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View Full Version : What's the lowest alcohol mead you have brewed and been happy with?



fong song
01-10-2011, 03:20 AM
Another question
I was thinking of doing a batch of low alcohol mead (approx 4-5%) and wondered about any experience you guys have had.
My thinking is that it would be more a drink to be quaff down in pints rather than wine glasses. It would be ready sooner due to less sugar needing fermenting and less alcohol flavours to integrate. I realise that lowerr alcohol would be more prone to spoilage, so sanitisation is even more important.

Has anyone brewed a low alcohol mead that they were happy with? (what ABV?)
How long would it take (I understand that there are many variables and also 'How long" is a very ambiguous question, but a rough ball-park figure would be interesting)
How sweet was it?

Thanks

icedmetal
01-10-2011, 03:53 AM
We made an orange ginger mead we found in the quick recipes section of this site. I think it was around 8%, and it was great. You'd drink a pint and oh boy. Went down almost too smoothe.

fong song
01-10-2011, 07:34 AM
Is this in the patron's section? If not, do do remember the name of it, I had a look but can't find it.

akueck
01-10-2011, 11:52 AM
I haven't done mead lower than about 12%, but I've done beer down to about 2.7%. Carbonation helps with the thin mouthfeel.

Chevette Girl
01-10-2011, 12:24 PM
I should soon be bottling a perry (carbonated pear) mead for at around 5% but I find I can't quaff it like beer if it's really dry, so I'll be sweetening at least half the batch.

icedmetal
01-10-2011, 12:56 PM
Here it is (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_rapidrecipe&page=viewrecipe&Itemid=459&recipe_id=215).

From what I recall, I'd recommend adding about double the ginger called for; it really was lost in the orange flavors. I'd also recommend throwing in the orange slices crushed with the juice of course, and the zest, but try and leave out the pith.

...or just follow the recipe exactly. Like I said, it was very good, and ready very quickly. Adding oak to it made it AMAZING.

AToE
01-10-2011, 01:33 PM
The problem you'll run into will be that you'll have no choice but to stabilize and backsweeten unless you want it dry - and I think a dry mead at this ABV would be pretty thin (even if you used an almost black honey like buckwheat blossom honey).

I think sweetness and carbonation would both improve something in this ABV range, but the problem is you cannot have both! (Unless you have a system for force-carbonation)

You can't do bottle fermentation and have residual sugar after carbonation, because you'll get bottle bombs... and if you stabilize to backsweeten then obviously the yeast will be unable to ferment anything anyways (which is what you want!).

What I'd personally do is ferment it dry to the ABV you want. Then, after about 2-3 months of clearing, I would bottle half of it in beer bottles with some priming honey (make sure you research to get the right amount) to get carbonation. After 2 weeks to a month in the bottle it should be back to being dry and will be carbonated.

Then the other half I would chemically stabilize and backsweeten to taste, and leave to age for a while before bottling (you'll want to watch it's SG after backsweetening for a few weeks to make sure it's definitely not starting back up on you anyways).

Then see which you prefer!;D

BBBF
01-10-2011, 02:49 PM
I've made two, low alcohol batches. I think they were both about 5%. I used liberty hops and carbonated them so that they would be like beer. It didn't taste like beer, but I enjoyed them and plan on making some more soon. They were completely dry and refreshing. I couldn't really taste the honey, but I also used cheap (costco) honey. It think it was clear and ready to be bottled in a couple months, but the flavor did continue to improve over the next six months.

Chevette Girl
01-10-2011, 03:26 PM
I think sweetness and carbonation would both improve something in this ABV range, but the problem is you cannot have both! (Unless you have a system for force-carbonation)

You can't do bottle fermentation and have residual sugar after carbonation, because you'll get bottle bombs... and if you stabilize to backsweeten then obviously the yeast will be unable to ferment anything anyways (which is what you want!).


Stevia extract with glycerine tasted acceptable to me, but there IS a way around this without using nonfermentable sweeteners, it's just a little involved.

Basically, you ferment it dry, prime and bottle it, wait till it's all carb'd up, then prepare a second set of sanitized bottles with a measured amount of sulphites and sorbate in the bottom plus some additional honey for sweetening, bring the full and new bottles right down to almost freezing (took about an hour in my freezer for a full beer bottle and about 15 min for the empty one but your mileage may vary), then uncap and carefully pour the contents of each full bottle into a chilled new one containing honey and stabilizer. The cold keeps it from fizzing. It sounds terribly messy but it works. (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16058)

When I do a bigger batch, I'm going to go a little heavy on the sulphites just to make sure they do their job, I'm going to be a little conservative when I prime for carbonation, and I'm also going to keep a flat control in a screw-top bottle to make sure the yeast did in fact stop and aren't busily overcarbonating my perry into bottle bombs.

AToE
01-10-2011, 03:31 PM
Ha, yeah I guess that'd work! It's a little too involved for my tastes though, and I'd still be scared of continued fermentation since I'd have no reliable way to monitor it.

I like the idea of using stevia or something else that's unfermentable for sweetness in a low-ABV carbonated mead, just seems like less of a headache!

Chevette Girl
01-10-2011, 03:49 PM
Ha, yeah I guess that'd work! It's a little too involved for my tastes though, and I'd still be scared of continued fermentation since I'd have no reliable way to monitor it.

Yeah, which is why I'm bottling one or two bottles flat before I prime the rest, then I will stabilize and sweeten it following the same method as the carb'd ones... that way if I open one two weeks later and hear "SSST!" I know to toss the rest in the fridge :) ... although they're generally pretty clear after carbonation and most of the yeast will be left in the bottom of the bottle in which it carb'd (the other nice part about this, nice clear sparkling stuff that doesn't go cloudy when it kicks up all the lees after you open it), it should be a low chance of reactivation after sulphiting and sorbating it...



I like the idea of using stevia or something else that's unfermentable for sweetness in a low-ABV carbonated mead, just seems like less of a headache!

I've tried Splenda and it was OK but I wasn't blown away, but with Stevia, I found the stuff in glycerine far superior to the extract drops, those left my stuff tasting chemicall-y. I think I used 20 ml in a gallon with my ginger hydromel.

Chevette Girl
01-10-2011, 03:57 PM
Right. I'm an idiot. I made a ginger hydromel (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16243) that turned out great at about 5.5%, although the honey character wasn't prominent. I'm hoping they honey flavour is improved by some aging, I've still got a couple bottles left and I'll update my brewlog when I try them.

Medsen Fey
01-10-2011, 07:56 PM
I've made a traditional batch at 8% ABV that was moderately sweet and I enjoyed it a lot. I've got a cyser coming along that should be about 7.5% ABV for which I have high hopes.

fong song
01-11-2011, 02:14 AM
Thanks for the info guys.

I'm happy with a little sweetness in there so hopefully the honey will come through a bit more after backsweetening

Chevette girl:
I'm really glad you posted that about carbonating and then stabilising and backsweetening, it was a theory I was thinking about.

Icedmetal and Chevette girl:
Looks like a ginger mead is on the books!

I need to go buy another carboy after smashing one last night :( (all sanitised ready for my cyser)

mmclean
01-11-2011, 05:17 AM
I need to go buy another carboy after smashing one last night :( (all sanitised ready for my cyser)

That is why I use these:

Plastic Carboy (http://morewinemaking.com/view_product/6529/103206/Plastic_Carboy_-_5_Gallon_) ;D

Braxton
01-11-2011, 02:49 PM
I've made a couple of hydromels at about 5% or so, both carbonated, and have tasted a few more. I found that orange blossom honey works well and the Lalvin 71-b strain seemed to be a good choice.

Chevette Girl
01-11-2011, 04:23 PM
That is why I use these:

Plastic Carboy (http://morewinemaking.com/view_product/6529/103206/Plastic_Carboy_-_5_Gallon_) ;D

Ooh, now that's something for the Xmas list next year... the only plastic ones I've got are opaque which is practically useless to me...

RightHookCook
08-11-2011, 04:42 PM
I've made a traditional batch at 8% ABV that was moderately sweet and I enjoyed it a lot. I've got a cyser coming along that should be about 7.5% ABV for which I have high hopes.

Medsen, how did this cyser turn out? do you have a brewlog or recipe you could point me towards to? ;D

Medsen Fey
08-11-2011, 04:55 PM
I don't have a brewlog posted for it, but I used only buckwheat honey (and not very much) and the honey does come through. I'm not really happy with it right now, but age may fix that. A little sweetening might help it as well - really dry cyser just doesn't suit me.

RightHookCook
08-11-2011, 05:04 PM
I don't have a brewlog posted for it, but I used only buckwheat honey (and not very much) and the honey does come through. I'm not really happy with it right now, but age may fix that. A little sweetening might help it as well - really dry cyser just doesn't suit me.

Sounds good, im partial to a decent dry cider, so perhaps its similar?

SpamDog
08-11-2011, 08:41 PM
I did a low alcohol mead experiment started back in November.

8ish lbs to 5 gal batch (just over %5)
After a month I racked and added different fruits (Pear, Blackberry and Raspberry)
Stayed on the fruit for a few months then racked and back-sweetened to 1.018 and bulk aged until last month.

This stuff is so smooth! The fruit aroma is very noticeable and the flavor really stands out front, not sure if that is due to the low alcohol not really competing with the flavor. I could drink a whole lot of this, so far no one has not liked it and most people that know about the length of time you normally age meads and wines can't believe it is only 10 months old. I estimate this batch lasts until this November and no longer!

SpamDog

TheAlchemist
08-11-2011, 10:02 PM
Henrietta Maria (in the MeadLog) is my lowest ABV (potential around 5%) to date...but she's just getting started.

RightHookCook
08-12-2011, 08:25 AM
Henrietta Maria (in the MeadLog) is my lowest ABV (potential around 5%) to date...but she's just getting started.

Thanks for the replys guys, i will check out your brewlog alchemist, cheers for the pointer.

mccann51
10-29-2011, 05:14 PM
I've made two, low alcohol batches. I think they were both about 5%. I used liberty hops and carbonated them so that they would be like beer. It didn't taste like beer, but I enjoyed them and plan on making some more soon. They were completely dry and refreshing. I couldn't really taste the honey, but I also used cheap (costco) honey. It think it was clear and ready to be bottled in a couple months, but the flavor did continue to improve over the next six months.

How did you hop it? Dry-hopping, flameout? Liberty seems like a great choice for hopped mead.

BBBF
10-29-2011, 09:11 PM
I used them as a bittering hop.

mccann51
10-30-2011, 05:38 PM
Really? How is the hop bitterness balanced?

BBBF
10-30-2011, 09:02 PM
It was only about 15 IBU.

EOoN
12-22-2011, 10:42 AM
I make low alcohol mead exclusively and it's always good and ready to drink quickly.

I use raw, unfiltered honey and do not boil. I use ale yeast, never wine. I leave some residual sugars for taste and mouth-feel. I stop fermentation (or greatly reduce it) with refrigeration. I don't rack it, but simply drink it. My starting gravities are around 1.060 (from 1.75 pounds of honey) and I ferment down to around 1.020, which makes it beer strength at about 5% alcohol.

I am all natural and do not use chemicals. My yeast nutrient/energizer is organic bee pollen. For acid and additional nutrients I make a fruit tisane and strain some of it into the must. These additional fruit flavors work like seasoning and are not directly detectable. Honey is prominent.

I do not care about clearing. It is primarily cosmetic anyway, but the mead does clear a bit in the fridge, probably more if I let it go longer. Once it reaches the desired gravity and alcohol level, I put a rubber stopper in good and tight and put it in the fridge, allowing it to carbonate and settle and meld. The rubber stopper prevents bombs and will just blow out, but that has never happened. Nor has an infection--honey is infection resistant.

It is fizzy, slightly sweet, and very yummy, and is ready to drink in less than a month. Mead is simple and natural and I try to remember that :)

Lawpaw
12-22-2011, 10:59 AM
EOoN, you may also want to consider boiling some of the yeast cake from finished fermentation as a natural nutrient. Those yeasties aren't above cannibalism and love to munch on their fallen friends.

Another couple of options for carbonated mead is sweetening with splenda (like stevia) or fermenting in PET bottles, waiting for the desired carbonation firmness, then storing in the fridge. I know people who use this method for sweet root beer and ginger beer.

You could fit a gallon in a 2 liter and a couple of smaller PET bottles. The beautiful thing about this method is that you can always recarbonate by letting it sit out in the warmth until it gets hard again - but it isn't the best presentation.

mccann51
12-28-2011, 12:19 PM
Some other ideas for 'sweetening' and carbonating would be using lactose or maltodextrin as the backsweetener, since these are unfermentable. They're both less sweet than simple sugars, but since the object of the backsweetening is more to build body than anything else, this is not a big issue.

fong song
01-03-2012, 09:26 AM
EOon
Do you have a preference of ale yeast type?

fong song
02-03-2012, 07:46 PM
Also, could you post a sample recipe please