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bernardsmith
10-15-2013, 11:32 AM
I see many posts for JAOM and the use of bread yeast. I am not a purist when it comes to wine or mead making but last night I made up a single gallon of must using 3.5 lbs of clover honey. The starting gravity was 1.130 which will translate into about 17.7 percent ABV if the mead ferments dry (or over 18 percent if the final gravity falls to .992). To me that seems way out of balance. I am using 71B for my yeast and rather than add oranges and raisins I got the pH to 3.8 using acid blend and added yeast nutrient and energizer, but I am still concerned about the high starting SG. Typically, I aim for an ABV of about 13 percent with any wine/mead I make. Wouldn't 17% ABV not burn like rocket fuel? Should I dilute the must with another couple of pints of water to bring the SG down to about 1.090?

Fisk Jaegaren
10-15-2013, 12:06 PM
71b will take it much drier than bread yeast will, causing the abv to be very high and making for a very unpleasant batch if you did nothing else to it.

The JAOM recipe is a recipe for beginners, it is a very simple, well thought out recipe that if prepared properly, needs no additions or modifications past the topping of water after a few days. The reason for 3.5 lbs of honey in the first place is so your finished product is already sweet, no back sweetening necessary. Bread yeast conk out in the neighborhood of 12-13% abv give or take a point.I know as a wine maker you want to use "real" wine making yeast, but this throws the recipe out of balance....you broke Joe's warranty and no going back now! Try another batch following the recipe exactly, you will be impressed.

rmccask
10-15-2013, 02:50 PM
One possibility is to try to cold crash it when it gets to the sweetness you like and then stabilize it. That may make it a little less like rocket fuel. I have heard of some people doing this but have never tried it myself.

bernardsmith
10-15-2013, 03:07 PM
Thanks Fisk, I was not in fact trying to make JAOM (hence my use of wine yeast) but to use the same amount of honey: water concentration. From your post I think it makes good sense for me to add some more water to bring the maximum ABV back down to a range I am comfortable with (about 11-13%) . My math is weak but I think if I add another lb of honey this would give me an additional gravity of approximately .034 ( increasing the total to 1.164) and if I doubled the total volume from 1 to 2 gallons this should result in an average SG of about 1.082 which would ferment to dry around 11%.

I guess I am not really interested in any "warranty". What I am looking for (for good or for bad) is to understand the science behind the art of wine making and to apply the art to that science.

bernardsmith
10-15-2013, 03:22 PM
Hi rmccask, my preference is always to ferment dry and then backsweeten to a level of sweetness that balances the acidity and alcohol. Stopping fermentation in mid-flight always seems inherently risky: a bit like driving a car with no working breaks and relying on the fuel to run out close enough to a service station to allow you to refuel with no problems. When my wines ferment dry I can add precisely the amount of sugar I want to achieve precisely the amount of sweetness I want. I think I have far less control over that if stop the fermentation in mid flight.

anir dendroica
10-15-2013, 03:44 PM
71B will not ferment dry starting at 1.130. Based on my experience if you keep it happy (nutrients, pH, aeration) it will finish around 1.012 with 15.5% alcohol.

That happens to be my preferred method (i.e. start high, finish strong and semi-sweet), but there are many here who prefer and advocate the ferment dry+backsweeten approach in order to have more control, and it sounds like that is your goal as well.

To ferment completely dry with 71B, I would aim for a SG at or below 1.105. That will give you just under 14% ABV, so if you want 13% shooting for 1.099 or so will get you there.

kudapucat
10-15-2013, 04:00 PM
It's often a bad idea to add acid up front.
Unlike grapes, honey is quite acidic, and the acidity increases during ferment.
Many a winemaker has had a stuck ferment because of excessive acidity due to adding acid early.
We like to add acid, if at all, after the ferment and only 'to taste'
Personally I've never added acid.

anir dendroica
10-15-2013, 04:40 PM
Honey is generally less acidic (on a pH scale) than grape juice, hence the tendency to want to add acid. The problem is that

1. Yeast decrease the pH during fermentation by producing organic acids, and

2. Honey has a very low buffering capacity, i.e. resistance to pH change.

Thus a grape must might start at pH 3.4 and finish around 3.1, while a honey must might start at 4.3 and finish around 3.1. If you add acid up front to bring the honey pH down into a range appropriate for wine (i.e. below 3.8.), the result is often that the pH drops below 3 during fermentation, inhibiting/stressing the yeast.

bernardsmith
10-15-2013, 05:46 PM
Thanks for the information about the low buffering ability of honey and its natural acidity increasing as fermentation progresses. I will need to keep an eye on that (I have some calcium carbonate in case I need to do some first aid ). I am also going to lower the sugar content by diluting the must with more honey and water. That will also (presumably) increase the pH to about 4.5 or higher. Thanks for your help and advice.

anir dendroica
10-15-2013, 05:55 PM
Dilution does not appreciably affect pH. However 3.8 is within the optimal range so I wouldn't worry unless it drops to 3 or lower during fermentation.

joemirando
10-15-2013, 05:57 PM
One possibility is to try to cold crash it when it gets to the sweetness you like and then stabilize it. That may make it a little less like rocket fuel. I have heard of some people doing this but have never tried it myself.

I have done this, and it worked quite well for me.

I had made a 1 gallon batch with a max ABV of 14.xx%, but after tasting it in-process decided that it had just the balance between ABV (12%) and sweetness. So I treated it as follows:


Put gallon jug in freezer for 2 hours (to bring the temp down fast and stop the yeast quickly)
Moved from freezer to refrigerator, left it there for two weeks so the yeast would settle to the bottom
Racked onto crushed campden tab and 1/4 tsp potassium sorbate
Let sit at room temp to degas, clarify and be sure fermentation did not restart
Used Bentonite as fining agent, let sit until 'startlingly clear'
Bottled


The ABV stayed right at 12%, and avoided the 'rocket fuel' fusels.

YMMV, but it worked for me.

bernardsmith
10-15-2013, 08:31 PM
Dilution does not appreciably affect pH. However 3.8 is within the optimal range so I wouldn't worry unless it drops to 3 or lower during fermentation.

I can confirm you are correct, Anir. I added one gallon must with one pound more honey and checked the pH and it was still 3.83. I checked the SG of this gallon and it was 1.040 so by calculation*** one gallon of 1.130 added to 1.040 should = an SG of 1.085. (***by calculation because the original must had been fermenting since last night and measurement would not have provided an accurate reading).

and Joemirando, I feel more comfortable now that the SG is closer to the levels I am more used to.

anir dendroica
10-15-2013, 09:43 PM
1.085 puts you on track for about 11% ABV which is a bit on the light side, though you can always add more honey before fermentation completes if you want it stronger.

bernardsmith
10-16-2013, 05:08 PM
I think I will be adding a very small amount more honey. I am considering making this a sparkling mead. I have a quantity of sparkling wine bottles that are calling to be filled.

Chevette Girl
10-18-2013, 02:14 AM
I have a quantity of sparkling wine bottles that are calling to be filled.

It's hard to resist the calling of the bottles...