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MJuric
06-09-2015, 06:18 PM
So I did an experiment. I made 6 batches of 1.5-2G of mead and used them as a base for different recipes, yeasts etc.

I have two three that turned out odd, two I think I can explain, the third I'm clearly doing something wrong as it is a similar outcome as I've had with similar recipes.

Recipe #1 and #2 are similar. I was experimenting with trying to get a drier version of mead.

Recipe #1 & #2 are identical in every way except OG and FG. Both are ~1.5G, mixed honey and water, airated and added ~1/2 tsp of nutrients. Both used Wyeast 4632 which has a tolerance of 18%. Assuming I did my math right the following is what should of happened in and what did happen.

Recipe #1 OG of 1.137, FG of .995. Actual FG of 17.0 (Refractometer). This means, corrected my FG is 1.047 with a 14.17 ABV.
Recipe #2 OG of 1.147, FG of 1.005. ACtual FG of 21.2 (Refractomoter). This means my corrected FG is comes out higher then the OG which means a negative ABV....so something is screwy.

In any case neither of these recipes fermented to the ABV they should have, 18%. By simply tasting them it's pretty obvious this is the case. My guess is that they simply ran out of nutrients and or simply died due to alcohol content and or I started with too high of a OG.

The third recipe was as follows.

29Oz of peaches and 1Lb of strawberries. These were mashed slightly and put into must. Mixture was adjusted adding honey and water until OG was 1.096. Added Wyeast 4184, tolerance to 11%. Was expecting to get a FG of 1.015 but ended up with a FG of .997 and an ABV of 14%. I was shooting for sweet and fruity and ended up with diesel fuel with a hint of strawberry :-)

I did a couple other traditional mixes with the Wyeast 4184 and those came out pretty close to 11 ABV like I would have expected. One at A little over 12% and another just under 12%. I've tried fruit flavored meads before with similar results. Is there a trick to using fruit I'm missing?

~Matt

Kansas Mead
06-10-2015, 10:17 AM
At what temperatures did you ferment the meads? Also does your refractomoter have a way to correct for temperature?

curgoth
06-10-2015, 10:22 AM
If your base recipe is in fact low on nutrients, that may explain why the fruit meads went nuts - fruit provides nutrients on its own, so the yeast has more nitrogen etc. to play with.

MJuric
06-10-2015, 01:45 PM
If your base recipe is in fact low on nutrients, that may explain why the fruit meads went nuts - fruit provides nutrients on its own, so the yeast has more nitrogen etc. to play with.

So despite being 11% tolerant the yeast can ferment well past that with enough "Goodies"?

I based the recipes on the idea that the yeast would go no further then it's tolerance limit. I was half wondering if in both cases I got wild yeast that in essence ruined the recipe and over fermented.

Any suggestions on dealing with fruits in mead and actually coming out with a fruit flavor rather then having my face ripped off?

~Matt

MJuric
06-10-2015, 01:46 PM
At what temperatures did you ferment the meads? Also does your refractomoter have a way to correct for temperature?

Temp was generally around 72-74. Probably a bit high but with in the temp range of the yeast.

No temperature correction on the refractometer but have never had problems in the past with beers using the same tool at similar temps.

~Matt

curgoth
06-10-2015, 02:49 PM
The labelled ABV tolerance is more like a highway speed limit. Yeast will sometimes stop under it, and sometimes go over. There are things you can do to help on either side, but ultimately, the yeast will do what they want. If you want an 11% mead, you should probably only put in enough fermentables to hit 11%, then stabilize with potassium metabisulphite and potassium sorbate. Once it's stabilized, you can add more honey or fruit without having more fermentation to get the sweetness and flavour you want.

You have a couple options with fruit - when you put the fruit in up front, it gets fermented along with the honey, and you get a fruit wine flavour rather than the pure fruit flavour - think wine vs. grape juice. If you put fruit in after you rack to another container and the main fermentation is done, you get more straight flavour infusing in, though you can still have the fruit kick off more fermentation since it's bringing in sugar to ferment, and water that lowers the ABV.

I believe strawberry is known to have a pretty sharp taste when fermented in primary, which might be part of the flavour you're finding.