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2nd Attempt...Super Sweet Cherry Bomb

Barrel Char Wood Products

BlindMike

Got Mead? Patron
GotMead Patron
Registered Member
Apr 13, 2023
22
2
3
New Jersey
I ended up burning down my first mead (JAOM) to 0.996 sooooo.....My ADHD brain jumped right in and decided to start a super sweet Cherry methomel this past weekend. The idea being that I'll take 1 gallon of the JAOM and backsweeten it to taste, maybe add a little spice, and a portion (or all) of the other gallon will be mixed with the cherry to balance it out.

1 Gallon Batch

3lbs. (33fl. Oz) Costco Unfiltered Wildflower Honey
3qts. (96oz/2839ml) Trader Joes 100% Red Tart Cherry Juice
1 x 5g packet Lavalin 71b
6.25g Go-Ferm
4.4g Fermaid-O (4 x 1.1g doses @ end of lag, 24, 48, and 72 hours)

Starting Gravity 1.148 I was shooting for an 1.120 so the lesson I learned here was always check the brix of the juice you are using BEFORE you start mixing in the honey. :D

Directions
Add 2qts. Cherry Juice to pot.
Add 3lbs. (approx. 33 fl. ounces.) honey to pot, mix well warming to 135F.
Pour mixture into fermenter.
Add remaining 1qt. Cherry Juice and mix well. (You may wish to take a gravity reading at this time for your notes.)
Read temperature of must and allow to cool.

Rehydration
Modified my yeast rehydration process thanks to feedback from here.
In a measuring cup add 25ml/gram of yeast. (125ml(1/2c. water:5grams yeast)
Heat water to 125-135F and add 1.25g of Go-Ferm per 1g of yeast to be used. (5g pack of yeast = 6.25g Go-Ferm)
Allow to cool to 104G
Check temperature of water and gently reheat to 104F if needed.
Stir in yeast packet. Continue to stir and oxygenate for 15 minutes.
Check the temperature of both yeast slurry and must. If temperature difference is greater than 18F, temper slurry with must before pitching yeast.

Pitched yeast, slurry was 92F and must was 88F. I am thinking I may have jumped the gun here. Should I have waited until the must was cooler?

1 to 2 fl oz. of Spice blend/extract to be added during secondary.
8oz. Kettle One 80 proof.
4 Cinnamon sticks
1c. French Oak - Medium Toast.
Steeped in mason jar for 2-4 weeks.
(Considering adding a hint of vanilla bean and/or nutmeg)

Nutrition
TOSNA 3.0 1/4tsp. Fermaid-O at end of lag, then at 24, 48, and 72 hours.

Fermentation started off like gangbusters around 2 hours after pitching. For the first 30-ish hours temps were mid to high 70's in the house, must reached a high of 79.2F. Found a second hand beverage fridge and have been able to keep the fermentation in the 66-68F range since.

Another lesson learned.....Don't make 1 gallon of Melomel in a 1 gallon Fermonster. Aerating can get real messy real fast. At 24 hours the must was sticky but delicious. At 48 hours the overflow of foam was less sticky and even more delicious. Glass 1.4 gallon wide mouth fermenter on order for my next batch.
 

4give

Honey Master
Registered Member
Jan 1, 2018
392
69
28
Montrose, CO
Hey! It sounds like it at least kicked off fairly strong, so that may be a good start. Just my thoughts:
*You don't need to 'oxygenate' during rehydration. The temp at pitch is important, but it is also good to add must slowly in stages not just for temp, but to get the yeast used to what it will be going into as well.
*Did you add the vodka to the must? If so, you're making it that much harder for the yeast to chew through sugars with the higher ABV. Fortifying after fermentation may be a consideration.
*For that high of gravity, I'd think 1/4 teaspoon seems short on nutrients. You also might want to oxygenate it a lot for at least the 1st couple of days - an O2 stone would be ideal over stirring the heck out of it (as you noted based on the size of your fermenter ;) ).
*It's possible it ferments pretty far, but from what you've provided here, and my understanding of it, I wouldn't be surprised if it stalls out a bit early.
*Take your time on the ingredient additions. Don't have your mind made up, and go with small amounts. Give it time and taste. Just me, but 4 cinnamon sticks for a gallon seems like a lot.
Let us know how it goes.
 

BlindMike

Got Mead? Patron
GotMead Patron
Registered Member
Apr 13, 2023
22
2
3
New Jersey
Did you add the vodka to the must?
Sorry I was a bit vague on this part. I mixed up the 8 ounce vodka, spice & wood combination in a mason jar and will only be adding about 1 or 2 ounces during secondary fermentation. I am planning on adding it 1 teaspoon at a time. Checked on the mason jar today, it is a very dark caramel color and smells absolutely delicious.

*For that high of gravity, I'd think 1/4 teaspoon seems short on nutrients. You also might want to oxygenate it a lot for at least the 1st couple of days - an O2 stone would be ideal over stirring the heck out of it (as you noted based on the size of your fermenter ;) ).
*It's possible it ferments pretty far, but from what you've provided here, and my understanding of it, I wouldn't be surprised if it stalls out a bit early.
When I get home tonight the fermentation will be at about the 95 hour mark. The RAPT Pill says the must is a happy 66F and the gravity is 1.046, but I don't think that is correct. The neck of the Fermonster is interfering with the pill's ability to get an accurate reading. Doesn't look like that will be an issue if I had more headspace. Ordered 1.4 gallon wide mouth glass carboy with spigot for my next 1 gallon batch. Hopefully that solves my gravity reading and foam-poc-alypse problems. lol
 

Squatchy

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Nov 3, 2014
5,493
239
63
Denver
I ended up burning down my first mead (JAOM) to 0.996 sooooo.....My ADHD brain jumped right in and decided to start a super sweet Cherry methomel this past weekend. The idea being that I'll take 1 gallon of the JAOM and backsweeten it to taste, maybe add a little spice, and a portion (or all) of the other gallon will be mixed with the cherry to balance it out.

1 Gallon Batch

3lbs. (33fl. Oz) Costco Unfiltered Wildflower Honey
3qts. (96oz/2839ml) Trader Joes 100% Red Tart Cherry Juice
1 x 5g packet Lavalin 71b
6.25g Go-Ferm
4.4g Fermaid-O (4 x 1.1g doses @ end of lag, 24, 48, and 72 hours)

Starting Gravity 1.148 I was shooting for an 1.120 so the lesson I learned here was always check the brix of the juice you are using BEFORE you start mixing in the honey. :D

Directions
Add 2qts. Cherry Juice to pot.
Add 3lbs. (approx. 33 fl. ounces.) honey to pot, mix well warming to 135F.
Pour mixture into fermenter.
Add remaining 1qt. Cherry Juice and mix well. (You may wish to take a gravity reading at this time for your notes.)
Read temperature of must and allow to cool.

Rehydration
Modified my yeast rehydration process thanks to feedback from here.
In a measuring cup add 25ml/gram of yeast. (125ml(1/2c. water:5grams yeast)
Heat water to 125-135F and add 1.25g of Go-Ferm per 1g of yeast to be used. (5g pack of yeast = 6.25g Go-Ferm)
Allow to cool to 104G
Check temperature of water and gently reheat to 104F if needed.
Stir in yeast packet. Continue to stir and oxygenate for 15 minutes.
Check the temperature of both yeast slurry and must. If temperature difference is greater than 18F, temper slurry with must before pitching yeast.

Pitched yeast, slurry was 92F and must was 88F. I am thinking I may have jumped the gun here. Should I have waited until the must was cooler?

1 to 2 fl oz. of Spice blend/extract to be added during secondary.
8oz. Kettle One 80 proof.
4 Cinnamon sticks
1c. French Oak - Medium Toast.
Steeped in mason jar for 2-4 weeks.
(Considering adding a hint of vanilla bean and/or nutmeg)

Nutrition
TOSNA 3.0 1/4tsp. Fermaid-O at end of lag, then at 24, 48, and 72 hours.

Fermentation started off like gangbusters around 2 hours after pitching. For the first 30-ish hours temps were mid to high 70's in the house, must reached a high of 79.2F. Found a second hand beverage fridge and have been able to keep the fermentation in the 66-68F range since.

Another lesson learned.....Don't make 1 gallon of Melomel in a 1 gallon Fermonster. Aerating can get real messy real fast. At 24 hours the must was sticky but delicious. At 48 hours the overflow of foam was less sticky and even more delicious. Glass 1.4 gallon wide mouth fermenter on order for my next batch.



Hey. If you can, slow down a minute. And go through the podcast starting on 9/5/17. You will learn in a few weeks by taking notes and then doing that. You will learn more in three weeks than you will in ten years of mistakes like you are heading into.
 

4give

Honey Master
Registered Member
Jan 1, 2018
392
69
28
Montrose, CO
Sorry I was a bit vague on this part. I mixed up the 8 ounce vodka, spice & wood combination in a mason jar and will only be adding about 1 or 2 ounces during secondary fermentation. I am planning on adding it 1 teaspoon at a time. Checked on the mason jar today, it is a very dark caramel color and smells absolutely delicious.


When I get home tonight the fermentation will be at about the 95 hour mark. The RAPT Pill says the must is a happy 66F and the gravity is 1.046, but I don't think that is correct. The neck of the Fermonster is interfering with the pill's ability to get an accurate reading. Doesn't look like that will be an issue if I had more headspace. Ordered 1.4 gallon wide mouth glass carboy with spigot for my next 1 gallon batch. Hopefully that solves my gravity reading and foam-poc-alypse problems. lol
Hey. Glad you're not adding vodka to primary ;)
You likely know this, but it's far easier to just let the fermentation go. Meaning, you don't have to go higher SG to try and make it sweeter. It's easy to ferment to dry, and then back-sweeten to what you like.
 

BlindMike

Got Mead? Patron
GotMead Patron
Registered Member
Apr 13, 2023
22
2
3
New Jersey
Update on my Cherry Bomb Mead.
Took a gravity reading today and gave it a taste.
OG 1.146, todays reading 1.034 @ 62.8F. That makes it about 15.2% ABV per the calculator. I was very surprised to get the gravity reading that I did. I read that Lavalin 71b takes a nap at 14% ABV.
Question: I was originally expecting the primary to finish at around 1.040, should I rack off the biomass now that it's down to 034 or wait a few days and see what it does.

Tasting Notes: Very tart, but pleasantly so. Surprisingly the sweetness seems barely noticeable, but the honey notes are present on the finish. I'm new to describing honey notes so the best I can come up with at the moment is "golden" notes on the finish.

Tasted the mason jar with the medium toasted French Oak and cinnamon sticks in it. It tastes so good. Mildly spicey cinnamon, hint of vanilla and subtle brown sugar notes.
 
Last edited:

Squatchy

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Nov 3, 2014
5,493
239
63
Denver
Update on my Cherry Bomb Mead.
Took a gravity reading today and gave it a taste.
OG 1.146, todays reading 1.034 @ 62.8F. That makes it about 15.2% ABV per the calculator. I was very surprised to get the gravity reading that I did. I read that Lavalin 71b takes a nap at 14% ABV.
Question: I was originally expecting the primary to finish at around 1.040, should I rack off the biomass now that it's down to 034 or wait a few days and see what it does.

Tasting Notes: Very tart, but pleasantly so. Surprisingly the sweetness seems barely noticeable, but the honey notes are present on the finish. I'm new to describing honey notes so the best I can come up with at the moment is "golden" notes on the finish.

Tasted the mason jar with the medium toasted French Oak and cinnamon sticks in it. It tastes so good. Mildly spicey cinnamon, hint of vanilla and subtle brown sugar notes.
Rarely does a yeast tap out where it is listed nowadays. The protocol we use when we rehydrate, the nutrients we feed them and the O2 adds we give them early on in the first few days make them much stronger than back in the day when the yeast was given their ABV max numbers.
 
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BlindMike

Got Mead? Patron
GotMead Patron
Registered Member
Apr 13, 2023
22
2
3
New Jersey
Rarely does a yeast tap out where it is listed nowadays. The protocol we use when we rehydrate, the nutrients we feed them and the O2 adds we give them early on in the first few days make them much stronger than back in the day when the yeast was given their ABV max numbers.
Good to know. It hit 1.032 as of tonight's gravity reading. I'm going to rack it to secondary. It has a great tartness and I don't think I want to lose any more of the mild sweetness that is breaking through. 1.146 to 1.032, calculator says 15.4%, that seems high enough.

Edit: Here's a picture from last night. Wife says it is a deep maroon. CherryBomb1_20230515_SMALL.jpg
 

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Last edited:

Squatchy

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Nov 3, 2014
5,493
239
63
Denver
Good to know. It hit 1.032 as of tonight's gravity reading. I'm going to rack it to secondary. It has a great tartness and I don't think I want to lose any more of the mild sweetness that is breaking through. 1.146 to 1.032, calculator says 15.4%, that seems high enough.

Edit: Here's a picture from last night. Wife says it is a deep maroon. View attachment 2009

So just don't add any more sugars until you stabilize it
 

BlindMike

Got Mead? Patron
GotMead Patron
Registered Member
Apr 13, 2023
22
2
3
New Jersey
So just don't add any more sugars until you stabilize it
Plan is to let it sit in the mini-fridge for a few weeks to a month, then give it a taste and check for sediment. If all goes well I'll stabilize and then add 1/2-1tsp. of my toasted French oak and cinnamon extract and see how it tastes after another few weeks or month.

Still reading up on stabilizing, but so far these are my notes copied from the forums:

Stabilization:
1) Rack off of any visible lees.
2) Add Potassium Metabisulfite, wait 48 hours (per Oskaar), then add potassium sorbate.
3) Back-sweeten and wait for the result to clear (both honey and juice concentrates will suspend in the mead, taking a while to settle out.
4) Rack to a bottling bucket, and then bottle.
**You want to wait several days for the metabisulfite to work before adding sorbate. The sulfites will kill any malolactic bacteria present. If you add sorbate to an active malolactic culture, it will get turned into a "geranium smelling" ester that will never age out.**

Dosage:
Potassium Metabisulfite (K-Meta): ¼ tsp (0.35g)/5 gallons = 50ppm.
Potassium Sorbate: 1/4tsp (0.575g)/gallon or ½ tsp (1.15g)/gallon if back-sweetening.

I know I have to use sulfites, but I'd like to use as little as possible without creating bottle bombs. As a kid I had horrible migraines from sulfites and still have to watch out of over-sulfited dried fruits. are my dosage numbers good?
 

Squatchy

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Nov 3, 2014
5,493
239
63
Denver
Plan is to let it sit in the mini-fridge for a few weeks to a month, then give it a taste and check for sediment. If all goes well I'll stabilize and then add 1/2-1tsp. of my toasted French oak and cinnamon extract and see how it tastes after another few weeks or month.

Still reading up on stabilizing, but so far these are my notes copied from the forums:

Stabilization:
1) Rack off of any visible lees.
2) Add Potassium Metabisulfite, wait 48 hours (per Oskaar), then add potassium sorbate.
3) Back-sweeten and wait for the result to clear (both honey and juice concentrates will suspend in the mead, taking a while to settle out.
4) Rack to a bottling bucket, and then bottle.
**You want to wait several days for the metabisulfite to work before adding sorbate. The sulfites will kill any malolactic bacteria present. If you add sorbate to an active malolactic culture, it will get turned into a "geranium smelling" ester that will never age out.**

Dosage:
Potassium Metabisulfite (K-Meta): ¼ tsp (0.35g)/5 gallons = 50ppm.
Potassium Sorbate: 1/4tsp (0.575g)/gallon or ½ tsp (1.15g)/gallon if back-sweetening.

I know I have to use sulfites, but I'd like to use as little as possible without creating bottle bombs. As a kid I had horrible migraines from sulfites and still have to watch out of over-sulfited dried fruits. are my dosage numbers good?
Can be. That's the first dose. If you mead is clear when you add it. And you don't rack it a bunch. You could be ok. I would add it now and then add the same amount before you bottle it. Do you understand Bound sulfites vs unbound?
 

BlindMike

Got Mead? Patron
GotMead Patron
Registered Member
Apr 13, 2023
22
2
3
New Jersey
Can be. That's the first dose. If you mead is clear when you add it. And you don't rack it a bunch. You could be ok. I would add it now and then add the same amount before you bottle it. Do you understand Bound sulfites vs unbound?
Just the most basic of knowledge. When adding SO2 some of it can get bound to other molecules reducing the free SO2 to a lower amount than you added.

Example: Finished mead has 10ppm SO2 so I add 40ppm with KMeta, but 15ppm get bound to other molecules in the process. The mead would end up only having a 35ppm SO2 level and be at risk for spoilage.

I have a set of S02 test strips that supposedly work with red wines and dark liquids, but neither me, my adaptive technology, nor my wife who has great eyesight can see the color changes on the strips. I'll probably eventually get a digital tester, but that is not in the budget right now. Any suggestions for testing strips or equipment? Or is the standard, just double the SO2 dose?
 

Squatchy

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Nov 3, 2014
5,493
239
63
Denver
Just the most basic of knowledge. When adding SO2 some of it can get bound to other molecules reducing the free SO2 to a lower amount than you added.

Example: Finished mead has 10ppm SO2 so I add 40ppm with KMeta, but 15ppm get bound to other molecules in the process. The mead would end up only having a 35ppm SO2 level and be at risk for spoilage.

I have a set of S02 test strips that supposedly work with red wines and dark liquids, but neither me, my adaptive technology, nor my wife who has great eyesight can see the color changes on the strips. I'll probably eventually get a digital tester, but that is not in the budget right now. Any suggestions for testing strips or equipment? Or is the standard, just double the SO2 dose?
A double dose will never be too much. As you have said, it binds, so you lose some on the first ad. And then, if you rack it and age it for a while, the other dose will eventually get used up as well. I have a machine that measures this. But I don't think those strips are worth the money they cost. I don't think they work. And lastly. You should know. The sulfite add is also determined by your pH.
 
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