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Suggestions for adding some body to mead

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David Violante

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Following up... the mead tastes pretty good with the added oak although it's still pretty light. I didn't think the oak would fix that, but it is a nice additional flavor. Since it's my first mead, I'm going to still call it a success with the knowledge that I need to start with more honey next time to give it more body and with enough water to bring it to a slightly higher ABV. It is currently at 8.5%. I still have glycerine to add, but that gets added closer to bottling right? Also, as I understand it, mead should sit for quite a bit more time. All in all, great experience, and it tastes pretty good too. It's a good place to start.

@BernardSmith I see that you're in Saratoga Springs... we will have our EMS conference there next year in October (hopefully). I would love to meet up at some point in person!
 

BernardSmith

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Assuming that the Covid 19 pandemic will be under control, that might be very possible. I spend half my week (normally) in NYC and half the week in Saratoga: I am with the State U of NY in Saratoga but my wife teaches in Manhattan and it is easier for me to commute than it is for her. So if your conference and my days in Saratoga coincide connecting would be lovely.
 

David Violante

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Ah very cool. We could meet sometime in NYC too, I'm sometimes down there to teach depending on my schedule. The conference is usually Thursday through Sunday. I'll PM the details.
 

BernardSmith

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argh..When I travel to NYC, I usually travel Thursday and return either Sunday PM or crack o'dawn Monday... But again, my travel depends on my wife's schedule and during Covid19 she has been teaching online 3 days out of 5 and so we have been based in Saratoga... So, I guess everything will depend on how effective our control of this pandemic will be by next fall.
 

winemaker81

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@David Violante, at this point, it may be best to treat the 8.5% as a strong beer. My local shop sells drops for carbonating beverages -- my son purchased a bag as he's going to sparkle some of a cherry-cider kit he purchased. Sparkle a gallon, wait a month or 2, and try it. Carbonated and chilled, the lesser body may not be noticeable.

I buy food grade glycerin by the gallon (this is about 1/4 the price of the little bottle in the shop). I add 1 oz/quart when making liqueurs (which is why I purchased it), and starting this year I add 1 oz/gallon to wines. It certainly added body to wines, and for reds enhanced fruit but did not produce a perceptible sweetness. However, I suspect adding more than I did would produce the perception of sweetness. If you try glycerin, start with a gallon of wine and add 1/2 oz glycerin, stir well, and taste. Add more until it's "right". Note that glycerin is thick and heavy, and requires a bit of effort to ensure it dissolves.

@BernardSmith's advice closely matches what I did for my last metheglin. I diluted 15 lbs of honey to make 6 gallons, and my OG was 1.089, which (IMO) is a good target. I ferment wines dry and backsweeten to taste (when desired). Yeast is not reliable to plan for the yeast's limit to expire at the point you desire. Backsweetening let's me hit the desired flavor profile.

Professionals manage to stop fermentation, as in adding spirits. Why are they successful? When you're making 1,000 barrels of wine, you'll hit some high and some low, but can average it out. Sell the ones that don't make the target under a different label.

You can do a lot of things to sweeten -- my son made a blackberry melomel, felt it was too thin and light in flavor. His solution was to backsweeten with commercial cherry juice.
 

David Violante

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@winemaker81 Thank you for the suggestions and many apologies for such a late reply... I am going to try the glycerine and I’ve been thinking that it would be good to do a small but really full bodied batch (1 gallon) that I can use to improve this one. There’s now a little headspace with all the testing and tasting, so I need something to fill that headspace. By the way, thank you for all the information about second run wine on your website. Very helpful.
 

dmw_chef

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100 PPM FT Blanc Soft (may want to do a bench trial with 50/100/150, but 100 is my most frequent target), one vanilla bean split lengthwise per gallon, half oz per gallon med+ oak cubes, half american, half french for 3-4 months will enhance your mouthfeel dramatically in even a dry mead.

The byo article posted earlier is filled with some pretty dated and bad advice. Please don't boil your honey.

Here is a good recipe that uses modern practices that will produce a sweet mead around 12%:


The rest of the wiki there is a fantastic reference for modern practice.

My usual dry traditional is the following:

3lbs honey per gallon of desired must volume, target OG about 1.100
3g/gal QA-23 rehydrated in 6.25g/gal go-ferm
2g each Fermaid O and Fermaid K, divided equally into four additions at 24, 48, and 72 hours post pitch, with the final addition at the 1/3 break (about 1.070).
Bentonite per package directions added with first nutrient addition at 24h. No need to rehydrate/slurry if you don't want to bother, just yeet it in dry.

Rack to secondary 2 weeks after it has run dry, with the additions I mentioned at the top of the post.
 

David Violante

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Thank you, I hadn't considered Blanc Soft or vanilla, but I do have a medium toasted oak spiral in. Is it too late for the blanc soft and vanilla? I looked through the Scott Labs site and they say you can add it post fermentation. Just wondering if you have any experience with that.
 

David Violante

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Ok... I’m going to take a zero (F minus) on this one. I decided to make the additional gallon of mead to add to the first fermentation (thank you all for suggesting this) and began following your recipe @dmw_chef. I was making it with my son and we were slowly adding honey to get the SG to 1.100. We then added potassium metabisulfite and for whatever reason just went on and added the Fermaid K and O. (Sigh...)

Will KMeta affect the Fermaids? Should I re-add the same dose at the 24 hour mark (like I should have) or just leave it and follow the rest of the schedule? Holy moly. Glad it was only a gallon.
 

sour_grapes

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I really don't know the answer to your question. However, I do not think the k-meta will harm the nutrients at all. I think you have to wait the normal time for the k-meta to dissipate, but then you should be fine to proceed with fermenting.
 

dmw_chef

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Ok... I’m going to take a zero (F minus) on this one. I decided to make the additional gallon of mead to add to the first fermentation (thank you all for suggesting this) and began following your recipe @dmw_chef. I was making it with my son and we were slowly adding honey to get the SG to 1.100. We then added potassium metabisulfite and for whatever reason just went on and added the Fermaid K and O. (Sigh...)

Will KMeta affect the Fermaids? Should I re-add the same dose at the 24 hour mark (like I should have) or just leave it and follow the rest of the schedule? Holy moly. Glad it was only a gallon.
don’t bother adding k-meta at the start. Honey isn’t like grapes where you have to out compete wild yeasts. Mead isn’t wine and there’s plenty of conventional wisdom from the winemaking world that don’t apply 😀

just aerate the crap out of it to dissapate the k-meta/replenish the oxygen in the must the k-meta has scavenged, and you should be fine. Follow the rest of the schedule, don’t forget to aerate real well with each addition. Don’t rack until fermentation is completely done. Add 25ppm k-meta (.2 g/gal) each time you rack and before bottling.

in the future, never add anything containing DAP at pitch, including ferm K, it can be toxic at that stage and cause off flavors due to stress. If you’re not using go-ferm, add O only at pitch.
 
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David Violante

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@dmw_chef Ok thank you~ I’ll sparge with oxygen and continue as planned.

Very interestingly, here’s today’s article from Wine Maker Magazine on Mead... I couldn’t imagine heating up or boiling honey though. That just seems so wrong to me.

I have an email into Scott Labs asking the question about GoFerm products and potassium metabisulfite. I’ll post their response. Paul, thank you... let’s see what they say.
 

dmw_chef

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Very interestingly, here’s today’s article from Wine Maker Magazine on Mead... I couldn’t imagine heating up or boiling honey though. That just seems so wrong to me.
Oh lord. That's what you get when a winemaker tries to write about mead, a lot of their thinking is a decade or two out of date; to be fair, modern mead making has advanced dramatically even in the last 5-10 years that it's hard to keep up unless you're really plugged in. So much in there flies in the face of modern meadmaking practice and process.

Don't boil your honey, there's no need to sulfite before pitching yeast. It's a toss up whether there will even be viable wild yeast in your honey, and especially if you're rehydrating with go-ferm with a proper pitch rate (at least 2g/gal) will out compete the heck out of any wild yeast that happens to be there.

Nutrition isn't one size fits all, it needs to be calculated based on the OG/expected FG/organic YAN supplied in melomels, and adding nutrients on a schedule past the 72 hour mark - especially DAP at the 6 day mark is just batty - most of my ferments are pushing 8-9% at that point, so it's a great way to get urine off flavors as yeast can't consume it past that point.

There's no need to acidulate your must, I've never had one start at a pH more than 4.

There's no need to rack every 4-6 weeks to assist in clarifying; between bentonite in primary and oak in secondary, almost all of my meads are crystal clear at 3 months.

I could go on, but I need to be working ;)

Edit: Looks like the article was plagarized from Mead additives - Finding My Words

(what did I say, a decade out of date ;))

I have an email into Scott Labs asking the question about GoFerm products and potassium metabisulfite. I’ll post their response. Paul, thank you... let’s see what they say.
k-meta in the must won't interact with the go-ferm, but will interfere with a healthy fermentation by scavenging oxygen needed by the yeast for a healthy growth phase.
 
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David Violante

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I heard back from Scott Labs today:

"The potassium metabisulfite (KMBS) will not impact the Fermaid K or Fermaid O. I would just plan to wait and do your next scheduled addition of Fermaid K and Fermaid O at 1/3 sugar depletion. If you haven't added the yeast yet, I would do so now and see how the fermentation goes. Make sure to follow the proper rehydration protocol for the yeast you are using. Usually you want to get the yeast in before the nutrients (so you are feeding the yeast you want to feed and none of the native population). As you noted, it's better to add it 24 hours after you inoculate so that the yeast has time to build up it's population before you feed it the nutrients."

Asked and answered. I'll give an update of how it goes. Heading to oxygen sparge it now.
 

winemaker81

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Scott Labs:
Usually you want to get the yeast in before the nutrients (so you are feeding the yeast you want to feed and none of the native population). As you noted, it's better to add it 24 hours after you inoculate so that the yeast has time to build up it's population before you feed it the nutrients.
That is interesting -- I add nutrient when inoculating, and never heard of doing otherwise. On the surface, waiting makes sense.
 

dmw_chef

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That is interesting -- I add nutrient when inoculating, and never heard of doing otherwise. On the surface, waiting makes sense.
Depends a little, IMO. In musts with organic YAN already present, and/or you're using go-ferm (which does have a YAN contribution on its own), no nutes at pitch. In a mead must without using go-ferm, ferm-o at pitch is a good idea. DAP/ferm-k at pitch is always not a great idea.
 

David Violante

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What pH do you typically shoot for? The author of the above article says 3.5 and a 0.65 TA. This is only my second mead so not much experience with it here. That seems to be the range of reds as well. Since I already added the nutrients, it sounds like I should forego the goferm.
 

dmw_chef

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What pH do you typically shoot for? The author of the above article says 3.5 and a 0.65 TA. This is only my second mead so not much experience with it here. That seems to be the range of reds as well.
I don't know if you saw my reply above that was held for moderation for some reason. I would encourage you to take what's in that article with a giant grain of salt; it was written as early as 2012. The practice of modern mead making has advanced significantly since then, and the article advocates practices that are generally discouraged now.

Few meadmakers stress about pre-acidulating the must. I personally have never seen a must I've mixed start above 4, and you'll usually end out at 3.5 or less. I adjust acidity post fermentation to taste according to bench trial.

Since I already added the nutrients, it sounds like I should forego the goferm.
If you haven't pitched yet, I would go ahead and include it during rehydration. The nutrient additions I suggest presume the YAN contributed by go-ferm, and go-ferm has sterols, vitamins, and other things that are taken up by yeast during the lag phase which are not present in either ferm-k or ferm-o.
 
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