View Full Version : Reducing ABV after ferment

12-07-2007, 09:42 PM
Is there any simple way to reduce alcohol content in mead after fermentation? In the event that I decide to overhoney from the start is there any way to reduce the alcohol if it gets too high? As in, if I want a target of 12.5 and I put the D47 in more honey than necessary to produce 14 and it gets higher than that, is there any way to reduce alcohol back down to around 12.5 without having to dilute?

Once again I'm starting to change my mind about backsweetening now that I've read a few more threads. I'm not so sure I want a more pronounced straight clover honey flavor in the cranberry mead but rather want a marriage of the honey & crannberry.

12-07-2007, 11:56 PM
Dilution's the only straightforward way that I know to do it. Any other processes to remove alcohol usually involve vacuum distillation (i.e. pumping down the vessel it's in until you reach the point at which the ethanol with some water is pulled out of solution) or sub-micron filtration to remove only the alcohol and water. Then the alcohol is distilled off and the remaining liquid (mostly water, but with some wine components left in it) is added back. Both of these processes are not something that the average homebrewer can accomplish.

12-08-2007, 01:30 AM
Won't simple heating (without boiling) also preferentially drive off alcohol? Not sure how you'd figure out how long to heat it, but it should lower the ABV.

Or, if it's still fermenting but almost done...

How do you feel about chemicals? You can kill the fermentation early to cap the ABV at 12.5 with the cold + sulfite + sorbate three-pronged attack. My first mead was a cyser with these instructions and it worked like a charm.

Alternately you can cold crash the mead, rack and keep it cold, rack again, keep it cold and add some fining agents, rack again, etc. With some luck you'll get the yeast to drop out without chemicals and leave some sugar behind.

12-08-2007, 06:19 AM
don't think I'll be able to boil it...
OK I guess I gotta do it bone dry th back sweeten.


12-08-2007, 12:33 PM
I did a 9% mead that is good (not great) in 4 weeks with D47. I let it go until it was about 9% then cold crashed it. Racked off. Sulfite and sorbate. Added a bit more fruit juice to sweeten it a bit. Had to hit it with some bentonite as it refused to clear (I am sure it would have done fine if I had more time for it). It cleared pretty well. If I had more time, I'd throw in some pectin enzyme as I used a ton of organic fruit juices and some of them must have had the pectin set as there is a bit of a haze that is visible when the mead is in a bottle. It looks fine in a glass tho. Drinks like a medium dry low acid fruit wine with a bit of honey in the nose. Good with food. Not one of my IMF entries.

This all was in about 2 weeks. It has been sitting for about 2 weeks now. It is certainly not one of my finest mead - but I don't care if folks drink it while eating a potluck meal. I made it for a couple of Holiday parties where there was going to be a lot of other things to drink and much noshing.

Another idea is to use a lower alcohol beer(ale) yeast. I have done this as well. It works fine. Look for a clean fermenting yeast - I think I used a Edme type. It was done in 3 weeks with a whole lot less work and was about 7%. Blend must, pitch yeast, feed a bit of FermaidK at about 24 hours, rack off at 2 weeks, drink at 3. Again, not my finest mead. But a good "lawnmower" mead to drink at a summer party. I have even mixed this with (gasp!) fruit juice and sparkling water to make a Mead Cooler that was about 3%.

Now, all this being said: don't write to ask me for the recipes. I didn't do any. These were both Impulse Brews and I was just sort of bumbling along trying one thing or another. The Mead Police did not break down my door!


12-08-2007, 01:28 PM
Leonora, you should be commended for your experimentalist spirit, certainly not censured! No worries about the "mead police." :icon_thumleft:

You've just been gathering lots of experience in the production of various hydromels -- and they all sound like a yummy quaff after a hot day's work, or as good vehicles to introduce the uninitiated into the world of mead! :cheers:

And Akueck, to answer your question -- yes, you could simply heat the whole mixture to drive off some of the ethanol, but significant vaporization of the alcohol components doesn't occur until you raise the temperature of the batch to around 173F (at standard sea level atmospheric pressure). That's hot enough to denature many of the flavor components in the mead, and you'll be left with something less than tasty as a result.