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Mikejones
06-19-2011, 10:59 PM
I just started brewing a couple of months ago and (using the recipe and instructions I found) it is getting close to the time to bottle. I made a 1 gallon batch just to test it out. I racked it the other day for the second time and it started to become clear. I decided to take a taste of it and it is extremely strong.

The recipe I used said 2.5lbs of honey. Now that I look at other recipes I can see that that isn't very much honey. Should I add more honey to it? Or perhaps some water to dilute it? I asked my grandfather who used to make wine all the time and he said that I could probably just put some honey or maple syrup in the bottom of the cup when you pour it and that over time the taste will weaken.

What should I do?

AToE
06-20-2011, 03:44 AM
Welcome! This is still a very, very... very young mead. For the first 6 months or so, a mead will seem much more alcoholic and "rough" than it really is, so your grandfather is right, time will fix this. Adding more honey before bottling can be extremely dangerous, so again he is right - if you want it sweeter, mixing to taste in the glass is a great option.

Do you have a hydrometer? This is the single most important tool for fermenting, and will let you know for sure whether you're safe to bottle or not, and tell you what is really happening in a fermentation, much more accurate than taste, or watching bubbles!

Mikejones
06-20-2011, 06:29 AM
I do not have a hydrometer. Like I said this is my first time and so I wanted to just start small in order to see if it was something I wanted to get into. There is a wine making store near my house and I take it I could probably get my hands on one from there. I'll stop by in the next couple of days and see if I cant pick one up. I'm really enjoying brewing and I think its going to become a new hobby of mine!

Once I get a hydrometer I'll report back. (I have no clue how to use it or what I'm looking for and I don't know if it has instructions to tell me :P)

Medsen Fey
06-20-2011, 11:24 AM
Once I get a hydrometer I'll report back. (I have no clue how to use it or what I'm looking for and I don't know if it has instructions to tell me :P)

See NewBee Guide Appendix 9 (link is in the column to the left).

With 2.5 pounds of honey (if this is a 1-gallon batch), the ABV here isn't very high. It tastes "hot" and harsh because it is dry, new, and probably had a somewhat stressful fermentation (especially if the temperature was on the high side). Aging will definitely help, though it may not cure all the ills. One of the downsides to this hobby is sometimes having to wait 2 years to see if what you did worked.

AToE
06-20-2011, 12:57 PM
Definitely check out that newbee guide, but also feel free to post whatever the hydrometer reads now in this thread, if you're still having trouble understanding what the reading means we'll sort you out!

Mikejones
06-20-2011, 03:00 PM
probably had a somewhat stressful fermentation (especially if the temperature was on the high side)

I do all this in my basement which is a pretty cool temperature year round so I don't think it was because of high temperature. I will for sure check out that newbee guide. From what I read on a different site however, it said less honey equals more alcohol. I don't understand exactly how it all works but I'm sure I will learn in due time. I had started two other batches around the time I did this one but I used almost double the honey. I've racked them once and they aren't due for another rack for another few weeks.

I am getting a hydrometer tonight so I'll post what I get later.

Thank you all for your help. I'm being 100% honest when I tell you that this is one of the nicest and most mature forums I have visited. Thanks again!

wildoates
06-20-2011, 03:10 PM
Mature?

Uh oh...he clearly hasn't seen a thread devolve into really bad puns, has he?!

Welcome, mikejones! I've a colleague whose name is also mikejones, and that's what his students call him, not Mr. Jones, but mikejones. :)

TheAlchemist
06-20-2011, 03:14 PM
...I decided to take a taste of it and it is extremely strong.

What should I do?

It's just the EtOH burn...


"If I could save time in a bottle..."

AToE
06-20-2011, 04:00 PM
From what I read on a different site however, it said less honey equals more alcohol.

What site is that? That's exactly backward! (Well, past a certain point sure you'll get lower alcohol from more honey, because there's so much it stresses the yeast out, but that's extreme situations).

Yeast eat sugar and turn it into CO2 and alcohol is the simple version - so more sugar = more alcohol.

Mikejones
06-20-2011, 05:56 PM
Thanks all for the welcomes and contribution. To ATOE, I cannot remember the website since it was about three months ago that I was last on it but thank you for clearing that up with me. What do you figure the alcohol level will be in my mead then?

To Wildoates, I get called that all the time, not Michael or Mike but Mike Jones. Damn the rapper and his narcissism!

Also second update... I don't know if I'm getting the hydrometer tonight XD My life is like a roller coaster sometimes and I never know what's going to happen next. Unfortunately, the roller coaster never ends :/. Que "highlight of my life" comments. lol

AToE
06-20-2011, 07:01 PM
Well we can't really know the alcohol level for sure until we know the current gravity reading, otherwise we don't know for sure whether all the sugar available was fermented. Since you didn't get a gravity at the beginning we'll only be able to get a ballpark figured out, but it'll be pretty close.

Loadnabox
06-21-2011, 08:23 AM
According to the mead calculator, 2.5 pounds in 1 gallon would give an estimated SG of 1.089

If Fermented down to 0.998 this would give an ABV of 11.85%

AToE
06-21-2011, 12:21 PM
There you go, that's about your maximum ABV right now - once you get a hydrometer reading we'll know for sure whether it actually fermented that far or if it's lower ABV right now.

It's almost certain to have fermented fully though, 2.5lbs isn't a whole crazy amount of honey for the yeast to have eaten, and 12% ABV is well below the alcohol tolerance of most yeasts... which yeast did you use by the way?

Mikejones
06-21-2011, 12:56 PM
I used a regular baker's yeast that it told me to in the simple tutorial. starts with an F I cant remember it exactly right now. I went to the winery the other day (without any money of course :/) and got some prices at least so I plan on making other batches with proper brewer's yeast.

Internet tells me however, that the yeast I used should be fine. I'm not expecting super high quality mead of course, I just wanted to experiment in some new things.

AToE
06-21-2011, 01:28 PM
Oh yeah should be fine for sure.

Loadnabox
06-21-2011, 01:39 PM
With a baker's yeast, depending on the particular brand, you're going to be right at the bottom end of it's alcohol tolerance.

If you're bottling this and it isn't below 1.000 SG, be sure that the SG remains constant for a couple of weeks first since there's the possibility this could go a bit more than where it is right now.

Also, re-reading the OP, 5 pounds in 1 gallon of honey (In your first trial batches) would make an SG of 1.180 which even wine yeasts would struggle to eat through and probably make some off tastes in the process.

Mikejones
06-21-2011, 09:48 PM
So how much do you think I should put in a 1 gallon batch? The other's I made (I checked my notes) I used about 4.6lbs. Is that too much now? Damn, this mead making thing is harder than I expected! lol

fatbloke
06-22-2011, 06:52 AM
Unless its a specific recipe, such as JAO, I use between 3 and 3 1/2 lb per gallon (imperial i.e. 4.55 ltrs)

But It's probably better to mix the batch using a hydrometer to check it in stages..... then you won't over do it and end up with a problem.

Mikejones
06-22-2011, 07:08 AM
What happens then if there is too much honey?

Also while I'm posting, how does a hydrometer work? Like, what do the numbers mean? (i.s 1.1106) I don't understand how a 1.X number translates into X.X% alcohol.

Loadnabox
06-22-2011, 08:27 AM
What happens then if there is too much honey?

Also while I'm posting, how does a hydrometer work? Like, what do the numbers mean? (i.s 1.1106) I don't understand how a 1.X number translates into X.X% alcohol.


Hydrometer just measures the density of a liquid. The same goal can be reached by weighing your must.

1 litre of water weighs 1Kg making an SG of...... 1.000 (tada!)

1 litre of honey weighs 1.425Kg for an Sg of... 1.425

1 liter of pure alcohol weighs 0.789Kg for an Sg of 0.789

So adding honey (sugar) to a must makes the SG go up. As the honey is fermented into alcohol the weight goes down.

A hydrometer is just a really easy way of getting this measurement without pulling out a scale and trying to get exactly to 1 liter of must every time you weigh (another variable that could skew your answer)

If you have a starting SG you know essentially how much sugar is in your must available for the yeast to feast. Other people having already done the sugar to alcohol math for us, we can then calculate what the ABV will be if the yeast ferment it all the way down to 1.000. Or, if it's a brew where you know there's enough sugar that the yeast will hit their alcohol tolerance first, your can guess where it will end, but this is really more of a SWAG than anything.

In the end, the real measure is when the SG stops moving (fermentation done) then you take your SG reading, and if you're like me plug it into the calculator and enjoy the fruits of other people's labor. If you want to get really scientific, google "How to calculate ABV" and you can get the math formula. Personally I'm too lazy ;D

As for the amount of honey in a batch: Putting too much honey in can lead to off tastes, slow fermentations and early end of fermentation. This is because it's so thick, that the yeast have trouble eating and moving stressing them out. They exert too much energy early on and end up doing weird things.

I could be wrong on this point so I'll let others correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to recall that most agree 4 pounds of honey to 1 gallon of water is about the most you want to go for a healthy fermentation. This puts the SG around 1.160 - 1.170 maximum. Anything denser than that and it becomes a craps shoot.

kudapucat
06-22-2011, 08:44 AM
Loadnabox,
The 'formula' is nit linear, but for wine strength meads, the factor is about 135. ie. Multiply the difference in gravity by 135.
1.100-1.000=0.100*135= 13.5%
EASY. But use the calculator. It makes less mistakes than us poor unworthy humans.

FYI, the factor decreases as the expected strength decreases. There's a table on this forum somewhere that explains it. I just took the number 135 and forgot the rest.

Loadnabox
06-22-2011, 08:49 AM
Loadnabox,
The 'formula' is nit linear, but for wine strength meads, the factor is about 135. ie. Multiply the difference in gravity by 135.
1.100-1.000=0.100*135= 13.5%
EASY. But use the calculator. It makes less mistakes than us poor unworthy humans.

FYI, the factor decreases as the expected strength decreases. There's a table on this forum somewhere that explains it. I just took the number 135 and forgot the rest.

Thanks!

There ya go! formula for the taking!

Now forget you saw this brain or I'll stab you with a crayon! MMmmmmm, free internet mead calculator.

Mikejones
06-22-2011, 12:25 PM
Well my exam for today is over and I stopped by the winery and picked myself up a hydrometer to take the measurement. Came to about 1.002. I read hastily through the recent posts and will have to come back to read them later but sadly I'm in a rush. The instructions on the hydrometer tell me not to bottle unless the SG is under 1.005. So according to that it looks like I'm safe.

Loadnabox
06-22-2011, 12:52 PM
Well my exam for today is over and I stopped by the winery and picked myself up a hydrometer to take the measurement. Came to about 1.002. I read hastily through the recent posts and will have to come back to read them later but sadly I'm in a rush. The instructions on the hydrometer tell me not to bottle unless the SG is under 1.005. So according to that it looks like I'm safe.

While your SG could go lower, at 1.002 it's pretty darned dry and there's not much chance of fermentation restarting UNLESS you backsweeten before bottling, in which case cold crashing and stabilizing would be recommended.

Chevette Girl
06-22-2011, 01:02 PM
:eek: Don't trust that instruction!! Not safe!!

1.002 means there is still sugar left that can potentially ferment and create more CO2, (wines can ferment down below 0.995) you'll want to check it for a couple of weeks to make sure it is actually done (it PROBABLY is given that you used bread yeast), and you may want to stabilize it before bottling just to be safe. Bottle bombs are no joke.

One thing to remember about hydrometer readings - the actual numbers don't mean anywhere near as much as the change between readings. If it's at 1.010 and has stayed costant for a year, it's far safer to bottle than something that's only just finished fermenting a week ago and is at 1.002 when the next week it could be down to 1.001 or lower.

Oh, and if you use "too much" honey? Well, there are degrees of "too much". At best, you'll end up with a much higher alcohol content than you intended and it'll take a long time to mellow out enough to be pleasant to drink. Next degree of too much, it'll end up high alcohol but still very sweet because there was more honey in there than the yeast could finish, it might be just right or it might be way too sweet, it's very hard to calculate exactly where your yeasties will poop out. Perhaps the worst case scenario is that you have so much honey in your initial must that the honey kills off or stuns the yeast before fermentation even gets going (there are ways to deal with this, usually involving making a starter to let your yeast get established before you put them into a harsh environment).

Mikejones
06-22-2011, 01:10 PM
Alright so from what I've just read, I should just wait a while to see if the SG stays where it is then bottle. Understood.