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Complete brewing newbee

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CheshireCat

NewBee
Registered Member
Feb 21, 2005
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Hi everyone, I found this site this morning and have spent much of the workday reading posts and articles. I'm fairly certain I can start making a brew of my very own.

I had my first taste of mead on Saturday night, someone had brought some homebrew to a pagan convention I was attending and I, along with everyone else, fell in love with the bottles that were passed around.

The next morning I was chatting with the brewer and the topic of sulfates came up. He said he didn't use sulfates to preserve the mead, and instead used some kind of technique of rapidly stirring it with drill and some attachment to remove the oxygen from the mead. I didn't really catch the exact "how-to's" because I was more interested in finding a homebrew supply shop in my area.

Now that I have just about all the supplier information I can use, the topic of sulfate use has come up again. My girlfriend is allergic to sulfates (and thus is usually the DD during bar visits) and I want to make mead that she can enjoy when we finally have a finished batch, without getting sick. Any suggestions?
 

jab

NewBee
Registered Member
Mar 15, 2004
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radiofreeomaha.net
The simplest answer is...don't use them. I know some people do use them and have good reasons for doing so. I have no doubt they will explain them to you here. I can also say, however, that I, and a few other brewers I know, have never used them and have had no problems.
 

JamesP

Senior Member
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Dec 3, 2003
654
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Brisbane Australia
No sulfites usually means that your mead is dry if its <14% Alc, or higher alcohol content if you want a sweeter mead - so that the Alcohol will kill/inhibit the yeast (like a fortified wine).
To do this, you aim for an %Alc greater than what the yeast can ferment to, and usually keep adding honey in small amounts till the yeast stops working once it reaches it attenuation limit.

This is to avoid "bottle bombs" - where residual sweetness allows the yeast to re-start fermenting in the bottles.

Note that the sweetness helps bring out fruit flavours in a melomel - which makes the mead easier to drink sooner.

It all depends on what you are wanting to make :D
 

JoeM

NewBee
Registered Member
Jan 9, 2004
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I feel like the brewer you talked to was misinformed about the technique he/she was using. it sounds to me like he/she was doing what is know as "degassing" the mead which is a method of removing dissolved carbon dioxide before bottling. this prevents a mead from having a sparkle when it is unwanted. if anything the process will dissolve MORE oxygen into the mix, not drive oxygen off!

I’ve made many meads sweet, dry, and everything in between without the use of sulfites or degassing and have never had a problem. The fact is that if you use proper sanitation, bulk aging, and racking techniques you will have no trouble leaving the sulfites out.
 

Pewter_of_Deodar

NewBee
Registered Member
Sep 23, 2004
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Cedar Rapids, IA
In order not to use sulfates and not to have bottle bombs, the best solution short of filtering out the yeast (which can be expensive) is to put enough honey in to allow the yeast to ferment to their alcohol tolerance and die. For instance, if your yeast is good to 13 percent Alcohol by Volume (ABV) then add enough honey to support 16 percent ABV and allow the fermentation to continue until it stops entirely...

As has been pointed out, even at tolerance level, some yeast will continue to exist, so you need to add aging to the process. Most meads need at least 6 or 8 months minimum to age properly, so this time can also be used to allow the remaining yeast to go dormant and fall to the bottom of the carboy. Then rack/bottle very carefully so as not to stir the yeast up into what is being bottled....
 

CheshireCat

NewBee
Registered Member
Feb 21, 2005
87
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JoeM said:
if anything the process will dissolve MORE oxygen into the mix, not drive oxygen off!
That's what I thought, I must have misheard him.

Me and my friends all like strong drinks, and this first batch will be just mead, I don't think it'll be a problem letting the Alcohol level rise to kill off the yeast. ;)
 

David Baldwin

NewBee
Registered Member
Jun 29, 2004
860
1
0
Grand Rapids, MI
Another method that works well is to cold stabilize - that is to chill the must below the point where the yeast are active (usually around 40 degrees). Then you add potassium sorbate to the must and rack it off the yeast into a clean carboy.

sorbate won't stop an active fermentation but will prevent reproduction and will prevent fermentation from continuing.


It takes a few days to put the yeast to sleep and for that to settle out, but it does work.


My wife is also sensitive to the sulphites, and while I've used it in some of my mead, I've used it in concentrations at the very low end of its effectiveness.


Good luck, hope this helps.

David
 
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