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Hangy

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Ok, so, I have a blueberry mead that I started about a month ago. Last week, I racked it for the first time, admittedly that was mostly because I was worried about the blueberries spoiling as people had indicated that they might. In the last 8 or so days, the bubbling has almost completely stopped (one bubble every minute or so), and it's really starting to clear up, with a substantial amount of lees having collected when compared to the first time I racked. At this point I was considering racking it a second time and doing a taste test. The issue with the blueberry (my first batch), is that I neglected to take an initial gravity reading, so I have nothing to compare it to. I am a little uncertain how to proceed from here. What I do know is that I lose a certain amount of mead every time I rack it, so I don't want to do that too many more times before I bottle. I would appreciate any thoughts you all have, and I look forward to the usual knowledgeable folks here fixing my craziness.

Edit: I did take a gravity reading when I racked it the first time which was 1.085, and I just took a gravity reading today, and it dropped to a flat 1. I am assuming this means that they're basically no sugars left to ferment, but I have been wrong plenty in the past when I assume.

Edit 2: It's also distinctly possible I am remembering the wrong gravity reading, and that the 1.085 is for my 3x 1 gallon batches I started 2 weeks ago. I really need to make labels and take better notes, but I guess that's part of the learning curve. Either way, with a 1.000 gravity reading... is it even possible to ferment any more?
 
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MightyMosin

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If you are at 1.000 the fermentation is likely done all the way, though it can go under that point a bit. The temperature of the liquid does affect the reading some but not really enough to worry over.

Do you have minimal headspace in your carboy? If so you can let it sit a while for more settling to happen. In general you should probably stabilize the mead. If you have a lot of headspace I would certainly stabilize and transfer to either a smaller container or bottle it.

Will you be back sweetening this mead and with what?
 
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Hangy

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Ok, well here we go. With the limited research I did before starting my first batch, I left ample headspace so I wasn't blowing anything out of the airlock. That was further accentuated when I racked it the first time because you always lose some. All of that was even further accentuated with the removal of the blueberries. So, I do have what you would likely call "a lot of headspace" though I will attach a photo for easier confirmation.

As for back sweetening, it wasn't my plan. I prefer dry as opposed to sweet... just my personal preference. I did sample a bit while I was taking a reading and it is nice and dry, with just a hint of sweetness to it, but hardly noticeable. My biggest concern is that while it doesn't taste off to me, it has a bit of a "sour" smell to it, almost as if some of the fruit had started to spoil, but again, no noticeable odd tastes.

As for temperatures, I did have a couple days where it was colder than I'd like because my heater broke on me, but it didn't drop below 60, and it never goes above 74. It was 70 at the time of measuring.

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Edit: When it comes to stabilizing, I clearly have no experience as this is my first batch to ever get to this point. I would appreciate any input in that regard. About the only thing I have for stabilizing is campden tablets.
 
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MightyMosin

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Yeah, you have a lot of headspace. I can see that your mead will need some more time to clear all the way. Putting it in the refrigerator to cold crash it will likely speed that up some. If you have access to CO2, I would probably put some into the carboy to minimize the amount of O2 that is sitting on your mead.

I suggest trying the Fer Monster 1 gallon wide mouth plastic fermenters that actually hold about 1.25 gallons. When you rack, you can typically rack a full gallon into these glass guys and have minimal headspace.

Stabilizing the mead will help it to not oxidize and at lower ABV will help prevent little critters from growing in your mead. You have ~.75 gallon and I'm going to guess that you are somewhere around a pH level of 3.4. With those assumptions I would say that ~.25 grams of Potassium Metabisulfite will be a good point. When you rack again, I'd use about another .12 grams for your stabilization and bottling. If you think there is a chance of back sweetening a bit to help cover the sour flavor then I would also add ~.45 grams of Potassium Sorbate after you have racked.

I don't know what yeast you used but your temperature ranges sound good for just about anything you might have used. As far as for that funny odor goes it could be a variety of things and might eventually go away on its own. Ideally while the fermentation was happening you would have been degassing your mead so that the escaping CO2 can also carry away Sulphur compounds that get generated and can contribute to an odor.

With that said you probably still have some CO2 that is still suspended in the mead that will eventually work its way out, but you can lightly stir the mead to help release that CO2 which might help carry away some of the sour that you are tasting.
 
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Hangy

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It was a fair bit more clear before I took a second gravity reading, so I am sure it will clear up again soon. I do not have a scale to measure in grams (still need to get one), so I will have to "best guess" my campden tablets. I am going to cold crash it first, and then stabilize it before I bottle I guess. I really wish there were things like the Catalyst system, but in 1 gallon options as opposed to a 5+ gallon, though I see the benefits of starting with one big batch as opposed to multiple smaller ones. For clarification, I don't taste anything off, just has a bit of an off smell, which as you pointed out may just be CO2

In any case, I appreciate the input.
 

DBhomebrew

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As for back sweetening, it wasn't my plan. I prefer dry as opposed to sweet... just my personal preference.

Then I don't think stabilization is necessary. There won't be any fermentable sugars going into the bottle.

Stabilizing is usually employed to prevent yeast (not yet at their alcohol limit) from eating backsweetening sugars back down to dry.
 

MightyMosin

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Stabilizing with Potassium Sorbate is to stop the yeast from starting back up again.

Stabilizing with Potassium Metabisulfite is useful without the Sorbate for shelf stability and increased resistance to oxidation. I think every mead can use this even if not using Sorbate.

Metabisulfite should always be used with Sorbate even if the opposite isn't true.
 
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Hangy

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"Stabilizing with Potassium Metabisulfite is useful without the Sorbate for..."
"Metabisulfite should always be used with Sorbate..."
Not to sound rude or combative, however, those two things seem mutually exclusive to me. Am I just reading something wrong? Is it ok to use just the metabisulfite or not?

Edit~ I really don't like how that may have sounded, even with the pretext. Please don't read anything into it, I really don't mean any offense.
 
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