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General Category => Other Fermentables => Topic started by: slickdaddy420 on August 10, 2012, 11:49:00 AM

Title: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: slickdaddy420 on August 10, 2012, 11:49:00 AM
This is a simple question and I think I already know the answer, but I would love to get a response.

I made a Northern Brewer sweet mead kit.

15lbs of honey. The OG was somewhere above 1.100. The FG turned out to be 0.992. I calculated about 16% abv.

This turned out to not be sweet at all since apparently almost all sugar was eaten.

My question is -

In an attempt to "degass" the mead, I almost daily rolled/shook around the carboy on its bottom "to get the gas out".

Did I just keep throwing the yeast back in the fermentables for it to eat more than it was supposed to?

Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: udubdawg on August 10, 2012, 12:55:58 PM
you did what you were supposed to do.
I suspect you just got caught in that upper part of the alcohol tolerance limit for that yeast.  I avoid that OG range as I do not personally like high alcohol + dry mead.  I don't think I'm alone in that.

I assume some people must be actively stopping the fermentation or they are marketing kits to people who are really inexperienced and don't understand nutrients. 

I'm looking at the recipe of the week for last week.  I don't see how someone could use D-47 and an OG of 1.090 and end up with a FG of 1.030 without chilling to stop fermentation, racking off the yeast, and then sorbating/sulfiting to keep it from restarting.  Yet it says "ferment completely" and doesn't say anything about back-sweetening.  I guess I can only assume that 1.090 was the OG before she added a bushel of pluots that accounted for a big % of actual gravity?

(sorry about going off on that tangent.  Hey, you can always back-sweeten.)

cheers--
--Michael
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: beerrat on August 10, 2012, 01:26:53 PM
Sounds like you did what I would do.

Just checking.. did you use the wyeast sweet mead yeast?  If so it looks like you keep the yeast so healthy during ferment that they were able to perform better. NB instructions/formulation likely don't assume such care.

Also, what temp did you ferment at?

So how does it taste - besides the dryness?  Any hot alcohol/off  tastes, etc?
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: Jimmy K on August 10, 2012, 01:30:34 PM
I don't have much mead experience, but I've heard (from Ken Shramm) that you can expect yeast to ferment about 100 gravity points of a mead. Given that, you'd need to start at a higher OG to have a mead finish sweet - or otherwise stop fermentation.
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on August 10, 2012, 01:44:07 PM
I don't have much mead experience, but I've heard (from Ken Shramm) that you can expect yeast to ferment about 100 gravity points of a mead. Given that, you'd need to start at a higher OG to have a mead finish sweet - or otherwise stop fermentation.
This is true. If you start with a high enough gravity the yeast will reach their limit. I have not done this much, but the last mead I made was 10# for a 2.5 gallon batch, and it finished fairly sweet. Stagered nutrients and degassed with a mix-stir.
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: erockrph on August 10, 2012, 03:32:32 PM
I had the same thing happen with my first mead. I used 71B, which supposedly has a 14% ABV limit. I started at an OG of 1.120 and ended up at 1.002, which is well over 15%. Michael Fairbrother of Moonlight Meadery gets up to 18% with the same yeast. I think a lot of it has to do with how well you take care of your fermentation.

For now, I'd plan on backsweetening and note everything you do so you can adjust accordingly for next time.
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: slickdaddy420 on August 10, 2012, 05:18:29 PM
Cool, so I didn't really mess it up by swirling it.

What is backsweetening? I would think(major guess) adding 6lbs could even it out.


I fermented at 72-74. It's really the best I can do for my house in FL. Also, I only added the 3 nutrient sachets provided daily the first 3 days.


Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on August 10, 2012, 06:05:34 PM
Cool, so I didn't really mess it up by swirling it.

What is backsweetening? I would think(major guess) adding 6lbs could even it out.


I fermented at 72-74. It's really the best I can do for my house in FL. Also, I only added the 3 nutrient sachets provided daily the first 3 days.

You have to stabalize the mead using potassium sorbate and/or potassium metabisulphite, then add the sugar source (honey, fruit, etc). Don't over do it. 6 lbs would propably be too much. Add in smaller steps, taste the mead, add more until you are happy with the taste.
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: Jimmy K on August 10, 2012, 07:07:59 PM
You have to stabalize the mead using potassium sorbate and/or potassium metabisulphite, then add the sugar source (honey, fruit, etc). Don't over do it. 6 lbs would propably be too much. Add in smaller steps, taste the mead, add more until you are happy with the taste.

Sulfite by itself certainly won't stop yeast activity - just temporarily suspend it. And sorbate alone won't stop actively fermenting yeast.
 
Cool, so I didn't really mess it up by swirling it.

I'm pretty sure a wire whip degasser would stir up the yeast too, so no worries.
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on August 10, 2012, 08:22:35 PM
You have to stabalize the mead using potassium sorbate and/or potassium metabisulphite, then add the sugar source (honey, fruit, etc). Don't over do it. 6 lbs would propably be too much. Add in smaller steps, taste the mead, add more until you are happy with the taste.

Sulfite by itself certainly won't stop yeast activity - just temporarily suspend it. And sorbate alone won't stop actively fermenting yeast.
 
Cool, so I didn't really mess it up by swirling it.

I'm pretty sure a wire whip degasser would stir up the yeast too, so no worries.

I use them together, couldn't remember if that is what everyone does.

OP - If you have not read this I recommend it.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0937381802/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=14204363528&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=892505412542833524&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=e&ref=pd_sl_9gkx8i8wb6_e
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: slickdaddy420 on August 28, 2012, 03:18:15 PM
ok, I have another question about this mead. I bought and read the book mentioned above and it wa a good read, but I don't remember reading the following scenario. :)

FG before : under 1.000

Last week, I added a potassium sorbate to stop fermenting, mixed it in, added 3lbs of honey, mixed it in, added isinglass a few days later, and mixed.

FG now - 1.024

Question :

Last night I noticed the airlock letting out gas about every 2 minutes. This seems to go against what I thought would happen. Is this right? What might be happening?



Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: morticaixavier on August 28, 2012, 03:22:15 PM
What temp are you storing it at? in order to keep the yeast from fermenting the new additions you have to keep it pretty cold. the chemicals you added to knock the yeast out just stuns them. if you give it favorable conditions it can still start again.
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: slickdaddy420 on August 28, 2012, 03:28:20 PM
It is about 70-74 degrees. It is about as low as I can keep it since I have no basement.

Do I need to rack to a third carboy a few days after adding the potassium sorbate?
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: tschmidlin on August 29, 2012, 06:53:38 AM
How does it taste?  Are you happy with it as is?  If I lacked cold storage I would probably bottle a bit and chill it, then when I finished those bottles repeat the process.  It's going to do what it's going to do in the carboy.  You can rack it to get it off some yeast, but at 16% there's probably not much healthy yeast to start fermenting in there anyway at this point.  If the bottom looks fairly clear, there won't even be enough yeast for autolysis to be detectable.
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: punatic on August 29, 2012, 08:11:36 AM
When I backsweeten I use the just wait method.  I wait a year or more until the mead has dropped super clear and all the yeast have died before I backsweeten.

But then again I am a beekeeper, and own a s***load of carboys and cornelius kegs.
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: slickdaddy420 on August 29, 2012, 02:52:10 PM
The mead tastes pretty good as it is after I added 3lbs of honey bringing it down to under 12%abv. I chilled the gravity reading liquid. I do like the idea of waiting before backsweetening. It is too late now, but that does make a ton of sense. I think I will just bottle a bunch and keep it in the fridge. At this point, I think waiting a year is just going to annoy me.

I like the idea of mead, but I might need to be able to keep it colder than I have possible at this time. Maybe do 1gallon batches so I can keep in the fridge when needed.

Thanks guys for all the responses.
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: morticaixavier on August 29, 2012, 02:57:21 PM
The mead tastes pretty good as it is after I added 3lbs of honey bringing it down to under 12%abv. I chilled the gravity reading liquid. I do like the idea of waiting before backsweetening. It is too late now, but that does make a ton of sense. I think I will just bottle a bunch and keep it in the fridge. At this point, I think waiting a year is just going to annoy me.

I like the idea of mead, but I might need to be able to keep it colder than I have possible at this time. Maybe do 1gallon batches so I can keep in the fridge when needed.

Thanks guys for all the responses.

What was your batch size? I don't think that adding 3lb of honey (right around 1 quart) to a 16% ABV is going to bring it down to 12% ABV. It's still going to be pretty close to 16% (~15.2%), might even creap up a little as some of that honey ferments out (if it does)
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: slickdaddy420 on August 29, 2012, 03:05:47 PM
The current batch size is a little over 4 gallons. I had a bad degassing accident and lost about a gallon into my carpet. Started with 15lbs honey and 5 gallons. So, I would say I have a 4 gallon batch with 12lbs of honey. The numbers make sense to me(a novice brewer). Adding ~25% of the starting honey, the FG went up over 25 points(~25% of the OG). It is actually very drinkable now. Before it tasted like a stiff mixed drink of vodka and honey.
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: bwana on August 29, 2012, 03:30:53 PM


I also have a mead that finished under 1.00. It has been sitting in Secondary in my basement at 66 degrees for a year. I also need to back sweeten as this mead is at 15%. When I add more honey will the yeast come back to life?
Sorry to highjack this thread but I have a similar issue.
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: morticaixavier on August 29, 2012, 03:54:06 PM
The current batch size is a little over 4 gallons. I had a bad degassing accident and lost about a gallon into my carpet. Started with 15lbs honey and 5 gallons. So, I would say I have a 4 gallon batch with 12lbs of honey. The numbers make sense to me(a novice brewer). Adding ~25% of the starting honey, the FG went up over 25 points(~25% of the OG). It is actually very drinkable now. Before it tasted like a stiff mixed drink of vodka and honey.

It still won't reduce your ABV very much. certainly not 4 points. you may be adding 25% more gravity points but you are only adding about 6% volume that's what affects ABV so you come down to 15%. the alcahol does not go away.
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: slickdaddy420 on August 29, 2012, 03:58:08 PM
The current batch size is a little over 4 gallons. I had a bad degassing accident and lost about a gallon into my carpet. Started with 15lbs honey and 5 gallons. So, I would say I have a 4 gallon batch with 12lbs of honey. The numbers make sense to me(a novice brewer). Adding ~25% of the starting honey, the FG went up over 25 points(~25% of the OG). It is actually very drinkable now. Before it tasted like a stiff mixed drink of vodka and honey.

It still won't reduce your ABV very much. certainly not 4 points. you may be adding 25% more gravity points but you are only adding about 6% volume that's what affects ABV so you come down to 15%. the alcahol does not go away.


Ahh gotcha. Its about 15%+ abv, but the added sugar just makes it more drinkable.
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: morticaixavier on August 29, 2012, 04:57:24 PM
correct. the added sugar will also make for one heck of a hangover so watch out!
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: punatic on August 29, 2012, 05:13:15 PM
correct. the added sugar will also make for one heck of a hangover so watch out!

Really?  Can you point to where you get that from?
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: tschmidlin on August 29, 2012, 07:14:14 PM
correct. the added sugar will also make for one heck of a hangover so watch out!
You wouldn't be the first person to get a headache and feel crappy from consuming too much sugar, but that's not the same as a hangover.
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: morticaixavier on August 29, 2012, 08:15:45 PM
correct. the added sugar will also make for one heck of a hangover so watch out!
You wouldn't be the first person to get a headache and feel crappy from consuming too much sugar, but that's not the same as a hangover.

well maybe it's not the sugar then, but when I drink sweet mead, sweet wine, sweet alcaholic beverages in general (to some degree of excess) I get a monster hangover. Mead in general also kicks my butt the next day. No scientific knowledge behind it, just experiencial inference.
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: tschmidlin on August 30, 2012, 07:16:31 AM
correct. the added sugar will also make for one heck of a hangover so watch out!
You wouldn't be the first person to get a headache and feel crappy from consuming too much sugar, but that's not the same as a hangover.

well maybe it's not the sugar then, but when I drink sweet mead, sweet wine, sweet alcaholic beverages in general (to some degree of excess) I get a monster hangover. Mead in general also kicks my butt the next day. No scientific knowledge behind it, just experiencial inference.
It probably just makes the dehydration worse.  Try extra water at bedtime.
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: kenschramm on September 15, 2012, 01:51:53 AM
The lone bit of advice I would add to this thread is that it is a good idea to rack any mead that you will be backsweetening off of any yeast cake that has built up before you hit it w/chemicals. You'll also get a handle on whether the mead is of a mind to try and ferment a few more points. Wait to sorbate until you no longer see any signs of fermentation.  If you get the mead away from its main yeast population, you'll minimize the number of active cells that need to be knocked out.

Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: punatic on September 15, 2012, 03:55:20 AM
Hey Ken, It's great to see you in here again!  We've been hoping you are doing well.  Thanks for chiming in.

With aloha!

Carl the meadmaker/beekeeper from Hawaii Island
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: slickdaddy420 on October 02, 2012, 03:23:10 PM
Thanks again for all the replies.

I put the Mead I started this thread about and a Braggot I made in 3 gallon carboys and got them in my refrigerator a month ago. They cleared up beautifully, tasted amazing, and I will be bottling very soon. The cold crashing was the trick I needed.

My girlfriend LOVES it and wants to give bottles to all her co-workers. So, the 3 gallons will be half gone to others haha.
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: udubdawg on October 02, 2012, 05:32:30 PM
My girlfriend LOVES it and wants to give bottles to all her co-workers. So, the 3 gallons will be half gone to others haha.

considering the price of honey, that's really generous of you.  I usually love to share but damn, sharing mead can get expensive.

anyway, congrats on your success.

cheers--
--Michael
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: rjharper on October 02, 2012, 06:14:10 PM
My girlfriend LOVES it and wants to give bottles to all her co-workers. So, the 3 gallons will be half gone to others haha.

considering the price of honey, that's really generous of you.  I usually love to share but damn, sharing mead can get expensive.

anyway, congrats on your success.

cheers--
--Michael

+1 I'll share beer all the time, but the time and $$$ that goes into mead means it's staying in my cellar and you only get it if you're a guest.
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: slickdaddy420 on October 03, 2012, 03:20:00 PM
If I did not add any priming sugar for a still mead, will bottling like beer be ok? It would be easier than wine bottles and corks for me.
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: udubdawg on October 03, 2012, 05:54:40 PM
since you're immediately giving half (or whatever amount) of it away, and those people will doubtless consume it quickly, and the remainder is a very small amount, I probably would use plain beer bottles and caps in this case too. 

I bought some of those clear 6.3oz bottles that take a regular crown cap for the purpose of giving out samples to people whom I'm not sure will like it.  Also useful for testing carb in young bottle conditioned beers without wasting too much of the precious.

cheers--
--Michael
Title: Re: 16% Sweet Mead?
Post by: punatic on October 03, 2012, 07:35:27 PM
If I did not add any priming sugar for a still mead, will bottling like beer be ok? It would be easier than wine bottles and corks for me.

Bottled like beer is fine.  The bottles I make up for gifts I bottle in American Champagne (a misnomer by definition, but that's another story) bottles.  They accept crown caps and make a nice present.  They are also 750mL (25.4 oz.), so it's like giving away a couple of beer bottles though.  I make up custom labels for the gifts.  People really enjoy it.