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Is it possible to make low ABV, carbonated, sweet melomel/hydromel?

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Abraham Viera

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Hello everyone!
I've never tried mead before but after watching some youtube videos I began fermenting my first batch of melomel mead yesterday with a standard recipe with strawberries, I don't really have a hydrometer but as I'm using baker yeast, I saw on the internet that baker yeast tend to die at about 12% ABV (I know this yeast is not the best, I would appreciate not telling me that again haha).

Anyway back to the topic, I want to make another batch for my mother, but she told me she want a low ABV, carbonated and sweet drink, and I'm not sure how to achieve that, is this possible without any special equipment or without chemicals?

I already saw the hydromel tutorial from "City Steading" youtube channel, and thought that in order to achieve the low ABV I just need to add less sugars (honey) on the primary fermentation.
The problem comes when I think about carbonating the drink, it will probably eat the sugar again so the drink won't be sweet. Is there a way to carbonate it without loosing all the sugar?

Thank you !
 

Blacksmith1

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look in the cider forum for a post at the top about stove top pasteurization. it allows you to kill off the yeast when carbonating. so less to sugars to start then add more honey at the end to sweeten and carbonate. I can't give you the amounts but some here can.
 

MaxTheSpy

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Hello everyone!
I've never tried mead before but after watching some youtube videos I began fermenting my first batch of melomel mead yesterday with a standard recipe with strawberries, I don't really have a hydrometer but as I'm using baker yeast, I saw on the internet that baker yeast tend to die at about 12% ABV (I know this yeast is not the best, I would appreciate not telling me that again haha).

Anyway back to the topic, I want to make another batch for my mother, but she told me she want a low ABV, carbonated and sweet drink, and I'm not sure how to achieve that, is this possible without any special equipment or without chemicals?

I already saw the hydromel tutorial from "City Steading" youtube channel, and thought that in order to achieve the low ABV I just need to add less sugars (honey) on the primary fermentation.
The problem comes when I think about carbonating the drink, it will probably eat the sugar again so the drink won't be sweet. Is there a way to carbonate it without loosing all the sugar?

Thank you !
[Google]
Add 1/2 teaspoon of potassium sorbate per gallon of mead and stir to halt fermentation. Potassium sorbate does not kill yeast but prevents them from converting any more sugars into carbon dioxide and alcohol.

While Potassium Sorbate is a chemical, it's widely used for food and brewing so, in my opinion, it's not much of an issue.

[Google]
Potassium sorbate is the potassium salt of sorbic acid, chemical formula CH₃CH=CH−CH=CH−CO₂K. It is a white salt that is very soluble in water. It is primarily used as a food preservative. Potassium sorbate is effective in a variety of applications including food, wine, and personal-care products.
 

Blacksmith1

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Is there a way to carbonate it without loosing all the sugar?
[Google]
Potassium sorbate does not kill yeast but prevents them from converting any more sugars into carbon dioxide and alcohol.
wouldn't this defeat his purpose? and don't the bottles need to be sealed to allow the CO2 to build a little pressure, in which case how would the sorbate be added?
 

Maylar

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Anyway back to the topic, I want to make another batch for my mother, but she told me she want a low ABV, carbonated and sweet drink, and I'm not sure how to achieve that, is this possible without any special equipment or without chemicals?
Low ABV is easy - use less honey. But be aware that the flavor will also diminish, so use some strong flavored honey. And you NEED a hydrometer.

Carbonated and sweet are mutually exclusive. If you sweeten the finished mead you have to stabilize it with chemicals else the sugar will be fermented. And if you do that, you can't carbonate it. Do as Blacksmith1 suggested, and check out the stovetop pasteurizing sticky in the cider forum.
 
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Abraham Viera

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Thanks all of you!
I don't know where to get the "potassium sorbate" but will take a look into pasteurizing.
 

Blacksmith1

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anything you need for wine/cider/mead making, chemicals, nutrients, equipment, etc. can be found both online and at your LHBS (local home brew store) if you have one. If you're in the U.S., pretty much and metropolitan area and many large towns have at least one or two. Can't speak for other countries.
 

bernardsmith

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But just be aware - pasteurization of wines or meads (or ciders) with the idea that the sealed bottle will have enough CO2 in it to "carbonate" the wine means that you are subjecting a relatively fragile glass container to a great deal of pressure from the heat expanded gas. Folk on this site apparently play with that very REAL danger of exploding glass, and glass fragments that result behave like shrapnel... Just sayin' .. Maylar's point about looking for BOTH a sweet AND a carbonated mead is really not a simple process unless you can ADD CO2 to your sweet mead. (there is an alternative and that is to sweeten a dry and carbonated mead with sugars that yeast cannot ferment..but we are talking about what may be more advanced wine making processes than you are ready for). Pasteurization of gas filled bottles? Playing Russian Roulette with live ammunition seems, to me to be far less risky.. but Hey! You're an adult and you know the risks...
 

CKuhns

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Couple of things to try or consider...
- Folks do pasteurize ciders and I have heard of some doing meads - As Bernard noted there are real risks that although should not be ignored can be at least minimized if you know what your doing. IMO pasteurizing will change the flavor as you are heating the mead. (I have not nor will not pasteurize for those reasons)
- Consider letting the yeast drive to dry 1.000 SG or less then add fruit in secondary after racking off the gross lees. Fruit does add sugar but the suspended yeast in secondary will most often eat them up raising the ABV a bit. (Be sure to account for that.) IMO The fruit flavor left over kind of tricks your mouth into thinking its sweeter than it is. Then check gravity and if still at 1.000 or less bottle carbonate with the appropriate amount of priming sugar like you would a cider. Be sure to use beer bottles with crown caps or Champaign bottles with corks and cages, wine bottles will not handle the pressure. (Bottle bombs are a real thing and again even beer bottles carry some risk as well.)
- Consider a small cannonball keg set up with CO2 for meads and although a pretty big initial investment for many of us is well worth it if you are going to continue this hobby.
- Finally as above let it go dry. Carbonate (keg or bottle condition) and add honey or simple syrup to the glass and flavoring if preferred when pouring to taste.
 
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Abraham Viera

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Yeah I was thinking about the risks of exploding as well after I read the post about pasteurizing, but what about using soda PET bottles instead?
I know home brewers don't use PET bottles because they are permeable to oxygen, but assuming it have low ABV then the gallon will be consumed relatively fast, not getting chance to get bad, isn't it? Any opinions about this? The PET bottle will inflate before exploding, giving you time to get it out.

Also I just read that getting the bottles in the fridge stop the fermentation, is this right? Can't I just put them on the fridge to avoid the exploding risks?

By the way, I don't live in USA, we don't have home brewer stores, and shipping are a bit expensive when buying online.
 

Maylar

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Also I just read that getting the bottles in the fridge stop the fermentation, is this right? Can't I just put them on the fridge to avoid the exploding risks?
Sometimes that works, sometimes not. Depends on how cold and what yeast. Some yeasts will continue to ferment, although slowly, at fridge temps. I have kept bottle carbonated cider in the fridge for a month and no exploding bottles with S-04.
 
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Abraham Viera

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Sometimes that works, sometimes not. Depends on how cold and what yeast.
Well I'm using regular baker's yeast, the package don't say which specific type, it just say: Ingredient: Instant yeast,
sorbitan monostearate and ascorbic acid (hope the translation is good because the package is in spanish).

Also I just read that baker's yeast stop at about 10% ABV, doesn't that mean that my first batch aimed for a dry 14% abv would be sweet as well :no:?
 

Blacksmith1

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it might be. yeasts don't always behave the way the package says the do. and baking yeast isn't the same a brewers yeast for beer, ale, wine.
 

loveofrose

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There is really only one safe way to make a sweet carbonated mead. Keg the sweet mead and force carbonate it. Truth is once you get a keg, you don’t know how you survived without. Even a 2.5 gallon keg would be fine.
 
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Abraham Viera

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Can't really expend more money right now, I'm in a bit of a economical crisis hahaha, but I'm really thank full for all the recommendations, I'm really are.

Any thoughts on carbonating and pasteurizing on PET bottles planing to drink it relatively fast?
 
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virzik

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I have had some success with using potasium metabisuplhite (E224) and potasium sorbate (E202) as preservatives, while still maintaing sweetness and some carbonation. It's risky method, but it's been working for me by far. Of course, aging is out of question, but I personally think, it should be okay if it's in bottles less than half a year. I just fear that it might carbonate over time so it would make bottle bombs.

For this method you have to make mead with desired ABV. Then you have to cold crash and add preservatives following instructions. I normally add 1g and 1g for 10 liters. After that you should backsweeten with honey and bottle.

Also you could consider adding vanilla extract and/or cinnamon to get sweet mouthfeel while it's still dry. Ginger and/or nutmeg might also work. Biggest problem with low ABV meads is body, so with light honey, it might feel very watery. Sources rich with acids and tannins are your best friends. Also consider flavourful honey, unless you plan to make melomel that shades honey character.

For calculations I mainly use Brewer's Friend recipe builder. It can't be super accurate, because honey might have different moisture and sugar compsition, but it should give you general picture where to aim for.

I haven't done pasteurization, because it seems too time consuming, if I make 2-3 30 L batches at same time.
 

Blacksmith1

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... it should be okay if it's in bottles less than half a year. I just fear that it might carbonate over time so it would make bottle bombs.
Stick one bottle in a plastic bucket with a lid, label it "bottle bomb do not open", wait to see if it goes off. give it a gentle shake/tip every so often to see if it's still a bottle or just broken glass in liquid.
 

Blacksmith1

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the average 5 gallon bucket should stop the shrapnel, or at the very least slow it down. if not, one could use a steel drum
 

NeverDie

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Maybe you could pasteurize it to stop the fermentation and then just use one of those seltzer bottles to carbonate it at the time of consumption?
 

bernardsmith

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One POSSIBLE method but this may not work with the batch you have started - too much sugar for the bread yeast (perhaps) might be to allow the yeast to fully ferment the sugars - and then add some more sugar in small batches until the yeast cannot ferment further because they have reached their tolerance for alcohol. If you bottle at that point and if you have no degassed then your bottles will be sweet (assuming you are monitoring the change in gravity and can observe the point where you have added sugar and the gravity stops falling. If this is sweet enough, OK. If it is not sufficiently sweet then you can add some more sugars) and will contain some CO2. In fact the mead or wine will be saturated with CO2 and as the wine ages the ability of the wine to hold that CO2 will fall as more and more particulates drop out of suspension and nucleate the gas. That means when you open a bottle a few months later you may find that this will be "carbonated" , not perhaps at a level that you might want if you were actively carbonating, but enough to pop a cork if you corked the bottles and did not use crown caps (beer caps) or wire cages (as used to tie corks with champagne type wines).
 
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Abraham Viera

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Thanks everyone, I'm starting to feel a bit nervous about all the bottle bomb thing, now I'm not sure if I want to risk the batch trying to carbonate it.
 

growlrr

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I know it's a little sacrilegious, But if you have a Soda Stream or a similar system and you plan on knocking off the bottle in a day or two...Yes - they work! Think of it as a little bitty keg....
 
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