Strawberry Mead help

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videojunkie1208

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ok hive mind, I have a Strawberry Mead that I need a bit of help with.

Primary went fantastic:

3 Jars of Strawberry puree
15 lbs of honey
Water to 5 gallons

OG: 1.130
normal TONSA nutrient additions
after the 1/2 sugar break, I added another Strawberry puree and 3 lbs of honey with additional nutrients clarifying agent and pectinase

FG: 1.010 (ABV ~15%)
Racked into glass carboys from SS primary, initial tastes were faint strawberry flavor, nice a clean, just a little hot alcohol. figured aging for about 6 months would take the edge off.

Six months later, everything has settled out, and it's a nice rose color, but seems to have gone acid on me (Ph 3.4) and is un-drinkably bitter.

I used some calcium carbonate on a small sample to see if balancing the acid would pull it into a drinkable beverage, and it does to a degree, but it has that sour/bitterness of unripe green strawberries.

Any suggestions on how to rescue the 5 gallons I have sitting in a keg before I pour the lot out, and start over.
 

bernardsmith

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Two quick thoughts, videojunkie1208, pH may not be the problem. Have you measured the TA? You want that to be closer to about 6- 7g/L (TA is not about the strength of the acid but about the amount of the acid per unit volume).
The other thought is that one way to counter perceived acidity is to sweeten the wine. A final gravity of 1.010 is certainly "semi-sweet" in terms of the amount of sugar you have per unit of measurement but if the TA is very high you may need this wine to be more sweet than it is. One way to test this might be to simply pour a few samples of this wine and to each sample of identical volume you add a known but different amount of sugar (mix and taste) to see if that helps.
 
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videojunkie1208

videojunkie1208

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Good call on the back sweetening. the FG I had was from when I put it into bulk aging, I forgot to read it after aging! SG now (after aging) is <0.995! between the dryness and the acidity it was unpalatable.

I corrected the acid to PH 4.0 which helped a lot in the 2oz. samples I made, and then added some sugar as you suggested (i don't have a means to measure TA) ~10g of honey in a 2oz sample sweetened it to drinkable. I might back the acid back down a tiny bit to improve the 'bite' a little.

It looks like I might need to add about 3lbs of honey to back sweeten it. I may add some strawberry concentrate as well as the flavor is very faint. I'll have to stabilize it with sulfates (something I try not to do) to keep it from re-fermenting.
 

bernardsmith

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If you have a pH meter you may have the ability to measure the TA. Color changes used to measure TA take place at a pH of 8.2 so if have sodium hydroxide you simply add the Na OH to a sample of wine until the pH hits 8.2 and you measure the amount of the base that you added. The calculation for TA is the amount in ml of NaOH you added divided by the volume of the wine you tested (in ml) X 0.75
 

Seamonkey84

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Impressive, when it comes to fish tanks, bigger may be more expensive, but it’s a lot more forgiving and easier to keep stable.
 
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videojunkie1208

videojunkie1208

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End result, overall a b- the strawberry flavor is very weak, but it did turn out pretty smooth. I added 2 lbs of honey and 1 1/2 tsp of calcium carbonate to the 5 gallon carboy and let it sit for a few weeks to make sure no secondary (tertiary? ) kicked in.

I'm thinking my original plan for using it in mojitos was the right approach.
 

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bernardsmith

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You say this mead is flavor-thin. How many pounds of strawberries did you use in each gallon? Strawberries are not flavor-intense. And while many folk claim that you can make a delicious strawberry wine with 3 lbs of berries to a gallon of water I find that using much less than 10 lbs for each gallon of wine (wine, not mead) makes for a flavor-thin wine. For a mead where you might want the honey to share stage with the fruit you might use about 5 -6 lbs of fruit /gallon. So that might be 30 lbs of fruit or 10 lbs /jar... But then when I make a country wine I try to use as little water as possible - If you taste the must before you pitch the yeast that cn often give you an idea of the intensity of flavor but remember when you use water you dilute the flavor.
 
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You say this mead is flavor-thin. How many pounds of strawberries did you use in each gallon? Strawberries are not flavor-intense. And while many folk claim that you can make a delicious strawberry wine with 3 lbs of berries to a gallon of water I find that using much less than 10 lbs for each gallon of wine (wine, not mead) makes for a flavor-thin wine. For a mead where you might want the honey to share stage with the fruit you might use about 5 -6 lbs of fruit /gallon. So that might be 30 lbs of fruit or 10 lbs /jar... But then when I make a country wine I try to use as little water as possible - If you taste the must before you pitch the yeast that cn often give you an idea of the intensity of flavor but remember when you use water you dilute the flavor.

would this be in the Primary 5-6 lbs?
 
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videojunkie1208

videojunkie1208

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I used a total of 4 49oz cans of brewing puree. It wasn't enough (even though the cans suggest that 1 should flavor a 5 gallon batch of beer). In the future, I am probably going to supplement with liberal dosage of concentrate. I might try fresh fruit, but de-stemming a couple of flats of strawberries is a lot of work...
 

Seamonkey84

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frozen fruits are usually better as they are picked at the peak of ripeness and frozen immediately. Plus the freeze thaw process helps with extracting juice. The ones bought “fresh” are picked before they ripen so they have a longer shelf life. For my strawberry wine, I used only enough water to dissolve the sugar , the rest of the liquid was all from the strawberries. 10lbs of berries gives you about a gallon of juice, then you’ll loose about 25% of that to sediments at racking.
 
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videojunkie1208

videojunkie1208

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I happen to live across the highway from a berry farm. They're picked the day before they are sold.

And you can get pretty good prices on whole flats...
 
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bernardsmith

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I used a total of 4 49oz cans of brewing puree. It wasn't enough (even though the cans suggest that 1 should flavor a 5 gallon batch of beer). In the future, I am probably going to supplement with liberal dosage of concentrate. I might try fresh fruit, but de-stemming a couple of flats of strawberries is a lot of work...
But with beer you focus on the malt flavors and the fruit are highlights and not the dominant flavor. They are the patch of color. If you think about this a little like a staged performance. For a strawberry wine you need the strawberries to be able to hold the stage on their own for the entire performance - It's a one person show. For a highlight, they may have a cameo role but they are not the lead actor and their role may last 2 minutes in a two hour performance. If the strawberry is there to complement the honey then you can think of its role as being supporting (they are not on stage the whole time but the are on stage throughout the performance and they are almost always on stage together with the lead actor, the lead being on stage without the supporting actor from time to time. .
 
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videojunkie1208

videojunkie1208

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I've been drinking this over the last week or so, and what I have discovered is that unlike my other meads, this one is like a white wine - it needs to be served cold!

Changing the serving temperature highlights the good strawberry flavors, and mitigates the other flavors. Similar to how a warm white wine often has some unpleasant off tones. It is still very flavor thin, but you can tell that there is some berry in there.

Served cold it is actually a pleasant sipping summer beverage.
 

Seamonkey84

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Nice! I have some strawberry wine that is approaching a year old, I figured it would be good nice and cold during the summer.
 
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So it's been a year more, and I poured some from the keg, and it has finally mellowed into something pretty fantastic.

Still a very mild strawberry flavor, but none of the bitterness that was present earlier. Beautiful straw color with an ruddy hue to it.

Glad I hung on to it instead of pouring it out.
 
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