View Full Version : Very dark Honey

08-29-2011, 11:59 PM
This is my first mead (a traditional I believe) and I used a very dark honey. Not by choice, but it was what I had. Sorry, I don't know what kind it is. I do know that it came from a ranch in Nebraska. This honey is very dark, it almost looks black in the container. I used 12 lbs. in a 5 gallon batch. I screwed up and forgot to take the O.G., but it is sitting in the secondary right now at 1.03. It has been in the secondary for about 2 months now and it is still very dark. I realize that this is still very young.
I guess I am curious to know if anybody out there has experiance with dark honeys and about what kind of timeline I should expect for the clearing process. Thanks.

08-30-2011, 12:04 AM
Welcome! They clear very slowly, and honey-only meads clear very slowly to begin with. You're looking at probably another year, but honestly you wouldn't want to drink it before then anyways, you'd be wasting it before it's come of age! There are lots of great recipes you can make that mature faster and will get you drinking while you wait though, but a "traditional" mead ain't one of them, and dark ones take even longer.

It was probably a buckwheat honey, or a wildflower with a lot of buckwheat in it.

What kind of yeast did you use, and did you add any nutrients or aerate at all during fermentation? I ask because you have a problem -1.030 (which is what you meant right? You didn't write it out to 4 digits so is is possible you meant 1.003?) is too high a final gravity for a mead made with that amount of honey - this should have went bone dry or very near to it.

We can help with that though. ;D

08-30-2011, 12:07 AM

It was probably a basic wildflower, which can be nice for flavor, even if for a traditional a lot of people prefer varietals. 12 lbs for a 5 gallon seems really low to me though, most recipes I've seen figure ~3 lbs for every gallon, especially if there is nothing else to help (hide) the flavors. This might be really thin.

As for clearing, that can change depending on the day to day. Have you tried cold crashing it or using a fining agent? Have you stabilized it so all your yeast will finish and drop out of suspension?

What kind of yeast did you use? With that amount of honey 1.003 seems like a high FG to me. According to the calculator your OG should have been around 1.086, and that has you at an ABV of ~11%, which shouldn't have stopped most yeasts I know of. This should have fermented dry. Did you backsweeten?

Do you have a more detailed log?

08-30-2011, 12:11 AM
Ha, we must have been typing at once - I agree even 1.003 is too high a final gravity for this, at least it's not too far from the goal though - but what was written was 1.030 which is super stalled out.

It'll be a thinner mead for sure, but as long as it ends up with some residual sugar (not as much as 1.030 though!) and lots of age it still has the potential to be a great mead I think.

08-30-2011, 12:13 AM
We must have, and I just read that FG as 1.003 because it was a FG, I didn't even actually see the lack of a zero. I do wonder if it was a typo or a stalled ferment now...

08-30-2011, 12:41 AM
Either way it's technically stalled based on the amount of honey used in the whole batch - unless it was a really low alcohol tolerance yeast used, the question now is the degree of the problem, and if it is supposed to be 1.003 then whether to really even consider it a problem, because in my opinion that might be the ideal final SG for a batch like this (there is of course the risk of bottle bombs...).

Once we know more we can get this sorted out, should make a pretty fine mead in time.

Thisbetheduck - So anyways, let us know about our above questions and we'll get on helping out!

Chevette Girl
08-30-2011, 01:52 AM
Welcome to the fine addiction- er, I mean, hobby (yeah, that's it) of meadmaking!

If it's a show mead (just water, yeast and honey, no nutrients or energizer) it's possible that it's still going, but very slowly. It's also possible if it's a traditional that the acidity might have stopped the yeast early, but I sort of doubt it given that 12 lb for 5 gal isn't terribly much.

I made the mistake of racking my experimental show mead (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16141) batches too early and not stirring up the sediment often enough so they look quite clear but last time I checked, were still slowly continuing to drop in SG.

If you started with a dark coloured honey, the mead will always stay a dark colour, it'll never look like a white wine, what we mean by "clearing" is can you see through it, has the yeast cloudiness gone away... although this might be hard to tell with such a dark honey. I shine a little LED flashlight at my glass carboy and if I can see the light beam in the liquid, it's still not clear.

08-30-2011, 08:58 AM
The gravity is 1.030, sorry I didn't realize that I needed that last zero. I did add a nutrient and energizer. I don't have the recipe in front of me, so I can't tell you the exact amounts. I just followed the instructions on the vials. I used a Wyeast Smack Pack (sweet, I belive). After I had racked it into the secondary, there was a thin layer of yeast at the bottom. After the first month in the secondary, there was a thin layer again, but not very much. I figured it was just from the fining process. I have not used any fining agents yet. I figured I would let it go a few more months and see.
Not to doubt you, just giving you more info about the gravity. I had mentioned this another mead maker and he said that for a sweet mead 1.030 wasn't far off. This is why I really haven't considered repitching the yeast. But if the general consenus is that I should, not a problem. What strain should I repitch? I do apologize for my lack of logging the info. Typical newbie mistake.

08-30-2011, 09:17 AM
Normally a desert mead (finishing at 1.040) would need 15 pounds of honey in a 5 gal batch, but it depends ob the tolerance of the yeast.
It may be ok. It's close, and sweet yeasts are usually low tolerance.

As for SG we like to give 4 digits as it avoids confusion with typos, nothing more.
Often 1.03 is a typo meaning 1.003
But we can't tell. 1.030 however is not ambiguous.

I'd let this clear, then stabilise as a precaution, just in case it starts up again.
Bulk age and bottle when it suits.

1.030 is pretty sweet for a traditional, so you may wish to consider adding acid after it's aged for a bit, or perhaps making a dry mead to blend to taste.
But don't add anything until it's aged for 12 months minimum.

08-30-2011, 09:59 AM
There's the culprit on why the mead finished where it did. Wyeast Sweet Mead is one of the few yeasts I was thinking of that had a low enough tolerance to finish off at the amounts you listed.

If that's the SG you want, cool,the comments you're getting right now are because of so many yeasts having a higher tolerance and creating the risk of something AToTE mentioned, bottle bombs. Yeast can finish doing their thing in a huge batch, and then randomly decide they're hungry again (even up to years later) in the bottle if you haven't properly reached their tolerance and settled them off. This can literally explode bottles, causing glass shrapnel, damage to the room the bottles are in, mead everywhere, and damage to you. Bottle bombs are not something to toy with!

Generally, most people on here will take a mead all the way dry then backsweeten rather than have to fight with a yeast that hasn't been killed off by the alcohol. I think, from looking at what you've listed you have, you should be ok, and can follow kudapucat's advice without too much worry.

Cheers and have fun! (And do some searching for stabilizing, with that sweet of an FG, it'll help.)

08-30-2011, 10:57 AM
Ah crap, I forgot to go back to the calculator and put back in the correct FG! Your ABV should actually be around 7.5%, which shouldn't have finished out your yeast. The bottle bomb problem is still an issue, and the comments on stabilizing, cold crashing, and what not stand. I would also not bottle this in anything but swing tops or champagne bottles. Swing tops seem to be more forgiving, and champagne bottles are made to withstand some pressure.

Chevette Girl
08-30-2011, 12:48 PM
Swing tops seem to be more forgiving, and champagne bottles are made to withstand some pressure.

Apparently not (recent thread where he lost everything but the flip tops), but at least you can pop them open from time to time and see if things are fizzy/let off pressure without worrying about having to re-cork.

Medsen Fey
08-30-2011, 01:27 PM
Welcome Thisbetheduck!

As other have pointed out, this is a stuck fermentation. Wyeast sweet mead strain is notorious for this sort of thing as it is very finicky with regards to nutrients, pH, temperature and other management issues. In this case though, stuck may work out just fine. Strong, dark-honey meads often taste best (at least to me) if they are on the sweet side. The ABV is a bit low, but that should make it drinkable sooner, so this may turn out to be a fortuitous mishap.

What I would suggest doing is to let it clear completely - when you can shine a flashlight through it without seeing the reflection of the beam, you know you are there. Then this should be stabilized. If you do some searching on how to stabilize, you can get all theory and much more detail. In short, you need to add potassium sorbate (1 gram per gallon) and potassium metabisulphite (1.5 Campden tablets [660 mg] per gallon) and let this sit at room temp for a couple of months to make sure the gravity does not drop any further. Then you can bottle it using regular wine bottles, beer bottles, or whatever type of bottle you like without concern that the yeast will wake up again.

Endeavor to persevere!


08-30-2011, 03:19 PM
I'm in the camp that thinks your honey is buckwheat honey--that stuff is dark, like molasses dark.

08-30-2011, 05:46 PM
Thanks everybody for your thoughts. To be on the safe side, I think that I will go ahead and repitch the yeast and start again. I don't think I need any schapnel at the moment.

08-30-2011, 06:44 PM
I think that's a good idea, I'd go with a different strain of yeast (the one you used is notoriously difficult, even people who've been doing this for decades have had it fail on them) and since you're already at 7% or so ABV, you're going to want to acclimatize the yeast and use one of the tougher to kill varieties.

The good news is you don't have super high sugar content or very high alcohol content right now, which means this should be a fairly painless mead to re-start.

I'd recommend using a dried yeast (rather than liquid) such as the Lalvin brand for this as they start off with a far higher living cell count. They make a HUGE variety of yeasts, frankly almost any of them would be good choices.

Then rehydrate the yeast properly according to the instructions on the package (using goferm if you have it and just water if you don't), and you're going to want to acclimatize the yeast because they're not going to be used to any alcohol content at this stage in their lives.

There are extensive processes for how to do this described around these forums, but I think that since your alcohol content is so low you might be able to get away with a simpler process: rehydrate the yeast, after 15 minutes add to the rehydrated yeast a small amount of honey (very small, short squirt will do, or even just a tsp of table sugar, something to feed them), stir it up and wait 15 more minutes. Then add a small amount of your mead to the rehydration container... wait 10-15 minutes... repeat... repeat, as many times as you feel happy about doing. Then pitch it into your mead. Make sure to aerate the mead well by agressive stirring or whatever method you have, you'll want some O2 in there to help the yeast out.

That is my lazy-person method to acclimatizing the yeast for this situation, others may dissagree with my lazy technique for that, but I think this is a very non-severe case of trying to restart a mead and for a beginner I think a simpler and faster acclimatization is best.