View Full Version : What is sweet?

02-21-2006, 10:16 AM
This will be my first serious try at mazing (see brew log) . My question is, What percent residual sugar is considered sweet? How do I try to achive it? Is it as simple as subtracting what you expect you yeast to do from your OG? If so, how do you make sure your yeast meets its maximum potential?

Sorry, that's really 1, 2, 3, 4.... 4 questions.

The sweet mead I just started has a PA of about 19% (OG 1.145ish). If my yeast(WLP720) does it's job to the best of its ability, I should end up about 4% residual sugar. That seems high. Sounds more like syrup than mead.

Please correct me if I'm wrong. This stuff coming straight out of my butt as I have VERY little experience.

02-21-2006, 01:47 PM
Sweet is partly dependant on your taste. I judge sweetness by the SG. For me sweet is 1.015 to 1.025. I usually try to shootfor the yeast tolerance to end there, knowing full well that it may or may not. Usually the yest go longer, which means I have to backsweeten a little to adjust up. I know that there can be "off flavors" from pushing your yeast to tolerance, but so far I've never noticed it.

4% residual would be approx. what SG? To me, super sweet is 1.070. That's too sweet, but I have some like that for my mother, who loves it.

Dan McFeeley
02-21-2006, 03:10 PM
Specific ranges may vary, but here's a good reference, from the 1999 Mazer Cup guidelines. Scroll down the page and you'll see recommended gravity ranges for dry, medium, and sweet.


Another good place to look is the current BJCP guidelines for dry, medium and sweet meads. Note that the description goes more by taste experience, rather than gravity range.


02-22-2006, 03:44 PM
Perceived sweetness varies considerably from actual hydrometer readings in my experience. Things that affect perceived sweetness include: acidity, alcohol content, spices, even age of the mead. To me, I think both higher alcohol and higher acidity decrease perceived sweetness. Personally, I'm more concerned with balance, which can be harder to achieve than hitting a desired final gravity.

02-22-2006, 04:41 PM
I use a simple Perceptual Sweetness Scale (PSS) of my own devising when I do tasting notes on my batches. It gives me a sense of how the balance of the sweet/tart/bitter/astringent/alcohol qualities have come together. The PSS is purely subjective, of course, which is why I haven't made note of it in any of my recipe postings -- plus, nobody would know what I was talking about.

For anybody interested, however, I use a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is a completely dry-tasting mead, while 10 is a very sweet sack-style one.

Perceptual Sweetness Scale
1........Bone Dry
2, 3....Dry

There are probably other, more detailed systems in place -- especially in the wine industry -- but this one is simple, and it works for me.


Sigmund Von Meader
02-22-2006, 04:57 PM
Hello David.

The ASCII did not work well, it was all a mish mosh. Perhaps it was only my browser but it was all jumbled up.

Still, thank you for posting this.

02-22-2006, 05:01 PM

Thanks...I was afraid of that. I'll try and fix it.


02-23-2006, 09:20 AM
Thanks guys. I'm going to print those links and put them in my homebrew folder. That will be a good start for me. I don't know squat about balance. I've just been putting the honey, water, and yeast together. After that, it's pretty much been in the hands of God as to what turns out. Still got a lot to learn.