proposed all fruit Blackberry mead

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Huba Huba

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After reading and re-reading an old post "critique/inputs for blackberry wine" by Vernsgal and dated 5/9/2013 I have put together this proposed all fruit blackberry mead. The original post was for a wine, does anyone see a problem changing the sugar source to honey? If so I will probably just attempt to make it as a wine.
Any comments or problems foreseen? Thoughts on optional ingredients? Bananas and jam were suggested in the thread and I'm not sure the Noblesse and Lallzyme even existed when the thread was written.

3 gallon batch
30+ lbs frozen blackberries
4 lbs elderberries
3 bananas peeled/sliced (? optional)
4-6 oz black raspberry jam (? optional)
K Meta
Pectinase
3.0 gm Noblesse (? optional)
0.3 gm Lallzyme (? optional)
Ozarka spring water to 3.75 - 4.0 gallons (need 3+ gallons at first racking)
Calcium carbonate to ph 3.6
6 - 7 lbs Honey, to SG 1.092 ( 1.090 - 1.095, 11.8 - 12.5% if goes to 1.000)
5 gm 71b yeast
6.25 gm Goferm
8.6 gm Fermaid O
Bentonite 4 tsp in 6 oz water soaked overnight and added to primary

Thaw blackberries. Bring elderberries to simmer then turn off heat. Add blackberries, elderberries, banana, KMeta, and water to primary container. At 12 hours add pectinase. Allow 12 additional hours to equilibrate and chemicals to work. Check ph and add calcium carbonate to adjust ph to 3.6. Add honey to desired SG/ brix and recheck ph. Oxygen 0.5 lpm x 3 min.
Hydrate yeast with Goferm and pitch. Add Noblesse and Lallzyme.
At 24 hours or as soon as fermentation is active, degas and add the first dose of 2.15 gm Fermaid O and repeat oxygen. Degas and add additional doses of Fermaid at 48, 72 hrs and ⅓ SB as well as oxygen.
At 48-72 hours add hydrated bentonite.
 

Jim Welch

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There are many recipes online for blackberry mead or melomel as a mead made with fruit is known. Did you search for any straight up mead or melomel recipes? Might help instead of adapting a wine recipe.
Some other things occur to me. Lallzyme is typically added at crush with grapes so presuming it will help with blackberries and elderberries perhaps add it at the first step, it also contains pectinase so maybe add it when adding pectinase and/or instead of pectinase. BTW, lallzyme beta at least predates the thread date you specified so it was in existence then but perhaps had not made it to amateur vintners.
I don’t know about the calcium carbonate, I use that in brewing to build a specific water profile for a specific beer since I use RO/DI water for brewing only.
When using bentonite( (which I’ve only used in white wines so far) I add that at the beginning. I’ve read it will help with degassing during fermentation by creating nucleation sites for CO2 to come out of solution on, riding up with CO2 then falling back after the gas is liberated helping to clear the wine on the way back down where the process repeats.
Yes to Go-Ferm.
Yes to oxygenation, I’m a fan of direct oxygenation IF one already has the equipment for it but care must be taken not to over oxygenate from what I’ve read in brewing literature years ago. I do it on every batch of wine and the couple meads I’ve made but I oxygenate at pitch and then 2-3 more times at 12 hour intervals as I’ve read yeast deplete O2 in about 12 hours.
I’d use at least 2 or better yet 3 5g packs of yeast also, this may change the amount of Go-Ferm and nutrients you need to add though. Have you checked a TOSNA calculator for the yeast, Go-Ferm, and Fermaid O amounts needed? If not look into that.
 

Huba Huba

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Thanks for your reply. I am really striving for a very flavorful blackberry, most mead recipes strive for a balance between fruit and honey. I think the honey will add a little more complexity but honey flavor it is not what I am looking for. I have several gallons of extra honey and thought this would be a good way to use some of it.
I wasn't aware that you could get to much oxygen in the first 72 hours, or that it only last 12 hours, that's good to know. How do you oxygenate your must, I use a stainless steel diffusion stone but only guessed about flow rate and duration.
What's your reasoning on so much yeast, that would be 5gm/gal? I have limited experience and have used starters for difficult ferments but thought 5 gm would be plenty for a 3 gallon batch.
 

Jim Welch

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Thanks for your reply. I am really striving for a very flavorful blackberry, most mead recipes strive for a balance between fruit and honey. I think the honey will add a little more complexity but honey flavor it is not what I am looking for. I have several gallons of extra honey and thought this would be a good way to use some of it.
I wasn't aware that you could get to much oxygen in the first 72 hours, or that it only last 12 hours, that's good to know. How do you oxygenate your must, I use a stainless steel diffusion stone but only guessed about flow rate and duration.
What's your reasoning on so much yeast, that would be 5gm/gal? I have limited experience and have used starters for difficult ferments but thought 5 gm would be plenty for a 3 gallon batch.
I missed you said 3 gallon batch, I'd still use 2, its only a couple dollars more and it is difficult to use too much yeast. My reasoning is to reduce the lag phase where yeast spend most of their energy building up their population to a certain population density. But it is not absolutely necessary.
I don’t think you are over oxygenating at the rate you are doing but of course the only way to know is with a dissolved oxygen meter, what you and I are doing is more of a rule of thumb method.
I oxygenate using the same equipment as you do but at 1 L/min for 135 seconds at pitch, 115 seconds 12 hours after pitch, 90 seconds 24 hours after pitch with my my wines starting gravity around 1.100. With meads i do a fourth of 75 seconds 36 hours after pitch.
Excessive oxygen is toxic to yeast as it is to many life forms
Have you consulted a TOSNA calculator?
 
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ChuckD

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When you folks talk about oxygenation are you using pure oxygen or compressed air? Pure oxygen is toxic to many things including us at high doses. Not so much for air!

I do some SCUBA diving and if you breath “oxygen” at depth it would be almost instantly fatal.
 

Jim Welch

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When you folks talk about oxygenation are you using pure oxygen or compressed air? Pure oxygen is toxic to many things including us at high doses. Not so much for air!

I do some SCUBA diving and if you breath “oxygen” at depth it would be almost instantly fatal.
Yes, pure O2, I pointed out to the OP that one can over oxygenate using O2 as well as the fact that excessive pure oxygen can be fatal to many life forms.
I won’t dispute your reference to breathing pure O2 in a highly pressurized environment. Of course in that environment you could get narced from the Nitrogen in your SCUBA air tanks even though at ambient pressure the nitrogen we all breath in air is harmless so that is a special case.
My understanding of the USA space program is that the crew compartments used pure O2 until the Apollo 1(I believe) disaster where they found sparks caused by faulty wiring caused the flash fire that killed all 3 astronauts onboard during a test. After that NASA switched to regular air to mitigate the chance of this happening again. My point being that at ambient pressure pure O2 is not toxic to us to the point of instantly or quickly killing us, long term exposure is I’d imagine not a good thing though since O2 is highly reactive.
The use of pure O2 is widespread in hone and commercial brewing since most brewing is done in a sealed system. From my readings I understand that some perhaps many commercial wineries use it too but they are dealing with much larger vats of must than we home wine makers use.
I would never tell any home winemaker that they need to go out and buy an oxygenation system but if one already has one I believe it can be a useful tool.
 

ChuckD

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Yes, pure O2, I pointed out to the OP that one can over oxygenate using O2 as well as the fact that excessive pure oxygen can be fatal to many life forms.
I won’t dispute your reference to breathing pure O2 in a highly pressurized environment. Of course in that environment you could get narced from the Nitrogen in your SCUBA air tanks even though at ambient pressure the nitrogen we all breath in air is harmless so that is a special case.
My understanding of the USA space program is that the crew compartments used pure O2 until the Apollo 1(I believe) disaster where they found sparks caused by faulty wiring caused the flash fire that killed all 3 astronauts onboard during a test. After that NASA switched to regular air to mitigate the chance of this happening again. My point being that at ambient pressure pure O2 is not toxic to us to the point of instantly or quickly killing us, long term exposure is I’d imagine not a good thing though since O2 is highly reactive.
The use of pure O2 is widespread in hone and commercial brewing since most brewing is done in a sealed system. From my readings I understand that some perhaps many commercial wineries use it too but they are dealing with much larger vats of must than we home wine makers use.
I would never tell any home winemaker that they need to go out and buy an oxygenation system but if one already has one I believe it can be a useful tool.
Thanks. I wasn’t aware that O2 was used by home winemakers in fermenting or brewing. I asked because many people use the terms oxygen and air interchangeably.
 
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I am working on a very similar recipe right now, but I am not quite so far in the planning stage.

Questions:
  • If you want a blackberry mead, why use other fruits?
  • Why simmer the elderberries? Based on my understanding, that is going to "lock in" some of the pectin and reduce the apparent effectiveness of pectic enzyme and/or Lallzyme.
  • Based on your listed fruit quantities, it seems like you are striving for a lot of fruit flavor. Why top off the batch with spring water rather than juice?
Comments:
  • Assuming you are adding bananas to gain mouthfeel and roundness, I'm not sure that's necessary. 71B's conversion of malic acid to lactic acid is going to help with that.
 

Huba Huba

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that's why I posted as a proposed recipe, to get other peoples opinions, and thank you for feedback.
I Have made two other meads with blackberries, one included elderberries and that was my favorite. The elderberries seem to compliment the blackberry. Neither were as strongly berry flavored as I want.
The bananas and black raspberry jam were additions I found in other recipes and sounded like they might be beneficial, but, as listed, are optional and I wanted to see what other people thought. You're right, with that much fruit and the 71b it should have sufficient mouthfeel w/o bananas. is there a downside to using them, to much mouthfeel?
Simmering? good question, probably don't need to.
Probably won't need a significant amount of water, 30 lbs of berries and 2 quarts of honey should be very close to the needed volume. Juice would be good, just didn't think 1-2 quarts or less water would make much difference with that much fruit.

I'm relatively new at this and sometimes what seems like a good idea today, seems foolish or just plain stupid a couple of weeks later (like and 18% ABV traditional, yeah, that was not a good idea for a beginner)
 
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that's why I posted as a proposed recipe, to get other peoples opinions, and thank you for feedback.
👍 It is SOOOOOOO much easier to provide feedback on a recipe that fix a problem. Great choice on your part -- others would be happier in the long term if they did this!

You're right, with that much fruit and the 71b it should have sufficient mouthfeel w/o bananas. is there a downside to using them, to much mouthfeel?
Not for me. You probably don't need the banana, but I'd add it.

Juice would be good, just didn't think 1-2 quarts or less water would make much difference with that much fruit.
Probably so, but I'd go with all fruit, adjusting the volume so I have enough for the secondary. Or top with wine -- given what you're making, pretty much anything will work, including heavy reds.

I'm relatively new at this and sometimes what seems like a good idea today, seems foolish or just plain stupid a couple of weeks later (like and 18% ABV traditional, yeah, that was not a good idea for a beginner)
I agree that some ideas don't seem quite as brilliant upon reflection (I've had enough brain farts!).

Making a high ABV wine is a more advanced topic, but not really difficult, although the yeast does not always cooperate.

To hit 18% ABV you can start with more honey, targeting SG 1.115 to 1.120. When the SG reaches 1.000, and an EC-1118 starter and enough sugar to raise it to 1.010. Repeat until the wine reaches 18% ABV, or the yeast quits. Alternately, add Everclear to raise the ABV to 18%.
 

Rice_Guy

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I am curious if you have noted that astringent flavor increases with years of age in past batches? ,, I have seen astringent in past years of black raspberry as it ages, and blackberries have some of that flavor when fresh.
I Have made two other meads with blackberries, one included elderberries and that was my favorite. The elderberries seem to compliment the blackberry. Neither were as strongly berry flavored as I want.
(I am toying with the idea of a black raspberry mead this year.)
 

Huba Huba

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winemaker81, the 18% ABV was one of my first attempted meads and it turned out awful, I didn't know anything, nutrients were off, didn't have a hydrometer and tried to use a refractometer, I thought fermentation had stalled and I added DAP, (several times!). Probably several other serious mistakes. When finished it was HOT, strong sulfur and generally just nasty. I wish I had saved some of it to see if it would improve with several years aging but I poured it out. 8 months ago I fermented 1 gallon of 18% blackberry/elderberry "Port" that is currently bulk aging but it was pretty good right after I adding a little everclear and can't wait to taste at 18 months.

Rice_Guy, I haven't noticed any, but both are a little more than a year old
 

Huba Huba

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OK, I'm ready to start this but wanted someone to check my math. I want to be able to rack 3 gallons so am shooting for 3.5 gallons after primary.
3.5 gal minus 0.5 gallon of honey. So I need 3 gallons of fruit, if I divide this by 80% (assumed juice yield) > 3.75 gal is my starting volume of fruit.
3.75 gal x 8.4 lb/gal > 31.5 lbs of fruit (1 lb banana + 4 lbs elderberry + 26.5 lb blackberries)
Is that conservative enough? Is 80% a good number? To high or low? Everything I read says to figure 10 lbs of fruit per gallon so that seems in line with my calculations.

Second question. With this much fruit how do you thaw it without risking infection? usually I add enough warm water to help. How warm does the fruit need to be before I add K Meta? same question with Pectic enzyme?
I can keep it in a refrigerator until thawed, will probably take a couple of days or more, but at some point have to warm to room temp.
 

Earldw

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OK, I'm ready to start this but wanted someone to check my math. I want to be able to rack 3 gallons so am shooting for 3.5 gallons after primary.
3.5 gal minus 0.5 gallon of honey. So I need 3 gallons of fruit, if I divide this by 80% (assumed juice yield) > 3.75 gal is my starting volume of fruit.
3.75 gal x 8.4 lb/gal > 31.5 lbs of fruit (1 lb banana + 4 lbs elderberry + 26.5 lb blackberries)
Is that conservative enough? Is 80% a good number? To high or low? Everything I read says to figure 10 lbs of fruit per gallon so that seems in line with my calculations.

Second question. With this much fruit how do you thaw it without risking infection? usually I add enough warm water to help. How warm does the fruit need to be before I add K Meta? same question with Pectic enzyme?
I can keep it in a refrigerator until thawed, will probably take a couple of days or more, but at some point have to warm to room temp.
May I ask how you are storing frozen fruit? I keep mine in 1-gallon freezer bags and they thaw pretty quickly to a workable state for blackberries though big ole fat muscadines take a bit longer.
I would think a rapid warmup from frozen to use would would be advantageous to reduce the chance of infection before pitching yeast.
 

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I use ziplock storage containers for better stacking in the freezer. I let them warm on the counter for 24 hours, still relatively cool. The fruit is mushy, but not all liquid. Chance of spoilage at this point is really low.

Some will add Kmeta here and then pitch in 24 hours, I just smash the fruit and pitch. Boil your sugar and add to the cool/cold pulp, that will bring it up to room temp rather quickly. Any final sugar amounts I just throw in without boiling in water.
 

Huba Huba

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I use 1 gallon ziplock bags also.
I started this 7/21. Thawed at room temp for most of a day then finished in refrigerator. Pitched yeast at 7 pm 7/22 and I think its' about finished. Dropped 70 points in the first 36 hours and 24 hours later airlock bubbling had slowed to less than 1/min. I plan on checking SG and removing the blackberry pulp tomorrow, that's 5 days from pitch, is this to early to remove fruitor should I let it sit in the primary a little longer?
 

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What is the sugar content of blackberries? My research suggests they have a brix of around 10 (so a gravity of about 1.040). Thirty pounds suggests close to 3 gallons , so the SG of the juice will be 1.040. Six pounds of honey (half a gallon) will have a gravity of 1.070 when diluted with water , but with the juice this will finish at closer to 1.110 so a potential ABV of 14%. Blackberries can have a pH of 3.2 and so with honey you MAY find a problem with buffering the pH to keep it at 3 or higher.
 

Huba Huba

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Yes, I overshot my desired starting gravity. Obviously math challenged. The 6 lbs honey wasn't a fixed amount , but I used it all and a little more. At pitch the gravity was 1.106 but 12 hours later, after fermentation started, it was 1.110 so obviously it started even higher and I didn't get my honey dissolved adequately. Without water and only a blackberry sludge it was a problem.
It's currently setting at 1.004 so I am at or slightly above 14%. I have never had one of my meads go below 1.000. I removed the fruit. It taste great, not much alcohol burn and very tart. A little sweetness should improve it.
 
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Yes, I overshot my desired starting gravity. Obviously math challenged. The 6 lbs honey wasn't a fixed amount , but I used it all and a little more. At pitch the gravity was 1.106 but 12 hours later, after fermentation started, it was 1.110 so obviously it started even higher and I didn't get my honey dissolved adequately. Without water and only a blackberry sludge it was a problem.
Honey, sugar syrup, glycerin, and concentrates do not necessarily mix easily.

When adding glycerin at bottling time, I start the siphon, then add K-meta and glycerin diluted with wine, and stir numerous times during the racking. When reconstituting concentrates, I use a similar method, and still find the SG may be different when I inoculate the next day. When you believe it fully mixed, stir some more.
 

Earldw

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I don’t remember the details, but when I made cizer a few years ago I remember the recipe saying to mix the honey with equal parts apple juice to thin it down before adding to the fermentation vessel.
 

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