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Teufelhund
01-18-2008, 01:21 PM
Hi folks!

OK, I'm apologizing in advance for this question. I've scrolled through 70+ pages and thousands of posts and can't find it.
For some reason or another, I just can't seem to grasp the whole brix/SG making a mead sweet or semi-sweet or dry. Honestly folks! I've looked at and played with the mead calculator, read posts, joined 2 other forums and everything!
I get it that if you add less honey, you get a dry mead. Adding 25 lbs of honey for 5 gals will make it sweet but how the heck do you figure how to make a mead sweet as opposed to dry? Aside from killing off the yeasts and stopping fermentation and backsweetening, how does one determine how sweet it's going to be when bottled?
I hope this makes sense. It's like, how do I make a sweet mead instead of a dry mead, just by the very basic ingredients? How does racking help make it stay sweet? If at all. Is it a certain yeast thing that certain yeasts produce sweeter meads at the end of fermentation and final racking?
I need a "Mead for Dummies" and yes, I know Oskaar is probably pulling his hair out, right about......now! Sorry dude!
I really hope I explained this clearly enough because as I re-read it, it makes no sense at all.

:confused4:

DD

liff
01-18-2008, 01:53 PM
Aside from killing off the yeasts and stopping fermentation and backsweetening, how does one determine how sweet it's going to be when bottled?


My whole understanding of the situation goes like this:

Consider a yeast that has an alcohol tolerance of 15%, and you add 14.5% Potential Alcohol By Volume (PABV), then the yeast would consume all the sugars and you should end up with a dry mead. Adding more honey PABV for it to end sweet is a non-linear process. If you added 15.5% PABV honey, you would probably end with 0.5% honey/sugar left over. If you added 18% PABV, you would probably end up with 4% honey/sugar left over as the extra honey/sugar impeeds the metabolism of the yeast towards the end.

All that varies by the yeast used and the alcohol tolerance of the yeast used. Example: a 16.5% PABV must will be sweet with D47 and dry with DV-10, and off dry (or semi sweet) with R-HST.

This has worked well for me in the 35 ish fermentations I have done. If anyone else sees a flaw in that, please chime in. And, killing off the yeast and backsweetining is another viable option.


I hope this makes sense. It's like, how do I make a sweet mead instead of a dry mead, just by the very basic ingredients?

The amount of honey/sugar, or the choice of yeast. Most of the previous answer/thought.



How does racking help make it stay sweet? If at all.

Racking removes the must from most, but not all, of the yeast. Removing most of the yeast helps to impeed the fermentation progress. This technique is not something I do without the addition of sulfite because again, most, but not all of the yeast is removed. Some people have done this without the sulfite and have stoped the fermentation. I don't understand how, but they say fermentation stoped and I take them for their word.



Is it a certain yeast thing that certain yeasts produce sweeter meads at the end of fermentation and final racking?

No.

I am not a beer brewer, but I understand that there are certain higher sugars that as a result of the wort making process are non-fermentable sugars to different strains of yeast. This does not apply to mead as almost all of the sugars are fermentable.

One mead I recently made was with White Labs WLP 720 Sweet Mead Yeast. The final gravity when bottled is 0.998, which is dry by anyone's standards. So I used a 'sweet mead yeast' to make a dry mead. And I am 100% sure this could be done the other way (use a 'dry mead yeast' and end up with a sweet mead).



Final summation: It all depends on the yeast's alcohol tolerance and how much honey/sugar you add to the must.

Teufelhund
01-19-2008, 12:32 AM
Ohhhhhhhhhkay. Starting to get it. THANK YOU!

So it's rather like I thought, add more honey than a specific yeast can tolerate as far as AC % and what ever is left over, makes it sweeter. Ahhh.... Knowledge of yeasts and their tolerances comes in handy!
What throws me off is determining at , say, 3 gals fluids + honey, you figure out a Brix and SG. Then you add the berries, yeast and rest of the fluids up to say, 6 gals. Well, doesn't that just throw the whole thing off? What good is determining Brix @ 3 gal if you still have an undefined amt of fluids/mass to the must, in this example, berries? That still trips the circuits on the little squirrel cage in the noggin.

:cheers:

DD

liff
01-19-2008, 12:50 PM
Alright, the first post was about traditional types of meads, I think we are now on to melomels (fruit and honey) and such, right?



What throws me off is determining at , say, 3 gals fluids + honey, you figure out a Brix and SG. Then you add the berries, yeast and rest of the fluids up to say, 6 gals. Well, doesn't that just throw the whole thing off?

Yes, it throws everything off.



What good is determining Brix @ 3 gal if you still have an undefined amt of fluids/mass to the must, in this example, berries?


Pretty much none.

As for trying to figure out the total amount of fermentable sugars in a melomel must, it is a best a crap shoot. The same fruit can vary in sugar content when picked at different times of the year or in different growing regions. Can the yeast metabolize this sugar? Can the yeast get to the sugar inside of the fruit? Lots of guesses here.

A pretty good website on this is this one here. (http://www.brsquared.org/wine/) Notice there is a huge variation in the sugars of the strawberries for example 1.013 to 1.043 as a range. How in the world to calculate for that range? Thats where the fun a guessing comes in. :cheers:

akueck
01-19-2008, 06:05 PM
One thing I'd like to add to the mix is the perception of sweet flavors vs. actual sugar content. You can make a dry mead with sweet flavors (ripe fruitiness for example) and people can be fooled into thinking it has some sugar in it. Conversely, you can make a mead with residual sugar and add sour/bitter flavors to convince people it's totally dry. So the acid/tannin balance and the flavors of the mead will determine the amount of actual sugar that is needed to produce a "sweet" mead. I know that only makes things more confusing, but hey meadmaking is as much an art as it is a science.

For the fruit, I think it is nice to know the SG before adding fruit. Unless the SG is really low, adding fruit will bring the total SG down since even the ripest, most sugary fruit will probably bring an SG in the 1.050-60 range. (grapes being the only exception I know of; I've seen dessert wines which claim to be made from grapes of 40+ Brix at harvest!! go moldy grapes!) So if you start with SG of 1.120 and add fruit, you know you'll probably end up in the range of 1.100 (+/- whatever guess you like) depending on how much fruit you add. It still a crapshoot unless you juice some fruit and measure it beforehand, but at least it's something to go on. If you want to make the same mead again, it's good to know a starting point.

Also remember that the ripeness of fruit determines both the sugar content and the acidity. Usually acid levels drop as sugar levels rise. Acidity plays a huge role in both fermentation kinetics and final flavor, so it's something to be mindful of.

Dan McFeeley
01-20-2008, 10:59 AM
Hello --

I don't think Oskaar will be pulling his hair out, because this is really a difficult question to answer, which he is aware of. Perception of sweetness is not directly related to dryness/specific gravity. Period. Worse, although the answers to this question are fairly well understood (but not entirely) in the science of enology, there is little information on this subject in mead.

I'm not going to provide an answer but give you a pointer in the right direction.

Read these two books by Emile Peynaud, "Knowing and Making Wine," and "The Taste of Wine."

Anything by Peynaud is good to excellent -- read the first book for information but do not do this for the second book "Taste of Wine." Approach it like a world class fine wine. Take a sip or two for data and information, but afterwards read it again to mull over and enjoy its contents. Engage it with the subjective self, just as you do with a truly excellent wine, or a wonderful poem.

Put the two together, the data base of enology with the craft of wine making and wine tasting, as Peynaud describes it, and you'll get an idea of where the relationship between perception of sweetness to the mechanics of meadmaking lies.

Hope this is helpful and not too confusing. If you can track down these books by Peynaud, enjoy.

Johnnybladers
01-21-2008, 09:37 PM
On the mechanics end of the scale wouldn't alcohol content also play into perceived sweetness vs S.G.? It' my understanding that alcohol is a lower S.G. than water, thus a higher concentration of alcohol could mask residual sugars. As in a lower alcohol mead at 1.00 could contain less residual sugar than a higher alcohol mead at 1.00 giving the taste perception of higher "sweetness" to the higher alcohol mead even though both are at the same S.G. Then again this is just the meanderings of a slighty alcohol sweetened mind :drunken_smilie:

Dan McFeeley
01-22-2008, 03:36 PM
On the mechanics end of the scale wouldn't alcohol content also play into perceived sweetness vs S.G.? It' my understanding that alcohol is a lower S.G. than water, thus a higher concentration of alcohol could mask residual sugars. As in a lower alcohol mead at 1.00 could contain less residual sugar than a higher alcohol mead at 1.00 giving the taste perception of higher "sweetness" to the higher alcohol mead even though both are at the same S.G. Then again this is just the meanderings of a slighty alcohol sweetened mind :drunken_smilie:


No meanderings at all! Alcohol does indeed play a role here.

The way it works -- alcohol has a sweet taste, and contributes to the sweetness profile of a wine. Peynaud would demonstrate this to his students by having them taste alcohol solutions. They were astonished.

Teufelhund
01-25-2008, 05:40 PM
Hello --Read these two books by Emile Peynaud, "Knowing and Making Wine," and "The Taste of Wine."

Hey Dan :icon_salut: Thanks for the replies. I ordered "The Taste of Wine" for $40 but the other will have to wait. It's $150. WOOF! :angry2: I might be able to order it through the local library as well.
I guess what I'm looking for is how to figure out when mixing the must, the degrees of Brix and SG that are needed to make a mead sweet or dry. How's that? Better phrased?
Thanks guys!

:cheers:

DD

Medsen Fey
01-25-2008, 08:09 PM
Amazon Books (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b/105-8692927-4777223?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=peynaud&x=14&y=18) has both books and "Knowing and Making wines" is quite a bit less expensive (but it still ain't cheap).

liff
01-26-2008, 11:01 AM
I guess what I'm looking for is how to figure out when mixing the must, the degrees of Brix and SG that are needed to make a mead sweet or dry. How's that? Better phrased?
Thanks guys!

:cheers:

DD


That is what I thought you were trying to ask.

For a straight mead, my first post in this thread covers how to do that when using the hydrometer as the judge I think.


Final summation: It all depends on the yeast's alcohol tolerance and how much honey/sugar you add to the must.

However, when using the human as the judge, then there is a lot more that goes into the equation, and then the human preception and the hydrometer measurement do not always agree.


Liff