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Thread: Small batch (1 gallon) hydrometer readings

  1. Question Small batch (1 gallon) hydrometer readings

    Hello Everyone,

    Started my first batch this weekend. I am going for a medium traditional mead. I used the calculator to determin how much honey i meeded using d47 yeast to get 14% abv with fg of 1.010. I used weight but would have much rather used sg. Having only made a gallon batch what is the best way to measure sg and not use 2 - 5% of the volume to measure? I am doing my primary in a 2 gallon bucket and have no space for a traditional hydrometer. I have looked at using a refractometer but dont want to use all the fudge factors id much rather take a direct measurement. I read its good to take measurements periodically to see how things are progessing. If i did this with a graduated cylnder and a hydrometer i would be left with no mead at the end. Any sugestion or work arounds people have found would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Just make sure everything is clean and sanitized, then dump it back to the bucket when you are done making your measurement.

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    Will this introduce a lot of air if dumped back in?

  4. #4

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    You don't have to worry about oxygen in your must at this point. Actually it's quite beneficial because the yeast need oxygen in the initial 1st half or even more of your primary fermentation in order to build better cell walls.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  5. #5

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    If you haven’t done it yet, you may benefit from reading the Newbee guide

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    I have, I guess the question was more for the end of the fermentation in the primary. I understand areating in the begining few days or through the first 3rd as i have seen on here is good. Unfortunately not wanting to waste any i did not take a og reading but it should be close to 1.110 or so. It was calculated using the online calculator here. Ill just take some reading from hear on out and put back into the fermenter keeping sanitation in mind. Ill jusr pour along the edge when further along to prevent introducing to much air.

  7. #7

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    Oxygen to your must
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  8. #8
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    In the primary the yeast is burping out so much CO2 than there is little danger of your mead oxidizing. Think of oxidation as if it is the same process as rust. It takes more than a couple of minutes of unpainted iron to rust. Moreover, yeast will gobble up any oxygen as fast as it will be introduced in the primary. It's after all sugars have been fermented and the yeast have gone dormant and you are aging the mead in the secondary that you can be concerned about oxidation. That's why you want to rack (transfer) your mead from the primary into the secondary while there is still a few grains of residual sugar (and so a gravity above 1.000 - say 1.005 - 1.010); the yeast are still active (or should be ) and so they will take up any oxygen you introduce but you will introduce only a minuscule amount.

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    Awesome great info. To explore more on this point, if I want to finish at 1.010 should I wait for fermentation to stop(reach alcohol limit of yeast goal is 1.010) to rack or should I rack slightly early say 1.020? I want to finish medium/medium dry.

  10. #10

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    It's very difficult to hit the target of final gravity by racking at a particular time, at least with any consistency. The residual yeast suspended in the must might keep fermenting until the alcohol tolerance is reached. Or you might end up removing the bulk of the biomass and the yeast will not be able to continue, and you'll stay at 1.020. It's hard to say for sure, and there are a lot of other variables that might contribute.

    It's way easier to let it ferment until it is done. That might be 1.010, or it could be lower if your yeast keeps going. Sometimes they push past the expected alcohol tolerance. Once the gravity doesn't change over the course of several days, it's probably done. At that point it's very easy to stabilize and add more honey if you want it to be sweeter.
    Raisins are NOT nutrients for yeast... but french fries ARE!

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    Totally agree with Devin. Trying to stop an active fermentation is much like trying to catch a bullet between your teeth. Illusionists can do it but you shouldn't try it at home. And the way an illusionist MIGHT catch this bullet is in the following way. If you know what the published tolerance for alcohol is of your choice of yeast then use as much honey as gets very close to that limit. Don't exceed the limit yet... and when the yeast has managed to ferment every last grain of sugar then add a small but known additional amount of honey and watch to see if the yeast can deal with that and so repeat until you have exceeded the yeast's tolerance. By adding very small additions you then control the final sweetness (if you were to add say 1/4 lb of honey / gallon at a time then the mead would be no sweeter than about 9 points of sugar (.009) so you are in charge of the final sweetness and not the yeast or happenstance or luck. You can always add more honey if you prefer your mead sweeter but you are in charge.

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    I you're really worried about dumping mead back into the fermenter, do as I do. I simply sanitize the hydrometer and dump it into the fermenter. Spin it around and take some pics with my phone, and then I can easily see where it lies.

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    After everything said as long as I sanitize everything I am no longer as worried. I would do this is the fermentation bucket was taller and more narrow. in this case I would not be able to read anything. The hydrometer bottoms out.

    So I understand what you guys are saying about trying to stop a fermentation. I tried doing calculation with the tolerance of d47 in the 12-14 percent range. I used worse case as 14% for all my calculations.

    As far as back sweetening as mentioned, I have read some people say this taste more like candy and raw honey than mead is this true or even detectable?

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by dirk0529 View Post
    After everything said as long as I sanitize everything I am no longer as worried. I would do this is the fermentation bucket was taller and more narrow. in this case I would not be able to read anything. The hydrometer bottoms out.

    So I understand what you guys are saying about trying to stop a fermentation. I tried doing calculation with the tolerance of d47 in the 12-14 percent range. I used worse case as 14% for all my calculations.

    As far as back sweetening as mentioned, I have read some people say this taste more like candy and raw honey than mead is this true or even detectable?
    I am absolutely convinced that even though people claim they can I have yet to find anyone who can do thhis. You might be able to tell initially. But after a few weeks time for it to integrate I feel pretty certain no one can really tell. Ask any unicorn. They'll tell ya the same
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

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    You meam you can understand unicors. It all just sounds like gibberish to me.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by dirk0529 View Post
    You meam you can understand unicors. It all just sounds like gibberish to me.
    Most people don't know this. But Sasquatches can speak all animal languages quite fluently. In fact, I can speak unicorn in seventeen different languages.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirk0529 View Post

    So I understand what you guys are saying about trying to stop a fermentation. I tried doing calculation with the tolerance of d47 in the 12-14 percent range. I used worse case as 14% for all my calculations.
    So...You can do all the calculations you can think of and no matter how accurate your math, it won't dictate where your yeast will stop. Yeast can't do math, they won't read your equations and they don't always pay attention the alcohol content that's written on the package they're shipped in. Sometimes they stop way shorter than they should, sometimes they go way further than you expect... they'll stop where they stop and sometimes there's nothing you can do about it. This fallacy of stopping a fermentation by racking? Nope. The only time that might happen is if you wanted it to keep going. Most of the time, there's enough suspended yeast that you can't see (no matter how clear your must looks) to finish the job, and sometimes racking even invigorates the little yeasties and they'll suddenly start back up again (generally, especially when you wish they would just tap out).

    Once you've done the same recipe the same way several times, if it always stops in the same place, then you might be able to predict where it will stop, but all it would take is a warm day to throw that off.

    And with regards to backsweetening, different people have had different experiences with it and some people recommend backsweetening with a finished mead that was made too sweet and didn't ferment out all the way. I have backsweetened by just adding honey after stabilizing and I've never had it taste candylike or raw, but I've also never backsweetened to a very high gravity either, I don't think I've ever exceeded 1.015. And the final taste of it will very likely depend on the kind of honey you use, I could see orange blossom honey getting a bit candylike.

    If you're concerned about ruining a batch with raw honey flavour, do a small sample test... pour yourself a glass of the must in question and add honey in very small drips, mixing thoroughly, until you find the level of sweetness you want, and see if you also like the taste. If you do, great. If you don't, well, now you know, and you've only wasted a glass and not the whole batch... so get some more honey fermenting and make sure you use enough that it will outlast the yeast but not so much that the yeast can't get started (I generally don't start anything over about 1.135, and anything over 1.120 gets an acclimated starter). It just makes it a little more challenging to hit your target SG, but there are some tools on the Mead Batch Calculator that should help with the math.

    Good luck with your batch and I hope it comes out how you want it... if it doesn't, just ask, we can help fix 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
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  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    I am absolutely convinced that even though people claim they can I have yet to find anyone who can do thhis. You might be able to tell initially. But after a few weeks time for it to integrate I feel pretty certain no one can really tell. Ask any unicorn. They'll tell ya the same
    Now that I think about this, people a couple years back were probably right when they said that adding honey in the end to THEIR mead tasted candy-like or raw or fake. But here's the catch:
    I think those people were treating their yeast horribly and the yeast were producing some horrible stuff with all the honey nuances blown off. Their finished product was miles away from their starting point - the honey. Maybe it's not the honey backsweetening that tasted fake, but their mead which did not taste sufficiently mead-like. Nowadays we go to great lengths to preserve the honey character. In fact many here hammer in the idea that you should really master a traditional before other mead styles. That myth that you can imagine how your finished mead will taste like just by tasting the raw honey? Turns out it's not much of a myth at all.

    So when a person like Squatchy really takes care of the yeast and every step of the ferment, they end up with a mead which retains all the very best honey characteristics. Once honey is added to backsweeten the mead you can't tell much of a difference especially once everything melds together after a week or two.
    "Shouldn’t we say wine is a mead-like beverage made with grapes substituted for the honey?" - Steve Piatz

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stasis View Post
    Now that I think about this, people a couple years back were probably right when they said that adding honey in the end to THEIR mead tasted candy-like or raw or fake. But here's the catch:
    I think those people were treating their yeast horribly and the yeast were producing some horrible stuff with all the honey nuances blown off. Their finished product was miles away from their starting point - the honey. Maybe it's not the honey backsweetening that tasted fake, but their mead which did not taste sufficiently mead-like. Nowadays we go to great lengths to preserve the honey character. In fact many here hammer in the idea that you should really master a traditional before other mead styles. That myth that you can imagine how your finished mead will taste like just by tasting the raw honey? Turns out it's not much of a myth at all.

    So when a person like Squatchy really takes care of the yeast and every step of the ferment, they end up with a mead which retains all the very best honey characteristics. Once honey is added to backsweeten the mead you can't tell much of a difference especially once everything melds together after a week or two.
    I hadn't ever thought about it like that Stasis. But I must admit, that's brilliant. I think you are totally correct. Great job sir
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

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