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View Full Version : Honey Amounts, OG's, etc



UKTony
07-27-2013, 09:35 AM
As I prepare to start my first batch (finally!), I've been looking around at different recipes, trying to ensure I've chosen good quantities, for my own recipe.

I've noticed that people use significantly different amounts for a similar result, from respected mazers.

For example, I'm looking at recipes for a dry show mead. On one hand Ken Schramm's dry recipe in his book says 10 pounds of honey, water to 5 gals. On the other hand, scaling down Oskaars dry show mead recipe, calls for 18 pounds for 6 gallons. From what I can see that's an enormous difference.

Oskaars mead starts out at 27 Brix (1.115), Ken's starts out at 1.080 and finishes at 0.998 (not sure what Oskaar's FG is, I couldn't see it in the recipe). Men's book recommends you start your OG at about 100 points above where you want the mead to finish.

Am I over thinking this? Should I just go with the 18 pounds of honey, water to just over 6 galls and see what comes of it? Or do people mix the must, test the OG then alter the recipe to get a specific OG to start?

Cheers

Tony

Bob1016
07-27-2013, 09:55 AM
For a dry traditional at 14%abv I use 18lbs for a little over 6 gallons (~6.125-6.25). If you want a lighter wine you could use 15lbs, heavier 21lbs. Just make sure your yeast can reach 16-18abv if you want a dry sack mead. These values actually work out to be 2.5lbs/gal=hydromel, 3lbs/gal=standard (at the high end but you could dilute a little), 3.5lbs/gal=sack, corresponding to the different strengths recognized by the BJCP.
For sweet meads backsweetening can give an exact sweetness level for each strength, but it is a little different than a mead where the honey wasn't completely fermented ie using a 12%abv yeast on a 1.108 mead will stop a little short and leave some sweetness, but it will taste different if you ferment out a mead to 12%abv and backsweeten.

UKTony
07-27-2013, 10:26 AM
The yeast I'm using is WLP720, which is good to about 15% ABV, although I've seen quite a few reports of it going past 15%, and I'm aiming for 14.5 to 15.0 ABV.

I planned on about 18.75 pounds of thistle honey, water to 6.5 gals, which is what the calculator gave me based on the information I gave it, from what you've said, that seems feasible?

UKTony
07-27-2013, 10:33 AM
For a dry traditional at 14%abv I use 18lbs for a little over 6 gallons (~6.125-6.25). If you want a lighter wine you could use 15lbs, heavier 21lbs. Just make sure your yeast can reach 16-18abv if you want a dry sack mead.

To be honest I'll be enormously happy if simply manage to make something that's drinkable that I can share with friends and family without them making a whiskey face!

danr
07-27-2013, 10:58 AM
I similarly have been using 15 pounds of honey in a 5 gallon batch for a final ABV around 14%. If I want it dry, I just age it that way. If I want it sweeter, I stabilize then backsweeten to the desired gravity. In my limited experience, it seems like backsweetening makes it taste better earlier. I believe that this is because the sweetness masks some of the heat from the alcohol.

Dan

fatbloke
07-27-2013, 01:53 PM
Bobs earlier post was pretty comprehensive (the only bit of bollocks was to say "dry sack mead"......no such thing.....the definition os a sack mead being strong and sweet, not dry.....ok thats my token bit of pedantry).

Anyway, yes if all the honey for a specific and highish strength is fermented, you will end up with a brew that is more wine-like in character, but equally it might be a bugger to start/ferment given the high gravity.

Whereas with a more "normal" method (and not treating the batch like beer brewing.....), making it as a dry batch then stabilising and back sweetening, means you can mask some of the young off flavours, still have enough sugars to keep the honey character but not cloyingly so.

IMO its a better technique to use as its more adaptable......whats not to like about it eh ?

Oh and don't forget Tony, don't count on having anything drinkable or presentable any time soon. A lot of young meads taste bloody hideous, only changing to nectar, with ageing time.....

ScotRob
07-27-2013, 05:23 PM
Bobs earlier post was pretty comprehensive (the only bit of bollocks was to say "dry sack mead"......no such thing.....the definition os a sack mead being strong and sweet, not dry.....ok thats my token bit of pedantry).

To be (even more) pedantic, the word "sack" comes from the French "Sec" which does in fact mean "dry", so really a sack mead should be a dry one...of course over time this has somehow become corrupted and now in fact means the opposite....thus a sack mead (or wine) is usually thought of as a very sweet one

kuri
07-28-2013, 04:15 AM
Bobs earlier post was pretty comprehensive (the only bit of bollocks was to say "dry sack mead"......no such thing.....the definition os a sack mead being strong and sweet, not dry.....ok thats my token bit of pedantry).

I thought there was a use of "dry" that just meant having had all of the consumable sugars consumed, as in "ferment to dry". By that meaning, a dry sack mead would note be a contradiction in terms. It clearly has a taste usage in which dry is the opposite of sweet, and in that usage dry and sack are incompatible. Am I just confused about this or do both usages really exist?

fatbloke
07-28-2013, 05:46 AM
I thought there was a use of "dry" that just meant having had all of the consumable sugars consumed, as in "ferment to dry". By that meaning, a dry sack mead would note be a contradiction in terms. It clearly has a taste usage in which dry is the opposite of sweet, and in that usage dry and sack are incompatible. Am I just confused about this or do both usages really exist?



Sack mead: This refers to mead that is made with more honey than is typically used. The finished product contains a higher-than-average ethanol concentration (meads at or above 14% ABV are generally considered to be of sack strength) and often retains a high specific gravity (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specific_gravity) and elevated levels of sweetness, although dry sack meads (which have no residual sweetness) can be produced. According to one theory, the name derives from the fortified (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fortified_wine) dessert wine (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dessert_wine), sherry (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherry) (which is sometimes sweetened after fermentation) that, in England, once bore the nickname "sack").[27] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mead#cite_note-27) Another theory is that the term is a phonetic reduction of "sake (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sake)" the name of a Japanese beverage that was introduced to the West by Spanish and Portuguese traders.[28] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mead#cite_note-28)

As I understand it, the first part is generally accepted i.e. that the term sack is normally associated with "strong, sweet" meads (I also excluded any "confirmed accuracy" by mentioning that I was just being a bit picky/pedantic).

I have no idea how it might be possible to make "dry sack" apart from knowing that was formerly used as a brand name for some sort of product (which I think, from memory, was a sherry, it might have been a port too).

The japanese bit at the end is unlikely as I think you'd find that the term "sack" was in use before there was contact with Japan in the 16th/17th centuries. Hence the bastardisation of sake, less probable.

Hence, as I understand it, sweet is generally opposite to dry, so you'd be correct in your thinking. Of course, I can easily be wrong or there could just be some obscure specialist brew that is technically dry, but has some perception of sweetness that commands the name of "dry sack" to get the point across. I just prefer to stick to the generally accepted use of the terms dry and sweet, as well as that sack meads would all be over 14% (often/usually up there in the 18% or so area) and sweet, with a probable FG IRO 1.020 or more....

Is there any real merit in being too anal in description etc ? I don't think so myself. Of course, it just helps when trying to describe something hereabouts, so we can all understand whats being meant, alluded to etc......

There's no real standards, which sometimes doesn't help as it can cause issue, much like this i.e. just a difference of opinion, rather than factual or technical differences......

fatbloke
07-28-2013, 05:49 AM
To be (even more) pedantic, the word "sack" comes from the French "Sec" which does in fact mean "dry", so really a sack mead should be a dry one...of course over time this has somehow become corrupted and now in fact means the opposite....thus a sack mead (or wine) is usually thought of as a very sweet one
Dunno about that. I thought "Sec" was sweet and "Brut" was dry - haven't looked it up or anything. Just that there does seem to be some indication that the term sack has been in use for many centuries etc. Hell I doubt that anyone could say where it comes from with any degree of certainty.

Just that it's generally accepted that it alludes to "strong and sweet".....;D

UKTony
07-28-2013, 08:45 AM
From Wikipedia (Ok not authoritative but it cites its references)

Sack mead: This refers to mead that is made with more honey than is typically used. The finished product contains a higher-than-average ethanol concentration (meads at or above 14% ABV are generally considered to be of sack strength) and often retains a high specific gravity and elevated levels of sweetness, although dry sack meads (which have no residual sweetness) can be produced. According to one theory, the name derives from the fortified dessert wine, sherry (which is sometimes sweetened after fermentation) that, in England, once bore the nickname "sack").[27] Another theory is that the term is a phonetic reduction of "sake" the name of a Japanese beverage that was introduced to the West by Spanish and Portuguese traders.[28]

[27] Sack in the Oxford Companion to Wine http://www.winepros.com.au/jsp/cda/reference/oxford_entry.jsp?entry_id=2790

[28] 1911 Encyclopędia Britannica
http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Sake

Bob1016
07-28-2013, 11:04 AM
I was just using the BJCP lingo so we were speaking a similar language.
Dry, semi-sweet, and sweet; then hydromel, standard, and sack for strength alone. I think these terms are horrible considering in French mead is called hydromel, steming from the Greek word hydromeli. But these terms are defined for mead so they can be used as such.
Honestly, I would not call a dry 16%abv mead a sack mead, but I would have to for competitions; I also don't think there should be a sweet hydromel, it should be light in all aspects, but again these are the defined terms.