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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Clinton, Illinois
    Posts
    91

    Default First batch - too dry?

    I started my first batch of mead 2 days ago. I followed a recipe for a sweet mead that came with the kit I bought. The recipe called for 12 pounds of honey, nutrient, and "up to 5 gallons of water". The dry yeast is Cote des Blancs.

    I disolved the honey into 1 gallon of hot water and added the remainder of water until I hit the 6 gallon line on the fermentation bucket. (Since I have a 6 gallon carboy that I will transfer to).

    The initial hydrometer reading was 1.07. Knowing what I know now, (2 days later) I am reading that I should have something like 1.15 initial if I was shooting for a sweet mead.

    Is this correct? According to the chart, I am even off the scale for a dry mead.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Cameron, MO
    Posts
    586

    Default

    You might want to add more fermentables(honey,corn sugar, etc) to get the spec gravity up which will boost your alchohol up a bit. I believe your dryness is somewhat determined by the yeast? Am I correct in this others? Brewcat? Swobee?

    By the way, how much does mead throw off in primary fermenting? If I used 6gal of wort in brewing beer I'd blow the top off my "boy"

    katmike, sorry to ask questions on your dime just trying to learn mead making also

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Perkasie, PA
    Posts
    1,998

    Default

    Very few yeasts attenuate so little that they will not make a very dry mead with 12 lbs of honey in 5 gallons. The only way to do this is to fortify, sufite, pastuerize filter, starve or otherwise remove the yeast. In mead, it is common to have exceptionally high gravity, high alcohol beverages (read "hangover"). use more honey and di water if you want more residuals.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Hays, Kansas, USA
    Posts
    1,080

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    Zane,

    Yeast can sure make or break the deal, dry-wise. A truly dry wine is more or less defined as one where all the fermentables have been converted to alcohol.

    I agree that this recipe has too little honey for the gallonage & will be end up with pucker power unless some more fermentable is added. But, our family doesn't like really dry wines like Merlot's. We seem to all go for the semi-sweets.

    Additional sugars can be added along the way, but Iwouldn't wait too long. I've added honey after several weeks and revived a slow ferment and have gotten a good or at least decent batch each time. Taste is up to each person. All my family liked a recent batch we tried, whhile one of the 3 people visiting who tasted it turned her nose up at it. I say 6 out of 7 is OK by me! She did like one of our melomel meads, however.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    mt. airy, surry county, nc
    Posts
    217

    Default

    you are right zane yeast tolerance for alcohol does help determine sweetness/dryness. the more tolerant, the more alcohol they will produce. but also amount of sugars to fed on, when they run out of sugar they will stop. aspera is right, in part of the control is getting to a point and stopping the fermentation. residual sugar contributes to sweetness. there was a couple of things in your post i was wondering about.

    The recipe called for 12 pounds of honey, nutrient, and "up to 5 gallons of water". The dry yeast is Cote des Blancs.

    I dissolved the honey into 1 gallon of hot water and added the remainder of water until I hit the 6 gallon line

    12# of honey and 4 gals. of water should have made the 5 gals. (14# of honey avg. 1 gallon) if you added another gal. of water you diluted your must that much more. most of my experimental batches are 5 gal. i use a 6 gal. carboy to give head space at the shoulder. i do adjust the sg to go over 5 gal.. that way when i rack to a 5 gallon carbouy the head space will be less. with later racking, i add campden tablet to stop fermentation and add water and/or honey to flavor and adjust space. have you got "mad about mead"?
    "Any fool can learn, the trick is to understand - Einstein"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Clinton, Illinois
    Posts
    91

    Default

    The initial gallon of water (hot) I used to dissolve the honey. I assume the honey itself would have added about 1 gallon to the mix, so whan I added the additional water to the six gallon mark, I would have had 5 gallons total of just water. The instructions were confusing. The recipe itself was called a "5 gallon recipe" but when it said after dissolving the initial mix to "add up to 5 gallons", I just added what was needed to get to the 6 gallon line thinking I'd be ok.

    To get this sweet I probably should have added 2.4 more pounds of honey (6gal / 5 gal) * 12 lbs = 14.4 pounds honey.

    Not sure how to dissolve honey in this now unless I apply heat which would kill the yeast.

    I may just let it go and see what happens.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Cameron, MO
    Posts
    586

    Default

    Ok this is just an idea. It would work in beer not sure about mead. Pretty sure it would lose your essence/quality of the honey but in beer a person could boil to reduce the liquid and re pitch yeast once specific gravity was reached.
    Another way would be to split the batch(like bee's) and try another different yeast(after the camdon tablet) in one batch or
    2 different specific gravity's,try adding another type of fermentable to one or add fruit to one of the secondary's.

    Brewing is fun because you can do so much w/ them. YOu might get diffent opinions but I think you need more sugar(fermentable) to make your batch or it may seem watered down and weak in alchohol content. The problem is you dont have alot of room in the carboy. More honey and a bigger container or split and make 2 batches seems like the best way to make the batch work.

    Remember next time when the recipe calls it a 5 gal batch its a total of 5 gal. I've done it as many others I'm sure!!!
    Good luck!!!! and sorry if I confused you on this matter!

    On a differnt note what does one use to "sweeten" the mead to make it less dry? I can add table sugar, milk sugar, honey or even brown sugar to sweeten beer or add sugars after the ferment is done and yeast is done or filtered out.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Perkasie, PA
    Posts
    1,998

    Default

    Lactose can be used to sweeten the mead and add gravity. Lactose is fermentable by bacteria rather than yeast, and is not universally digestable to people. It is very sweet so don't add more than 1/2 a pound or so.

    Also, i'm guessing that your recipe intended for you to q.s. up to a total volume of 5 gallons. With sulfites and a cote yeast this would make a dry mead, but not unpleasantly so. I never use sulfites because i like sparkling meads, so 12 lbs in a 5 gallon batch is too little for me (this would give an OG of about 1.100 I think).

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