View Full Version : Recipe Calculations Reality Check

02-17-2012, 02:22 AM
Second time mazering. I would appreciate it if someone (knowlegable;D) could check these numbers for me -- I'm fairly sure I have it right, but, shall we just say I ain't a number man.

I would like to make three meads: a whomping alchohol dry, and two mid-range alcohols, medium and sweet. I have a pack of Lalvin 71b-1122 and RedStar Pasteur Champagne. And some honey.

Here's where I need the number check:

Recipe 1: The Whomping Dry. RS Champagne Yeast goes to 18% alcohol, I have 4# of Mesquite which I was going to use. If I plug in 1 gallon and 4# into the Mead Making Calculator (MMC), it gives a final alcohol as 18.25%. Since the yeast only goes to 18%, I take the "leftover" .25% and go to the NewBee guide Appendix 6, and, extrapolating from the ABV% column, I see that .25% would give a gravity of about 1.002, which would mean I have a dry mead. I that basically correct?

For the next two recipes I was going to make a starter and propagate the yeast, so I will be using Lalvin 71b-1122 for both which is listed as 14% alcohol tolerance.

Recipe 2: Middle of the Road Squared. According to the "sweetness table," a good final gravity for a medium mead would be 1.010. Checking the Appendix 6 table I see that the alcohol by volume for that would be 1.3%. Since the yeast will quit at 14%, then I add the 1.3% to get 15.3%. Plugging into the MMC 1 Gallon and 15.3% it gives me a starting gravity of 1.118, or about 3.3# of honey. Since I'm not about to weigh out .3 lb of honey, I can just shoot for the gravity. Is all this correct?

Recipe 3: Sweeeet! Same style of calculation as Recipe 2. A finish of around 1.020 is 2.6% alcohol added to the 14% for the yeast gives me 16.6%, plugged into the MMC gives me starting gravity of 1.129 or about 3.6# of honey.

Is I got the concept? :confused2: I understand that the final results will be dependent upon many other factors but you get the idea.

My final question, er, penultimate question: can I really trust the yeast to go to its listed attenuation (given its a "normal" fermention, e.g., not stuck, or messed up, or...), or should I give it a couple percent "wiggle room?" If that is the case, my "dry" could easily end up "medium." Of course I would still drink it. ;D

Final question, I promise: in the Mead Making Calculator, if I add, say, blueberry JUICE, can I just put in the number of ounces, and it will "know" that I'm using juice? Or is it designed to use weight for fruit?

Thanks in advance -- I really did do all the searching, and indeed did find answers, but I'm easily confused!

02-17-2012, 09:06 AM
You have it basically right, but there's one big problem.... yeast are unpredictable creatures. Sometimes they go over their intended alcohol tolerance, sometimes they don't get close. Trying to make it to 18% ABV is very tough with any yeast and is likely to stall out early.

Instead of aiming to finish at a specific gravity put in enough fermentables to reach a specific ABV then ferment completely dry. Try to keep the ABV low. The higher the ABV the longer it takes to age out. A high ABV dry mead is tricky for experienced mazers.

Instead aim for 12-14% ferment completely dry, then back-sweeten a year down the road to achieve the desired sweetness.

02-18-2012, 12:21 AM
Your numbers are fine, though as we all know yeast are not exactly predictable on the home scale. The only times I've ever gotten 18% abv, I was aiming for 14%. The advice to aim lower, especially at first when you're just getting your feet wet, is very sound. Trust me, you won't really miss the 18% dry mead anytime soon. Once you get a handle on fermentation management, you can go after the knock-you-down mead.

02-18-2012, 12:26 AM
Trust me, you won't really miss the 18% dry mead anytime soon.

You also won't likely be able to drink it anytime soon. With increasing ethanol content, comes increased yeast stress. That often results in the production of higher concentrations of fusel (higher order) alcohols, and harsh tasting phenolics. Those compounds eventually break down into less nasty tasting stuff, but that can take a while (months or years).

02-20-2012, 09:35 AM
Thanks for the advice, all. I think I will abandon the idea of an 18 percenter and head more towards a 14 or so, such as Loadnabox recommends. Good thoughts too regarding the fusil alcohols --hadn't thought of that . As I said, I needed a reality check! Good to have you guys around :occasion14: