that work but the two I prefer are this.

1.) Let it age 6 months and sample, once the alcohol and flavors start to meld together, any harshness should be fading or gone and fruit begins to come forward. I prefer semi sweet so backsweetening and transferring off lee's happens at this point while stabilizing. At 12 months I'll sample again and even young, most of mine have lost almost, if not all harshness and alcohol notes are barely there. Fruit forward on the nose and across the palette, acid/tannin to follow and other features. In a nutshell, age is easy and works on many aspects of mead while letting things come together naturally.

2.) Rack off lee's and stabilize to prevent secondary fermentation, add more fruit or just the juice to top up and or backsweeten a little, then age for a few months until it clears and works itself together. Sample and if it's good and there's no further fermentation activity bottle or bulk age, your preference.

That's how I like to do it, I'll let carboys age longer than a year if it's not where I want it. Fruit meads and wines tend to taste sweeter with age so just take it slow if you can. My last blackberry wouldn't clear, even with finings, or taste appealing until 10 months. At a year I bottled and we are struggling to leave any for next year.
If you stabilize and backsweeten, a little bit of fruit flavors might come back. My experience has been that fruit flavors/aroma are easily lost during primary fermentation, so I've been doing primary with honey/water, and adding a bag of fruit to the bucket after a week or so when most of the primary is finished. The water in the fruit will reduce the ABV and the yeast will get going again, but it seems I don't lose as much fruit flavor using this method.
Many pro mead makers like to put everything in at the beginning to keep their batches going on a schedule, but they will usually use a massive amount of fruit and not much water, since the fruit is mostly water.

Thanks you for your input guys, really appreciate it! ill try these out and get report back in 6months
 

Redeemer

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I usually like to add my fruit 2 or 3 days into the primary. When following a TOSNA, or BOMM protocol my meads are usually 3/4 of the way done with alcoholic fermentation after 3 or 4 days as long as my target ABV is in the 12 - 15% range. For me this leaves behind good amount of fruit flavor while giving me the convenience of still using the "primary" for my fruit additions. Most of the time I will rack after about 10 days. I know this equates to only about 2 weeks in the primary instead of the generally recommended 1 month (For a BOMM anyways) but I have found this leaves enough yeast left behind to perform cleanup activities.
With the right SNA and yeast these are drinkable at about 5 weeks. 3 months and they are amazing. 1 year and it is out of this world.
 
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