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brewbetter
10-06-2006, 01:21 AM
Hi all. My first post here. I would like to introduce myself. I've been brewing good beer for a little over 10 years, have a great 500 sq. ft. brewery in the back of the garage, (an old garage apt I used to rent out) I have an all electric HERMS system and lots of equipment. I have made 2 or 3 meads in the beginning of my brewing years, and they turned out very nice. One of our club monthly brews is going to be mead for the end of next year, so I'm making a mead for the first time in quite a while. Here is what I did:

13.5 lbs of honey
One 48 ounce can of Alexander’s concentrate grape juice.
5 gallons of RO water, boiled and cooled.
5 teaspoons yeast nutrient. (fermaid? maybe)
Two packs Lalvin 71B-1122, rehydrated.
Fermented in a temp controlled fridge at 68 deg. F.

This is a no boil, no chemical batch so far. I mixed everything cold (except for the yeast) I was hoping for an OG of around 1.150, but ended up with an OG of 1.240. I did a double take, because I couldn't believe it. I had no idea that one can of concentrate could add so much sugar.

I think that my mistake started here. I should have made this about an 8 gallon batch instead of 5 to lower that OG a little, but I didn't. I aerated with 02 for about 10 minutes, rehydrated the 2 packs of yeast and pitched. The next day it was going like gangbusters. It fermented great for 10 days with no help from me. Then it seemed to stop cold. I checked the gravity, and it was 1.060, a very decent drop for just 10 days. But that also makes the Alc percent almost 25%!! I'm pretty sure I'm not going to get any yeast to knock this mead down some more. The taste is very alcoholic, but with a balanced sweetness that isn't too bad. It is very cloudy, not clear at all, but that will come with time and lagering.

I'm looking for some ideas on what to do next. I'm thinking of just letting it sit for another 2 or 3 weeks at 70 degrees F, then rack into a carboy and put it in my lagering tank at 30 degrees for 6 months or so. I'm guessing it should be racked 2 or 3 more times while resting? I'm thinking of making half of it still and force carbonate the other half and counter pressure fill it in bottles.

Would it be worth it to make a small dry mead and blend it out some?
All comments and ideas will be welcome. I'm at work tonight, but will be off the weekend and will check back. Thanks in advance!

Bill Tobler
Brewing great beer (and mead) in South Texas

kace069
10-06-2006, 01:49 AM
Where do I buy a hydrometer that reads at 1.240? Is that for brewing or making maple syrup?

I see you are in Texas so I guess there is no chance of letting it age out at between 50 and 60 degrees instead of 30? For a mead with that kind of punch I think you will need much longer than 6 months of aging more like 1.5 years.

Blending sounds like a good way to go but I have no experience with that. I would be more inclined to add some fruit to this monster and it may help it mellow out some. I would defenitly consider oak. I probably wouldn't even rack it off lees until about month 5 and think about bottling it about this time next year. With maybe only 1 more racking.

I would let this sit in bulk for as long as you can stand it.

Thats about all I can offer I have never made a mead with an abv higher than 16%, I usually hang around 12-14.

brewbetter
10-06-2006, 02:14 AM
Where do I buy a hydrometer that reads at 1.240? Is that for brewing or making maple syrup?


Good question...maybe I read that thing wrong 3 times???? As soon as I get home, I'll go take another look. ???
I'm still thinking that 10 days is not enough time to ferment up to 25 percent Alcohol.

I've got two beer conditioning freezers, one at 30 degrees and the other stays at 40-50 degrees for storage/conditioning. It could certainty go in that one instead of the 30 degree. I have some oak chips I bought some time ago. Probably still good. I guess they go in the secondary some time. I'll have to do some research into the blending thing. No problem in letting it age in bulk. That was my plan all along.

WRATHWILDE
10-06-2006, 02:58 AM
I'm wondering if maybe your hydrometer has a balling reading and you were accidently reading 24 off that and just added the 1.0, as you would have had to do anyway when reading the gravity, to come up with your 1.24. If so your actual Gravity was short of where you wanted it. This looks to be a 6.5 gallon batch, or near enough. 13.5 lbs of honey in 6.5 gallons would only give you a potential of about 10% Alcohol. I'm guessing the concentrate kicked it up to about 13% potential 1.100, 24 balling. To hit 1.150 in a mead you'd need another 8 to 9 lbs of honey.

Hope that helps,
Wrathwilde

Oskaar
10-06-2006, 03:54 AM
Howdy BB,

A couple of quick comments.

As I remember the Alexander's concentrates are somewhere around 68 brix/1.3xxx SG out of the can so that would account for the high initial gravity, especially when matched up to 13.5 lbs of honey in your must already. The concentrates need to be diluted and balanced in the areas of pH, Acid and nutrient out of the can in order to really gain max fermentation potential.

In the future remember that red grape must concentrate ferments better between 70-80 degrees F to get max fermentation potential from your yeast. 71B isn't really a great yeast for this application, but it should give a pretty good end product albeit a bit sweet. For juice concentrates QA23 is great for reds, and 58W3 is great for whites. 43 is a good choice for red concentrates as well.

Blending is definitely a good plan here.

Hope that helps,

Oskaar

Sander
10-06-2006, 05:59 AM
From the amount of sugar you have in this batch, I would guess that you read the amount of sugar on your hydrometer (I don't know if yours has this scale, though): 240 gr/l. This is equivalent to an OG of approx. 1.092.
71B has a alcohol tolerance of 14%, so 25% seems a bit unlikely.
Just my 2 cents.

brewbetter
10-06-2006, 08:11 AM
OK, I'm home, and my hydrometer goes up to 1.7xx, so I'm pretty sure I read it right the first time. My hydrometer has balling, % Alc and SG scales. The very first thing I noticed was the strong Alcoholic nose when I pulled the sample. The first thing I looked up was the alcohol tolerance of 71B and it was 14%. But I did pitch a lot of yeast in a well aerated and nutrient rich must. I kinda believe the 25% Alcohol, even though it doesn't make a lot of sense. Someone once said, "The nose Knows"

Except for the juice, this was one of Ken Schramm's meads out of his book. I was 1.5 pounds of honey short and had the can of juice handy and figured, what the hey...

I think I'll make another 5 gallons of a very dry mead and blend it.
So, what are the key factors in making a very dry mead? A good yeast nutrient, a very attenuative yeast, good aeration, anything else?

Bill Tobler
Brewing great beer (and mead) in South Texas

Sander
10-06-2006, 08:20 AM
What is the size of your brew? From the list of ingredients you would think 6.5 gallons.

insanity
10-06-2006, 09:43 AM
OK, I'm home, and my hydrometer goes up to 1.7xx, so I'm pretty sure I read it right the first time. My hydrometer has balling, % Alc and SG scales.


One of my hyrdometers goes gives readings up to 1.170. I would guess you have a similar one and perhaps the starting gravity was read at 1.124

How about a pic? or can you check it once more?

WRATHWILDE
10-06-2006, 03:41 PM
Same here, My hydrometer goes up to 1.170, so I'm also thinking you mean 1.124.

If you look I think you'll find it reads something like this...

990
1,000
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
1,100
10
20
30
40
50
60
70

...with a potential alcohol scale marked to about 23% and balling scale to about 40, when reading past 1,100 the measurements get preceded by 1,1 so at the 20 mark past 1,100 your reading would be 1,120 (1.120) not 1.20. I think this may be the source of confusion. Were you shooting then for 1.115, about 14% Alcohol potential? Which I'm guessing, since if I'm right and your misreading the hydrometer, 1.15 is 20% potential and if your misreading the hydrometer you would have assigned it 1.50.

Check the balling scale on your hydrometer and tell us how high it goes, I'm guessing not past 40, which means you have a 1.170 scale hydrometer, not a 1.7.

Hope it helps to clear the confusion.

Wrathwilde

Oskaar
10-06-2006, 04:21 PM
Whoops,

Sorry guys, I read BB's first post in this thread and presumed that since he'd been making beer for 10 years he wouldn't be making an error in reading the hydrometer, my bad! :confused2:

BrewBetter, how do you read this hydrometer when you make beer?

Also, there's no way I can think of that your mead is sitting at 25% ABV if you used 71B. K1 doesn't even step feed that high to my knowledge so I'm doubting that you're much past 14%. Based on the 1.124 OG which is probably closer to the correct reading, your PABV is 17.xx%.

The amount of yeast you pitch will not determine your final alcohol level in meadmaking (or winemaking, brewing, etc.) to my knowledge. The alcohol tolerance of the yeast determines that, and in this case 71B is listed at 14% but I have gotten it up to 17% when making cysers and melomels.

adTHANKSvance,

Oskaar

brewbetter
10-07-2006, 09:00 PM
Boy, do I need glasses. Wait, I do need glasses! :tard:

My hydrometer reads up to 1.170. I'm not really sure how this happened. Honestly, I stay sober most of the time. Most of my beers are 1.080 or below, so I don't read the high side very much. I am sorry for all the confusion. So my OG was really 1.124 and the gravity 10 days later was 1.060, and just now, it was 1.034 and doing great. I'm really embarrassed for this stupid mistake, but it just goes to show, we all can make mistakes. I'm drinking the hydrometer sample right now, and I like it. If this mead gets down to 1.020, which would be about 14% alc, I'll be happy. I was looking for a sweet mead to start with. Thanks for all the help. This site is great, as are all you people.

Bill Tobler
Brewing Great Beer (and Mead) in South Texas

kace069
10-07-2006, 11:03 PM
That clears a lot up. Ignore my advice. I can't imagine what 1.240 is. Maple syrup, pure honey?

WRATHWILDE
10-08-2006, 12:13 AM
Wrathwilde 2 - Oskaar, well... several Hundred actually but he lets us get a point in every once in a while. ;)

Wrathwilde

Oskaar
10-08-2006, 04:19 AM
BB, no worries. I've actually done the same thing myself :BangHead:

WW, good idea of putting up the scale. You ought to include that in the advice article you have up!!

Cheers,

Oskaar

WRATHWILDE
10-08-2006, 06:16 AM
Done!

Wrathwilde

brewbetter
10-09-2006, 07:55 AM
WW, your scale is what made me do a double take. Good job on that. Ya know, I never really thought of what a maximum gravity could be. 1.240 would be syrup of some kind I guess. That is really high and I should have caught that right away. I don't think that there is yeast out there that could ferment that high a gravity down. Fermenting 1240 down to 1060 is already 24-25% alc, the max even a high grav. yeast could do.

Bill Tobler
Brewing Great Beer (and Mead) in South Texas