View Full Version : Hydrometer Question
04-04-2006, 07:00 AM
I'm kind of new at this so help me out. I was reading the insructions that came with my hydrometer last night and it basicly said for a dry wine measure to 12% alcohol, semi sweet 15% and sweet 20%. That's not really an acurate statement though is it? It really depends more on the yeast I'm using right? I mean if the yeast will go up to 18-20% then it would be dry in any of the cases above. Looks like that statemnt may have been based on a yeast that dies out around 12%?
Am I thinking right here?
04-04-2006, 02:14 PM
It is an accurate statement for wine, which has a fairly stable OG from batch to batch. Liskewise, wines that are both sweet and alchoholic or dry and low alchohol are typically considered flawed, excepting for a few stylistic exceptions (port, sherry, late harvest wines). Usually dry vs. sweet refers to the completeness of fermentation rather than either the alcohol or sugar content. Also the fermentation conditions are as important as the yeast. In general, most yeast attentuate fully at stable temperatures between 60-80 F with ample nutrients and occasional agitation (racking or rousing) Your yeast strain probably has published info somewhere on the net or in a catolog.
04-04-2006, 02:24 PM
That makes sense. I've always prefered to sweeten after fermetation on the few rare times that I have wanted too. I read somewhere that that was the prefered choice by most brewers.
04-04-2006, 07:14 PM
You're correct Prop; good catch. That's one of the terrible dis-services I think many entry-level instructions give. The Intro to meadmaking (http://www.bee-l.com/bulletinboard/meadintro.htm) discusses this. Aspera's right on as usual.
Brewers actually rely on a different mechanism; the wort (beer's version of must, unfermented beverage) has a number of unfermentable sugars in it from the mashing process of malted (and unmalted) barley, which are primarily responsible for the residual sweetness (and thus the definitive and varied malt character) in beer. Most beers ferment "to completion" given adequate attention to yeast health and wort preparation, though the yeast could tolerate a lot more alcohol. Since most styles don't go over 9% alcohol with some notable exceptions, most beer strains will be up for the task. Just one of the many differences between malted and vinous/mead beverages.
Brewers do, however, add a small amount of (fermentable) sugar at bottling time to produce the carbonation desired. It illustrates the point: the beer stops fermenting with unfermentable sweetness intact in the fermenter, but add a measured bit of dextrose and bottle, and the yeast eat it up and the CO2 they produce perfectly carbonates the beer. Then they stop, leaving the same sweetess they cut out at before. Ah, the magic of our fungal friends.
04-05-2006, 09:45 AM
Thanks for the good info!!!! I have a batch of beer, wine, and mead, going right now. Life is good!!!
04-05-2006, 01:01 PM
<Ah, the magic of our fungal friends.>
It is magical isn't it? Sometimes you've just got to marvel that they do the stuff that they do.