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Thread: What's the lowest alcohol mead you have brewed and been happy with?

  1. #1

    Default What's the lowest alcohol mead you have brewed and been happy with?

    Another question
    I was thinking of doing a batch of low alcohol mead (approx 4-5%) and wondered about any experience you guys have had.
    My thinking is that it would be more a drink to be quaff down in pints rather than wine glasses. It would be ready sooner due to less sugar needing fermenting and less alcohol flavours to integrate. I realise that lowerr alcohol would be more prone to spoilage, so sanitisation is even more important.

    Has anyone brewed a low alcohol mead that they were happy with? (what ABV?)
    How long would it take (I understand that there are many variables and also 'How long" is a very ambiguous question, but a rough ball-park figure would be interesting)
    How sweet was it?

    Thanks

  2. #2

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    We made an orange ginger mead we found in the quick recipes section of this site. I think it was around 8%, and it was great. You'd drink a pint and oh boy. Went down almost too smoothe.
    "I've never forgotten anything that I can remember."

  3. #3

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    Is this in the patron's section? If not, do do remember the name of it, I had a look but can't find it.

  4. #4
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    I haven't done mead lower than about 12%, but I've done beer down to about 2.7%. Carbonation helps with the thin mouthfeel.
    Want to see something added to the GotMead Glossary? PM me! Didn't know we had a glossary? Check the top row of links.

  5. #5
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    I should soon be bottling a perry (carbonated pear) mead for at around 5% but I find I can't quaff it like beer if it's really dry, so I'll be sweetening at least half the batch.
    "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

  6. #6

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    Here it is.

    From what I recall, I'd recommend adding about double the ginger called for; it really was lost in the orange flavors. I'd also recommend throwing in the orange slices crushed with the juice of course, and the zest, but try and leave out the pith.

    ...or just follow the recipe exactly. Like I said, it was very good, and ready very quickly. Adding oak to it made it AMAZING.
    "I've never forgotten anything that I can remember."

  7. #7
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    The problem you'll run into will be that you'll have no choice but to stabilize and backsweeten unless you want it dry - and I think a dry mead at this ABV would be pretty thin (even if you used an almost black honey like buckwheat blossom honey).

    I think sweetness and carbonation would both improve something in this ABV range, but the problem is you cannot have both! (Unless you have a system for force-carbonation)

    You can't do bottle fermentation and have residual sugar after carbonation, because you'll get bottle bombs... and if you stabilize to backsweeten then obviously the yeast will be unable to ferment anything anyways (which is what you want!).

    What I'd personally do is ferment it dry to the ABV you want. Then, after about 2-3 months of clearing, I would bottle half of it in beer bottles with some priming honey (make sure you research to get the right amount) to get carbonation. After 2 weeks to a month in the bottle it should be back to being dry and will be carbonated.

    Then the other half I would chemically stabilize and backsweeten to taste, and leave to age for a while before bottling (you'll want to watch it's SG after backsweetening for a few weeks to make sure it's definitely not starting back up on you anyways).

    Then see which you prefer!

  8. #8
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    I've made two, low alcohol batches. I think they were both about 5%. I used liberty hops and carbonated them so that they would be like beer. It didn't taste like beer, but I enjoyed them and plan on making some more soon. They were completely dry and refreshing. I couldn't really taste the honey, but I also used cheap (costco) honey. It think it was clear and ready to be bottled in a couple months, but the flavor did continue to improve over the next six months.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by AToE View Post
    I think sweetness and carbonation would both improve something in this ABV range, but the problem is you cannot have both! (Unless you have a system for force-carbonation)

    You can't do bottle fermentation and have residual sugar after carbonation, because you'll get bottle bombs... and if you stabilize to backsweeten then obviously the yeast will be unable to ferment anything anyways (which is what you want!).
    Stevia extract with glycerine tasted acceptable to me, but there IS a way around this without using nonfermentable sweeteners, it's just a little involved.

    Basically, you ferment it dry, prime and bottle it, wait till it's all carb'd up, then prepare a second set of sanitized bottles with a measured amount of sulphites and sorbate in the bottom plus some additional honey for sweetening, bring the full and new bottles right down to almost freezing (took about an hour in my freezer for a full beer bottle and about 15 min for the empty one but your mileage may vary), then uncap and carefully pour the contents of each full bottle into a chilled new one containing honey and stabilizer. The cold keeps it from fizzing. It sounds terribly messy but it works.

    When I do a bigger batch, I'm going to go a little heavy on the sulphites just to make sure they do their job, I'm going to be a little conservative when I prime for carbonation, and I'm also going to keep a flat control in a screw-top bottle to make sure the yeast did in fact stop and aren't busily overcarbonating my perry into bottle bombs.
    "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

  10. #10
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    Ha, yeah I guess that'd work! It's a little too involved for my tastes though, and I'd still be scared of continued fermentation since I'd have no reliable way to monitor it.

    I like the idea of using stevia or something else that's unfermentable for sweetness in a low-ABV carbonated mead, just seems like less of a headache!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by AToE View Post
    Ha, yeah I guess that'd work! It's a little too involved for my tastes though, and I'd still be scared of continued fermentation since I'd have no reliable way to monitor it.
    Yeah, which is why I'm bottling one or two bottles flat before I prime the rest, then I will stabilize and sweeten it following the same method as the carb'd ones... that way if I open one two weeks later and hear "SSST!" I know to toss the rest in the fridge ... although they're generally pretty clear after carbonation and most of the yeast will be left in the bottom of the bottle in which it carb'd (the other nice part about this, nice clear sparkling stuff that doesn't go cloudy when it kicks up all the lees after you open it), it should be a low chance of reactivation after sulphiting and sorbating it...

    Quote Originally Posted by AToE View Post
    I like the idea of using stevia or something else that's unfermentable for sweetness in a low-ABV carbonated mead, just seems like less of a headache!
    I've tried Splenda and it was OK but I wasn't blown away, but with Stevia, I found the stuff in glycerine far superior to the extract drops, those left my stuff tasting chemicall-y. I think I used 20 ml in a gallon with my ginger hydromel.
    "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

  12. #12
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    Right. I'm an idiot. I made a ginger hydromel that turned out great at about 5.5%, although the honey character wasn't prominent. I'm hoping they honey flavour is improved by some aging, I've still got a couple bottles left and I'll update my brewlog when I try them.
    "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

  13. #13
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    I've made a traditional batch at 8% ABV that was moderately sweet and I enjoyed it a lot. I've got a cyser coming along that should be about 7.5% ABV for which I have high hopes.
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
    (Past years are always better)

  14. #14

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    Thanks for the info guys.

    I'm happy with a little sweetness in there so hopefully the honey will come through a bit more after backsweetening

    Chevette girl:
    I'm really glad you posted that about carbonating and then stabilising and backsweetening, it was a theory I was thinking about.

    Icedmetal and Chevette girl:
    Looks like a ginger mead is on the books!

    I need to go buy another carboy after smashing one last night (all sanitised ready for my cyser)

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    Quote Originally Posted by fong song View Post

    I need to go buy another carboy after smashing one last night (all sanitised ready for my cyser)
    That is why I use these:

    Plastic Carboy
    “Give a man a beer, waste an hour. Teach a man to brew, and waste a lifetime!”

    slàinte mhath

  16. #16

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    I've made a couple of hydromels at about 5% or so, both carbonated, and have tasted a few more. I found that orange blossom honey works well and the Lalvin 71-b strain seemed to be a good choice.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmclean View Post
    That is why I use these:

    Plastic Carboy
    Ooh, now that's something for the Xmas list next year... the only plastic ones I've got are opaque which is practically useless to me...
    "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

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Medsen Fey View Post
    I've made a traditional batch at 8% ABV that was moderately sweet and I enjoyed it a lot. I've got a cyser coming along that should be about 7.5% ABV for which I have high hopes.
    Medsen, how did this cyser turn out? do you have a brewlog or recipe you could point me towards to?
    "As happy as an Englishman with lalvin products!"

  19. #19
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    I don't have a brewlog posted for it, but I used only buckwheat honey (and not very much) and the honey does come through. I'm not really happy with it right now, but age may fix that. A little sweetening might help it as well - really dry cyser just doesn't suit me.
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
    (Past years are always better)

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Medsen Fey View Post
    I don't have a brewlog posted for it, but I used only buckwheat honey (and not very much) and the honey does come through. I'm not really happy with it right now, but age may fix that. A little sweetening might help it as well - really dry cyser just doesn't suit me.
    Sounds good, im partial to a decent dry cider, so perhaps its similar?
    "As happy as an Englishman with lalvin products!"

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