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Old 10-29-2007, 09:46 PM   #1
sloppy
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Default Is sweet mead made by exceeding yeast's alcohol tolerance?

I just racked a cider to secondary(*), and have reharvested/washed the White Labs 720 (sweet mead/cider) yeast that I used to ferment it. My intent is to use this stuff to make mead about a month from now, when I can dedicate a carboy to such a long-term project.

I'm wondering about "sweet" mead. How is it made (as opposed to dry mead)?

My naive guess is that it's done by having more fermentable sugars than the yeast can ferment before it reaches its alcohol tolerance. If I ass/u/me I'll have a F.G. of 0.995, for example, and the yeast is rated as being able to handle about 15% ABV, then that suggests the highest O.G. would be 15/131 = .114 gravities higher than the F.G. Thus, if I add enough honey to get O.G. of 1.109 or more, then any excess fermentable sugar beyond that will fail to ferment, due to the yeast shutting down when it hits 15% ABV. Result: sweet.

I'm skeptical that it's really that simple. And I'm nervous about predicting the F.G.

I'm also nervous that if anything living which has a higher-than-15% tolerance manages to get into there, I'll have serious infection risk, since it won't really be "competing" with the much larger yeast pitch. The yeast will "lose" by default, having given up and flocced when the mead got too alcoholic. Invader gets to take its sweet time (heh) consuming the remaining sugar.

(*) I'm not sure racking the cider was really necessary. I guess it will help with clarity, but the sediment isn't really the usual trub I get with beer (which presumably will add off-flavors if you let it sit there a couple months). Did I rack merely out of habit, or was there some good reason (i.e. retroactively-applied justification) for that? ;-)

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Old 10-29-2007, 10:44 PM   #2
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Just from reading about it... I started four one gallon pilots of mead over the weekend based ona lot of reading...in general yes, a sweet mead has more sugar in it than the yeast can digest.

A sparkling mead had less sugar than the yeast could digest, with just a little more sugar added at bottling, just like beer.

I haven't found a recipe for a sweet sparkling mead.

I have seen several references to starting at a particular OG, giving the yeast a month, adding one pound of honey, giving the yeast another month...

I finally said screw it and made some mead. I would strongly encourage you to find a one gallon glass jug with airlock and start with JAOM. It sounds about foolproof, smells terrific going together and was quite tasty only 22 hours into primary ferment. Link on edit.

EDIT: OK, scroll down page one of the mead section to the "intro to mead" thread started by BlendieofIndy. Recipe for JAOM is on page two, the entire thread is worth reading.

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Old 10-30-2007, 01:20 PM   #3
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The only way I know of to get a sweet, sparkling mead is to push your mead to its tolerance, kill the yeast with Kmeta and Ksorb, then force carb it.

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Old 10-30-2007, 04:23 PM   #4
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I once had a sweet sparkling mead quite by accident. I thought I hit attenuation, but apparently not quite, as it ended up very so slightly sparkling. just enough to feel it on the tongue and see a few fizzies in the glass.

its a lot easier to force carb.

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Old 10-31-2007, 06:42 PM   #5
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It truely is that easy. I just finished and bottled the Blueberry Mead (Melomel) this weekend. I really prefer using Lalvin D47 yeast. It can improve the flavors so much with mead.

The issue is step additions can cause your yeast to exceed the normal ABV %. I can get 17% ABV everytime if I step add more honey. I add about a pound to 1.5 lbs at the first 2 or 3 rackings. This will get you a sweet Mead with a higher ABV. If not just make you starting gravity higher. There are several caculators on the web to help with this.

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Old 10-31-2007, 08:46 PM   #6
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That is one way of doing it. The other is to kill the yeast and back sweeten.

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Old 11-07-2007, 05:42 PM   #7
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I chose the back sweeten route with my pomegranate mead. threw in some Ksorbate and then added 2 pounds of honey and a liter of pome juice. Helped out the sweetness, but still didn't increase the pome flavor as much as I would have liked. Oh well, there's always the next batch!

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