Okay, so after an excessive amount of reading and watching mead how-to's online my brain got dizzy with all the conflicting information that virtually gave me whiplash! However, I really wanted to try my hand at making this drink that I've enjoyed for so long. My problem is that I'm very VERY poor so I limited my budget to what I determined to be the absolute necessities. These items included: Honey (10 lbs. split even-ish-ly into 3 3 liter carboys), spring water, frozen black cherries - crushed (about 1 cup for 1 of the 3 carboys), frozen blue berries - crushed (about 1 cup for carboy #2), yeast (I got Lalvin ec-1118 I'll explain why in a minute), StarSan, campden tablets, a funnel, and a auto-siphon. I already had several 3 liter glass wine bottles so I decided to use these since I can't afford those expensive 1 gallon carboys. So I have 3 of these fermenting ( since 6-28-2018 ) and I have 3 empty ones ready to rack into as secondaries. I unfortunately couldn't afford to get a hydrometer either, i really wanted one but I simply ran out of money from my savings

So first off, I just want to make the statement that I'm not looking for comments like "You shouldn't use ec-1118", I went with this yeast for two reasons, first: a few expert mead makers online said that they used it, and second: I have no way to really regulate a specific temperature in my house and I read that this yeast tolerated a wide range of temperatures unlike a few of the other yeasts I first considered. I'm trying to keep my fermentors as cool as possible but the temperature has slowly gone between about 83F and 78F. The outdoor temperatures have been up in the 90's lately and don't show any signs of changing any time soon.

Before I go on I have to say, for a drink that I was told is easy to make (just put water, honey and yeast in a bottle and wait) people sure make it REALLY complicated REALLY fast. I keep wondering to myself what thermometers the ancient vikings used and where they bought their StarSan from or their fancy plastic airlocks.

Anyway, now on to my questions. I'm mainly looking for helpful instruction from people that have successfully made mead with this yeast but anyone is of course welcome to chime in.

So first, I'm thinking about stopping my fermentation after 20 days from initial setup even if it's still going. Do you think that the yeast will have done enough of it's job by this time? I'd be happy with an ABV anywhere between 14% and 18% but I do want this to be a sweet or at least semi-sweet mead so I'll back sweeten it if I need to.

Secondly, I initially intended to stop the fermentation using the Campden tablets and refrigerating for about a week or so before racking into secondary (final stage in my case) but I have since read that ec-1118 can metabolize sulfite so without having to buy yet another product off line plus shipping is there something simple I could use to stop fermentation? Maybe something I can find at my local grocery store?

Thirdly, how long "really" until the mead is drinkable? I know it gets better with age but what I'm asking is when will it taste like mead and not like hot paint thinner? Also, since I'm wanting to stop the fermentation after 20 days can I just leave the secondary in the fridge? I've never read anything explaining why this would need to be not refrigerated, the yeast are out of the story at this point right? Is there something else going on that I haven't found an explanation for?

Thanks for any help you can give, if i can think of any other questions I'll be sure to ask you guys