View Full Version : A few pointers please.

01-27-2009, 08:24 PM
New mead maker, been make beer for a while, just have a few questions.

After digging around on the site, I think I have gotten a pretty good handle on how to deal with the mead during fermentation, as far as checking the 1/3 and 2/3 sugar breaks, at least as far as what to look for on the hydrometer.

What I curious about was how often are the more experienced mead makers taking these readings? It seems that in some instances, the 1/3 break can occur very quickly, depending on when fermentation really kicks in, but i just want to be sure that I don't miss a break and underfeed the yeast.

And just how sweet is is a sweet mead. If a dry mead is going to finish out around 1.004, is a sweet going to be markedly higher than that, or just slightly more?

Also, when it comes to aeration, I have noticed that some folks stir vigorously, some aerate using a stone, and some are using pure O2 for this. I am familiar with the process from homebrewing, but I am curious if there is a benefit to using O2 for mead, rather than a stone on a pump system with a good filter on it. In brewing circles, it is found that pure O2 has no added benefit, and in some studies, seemed to hinder the fermentation process more than helping it, at least when compared to a filtered pump in beer making.

Medsen Fey
01-27-2009, 09:31 PM
Welcome to GotMead? echo2112!

I think you'll find you've come to a great place to find answers.

I'll try tackle a couple of your questions, but keep in mind that the search tool here works extremely well though you need to narrow your searches a bit to limit the number of results.

I usually check the gravity daily during fermentation up to about the 1/2 fermentation point. After that I check as needed, or when I am opening it up to do something else. I don't get worried if my timing is a little off and neither do the yeast. If I miss the 1/3 sugar break and don't add the nutrients until the 1/2 sugar break, it won't be a disaster. I am in no way suggesting sloppy mead making practice, and if you want to get the best results from some of the recipes (especially PBakulic's) you'll do well to follow them as closely as possible. However, there is no need to have anxiety over timing with meads.

There are several threads on oxygenation and aeration. See Here (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=9178&highlight=oxygen) and Here (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12471&highlight=oxygen+concentration) as examples. There are more if you search. Given the fire hazards associated with oxygen and the potential yeast toxicity, I keep it low tech. I don't even have a lees stirrer - just a whisk and a strong right arm, but the yeast seem to do fine.

A dry mead will usually have a gravity below 1.000. There are numerous threads that talk about sweetness level and gravity if you search. Do keep in mind that sweetness is not just of function of gravity and residual sugar. For any particular level of residual sugar, alcohol will tend to enhance the sweetness, while acids and tannins will tend to reduce it. In an extreme example I have made meads with a final gravity of around 1.070 that tasted only a little sweet due to large acid load- nice though, and great body.

So search around, and you'll find a huge amount of info both here in the forums and on the main site.

Good Mazing!

01-27-2009, 11:23 PM
Thanks Medsen, i have a feeling I will be rooting about more on the forums, but I appreciate the links.

I was never really sure how the residual sugar bit was influenced by the attenuation ratio of the yeast being used, I always figured that if you had something with high attenuation, then there were not going to be any sugars left for the palette to pick up, Guess I need to read up some more.

Medsen Fey
01-27-2009, 11:46 PM
In mead making we don't think about attenuation too much since almost all of the sugars are fermentable. The limit of attenuation is effectively the alcohol tolerance of the yeast. You can have residual sugar if you start with a gravity that has a potential alcohol higher than the alcohol tolerance of the yeast, or if you keep adding honey along the way (step-feeding) or if you let it finish dry, then stabilize and backsweeten.

Be sure and check out the Mead NewBee Guide. As an experienced brewer a lot of the material will be familiar, but there are plenty of tips to pick up on the differences between beer brewing and mead making.


01-28-2009, 12:36 AM
Greetings, echo2112, and welcome to Got Mead?

I see you are up in Austin. I am down on the northwest side of San Antonio. Good to have another Texan join the group as I was feelin' mighty lonely. ;D You might want to add yourself to the Member Map (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/vbgooglemapme.php).

I see Medsen has already been helping you out with some pointers. He and the rest of the Mead Mentors are incredible sources of information much of it already captured in other posts. He has already directed you to the search engine (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/search.php) and the NewBee Guide (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=108&Itemid=14) both of which I find invaluable. I also came from a similar background as a beermaker. I am still on my first batch of mead, a Prickly Pear Cactus Melomel. -- Olen

01-28-2009, 04:43 AM
In response to your question about sweetness and gravity readings, from what I've gathered via Ken Schramm's The Compleat Meadmaker at least a general rule of thumb is:

Dry Mead: 0.099 to 1.006 (or lower)
Medium Mead: 1.006 to 1.015
Sweet Mead: 1.015 to 1.020
Dessert Mead: 1.020+

This also depends even on personal taste, as well as the factors Medsen mentioned.

01-28-2009, 12:00 PM
Dry Mead: 0.099 to 1.006 (or lower)
Medium Mead: 1.006 to 1.015
Sweet Mead: 1.012 to 1.020
Dessert Mead: 1.020+

Those are the ranges from Ken Schramm's The Compleat Meadmaker and are a good guide. They also match up loosely with the sweetness designations used for Champagne:

Dry = Brut Natural, Extra Brut, Brut
Medium = Extra Sec, Sec
Sweet = Demi-Sec
Dessert = Doux

Of course, with sparkling wines, you have the "acid bite" of the dissolved carbon dioxide CO2.

-- Olen

01-28-2009, 02:48 PM
Those are the ranges from Ken Schramm's The Compleat Meadmaker and are a good guide.

I forgot to mention that in my previous post. Edited it in, as I like to give credit where credit is due. Thanks for reminding me Olen!