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mhenry41h
08-08-2012, 04:31 PM
I'm currently reading Ken Schramm's book and soaking it all in but I do have a basic question that seems a bit tough to answer. I prefer my alcoholic beverages to be of a drier nature. Many, if not most, of the mead recipes that Ive seen are for sweet meads. What exactly (other than yeast strains) contributes to the dryness of the mead? My guess is the ratio of honey to water. Schramm seems to like the 2 parts honey to 1 part water ratio for most of his meads and a podcast with Michael Fairbrother says 75% honey/25% water. Is there a magical formula that decides the outcome much like mash temp is a critical element in beer?

Soyala_Amaya
08-08-2012, 05:43 PM
Potential alcohol conversion vs alcohol tolerance of yeast strain. If you have a tolerance of 14% but a potential conversion of 18%, you will have a sweet mead. However, with a tolerance of 14% and a potential of 12%, you have an extremely dry mead. There's a clickable for that on the got mead calculator, just enter your original gravity and your projected final gravity (it has a default of .998, but I usually take it up to 1.000 just in case) and see how dry your yeast will take your recipe with proper maintenance.

Penguinetti
08-09-2012, 10:42 AM
Honestly, I've come to grow fond of that calculator in the last week or so. It's pretty nifty. Whoever made it up, thank you for your contribution.

fatbloke
08-09-2012, 03:07 PM
I'm currently reading Ken Schramm's book and soaking it all in but I do have a basic question that seems a bit tough to answer. I prefer my alcoholic beverages to be of a drier nature. Many, if not most, of the mead recipes that Ive seen are for sweet meads. What exactly (other than yeast strains) contributes to the dryness of the mead? My guess is the ratio of honey to water. Schramm seems to like the 2 parts honey to 1 part water ratio for most of his meads and a podcast with Michael Fairbrother says 75% honey/25% water. Is there a magical formula that decides the outcome much like mash temp is a critical element in beer?
If you want a dry batch, as at least one person has already pointed out, use less honey.

The issue with honey, is that people expect it to be sweet, so if you serve a dry mead to someone who knows little or nothing of meads, they may or may not enjoy it. After all, once the sugar content has been fermented out, what's actually left ? Not a lot, apart from a small amount of residual non-sugar flavours, water and alcohol.

I also think you've mis-read what Ken says. He uses various recipes for his examples, yet if you mixed up a test measurement batch of honey and water i.e. presuming a 100ml test jar, used 66ml of honey and 33ml of water, you'd end up with a gravity that is unlikely to even start fermenting. The yeast would probably just "turn it's toes up" from osmotic shock, in other words, far too high a starting gravity.

You will find recipes that do contain a lot of honey (look up some of the Polish mead recipes - how the hell they ferment them, I don't know, but would have thought that they start with a reduced gravity must and then step feed), but from a lot of the info, you'll find that the common ratio that's often used is 3lb honey made up to a gallon i.e. given that a gallon of honey weighs about 12lb, that's would give you about 1/4 or 25% honey to water ratio.

If you think that Ken meant something else, then send him a PM. He posts here sometimes (though I believe he's currently recovering from surgery). You never know, he might answer your question.......

mediaguru
08-09-2012, 03:34 PM
Potential alcohol conversion vs alcohol tolerance of yeast strain. If you have a tolerance of 14% but a potential conversion of 18%, you will have a sweet mead. However, with a tolerance of 14% and a potential of 12%, you have an extremely dry mead. There's a clickable for that on the got mead calculator, just enter your original gravity and your projected final gravity (it has a default of .998, but I usually take it up to 1.000 just in case) and see how dry your yeast will take your recipe with proper maintenance.

Question: What if we have potential of 14% and tolerance 14%? I assume that would still be dry, but will it be as dry (and just stronger) than 12%? Or are we still likely to get a little bit of residual sugars (I know the numbers say no, but I'm asking if the reality is different)

I started with 1.100 OG and am hoping for a hint of sweetness, if not I may need to step-feed or back-sweeten... I don't normally like uber-dry meads, and I don't think super-dry would be so great for a bochet (but I've never had one, so I don't know)

Soyala_Amaya
08-09-2012, 06:42 PM
An SG of 1.100 taken down to 1.000 is actually just under 14% (13.18 according to the calculator) Even going all the way down to .995 doesn't QUITE get you over the 14% mark. And yes, an og between .995 and 1.000 is as dry as a mead or wine gets. So at that point, stabilize with sulphite and sorbate then backsweeten to taste. I prefer a sweeter mead between 1.015-1.020...my friends on the other hand want a REALLY sweet mead around 1.025-1.030 so that's where most of mine end up so I can share ;)

Since it's your first mead and you probably don't have an idea of sweetness vs sg yet, you can take a measured amount of mead out (say a cup) and add a measure of honey (say a teaspoon). Keep taking sips until you have it at a level you like, then multiply out. (There are 16 cups in a gallon, and 48 teaspoons in a cup)

akueck
08-09-2012, 06:53 PM
The calculator is just going by the book. What you actually get is going to depend on a lot of other variables. Even the "alcohol tolerance" listed for the yeast strains is a moving target and really a guess at best (they rate them for wine musts, not honey). If you use a 14% yeast and start around 1.100 (close-ish to 14% potential), you can expect to get reasonably close to 1.000 at the end. But 1.000 isn't zero residual sugar!

The other problem is that flavor is really subjective and depends a lot on all the components, not just the percent of sugar. The acid content, for example, will really mess with your perception of sweetness. Alcohol also has a sweet flavor, so higher alcohol may taste a little sweeter. We can't tell you how sweet something will wind up tasting *to you*, though we might be able to guess around where the FG "should" be. Try it, taste it, and adjust!