View Full Version : 14% alcohol in 79 minutes?

11-19-2003, 07:08 PM
Just curious here.

On their website, a South African meadery claims that it "uses a patented, state of the art continuous reactor for fermentation instead of the traditional batch methods. Whereas a batch method will take several months to ferment honey, the Makana Meadery method is capable of going from 0 to 14% alcohol in just 79 minutes."


How is this possible? I've never heard of anything like this before. I stumbled across this website while trying to research (with no luck) a tribal Kenyan mead.

11-20-2003, 07:48 PM
A couple of things stand out when I look at that website...

(Warning, non-scientific WAGs ahead)

1) If it's a continous process, they're never really completely back at 0% alcohol to start, so saying that they go from zero to 14% is a misnomer, isn't it?

2) A few paragraphs down they mention that their mead is only 13%. If they ferment to 14%, are they cutting it with something?

3) They say that because it "contains 13% ethanol and no measurable contaminant alcohols. This means that true to its traditional reputation it will not give one a hangover". Um, you drink to much of anything with alcohol, you get a hangover (Sadly, been there, done that), even triple distilled vodka shooters.

Sorry, more questions than answers...

Dearborn, MI

11-24-2003, 08:02 PM
I emailed the mead maker with this question, and received a reply. I subsequently asked him if I could post his response here, and am waiting for his reply. So I will either post it in total, or attempt to summarize.

I also sent him an email link to this site, perhaps he will reply in person.

12-08-2003, 09:17 PM
Did you ever get permission to print that response? I am pretty interested from a purely intellectual standpoint on what he said. If not, and you don't feel comfortable posting it directly, why not just summarize and give us a peek? ;-)

12-10-2003, 07:18 PM
I never heard back from the meadmaker. Here's his response...

In a continuous fermentor unfermented substrate is added at a constant rate
and removed at a constant rate. In our case we use a tower or columnar
fermentor in which the unfermented must is pumped into the base of the
fermentor at a constant rate and removed from an expanded area at the top at
a constant rate. The tower consists of a tube with a narrow section which
after a distance packed with yeast bed, and then a clear section, opens up
into an expander section. In this section, the rapidly rising and yeast mix
meets a larger volume of liquid - the gas rises up but slows a bit, the
liquid and yeast which is moving upwards largely due to the flow of gas,
hits this space and slows down, causing it to recirculate to the sides and
get sucked back to the active yeast bed. We regulate the flow rate such that
the must flows through the bed at exactly the rate at which fermentation
occurs - hence the must floats on top of sequentially more dense 'slices'
that move through the yeast bed and when completely fermented, leave it. In
this way we ferment our mead from 0% alc to 12-13% in about 79 minutes. In
my small lab fermentor we go at a flow rate of 5.4 l (about a gallon) a day,
my larger scale up at 20l/dal and my full scale at 340l/day.

The advantage of this fermentation is that it is highly controlled for the
primary fermentation and as a result the chances of contamination are
minimised. We have run one of these fermentors for 2 years without changing
the yeast and there was no contamination.

12-10-2003, 09:30 PM
That is probably the most complicated method to making mead I have ever heard of! lol, it rocks. It makes for a pretty interesting read and I am still trying to get the visual image, of what is going on, correct in my head. Thanks for posting that... gives me something to mull over rather than work on finishing the next 400 pages of this book that is due in 7 hours.

12-11-2003, 03:07 AM
:)What a great life those yeasties must be having. One never ending flow of delicious honey. ;D

12-11-2003, 08:34 AM
Man, the type of alcoholic I could be. Just drop honey and water in one end, and sit at the bottom of the other while watching the tv. If I could get a constant flow, and someone to reload, I would never need to move again. ;-)

I am sure it is rough as heck though. Might want to age it 158 minutes for better flavor. ;-)