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Old 06-28-2011, 01:01 PM   #1
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Default Iím now confused- Dry vs Sweet vs ABVÖ

Ok guys and Gals, time for my dumb question of the day…
So, I am now thoroughly confused about the terms “Dry” and “Sweet” as they relate to ABV. After doing some reading and research, I was under the impression that the higher the ABV, the “Drier” the mead. But, while doing some “field work” (Ok, so I was just drinking store bought mead to see what I liked before brewing a large batch) I now feel like the two terms have nothing to do with ABV. For instance, I tried one mead that was labeled as 19%ABV and it tasted very sweet and wet on the palate. Then I tried two others, labeled as “orange blossom” and “wild flower” that were 13% ABV and 14% ABV respectively. They were both less sweet and drier on the palate, with the orange blossom being the least sweet and driest tasting/ feeling. So, what gives? In the chase for higher ABV, did the maker just add too much honey, more than the yeast could ferment, resulting in some (or a lot) of it not being consumed, making a sweeter tasting mead? Or, was my initial understanding of the terminology flawed?

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Old 06-28-2011, 01:17 PM   #2
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Dry and sweet mead mostly refer to the Final Gravity. The terms don't have all that much to do with ABV.

Dry meads typically have have very low final gravity. 1.002 or less.

Sweet and semi-sweet meads tend to end around 1.010 and above.

There are different ways to stop the fermentation and a certain point. One is to add so much honey that the yeast simply cannot eat any more. This could result in a very high alcohol sweet mead. If the amount of honey is reduced a bit and the yeast eat up all the sugar, you can have about the same amount of alcohol and a very dry taste.

Different yeasts can be used to change the final gravity and chemicals can be added to stop the fermentation.

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Old 06-28-2011, 02:19 PM   #3
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thanks Wayne.

Quote:
If the amount of honey is reduced a bit and the yeast eat up all the sugar, you can have about the same amount of alcohol and a very dry taste.
That makes sense. So if I was looking for a very dry mead with a high ABV, the ideal situation would be to have the yeast eat the last bit of sugar as their "last meal"... Right before they die from alcohol poisoning. Does that sound right?

I guess the root of my question is that I’m looking for a high ABV mead with a dry mouth feel. My line of thinking, and I could be wrong here, is that I like a dry mouth feel, and I’m looking for a high ABV because I intent to barrel age it for a few years before bottling. I’m not afraid of making something “hot” because I’m thinking that the alcohol will mellow in the barrel but I’m afraid that the sugar may concentrate as some of the water evaporates. Once again, I’m not sure if this is accurate, but that is my line of thought.

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Old 06-30-2011, 01:56 AM   #4
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Dry mouthfeel is easy, just don't put in more honey than the yeast can handle - look to do around 2lb/gallon (maybe as high as 2.5/gallon). Get a high performing yeast - most wine yeasts will do. Again. Sweet mead is caused by not having the yeast eat all the sugar either by putting in to much, using a low tollerance yeast, or by adding stopping agents.

To get all out of your yeast, be sure to put in yeast nutrients. Like us, the yeast enjoy the sugar, but need other things (amino acid type stuff - usually just called nitrogen) to grow.

The barrel aging sound great.

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