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Thread: Really Strong Mead

  1. Default Really Strong Mead

    I just started brewing a couple of months ago and (using the recipe and instructions I found) it is getting close to the time to bottle. I made a 1 gallon batch just to test it out. I racked it the other day for the second time and it started to become clear. I decided to take a taste of it and it is extremely strong.

    The recipe I used said 2.5lbs of honey. Now that I look at other recipes I can see that that isn't very much honey. Should I add more honey to it? Or perhaps some water to dilute it? I asked my grandfather who used to make wine all the time and he said that I could probably just put some honey or maple syrup in the bottom of the cup when you pour it and that over time the taste will weaken.

    What should I do?

  2. #2
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    Welcome! This is still a very, very... very young mead. For the first 6 months or so, a mead will seem much more alcoholic and "rough" than it really is, so your grandfather is right, time will fix this. Adding more honey before bottling can be extremely dangerous, so again he is right - if you want it sweeter, mixing to taste in the glass is a great option.

    Do you have a hydrometer? This is the single most important tool for fermenting, and will let you know for sure whether you're safe to bottle or not, and tell you what is really happening in a fermentation, much more accurate than taste, or watching bubbles!
    ~AToE (A Thing of Eternity... it's a nerd thing...)

    AKA: Alan H

  3. Default

    I do not have a hydrometer. Like I said this is my first time and so I wanted to just start small in order to see if it was something I wanted to get into. There is a wine making store near my house and I take it I could probably get my hands on one from there. I'll stop by in the next couple of days and see if I cant pick one up. I'm really enjoying brewing and I think its going to become a new hobby of mine!

    Once I get a hydrometer I'll report back. (I have no clue how to use it or what I'm looking for and I don't know if it has instructions to tell me :P)

  4. #4
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mikejones View Post
    Once I get a hydrometer I'll report back. (I have no clue how to use it or what I'm looking for and I don't know if it has instructions to tell me :P)
    See NewBee Guide Appendix 9 (link is in the column to the left).

    With 2.5 pounds of honey (if this is a 1-gallon batch), the ABV here isn't very high. It tastes "hot" and harsh because it is dry, new, and probably had a somewhat stressful fermentation (especially if the temperature was on the high side). Aging will definitely help, though it may not cure all the ills. One of the downsides to this hobby is sometimes having to wait 2 years to see if what you did worked.
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
    (Past years are always better)

  5. #5
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    Definitely check out that newbee guide, but also feel free to post whatever the hydrometer reads now in this thread, if you're still having trouble understanding what the reading means we'll sort you out!
    ~AToE (A Thing of Eternity... it's a nerd thing...)

    AKA: Alan H

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Medsen Fey View Post
    probably had a somewhat stressful fermentation (especially if the temperature was on the high side)
    I do all this in my basement which is a pretty cool temperature year round so I don't think it was because of high temperature. I will for sure check out that newbee guide. From what I read on a different site however, it said less honey equals more alcohol. I don't understand exactly how it all works but I'm sure I will learn in due time. I had started two other batches around the time I did this one but I used almost double the honey. I've racked them once and they aren't due for another rack for another few weeks.

    I am getting a hydrometer tonight so I'll post what I get later.

    Thank you all for your help. I'm being 100% honest when I tell you that this is one of the nicest and most mature forums I have visited. Thanks again!

  7. #7
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    Mature?

    Uh oh...he clearly hasn't seen a thread devolve into really bad puns, has he?!

    Welcome, mikejones! I've a colleague whose name is also mikejones, and that's what his students call him, not Mr. Jones, but mikejones.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikejones View Post
    ...I decided to take a taste of it and it is extremely strong.

    What should I do?
    It's just the EtOH burn...


    "If I could save time in a bottle..."
    Making Mead With TLC since 2010

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikejones View Post
    From what I read on a different site however, it said less honey equals more alcohol.
    What site is that? That's exactly backward! (Well, past a certain point sure you'll get lower alcohol from more honey, because there's so much it stresses the yeast out, but that's extreme situations).

    Yeast eat sugar and turn it into CO2 and alcohol is the simple version - so more sugar = more alcohol.
    ~AToE (A Thing of Eternity... it's a nerd thing...)

    AKA: Alan H

  10. Default

    Thanks all for the welcomes and contribution. To ATOE, I cannot remember the website since it was about three months ago that I was last on it but thank you for clearing that up with me. What do you figure the alcohol level will be in my mead then?

    To Wildoates, I get called that all the time, not Michael or Mike but Mike Jones. Damn the rapper and his narcissism!

    Also second update... I don't know if I'm getting the hydrometer tonight XD My life is like a roller coaster sometimes and I never know what's going to happen next. Unfortunately, the roller coaster never ends :/. Que "highlight of my life" comments. lol

  11. #11
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    Well we can't really know the alcohol level for sure until we know the current gravity reading, otherwise we don't know for sure whether all the sugar available was fermented. Since you didn't get a gravity at the beginning we'll only be able to get a ballpark figured out, but it'll be pretty close.
    ~AToE (A Thing of Eternity... it's a nerd thing...)

    AKA: Alan H

  12. #12

    Default

    According to the mead calculator, 2.5 pounds in 1 gallon would give an estimated SG of 1.089

    If Fermented down to 0.998 this would give an ABV of 11.85%
    #! /bin/ksh
    export PATH
    CLI=`whoami`
    Signature()
    {for i in $CLI^Jdo^Jecho yes $i my .sig inhales^Jdone}

  13. #13
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    There you go, that's about your maximum ABV right now - once you get a hydrometer reading we'll know for sure whether it actually fermented that far or if it's lower ABV right now.

    It's almost certain to have fermented fully though, 2.5lbs isn't a whole crazy amount of honey for the yeast to have eaten, and 12% ABV is well below the alcohol tolerance of most yeasts... which yeast did you use by the way?
    ~AToE (A Thing of Eternity... it's a nerd thing...)

    AKA: Alan H

  14. Default

    I used a regular baker's yeast that it told me to in the simple tutorial. starts with an F I cant remember it exactly right now. I went to the winery the other day (without any money of course :/) and got some prices at least so I plan on making other batches with proper brewer's yeast.

    Internet tells me however, that the yeast I used should be fine. I'm not expecting super high quality mead of course, I just wanted to experiment in some new things.

  15. #15
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    Oh yeah should be fine for sure.
    ~AToE (A Thing of Eternity... it's a nerd thing...)

    AKA: Alan H

  16. #16

    Default

    With a baker's yeast, depending on the particular brand, you're going to be right at the bottom end of it's alcohol tolerance.

    If you're bottling this and it isn't below 1.000 SG, be sure that the SG remains constant for a couple of weeks first since there's the possibility this could go a bit more than where it is right now.

    Also, re-reading the OP, 5 pounds in 1 gallon of honey (In your first trial batches) would make an SG of 1.180 which even wine yeasts would struggle to eat through and probably make some off tastes in the process.
    Last edited by Loadnabox; 06-21-2011 at 01:45 PM.
    #! /bin/ksh
    export PATH
    CLI=`whoami`
    Signature()
    {for i in $CLI^Jdo^Jecho yes $i my .sig inhales^Jdone}

  17. Default

    So how much do you think I should put in a 1 gallon batch? The other's I made (I checked my notes) I used about 4.6lbs. Is that too much now? Damn, this mead making thing is harder than I expected! lol

  18. #18
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    Unless its a specific recipe, such as JAO, I use between 3 and 3 1/2 lb per gallon (imperial i.e. 4.55 ltrs)

    But It's probably better to mix the batch using a hydrometer to check it in stages..... then you won't over do it and end up with a problem.
    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.....

  19. Default

    What happens then if there is too much honey?

    Also while I'm posting, how does a hydrometer work? Like, what do the numbers mean? (i.s 1.1106) I don't understand how a 1.X number translates into X.X% alcohol.

  20. #20

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mikejones View Post
    What happens then if there is too much honey?

    Also while I'm posting, how does a hydrometer work? Like, what do the numbers mean? (i.s 1.1106) I don't understand how a 1.X number translates into X.X% alcohol.

    Hydrometer just measures the density of a liquid. The same goal can be reached by weighing your must.

    1 litre of water weighs 1Kg making an SG of...... 1.000 (tada!)

    1 litre of honey weighs 1.425Kg for an Sg of... 1.425

    1 liter of pure alcohol weighs 0.789Kg for an Sg of 0.789

    So adding honey (sugar) to a must makes the SG go up. As the honey is fermented into alcohol the weight goes down.

    A hydrometer is just a really easy way of getting this measurement without pulling out a scale and trying to get exactly to 1 liter of must every time you weigh (another variable that could skew your answer)

    If you have a starting SG you know essentially how much sugar is in your must available for the yeast to feast. Other people having already done the sugar to alcohol math for us, we can then calculate what the ABV will be if the yeast ferment it all the way down to 1.000. Or, if it's a brew where you know there's enough sugar that the yeast will hit their alcohol tolerance first, your can guess where it will end, but this is really more of a SWAG than anything.

    In the end, the real measure is when the SG stops moving (fermentation done) then you take your SG reading, and if you're like me plug it into the calculator and enjoy the fruits of other people's labor. If you want to get really scientific, google "How to calculate ABV" and you can get the math formula. Personally I'm too lazy

    As for the amount of honey in a batch: Putting too much honey in can lead to off tastes, slow fermentations and early end of fermentation. This is because it's so thick, that the yeast have trouble eating and moving stressing them out. They exert too much energy early on and end up doing weird things.

    I could be wrong on this point so I'll let others correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to recall that most agree 4 pounds of honey to 1 gallon of water is about the most you want to go for a healthy fermentation. This puts the SG around 1.160 - 1.170 maximum. Anything denser than that and it becomes a craps shoot.
    #! /bin/ksh
    export PATH
    CLI=`whoami`
    Signature()
    {for i in $CLI^Jdo^Jecho yes $i my .sig inhales^Jdone}

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