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Thread: What to do with a watery mead?

  1. #1

    Default What to do with a watery mead?

    Good morning all,
    Last september I started a JAO, not my first, then racked in december to age (for a change). Noticed it is quite watery, flavours good but weak. Looking back I think I used too much water. Left for 6 months, still watery.

    I am thinking of splitting it down to 1 gallon demijohns and experimenting with different ways to salvage this batch. Or should I just use it to blend another batch?

    Any ideas appreciated.


  2. #2


    That's too little information. I don't know what the SG was and what type of honey was used. If the batch is way too watery because of SG (adding too much water) your best bet would be to blend it with new batches which you intentionally make much stronger. If the batch tastes watery because you used cheap honey perhaps it is best not to blend it especially if the new batch uses more expensive/authentic honey. Maybe use some (or all? I don't know how much you have) for topping off
    "Shouldn’t we say wine is a mead-like beverage made with grapes substituted for the honey?" - Steve Piatz

  3. #3


    Sorry, I used 17.5 lbs of good quality raw local honey, which is very nice. We have the benifit in the UK that honey can only be honey, even the cheap stuff. I have made several batches of JAO, both 1 & 5 gallon batches, as well as other recipes. I did not take any hydrometer readings (never do with JAO).

    I have realised that I used too much water initally. I used the markings on the side of the fermenter instead of measuring out (as I usualy do) and filled to 25L instead of 23L.

    A little grating to think that my schoolboy error might have ruined it.

  4. #4


    17.5lbs in 25 liters should not make a watery mead if the honey was of a good variety and of good quality.

    Quality rant:
    I would never say that honey can only be honey even with the strictest regulations in place. Even the best laboratories find it difficult to be sure that honey is not tampered with in certain cases. Labels should be taken with some skepticism from my experience unless it says something undesirable about the honey. When it says something positive it could easily be a lie.

    However, I was not even necessarily referring to authenticity of honey. Certain honey varietals have less taste than others. In general the lighter honey varietals are a bit more bland. For example I'm told clover honey is quite bland.
    Perhaps it is tasting watery because the mead finished more dry than you are used to. It could still be of interest to take hydrometer reading even with Jaoms. Depending on your final gravity you might want to stabilize and backsweeten even though it goes against jaom guidelines. You might also want to add oak
    "Shouldn’t we say wine is a mead-like beverage made with grapes substituted for the honey?" - Steve Piatz

  5. #5


    Fair point about the honey, the local stuff I used is about medium on the strength of taste. I have used it before with good results. I made a 1 gallon batch at the same time (omitted the orange and added a little ginger) which turned out lovely.

    I will check the FG as you suggest, I will be supprised if it did finnish dry though, as I have used the same bread yeast every time and it always finnishes fairly sweet. But anything is possible, I suppose bread yeast can be just as unpredictable as any yeast.
    If it is dry I will back sweeten, also going to use some whisky oak chips, could be interesting.

    Just as a thought, how about adding more honey and some wine yeast/nutrient to restart fermentantion. Would that be a thing, or a bad idea. Just spit balling.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Brookline, NH


    Bread Yeast has an alcohol tolerance of around 11% - 12%.

    A "normal" JAOM uses 3.5 lbs of honey in a 1 gallon batch, which means you would have an approx. SG = 1.126. If you use bread yeast, per the recipe, you will end up with a FG = 1.035 (approx).

    17.5lbs in 25 liters has an approx. SG = 1.095. Bread yeast will eat most of the sugar and leave you with a FG=1.005 (approx).

    That's a huge difference in leftover sweetness and is why you perceive it as being "watery".

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Saratoga Springs , NY


    Hi Blakey - and welcome. By "watery" , what exactly do you mean? Do you mean that it provides no sense of alcohol or do you mean that it goes down like water and does not sorta kinda coat your mouth? If the former and your mead fermented dry-ish then it should be about 12% ABV. That ain't Tallisker but it's not a session beer either. Did you take a gravity reading? That should tell you how close to its potential ABV it reached. Bread yeast can hit 12% with no problem, I think.
    If the latter then that is all about "mouthfeel" and mouthfeel is all about viscosity. And viscosity is improved in several ways - Some yeast, for example, are noted for their ability to produce "glycerols" which make a wine (or mead) more viscous (viscous - not vicious ) But you can increase viscosity by adding glycerin and if the mead is very dry by stabilizing the mead and adding more honey (or sugar)

  8. #8


    Hi all.

    Thanks for all the replies, quick update.

    I have just taken a gravity reading 1.003, so it finished dryer than I am used to. Having just tasted it again, it is not as bad as I thought. I don't think it helped that last time I had also tasted my other mead, which is sweet, before this one.

    It is lacking some viscosity, but the taste is quite good.

    I think I will split this down into 1-gallon batches and do the following:

    1. One I will leave as is, for another 6 months.
    2. One will be lightly back sweetened.
    3. One back sweetened and whisky oak added.
    4. One just whiskey oak added.
    5. Last one ill use glycerin.

    Looking forward to seeing what happens.

    Thanks again, everyone.

  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by Blakey View Post

    Looking forward to seeing what happens.

    Thanks again, everyone.
    Sounds like a plan. Try to remember to check back and let us know what you found out.
    Raisins are NOT nutrients for yeast... but french fries ARE!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Miami Beach, FL


    Any news? I'm curious about the glycerin. there is also a product on the market called "wine conditioner" or something like that that is specifically formulated to help with mouthfeel. Actually, wine conditioner is usually a back-sweetening product that contains sugar and sorbate. I'm thinking about something else...

    Here it is...

  11. #11


    Hi all, update time.
    I back sweetened two demijohns, both to 1.014, which worked out fine, then added 1oz of whisky oak chips to one of them. Left to infuse for 2 weeks. One was oaked for the same amount of time, but not back sweetened. One had a couple of drops of Glycerin. Last one has been left alone.

    The back sweetend one is just where I wanted it and the back sweetend with the oak is better than I expected. Will be using oak again.

    The one that was just oaked, I think, is my favourite, really good flavour.

    Lastly the glycerin, did just what it said on the tin, added a bit of body, no discernable effect on taste.

    All will now be left until Christmas until I bottle.

    Sorry there is no deep and meaningful tasting notes, not my strong point. If it tastes nice, I like it, simple.

    Totally looking forward to Christmas this year.

    Thanks again everyone who commented.


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Saratoga Springs , NY


    You might find that the tannins extracted from the oak will provide more mouthfeel too, as does a sweeter finish: the more unfermented sugar, the thicker (more syrupy) the mead will taste.

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