View Full Version : Attenuation vs starting sugar

11-17-2009, 07:16 PM
I wanted to make a sweet mead, and i was originally planning on using 15lbs of honey for a 5 gal batch and using a yeast with a lower attenuation, like white labs "sweet mead" (720), but then i came across a basic recipe that said to increase the starting amount of honey to make it more sweet. So the question is, should I use ~15lb/5gal and use a lower attenuating yeast, or use ~18lb/5gal and use something like lalvin D-47 or EC-1118?


11-17-2009, 07:25 PM
How much residual sugar do you want? and how much ABV do you want? After you decide those things, you can try to figure out what would be best.

Medsen Fey
11-17-2009, 07:29 PM
Welcome to GotMead Miele!

The concept of attenuation doesn't really hold up in mead making. Essentially all the sugars in a honey must are fermentable, and so the only limitation is the alcohol tolerance of the yeast. As long as you have a potential alcohol level that exceeds the alcohol tolerance of the yeast, you'll end up sweet. The caveat is that the yeast can be unpredictable and can sometimes go past their expected tolerance in some fermentations (or can stick way short of goal in others).

The Wyeast sweet mead yeast is notoriously finicky and has produced many stuck fermentations. I wouldn't recommend it. It has an expected tolerance around 12% ABV. The white labs version isn't much better in my opninion, but if I remember it gets a slightly higher ABV leve.

ICV-D47 is expected to reach about 14%.
EC-1118 will get to 18%

If you try to make a mead end sweet by starting with a gravity that has greater than 18% potential alcohol using EC-1118, you'll have a mead with very high alcohol that will take a very long time to mellow out and become drinkable. We get around this problems by starting at a lower gravity level, and letting the mead go dry, then stabilizing to prevent the yeast from fermenting any further, followed by the addition of more honey for backsweetening.

You can make a sweet mead using D47 if you start with a potential alcohol above 14% (Sp gr 1.105 or so). So if you start with a gravity of 1.120-1.130 you'll probably end up nice and sweet. All of this requires use of a hydrometer to be certain where you are, not just a number of pounds per gallon.

If you take time to read the NewBee guide in the column to the left, it will give you a lot of tips.

How sweet do you want it to be?
What honey are you going to use?