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Old 04-01-2012, 10:38 PM   #1
Woldemar
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Default Semi-Sweet Mead Mistake

I am attempting to make a semi-sweet pure California Orange Blossom mead. I used 12.5 lbs of honey in a 5 gallon batch, but pitched a batch of yeast intended for a dry mead. My yeast - Premier Cuvee. I'd really rather experience a semi-sweet mead with this particular batch of honey, and I'd prefer (but am now open to, if necessary) to avoid any additions of acid or potassium sorbate. Given that this yeast can tolerate alcohol levels of up to 18%, I'm assuming that I need to/could add significant amounts of additional honey? But how much? 2.5 lbs? 7.5? Any advice is appreciated! I am 5 days into primary fermentation.

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Old 04-01-2012, 11:56 PM   #2
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I made the mistake of adding way too much yeast that was intended to be dry and here's how i fixed it. I racked every 2 weeks until i saw little to no lees. This took 3 times, i believe. then add some more fruit and honey. gets most of the yeast out so it won't eat up all your fruit and honey. I'm by no means an expert, but this is something that i did. I am subscribing to this to see if there's anyone less green than me that may have other ideas.

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Old 04-02-2012, 12:17 AM   #3
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adding honey is a viable solution, but I'm not sure how much you'd need to add. Do you have hydrometer readings? Also, a semi-sweet mead that's also 18% alcohol will lead to rapid intoxication. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing from your viewpoint, but you should bear that in mind.

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Old 04-02-2012, 12:56 AM   #4
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yeah, but if you add honey, if the yeast hasn't met it's alcohol tolerance yet, its going to eat right through it, so if you dont want it to be rocket fuel and dont want to waste honey, rack a few times, first

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Old 04-02-2012, 01:03 AM   #5
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I read that every 1lb of honey produces 1% of the mead's alcohol content. So, given the yeast's ceiling of 18% and the original 12.5lbs of honey used, an additional 7.5lbs would likely create an inhospitable environment for the yeast and therefore some residual sweetness. Does that sound worth attempting? Or would backsweetening after a few rackings likely produce better results?

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Old 04-02-2012, 02:05 AM   #6
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yeah, i mean if you want an 18% mead then that's perfect. some people dont like that high of an alcohol content. also consider that you're going to need more than 7.5 lbs of honey added to it to get the sweetness that you want. if the high percentage isnt an issue, and the cost of all the additional honey isnt an issue, i'd say go for it

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Old 04-02-2012, 03:17 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Woldemar View Post
I am attempting to make a semi-sweet pure California Orange Blossom mead. I used 12.5 lbs of honey in a 5 gallon batch, but pitched a batch of yeast intended for a dry mead. My yeast - Premier Cuvee. I'd really rather experience a semi-sweet mead with this particular batch of honey, and I'd prefer (but am now open to, if necessary) to avoid any additions of acid or potassium sorbate. Given that this yeast can tolerate alcohol levels of up to 18%, I'm assuming that I need to/could add significant amounts of additional honey? But how much? 2.5 lbs? 7.5? Any advice is appreciated! I am 5 days into primary fermentation.
A few points and cautions:

1) if you do decide to stabilize and backsweeten, you will need to add potassium sorbate *and* potassium metabisulfite to effectively halt the yeast. Acid blend can be added to mead to taste (I do it at bottling, but I generally only use it for melomels) but has nothing really to do with stabilizing to backsweeten. I'm not sure what your reasons for not wanting to make these additions are, but unless you are producing for someone who has a sulfite allergy or something, there really aren't any technical downsides to the stabilizing additions.

2) A lot depends on the actual honey you used, but for 12.5 lbs in 5 gal volume, I'd estimate that your OG was ~ 1.090 (assumes 1.036 pppg) If you added 7.5 lbs for a total of 20 lbs, you'd effectively push your OG to 1.144...this should theoretically max out your yeast's "rated" tolerance. What I will tell you is that your yeast has no idea it has a rated tolerance...it will ferment until it is biochemically unable to continue, and that depends on multiple factors: nutrients, temperature, osmotic stress, pH, etc., etc. What this all means is that it's pretty difficult to predict how much honey to use such that your yeast will poop out and leave you with exactly the amount of residual sweetness you want. This kind of knowledge and confidence can really only come from reproducing the same batch over and over again under the same conditions until you fully understand how your conditions and yeast will behave in real life, in your brewery. Overall, it's much more precise to determine what ABV you want, ferment to dryness, stabilize, and backsweeten to your desired level of sweetness.

3) also bear in mind that sequential additions of fermentables can sometimes assist in pushing a yeast past its rated tolerance.

4) As others mentioned, decide if you really want a semi sweet, potentially 18+% ABV mead

Be sure to post back and let us know how you handle this, and eventually how things turn out!
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Old 04-02-2012, 06:53 AM   #8
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Be bold, brave and experiment, just because sorbates and metbisulphites don't have a technical downside there is nothing that says its the only way it's just the easy way. I'm like you, prefer not to add a bunch of stuff, rather just take the time and work out a balance with the honey and yeast to find a way to the desired endpoint. Why not start with adding 2.5 pounds of honey, bringing it up to the semi-standard and accepted 3 pounds per gallon, give it a good mix and aeration, let your ferment happily chug along, then rack into secondary add honey to bring your gravity back to 1.02 or 1.03, let whatever yeast is left play with it, rack again, add honey to desired gravity and continue doing this until no more lees no changes in the gravity and you have your semi sweet but likely alcohol hot goodness, bulk age awhile to mellow it, bottle, age and enjoy

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Old 04-02-2012, 08:08 AM   #9
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Agreed, those are basically your two options. Either let it run, stabalise with sorbate and sulphite and back sweeten, or back sweeten each time you rack until it stops of its own accord, though personally I would still then stabalise it just in case... nothing worse than the yeast waking up again in the bottles ...

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Old 04-02-2012, 01:36 PM   #10
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Third option: pasteurize.

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