When should I back sweeten my peach mead?

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Grimmkeeper

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Hey all,
I made a batch of peach honey mead (2nd time in my life!) and my wife tasted it and it's not sweet enough. I would like to add more honey now that it is done fermenting. I just racked it off the fruit and will probably rack it once a month until September. When should I add the honey?

Thanks!
Art
 

CKuhns

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And... no real need to rack every month unless you do build lees. OR just cant stand not messing with it...;)
 
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CKuhns,
Ok, I'll stop racking so much. True sign I don't know what I'm doing! <wink!>

Maylar,
I have Potassium Metbisulfite but that's all I have. I'll follow directions and add a little more honey. Thanks for the tip.
Art
 

DevilDogmeadguy

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CKuhns,
Ok, I'll stop racking so much. True sign I don't know what I'm doing! <wink!>

Maylar,
I have Potassium Metbisulfite but that's all I have. I'll follow directions and add a little more honey. Thanks for the tip.
Art
I would let it sit a bit and clear, add potassium metabisulfate and potassium sorbate as directed. Let it sit another day and make sure you don't see bubbles. You should be able to sweeten it as you wish but ensure you're using your gravity rod to make sure you don't over sweeten it. I wouldn't go higher than 1.02 on the gravity rod. Also, to help clear it faster, throw it in the fridge for about a week and it will drop out anything else you might have floating around in there. I wouldn't use honey to back sweeten, as it leaves a very raw taste and also feels like a film in your mouth when drinking. I'd stick with cane sugar or a cold pressed organic juice if you're going for a berry flavor.
 
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I would let it sit a bit and clear, add potassium metabisulfate and potassium sorbate as directed. You should be able to sweeten it as you wish but ensure you're using your gravity rod to make sure you don't over sweeten it. I wouldn't go higher than 1.02 on the gravity rod.
Sounds like something I can follow. I'm going to go with cane sugar.
Thank you!
Art
 

DevilDogmeadguy

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Sounds like something I can follow. I'm going to go with cane sugar.
Thank you!
Art
If you get the temperature of your Mead under 40 degrees, fermentation will halt and well without the need for adding chemicals. Cold temps make yeast hibernate and helps drop out larger particles. But as soon as it warms up again fermentation will resume. This is good technique for racking, you can get particles and yeast to drop simply by dropping the temp and racking off the mead which will then also stop fermentation because you've just removed the yeast.
 
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Grimmkeeper

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I'd stick with cane sugar or a cold pressed organic juice if you're going for a berry flavor.
I have cane sugar now. I have one gallon that is not fermenting now. I'll place it in a cool area to be sure after I add both potassiums. What's a good estimate of cane sugar to add to the gallon?

Thanks!
Art
 

NeverDie

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I wouldn't use honey to back sweeten....
Are you sure about not using any honey at all to backsweeten? I recently tried backsweetening with just table sugar a sample of mead that had fermented dry, and it didn't do a good job of restoring the honey taste that had fermented away to nothing. On the other hand, using Tupelo honey to backsweeten was too "in your face." However, I think some kind of honey in some amount would make sense, because if a mead lacks a reasonable honey flavor, I'm thinking you might as well do a wine instead of a mead and save the money you spent on the honey. Wouldn't you agree?
 
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image.jpeg I just added both potassium sorbate and potassium Metbisulfite and I'll let it sit for a few days. When I add either honey or sugar, do I give it a slight stir, shake or tip? How long should I wait before I bottle?
Thanks!
 

NeverDie

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Are you sure about not using any honey at all to backsweeten? I recently tried backsweetening with just table sugar a sample of mead that had fermented dry, and it didn't do a good job of restoring the honey taste that had fermented away to nothing. On the other hand, using Tupelo honey to backsweeten was too "in your face." However, I think some kind of honey in some amount would make sense, because if a mead lacks a reasonable honey flavor, I'm thinking you might as well do a wine instead of a mead and save the money you spent on the honey. Wouldn't you agree?
This evening I tried backsweetening with mesquite honey some mead that had fermented completely dry (FG 0.996). It tasted very good.

I suggest the OP try backsweetening both ways with small samples before deciding what to do with the entire batch.
 

CKuhns

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Assuming a gallon batch? 12oz = 1 Cup. And 12 oz will raise your gravity about 0.022 IMO that would be pretty sweet for me. Consider adding half that and more if needed.
 
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image.jpeg
12oz = 1 Cup. And 12 oz will raise your gravity about 0.022 IMO that would be pretty sweet for me. Consider adding half that and more if needed.
CKhuns,
I only saved about a cup of honey from one of my hives to Backsweeten this batch. Unfortunatly, when I harvested it, it had too much water from the hive plus too many air bubbles and it fermented. (I'll try to send a picture) Some other beekeepers say it's safe to use to make mead. That may not be all bad. I'm thinking it may raise the alcohol content some but it should be sweeter and taste more like honey. It's all just a lab experiment right?? Lol!


Art
 

Mandelynne

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If you get the temperature of your Mead under 40 degrees, fermentation will halt and well without the need for adding chemicals. Cold temps make yeast hibernate and helps drop out larger particles. But as soon as it warms up again fermentation will resume. This is good technique for racking, you can get particles and yeast to drop simply by dropping the temp and racking off the mead which will then also stop fermentation because you've just removed the yeast.
Omg. You just answered my question right before I was going to post. Thanks!
 

NeverDie

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Omg. You just answered my question right before I was going to post. Thanks!
Except if it's an active fermentation. I've had actively fermenting yeast at 36F in my refrigerator still bubbling away--maybe slower, but still active.

For a very active fermentation, I'm not sure that anything not overly destructive to the mead can for sure stop the fermentation, short of pasteurization.
 
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CKuhns

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Yes it is an experiment! and part of the reason we all do what we do here.

The slightly fermented honey will likely not hurt your Mead and as you mentioned will raise the alcohol a bit if consumed by your yeast or the yeast growing in your honey will do so. But kind of defeats the purpose of sweetening as the sugars will be consumed. However, you will be adding not only sugars for your yeast to eat but something else as well. Very likely another "wild" yeast. I definitely am not saying that is a bad thing or undesirable but you must understand you are introducing another variable and likely will still have a too dry mead but higher alcohol content vs. something sweeter.

Consider warming the honey to just below 100 deg or so. Dissolves the crystals and makes it liquid again. Hit it with a Campden (Hope I spelled that right) tablet or two for 24 to 48 hours to inhibit any yeast or bacteria growing in your honey then use some of it it as mentioned above to sweeten your mead.

OR (I know this is blasphemy and others will vehemently disagree) Warm the honey to 160 Deg F for 5 - 10 minutes. You will lose some or most of the subtle nuances of the honey but keep the sweetness. If your looking for sweetness while keeping the flavor profile you already have this might be an option for you. In essence you will be pasteurizing the honey reducing the risk of adding yeast and or something else less desirable.

As NeverDie mentioned if you have an active ferment and add sugars of any kind or if you have not inhibited or removed the yeast in your Mead then the yeast in your mead will eat these sugars as well if not beyond their alcohol tolerance.
 

DevilDogmeadguy

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I have cane sugar now. I have one gallon that is not fermenting now. I'll place it in a cool area to be sure after I add both potassiums. What's a good estimate of cane sugar to add to the gallon?

Thanks!
Art
It depends on the gravity of shoot for a reading of 1.01-1.02 (1-2%sugar) add small amounts like maybe a table spoon at a time and mix gently to ensure absorption and take a reading. Once you hit desired sweetness (taste as you go as well) then stop adding.
 

DevilDogmeadguy

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Are you sure about not using any honey at all to backsweeten? I recently tried backsweetening with just table sugar a sample of mead that had fermented dry, and it didn't do a good job of restoring the honey taste that had fermented away to nothing. On the other hand, using Tupelo honey to backsweeten was too "in your face." However, I think some kind of honey in some amount would make sense, because if a mead lacks a reasonable honey flavor, I'm thinking you might as well do a wine instead of a mead and save the money you spent on the honey. Wouldn't you agree?
You can use honey, but it definitely is best done during fermentation if your gravity is too low. If you don't let the yeast get at the honey it leaves a Wierd filmy taste in your mouth when drinking.
 

NeverDie

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You can use honey, but it definitely is best done during fermentation if your gravity is too low. If you don't let the yeast get at the honey it leaves a Wierd filmy taste in your mouth when drinking.
Anyone else noticed "a Wierd filmy taste in your mouth" from backsweetening with honey? I hadn't noticed any. I'll try to be on the lookout for that in the future though.

Do you happen to get that merely from eating honey too?
 

Maylar

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BJCP Guidelines for Mead say this:

"Sweet meads should not be cloyingly sweet, and should not have a raw, unfermented honey character".

But I know mead makers who will challenge anyone to tell that their mead was sweetened after ferment was done. You can't tell, if it's done correctly.
 

NeverDie

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BJCP Guidelines for Mead say this:

"Sweet meads should not be cloyingly sweet, and should not have a raw, unfermented honey character".

But I know mead makers who will challenge anyone to tell that their mead was sweetened after ferment was done. You can't tell, if it's done correctly.
Well, are there any special tricks to doing it correctly, aside from not adding too much? For example, do you make 5-7 samples, backsweetened from too little to too much, and select the best that you like from among those? Then use that as the formula for backsweetening the rest of the batch?

If there's a really good protocol, I'd like to know, as I will be doing it quite a bit on my yeast roundup batches when I get to that phase.
 
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Maylar

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Well, are there any special tricks to doing it correctly, aside from not adding too much? For example, do you make 5-7 samples, backsweetened from too little to too much, and select the best that you like from among those? Then use that as the formula for backsweetening the rest of the batch?
Time heals many things. After a couple/few months the raw character goes away.

But you need to find the level of sweetness that suits you. For your experimental batches, I suggested that you go just off dry so the honey doesn't overpower the flavors imparted by the yeasts. You'll be drinking (at least sampling) soon after the ferment is done. In a real mead you do things like oaking and acid adjustments that tune the mead's balance. These things as well as tannin have an effect on perceived sweetness.

Example - I have a traditional in process now. After cold crash & clearing I added enough honey to bring the sweetness up just below where I like it where I could perceive some honey character. It's at about 1.005. Then added oak, which will reduce the perceived sweetness again. When that's done in 3 months I'll taste it and decide if it needs any more honey. This is part of the art of making mead.
 
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I'm at a disadvantage from the very start because I've never had a taste of alcohol in my entire life! Not a religious or health thing. Just never started. As a beekeeper, I like experimenting with different things to make with honey. Last year, my sisters LOVED my first batch of mead because it was 17.5% ABV and tasted like a shot of gin. Lol! Not so much with my wife who is my only taste tester, she likes sweet low ABV gentle wine. Hard to please the crowd, I tell ya! The first time I made a honey beer, most liked it. I had one guy told me "I love beer but I'll go to hell before I drink a beer made by somebody who doesn't drink!" Pretty drastic huh?
 

NeverDie

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You're saying you never even tasted the stuff you brewed last year? Why not?
 
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