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Diluting mead that’s too sweet?

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QuietFire

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Alright guys, so I’m super new to brewing and have made a blunder. I’m making a mango mead, I’ve got about 6 gallons. I started with 2 gallons mango nectar, 12 lbs honey and 3 gallons of purified water. The starting gravity was about 1.108 or 14% potential alcohol. I used wyeast 4184 sweet mead yeast. For some reason I thought the tolerance was 13% but it’s actually 11%.

I also have 2 gallons of strawberry rhubarb wine with the same starting gravity, it’spretty much done with primary and is very sweet (tasted a couple small sips) which leads me to believe my mango mead will also be very sweet. So my question is, can I add more water in secondary to kick off fermentation again and eat up those sugars? If so, how should I calculate how much water to add? I don’t have current readings on either brew as I do that when I do my racking.

any advice or guidance would be appreciated.
 

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QuietFire

QuietFire

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Did you use any nutrient? The alcohol tolerances of yeast aren't hard and fast rules, more like averages. But if your yeast didn't have any nutrient in addition to the sugar, it's likely to have stalled out early.
Yep! I used diammonium phosphate as directed on the package. A buddy of mine is actually recommending I actually add more in secondary if it’s cloying sweet.
 
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QuietFire

QuietFire

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Too much nutrient can add a metallic off flavor.

Check your final gravity that will tell you if the mead is finished.
Ok but my question about water still has not been answered. You keep saying check the gravity but if you read the last line of my original post I literally said I dont have current readings as I take those when I rack. The bottom line is things are too sweet, can I add water and how do I calculate it using the gravity readings? I already know there is going to be a bunch of left over sugars without taking a reading because I can taste it. The fermentation on the strawberry has all but stopped at this point.

So I'll ask again, can I add water to make it kick off again and is there a way to figure out how much to add so I stay around 11% or is it a guessing game? and if I shouldn't add water, what should I do to correct for an overly sweet brew? the mango isn't done with primary yet but it literally had the same readings as my strawberry to start with and the same yeast so the strawberry is my control batch. it hasnt been racked yet as I am waiting for new 1 gallon carboys to arrive...hopefully tomorrow and which point I will take gravity reading.
 
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QuietFire

QuietFire

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And the point is actual sweetness and perceived sweetness are two different things. If your mead is finished, diluting won't do anything (and possibly not even if it isn't dry yet but stalled for some other reason). But, you can offset perceived sweetness by balancing it with acid or tannin.
cool that makes sense. I'll check my reading when the carboys come in and report back.
 
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QuietFire

QuietFire

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Alright! Carboys arrived and I racked of my control/test batch. This is the strawberry rhubarb wine that had the same starting gravity/potential and same yeast as the mango. Again it had stopped visibly off gassing from the airlock before racking. There is still a ton of sugar left in both. The yeast says it’s suppose to leave 2 or 3 precent of sugars behind. Looks like I am sitting at 11.5% abv. It’s not cloyingly sweet but pretty dang sweet.

I’m expecting the mango mead will give me a similar reading when I rack it but I could be wrong.
 

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Dinadan

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If there are still fermentables in the mead, could adding a wine or champagne yeast with a higher ABV tolerance get rid or the sweetness by fermenting the remaining sugars? I have never done this, but that would be my first thought.
 

videojunkie1208

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So you're sitting at 1.018 which is pretty sweet. How long has your fermentation been going? It could be a matter of time. Fermentation slows as you approach your yeasts tolerance, but you're only a few points above the tolerance of the yeast strain..

You could switch yeasts as @Dinadan suggests, I would look at D47 or EC-1118 if you want it to be very dry. Both of those yeasts are tolerant beyond 18%

.
 
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QuietFire

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So you're sitting at 1.018 which is pretty sweet. How long has your fermentation been going? It could be a matter of time. Fermentation slows as you approach your yeasts tolerance, but you're only a few points above the tolerance of the yeast strain..

You could switch yeasts as @Dinadan suggests, I would look at D47 or EC-1118 if you want it to be very dry. Both of those yeasts are tolerant beyond 18%

.
nah, I wouldn’t wanna do that. This wine and the mead are meant to be sweet, I’m just worried they are going to be TOO sweet. Switching the yeast up would probably be a bad move. I only want the little yeasties to eat a tiny bit more of the sugar. If I can get it down to a 1.010 it would probably be fine. I guess I’ll just wait it out and see.
 

videojunkie1208

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You could try the Blending calculator here: The Mead Calculator

It's going to be largely trial and error, as you are going to be walking a balancing act between yeast tolerance and desired sweetness and as you dilute, you will restart some fermentation of the remaining sugars so it will attenuate more than you expect...

The other issue is going to be flavor profile, if you are happy with the flavor profile diluting it to lower the sugar content will Waterdown the flavor a bit.
 

bernardsmith

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Wine making is all about balance and if the mead tastes a little on the sweet side you might try adding some acidity. I wouldn't add any to the entire batch but you might bench test by removing a number of samples of the mead and to each sample you add a slightly larger drop (of known volume) of , say tartaric or citric or malic acid. If that helps balance the sweetness (think beer and the use of hops to balance the residual sweetness of the unfermentable sugars) then you are home and dry (pun intended) and you might try adding tannins in the same way - perhaps adding some oak cubes and tasting the mead each day until the mead has extracted what you take to be an appropriate amount of tannin from the oak to help counter the sweetness...
 

madscientist451

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Blending is your friend, adding water should be your last choice.
So just put the mead that's to sweet aside and make a dry mead. When its done and has aged somewhat, do some blending trials.
You might find that your sweet mead might come together with some aging.
I also recommend using Tonsa 3.0 to determine how much nutrient to use instead of the instructions on the nutrient package.
 
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