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Thread: Too much honey = dead yeast?

  1. #1

    Default Too much honey = dead yeast?

    Can using too much honey kill the yeast. I read in a bread cookbook that sugar kills yeast. I assumed this was because ethanol kills yeast and by kills yeast meant more in a "bread won't fully rise" kind of way. Still, this got me thinking.

    I'm making mead for the first time tomorrow. I got my recipe from an old Appalachian cookbook, but some of the measurements were a bit vague. I'm making half a gallon and plan to drink it fresh next week. Is around 6oz of honey too much? Too little? Does it matter from a technical standpoint? I'm also using an orange and a few raisins for yeast nutrients.
    Last edited by Mansaf; 10-16-2010 at 07:18 PM.

  2. #2
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    First off, welcome to GotMead and the awesome journey of mead making!

    I'd love to see what this old recipe actually says. Maybe you could post the recipe on the recipe discussion board sometime.

    As far as your proposed quantity of honey, most people aim for a 3:1 ratio of honey to water for a decently high starting gravity. So in a 1 gal batch, I'd recommend using 2.5-3 lbs of honey and filling with water to top off. Using that ratio, you'll probably would want to use something like 1-1.5 lbs in your half gallon experiment. 6oz will work, but will be a hydromel, or low ABV mead. A hydrometer will help you determine the best amount to use, so I'd recommend you invest early, since it's relatively cheap and a vital tool if you keep making mead.

    Good luck!
    Find what you like, and hone it to perfection.

    And don't serve dodgy mead!

  3. #3

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    I just checked and I actually have 12 oz of honey. 3:1 would make that good for just under 1/3 gallon. Since I'm going for half a gallon, I'd need closer to 20oz. I'll definitely use a bit more honey than I planned.

    Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread, and Scuppernong Wine: The Folklore and Art of Appalachian Cooking by Joseph E Dabney is the book I got the recipe from. It's got lots of wine recipes, including mead.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mansaf View Post
    Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread, and Scuppernong Wine: The Folklore and Art of Appalachian Cooking by Joseph E Dabney is the book I got the recipe from. It's got lots of wine recipes, including mead.
    Sounds tasty. I'll have to check that book out.
    Find what you like, and hone it to perfection.

    And don't serve dodgy mead!

  5. #5
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    Welcome to GotMead Mansaf!

    I'll start by suggesting that you take a look at the NewBee Guide (see the link in the column to the left of this thread) as it has lots of good info to help you get started.

    In answer to your question, you can use too much honey. Somewhere above 4 1/2 pounds per gallon, you get into territory that is very tough for yeast, and many will stall before fermentation is complete. When above 5 pounds per gallon (above a gravity of 1.200 you reach a point where most yeast can't even start. The sugar load puts such osmotic stress on the yeast that they just go dormant.

    Medsen
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
    (Past years are always better)

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by YogiBearMead726 View Post
    A hydrometer will help you determine the best amount to use, so I'd recommend you invest early, since it's relatively cheap and a vital tool if you keep making mead.

    Good luck!
    Hi Mansaf, dido on the hydrometer, If you haven't bought one yet, I recommend buying two, they're fragile. When you have a batch going, it wont pause while you order a new one. Good Luck

  7. #7

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    Thanks for the info everyone. I'll report back once I get it all going.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mansaf View Post
    Thanks for the info everyone. I'll report back once I get it all going.
    Oh and it's unlikely to be drinkable early......

    Most of what we enjoy in the honey i.e. the sugar/sweetness, will have been metabolised into alcohol.

    Hence, a lot of meads are hideous tasting when young and need to be aged - once they've got some maturing time under their belt, they're great....

    regards

    fatbloke
    here's me home brewing blog (if anyones interested....)
    and don't forget
    What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away! Tom Waits.....

  9. #9
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    I was going to mention that, after only a week this'll be pretty awfull most likely.

  10. #10

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    Kind of surprised no one did mention it til the end here, but yeah, you will be lucky if it is even done fermenting in a week. Not trying to discourage you from making mead and I have enjoyed it greatly, but if you want something drinkable in a week, you may want to try brewing beer. Mead is always better when aged.

  11. #11

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    So, the mead finished fermenting after a few days and was actually pretty good. Because of the fruit, it retained a nice lemonade taste but was a little dry. Great mead? No, but still pretty decent for a first-time hobbyist.

    Thanks again for all the help.

  12. #12
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    Default New batch and it is acting odd

    10 lb honey
    1-1/2 gallons of elderberry juice
    3 gallons of water

    I did some things different this time and REALLY need some experienced advice!
    I boiled everything = whereas I usually never boil the honey...and when the yeast didn't start after 24 hours I added more. THEN I found out the lid was not airtight and replaced it - BAM - it started bubbling like crazy (the same thing happened last time I accidently used this lid - which is now in the trash).
    Yesterday (day 4) I noticed the house smelled like vinegar... today it was worse so I opened the barrel and saw that the yeast had created a scum like layer on top which was bubbling (never saw it do this before). Any ideas??
    From what I have read - this is normal (this was the ONLY time I have forgotten to do a hydrometer reading to start!) but my past batches were all about 10-12sg and yet never did this so much!

    Thank you SO much!
    Michele
    Last edited by Michele; 10-24-2010 at 01:05 AM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michele View Post
    10 lb honey
    1-1/2 gallons of elderberry juice
    3 gallons of water

    I did some things different this time and REALLY need some experienced advice!
    I boiled everything = whereas I usually never boil the honey...and when the yeast didn't start after 24 hours I added more. THEN I found out the lid was not airtight and replaced it - BAM - it started bubbling like crazy (the same thing happened last time I accidently used this lid - which is now in the trash).
    Yesterday (day 4) I noticed the house smelled like vinegar... today it was worse so I opened the barrel and saw that the yeast had created a scum like layer on top which was bubbling (never saw it do this before). Any ideas??
    From what I have read - this is normal (this was the ONLY time I have forgotten to do a hydrometer reading to start!) but my past batches were all about 10-12sg and yet never did this so much!

    Thank you SO much!
    Michele
    You should really start a new thread with your question, as it's completely unrelated to this thread (minus the yeast problems). It'll allow people to find and answer your question more thoroughly/easily.

    Cheers
    Find what you like, and hone it to perfection.

    And don't serve dodgy mead!

  14. #14
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    OHH I am so sorry, I was quite tired at the time of posting! I will do so right away!

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    Haha, don't worry about it. I just wanted your question to get answered effectively.
    Find what you like, and hone it to perfection.

    And don't serve dodgy mead!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mansaf View Post
    So, the mead finished fermenting after a few days and was actually pretty good. Because of the fruit, it retained a nice lemonade taste but was a little dry. Great mead? No, but still pretty decent for a first-time hobbyist.

    Thanks again for all the help.
    It's honestly surprising you got something decent in such a short period of time (though I guess taste is subjective to a point!). Generally meads need to be aged for many months.

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