Did I screw up/ critique my first batch. I wanted a carbonated sweet mead
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  1. #1
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    Default Did I screw up/ critique my first batch. I wanted a carbonated sweet mead

    Well, it's not really officially my first batch, as I tried making mead back in my home brewing days 15 years ago and it wasn't great. And I know I didn't let it sit for very long.

    This time I had my own honey, though I didn't save enough and only had around 12 lbs left.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Did I screw up/ critique my first batch. I wanted a carbonated sweet mead

    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo3 View Post
    Well, it's not really officially my first batch, as I tried making mead back in my home brewing days 15 years ago and it wasn't great. And I know I didn't let it sit for very long.

    This time I had my own honey, though I didn't save enough and only had around 12 lbs left.
    Sorry, got logged off and couldn't edit my post above

    I originally wanted a sweet sparkling mead in bottles as (unfortunately) I sold my kegging equipment years ago. I've now been reading that it's not easy to do so.

    My ingredients were (4/5/19):

    12 lbs honey
    5 tsp DAP
    Enough hot and cool water to dissolve the honey to make 5.5 gallons
    Wyeast Sweet Mead yeast

    The fermentation seemed slow, sped up to 1 bubble every 5 seconds for a day, and slowed way, way down again. As a home brewer, this indicated to me that the fermentation was not great, but maybe it's different with mead. I'm guessing the temp was the issue as my house has been 50-65 depending on if I've been home/ outside temp. It definitely got down to 50 some nights in my house.

    Today (4/15/19): Bubbling was once every 20 seconds. Added 3 lbs blackberry puree to primary, and within an hour the bubbling is every 5 seconds. Heat has been on too since I've been home today, so I assume that's a factor.

    Plan on adding another 3 lbs blackberry puree to secondary when I decide to rack.

    So I want a sparkling mead. Does the sweet mead yeast mean it peters out at a certain alcohol, or a certain specific gravity? Can a sweet mead yeast start with a relatively low 1.080 gravity and ferment all the way dry, or will it finish with a relatively high SG (sweet), regardless of alcohol content?

    I guess what I'm asking is can I still save this batch and make a sparkling mead via bottle conditioning? I don't care at this point if it's sweet, but can I make a dry sparkling with what I have so far?

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Did I screw up/ critique my first batch. I wanted a carbonated sweet mead

    To understand any yeast we must know the tolerances of the yeast. all yeasts have a temperature range and an alcohol tolerance. The point where the alcohol level renders the yeast ineffective. For example a yeast with a alcohol tolerance of 14% ABV will cease to function much above that 14% level. thus a must with a SG of 1.110 would leave a residual sugar of about 12 points. Now let me say this. It is extremely difficult to have a sparkling sweet mead. and to make he mead sparkle one needs to allow the mead to continue fermentation once bottled. as a result the continued fermentation consumes the residual sugar. If the residual sugar in the mead is too high it will blow the cork and can explode a wired cork bottle if precise factors are not know. Since alcohol tolerances fall with a range rather than a precise point leaving residual sugar in a sparkling mead is difficult to determine. To make a sparkling mead I ferment to dryness, bulk age and clear then when bottling I add 1/3 tsp honey and a bit of yeast. cork it up and let the mead work in the bottle for 9 months. When using honey the mead sometimes has a fine sediment in the bottle it does not seem to affect taste. If the sediment bothers you 1/4 TSP sugar can be used in place of the 1/3 TSP honey with no appreciable difference in taste.

    A mead with fruit added is not actually a mead. it is a melomel!

  5. #4
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    Default

    Thanks for your reply. So you're saying the sweet mead yeast will ferment down to a certain alcohol irrespective of SG? So it won't necessarily finish sweet if the alcohol content takes the SG to a dry level? I didn't start with a high OG.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Did I screw up/ critique my first batch. I wanted a carbonated sweet mead

    It is not easy to make a sweet & sparkling mead without kegging equipment.

    Sweet meads are made by adding more honey to the must than the yeast can convert to alcohol - e.g. the resulting alcohol content exceeds the alcohol tolerance of the yeast. Essentially, the yeast has gone dormant or died due to the high alcohol content. Often, sweet meads will be stabilized with a combination of sorbate and metabisulfate to ensure additional fermentation does not occur (this kills the yeast). Carbonated meads are typically made by adding a small amount of sugar prior to botteling, and then replying on residual yeast in the mead to ferment that sugar with the resulting CO2 carbonating the mead. In other words, how you go about making a sweet mead runs contrary to what you need to do to make a dry mead.

    There are a few ways around this:
    1. Brew a dry mead using a yeast which is not capable of fermenting complex sugars, and then sweeten the fermented mead with a sugar that the yeast cannot ferment. Many wine yeasts cannot ferment maltose, allowing maltose to be used for this purpose. That said, maltose is only as half as sweet as table sugar, so you need to use quite a bit...and you have to be careful to select the right yeast.
    2. Use a non-sugar sweetener. These are generally not fermentable, and some are much sweeter than sugar (meaning you don't need to use much). There are "natural" (sorbitol, mannitol), "natural but from a factory" (aspartame*) and "human invented" (sucralose) options. Most have a not-quite-sugar flavour which may be detectable in your finished mead.
    3. Force carbonate. You'll need a kegging system for this, but you can easily carbonate any mead by placing it in a keg and putting it under pressure. From the keg, you can then bottle the mead, or drink it straight from the keg**.


    *"Fun" fact, naturally occurring aspartame (a product of digesting protein) is why vomit sometimes tastes a little sweet
    **I no longer do this, as the mead doesn't tend to last very long when I can pour "just a half glass more" 4 or 5 times a night...

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Did I screw up/ critique my first batch. I wanted a carbonated sweet mead

    **I no longer do this, as the mead doesn't tend to last very long when I can pour "just a half glass more" 4 or 5 times a night...

    Ah, the dreaded (well maybe not) half glasses. That and multiple "just a wee sips."
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Did I screw up/ critique my first batch. I wanted a carbonated sweet mead

    Another Little fun fact. There is a home Soda pop kit that can be purchased at Walmart. With this kit you can carbonate a liter of any wine or mead at a time allowing one to make a sparkling mead as one desires. Just place the mead into the bottle and add carbonation.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Did I screw up/ critique my first batch. I wanted a carbonated sweet mead

    Quote Originally Posted by I'llbeedan View Post
    Another Little fun fact. There is a home Soda pop kit that can be purchased at Walmart. With this kit you can carbonate a liter of any wine or mead at a time allowing one to make a sparkling mead as one desires. Just place the mead into the bottle and add carbonation.
    Yeah, that probably would have been the route to go. The batch came out really nice, but dry and still. I added one of those sugar tablets in each bottle, but it never carbonated. Do you think it might eventually carbonate? I tried to suck up some of the yeast on the bottom of the carboy into the bottling bucket, but maybe I should've added more?

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