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ThorS

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this is my first post and I’m doing it from a smart phone so please excuse any typos.

so I have been making Mead for a short time,about 4 months. I was working on a melomel with a friend who wanted a dryer less sweet one so per a suggestion from a brew shop I go to, for a gallon of mead, instead of 3lbs honey and D47, we tried EC1118 and 2lbs of honey... my alcohol readings on all batches are in excess of 16% after 4 days... I can’t tell if this is an error but they smell strong like alcohol so I believe it. The worst offender is at 20.1% and lost a lot of the fruity flavor and tastes like alcoholic water. All of them are still bubbling slightly but only a bubble every 30 seconds or so in the airlock. This was the fastest reaction time I’ve seen too. The worst offender looked like a 4th grade science experiment volcano within an hour and I had to do a substantial amount of cleanup. A picture is attached of that one.

I am wondering, is this “normal” for lack of a better term? That is the upper limit of alcohol content to my knowledge with meads and melomels so I am just sorta shocked and not sure if these batches are actually any good to hang onto so I want to consult with you all.

a few extra notes. They all got 1 round of yeast nutrients, i’ll be at, in hindsight, it probably wasn’t necessary lol. The really crazy one was moscato grapes and quince juice and the other 2 are hibiscus cherry clocking in at around 16.5abv.

Thank you all so much for your thoughts and insight.
 

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SteveO820

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That's a lot of alcohol in that bottle! Made yourself a liqueur!

I think the key is figuring out what alcohol you have as you could just have a very high ethanol content and nothing to hide it. EC-1118 likes to eat ALL the sugar that it can find and finishes bone dry. You could try stabilizing a small amount and back sweeting to see if it can be masked.

What temperature did you ferment at? 4 days seems very fast to me. I use EC-1118 on my session meads (5-7% abv) and it takes around 2 weeks to ferment fully as I keep it's temperature down at 60F ambient temp - internal temp is probably closer to 64-68F with activity. This strain of yeast is known for being fast and aggressive with fermentation. Keeping it cold and slow helps keep off flavors away. It does have a wide temp range (up to 86F) but I wouldn't recommend fermenting warm as fusel alcohol could be a result. Fusel gives that lovely cheap vodka kinda taste. Other yeast stressors can also cause fusel alcohol (low Ph, low oxygen, low nutrients) so providing the right environment for these little sea monkeys is key.

I believe most alcohol can mellow over time. How much time is unique to each batch and fusels take longer. Could be 6 months, could be years.

P.S> if you do back sweeten a little and it starts tasting like cough syrup it's from the high alcohol being sweetened and needing acidity. You may not run into this but just in case.
 
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ThorS

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That's a lot of alcohol in that bottle! Made yourself a liqueur!

I think the key is figuring out what alcohol you have as you could just have a very high ethanol content and nothing to hide it. EC-1118 likes to eat ALL the sugar that it can find and finishes bone dry. You could try stabilizing a small amount and back sweeting to see if it can be masked.

What temperature did you ferment at? 4 days seems very fast to me. I use EC-1118 on my session meads (5-7% abv) and it takes around 2 weeks to ferment fully as I keep it's temperature down at 60F ambient temp - internal temp is probably closer to 64-68F with activity. This strain of yeast is known for being fast and aggressive with fermentation. Keeping it cold and slow helps keep off flavors away. It does have a wide temp range (up to 86F) but I wouldn't recommend fermenting warm as fusel alcohol could be a result. Fusel gives that lovely cheap vodka kinda taste. Other yeast stressors can also cause fusel alcohol (low Ph, low oxygen, low nutrients) so providing the right environment for these little sea monkeys is key.

I believe most alcohol can mellow over time. How much time is unique to each batch and fusels take longer. Could be 6 months, could be years.

P.S> if you do back sweeten a little and it starts tasting like cough syrup it's from the high alcohol being sweetened and needing acidity. You may not run into this but just in case.
Thank you for the great response. Yeah that particular one started at 1.140 and is sitting right at 1.000 now. It’s been in my counter right around 70° so probably a bit warm for it but I’ll be very honest that I have not used 1118 before and although I knew it was aggressive, I didn’t think it would be THIS aggressive. Had I believed that would be the case I would have researched a bit more prior to jumping right in.

my last batch took 2 weeks with D47 so I was shocked with 4 days too. Now, One thought that just came to mind, as a possibility, is, when it erupted, it quite possibly lost a lot of the sugar that was in it. I lost probably 25% of the must and then Added more water to top Up but it didn’t even phase me that it probablylost a large sum of honey also. Do you think it would benefit it at all to add a bit more honey back now mid fermentation or at this high of an alcohol it’s probably not going to make a difference besides just adding sweetness?
 

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yeah seems a bit warm, around 70 ambient is probably closer to 75-80 when you add heat from a rampant fermentation activity.

I wouldn't be worried about sugars coming out as you still nailed over 20% lol When using EC-1118 you only need sugars to feed yeast and create alcohol. It will take it down bone dry and you'll need to back sweeten later I've always found. You lost 25% of your must which was most likely "blended" or "stirred" during aeration. This would be 25% of everything was lost, not just sugar.

I'm curious to why you added water? Did you rack into a secondary? If it was in the primary still it would have a bit of a CO2 blanket still protecting it from oxygen. Adding the water helped your volume but you also watered down all your delicious flavors. I'm hoping you boiled the water a bit as there is a lot of dissolved oxygen in water, great for starting a fermentation but post fermentation causes faster oxidation leaving a sherry or in worse cases cardboard taste.

Being at a 20% mead I wouldn't add anymore honey for fermenting. My personal focus onward would be to sweeten and make this stuff taste good so I can use the fermenter for another attempt. Since you're at a 1.000 you could start stabilizing with some K Metabisulfite (this will help convert some of the extra oxygen from the added water if it wasn't boiled into sulfur) and K sorbate (makes it so yeast cannot multiply and grow, preventing a second fermentation). I'd give it a little time for the two potassium products to do their thing (I add them during a cold crash, so I give it a week). Then I'd back sweeten with honey and fruit juice as you might have lost some good qualities of both. How much would be determined by the sugar contents of juice used and personal taste. It's Probably going to need a bit to mask 20% but also note that every time you're adding something (including the water) you're diluting your ABV. Hence where I think we can help save this, if you're tasting less alcohol per sip.

Again if it starts going cough syrup, due to high ABV and sugar it needs acid to balance.
 
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ThorS

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yeah seems a bit warm, around 70 ambient is probably closer to 75-80 when you add heat from a rampant fermentation activity.

I wouldn't be worried about sugars coming out as you still nailed over 20% lol When using EC-1118 you only need sugars to feed yeast and create alcohol. It will take it down bone dry and you'll need to back sweeten later I've always found. You lost 25% of your must which was most likely "blended" or "stirred" during aeration. This would be 25% of everything was lost, not just sugar.

I'm curious to why you added water? Did you rack into a secondary? If it was in the primary still it would have a bit of a CO2 blanket still protecting it from oxygen. Adding the water helped your volume but you also watered down all your delicious flavors. I'm hoping you boiled the water a bit as there is a lot of dissolved oxygen in water, great for starting a fermentation but post fermentation causes faster oxidation leaving a sherry or in worse cases cardboard taste.

Being at a 20% mead I wouldn't add anymore honey for fermenting. My personal focus onward would be to sweeten and make this stuff taste good so I can use the fermenter for another attempt. Since you're at a 1.000 you could start stabilizing with some K Metabisulfite (this will help convert some of the extra oxygen from the added water if it wasn't boiled into sulfur) and K sorbate (makes it so yeast cannot multiply and grow, preventing a second fermentation). I'd give it a little time for the two potassium products to do their thing (I add them during a cold crash, so I give it a week). Then I'd back sweeten with honey and fruit juice as you might have lost some good qualities of both. How much would be determined by the sugar contents of juice used and personal taste. It's Probably going to need a bit to mask 20% but also note that every time you're adding something (including the water) you're diluting your ABV. Hence where I think we can help save this, if you're tasting less alcohol per sip.

Again if it starts going cough syrup, due to high ABV and sugar it needs acid to balance.
Thank you so much for the suggestions. I added water back because it was within two hours of starting. I was very serious when I said that it became a volcano almost immediately. I literally put it in the jug to ferment, watched an episode of a show and then came back and it had erupted everywhere so I topped it back off to get it closer to a gallon again. It was a volcano before I opened it but after I opened it to stir it down it was like those snake smoke-works you get for the fourth that you light on fire and they grow out of the ground. It just kept coming out so in the end I lost a good 500ml. Didn’t want to ferment solid must so I added a bit more water back. Definitely didn’t do that later in the fermentation.

again, I really appreciate your help. I am about tohave to go out of town for a little while so I am gonna pass al this into my friend who is working on it with me and see if he wants to bear the brunt of dealing with that while I’m gone.
 

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Haha that seems like a wild sight! A bummer that a chunk of must was lost but it makes a great story :p Good thing it wasn't something like a pyment to leave red grape juice stains all over! :O

Do you use a blow off tube at start or an airlock for the whole fermentation? Blow off tubes help keep the mess down by putting a hose in a small bucket partially filled with sanitized water. Anything blown out will get put in the bucket.

No worries! Hope it turns out well! I'm always learning something new or getting help on this forum, so I'm happy when I can try to contribute.
 
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ThorS

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Haha that seems like a wild sight! A bummer that a chunk of must was lost but it makes a great story :p Good thing it wasn't something like a pyment to leave red grape juice stains all over! :O

Do you use a blow off tube at start or an airlock for the whole fermentation? Blow off tubes help keep the mess down by putting a hose in a small bucket partially filled with sanitized water. Anything blown out will get put in the bucket.

No worries! Hope it turns out well! I'm always learning something new or getting help on this forum, so I'm happy when I can try to contribute.
I had been using just the airlock and never had any issues before but I have all the equiptment for a blow off tube. Didn't think to use one because, well, even the other 3 recipes didn't have this much of a problem, haha. Something about this recipe in particular did it. So, turns out the magic trick, for anyone else reading this down the line, if you want SUPER high ABV mead that is so dry it's virtually intolerable, you want EC1118 and Dunjas (quince), and a 70-degree room... thats the magic recipe. Possibly a recipe for disaster but it seems to get the job done if high ABV is your goal.
 

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That's the fun in experimenting! Never know what lies ahead and mistakes happen! You can also research and research and yeast being living creatures will do what they want.

I just found out my green tea must not have gotten enough K sorbate (doh!) and now I have a sparkling and bone dry green tea! It's actually not bad! I think the bubbles provide more green tea aromatics. I kinda like it better then what I had at bottling time but it is pretty astringent. I also keep my finished bottles in the same fridge that is my fermentation chamber so it's prime temp for second fermentation.... Assuming it went to 1.000 like it tastes, The extra ABV bump from 5.14% to 6.2% is nice.

My Hibiscus is also moving so slow. Been over 2 weeks and only at 1.016 (OG 1.058). Fed it nutrients again for a third time (once a week now) and bumped the temp up to 65F ambient. Tasting great though, almost like a tart/sour beer but oddly has been on the slowest side of fermentation time. Pushing to get this done next week as there is someone I want to share it with coming.
 
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ThorS

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That's the fun in experimenting! Never know what lies ahead and mistakes happen! You can also research and research and yeast being living creatures will do what they want.

I just found out my green tea must not have gotten enough K sorbate (doh!) and now I have a sparkling and bone dry green tea! It's actually not bad! I think the bubbles provide more green tea aromatics. I kinda like it better then what I had at bottling time but it is pretty astringent. I also keep my finished bottles in the same fridge that is my fermentation chamber so it's prime temp for second fermentation.... Assuming it went to 1.000 like it tastes, The extra ABV bump from 5.14% to 6.2% is nice.

My Hibiscus is also moving so slow. Been over 2 weeks and only at 1.016 (OG 1.058). Fed it nutrients again for a third time (once a week now) and bumped the temp up to 65F ambient. Tasting great though, almost like a tart/sour beer but oddly has been on the slowest side of fermentation time. Pushing to get this done next week as there is someone I want to share it with coming.
How is it with green tea? I love black tea, specifically earl grey tea, and hibiscus tea, but I hear mixed things about green tea in mead/melomels. Not trying to get too off topic in case that is something the mods really care about here, but I am curious since you brought it up.
 

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eh it's alright. Nothing I wouldn't write home about honestly. I need to figure out how to keep the flavor and aroma locked in. I put a lot of green tea in (I have a thread here on how I did it) but it came out very light. May need to take a tour of the Lipton bottling plant lol One thing I did notice drinking a bunch of different bottled green teas is most the sweetener provides a lot of the profile. One tasted like honey, another tasted like cane sugar, etc. Now as dry and sparkling as it is I get quite a bit of the green tea but it's astringent with all it's sugars gone. It's a fun idea but something I'll have to keep studying and playing with.
 
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ThorS

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eh it's alright. Nothing I wouldn't write home about honestly. I need to figure out how to keep the flavor and aroma locked in. I put a lot of green tea in (I have a thread here on how I did it) but it came out very light. May need to take a tour of the Lipton bottling plant lol One thing I did notice drinking a bunch of different bottled green teas is most the sweetener provides a lot of the profile. One tasted like honey, another tasted like cane sugar, etc. Now as dry and sparkling as it is I get quite a bit of the green tea but it's astringent with all it's sugars gone. It's a fun idea but something I'll have to keep studying and playing with.
I am curious how much of that will come from brew temperatures of the tea as well. Different teas get strongest at pretty precise temperatures. I use a thermometer in my water when making tea so it is not too hot or cold. Green tea is usually good around the low 160s. I don’t know if that has any effect on how it keeps once incorporated into a mead though
 

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I am curious how much of that will come from brew temperatures of the tea as well. Different teas get strongest at pretty precise temperatures. I use a thermometer in my water when making tea so it is not too hot or cold. Green tea is usually good around the low 160s. I don’t know if that has any effect on how it keeps once incorporated into a mead though
I used 3 additions. 2 using heat to steep (I boiled the water then pulled off the heat, gave it some time while I opened 20 tea bags lol and then added them to the water) and 1 cold steeping in the secondary like a dry hop for a couple days. 64 bags total. The honey masks almost all of the tea was the issue but I'll keep playing with it and update the thread I had before. Maybe I back sweetened too much and should go less than 3 ounces next time (finished at 1.008 after back sweetening). I popped another bottle last night and it was really good when I added a little more honey to just to cover the astringency but keep it dry. I may get a reading from that so I know where to finish next time.
 
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I used 3 additions. 2 using heat to steep (I boiled the water then pulled off the heat, gave it some time while I opened 20 tea bags lol and then added them to the water) and 1 cold steeping in the secondary like a dry hop for a couple days. 64 bags total. The honey masks almost all of the tea was the issue but I'll keep playing with it and update the thread I had before. Maybe I back sweetened too much and should go less than 3 ounces next time (finished at 1.008 after back sweetening). I popped another bottle last night and it was really good when I added a little more honey to just to cover the astringency but keep it dry. I may get a reading from that so I know where to finish next time.
I see, yeah, I can definitely see how backsweetening could mask the subtleties of green tea.
 
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I used 3 additions. 2 using heat to steep (I boiled the water then pulled off the heat, gave it some time while I opened 20 tea bags lol and then added them to the water) and 1 cold steeping in the secondary like a dry hop for a couple days. 64 bags total. The honey masks almost all of the tea was the issue but I'll keep playing with it and update the thread I had before. Maybe I back sweetened too much and should go less than 3 ounces next time (finished at 1.008 after back sweetening). I popped another bottle last night and it was really good when I added a little more honey to just to cover the astringency but keep it dry. I may get a reading from that so I know where to finish next time.
OK, so, by the way, status update. Hi took a small amount of the meat, add a little bit of honey, shook it up and left it in the refrigerator for a couple nights and then let it sit out today and then chilled it again and tasted a little bit. It smells and taste significantly better. Definitely very strong. I can immediately feel a tingle in my throat that I don’t typically get unless I’m drinking a very very very high alcohol drink but following your advice I will get the potassium stuff and halt The yeast and cold crash it and try back sweetening with some apple juice maybe or pear juice. I’ll revisit in a few weeks to a month to see if that made a huge difference.
 

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Nice! Happy to hear it seems like it's fixable!

Make sure you use about a 1/2 tsp of potassium sorbate per gallon of mead when you back sweeten so you don't end up with the mistake I did and get a second fermentation!

Cheers!
 
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ThorS

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Nice! Happy to hear it seems like it's fixable!

Make sure you use about a 1/2 tsp of potassium sorbate per gallon of mead when you back sweeten so you don't end up with the mistake I did and get a second fermentation!

Cheers!
Most definitely. What’s the consequence of going a little over versus a little under? I guess my ultimate question is, how exactly precise should this measurement be and what are the consequences if it’s not perfect? I have to and trust this task with someone else since I’ll be indisposed for a little while so I want to make sure I give them the best instruction possible. And thank you again 🙏 you have been an awesome help and I really hope to discuss more with you in the future about less problem related experiences lol
 
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If you go to a homebrew store they typically have instructions. I had to calculate mine down from 30 gallons I believe but it's there. As for flavor, I guess an easy answer would be to try a bit! haha! I never have however I know sulfites produces sulfur so you can tell when it's in there. The good thing is it wants out! It will convert the dissolved oxygen into sulfur which you can smell when it's still around as the rotten egg smell will lighten up as it leaves. Not sure about the taste. Sorbate likes to hang and is salty I believe. I don't think either is added in such an amount that it really would effect the taste. Your dealing with 1/2 a teaspoon per gallon kinda thing.

Hope to keep discussing more mead too! The problems help us learn! We just need to make sure that it's not the same problems haha :p
 
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