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Yeast stop + headspace question

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Tiwas

NewBee
Registered Member
Jan 30, 2011
366
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Oslo, Norway
Hi guys,

So...I've got three carboys with racked mead. It's been sitting in secondary for 6 months or so, and the two to the left had quite a bit of sediment in the bottom of the old carboys. They were filled to the rim and this is what's left. The one to the right didn't have much sediment, so I didn't rerack it.



Now, before putting it in storage for another year or so I just wanted to check a couple of things:
1. Should I fill the headspace with water? The carboys are 6 gallons, and I reckon the headspace is between one and two liters. The ABV at the moment is 18% or so.
2. When using yeast stop, should I just sprinkle it on top? Should I use it now, or should I wait?
3. What's the best way to check if there's any yeast left? Siphon off a little in a bottle, add sugar and see if it starts up again? If so, how do I kill it off? Part of this experiment is to backsweeten 1/3 of it in order to try different tastes.

Cheers!

Here's a picture:
 

Chevette Girl

All around BAD EXAMPLE
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Lifetime GotMead Patron
Apr 27, 2010
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Ottawa, ON
Were your plans to backsweeten 1/3 of each carboy? Or 1/3 of the total amount of mead shown?

I usually rack onto my campden tablets and sorbate but sprinkling on top should work too, but you'll have to stir whereas racking onto it usually mixes it well enough.

If it's at 18% already, the yeast may be at or near their tolerance and very slow in processing more sugar or may not be able to do anything at all even if they're still there, so if you do that test, I'd also try one where you dilute the mead a bit first.

Best way to make sure is to stabilize it, then backsweeten, then see if there's any change in SG, although this will be more difficult if you want to split your batches, so aging them before backsweetening is probably what you want to do, although sometimes you get a haze when you add more honey to backsweeten.

Are these meads dry? If they're not, and you add water to the headspace, the yeast might kick back up and finish the job unless you stabilize it first. If it's dry, no worries other than possibly thinning your mead out a little... you probably don't want to leave them like that unless you also want to run a headspace/oxidation experiment too, I usually try to top up with mead or must, myself.
 

Tiwas

NewBee
Registered Member
Jan 30, 2011
366
0
0
Oslo, Norway

Were your plans to backsweeten 1/3 of each carboy? Or 1/3 of the total amount of mead shown?
The plan was to age them, then divide them into 5l bag-in-a-box's and flavor them individually.


I usually rack onto my campden tablets and sorbate but sprinkling on top should work too, but you'll have to stir whereas racking onto it usually mixes it well enough.
If I dilute them with water (I don't have anything else), I could always mix the sorbate (or whatever's in the yeast stop) in the water and then pour it in...?...


If it's at 18% already, the yeast may be at or near their tolerance and very slow in processing more sugar or may not be able to do anything at all even if they're still there, so if you do that test, I'd also try one where you dilute the mead a bit first.
I was planning on doing that when they're done aging, but I think it's a combination of the yeast being at their tolerance AND it's gone dry. The gravity i 0.992 if I'm not mistaken.


Best way to make sure is to stabilize it, then backsweeten, then see if there's any change in SG, although this will be more difficult if you want to split your batches, so aging them before backsweetening is probably what you want to do, although sometimes you get a haze when you add more honey to backsweeten.
If I do that after aging, I guess I should be seing an increase in pressure inside the bag (in the box) if it starts up again, but it might be smart to just extract a little into a jar or something and add some sugar to see what happens...Haze isn't an issue - I'm looking at taste for this batch. I want to use split into dry/sweet with vanilla and/or oak. It's mostly to find my preference :)


Are these meads dry? If they're not, and you add water to the headspace, the yeast might kick back up and finish the job unless you stabilize it first. If it's dry, no worries other than possibly thinning your mead out a little... you probably don't want to leave them like that unless you also want to run a headspace/oxidation experiment too, I usually try to top up with mead or must, myself.
As I mentioned, I don't have anything to top off with, so that's not an option. Guess I'll be filling up with water, then. I don't really care if they're 16 or 18%ABV this time around. I'll be adding sorbate, too, so hopefully they won't start back up - but they should be pretty dry anyway.

Thanks for your help :)
 

Chevette Girl

All around BAD EXAMPLE
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Lifetime GotMead Patron
Apr 27, 2010
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Ottawa, ON
Water should be fine, I'd recommend boiling and then cooling it.

Ah, planning to bag it. Yeah, if it starts up again when you backsweeten it should be pretty evident, if there's no sugar left it won't have anything to do until you backsweeten so you're good, I wouldn't bother doing any little tests, your bags will be pretty evident if it does indeed start up again.

Honestly I'm not sure if you want to use your yeast stop now or wait until just before you want to backsweeten. I can't think of anything particularly compelling either way.
 

Tiwas

NewBee
Registered Member
Jan 30, 2011
366
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0
Oslo, Norway
Thanks, Chevette! I'll dilute it before putting it back down into the basement :)

Are there any reasons not to stop the yeast now? I was thinking that doing it now would mellow out any taste it might add and also prevent it from starting back up and requiring another racking...?...
 

Medsen Fey

Fuselier since 2007
Premium Patron
They look nice and clear so stabilizing them now should work and it probably is wise to stabilize them if you don't want more fermentation, especially if you dilute the alcohol down a little. Refermentation in a bag wouldn't be hazardous, but could leave you with a mess.

What's in yeast stop?
 

Tiwas

NewBee
Registered Member
Jan 30, 2011
366
0
0
Oslo, Norway
They look nice and clear so stabilizing them now should work and it probably is wise to stabilize them if you don't want more fermentation, especially if you dilute the alcohol down a little. Refermentation in a bag wouldn't be hazardous, but could leave you with a mess.

What's in yeast stop?
Thanks, Medsen :)

The package didn't say much, but the web site says it's kalium (?) sorbate and something I translated to "wine sulfur". Never heard of the latter before, but on the packs with only sorbate it also says to use with "wine sulfur"
 

Chevette Girl

All around BAD EXAMPLE
Moderator
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Apr 27, 2010
8,398
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Ottawa, ON
Potassium's chemical symbol is K, a quick web check indicates that Kalium is its latin name so it's potassuim sorbate, and your "wine sulfur" is probably sodium or potassium sulphite, in a handy dandy premixed quantity :)
 

Tiwas

NewBee
Registered Member
Jan 30, 2011
366
0
0
Oslo, Norway
Potassium's chemical symbol is K, a quick web check indicates that Kalium is its latin name so it's potassuim sorbate
Ouch! I should have though of that myself, but...it's 6 am on a Monday morning - my brain starts the work week a little later than the rest of my body :p Actually, I always have to look up "potassium" when I read training journals (we use kalium, which is a pain since most of the literature is in English and uses potassium) so I should have thought of it. Bad me! :)

Thanks :)
 
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