View Full Version : Dry Mead

02-08-2007, 03:02 PM
I need some advice on how to make dry, semi-dry, mead.

I make mine sweet, very sweet. I don't drink dry wine of any sort.

However, friends ask for dry, semi-dry mead all the time and I'm trying to comply.

My problem is, I don't know what to expect, or how to test, as it all taste gross to me.

Here is a scenario:

Just brewed a single gallon of mead(with lemon and orange). 1.5 pound of honey, SG 1.092 FG 1.002 at 70, 12%. Fermentation took 12 days.

It has been racked once and is crystal clear. I sampled it last night and almost died. It smells a bit like sour apple, or sour cider perhaps...and has a faint hint of it as well.

Does this just need to age off? Should I back sweeten just a tad, say 1 cup of honey?

From someone who enjoys dry mead, what are signs and symptoms to look for, and expect, in dry mead creation. While I won't drink it, I at least want to know what to check for on a sample.


02-08-2007, 04:34 PM
Most dry meads need more aging than sweet ones to balance out, let it age for 6 months, and then let your friends sample... they can probably let you know the +/- then you can tune it for them.


Dan McFeeley
02-08-2007, 04:43 PM
Could you let us know what yeast strain you used, and now much orange and lemon was used in the one gallon batch? Was the citrus fruit juiced, were they chopped and added to the one gallon batch?

With a SG of 1.092, possibly lots of citrus dominating, in the finished product, that could account for the taste. Especially if there is pith in the flavor profile from the citrus fruit. Twelve days is a good fermentation time but depending on how much citrus was in the must, it could have been too acidic and strained the fermentation along the way.

It would be a good idea to bulk age, then bottle and age some more. Save a tasting sample in a 12 ounce capped bottle or two so you can see how it's coming along.

02-08-2007, 04:50 PM
I sure can.

1.5 lbs Honey (Any)
1/8 tsp Yeast Nutrient
1/8 tsp Yeast Energizer
1 tsp Red Star Montrachet Wine Yeast
1 cup Strong Black Tea (4 tea bags)
1 Orange sliced (with rines), added to primary
1 Lemon sliced (with rines), added to primary
Enough water to make 1 US Gallon

This is 100% the same recipe I use for my sweet mead, except that has 3-4 lbs of honey. And is like gold from the carboy!

This is the first time I went very dry and noticed the aroma/taste.

David Baldwin
02-08-2007, 04:56 PM
By "sour" do you mean tart or vinegar? If you smell/taste vinegar, you may have an acetobacteria infection - turning the alcohol to acetic acid (vinegar).

If you have a tart apple smell and taste, you may have a bit of aceteldehyde produced by a stressed fermentation.

02-09-2007, 03:29 AM
1.5 lbs of honey in a gallon should give you an OG of approx. 1.054, not 1.092. Are you sure about these numbers??

02-09-2007, 09:23 AM
Oh, that you for reminding me.

That's a mistake on my part, take exactly what is above except change it to:

3 lbs honey in 2 gallons of water, then split into 2, 1 gallon jugs.

That O.G is correct.

As for sour, its tart, not vinegar. I had a bad vinegar experience once! Will that go away with some time?

02-09-2007, 09:48 AM
3 lbs of honey in 2 gallons should also give an approximate OG of 1.054 ???
For 1.092 you need more like 5 lbs (in 2 gallons).

02-09-2007, 10:40 AM
Now I'm concerned. :confused1:

Well, I'm making a new batch tonight I will check this one also, but I swear to you, that was the reading.

Could my hydrometer be damaged? I have a good friend who does beer, so I'm pretty confident my reading of it is correct, and in the past, I've had no issues.

When I had 5 lbs per gallon (it was a 5 gallon batch) it was 1.160 at 70 5 lbs per 2 gallons is roughly half of that, so I see the basic math... +/- 1.080

If, lets simply say the hydrometer is broken, we readjust to 1.054 and are now at 1.000, were now looking at 7.3% ABV, clearly far below my target, but still not sure why the aroma is as it is.

Let ask it this way also then. If I add another 1.5 per gallon (since they are aplit) taking each to 3 lbs. Can I toss in another Red Star Montrachet and continue on, or am I in danger of being too late?

My hydrometer goes from 0.990 to 1.170

I use this page for my calculations with temp and such: http://www.rooftopbrew.net/abv.php

02-09-2007, 12:59 PM
I'm going to do the agony of a new batch tonight and do only 1.5 lbs of honey, cool it and test it on both hydrometers to make sure things are OK, then add more honey for my actual batch.

I took a moment to test my "other" half of the 2 gallon split. This one was identical but used a much lower ABV yeast (Active Dry Bread Yeast). It was intended to only produce about 6%, with some residual. I then planned to back sweeten it as needed.

Much to my surprise, and going with your feeling that my SG was really 1.054, this one was 1.000 dead on.

So, looks like I have now 2, 1 gallon batches of 7% ABV. That's OK for the one, I'll just back-sweeten, but I need to fix the other.


Dan McFeeley
02-09-2007, 05:23 PM
The corrected gravity is helpful. Sounds like you've got an pretty dry mead with the sourness of the citrus dominating, with very little sugar from either the citrus or the honey to balance it out. Some backsweetening should help, otherwise a fairly lengthy aging period should have good results.

David Baldwin
02-09-2007, 11:24 PM
As for sour, its tart, not vinegar. I had a bad vinegar experience once! Will that go away with some time?

OK, then that is good news. The aceteldehyde will mellow a bit with time. I've also read that the addition of K-metabisulfite will bind and precipitate the aceteldehyde. Unfortunately I can't seem to find that reference right now.