PDA

View Full Version : Greetings and question about lowered starting gravities



jacobk
05-12-2017, 10:14 PM
Hi,

I'm new to the forum and fairly new to meadmaking and fermentation in general.

I am a beekeeper in coastal British Columbia and put on a 3 gallon mead last year with my Fireweed honey (very light) and 5 pounds of black currants in the primary. My starting gravity was 1.125, before the addition of the currants. I used Lalvin EC1118 and fed yeast nutrient, It ended up at near 16% and was a lovely ruby colour, dry yet full bodied, and unfortunately has been consumed.

So for my next batch I thought it didn't need to be quite so high in alcohol content.. I wanted more this time so it is nearly six gallons and I started with an initial gravity of 1.095 and added around five pounds of frozen huckleberries and salmonberries picked last year, again in the primary and used the same EC1118. It is bubbling away nicely one week later.

Now, I am beginning to get paranoid that I started the initial gravity way too low, and that it will be undrinkable.. I am only interested in dry meads ATM, but am I creating something that just won't have any depth?

It seems most of the recipes I find have initial gravities much higher, but if this ferments to 1.005 it will end up at 11 percent, is that enough?

I have lots of honey if adding more is a good idea.. I also have ten pounds of frozen raspberries available for the secondary.. Just wondering if anyone has any suggestions.

Thanks

Jake

curgoth
05-19-2017, 04:14 PM
There's an entire category ("short mead" or "hydromel") for meads below 10% ABV. They're definitely drinkable. If dry, you may need to do some tweaking, since short meads tend to be a little thin on flavour and mouthfeel, but you've already got fruit, and you have choices like tannin, acid and oak to play with, too. Search on "short mead" or "hydromel" here and you'll get some recipes to compare yours with.

Squatchy
05-19-2017, 06:10 PM
When you ask about the 11%, what's your concern? Lower ABV is quicker to become drinkable as you don't have the high ABV "edge" to age. You should expect to go dry with that yeast. Remember, when you add fruit you are adding lots of water. So you are actually lowering your ABV because you are diluting the must with the volume of liquid.

You can add a little bit of glycerin and that will give you some mouth feel/volume. Lastly. You can chose a yeast strain that will make volume as a by product of the fermentation as well.

mannye
05-19-2017, 10:28 PM
Squatch brings up some great points. Glycerin is a great way to get that "high abv mouthfeel" and so is backsweetening. I'm NOT an advocate of back sweetening but I'm also not averse to trying it. The worst thing you can do when starting to make mead is listen to anyone! What I mean by that is that using me as an example, I loath the flavor I've gotten from back-sweetened mead, but that has no bearing on weather back sweetening is good or not. It just means that I loath the meads I make if I backsweeten them. Why do I know that? Because I tried it myself and didn't like it.

There are just as many and probably more people that will say the complete opposite and say that unless a mead is fermented dry then back-sweetened, it's GARBAGE!!!! But this being gotmead, they would just think that rather than saying it.

My point is... do what you want until you taste what you like. We are here to help you with our own experience.

bernardsmith
05-20-2017, 10:51 PM
I have been working on "session" meads for some months now - I use 1 to 1.5 pounds of honey dissolved in water (5.24% to 7.8% ABV - so you can quaff these much like cider or beer rather than sip the mead as if it were a wine). I have not found them to be "tasteless" when dry but I look for good local raw honey, and depending on the variety of yeast they can have good mouthfeel. I may add spices or nuts or berries, and carbonating such meads adds a further dimension. Groennfell Meadery (in Vermont) recently published a half dozen or so of their recipes - all short (session) meads.

caduseus
05-22-2017, 09:51 AM
I have been working on "session" meads for some months now - I use 1 to 1.5 pounds of honey dissolved in water (5.24% to 7.8% ABV - so you can quaff these much like cider or beer rather than sip the mead as if it were a wine). I have not found them to be "tasteless" when dry but I look for good local raw honey, and depending on the variety of yeast they can have good mouthfeel. I may add spices or nuts or berries, and carbonating such meads adds a further dimension. Groennfell Meadery (in Vermont) recently published a half dozen or so of their recipes - all short (session) meads.

Back sweeten and leaving yeast in the mead for months are great BUT there are caveats:
1) Back sweetening works but it requires the same honey for fermentation AND takes at least 2 months for the honey and the mead to fully integrate into each other. But generally speaking it is well worth the wait. If you combine with #2 below you can kill 2 birds with one stone

2) Sur lie ageing has been done for centuries with wine (and yes it an be done with mead too). It means you allow the yeast to stay in the mead for months (4-9 depending on yeast strain). However you have to stir 2x/week! People who have not stirred have had problems from inattention leading to yeast autolysing (self-destruct) and a nasty taste. Of course if you can't commit to 2x/week stirring this is not for you. In fact just doing it 30 days gets the yeast to help you clear the must.

If you do 1 and 2 for at least 2 months you will dramatically improve your mead mouthfeel for any mead (even a short mead) as both separately improve mouthfeel and together an even better mead.

It is worth the time. Obviously 4 months is even better but if you can't do that then do at least 2.