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Did I measure the honey correctly?

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Scientific hippie

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Hi all,

After figuring out our preferred honey mixture (2/3 random dark honey, 1/3 buckwheat honey) I resolved to make three gallons. Whenever I up a recipe, I worry that I'm going to forget to multiply one of the ingredients properly. This is Bray's 3-day mead I'm talking about. When I realized I couldn't tare the large pot I was using, I went upstairs with the honey and an empty pot and stood on the Detecto scale with the empty pot, then added honey. I have a nagging suspicion that I only measured out three lbs. instead of 4.5 lbs. It is Day 3 and the SG is only down to 1.033; usually it is close to 1.011 by now. Should I add more honey? I don't think the kitchen temp is much lower than it has been for other batches.
 

bernardsmith

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My standard question whenever I hear a proffered answer (should I add more honey?) is what exactly is the problem that needs to be resolved? Yeast will ferment 1 oz of honey or 3 lbs of honey. They may not fully ferment 4.5 lbs of honey if the concentration of that honey in solution results in the potential alcohol they could produce being beyond their tolerance. So... if you want to make a sweeter mead then you can either add all the honey before fermentation ends or add some honey after it has ended. Either way you will end with a sweeter mead.
If the problem is that you absolutely want to make a mead with a starting gravity of X but you don't know how much honey you have added there is a way to determine the ABV (not sure of all the details but it involves taking a known sample of the mead after fermentation has ended and boiling off (distilling) the alcohol (at the appropriate temperature) to determine how much liquid has been lost, the difference between the sample size and the final volume size is the alcohol content and so that as a percentage of the sample volume is the % ABV. I have seen this technique posted somewhere on this forum but the author suggested that the calculation was made in terms of the difference of the SG when you added the water but that seems to me to be inaccurate since if your final gravity was say .996 and you add water to make up the lost volume the highest possible gravity you could reach would be 1.000 assuming that you had successfully boiled off all the alcohol... but if your initial volume was say 1 liter and the boiled off volume was 900 ml then 100 ml lost = 10% so the volume of alcohol lost was 10% and so the ABV was 10%.
 

Dan_K

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You should invest in a kitchen scale to weigh your honey. The one I got on amazon goes up to 9 lbs and cost about $15. Pretty accurate, goes to 1/10th of an ounce. I weigh all my honey before it goes into the pot.
 

RPh_Guy

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Scientific hippie

Scientific hippie

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Wow, Bernard, what a disquisition! I do feel reassured that there is no "right" way to do it. I just wanted to make sure it was going to taste good, and that I wasn't overworking the yeast, possibly necessitating the addition of more yeast nutrient.
 
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Scientific hippie

Scientific hippie

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You should invest in a kitchen scale to weigh your honey. The one I got on amazon goes up to 9 lbs and cost about $15. Pretty accurate, goes to 1/10th of an ounce. I weigh all my honey before it goes into the pot.
No, we have a kitchen scale. The problem was that I decided (this recipe includes brewed tea) to mix the honey with the warm tea before putting it in the gallon jugs, to make mixing easier. Instead of just weighing the honey in its jar, I added it to the pot (I didn't have the exact amount; I was using some half-jars), taring for the pot. Then I realized I wasn't getting an accurate reading of the weight of the pot because in order for it to cover the scale it would have rendered the readout unreadable, hence the trek up to the Detecto.
 
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Scientific hippie

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The UltraShip 55 measures up to 55lbs and is used by a lot of brewers that love it.
https://www.morebeer.com/products/electronic-grain-scale-55-lbs.html

Yeah, I may invest in a scale with the readout in a plane different from that of the platform. The current scale is plenty accurate, but has a small surface area and the readout is in the same plane.

Also, I highly recommend a drill-powered mixing tool. If you thoroughly mix the honey you can get an accurate O.G. and take the guesswork out of creating the must.
https://www.morebeer.com/products/vortex-carboy-cleaner-wort-aerator.html
Also aerates, degasses, and cleans :)
Now that I am the proud owner of a FastFerment, I may get one. Though because the mead requires so much mixing and shaking, I bet I'll use it mostly for mead, which I don't want to do in the FastFerment.
 

bernardsmith

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I do feel reassured that there is no "right" way to do it. I just wanted to make sure it was going to taste good, and that I wasn't overworking the yeast, possibly necessitating the addition of more yeast nutrient.
Always a contrarian, I would argue that unless you are making mead or wine commercially and there are therefore legal and tax issues at stake that means you may need to be able to recite and make auditable all your metrics as a home mead maker really all you may need to know is whether this batch is low or high alcohol.

Sure it's "nice" to be able to say that that batch is 12% and this one is 10% while the other is 15% (or 6% or...) but IMO this is not cell science and within reason "this amount" of nutrients and "that quantity" of yeast cells is almost certainly going to be enough to plow through any batch you are likely to make - and if it isn't all you need to do is start another batch with much more of the nutrients and/or the viable yeast cells and add your problem batch to this new batch.

My approach is to treat what we do in much the same way we approach cheese-making as a cottage product, or bread baking. Any "data" I may keep is to help me make more or less the same kind of thing again. It's not the recipe that is so important... it's the process, the protocol. It's the knowing what, when and why. And when you have that down then all the worry is gone. And sure - any next batch might not be worthy of a gold star, but you know why it isn't.

Bottom line: don't fret. There is really nothing you will do that will bring an end to civilization as we know it. And most mead making problems are in fact repairable, and many are self repairing.
 
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Scientific hippie

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Having made hundreds or thousands of loaves of bread (both by hand and by machine), countless desserts, having painted many house interiors, published a book, experimented with sous vide, and earned two advanced degrees, you could say I've been around the block. I have many one-gallon experimental brews going on, and when I realize I left out the wood chips for one wine kit, I just buy another and add them in order to compare both at the end of fermentation. I have plenty of patience. I just wanted this batch to come out right because I had perfected Bray's recipe (which is very exacting) and was making three gallons with some expensive honey. I just want this one to come out right so it wasn't a waste of money. OK?
 
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OK; it's been over a week. I have added the left-out honey, some Fermaid O, and some KCO3, and the S. G. isn't budging, although it's bubbling. I'm going to put it in the basement to see if it'll act like BOMM, and maybe start some 3-day mead today to have it ready before Thanksgiving.
 

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