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Mead Making and Bentonite
I recently tried using Bentonite in a batch of mead and of course I did it in a a way that I could track the usefulness of it. - By having a control group. From the same exact 5 gallon carboy of medium mead I extracted two gallons into separate jugs. One jug is my control. I will not add bentonite and I will bottle it at the same time I bottle the second jug. The second gallon jug I added bentonite to. This way I can track how it looks and how it tastes - and in particular over a period of time.
What is Bentonite? Wine Makers Call it a fining agent that is added to wine before bottling to clarify it.
What does it do?
Your Mead has a whole mess of fine particles floating in it. These particles make it cloudy and unclear; and they are positively charged. Bentonite consists of particles that are negatively charged. What happens when you add the Bentonite is the charged particles bind together and they become too heavy to stay suspended in the liquid so they drop down to the bottom - Voila! Your Mead clears.
Does it work? Yes it sure does! And it works pretty quickly.
Here are two pictures of the exact same batch of Mead. They show the mead (which is a plain medium mead using wildflower honey and no fruit or flavorings) The first picture is before the adding of the Bentonite and the second picture is 7 days later. The flash and lighting are identical in both pictures. The clarified mead simply sucks up the light and literally shines. It looks great.
But, This clarity isn't the only benefit of using Bentonite. It also makes the mead taste better. It takes out a lot of the particles that will make it taste a little bit off. At this point in the study (after 7 days) I tasted some of the Bentonite mead and some of the control mead. And the Bentonite mead is crisper and tastier - very simple! Now the only remaining test is to see how they both develop over the course of months.
Bentonite is a clay-like mineral that removes positively charged particles from wine. Add prior to primary fermentation to clear pectic and protein haze. Add 2 teaspoons with half a cup of boiling water (or very hot) and stir for 1-2 minutes. After the solution stands for an hour, mix and stir the solution into your wine. Let stand for 7-14 days during primary fermentation, then rack into a sanitized carboy.