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-   -   High OG for Mead? (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f30/high-og-mead-404633/)

Thunder_Chicken 04-13-2013 12:04 AM

High OG for Mead?
 
I just put together a 1-gallon batch of simple mead with Montrachet yeast and I think I may have overdone the amount of honey.

The mixture is 3 lbs of clover honey with 3 qts. of water yielding a total volume of 1 gallon. I did not take a hydrometer reading but from the definition of gravity I have 9 lbs of must (3 lbs of honey and 6 lbs of water) occupying the volume normally occupied by 8 lbs of water, so my OG must be 9/8 = 1.125.

I used these amounts as I have read 3 lbs per gallon is a typical amount of honey, but I think this may mean 3 lbs per gallon of water, which would give a gravity of (3 lb + 8lb)/(2 lb + 8lb) more like 1.100.

From what I've heard Montrachet is good up to about 13% ABV and so this amount of honey would leave me with a sweet mead, but perhaps now it will be too sweet. If I had an OG of 1.100 it would finish up with an FG of about 1.010, but with an OG of 1.125 it will peter out at 1.040. That sounds pretty sweet to me as that would be a fair gravity for an ale wort.

This batch is for SWMBO and she likes sweet meads, but I am concerned that this is going to be like drinking honey syrup and perhaps might be overwhelmingly sticky sweet.

If the consensus is that this will be an OK sweet mead then I'll let it ride. Otherwise I'll need to think about what to do with this batch. Options would be to add 1 qt of boiled and cooled water to the must, but then I'll have 1.25 gallons and will need to figure out a new fermenter with appropriate headspace, or maybe repitching with a different yeast once the Montrachet runs its course, or even perhaps bottle-pasteurizing the current must and repitching new yeast. Any thoughts?

Thunder_Chicken 04-14-2013 12:07 AM

Anybody? Is this even a plausible sack mead?

biochemedic 04-14-2013 01:21 AM

3 lbs honey per 1 gal volume is pretty standard, and yes, 1.125 could potentially be right but probably a bit high. Without a gravity measurement, you're really flying in the dark... The pppg contribution of honey varies a bit from as low as 35 or 36 to as high as 42...I generally use about 38 for estimations, so I would guess that you're probably down in the 1.1teens.

Yeast doesn't know what it's rated tolerance is, so what you'll end up with depends on your fermentation conditions...if you're using proper nutrients and aerated well, and degas during primary you could push the FG down farther than you think. Fortunately with 5 gm dry yeast in a gallon, you actually have a good pitch rate, and if you rehydrated the yeast first, so much the better...

Without nutrients and other good fermentation management...well, you could stick even higher than 1.040...

If you do end up too sweet, you could consider making a very dry mead to back blend to taste before bottling...

Thunder_Chicken 04-14-2013 01:58 AM

The OG gravity must have been right about 1.125, straight from the known weights and volumes of the honey and water.

I did aerate by vigorously sloshing and shaking the jug as I added the must. I did hydrate the yeast per package directions. I also chopped and boiled a 1/4 cup of preservative-free raisins and added them.

If I were to make a dry mead to blend, wouldn't the yeast in the dry batch (likely still alive as they were able to attenuate to dryness) start fermenting the surplus honey in the current batch? Not that this is a bad solution, but if I were to do that without additives I would have to wait for the fermentation in the blend to complete before bottling, right?

JFK 04-14-2013 05:50 AM

If you didnt wait you would end up with either grenade bottles or a sparkling mead. I do a lot of high starting gravity meads. I find that adding nutrient supplements helps the yeast bring the gravity down I add adictions the first few days if neccisary but I also make big starters for my high gravity meads.

biochemedic 04-14-2013 01:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Thunder_Chicken (Post 5106129)
The OG gravity must have been right about 1.125, straight from the known weights and volumes of the honey and water.

You can't tell your OG from weight of honey and volume! You're assuming your honey contributed 42 gravity points per pound per gallon (pppg), and I'm telling you, not all honey has that much sugar! 1.038 pppg is much more average, and it can be even a little lower than that. I honestly have never come across a honey that actually is 1.042 pppg, although for some reason that's what some recipe calculators are set at... The only way to know your OG (and subsequently estimate your ABV) is to actually measure your OG! From there you can back calculate the true PPPG for your particular honey (which can be useful if you have a larger amount of honey from a given source that you will make multiple batches from.)

Quote:

Originally Posted by Thunder_Chicken (Post 5106129)
I did aerate by vigorously sloshing and shaking the jug as I added the must. I did hydrate the yeast per package directions. I also chopped and boiled a 1/4 cup of preservative-free raisins and added them.

Good so far, but mead does best with staggered nutrient additions...you may want to consider adding more nutrients over the first 2-3 days of fermentation. Raisins will add some nutrients, but probably aren't enough on their own.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Thunder_Chicken (Post 5106129)
If I were to make a dry mead to blend, wouldn't the yeast in the dry batch (likely still alive as they were able to attenuate to dryness) start fermenting the surplus honey in the current batch? Not that this is a bad solution, but if I were to do that without additives I would have to wait for the fermentation in the blend to complete before bottling, right?

Only if you don't stabilize the sweet mead...but yes, if you didn't add sorbate and metabisulfate, you could potentially restart fermentation.

Thunder_Chicken 04-14-2013 05:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by biochemedic (Post 5106938)
You can't tell your OG from weight of honey and volume!

Yes you can; that is the fundamental definition of specific gravity.

3 lbs of honey occupied one quart.
6 lbs of water were added yielding a total volume of 1 gallon.

I have 9 lbs of must (3 lbs of honey and 6 lbs of water) occupying the volume normally occupied by 8 lbs of water, so my OG must be (9 lbs/gal)/(8 lbs/gal) = 1.125. No guessing or assuming anything at all.

Quote:

Originally Posted by biochemedic (Post 5106938)
Good so far, but mead does best with staggered nutrient additions...you may want to consider adding more nutrients over the first 2-3 days of fermentation. Raisins will add some nutrients, but probably aren't enough on their own.

I have some old ale yeast that I could boil and cool to add nutrients. If at all possible I'd like to do this without any chemical additions such as sulfites.

So bottom line is that this OG isn't necessarily fatal, but I will have to pay attention to keeping a good environment for the yeast?

JFK 04-14-2013 07:22 PM

Bottom line. Correct.

Thunder_Chicken 04-14-2013 08:01 PM

OK. Thanks for the checks. I can feed it some dead ale yeast today and I'll try to keep the yeasts happy. It's cranking away pretty merrily right now.

p4ttythep3rf3ct 04-14-2013 08:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Thunder_Chicken (Post 5107543)
Yes you can; that is the fundamental definition of specific gravity.

3 lbs of honey occupied one quart.
6 lbs of water were added yielding a total volume of 1 gallon.

I have 9 lbs of must (3 lbs of honey and 6 lbs of water) occupying the volume normally occupied by 8 lbs of water, so my OG must be (9 lbs/gal)/(8 lbs/gal) = 1.125. No guessing or assuming anything at all.



I have some old ale yeast that I could boil and cool to add nutrients. If at all possible I'd like to do this without any chemical additions such as sulfites.

So bottom line is that this OG isn't necessarily fatal, but I will have to pay attention to keeping a good environment for the yeast?

Honey contains water. Your SG estimation is off.

EDIT: To answer your question, nutrient additions are especially important for Sack strength meads. Shoot for 300+ YAN. I recently made a batch with OG of 1.145 and only gave it about 225ish YAN, it was and is still sluggishly fermenting it way to completion, even after repitching with a more ABV tolerant yeast.


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