View Full Version : experienced winemaker, first batch of mead.

01-20-2006, 10:31 AM
12-14-05 dark honey, molasses, nutrient, water, ( 6 oz vanilla extract, 4 cinnamon sticks)
4 lb 5 lb 3 tsp 4 gal

12-15-05 Red star champaign yeast 1 pkg Made starter night before w/sugar water. Added yeast starter at 3 pm yesterday, fermenting this am. Stirred , much foaming.

12-23-05 Divided into 2, three gal carboys, topped off.

1-20-06 Little fermentation.

I tasted this batch a few days after making and again last night. Tastes like cough syrup. Not sweet. I have heard that mead does tasted nice for at least 1 year. My wines always have at least a hint of the outcome from the beginning. Seems watery also. Any comments

David Baldwin
01-20-2006, 11:44 AM
Welcome to the forum!

Ok, looking at your figures, it looks to me like you have about 9 pounds of fermentables in about 6 gallons total volume.

That would make it a fairly light - and dry mead. I would expect the molasses to dominate the flavor profile. I use mollases, but in much smaller amounts - to add a bit of complexity but not as a primary fermentable.

Not knowing the sugar content of the molasses will make this a bit of a rough guess.

I'm estimating a starting gravity of about 1.05 potential of about 6.75% ABV.

I would estimate your champagne yeast will have an alcohol tolerance of 16-18% maybe more.

It looks like you have a very light hydromel - and bone dry. If you are looking to finish sweet, you may want to consider dividing the total volume among 3 carboys and adding a lot more honey to it.

All is not lost. Keep us posted on your progress.


01-20-2006, 03:42 PM
I agree with David on the info, not enough honey for that much water. A rough figure is 2.5 pounds of honey/fermentables per gallon of water for a standard sweet show mead. You were a little light at the start, but topping off with water really weakened the ratio.

You do need more fermentables. I don't agree with David on dividing it into 3 carboys and adding a lot more honey. 6 gallons of must into 3 - 3 gallon carboys leaves a gallon of space in each.

I think you should pull a little water/must from each carboy and replace with honey. Maybe a quart or 2. There is a calculator here that will help: http://www.gotmead.com/making-mead/mead-calculator.shtml

David Baldwin
01-20-2006, 05:06 PM
Sorry Lugh I should have been more specific. Good call in adding that link. I've been using that calculator for my estimates here.

By dividing into 3 carboys 2 gallons each. It does leave you with a bit more than a gallon of head space however:

I'm assuming at least a semi-sweet end product is intended, and I'm assuming the yeast has a tolerance of about 18% and I'm assuming that the plan was to ferment to completion. (See LOTS of assumptions so I may be way off base.)

So my estimating and assuming led me to consider that it would take 6+ pounds of honey to bring each of the 3 divided batches to a potential alcohol above 18%. That's going to be roughly a half gallon of honey in each carboy - taking up a good bit of the extra head space.

Just a bit of clarification on where I was going with "add lots of honey" and why... Terribly sorry if I caused any confusion.



01-20-2006, 09:36 PM
Ah! I see David. I've never done any mead to 18% - I should try it but my wife doesn't like "rocket fuel" :D
When using a champagne yeast I stop at 14 to 16%, stabilize and backsweeten. It's been a while since I've done that though, hoping to try it with DV10 soon.

01-23-2006, 03:52 PM
I'd recommend you look at Wrathwilde's Molasses Mead for an idea of what to do. I had his stuff at War and it was very good. Without looking, I would guess you should be upping the honey and cutting back on the molasses, just using a pound or two to get the flavor without it dominating. Is the cough syrupy taste predominately molasses in flavor?

Good luck,

01-23-2006, 09:04 PM
Just tasted it again tonight. Very nasty tasting. Cough syrup taste......sort of. Appears that I need to add more honey.


01-23-2006, 10:05 PM
What's the current gravity? You want to be careful adding honey based just on flavor. It can take many months to a year before the proper elements balance in the mead. Champagne yeasts are known for being harsh up front and mellowing out later. Yeasts like 71B or the Wyeast and White Labs mead yeasts are milder and develop a milder/fruiter flavor faster.

01-24-2006, 11:05 AM

I'd still guess that the problem is too much molasses, not a lack of honey. Take an SG on the batch before you do anything...

Good luck,

01-24-2006, 04:37 PM
Hey Taylor,

What was your starting brix? Since you're an experienced winemaker I'd guess that you'd have recorded your starting brix which by my estimation wouldn't be more than about 15 brix. Dude! That's pretty low for a starting brix so I'm wondering why you didn't bring it up to at least 22 - 23 like the brix for many wine musts. Did you sulfite prior to pitching?

Also, where did you get this recipe? Enquiring minds want to know.

Cheers and welcome to gotmead.com


01-24-2006, 05:17 PM
Location of recipe: http://brewery.org/brewery/cm3/recs/10_53.html

I have seen this recipe in several locations.

Did not test SG. I always take sg reading with wine, and have read many recipes for mead. They, many time, do not refer to sg. I assumed, because mead uses honey, this is a known component. Appears as if I am incorrect. What now?


David Baldwin
01-24-2006, 06:18 PM
Honey - as a natural product will vary to some degree in brix. It is constant enough though that the mead calculator should give you a pretty close estimate.

The honey itself is as variable in flavor and aromatic sublties as grapes are. A traditional mead made from clover honey will be vastly different from a mead made with all eastern buckwheat honey.

The recipe as I read it would probably best be described as a hydromel. It has a potential alcohol content of approx 6.2% With the champagne yeast it will be dry unless you add more honey. The flavor will be dominated by the molasses as well.

A couple of routes you may want to consider.

1. do nothing, set it aside and let it age. Unfortunately at only a bit over 6% I don't know how long it will keep.

2. Stabilize and back-sweeten letting it age. Agaiin low alcohol % may be an issue.

3. Divide the batch into 2 or more, add more honey and continue the fermentation process to the desired alcohol content stabilize and back-sweeten to taste, then bulk age.

4. Same as above only add enough honey to take it to the yeast alcohol tolerance and leave some residual sugars. Again it may take some extended aging for the molasses to mellow.

I have done the high gravity routine, adding honey until the yeast gave up. That batch fermented all the way to 23%. Now that's some high octane rocket fuel. Right from the start it was fairly horrible. Now 18 months later you'd never know that the alcohol content was so high.


01-30-2006, 08:45 PM
Added 2.5 lb to each carboy...fermenting madly...Thanks
May add more later.


01-30-2006, 11:47 PM
I'd recommend you look at Wrathwilde's Molasses Mead for an idea of what to do.

Mine was Maple syrup, not Molasses. Don't worry about it... have another Mead Pewter. ;D