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Thread: Dry mead

  1. #1
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    Default Dry mead

    I have a question regarding mead.I've made wine for years but I've never attempted a mead.My wife and I like our wines very dry and let most batches ferment down to a .993 to .990.
    Is mead good when left to ferment down dry or is it like most fruit wines that are generally better when made sweet to taste?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Dry mead

    I've made dry and sweet meads. It's all good...depending on your taste! Why not make 2 batches...one dry one sweeter? Experiment a little! What I say about beekeeping holds true for my home-brewing endeavors...that experimenting is part of the fun. I like dry...I like semi-sweet..depending on how I feel at the time. Make 2 batches.
    Barry
    KC9TER

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Dry mead

    It is a matter of personal preference, but dry mead tends to be hot unless you scale down the Brix. We made wine from a ton of grapes each year and really enjoyed it. Like you, we went for dry wines. Grapes have a nice balance of tannin, and acid that when combined with alcohol and a bit more oak tannin seem to have the correct balance. Honey, on the other hand, is just sugar with a little flavor. When made into mead there is a lack of balance because the tannins and acids are missing. I think this is why people leave some residual sugar. If you don't end up liking dry meads you can resort to adding acid (acid blend or tartaric) to wine grape levels by titration, and using a little grape tannin and age in oak. IMHO, honey just doesn't bring enough to the party on its own to make a good dry product.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Dry mead

    Quote Originally Posted by HVH View Post
    It is a matter of personal preference, but dry mead tends to be hot unless you scale down the Brix. We made wine from a ton of grapes each year and really enjoyed it. Like you, we went for dry wines. Grapes have a nice balance of tannin, and acid that when combined with alcohol and a bit more oak tannin seem to have the correct balance. Honey, on the other hand, is just sugar with a little flavor. When made into mead there is a lack of balance because the tannins and acids are missing. I think this is why people leave some residual sugar. If you don't end up liking dry meads you can resort to adding acid (acid blend or tartaric) to wine grape levels by titration, and using a little grape tannin and age in oak. IMHO, honey just doesn't bring enough to the party on its own to make a good dry product.

    HVH,
    For a dry mead you say scale down the Brix,what is a good Brix level to start when making dry mead?
    Also we test every wine batch we start for acid and usually start our grape wines at a 0.7 to 0.8 depending on the grape variety.What would suggest be a good amount of acid to start a dry mead 0.5 or higher?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Dry mead

    I've added acid blend to my dry mead when going from primary to secondary fermentation. My primary fermentation was long and slow, almost a month. Then to secondary in a dark location for several months before bottling. Here is a something I found just now
    "With fruits like raspberry, adjusting acidity is likely not necessary. But with straight honey, a little acid blend is yummy! Acid blend can be easily found, and I suggest a blend, not a single type (citric acid, maltic acid, etc). Little PH strips like you use for your pool can be found through a home-brew shop. Lemon would be a typical adjunct, if you feel funny using pure laboratory made citric acid. Acidity generally balances alcohol 'heat' and sweetness. Time does wonders for mead's balance, too. Just make sure you have a dark place." http://www.stormthecastle.com/mead/a...etter-mead.htm

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Dry mead

    I agree with everyone else, it turns out alot better if you add acid and tannin. I dont like to use the crazy powders that come out of factories so I just add a little orange and lemon juice and some strong black tea

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Dry mead

    Thanks all for the input,this gives me a to start.I never thought(or heard)of using black tea for tannins,but I'm a little leary though to use citrus juice.I once made a batch of grapefruit wine and thought I'd have to call Hazmat to come and depose of it,very foul smelling(too bad to brave drinking some)stuff.Hopefully it doesn't take much to up the acid in a batch of mead.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Dry mead

    i have mead that is dry and i would have preffered a little more sweatness to it. but man is it stout.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Dry mead

    Quote Originally Posted by kwest View Post
    i have mead that is dry and i would have preffered a little more sweatness to it. but man is it stout.

    If you start your "must" at a high SG(brix)and used a high tolerant yeast like EC-1118,and let it whittle all the way down to dry,it will definitely make you a happy camper for sure.I've made wines that went a little dryer than they were supposed to be(fruit wines) and brought them back up to sweet using a simple sugar syrup.You can always go back up sweeter but only the yeast can make wines(and meads)dry.I suppose you could do the same using honey instead of syrup.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Dry mead

    OK, kwest. Was it mead or was it stout? Porter or Port?

    Anyway, let us know how this experiment goes. I too, prefer my wines -- and my wit -- to be dry. Sweet wines give me headaches.

    Good luck and Prost!

    Summer

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Dry mead

    definantly go easy on the citrus. i usually make 6 gallon batches and add the juice from one orange or lemon.......just cut in half and hand squeezed not juicer juiced.

    and I always make dry meads to start(with just enuf honey to make 10 to 15% abv), then add more honey or fruit after racking a few times if I want fruit or sweeter mead.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Dry mead

    Quote Originally Posted by Hivey View Post
    HVH,
    For a dry mead you say scale down the Brix,what is a good Brix level to start when making dry mead?
    Also we test every wine batch we start for acid and usually start our grape wines at a 0.7 to 0.8 depending on the grape variety.What would suggest be a good amount of acid to start a dry mead 0.5 or higher?
    I haven't read all the posts yet but to answer this one I would not go above 12% alcohol for a dry mead unless you want it hot. If you add tannins, use ullage, and adjust acids then you could go a little higher on alcohol (13-14). But that is all a recipe for a wine lover. I know guys that prefer the hot meads.
    I have adjusted acids to the 0.7-0.9 range and have preferred the 0.9. It usually takes a year of aging (at least) to get a smooth product that is not overly bright and slightly sour. On the other hand, without the acid, it has a tendency to taste flat and have a shorter finish. My last batch had a very long finish. Like you, I am more of a wine maker but had to sell all my stuff years ago when we moved out of grape country. Other guys on this forum know a lot more about mead making than I do.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Dry mead

    Quote Originally Posted by dmpower View Post
    I've added acid blend to my dry mead when going from primary to secondary fermentation. My primary fermentation was long and slow, almost a month. Then to secondary in a dark location for several months before bottling. Here is a something I found just now
    "With fruits like raspberry, adjusting acidity is likely not necessary. But with straight honey, a little acid blend is yummy! Acid blend can be easily found, and I suggest a blend, not a single type (citric acid, maltic acid, etc). Little PH strips like you use for your pool can be found through a home-brew shop. Lemon would be a typical adjunct, if you feel funny using pure laboratory made citric acid. Acidity generally balances alcohol 'heat' and sweetness. Time does wonders for mead's balance, too. Just make sure you have a dark place." http://www.stormthecastle.com/mead/a...etter-mead.htm
    Be careful reading too much into pH. It is much better to titrate for acid. I can't think of an easy way to describe the difference. Weak acids don't liberate all of their H+ like a strong acids and are always in equilibrium between protonated and unprotonated forms. Since pH is the measurement of H+ and weak acids only let go of a portion of their H+ then pH measurements will be misleading. To make matters worse, each of the weak acids found in an acids blend release H+ based on pH.
    You can google pH, pK, buffering, titration, "weak acids" and get a better account.

    To convince you that the differences are big enough to care about - try adding drops of pool acids, one drop at a time to a small volume of water (maybe a quart) and watch the pH strips change color with each drop/s. Now try the same thing with a solution of acid blend. The pH should continue to dive rapidly with the addition of pool acid (HCl) but reach and hold a pH with the acid blend. The acid blend acts as a buffer and resists changes in pH even though you continue to add more. So you can easily add too much or too little acid blend without even knowing it based on pH. Acid titration measures the actual concentration of weak acid being added - which makes a huge difference.
    Last edited by HVH; 02-08-2011 at 09:01 AM.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Dry mead

    I've made a few hot batches of mead. I've noticed that if I'm patient with it and let it age a few months (6-12) that it turns into some of the best tasting stuff I've made. I don't treat fruit wine and mead the same anymore. I can just about drink any fruit wine immediately after fermentation, but the mead I prefer to age a bit longer. The patience will pay off. Oak chips or barrels don't hurt either, but aren't a requirement.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Dry mead

    Quote Originally Posted by HVH View Post
    I haven't read all the posts yet but to answer this one I would not go above 12% alcohol for a dry mead unless you want it hot. If you add tannins, use ullage, and adjust acids then you could go a little higher on alcohol (13-14). But that is all a recipe for a wine lover. I know guys that prefer the hot meads.
    I have adjusted acids to the 0.7-0.9 range and have preferred the 0.9. It usually takes a year of aging (at least) to get a smooth product that is not overly bright and slightly sour. On the other hand, without the acid, it has a tendency to taste flat and have a shorter finish. My last batch had a very long finish. Like you, I am more of a wine maker but had to sell all my stuff years ago when we moved out of grape country. Other guys on this forum know a lot more about mead making than I do.
    So HVH when crafting a dry mead then I'd want to keep the alcohol low using a 13% alcohol tolerant yeast to stay near and below a 12% alcohol,and go with a 0.9 acid level?

    I always thought dry wines(especially dry white wines)you would want to start a .65 to .75. acid level.I could be wrong(she always says I am)but I've always thought for drier wines(and I guess meads) would be better with a less alkaline base than 0.9.


    Also at what SG(brix) would you start with for a dry mead 1080(20 brix) to 1090(24 brix) or other?

    And in regards to using a acid titration kit,this is what I use for acid testing and adjustment that uses phenolphthalein as an indicator with sodium hydroxide.I agree 100% that this is the most accurate way to know where you're at with acid.


    However any further discussion regarding how to test and adjust acids will cause this thread to wander off topic and would call for a new thread topic started relating to it.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Dry mead

    I've often gone the cyser route if looking for dry. A nice orchard nearby, so get their cider, and honey of course, plus a bit of lemon, that's pretty much it. Depending on exact style you want determines the amounts and the yeast. I've done it up to wine strengths with champagne yeast and you get a very dry flavor out of that, but better than a pure dry mead. What I sometimes do it actually take that and mix just a tiny bit of dilute honey water in, very small amount.. or a very small bit of fresh cider depending on which flavors I want to bring out. But really its quite tasty on its own. Takes a good time to age though if you want the flavors not to be muddy.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Dry mead

    Quote Originally Posted by Hivey View Post
    So HVH when crafting a dry mead then I'd want to keep the alcohol low using a 13% alcohol tolerant yeast to stay near and below a 12% alcohol,and go with a 0.9 acid level?
    I haven't studied the different strains of yeast but my experience suggests that meads can get stuck where a grape wine would have kept going. Yeast need more than sugar to be happy and grapes seemed to have been designed to make yeast happy far beyond a bag of yeast nutrients. As for acid, it is really about balance. You can go higher if you have more tannins and alcohol and age longer. I like really big wines so I am willing to use more acid, more tannin, and wait for a couple of years before drinking.

    I always thought dry wines(especially dry white wines)you would want to start a .65 to .75. acid level.I could be wrong(she always says I am)but I've always thought for drier wines(and I guess meads) would be better with a less alkaline base than 0.9.
    I used to get my Sauvignon Blanc grapes that would be around .8-.9. I really like a dry, French oak aged product that could hold in the bottle for a couple years. I would keep on oak in a cold room until the oak came through a bit on the strong side. Then I would rack into another oak barrel that really didn't have much to offer any longer. Any excess tartrates would fall out of solution in the cold and bring titratable acids down with it. In the case of meads - again it is personal taste. I like to start off big and then wait for it to mellow. My last batch was really sour for several months but had the most wonderful mouth feel and finish after a year.


    Also at what SG(brix) would you start with for a dry mead 1080(20 brix) to 1090(24 brix) or other?
    The more acid, tannin, and aging the higher the alcohol can be to bring it all in to balance. I wouldn't go above 24 brix for even a robust mead - it just doesn't have good balance. Again we are talking dry meads here. I think some folks add some sugar because meads are usually so far out of balance that they taste pretty bad without it. I prefer the opposite approach, which is to lean towards acids, tannins and aging and forget about the sugar.

    And in regards to using a acid titration kit,this is what I use for acid testing and adjustment that uses phenolphthalein as an indicator with sodium hydroxide.I agree 100% that this is the most accurate way to know where you're at with acid. However any further discussion regarding how to test and adjust acids will cause this thread to wander off topic and would call for a new thread topic started relating to it.
    Yes it might - but I am unaware of any other method available to the home wine maker because pH is meaningless.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Dry mead

    "We will sell no wine before it is time" Anyone remember that? Someone should have just told that winery to "turn down the brix", it would not be so hot then.

    To clarify for others some of the discussions, I would like to add that when others talk about a HOT mead, they are talking about how the mead is almost unpleasant to drink from the alcohol levels and alcohol tastes. As I understand things, these big meads (and big wines) have longer chain alcohols (talking about the actual chemical structure here) that lead to this almost offensive flavor.

    I find that letting the bottles sit for extended periods (years at times for me) allows the alcohol chains to shorten, flavors improve, and the stuff really tickles my taste buds as well as those of others. The biggest of these meads would be called a sack mead.

    I find the best approach for those making meads and reading advice online is to try everything and see what works for you. Go buy 10 more carboys!!!

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Dry mead

    Just my opinion, but the sweet meads are the easy meads. And of course melomels and cysers aren't too challenging as well. Everyone likes sweet things, so if you give them a glass of mead that tastes like honey (or pie or sweet cider) they are likely going to like it. Even if they're not complex or perfectly balance, they will taste good. So, sweet meads are a good place to start and get your feet wet. It will make very tasty beverages while being much more forgiving of errors or lack of balance (and aging).

    Once you start trying to make the drier meads, you need to be more precise with your methods. A very dry mead can be fantastic, but it also has the potential to be downright unpleasant to some. I've found that aging the drier meads generally improves them greatly. Some of the best meads I've made taste pretty bad directly after fermentation. After a few years of aging, though, boy were they delicious.

    Another thing that I've found is that carbonating dry meads can make for a very pleasant drink. Carbonated dry meads can taste as fine as any champagne.

    My recommendation, though, is to try and try again. Keep good notes and you'll start to narrow in on what you like. The whole point of making it yourself is to experiment and learn from your experience, isn't it? I'm not of course trying to discourage people from giving advice. Sharing what has worked for you will invariably shorten the learning curve for the next person.

    Prost!

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Dry mead

    My mead recipe is small and simple.

    For sweet: 3.5 lbs honey per gallon, lemon peel, peel of a few red or black grapes for tannin (will not always clear, but the yeast dies of alcohol poisoning.)
    For average: 3 lbs honey per gallon, " "
    For dry: 2.5 lbs honey per gallon, " " (so dry my daughter who loves dry wine couldn't even drink it)
    Time to be a gypsy again, 2014 will be my prep year, my bees want a better area with actual rainfall.

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