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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Brandon, SD, USA
    Posts
    1

    Default Mead Making Question

    I currently have a mead aging that is almost two months old. Already almost all of the characteristics of the honey I used from a local bee keeper have been fermented out, including ALL sweetness. I used 12 lbs of honey which I did not boil, (only a short heating to pasteurize). I am planning to ‘back sweeten” the mead before I bottle it, which brings me to my question: I originally intended to make this slightly sweet carbonated mead. I used champagne yeast to ferment with which is very tolerant of higher levels of alcohol. How can I back sweeten with the addition of a little more honey without exploding bottles attempting to carbonate the mead?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Townsend, TN
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: Mead Making Question

    meads are really tricky to naturally carbonate. I have blown up alot of bottles even with meads I wasnt trying to carbonate......the last batch I bottled was at 16% alchohol and had been setting in a carboy with no bubbles in the airlock for 6 months. about two months after bottling some of the corks started to blow!!!

    I always add just a little honey at a time untill it stops fermenting and gets to the desired sweetness, then after it clears if I want to add some bubbles I put it in a keg.

    Im assuming you used 12 lbs in a 5 gallon batch? if so you will be able to add quite a bit of honey before it stops fermenting(maybe 6 or more lbs) just depends on your yeast.
    Or you could kill the yeast with sulfites but I never use any chemicals so i couldnt tell you how to do that.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Townsend, TN
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: Mead Making Question

    Oops I didnt mean to sound discouraging....I have successfully carbonated meads by adding 1 cup of honey to a five gallon batch just before bottleing in beer bottles
    Good luck

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Pittsburgh Pa USA
    Posts
    139

    Default Re: Mead Making Question

    First of all, let me make it clear, I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT MAKING MEAD, but, I was looking into it and saw this in a wine/beer supply site. Hope its helpful.

    You can sweeten your Mead by adding more honey, or sugar. But, three things have to happen first:

    1. The fermentation needs to be completely finished and the Mead needs to have been given a couple of weeks to clear. The Mead should also be check with a hydrometer to verify that it is done. It should read between .995 and .998 on the Specific Gravity scale.

    2. You also need to carefully siphon the wine off any sediment into a clean container. Otherwise, this sediment will be stirred up again when you mix in your honey for sweetening.

    3. Potassium Sorbate needs to be added to the Mead as a stabilizer. Otherwise, the fermentation will eventually start up again when the additional honey is added.

    It is important that all three of the above happens before adding a sweetener of any kind, otherwise you may get sediment occurring
    in the bottom of you wine bottles, or worse yet, re-fermentation may start up in the bottles.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,030

    Default Re: Mead Making Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Viborg View Post
    I used champagne yeast to ferment with which is very tolerant of higher levels of alcohol. How can I back sweeten with the addition of a little more honey without exploding bottles attempting to carbonate the mead?
    That's a challenge for sure. If you stabilize it you can't carbonate it, and if you carbonate it you can't really safely or reliably stop it from grenading (with one exception). Options would be purchasing a kegging system or potentially borrowing one with a counterpressure bottling system; to sweeten and allow to carbonate but then immediately refrigerate the WHOLE batch, unfailingly, until every bottle is gone; or to carbonate and then pasteurize. This process is described in other posts, but it's a rare mazer who's gone there. Yours truly is among them (though it was with hard cider, same issues). While I actually liked it better than counterpressure bottle filling, I'm the only person I've ever met of that opinion. And both processes are very good sales pitches for just kegging and serving draft mead .
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  6. #6

    Default Re: Mead Making Question

    Without adding chemicals to stabilize and then adding honey and carbonation with Co2 in keg or using one of those fancy doodads to bottle fill I'd say you are stuck up a creek without a paddle.

    Having said that, let me say some things that might come across as a little offensive, but if heeded will be instructive for future batches...I think you did well to try and make mead.

    What methods (read science) were you using to make this a slightly sweetened carbonated mead?

    To do so would require someone to have knowledge of a yeast, champagne yeasts ferment a lot of stuff to make what I recall as being 22% alcohol beverages (IT FERMENTED ALL YOUR SUGARS). 12# of honey (one gallon for me) makes a low alcohol mead, along the lines of 10-14% alcohol. How does one know the potential alcohol level of a batch of brew, well they put a glass measuring device in the wort and measure it. This device is called a hydrometer. Without fail, it is the single most neglected device amongst new fermentators...GET ONE

    So to make a slightly sweetened carbonated mead here is what I would do:
    Decide what alcohol I want, or decide what yeast I want to use for certain characteristics it can bring to the taste. Then sweeten slightly above the tolerance. For example, if a yeast can ferment to 22% as a champagne yeast does, sweeten to 22.5% or 23% potential, this leaves 1% by volume residual sugar.

    If you sweeten with too much now you might have some nice bottle bombs on your hands. Please consider that beer makers carbonate a 5 gallon batch of beer with like 1/4 to one half cup of corn sugar or a tablet of sugar about the size of an adult aspirin.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Four Oaks, NC, USA
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Mead Making Question

    nursebee...
    Thanks for this. The hydrometer was one of my first tools for mead making. I've been experimenting for 6 months now - using bread yeast from the IGA. I was able to take samples until my initial and current readings gave me the % ABV I wanted. I did get a sweet mead yeast pack from Northern Brewer, and along with your explanation, I think my next batch will be easier to get where I want it as far as taste .

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    929

    Default Re: Mead Making Question

    Another idea that speeds the learning process is to pay for an analysis kit. You fill the empty bottle and send it off to the laboratory and they give you a partial or full report on the entire profile of the beer, wine, etc.

    You begin to get control over a lot more than just the hydrometer this way.

    I think White Labs has such a kit - I'll check into it and report back and give details, addresses, etc.

    On the idea about carbonating - one can also use a bottle capper and metal caps, which hold a LOT more pressure than corks hold. I'd recommend fairly thick glass bottles, and keep them where they cannot damage anything - this approach could make your "bottle bombs" more powerful.
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 07-16-2014 at 12:06 PM.

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