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18% ABV Sweet mead

13568 Views 40 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  Fivej
So this is my first attempt at making mead, and just to keep it interesting, I bumped my head and decided to make an 18% abv sweet mead.
Here is what I have done so far and the ingredients I used.

Bought all my equipment today, washed and sanitized it.

Mixed approx. 20# (7 quarts) of honey with hot tap water from my deep well to obtain an OG of 1.138. Shook and stirred vigorously to oxygenate.

Mixed 1 package of Lalvin EC-1118 in warm water according to directions. I have read that even though 5g is enough for 6 gallons, two packages are recommended for this process.

Mixed 1 tsp DAP with 1/2 tsp. Wyeast wine nutrient blend and mixed 1/4 th of the mixture with the yeast. Progressive supplementation.

Dumped the frothy mess into the fermenter and mixed it into the must.

Stuck an airlock and bung on top of the carboy.

Lessons learned so far.
1. Do not pour boiling water into anything made of PET. It was recommended that well water be boiled before using. I dutifully followed instructions and poured the still very hot but no longer boiling water into my brand new primary. Rut-roh. Got cold water into it fast enough to not cause any significant deformation. So much for the boiled well water.

2. It is easier to mix the honey and water together in a large pot than it is to mix it in the carboy. Now I know why plastic buckets work well as primary fermenters.

3. Do not put the airlock on when the carboy is still warmer than room temperature.

More to come...
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12 hours in and starting off nicely with about seven bubbles per minute.

Plastic wrap Bottle Drinkware Cylinder Plastic bottle
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Re: A question about feeding

I've made wine.
I've made whiskey.
I've made beer.
When I had some extra "play" honey, I made mead..... it was the most disgusting thing ever and I pitched it and have zero inclination to try again.
What a disaster that was!
Re: A question about feeding

When I had some extra "play" honey, I made mead..... it was the most disgusting thing ever.
How so? Did you try to drink it right after racking? Mead needs three months in the secondary and at least a month or two after bottling, or so they say. Around six months from start to drinkable. After this batch goes to the secondary, I will be making some wine that I can enjoy while this batch is still aging.

24 hrs in and it smells like honey, only yeastier.
Suggest you also try Melomels(Honey and Fruit).

Just about to bottle some blueberry. 2 pints of crushed blueberries in 4 gallons. Good taste and beautiful reddish purple color. Fermented about a month, one week in primary and 3 weeks in carboy

Next batch will likely be Orange Cinnamon. Spiral an orange(sanitize outside peel) and add cinnamon sticks. Made some last fall for Christmas. Not overly colorful but nice taste.
Been considering soaking some cinnamon sticks in Everclear to make a flavoring for some metheglin. Would add before bottling. I will probably use raspberry for my first melomel. Kinda partial to the fruit. Blueberry sounds good too. I have huckleberries, very similar to blueberries but way smaller, that grow wild in my woods. Should be able to harvest a quart or so next spring for a batch.

Lesson learned today.

Stirring in the nutients and releasing the entrained CO2 is like Pompeii in 79 AD all over again.

Went ahead and put 5 sticks of cinnamon in a 1/4 cup of 190 proof Everclear to start soaking.
Re: A question about feeding

I don't remember exactly when I tried it, but it only makes sense that I sampled it immediately to test it out. I know that it never made it into a bottle!

I'm following your endeavor hoping that I can try again.
I made about a dozen or so different flavored meads and melomels about 18 months ago ( will have to check my mead book). My fav is the apple cyser.
Thing ive learned is that Mead REALLY needs to age. It can be downright undrinkable initially then be bloody lovely a year later.
Looking forward to hearing how it turns out. I did not boil my well water for my recent (first) batch, but I think I will in the future.

Re: A question about feeding

I'm following your endeavor hoping that I can try again.
Oh great, no pressure there! What if I screw up?

I will be trying it straight out of the secondary just to get a feel for the sweetness and to know what the starting flavor profile is.

My hope is that jewel1130 will use her excess honey for something better than just feeding it back to the bees.
Re: A question about feeding

Mead I pitched last year is approaching “bragging” quality.
When I extract each year, the uncapped frames, or partially capped frames are done last. This is my mead honey.
Interesting that I did 2 batches last year and one stayed slightly cloudy, the other is chrystal clear. Same honey, yeast and water. :scratch:
A remarkably rewarding endeavour, mead making! Go hard JW!
Show Mead, just honey, water and yeast.
Best regards,
Re: A question about feeding

48 hrs in.

Stirred down the must and released a good amount of CO2 in a controlled manner. Added the third set of DAP and nutrients and was able to keep the eruption contained by placing my sanitized palm over the opening and allowing the gases to escape slowly. Yesterday's fiasco resulted in honey water all over the countertop and floor. The yeast must be doing it's job as the must is already starting to smell like wine.

17 bpm. It is really cooking.
Re: A question about feeding

…it was the most disgusting thing ever and I pitched it and have zero inclination to try again.
What a disaster that was!
That is a disaster. You should have bottled it and opened a bottle 8 to 10 months later. Make your Christmas mead in February.
Re: A question about feeding

Not much new to report. I fed the yeast their last bit of DAP and nutrients after stir down. Bpm count last night got upto 24 before bedtime. Right now it is at 10 and increasing. SG has dropped to 1.118. Still a good ways to go to get to 1.010 or so.

Drinking some Stags Breath Liqueur and hoping that the mead I am making tastes similar when properly aged.

Good stuff if you can get your hands on some.
Day 5. The mead is continuing to ferment. In the clear container that is my primary fermenter, I can see thousands of tiny bubbles making their way quickly to the surface. The airlock has been pretty steady at 24-25 BPM. One curious thing of note is that the once dark brown must has taken on a decidedly burnt orange color. It is getting lighter. I was expecting that the dark honey would also end up producing a dark mead. Now I am not so sure that will be the case. Have not seen this mentioned in my reading so for me, this is a good suprise.
The fermentation sounds really hot! But remember time helps all meads, well most at least. We use honey from cutouts and cappings to make our mead which is often darker than our own but it ends up light in the bottle. Good luck with your mead adventure!
Hey JW, it's been a while, how about an update? I assume it is in secondary now?

My batch (another thread) is aging now, waiting for Thanksgiving. I am hopeful it turned out well. I didn't do anything "right" so I can't say for sure, but I am estimating 12% ABV, and it seems to have turned out semi-sweet to sweet. We'll know for sure in a few weeks.
Fermentation has slowed way down. Approximately 3 BPM. I plan on transfering to the secondary sometime this week. As of last week, SG was 1.050, down from my OG of 1.138. Hoping to hit somewhere around 1.010 upon completion. Will post a pboto once I get it into the secondary fermenter. Smells like booze.
Everyone’s palates are different. I’ve never tasted a mead I liked. I tried blue ribbon award winning meads. I’ve made meads of all sorts. Sparkling meads, sweet meads, dry meads, blueberry, strawberry, from renowned meadmaker’s recipes. I still have dozens of bottles that have aged for nearly ten years. Still taste like diesel fuel to me.
When you go to a liquor store….there’s a reason that they don’t have a section for meads.
Just sayin’… ain’t for everybody.
Having said that, I made many gallons of vinegar from honey…intentionally…. and even sold it. It makes excellent vinegar. I quit making it a few years ago but still have customers asking for it today.
I transfered to the secondary today. My BPM is right around 1. SG is now 1.038, which should mean that the ABV is at 13.12% so far. Reran the numbers and it looks like I'll have to go fairly dry to get 18%. Since I really want a sweet mead, an ending gravity of of 1.010 will give me 16+%.
Being somewhat adventurous, I am straining the dregs through a coffee filter right now with the intent of taking a sip. The filtered mead is looking clearer than what is in the secondary right now, so there is still hope for a product that is not cloudy.

Getting the primary cleaned up so I can start some wine.:)

PS. Checked on the cinnamon sticks soaking in Everclear. Liquid is a beautiful reddish brown and has one heck of a cinnamon kick to it. Can't wait to add it to a few bottles of the mead.
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