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Thread: Question! (i don't know how to title this thread.)

  1. Default Question! (i don't know how to title this thread.)

    I hope that I have not burned out everyone by inundating this forum with questions!

    I have one more question that I can not find an answer to, which is what is the difference in taste, and mouth feel, between a mead that was fermented with, let's say, 10 pounds of honey versus 20 pounds of honey? (5 gallon batches) Hypothetically, the yeast have eaten ALL of the sugars present, so what difference in taste is there now? (OTHER than dryness from increased alcohol levels)

    Is one more Bitter, or Sweet? More Tart, or Tangy? More Rich, or more Lite?
    Less honey more drinkable, more honey more bite

    Thanks!
    Jonas

  2. #2
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    Heh, don't worry about inundating us, this is a really good question!

    I don't think 20 lbs will ferment completely out in 5 gal so with resudual sugar there will be a thicker mouthfeel to it.

    However, assuming you did have two dry meads with significantly different original honey amounts, you will probably have more of a sharp alcohol bite with more honey (and therefore more alcohol) that might require more aging to mellow out. And if you're getting close to your yeast's upper limit for alcohol tolerance, your fermentation may slow down at the end, you might also have to manage your nutrients and pH carefully as well or it might stall out near the end.

    But I definitely want to hear AToE's take on this, I know he likes his meads dry.

    I think you've found another one for my list of future experiments though. I don't have a lot of experince with dry meads (I don't like dry wines so I tend to make sweet meads) and a dry mead was already on the to-do list, so when I do get to it, I think I'm going to make a dry mead with 1 kg honey side by side with batches using 1.5 and 2 kg honey. When I've got some free carboys.
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014
    "I tend to....um, er, experiment, and go outside the box. Sometimes outside the whole department store." - Ebonhawk, 2014

  3. Default

    You're really close to the answer I'm looking for.
    Honey is approximately 76% sugars, on average, so that's 24% 'other' ingredients. If you doubled the original honey amounts you would now have 48% 'other' ingredients per same batch volume. How do those 'other' ingredients alter the flavor of a mead if doubled? Remember, I'm not worried about the increased ABV, only the the flavors imparted by the 'other' ingredients.

    That's my question written differently. Many times nothing I write makes sense, simply because I don't know the Correct wording, and therefore I come across looking like an idiot. Sorry!

    Jonas

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    Most of the "other ingredients" is water (around 20%).

    In a 5 gallon batch, 20 pounds of honey is about the max that you can ferment dry (using wine yeast), assuming you use a good yeast, and manage it optimally. If you do this you will end up with 1 mead that has about 18% ABV and one that has about 9% ABV. While there are a lot of variable that play into the final results there will be a couple of things you can count on.

    1. Higher ABV gives more body, so the 9% batch may taste a bit thin/watery.
    2. Higher ABV is going to be "hot" with more rocket fuel character and it may take 2 more years to integrate enough that it isn't burning. You aren't going to be sitting down with a couple of glasses of it at dinner.
    3. Higher ABV batch is likely to have more volatile acidity and probably more likely to have some off odors from stressed yeast.
    4. You may find that the lower ABV mead develops more honey aroma faster as alcohol masks other aromas and flavors. People often shoot for high ABV thinking "more ABV = more flavor" which is not correct.
    5. More alcohol may add more perception of sweetness, but it also tends to accentuate bitterness, again meaning that long aging may be needed for it to smooth out.

    When it comes to a dry mead, you can give me the 9% batch any day.
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
    (Past years are always better)

  5. Default

    Medsen, THAT is the answer I'm looking for.

    The 5 gallons (show/traditional) in my carboy right now is at 15% with 16 pounds of clover honey in primary and I will be back sweetening it, it is high in 'Rocket Fuel' character. The next batch I will be adding about 11.6 lbs of honey for about 11.5% - 12% ABV, and then back sweeten it. I just wanted to be sure the flavor won't be affected as much as my nervous instincts tell me it could, being the Total noob that I am

    I just finished off a glass of Mead from a local Meadery, 30 minutes away, and it is right at 12.5% and 8 months old. A tiny little bit of a gum cleaning, little young, but it is right where I like it. So I think 11.6 lbs. clover honey, and then back sweetening is the way to go.
    Does that sound about right to you guys?

    Jonas

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    Medsen... just confirming: You're saying that dry meads are better with less alcohol?
    Is that just cos they age quicker or is there another reason.
    low alcohol dry meads are easy, and cheaper to make than any other kind I'd expect, so I think now I'm compelled to try it, I do have some honey 'just lying around' in batches I had thought too small for brewing... Well now I just need more bottles

    You mention preferring a 9% over an 18%
    I have an 18%, a 14% and some 12% batches already.
    So I'll try a 9%
    How about an easy drinking beer-like ABV of 4.5%? Or would that get too watery?
    Mae'r teithiau golau ceffyl eto

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    Quote Originally Posted by Medsen Fey View Post
    Most of the "other ingredients" is water (around 20%).

    In a 5 gallon batch, 20 pounds of honey is about the max that you can ferment dry (using wine yeast), assuming you use a good yeast, and manage it optimally. If you do this you will end up with 1 mead that has about 18% ABV and one that has about 9% ABV. While there are a lot of variable that play into the final results there will be a couple of things you can count on.

    1. Higher ABV gives more body, so the 9% batch may taste a bit thin/watery.
    2. Higher ABV is going to be "hot" with more rocket fuel character and it may take 2 more years to integrate enough that it isn't burning. You aren't going to be sitting down with a couple of glasses of it at dinner.
    3. Higher ABV batch is likely to have more volatile acidity and probably more likely to have some off odors from stressed yeast.
    4. You may find that the lower ABV mead develops more honey aroma faster as alcohol masks other aromas and flavors. People often shoot for high ABV thinking "more ABV = more flavor" which is not correct.
    5. More alcohol may add more perception of sweetness, but it also tends to accentuate bitterness, again meaning that long aging may be needed for it to smooth out.

    When it comes to a dry mead, you can give me the 9% batch any day.
    Ah, well I'd agree with most of that Medsen, but in a few cases I'd disagree (or just plain "don't understand), as I've found a few things that have ended up differently.

    #1, my higher alcohol batches (whether by design or accident) have often seemed more watery, due I suspect, to the fact that alcohol is "thinner" or less viscous than water. I appreciate that time doesn't reduce the alcohol, but it seems to make something that has a watery mouth feel when young, have more body once it's had time to age/develop - and no, I don't understand why that might be.

    #2, completely agree, but you can sometimes mask some, if not all, of the alcohol hot/medicinal taste of a higher alcohol product with back sweetening/acid additions - back sweetening might increase the viscosity, which is logical, but I don't understand why acid might do that as well.

    #3, yes, Ok I follow the bit about off odours etc from stressed yeast but don't get why it might have the "more volatile acidity" that you mention.

    #4, concur, the only thing that's guaranteed with a higher alcohol mead, is that pound for pound and ounce for ounce, the higher alcohol mead will make you fall over, get hangover, puke etc etc, quicker than a lower alcohol mead

    #5, by "perception of sweetness" in a high alcohol mead, do you mean a lack of ? in relative terms. The reason why, is that I've found, that a higher alcohol mead might "accentuate bitterness" is that they tend not to be as sweet or having enough residual sugars to cover any bitterness present (thinking of JAO here, as it seems to me that it's the very sweetness that you get, that covers the bitterness that invariably comes from the orange pith).

    I'm not trying to "pick holes", just understand more fully, your answer. Hell, it might just be that more of my meads have been "badly" or poorly made than I thought. Or that I need to make and/or drink more to increase my understanding of the points you raised......

    regards

    Mr "Not as bright as I think I am"

    p.s. What's the Florida weather like at this time of year? given the rubbish grey, miserable damp, post pre-crimbo snow we got, etc etc ?
    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.....

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    You mention preferring a 9% over an 18%
    I have an 18%, a 14% and some 12% batches already.
    So I'll try a 9%
    How about an easy drinking beer-like ABV of 4.5%? Or would that get too watery?[/QUOTE]

    Easy drinking beers are not always thin and watery. Look at a nice English Bitter or Mild or Dry Stout, alcohol can be as low as 3%, but still full flavored easy drinking pints. Three cheers for session beers!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by kudapucat View Post
    Medsen... just confirming: You're saying that dry meads are better with less alcohol?
    You mention preferring a 9% over an 18%
    I have an 18%, a 14% and some 12% batches already.
    So I'll try a 9%
    How about an easy drinking beer-like ABV of 4.5%? Or would that get too watery?
    First, personal preference is a major factor here. You may find you like high ABV dry meads that are properly aged. For me, at higher ABV levels, the alcohol overwhelms everything else in a traditional mead. In dry traditionals, I prefer them in the 10-13% range. At 18%, I feel like I'm taking a shot of hard liquor. YMMV.

    Quote Originally Posted by fatbloke View Post
    #1, my higher alcohol batches (whether by design or accident) have often seemed more watery, due I suspect, to the fact that alcohol is "thinner" or less viscous than water. I appreciate that time doesn't reduce the alcohol, but it seems to make something that has a watery mouth feel when young, have more body once it's had time to age/develop - and no, I don't understand why that might be.
    Palates are variable, but even though ethanol is less dense that water, in solution it usually produces a sensation of body as it crosses the palate. Over time a lot of reactions occur and ethanol combines with other molecules (like acids to produce esters) that may have an impact.

    Quote Originally Posted by fatbloke View Post
    #2, completely agree, but you can sometimes mask some, if not all, of the alcohol hot/medicinal taste of a higher alcohol product with back sweetening/acid additions - back sweetening might increase the viscosity, which is logical, but I don't understand why acid might do that as well.
    Absolutely true, when you sweeten things, 18% can be quite nice, but here I was just referring to dry meads.

    Quote Originally Posted by fatbloke View Post
    #3, yes, Ok I follow the bit about off odours etc from stressed yeast but don't get why it might have the "more volatile acidity" that you mention.
    When starting at a gravity that can produce 18%, the osmotic stress causes the yeast to produce acetic acid in higher amounts. IceWines are accepted with amounts of VA that would not be permitted in a table wine (>1%)

    Quote Originally Posted by fatbloke View Post
    #5, by "perception of sweetness" in a high alcohol mead, do you mean a lack of ? in relative terms.
    In tasting studies they have documented that more alcohol can accentuate the perception of bitter compounds, just as increasing acidity can also increase the perception of bitter tannins. However alcohol can also register some sweetness if you just dip the tip of your tongue in. This is partly why finding the right "balance" can be challenging. Every time you tweak one thing, something else falls out of kilter.

    Quote Originally Posted by fatbloke View Post
    p.s. What's the Florida weather like at this time of year? given the rubbish grey, miserable damp, post pre-crimbo snow we got, etc etc ?
    Today it is about 70F with 5 mph breezes, and clear blue skies.
    This is why I love Florida.
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
    (Past years are always better)

  10. #10
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    Alright, time for my input! There's a sweet-spot for dry mead in my opinion. A dry mead past 16% (or really even 15%) is going to require a lot more aging to stop tasting like paint thinner. BUT - an 8 or 9% dry mead is going to taste very watered down in my experience, unless there was a lot of tannin or oak or acid added to it.

    I think a dry mead should run from 11% to 15% ideally. I personally almost always shoot for 14% - what I'm trying to do is get the most honey per volume without ended up sweet (which I dislike) or overly alcoholic which will be counterproductive and just start covering up the taste.

    In that range a mead will eventually age to become "thicker" feeling in the mouth, and taste/smell strongly of honey (won't be any of those things for the first 8-10 months though). I think if you go much lower ABV you're running the risk of making something very bland unless you have very strong tasting honey. But that's all personal taste.

    EDIT: DaleP - he wasn't saying beers in that range are bland, he was asking if a mead in that range would be! I think it would be pretty bland personally, but who knows...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Medsen Fey View Post
    -----%<-----
    Today it is about 70F with 5 mph breezes, and clear blue skies.
    This is why I love Florida.
    Ha ha! excellent. I often wonder stuff like that. Plus it's easy to forget just how much further north the UK actually is (equivalent of something like Nova Scotia - if I recall the distant school geography lessons correctly).

    Plus, as with most other countries, the images we mainly see of the US are nice sunny summer time ones. Unless there's something pretty drastic going on (really mad, persistent ice storms and stuff like that), then they don't tend to show mid West and Northern winters (hell everyone knows that a large part of Canada "hits the deck" temperature-wise, but it's easy for us lot who don't live there, to forget that that's a long old border between Canada and the US...... and a lot of it gets damn cold!).

    Oh and TVM for the clarification of the other points I raised. I see exactly where you were coming from now. Perhaps I should make a greater effort to look out some of those reports and research papers that get published on the net....... Ha! often, after 11 or 12 hours with a truck (tractor + semi combo) strapped to my backside, the last thing that I want to do is sit there digging round the net.......

    So I guess I'll just carry on being a PITA and squeezing the wise of their wisdom hereabouts (as long as they don't mind of course ).

    regards

    fatbloke

    p.s. and yes, it's currently about 3 or 4 degrees C outside and for the first time since the pre-crimbo freeze, it's bright, clear blue sky on my bit of the South coast of the UK......... We also, often, get to sneer at the more northerly parts of the country
    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.....

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by fatbloke View Post

    Plus, as with most other countries, the images we mainly see of the US are nice sunny summer time ones. Unless there's something pretty drastic going on (really mad, persistent ice storms and stuff like that), then they don't tend to show mid West and Northern winters (hell everyone knows that a large part of Canada "hits the deck" temperature-wise, but it's easy for us lot who don't live there, to forget that that's a long old border between Canada and the US...... and a lot of it gets damn cold!).

    So I guess I'll just carry on being a PITA and squeezing the wise of their wisdom hereabouts (as long as they don't mind of course ).

    regards

    fatbloke

    p.s. and yes, it's currently about 3 or 4 degrees C outside and for the first time since the pre-crimbo freeze, it's bright, clear blue sky on my bit of the South coast of the UK......... We also, often, get to sneer at the more northerly parts of the country
    Lovely here (Rochester, New York ) 20 degrees F this time of year!
    This place lies on the edge of Lake Ontario?
    For the month of December we have been bestowed Four Feet of the white stuff to move around. Now when does Spring start?

    TB

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tannin Boy View Post
    Lovely here (Rochester, New York ) 20 degrees F this time of year!
    This place lies on the edge of Lake Ontario?
    For the month of December we have been bestowed Four Feet of the white stuff to move around. Now when does Spring start?

    TB
    Why do you think it is that some of us here, do respect the benefits we get from the "gulf stream"/atlantic drift ? all that extra CO2 and heat that Medsen and co are chucking into the sea in Florida, comes pretty much straight here to UK and Ireland. Hence things like the snow last month are VVV unusual, along with the longer than normal cold snap.

    Yet the normal temps etc are a little curious, as I've just had a meddle with google maps and my part of the south coast UK is actually on line with the upper part of Newfoundland, so I'm further north (equivalent) than you are TB, yet you probably always get a hell of a lot more snow than we do. Hell, so does the bleedin' Alps and thats further south as well.

    Weird.......

    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.....

  14. #14
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    You're technically farther north than I am but I think the ocean has a bigger affect, your weather seems closer to Nova Scotia and its coastal temperateness than our mid-continent extremes... -11C and has been snowing off and on for the last two days.

    And sorry for threadjacking, it WAS a really good question

    Definitely going to try some different strengths on dry meads and also I will be bottling a sparkling perry mead soon so I'll post my results on how it tastes dry before priming it and how it tastes dry after carbonation before I sweeten and stabilize at least some of it...
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014
    "I tend to....um, er, experiment, and go outside the box. Sometimes outside the whole department store." - Ebonhawk, 2014

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