Backsweetening mead

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Flumps

Backsweetening mead

Post by Flumps » Wed Feb 09, 2011 3:52 pm

Hi all. me again!

I recently put on a mead, following a recipe I believe I got from stormthecastle.com (as I am at work I can't access it) Basically, it consisted of a gallon of water, remove half, add 3lb of honey, 25 raisins, and a whole orange cut into 8, replace cap, shake for 5-6 mins to dissolve the honey, open and pitch yeast (youngs wine yeast in my case) and i chose to add a teaspoon of Youngs yeast nutrient too. (I made the O.G. to be 1.065, though that seems low to me, I think I misread my hydro)
It seems to have fermented out after a week, which is faster than I thought, no bubbles rising and no frothy head left (not that that ever really took off either, despite enough bubbles to look like a commercially carbonated soft drink) and so I racked it last night off of the lee's and removed the juice. I'm looking at bottling this soon, but was wondering about sweetening it. It seems pretty dry atm, I was wondering what sort of amount of honey would be advised to sweeten to medium at least in a gallon of mead? And am I correct in thinking i'd have to dissolve it in hot water before i added, so as to not aerate the mead, for whatever reason that is?

All very confusing to me, I've only done kit beer and cider previously! Would appreciate your help.
Cheers!

Thirsty Paul

Re: Backsweetening mead

Post by Thirsty Paul » Thu Feb 10, 2011 6:27 pm

Hi,
I’m no expert but there are a few things that seem a bit wrong here.
1) An OG of 1065 is really low for a mead; this seems likely to be correct due to the rapid ferment and will only give around 9%.
2) If you are going to back sweeten you will need to stabilise (prevent further yeast action) prior to adding more honey or it will just restart fermentation.
3) If your going to do mead it’s unlikely to taste like the commercial version (I suspect that these are massively back sweetened to give the honey taste) try our friends over at “Wines at home” for more advice.
4) Mead needs a really long maturation time, looking at years and not months to really come into its own, mead I made 2 years ago has just started to become good enough to share with friends (my take on if its actually any good)
5) For a recipe that does work but again needs months plus of maturing try searching for “Joe mattioli’s ancient spiced mead” or I think that is the right name.

Sorry I can’t be of more help, to sweeten without stabilisation you could use a commercially available wine sweetener which I believe uses saccharine instead of convertible sugars.

Try the Joe mattioli recipe it’s pretty good.

Thirsty Paul

Flumps

Re: Backsweetening mead

Post by Flumps » Fri Feb 11, 2011 1:43 pm

thanks for the reply Paul, great help!

I thought that seemed low too, but looking back now, I realise I was a total numpty, I just sterilised the hydro and dropped it in the Demi, right in with the orange slices and such, that was never going to get a good reading.. :S I also approached this recipe more like a concept, or trial, and used quite cheap honey (not the right mindset, i know, but i'm poor!) But like you say, it does explain the slow ferment. I can live with 9% mind, means I get to drink more in a sitting! :D That said, I got to thinking about backsweetening due to the, not quite bitter, almost CO2 flavour that was lingering in there when i siphoned it across. I put that down (and am hoping the layer of sediment building up again at the bottom of the vessel supports this) to a continuing ferment giving off the gas? Or have I done something heinous and spoiled this...?

I will definately stabilise before I sweeten, thanks for the warning, and I've never heard of wines at home, I'll definately check them out. Before I backsweeten, would further fermentation add any more desirable flavours, or is it just a matter of strength?

I am going to age it, I was going to leave it till mid july, and crack it on my birthday, but if it doesn't sound like I've done anything wrong, and the batch isn't ruined, then I'll probably try and save it till next years birthday! JOAM is a recipe I've seen all over the place, I'll definately be trying that one soon. Am I right in thinking he makes it, lets it ferment then leaves it to mature, lee's and all?

Thanks for your help mate

phial

Re: Backsweetening mead

Post by phial » Thu Mar 03, 2011 12:29 am

Flumps wrote: That said, I got to thinking about backsweetening due to the, not quite bitter, almost CO2 flavour that was lingering in there when i siphoned it across.
I'm no expert but I am a mead fan. If you think it was more of a CO2 feeling (rather than flavour if that makes sense) on your tongue then I would put that down to the age. Paul is spot on with saying maturing is everything. The taste/sensations change a huge amount and, though it has been a while since your post, I would be inclined to hold off sweetening. I have also found that mead easily lends itself to secondary fermentation with little prompting.......ideal if you want a sparkling mead but worth noting if you don't :D

There are quite a number of quick (short) meads that I have found but have not tried them yet so can't divulge as to their quality. It depends how patient you can be but they can still take a few months to be acceptable.

Flumps

Re: Backsweetening mead

Post by Flumps » Sun Mar 06, 2011 11:31 pm

Yeah, I know the mellowing of age is a key thought, I haven't actually sweetened it yet, i'm tempted to drop something in to definately knock fermentation off, and do half the batch as is and half sweetened, so i know for next time. Got some nice, Lavender honey for it though, should add a nice aroma to it! :D

phial

Re: Backsweetening mead

Post by phial » Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:00 pm

Flumps wrote:Yeah, I know the mellowing of age is a key thought, I haven't actually sweetened it yet, i'm tempted to drop something in to definately knock fermentation off, and do half the batch as is and half sweetened, so i know for next time. Got some nice, Lavender honey for it though, should add a nice aroma to it! :D
Sounds great :D Keep us posted!

Wolfy

Re: Backsweetening mead

Post by Wolfy » Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:08 am

Flumps wrote:Yeah, I know the mellowing of age is a key thought, I haven't actually sweetened it yet, i'm tempted to drop something in to definately knock fermentation off, and do half the batch as is and half sweetened, so i know for next time.
Ken Schraam (The Compleat Meadmaker) suggests using Potassium Sorbate to prevent fermentation from continuing when you back sweeten mead.

Flumps

Re: Backsweetening mead

Post by Flumps » Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:03 pm

Thanks Wolfy, will get my hands on some of that later today, if i can!

fatbloke

Re: Backsweetening mead

Post by fatbloke » Sat Mar 12, 2011 5:08 pm

Ok, couple of pointers here.

The JAO recipe is designed to be an easy to make with ingredients from a grocery shop/supermarket.

Some people often go on about the pith of the orange adding bitterness...... which is correct, up to a point.

With JAO, it's a recipe that uses bread yeast as it will poop out at it's alcohol tolerance earlier than a wine yeast, so any bitterness helps to balance the residual sweetness.

I, and many others, have tried to "improve" on the recipe by using wine yeast (as you have). It doesn't work. The JAO recipe with wine yeast doesn't make for a good tasting batch, so your idea of back sweetening is a good one and theoretically, should help "restore" it to it's original(ish) taste.

It does depend on what you're intending to back sweeten with. Wolfys suggestion of using sorbate to help prevent refermentation is good, though you'd normally use sulphite and sorbate at the same time, as one stuns the yeast (the sulphite) and the other prevents any yeast cells still present from multiplying (the sorbate). The sorbate you know about, the sulphite would be in the form of campden tablets - which are sodium metabisulphite (unless you're going to fine potassium metabisulphite, which is what professional wine makers use, it more available in the US, and also much more expensive than sodium metabisulphite).

The actual back sweetening ? well if you're gonna use honey, you might end up getting a cloudy haze. That's a protein haze, but if you just tried using cheapo, processed to hell and back, supermarket honey, it may not produce a haze so much (but depending on the honey originally used, it might not have the same flavour etc).

Don't just pour a load of honey in and stir though, add it to the batch at about 100 grammes at a time, then taste (and if you have the kit, test the gravity each time). Just for info, most of the commercial meads available in the UK are "dessert" meads, and hideously sweet, with a gravity in the region of 1.040 - I don't enjoy these, they taste fine but are just too sweet for my taste.

If you make another batch of the JAO, just use something like Allinsons bread yeast (the Fleischmanns mentioned in the recipe is a US brand). Then just make it as per the recipe. It's often good once it's cleared and the fruit has dropped. It's better if you can bottle it and it ages for 6 months.

regards

fatbloke

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Paddy Bubbles
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Re: Backsweetening mead

Post by Paddy Bubbles » Tue Jun 21, 2016 12:11 pm

Bit of a thread resurrection, but this seemed like the best place for my question.

I'm looking for some advice on how to go about back-sweetening a mead. How much campden and potassium sorbate will I need for a 1 gal batch?

I've ready some conflicting opinions online about how much campden to add, with some people saying that adding too much will ruin the mead, giving a sulphur aroma and flavour. Any thoughts?

Also, is it okay to dissolve the camden in some warm water and add directly to the demi john. Some sources say it's better to rack on top of these stabilizing agents.

And what about sorbate? Recommended dosage seems to be 1/2 tsp per gallon, but can I add this to the mead? (It's a small batch, and I don't want to lose more mead due to repeated rackings)

All advice much appreciated. Ta!

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