Carbonating Bottles by Adding Only Water...?

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Near-Beer-Engineer

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I'll be honest, this is my first mead (although I've done several batches of beer before). I've got my mom hooked on all this fermentation stuff, so we're gonna try to make a sweet mead together. My understanding of sweet meads is that plenty of sugar (honey) is added, and the yeast (Wyeast 4184 Sweet Mead in this case) attenuates down to its alcohol tolerance (11%), leaving some residual sweetness behind, since fermenting this extra amount would cause the yeast to have to go past its alcohol limit. Thus it is a SWEET mead!

So my (probably very dumb) question is this... If there is residual sugar in a sweet mead, and yeast only ferments to 11% ABV, can I simply dilute the fermented mead to say 10% or 10.5% ABV with water, bottle the mead, and have the yeast just ferment that residual sugar back down to 11%?? Is priming sugar even needed?

I suppose this won't work if all the yeast suddenly die when they reach the 11% mark, but I'd imagine probably a pretty good chunk of them are still swimming around dormant.

Am I crazy? :ban:
 

nickwoo

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I have been looking into carbonation and it seems the easiest and most reliable way to do it is to force carbonate it.

Something like this. [ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qu32BtAnjw[/ame]
 

Qhrumphf

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Not a mead expert (I know, this is the mead section), but that alcohol tolerance is not a hard and fast figure, but rather an approximation. I would assume that the differences in composition between mostly simply sugar (mead must) and much more complex sugar (beer wort) will make a difference here, but you can coax higher alcohol content than the rating out of a yeast if you baby it. Alternatively, an inhospitable environment can cause them to crap out below that tolerance.

I guess what I'm saying is that, yeah, I guess it could potentially work (although there's potentially other complications and it might not taste right), but it definitely wouldn't be as straightforward as "ferment to 11%, dilute to 10.5%, and then the yeast will ferment the exact amount of residual sugar to reach 11% again".
 

flugelizor

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Maybe if you pitch fresh yeast with the water?
But I agree with Qhrumphf - fermentation, as a biological, not chemical process, is rather unpredictable.
+1 force carbonation
 

Qhrumphf

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Just thought of something- since wine (and presumably mead) is even more sensitive to oxidation than beer, and adding water can actually add enough oxygen to be problematic (even after boiling it). Now, if your theory is correct and it restarts a small fermentation, perhaps the yeast activity would consume that oxygen (much like what happens when priming beer for bottle/cask conditioning). However, I don't know. One of those potential complications I mentioned...
 

sweetcell

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once you hit the yeast's alcohol tolerance (its max), it's in a really rough enviro and the yeast will be pooped. result: the yeast will go dormant. the small change from 11% to 10.5% still looks pretty toxic to the yeast, it's unlikely that they'll wake up. that yeast will go to 11% if you treat it right. getting it to go dormant at its max, going down a half step then expecting it to wake back up doesn't constitute treating it right!

another consideration: you want to bottle clear mead, AKA mead with no yeast in it - if you do that, there will be nothing to carbonate. if you do carbonate naturally, you might want to drink the mead young. depending on the yeast, aging the mead might not be a good option.

and as others have said, it's not an exact science. 11% is an average. if someone really learned a yeast, did a lot of experimental batches, they could probably figure it out how to do what you propose (for example, maybe you need to stop it at say 10% by cold-crashing it, get it to clear, add back just enough yeast to carbonate, and by warming up the mead again the hardiest yeast cells might consume enough sugar to get you to a nice carbonation). might be tough to pull off on the homebrew scale.
 

bernardsmith

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Simple solution to the fermentation issue. Use a wine yeast that will ferment your mead dry and use a reasonable amount of honey - say 2.5 lbs to the gallon and when the yeast has converted all the honey to alcohol stabilize the mead (after removing any remaining viable yeast ) by adding K-meta and k-sorbate and then back sweetening the dry mead to any level of sweetness you prefer. If you wish to carbonate the mead then you might backsweeten by adding non fermentable sugar and then add a small dose of yeast and about 1 oz of fermentable sugar per gallon. The non fermentable sugar will sweeten the mead and the fermentable sugar will prime it (carbonate it). Using yeasts "designed" to make sweet or dry meads is nonsense in my opinion when there are good wine yeasts that can easily handle 12, 13 or 14 percent ABV (more than that and you are looking only for the buzz and not the flavor), and you can add more honey or sugar to make the mead desert sweet, sweet, semi sweet, dry or brut. And adding sweetness to bone dry wines or meads allows YOU to control the level of sweetness and not be subject to chance and the tolerance of the batch of yeast you are using. There is a science and an art to fermentation. It ain't a crap shoot.
 

bernardsmith

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you're opinion ... depends on the mead....my oaked habanero ginger mead would suck at 12% abv, buzz being irrelevant....in my opinion

Fuelish, You are absolutely right. But the OP says that this is a first mead and there is no mention of this mead being anything other than a simple attempt at a basic recipe rather than a tour de force involving step feeding with additions of unexpected fruits and spices.
 

WVMJ

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I know this is a beer forum but really you dont have to put bubbles in everything :) An easier way for you would be to make a still mead using a good wine yeast that will get the job done easily vs the sweat mead yeast which as bloke mentions gives people a lot of trouble. We would rather you make something nice and easy the first time than have to fight it to get it done and then be turned off of exploring it further. What kind of honey can you guys get? Do you like oaked wines, you can add a little oak to mead and its very good. A mention was made that mead oxidises faster than beer, never had that problem. And dont cook your honey, that taste is better with it raw. WVMJ

I'll be honest, this is my first mead (although I've done several batches of beer before). I've got my mom hooked on all this fermentation stuff, so we're gonna try to make a sweet mead together. My understanding of sweet meads is that plenty of sugar (honey) is added, and the yeast (Wyeast 4184 Sweet Mead in this case) attenuates down to its alcohol tolerance (11%), leaving some residual sweetness behind, since fermenting this extra amount would cause the yeast to have to go past its alcohol limit. Thus it is a SWEET mead!

So my (probably very dumb) question is this... If there is residual sugar in a sweet mead, and yeast only ferments to 11% ABV, can I simply dilute the fermented mead to say 10% or 10.5% ABV with water, bottle the mead, and have the yeast just ferment that residual sugar back down to 11%?? Is priming sugar even needed?

I suppose this won't work if all the yeast suddenly die when they reach the 11% mark, but I'd imagine probably a pretty good chunk of them are still swimming around dormant.

Am I crazy? :ban:
 
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Near-Beer-Engineer

Near-Beer-Engineer

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No worries about me getting disheartened, I am thoroughly addicted by now and one failure isn't going to stop me. I just thought it'd be interesting to use a "mead yeast" and see what all the fuss is about. It's already taking a while to kick off so I'm starting to see why everyone's so frustrated with it. No problem, we'll give it some time and nutrients and see how she goes.

I think sweetcell hit the nail on the head: reducing the ABV slightly is certainly not creating a good environment for the yeast, they're still going to be pretty cheesed about the situation. Just thought it'd be an interesting experiment. We will probably go with a still mead this round for simplicity sake.




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