View Full Version : Where'd my alcohol go?

Mad Max
11-09-2015, 08:28 PM
Hey all, I'm new to this forum, and relatively new to mead making. My first batch was a medium sweet show mead that was everything I'd hoped for. Second batch was to be spiced but turned out like crap. It doesn't have any sweetness, no hint of the spices I used in the primary, and no indication of being alcoholic at all.
My O.G. was 1.095 and after three weeks it had stopped any signs of fermentation and yielded a final gravity of 1.00, so I was expecting a fairly dry but reasonably strong mead. What I got was more like a bland watery flavor with a gorgeous amber color.
Can anyone confirm my suspicion of what went wrong? I think that the cork (new rubber, and smells like it) must have leaked. There did seem to be more activity in the mead than there was in the airlock. I suspect that the yeast ate my honey and pooped alcohol which subsequently evaporated past the cork. Anybody had this happen? Just checking before I try again. Also, if I'm right, then this beautiful liquid is only fit for the kitchen sink, right?
Thanks in advance.

Max Max

11-09-2015, 08:39 PM
'm pretty new to meadmaking too, and I'm not sure what's gone wrong either. However, I've heard a few times from some more experienced folk on the forum that you shouldn't toss a bad mead right away. Presumably, you've got space for it somewhere. Might as well keep it and try it again in a few years, right? Otherwise you could see if you could use it in cooking. It would be a real waste of your efforts to just dump it.

11-09-2015, 10:08 PM
Sounds like you're just missing a little body, and depending on the spices used, some spice character could have been blown out the airlock in a vigorous ferment. And you won't really get any sweetness at 1.000 since that's exactly zero residual sugars.
In order for any of the experienced people here to help out you'll have to post the exact recipe; honey varietal and amount, yeast and rehydration technique, what the spices were, etc.

Mad Max
11-10-2015, 11:26 AM
Okay, if it'll help answer the mystery:
I used clover honey (same honey as first batch). One quart of honey to 3 quarts of water. I did NOT heat the honey, rather, I boiled one quart of water and steeped my spices in that.
7 Allspice seeds
1/2 stick of cinnamon
dash of vanilla extract
Then I added the quart of honey to the hot liquid and mixed thoroughly.
Poured into a sanitized gallon jug and added the other two quarts of cold water as well as a small handful of raisins, 1/4 tsp of activator, and 1 tsp of nutrient.
Prepared 5 g. of Lalvin 71B-1122 per the instructions and pitched it into the must at the specified temp.

Again, the O.G. was 1.095 on September 21st. I checked on October 15th and it was 1.00
Tasted on 10/27 and noted in my log "tastes very bland and watery" - still does. Assuming a poor seal, is that enough time for the alcohol to have evaporated from a gallon jug at about 75 degrees?
If not, any other ideas about what happened there?

Should I add some sugar and yeast and see if I can make something useful out of this? Without the alcohol component, I think further aging will be neither wise nor beneficial.

11-10-2015, 12:47 PM
Your alcohol did not evaporate at 75 F. The boiling point of pure ethanol is closer to 180 F and it would be higher for a mixture of ethanol and water.

If you want more alcohol then you absolutely need to add more sugars in whatever form you think best. Honey, fruit, or table sugar.

11-10-2015, 09:38 PM
I think the flavour of clover honey is quite subtle so at the moment the mead might lack body and flavour. The alcohol actually shouldn't be taste-able imo. If you can taste alcohol it is possibly due to fusels, which is a defect. The honey flavour should eventually re-appear with age somewhat, so you might need some extensive aging. It is possible for alcohol to evaporate over time but not over such a short period and even over longer periods it should usually be negligible.

Mad Max
11-15-2015, 02:32 PM
Thanks for all the input.
I agree that alcohol can and will evaporate at room temperature. This is not just a fact of chemistry due to heating of the most superficial molecules, its a proven fact. I left a pint of wild turkey uncapped for some months and the result was watery and completely impotent. Remember too, that I had a wonderful batch of mead from the same honey so I don't think that's the trouble. And while pure alcohol really has almost no discernible 'taste', we can all tell if a drink is alcoholic or not, so whatever that clue is, it's missing from my mead. A 12 oz. bottle of my first batch is a ticket to a comfortable buzz, a glass of the second batch has no perceptible effect. Sooo.... since I don't like the flavor, and it probably won't keep, it's outta here.
I have enough of this clover honey for a couple more gallons, so I'll probably default to the recipe I know works. I'm just going to be gun shy of deviating now (I don't have an apiary, and honey isn't cheap!)

Mad Max

11-15-2015, 06:10 PM
I bet the alcohol is there. If you're convinced the alcohol has gone you could make a spirit indication test...
I'd never throw that away. It could end up becoming one of your favorite meads after aging

11-17-2015, 03:35 PM
Some of my thoughts on the matter:

The vanilla would have been metabolized by the yeast most likely, best to add that after the fermentation is done.

A well managed & healthy fermentation can make a drink that is smooth & drinkable at 12.5%, just watch out for a delayed kick.

There are zero residual sugars, so no body or sweetness; AKA watery & bland

Clover honey is mild & bland to begin with, leaving some residual sugars (like a JAOM does) makes up for this.

Maybe try upping the cinnamon stick to 1 full stick per gallon??

The raisins while a sufficient source of nutrients may not be sufficient enough to add their own unique mouth feel & flavors, this can offset things if you have a lack of body in your mead; but add a raisin flavor if used too much...

11-19-2015, 12:04 AM
This mead is way too young to judge yet. Dry mead takes time to mellow, and will often taste flat (or overly harsh) at first.

If you think the alcohol evaporated preferentially, you'd see the volume drop too. Is 10% of the liquid gone? If not, then your cork isn't leaking.

1.000 is not zero residual sugar, but it is very low residual. 0.980 would be closer to zero, so you've got 20ish gravity points of "other stuff" in there. If you must drink this or any mead quickly (less than 6 months after starting), plan to backsweeten to bring back body and sweetness. For mead that is already bottled, just add a dollop of simple syrup--flavored if you like--to the glass.