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View Full Version : very basic, Mead 101, question



penguin5b
07-09-2013, 08:28 PM
I know that the final sweetness level of a mead depends on several factors. I know that yeast will eat up the available honey until, A) the alcohol rises to a level that makes yeast life unsustainable, and this is determined by the yeast strain or B) there's no more honey left to eat.

My question is...is there some way to calculate what the final sweetness level will be given certain known factors. For example, if I start out with 11.5 lbs of honey in a 5 gal batch and am using a yeast strain that tops out around 15%, how much residual sugar will there be, if any?

I know that I can always back-sweeten, but I'd prefer to use a more scientific method and hit my target sweetness level. Maybe there's a calculator out there?

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!!!

joemirando
07-09-2013, 09:03 PM
I know that the final sweetness level of a mead depends on several factors. I know that yeast will eat up the available honey until, A) the alcohol rises to a level that makes yeast life unsustainable, and this is determined by the yeast strain or B) there's no more honey left to eat.

My question is...is there some way to calculate what the final sweetness level will be given certain known factors. For example, if I start out with 11.5 lbs of honey in a 5 gal batch and am using a yeast strain that tops out around 15%, how much residual sugar will there be, if any?

I know that I can always back-sweeten, but I'd prefer to use a more scientific method and hit my target sweetness level. Maybe there's a calculator out there?

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!!!
Yep, there's a mead calculator right here on this site! Its very comprehensive, but I haven't figured out all the in's and out's of it yet.

The link is right on this page in the yellow box off to the left. The link is: http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=745&Itemid=16

Good luck!

Joe

joemirando
07-09-2013, 09:25 PM
You also can't count on a yeast pooping out at x%. Sometimes it may quit a percent or so below its listed %, sometimes it'll burn through a percent or two above its listed limit. The problem with published alcohol tolerance levels is that yeast can't read. <chuckling>

So, what I'm learning is that if you want to do what you've mentioned (which is what I want to do too), your best bet is to divide up the honey into a couple of 'feedings', holding some back for backsweetening, letting the mead ferment dry, stabilizing it (killing the yeast), then backsweetening.

I was one of those guys who figured, "what the heck. Just add enough honey right off the bat to go past the alcohol tolerance of the yeast, and the rest will be residual, right?"

Well, the answer, it turns out, is "sometimes". Sometimes the yeast will just chew right thru the available sugar. What happens then, as I found out, is that the yeast tends to throw off a lot of bad tasting stuff due to an unhealthy (for yeast) environment. Some or most of it will probably mellow out in time, but sometimes we're talking YEARS here!

There are several VERY knowledgeable people here who will say it better than I, but I figured since I'm a newbie too, I'd tell you as someone who just finished ANOTHER round of mistakes.


Good luck!

Joe

akueck
07-09-2013, 10:06 PM
It's definitely not an exact science. The published alcohol tolerance numbers are for grape musts. Honey musts are different, and melomels are different, and metheglins are different... Use the numbers as a guideline, but know that how you treat the yeast--nutrients, oxygenation, pitch rate, OG, temperature--will have a huge impact on the actual behavior you get. The best solution is just experience. Pick a yeast strain and work with it, and you will get to know how it performs for you.

ox45
07-12-2013, 12:22 PM
I too used to try and figure out yeast tolerances vs. starting gravity and try to come up with a final sweetness I wanted. After several batches of getting nowhere near what I wanted, I changed my philosophy.

I now figure out what type and what strength I want. I will build up the OG to that level using the calculator, and choose the yeast type depending on the style. When it finishes up and dries out, I stabilize and sweeten to the level I want. This has been the easiest and most reliable way for me to hit both ABV and sweetness level consistently.

Chevette Girl
07-13-2013, 09:37 AM
<snicker> yeast can't read...

I used to aim for 16% no matter what I was doing (thinking more alcohol is better) and due to my neglect and mistreatment of my yeast, it would often stop around where I'd have wanted it to anyway (around 1.015) but looking back at my early years, that was probably just blind luck.

Everyone's already mentioned that it's not exact, yeast can't read, published tolerances are not for meads, etc ecc, but I didn't see anyone mention that starting your gravity too high can be really hard on your yeast as well, causing them to go slow or stop early.

The most scientific way of getting precise results would be to aim for an alcohol content a few percent under your yeast's tolerance, ferment it dry, then stabilize and backsweeten. This gives you the most control over the results.

If you don't like the idea of stabilizing, starting somewhere sensible (I'd say no higher than 1.110) and then step-feeding it at the end can give you a sweetness within a chosen range (every time the SG drops below 1.010 you add honey to boost it back up to 1.020 so you'll be guaranteed to get something between these two values), but it can also result in the yeast exceeding their tolerance and you end up with high-test booze. If that's what you want, it's fine... but if you want particular results, start with that in mind before you determine your process.