View Full Version : My first mead with insane OG

12-07-2011, 03:47 AM

I started my first mead yesterday. It was supposed to be a medium OG (1.104, 13% abv) relatively dry traditional mead from fresh raspberry raw honey and WLP 715 champagne yeast made with starter on stirplate for 3 days.

Yesterday I mixed, with the no heat method, 8,75 kg of honey with water to 25l and 6 tsp DAP and 1 tsp wyeast nutrient blend. everything went smooth, but after mixing and shaking I was taking OG and got a bit surprised. According to the calculator it should be around 1.10, but I read 1.122! So I thought it had to be too poorly mixed, so I shook some more, waited and took another reading. Still the same: 1.122.

According to the calculator this would have to mean a honey carbohydrate concentration of 91%, so I did not believe it was possible. So I let it stand over night and took another reading today: still 1.122! I then thought i should add more water to avoid a too high sugar (eventually alcohol content) and added 2 l water to the must. And as expected, the gravity now dropped to 1.116. This means that if the yeast ferments it out to say 1.000 I would over 15% abv and am looking at a bit longer aging than I hoped for.

So my question is as follows: what happened here? Is my hydrometer broken? Can my honey possibly be this high in sugars? Should I trust the calculator or my hydrometer?

Thanks for you help in advance!

12-07-2011, 11:48 AM
Extra answer over at HBT........

Chevette Girl
12-07-2011, 12:40 PM
I'm not going to re-run your calculations (haven't had my morning tea yet, no math before tea), but is it possible you ran the calcs for honey plus water volume instead of honey in water volume?

Also, if it's colder than the rated temperature you may need to adjust, you will get a higher reading.

You can also look around to see if there's another calculator available online to doublecheck your numbers...

I always trust my hydrometer over any calculator when I'm trying to figure out how much alcohol I've made. You can always double-check yours, make sure it gives you 1.000 in pure water at its rated temperature, and you could mix up a small solution of honey and water at the same proportions you used and see if it comes out the same. Or you could reserve one test-tube's worth of must in the refrigerator while you procure a second hydrometer to verify. I have two hydrometers and they don't read quite the same in the mid-ranges, so I always make sure I am consistent within a batch, the one with higher gradations for high-grav musts from start to finish and the other for anything below 1.120. And when I'm in doubt, I do a spirit indication test to figure out the actual alcohol content of the finished product.

Dan McFeeley
12-07-2011, 12:41 PM
Difficult to say where the problem may be -- could be one or two factors. With all things honey, YMMV. Honey is not a genetically controlled product so you can get more varience because of differences in varietal honey, season, and other things affecting honeybee gathering and storage of honey. Producers have to keep water content within certain limits to prevent fermentation, but there's still some wiggle room there.

In other words, you can have the most precise measurements imaginable, but your honeymust, when mixed and stirred, will still not match the numbers on the calculator. It'll probably be close, but it may not be a bullseye.

Your hydrometer may be off also. Try this link to check the accuracy:



Vance G
12-07-2011, 01:28 PM
I vote with Mr. Mcfeely. Honey has to be below 18.6% water content to store. Some honey packers are sticklers for the law and manage their product so that moisture content is just what it is and water is cheap. Now my honey is extracted during the hottest and dryest part of the year in an area where the relative humidity is 5% or lower. Consequentially, my honey is almost always going to be much more concentrated a sugar than what comes from the store. Now I doubt if your reputable producer of varietal honey is selling watered goods, but his relative humidity is still probably over 50% if we are talking non irrigated raspberries and that ambient moisture level is going to have an effect. I am only on my second batch but both have had a way higher OG than the recipe I used stated it would be. If I was a decent mathematician I would figure It out, but I think I am going to reduce my honey by 10% and adjust up from there.

12-07-2011, 04:25 PM
Just had a look at the chart I use, and a drop of 122 points, presuming it finishes at 1.000, then it would be about 16.5% ABV, but if it went lower i.e. 0.990, then you're looking at a drop of 132 points which equates to 17.9% ABV.

If that concerns you, then fine, you may have to dilute it some to reduce the strength, except most dilution agents will also reduce body, as well as the strength.

So I'd suggest that you make it a "Sack" mead, and run it on the stirrer plate to completion (a few steps needed, like some nutrient etc), then once it's done, back sweeten it to whatever (I like my meads at about 1.010 to 1.015) and then clear and age it. The only additional thing I can think of is perhaps a little acid......

Medsen Fey
12-07-2011, 07:58 PM
If your hydrometer checks out with some plain water (distilled is ideal), then you can trust the hydrometer.

The calculator provides an estimate that will usually get you close, but then you need to use your hydrometer to get an accurate starting point. The honey can vary by several percent in moisture content, and then our volume measurements for a batch that size can easily be off by more than 1 liter, and if you weigh the honey, you might easily have a couple of hundred more grams (or less) depending on your scale. Put that all together, and you can get numbers that are way off what you expected, which is why it is good to measure the gravity along the way.

My suggestion would be to dilute it down further to the level you initially wanted. That is an excellent level for a traditional mead that won't leave it too hot. If your fermenter won't hold that much liquid, take some out and freeze it - you can use it top up later (or backsweeten a little).

Welcome to GotMead!

12-08-2011, 07:23 AM
My hydrometer read 1.00 on water 20 deg C so it isnt too far off. So i really dont get this, but the only reasonable solution sounds like low moisture content in my honey i guess. Do you really think I should replace some of the must with water? It has been fermenting like a volcano with the airlock almost boiling over, so it doesnt look like the yeast has a problem with it. But if you think it can reduce my aging requirements, i could give it a go?