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Tropical Fruit/Coconut-Spice ( after alcohol fermentation)

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  • Tropical Fruit/Coconut-Spice ( after alcohol fermentation)

    This is the last of the four posts for making meads after the initial alcohol fermentation process.


    For me this mead making path is a continuous learning process. Many opposing views on how to make the mead complicate matters. Therefore this musing is only my two cents and my way of making mead after reading great amounts of information over nearly 4 years and then combining some specifications into my process. I have fortunately managed to make some drinkable mead (see what happens this year, it may be terrible or lets hope it is better). I hope that you all get some good ideas from this information. Please combine it with your discoveries and one day there will be some real winners.

    Dilution at the time of pasteurization or boiling for those who use this procedure, of the honey lowers the TA and the pH stays the same. Kind of an important little note? Use unchlorinated water.

    Proper timing of sulphiting will assist in preventing oxidation – some at the time of fermentation – some at the time of degas and some at the time of bulk ageing? If a still mead also sulphiteing at the time of bottling and sorbate addition. Some opponents do not degas.

    Learning the yeast to use for various types of mead is a testing and drawn out process, many varying suggestions out there. Many yeasts cultures have been developed over the years. My experience has found that the liquid sweet or dry yeasts work fine however, if you happen to live in a different country and the package gets tied up for some reason the yeast is not kept cold- the ice pack melts and the yeast is? (My experience very slow to come into action as compared to the dry yeast). I have therefore decided to only concentrate on the dry yeasts from now on. I know these yeasts work: Lalvin 1116,1122 and red star pasture red and premier cuvee work well and I have read that Lalvin D47 and RC212 also work well. I have used D47 this year but have not used RC212. I would suggest that others may have different experiences. Whatever, I would say to adapt the above mentioned yeasts with the type of mead that you are making and the strains, alcohol tolerance and properties of each to your specific mead needs.

    The taste of mead can easily be affected by small additions of any number of spices and herbs (use these very carefully and stingily).

    Honey has protein so there may be protein hazes that require fining (bentonite during fermentation, and after fermentation if you are not making sparkling mead and I like to use a product called super kleer that contains Chitosan (positive) and Kieselosol (negative) for the fining process and only use bentonite during the primary fermentation phase, others prefer the sparkolloid fining agent. Mead has very few essential vitamins therefore by itself is insufficient for healthy fermentation. Many minerals are not present in adequate numbers and therefore inhibit the ability of the yeast to reproduce in healthy numbers. Sugar to alcohol conversion becomes slow resulting in stuck fermentation. We therefore must insure that the honey is provided with adequate yeast nutrition and yeast energizer (food) before the start of fermentation and approximately half way through the primary ferment with another boost of nutrients so that they will be able to handle the tougher - slower conditions of the secondary fermentation process. If re-energizing the yeast is left to long into the secondary stage of fermentation the yeast will likely become sluggish, stressed and stop or give us a hint that there is a problem with rotten egg smells with possible off flavors effecting the overall taste of the fermenting honey.

    I am a believer in the addition of Tartaric acid added before fermentation starts – adding malic acid before fermentation may encourage malolatic fermentation and Citric Acid may convert to acetic acid (acid blend). Tartaric acid will protect the must until the alcohol level creates a bad environment for competing unsuitable bacteria’s. This is one topic that is disagreed upon and is under review and revision? The pH of most honeys is in the range of 3.00-4.00. I have added 5 tsp of tartaric acid this time around; previously I have added more prior to fermentation and it has worked out fine i.e.: (we seem to consume it quickly and at present there is very little mead now available for consumption in our house hold). After the alcohol fermentation is complete the TA and pH of the mead is then adjusted to the approximate levels below with citric acid and some tartaric if necessary prior to the mead going into the bulk ageing stage. I like to do this after the fining process and the mead has cleared. My opinion.

    I am also on a new pathway in this mead making. After tasteing a sparkling black currant mead at a Meadery and finding out it was very delicious, I am going to try a few bottles of sparkling mead in each of the black-currant, blackberry and morat. Always keeping safety in mind.

    I also believe in oak and mead. They have gone hand in hand for ages. Preferably Hungarian mediun toasted Stavin staves. One or ½ of a stave during secondary alcohol fermentation – but I am still working on this to find my preference.

    Guides for TA and pH:
    Dry Mead: SG 1.000-1.005 --- TA approx .5 and pH 3.00
    Medium – SG 1.010-1.015 – TA .6, pH 3.00
    Dessert – SG 1.040-1.045, TA .7, pH 3.00

    Or let your taste buds guide as you go and determine what is best for your taste preferences.

    I suggest the important thing to do prior to pitching the yeast in making mead is to measure the pH. You want a pH level between 3.00 and 3.50 but I am not an expert with an enology degree from Davis in California. However, others have said that yeasts need a pH environment of 3.7-4.6 for their optimum efficient fermentation!? Who is right or are all? That is the question. My experience is that the 3.00-3.50 does fine; others have also suggested this? I managed this in all my meads so far this year and previously except the Morat of this year (mulberry) which started with a pH of 3.60 – slightly more than suggested – may be I should have added 2-3 more teaspoons of tartaric acid before pitching the yeast but I did not. It seems to have worked out OK because all the fermentations are continuing without any problems – so far. I do not find it necessary to take a TA test on mead before the fermentation starts but think that it is necessary as part of the adjustment phase before going into the bulk ageing process. I am totally in agreement that all the acid levels for various types of grape and fruit and mead are guidelines and should not be used as requirements – We all have different tastes! That is why this adjustment phase should be undertaken? The sweetness of honey which is significant masks the acid level making it difficult to get accurate acid levels prior to fermentation start. The pH in honey does not always reflect the acidity values but the buffering between the different acids present. Some opponents will likely express this in a different way. The temperature of the must is around the 70 degree F mark (21 C) in my fermenting area and the temperature of the fermenting must does not go to more that 75 degrees F (24 C) even if fermenting during the summer months. I prefer the fermenting temperature to stay below 75 degrees F. Remember guideline numbers for acid are useful tools to aid us in coming to a desired level (pH-acid balance) the real regulator is our taste buds and final adjustments to taste bud criteria rules?

    OK that is a small run down of how I go about it after the alcohol phase of the fermentation is over, following are the ways to proceed after reaching the 1.000 SG or below mark for three consecutive days. This is Part IV- Tropical Fruit/Coconut - Spice
    SG at start of the fermentation (Oct 18/07) was: 1.114
    pH “ “ “ “ : 3.33 (I had to add 4 tsp of tartaric on top of the Home Brew Heaven Prepared Mixture for Mead to achieve this pH number).
    Used Red Star Premier Cuvee yeast and Alphalpha/Fireweed Honey
    Used whole Vanilla Bean (slit) - introduced at the time of secondary fermentation
    SG – October 30/07 ----- .975, racked, sulphite (3 campden tabs), degas and fined.
    The spices that I use were tied up in a cheese cloth bag and seeped in the secondary part of the fermentation – they included: 1 whole cinomen stick, 2 small chunks of ginger root thinly sliced, 3 whole cloves, ¼ - nutmeg bean crushed and 6 cardomen seeds.

    Photo 1 – Tropical Fruit/Coconut-Spice mead racked to primary fermenter – much easier and more efficient to degas and fine in the primary.
    Photo 2 Complete degas – no more than 5 minutes – the electric drill at 2500 rpm’s makes a good job of it along with the previous paint mixer.
    Photo 3 – Tropical Fruit/Coconut - Spice Mead in the carboy.
    (just a first impression on this one is that it appears to look like pear as far as clearing goes – time will tell)

    When the Mead clears – approximately 10-14 days I will update this post with new photos and go through the pH and TA testing with the pH meter that I have. Cheers DAW hope it has been useful.

    I have also made strawberry again this year and raspberry – they have gone through the same stage as the previous three however I will only be using the Photos from these to show how outstanding that this fining results are and you will likely be able to see the clearness better after only 10 days!.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Thank you Daw, that is great info.
    Let's party

    AKA Brunehilda - Last of the Valkaries