View Full Version : Sweetening With A Different Type Of Honey?

Brego Brew
01-06-2011, 12:23 AM
Has anyone ever done it? My mead is going to be super light in color, and I'm thinking about back sweetening it with a slightly darker honey. Has anyone ever tried it? Any proponents or opponents?


01-06-2011, 12:46 AM
I haven't tried, but I would suspect it depends on the style. If it's a melomel or metheglin, there might not be any noticeable change. If it's a traditional or show mead, it will probably be a lot more evident.

I'd say, try a little of the darker honey in a glass with your mead. If you like it, go for it. :)

01-06-2011, 04:34 AM
Honey as a sweetener can have a devastating effect on the drink. I don't know about meads, as I have never tried it, but in milkshakes and tea, the style of honey can make the drink taste good or down right foul!
I second the notion of trying it on a small scale to see what the effect is.

01-06-2011, 09:33 AM
What is the honey that used used during fermentation and what is the new honey you would like to use to backsweeten? Also, what was your recipe? It would really help to determine how to different honey will blend.

If you are using a really bold honey, like buckwheat, it can completely cover all of the other flavours in the mead and make the taste not so pleasant.

My suggestion is to let it age for 6 months, then take a glass and add just a little bit of the other honey to the glass (maybe a 1/2 teaspoon) and see how it tastes. This way, if you don't like it, you are only ruining a glass versus an entire batch.


Brego Brew
01-06-2011, 12:40 PM
I do like the idea of the of trying it small scale. I have a lot of headspace in the carboy and so was thinking about just adding a little honey water mixture (calculated amounts) to fill that head space. The honey in question is a clover honey just like the clover honey the mead is made from. I'm not too worried about it because the clover honey I made the mead from is stronger than the strongest honey you've ever smelled or tasted. I love honey of all kinds and have tried almost all, but this stuff that Don Popp's sells (if you buy it bulk) is the strongest Clover honey you've ever had. Stick your head in the bucket and it will knock you on your butt. The honey I'm thinking of back sweetening it with is clover honey, with just a tiny bit of Wild Flower in it. The two honey's have almost no difference in taste itself, but the back sweetening honey is Much lighter in taste, almost non existent compared to the honey the mead is made from.


01-06-2011, 12:45 PM
I've done it, but unfortunately, can't report on the results yet since it's still in bulk aging. Though I will be racking it soon, and at that point, will take a taste and try to remember to update this thread. Original honey was a blackberry blossom honey, backsweetened with a "wildflower", so dark it looked like buckwheat. Sure didn't taste like buckwheat!

Brego Brew
01-06-2011, 01:04 PM
Icedmetal, that sounds great! Remember to keep us updated, I would really like to know how it comes out.


01-06-2011, 11:49 PM
I dont know about backsweetening but curt stock used a mixture of orange blossom and wildflower in a couple of his melomels

01-09-2011, 06:56 AM
There's a few factors to consider.......

1, what honey did you use for the initial ferment, a strong tasting one or a lighter more mild tasting one.

2, what kind of ferment did you run/manage ? Was it a lower gravity/alcohol one or a higher gravity/rocket fuel type one ?

3, what do you want from the finished mead ? Sweet, dry, medium or just showing a lot of honey characteristics from the original honey flavour ?

That's 3 points, there's actually quite a number of points worthy of consideration.

What I do is just run the ferment "as is", I don't particularly manage it for high or low alcohol etc, I have 2 main yeasts I like to use, lalvins D21 or K1V-1116 - both will hit 16% reasonably easily. I've been trying to lay off extra acid and tannins as I can add those later, too taste.

So once the ferment has finished, I now let it settle and produce a sediment. Then rack it off. I then take a reading to see where the gravity is, then I back sweeten it to something like 1.010 - this is done now, because one of the things that you can get when back sweetening with honey is a haze i.e. you've done everything else, like got it racked, cleared and pretty much ready to bottle, just need to back sweeten, so you do that with honey or honey syrup and it causes a haze in the mead. I think it's a protein related haze.

My recent efforts that have done that, I left bulk ageing, in the hope that they'd clear naturally, and those that didn't (most of them) had to have 2 part finings to get them clear. I did ask around the forums for suggestions and the result was to use either bentonite or sparkoloid, but while I can get the former, the later doesn't seem to be available here (and shipping would be a killer). Plus I couldn't find time to get to the HBS so I just used the 2 part finings that I had available - they worked well.

So that's why I tend to back sweeten it at that stage, because the other solids help to remove the back sweetening haze when they are dropping out of suspension into lees......

The type of honey you actually use ? well that's up to you, but don't forget, the first and most prominent taste of a mead will be the honey that has been used for back sweetening, especially if you find that you have to use a lot i.e. for high alcohol "rocket fuel" type brews, to remove (mask) the medicinal/mouth wash taste.

So if you wanted some of the original must honey taste to come through, then something lighter/less strongly tasting would be the suggestion, if you're not fussed then you can just get away with store bought cheaper blended stuff, or if you wanted more of the taste of the back sweetening honey, then a stronger (and maybe darker coloured - as that's also affected by this process) tasting honey.

The suggestion that buckwheat is a "cure all" above isn't quite right, as the buckwheat that I've managed to get isn't as dark as some might suggest. It would seem, that, as it's of Polish origin, it's more like the lighter "Western Buckwheat" than the darker "Eastern Buckwheat" that's available in the US. Or what the hell, something really funky, like avocado or even some imported "Killer Bee" honey.....

Seriously though, I'd suggest that you use the same honey as was used for the original must, as you'd probably have a little left over or can make that the case when you buy the initial amount, so that there will be enough left over for back sweetening with.

Oh, and I can't stress enough. There's no real way of working out exactly how much you'd need, but I allow for 1/2lb per imperial gallon (4.55 litres), but mix it up in very small quantities and sweeten to hydrometer numbers, otherwise you'll end up like I did the first time and get something that's amazingly over sweetened. There's some info about the number is you search the forums, but I just (as previously mentioned) sweeten to about 1.010 a.k.a. "medium sweet".

Dunno if any of that helps or not......