I have done 3 batches to date but after secondary I do not get a 'clear' mead. It always appears to be some varition of golden amber color.
In my first batch I added a gallon of apple-cranberry to 4 gallon of mix. In the other two batches it was just some spices+honey+water+yeast.
Is this normal or am I still doing something wrong?
I think you are confusing color with clarity. For instance my blueberry melomel is clear but has a blue color. As apple has pectin and you didn't say you added pectic enzyme then I am guessing the it has both color and is turbid or cloud. Pectin haze in other words. Use pectic enzyme in the must before pitching the yeast to clear it up.
As chemistbert said, you are looking for clarity rather than color. If you can read a newspaper through the carboy, it's sufficiently clear that you are unlikely to get a lot of sediment in the bottles. Regardless of the color of the mead.
I disagree about the pectic enzyme though. I highly recommend aging rather than chemicals for clearing. I've never used a fining agent or other chemical for clearing, and all of my meads clear on their own. Even melomels and cysers.
Agree with the above on color. Also note that color in a carboy will appear darker than in will in the bottle or a glass, since you're looking through more mead.
While time (sometimes lots of it) will usually clear meads, I don't jump onto the anti-"chemical" bandwagon quite so quickly. Since I live in Boulder county, CO, where you are a dog's "guardian" and not its owner, I'm in a significant minority here. Nonetheless, pectic enzyme can be a good tool. You have it in your digestive tract (if you're human [img]smile.gif[/img] )... I think most people in this context hear "chemicals" and think of something artificial or foreign or evil. What pectinase, a naturally-occurring enzyme, does is break the long-chained pectin molecules into smaller fractions, some of which are fermentable. If enzymes are chemicals, then the bees already have added chemicals to our honey! Pectinase can increase yield from fruits pretty dramatically, and certainly helps speed the clarification process. Even certified organic wines, I believe, can have used pectinase (many winemakers use it after crush). It does settle out with lees (just like aging can do, over a lot more time, for the pectins).
To me it's kind of like the militant granola folks here who'll ingest anything advertised as "natural" assuming it thus can't be harmful, when precidely the opposite may be true. To call any additive a "chemical", in a perjorative sense, can be a little misleading. It really pays to take the time to understand what we're talking about, so people who might not have professional experience or chemistry background can make informed decisions about what tools they choose to use or not use in their mead.
As you can tell, this "chemical" thing is a little bit of a button for me, having worked in Boulder managing a homebrew shop where I've had militant vegans scream at me for enslaving billions of yeast cells peddling my evil, nefarious trade. I'm absolutely serious. Obviously some of these types can be very ignorant (in a literal, not a mean sense) of the issues they'll argue at the drop of a soy-decaf-chai-latte. It's a bit like trying to tell the angry animal-rights person that we're trying to work WITH the bees and improve their chances in a mutually-beneficial relationship, but all they can see is the evil slave-master cackling while he counts the millions he made off the sweat of these poor brutalized insects who can't stick up for themselves (I've argued this one too). Good analogy?
I guess my point (we were wondering if there was one!) is yet again that there are many paths to good mead. Our members here, and certainly Scott who has a professional's expertise and makes his decisions based on a broad knowledge base (please understand Scott that I'm not trying to stomp on you, just venting a bit), are NOT part of this problem. I've always been a devil's advocate who believes that his role is to get out lots of info (whether you wanted it or not) and let everyone make up their own minds and meads.
Alright, stepping down off the soapbox and drawing a breath... :D
If you want REALLY clear mead, you need to check
out the "ultra-filtration" approach developed
at Cornell U. It is used by a largish meadmaker
in Ohio who's name I forget, but it is, in
essence, the practice of diluting the honey
with water, then running it through a filter
so fine that it even removes all the proteins.
One needs pressure to to this, and the filters
are not really affordable unless you are making
thousands of bottles of mead a year.
The filters are a class called "micropore".
This is lab-grade equipment, but it allows
a much faster production of a much, much
clearer mead. Crystal clear.
Everyone should keep in mind that everything (except elements) are made up of chemicals. People want to view them as bad but without them there is no life. And worse yet no mead...
First of all - let me state that I am not on the hippie vegan side of things where chemicals = evil. Neither am I unaware of what "chemicals" are, I was a research scientist in a previous life. I do have an aversion to adding unnecessary things to my food, and I strongly lean toward natural food rather than manufactured food (I'm now a "natural food" farmer as a night job). But I will not claim that things are bad for you until they pass my scientific burden of proof test.
That said, in meadmaking I am all about the quality of the final product. And to me, keeping that final product as close to the original honey as possible is vital to preserving flavor, aroma, and frankly, the experience of drinking a HONEY wine. I am definitely a minimalist when it comes to meadmaking. Excellent mead can be made with nothing more than honey, water, yeast, and nutrients (chemicals!). Anything more is unneccesary.
THAT said, there are lots of ways to make mead, and lots of ways to make good mead. There's lots of ways to make bad mead too, but that's beside the point. [img]smile.gif[/img] Additives like pectic enzyme and fining agents can be used to make good mead faster than my method. But I truly honestly believe that only time can make great mead. I can't speak for pectic enzyme, but it is reasonably well documented that fining agents can strip out some of the larger flavor compounds, and even some color in rare cases. In my opinion, why risk it when patience is a perfectly good substitute?
In conclusion (finally...), there are lots of ways to make mead. Everyone makes decisions based on their budget, their tolerance for waiting, and the number of carboys that they are willing to have sit around full for a year. I will not look down on anyone for making the choice to use a different method than I use, but I will stick to my guns and say that in my opinion, this way makes the best mead.
Other (hopefully short) comments:
Home wine filters can be had for $100-200. Some have an issue with oxidizing your wine though. Do some research before you buy. There is some question about filtering removing the larger flavor and color compounds, just as fining agents do. There are militants on both sides of this issue, and I'm not convinced one way or the other yet.
Brewcat, perhaps a good tactic would be to mention to these vegans that they have millions of bacteria as intestinal flora, enslaved purely to provide sustinance for their host - the vegan. Oh the humanity! The only solution is a soy-latte enema to flush the poor critters out, hopefully allowing them to find a better, non-oppressive home....
"Brewcat, perhaps a good tactic would be to mention to these vegans that they have millions of bacteria as intestinal flora, enslaved purely to provide sustinance for their host - the vegan. Oh the humanity! The only solution is a soy-latte enema to flush the poor critters out, hopefully allowing them to find a better, non-oppressive home...."
I like that, can I steal it and use it against my liberal nuitjobs cow-irkers?
Feel free to steal it. [img]smile.gif[/img]
That is a good riposte... since a coffee enema is indeed available here (the smack-the-forehead-disbelief just never quite tapers off in these parts), perhaps one of them'll take me up on it, hopefully in blessed privacy!
Oh no! While baking some home-made, whole wheat bread I listened closely to the dough and could hear the enslaved yeast working. But everything got very silent a few minutes after I placed it in the oven. :>(
The thought that I have killed thousand, maybe millions of living, breathing organisms for my own greedy taste is almost overwhelming. ;>( Now I going to have use natural mineral, as opposed to chemical, levening agents for raised bread.
P.S. Would grinding the grain inflict seed pain?
You guys crack me up :>))))) I don't think I could keep from a long belly laugh in such a situation.
I knew a commercial beekeeper who used to eat and tout much of the vegan rhetoric, that was until they accused him of bee slavery.