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irishrose
06-21-2010, 10:54 PM
I've looked for but not found anything saying how much honey the different yeasts need to reach full ABV potential &/or how much honey would be needed for the different FGs. Is there something specifically addressing that on this website & I've just completely missed it?

Currently, I'm getting things together to start my 2nd batch. It'll be a 5-gal (well, less after racking of course) with D-47. Want it med or sweet with full ABV potential.

Chevette Girl
06-21-2010, 11:31 PM
You can't really go by "how much honey for each yeast" because different honeys may have different sugar/water proportions. If you want your particular yeast to realize its full potential and still come out with a sweet wine, it's probably best to start by taking a look at the Yeast Table over there on the left in yellow and see what % alcohol your yeast can handle, then calculate what specific gravity you have to start with to reach that alcohol content, then figure out how much honey you need for that.

I'd suggest starting with the assumption that you'll ferment it dry (to SG = 1.000) and don't add more honey than that at the start, you can always make it sweeter later.

I don't recall offhand for DC-47 but if we pretend it's 14%, head over to the Mead Calculator (also to the left in yellow) to find out that you're aiming for a specific gravity around 1.107. The Mead Calculator should be able to tell you how much honey you want if you tell it the volume you want. This will be approximate based on your honey, so do rely on your hydrometer for the final word...

Then when it's fermented down to 1.000, you can either stabilize it right then and backsweeten with more honey, or you can keep adding small amounts of honey to push the SG up to 1.010-1.020 or so every time it drops to 1.000, when the SG stops dropping, your yeast is really done, stabilize it and sweeten it more if you want.

Also, if you want 5 gallons after the first racking, add a bit of extra water and honey to the correct SG. Somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 gallon extra volume in total, that way you've got a bit extra for topping off, and if you have to store it, a sanitized mason jar with plastic wrap over the top and an elastic band to hold the plastic wrap down does the job quite well as a temporary solution to get you through your first and second racking.

And another note, as I am just learning myself, your yeast may not realize its full potential if you don't feed it nutrients and aerate it well enough early on in its fermentation, also, an overly acidic must can also cause the yeast to stall out, and the yeast will produce acid on their own as they digest the honey. I've made a lot of mistreated wines that stopped before they should have. They tasted fine to me (I like things sweeter anyway and wasn't aiming for a particular alcohol level), but if you don't stabilize your wines (as I tend not to) you may run into problems where fermentation starts up again in the bottle. If you're really lucky and catch it in time, you may just have carbonated mead. If you're not as lucky, corks could pop (messy), and if you're unlucky, bottles can explode (dangerous).

akueck
06-22-2010, 12:28 AM
... or you can keep adding small amounts of honey to push the SG up to 1.010-1.020 or so every time it drops to 1.000, when the SG stops dropping, your yeast is really done, stabilize it and sweeten it more if you want.

This is step feeding, and while it will eventually kill off your yeast you will most likely push them past their "natural" tolerance level and wind up with something very high alcohol and very hot. Much better to stabilize and backsweeten, unless you're willing to let it age a long time to get over being step-fed.

irishrose
06-22-2010, 12:45 AM
Well... knowing the actual gravities will be a problem. I don't have a hydrometer. (I can hear the sudden intakes of breath - don't know who's doin' it, but I can hear it (or maybe it's the swishing as you shake your head)! :D A hydrometer is on my list for next tax refund time, with a "few" other things.

I want to just add the honey at the beginning instead of risking getting something "hot" (at least not this early on), unless it's not sweet enough after fermentation. I hadn't thought much about stabilizers. That might help calm my fears of bottle bombs or an otherwise very messy mess. With little kids running around the house, we don't need more mess than the kids provide or the danger of 1 of them being the one to find bottle bombs.

To aerate well early on, does that really mean to stir/shake daily for a few days? Or can I just use a stir-mixer at the very beginning & that be it? After racking, how do you know how much honey to add just to keep it from being diluted more than desired?

Yes, I have more questions, but I can't think of them right now...

Chevette Girl
06-22-2010, 01:41 AM
To aerate well early on, does that really mean to stir/shake daily for a few days? Or can I just use a stir-mixer at the very beginning & that be it? After racking, how do you know how much honey to add just to keep it from being diluted more than desired?

Yes, I have more questions, but I can't think of them right now...

Hehe, we all always have more questions.

The must should be stirred with the lid off every day for at least a couple of days (both to let in oxygen and let out carbon dioxide) especially if you're going for a higher alcohol tolerance, but it can also help with other things, I believe one of them being the hot, alcohol-y flavour you probably want to avoid. On days when I don't have time to sanitize my spoon (ie, late for work), I'll take the lid off and hold it in one hand while I use the other to slosh the bucket around for a minute or two, I try to make it splash enough so it gets oxygen exposure but not so much that it gets on me or the floor :)

If you're trying to make up a honey solution to top up with so your % alcohol doesn't change, you will need a hydrometer to get it exact - you'll want it to match the initial SG. However, if you can make a little bit extra when you're mixing it up in the first place and reserve it for when you have to rack, you don't have to measure anything... or with no hydrometer, you can just scale down the proportions used in the original must, if it was 15 pounds per 5 gallons and you need a half a gallon to top up, use a pound and a half... just remember whether it was 15 lbs honey PLUS 5 gallons water or 15 lbs IN 5 gallons...

While you're making out your shopping list, a bottle filler will also curtail much of the mess during bottling, best $3 I ever spent.

If you're afraid of bottle bombs, you have two options - let your meads ferment till they stop naturally and then age them in a carboy for six or eight months to make sure they're really done (still some risk even then), or stabilize it. I sometimes don't stabilize because a lot of my wines sit around in carboys for over a year and I have a lot of friends who are sensitive to the chemicals, but if you have no such sensitivities you should probably invest in a packet of campden tablets (hits a pause button on the yeast activity) and some potassium sorbate (keeps them from multiplying even if something were to un-pause them). Both also relatively inexpensive items but you'll want to keep them well out of the kids' reach.

For your next endeavour, I recommend you play around with the mead calculator, you should be able to get a rough idea of how much honey in how much water gives what approximate percentage (I'd guess it'll be no more than 3 lbs per gallon, the calculator default seems to be 5 gallons at 14% using 15 lbs honey), measuring the specific gravity will just confirm that your measurements are correct and it'll also confirm when your fermentation is through. Aim for whatever percentage the table says your yeast is good for, and if it ferments right dry, you can always stabilize it (Oskaar has a good description here http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11742) and sweeten to taste. If you sweeten to taste without stabilizing, you do run the risk of a bottle bomb even if you, say, made your must to be 16% potential alcohol and used yeast that should only be able to hit 14%. (if you live in fear, every bottling run, make sure you bottle a few with screw-tops so you can check now and then, if there's a hiss when you open one, there's a problem, throw it all in the fridge till you can uncork and put it back in a carboy to stabilize it.)

Medsen Fey
06-22-2010, 10:07 AM
Well... knowing the actual gravities will be a problem. I don't have a hydrometer. (I can hear the sudden intakes of breath - don't know who's doin' it, but I can hear it (or maybe it's the swishing as you shake your head)! :D


Yep.

My suggestion would be don't wait to get the hydrometer. For $12 (or less if check around) you can get one. You can easily waste more than $50 worth of honey by messing up a batch. With a hydrometer, you can make sure you get a batch with the sweetness you want, without stressing the yeast.

Just as importantly, you can see when it is done and safe to bottle. Guessing can actually be dangerous.