Low ABV Sparkling Mead.

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AZCoolerBrewer

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So mostly I’m a brewer, but loved the ease and result of my cider so much that I’d like to make a low ABV (7% or so) sparkling mead that I can bottle like a beer. I think that I will purposefully not use any nutrient and will bottle in a couple of weeks, assuming the mead has fermented reasonably. The honey is from a local AZ beekeeper from a year or two ago. Should I pasteurize my must before I set it in to ferment or just let ‘er rock? I will dillute with some fresh water to get my wanted OG. What yeast should I use to preserve the honey flavor and ferment well without nutrient?
 

DBhomebrew

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Why the aversion to nutrient?

I've currently got a 'short' BOMM cold crashing. 1# wildflower in a 1 gallon batch, ~1.040. I used Bray's nutrition protocol along with his recommended WY1388. At this gravity, nutrients are all upfront.

It's down to .98 something, totally dry. It was done in less than ten days. I'll package it primed pretty low, 1.8 or so.

Please do not pasteurize your must. Be gentle to your honey.
 
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AZCoolerBrewer

AZCoolerBrewer

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Last time I used nutrient was in a hard seltzer and it took off really agressively at the beginning and then finished high. I didn’t use any nutrient in my hard cider, I made recently and it turned out great. Same with the other cider I made.
 

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virtually no nutrients in honey, there are various traditional recipes around online that use natural ingredients for nutrients
 

D the Catastrophist

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Last time I used nutrient was in a hard seltzer and it took off really agressively at the beginning and then finished high. I didn’t use any nutrient in my hard cider, I made recently and it turned out great. Same with the other cider I made.
By 'finishing high', you mean the abv? Yeast nutrient has nothing to do with the abv, other than allowing the yeast to survive to process the sugars. So too high an abv is a sugar issue. Not a yeast nutrient issue.

You don't need to add nutrients to cider, or even most wines as the fruits have enough nutrients on their own that the yeast can process. Honey is different, it lacks the nutrients the yeast needs in the quantity that fruits have, plus has natural antimicrobial properties. Can you do a mead, especially a lower abv without nutrients? Yes. But it will likely be slower to ferment and is more likely to get stuck.

There are multiple ways to add nutrients without resorting to commercial nutrients.

Here are just a few I have seen:
Just using more yeast than typical. Adding boiled bread yeast.
Grape nuts.
Raisens.
Cooked quick oats and an unpeeled banana.
Strong black tea.
 

Miraculix

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Here is the answer:

 
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AZCoolerBrewer

AZCoolerBrewer

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By 'finishing high', you mean the abv? Yeast nutrient has nothing to do with the abv, other than allowing the yeast to survive to process the sugars. So too high an abv is a sugar issue. Not a yeast nutrient issue.

You don't need to add nutrients to cider, or even most wines as the fruits have enough nutrients on their own that the yeast can process. Honey is different, it lacks the nutrients the yeast needs in the quantity that fruits have, plus has natural antimicrobial properties. Can you do a mead, especially a lower abv without nutrients? Yes. But it will likely be slower to ferment and is more likely to get stuck.

There are multiple ways to add nutrients without resorting to commercial nutrients.

Here are just a few I have seen:
Just using more yeast than typical. Adding boiled bread yeast.
Grape nuts.
Raisens.
Cooked quick oats and an unpeeled banana.
Strong black tea.
By finishing high I mean started at 1.059 finished at 1.021 (hydrometer). The seltzer was still excellent tasting and the ABV was reasonable at 5.5% after carbonation. So I’m a little gun shy with the nutrient. I also am a little nervous about infection and want to heat the must (is that the correct term for honey and water?) up to 170° to make sure it stays clean. I know you mead guys are super process driven. I just want a pleasant effervescent mead to enjoy on my back porch. I’m not looking to store for a year and de-gas every week etc. If my plan will make something unpleasant, I’ll probably just take the time to brew a beer. Thing is, I made a version of the Whitehouse Honey Ale and the honey flavor was delicious. I think isolating that to a sparkling mead might be excellent. I would probably throw a handful of grape nuts in if that will get me where I need to be. Seems like yeast choice could be very important too.
 

DBhomebrew

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Mazers often skip heating the must to preserve delicate flavor and aroma. But it's not as risky as it may seem. Undiluted honey is shelf stable and can't support wildlife. Mix it with clean water in a sanitized vessel, it's clean. Inoculate with a healthy pitch and the Sacc will keep it clean.

Staying away from nutrition to prevent a stuck ferment is plain ol' backward. A proper science-driven nutrition protocol will encourage a full ferment.

Your experience with honey ale and cider is important, but unrelated. The wort had tons of nutrition. The cider a little less so, but still present. Honey has nothing in it too keep those yeast fed. It's a different beast.

The link shared by Miraculix in #7 is what I've used for all my meads so far. Two trad, three short. All successfully fermented to dry and delicious. The shorts are fed all upfront and need no degassing if you don't feel like it. A quick yet gentle 15-second swirl is all you need if you do.

But you've got a plan. Go with it. See what happens.

Mead more process driven than beer?! Not so much. I make mead between beer batches because it's so darn easy.

ETA: When I lived in Pheonix, Costco's Raw Desert Wildflower was my go-to honey. I use honey in place of sugar nearly everywhere, coffee too. I bet that honey would make a delicious mead. Slightly spicy.
 
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SimPilot

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I just started few days ago using modified "traditional russian" recipe.

Their version;
10L Water with 2L honey (3kg?). Heat it until 8L left. Remove "foam" during process.
Pinch of yeast and ferment 1.5 weeks with gas let-off.
Rack it to vessel without gas let-off for 1 week. (open lid daily as required to relief gas. )
Bottle and let it sit for another week. Store bottles in 5-10C environment.

My test version - no boil 2 Gallons of water to <~2kg raw honey. (OG 1.072)
5 grams of D47 yeast.....I'll move it to secondary around 1.040 and see where that goes...
 
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Miraculix

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Mazers often skip heating the must to preserve delicate flavor and aroma. But it's not as risky as it may seem. Undiluted honey is shelf stable and can't support wildlife. Mix it with clean water in a sanitized vessel, it's clean. Inoculate with a healthy pitch and the Sacc will keep it clean.

Staying away from nutrition to prevent a stuck ferment is plain ol' backward. A proper science-driven nutrition protocol will encourage a full ferment.

Your experience with honey ale and cider is important, but unrelated. The wort had tons of nutrition. The cider a little less so, but still present. Honey has nothing in it too keep those yeast fed. It's a different beast.

The link shared by Miraculix in #7 is what I've used for all my meads so far. Two trad, three short. All successfully fermented to dry and delicious. The shorts are fed all upfront and need no degassing if you don't feel like it. A quick yet gentle 15-second swirl is all you need if you do.

But you've got a plan. Go with it. See what happens.

Mead more process driven than beer?! Not so much. I make mead between beer batches because it's so darn easy.

ETA: When I lived in Pheonix, Costco's Raw Desert Wildflower was my go-to honey. I use honey in place of sugar nearly everywhere, coffee too. I bet that honey would make a delicious mead. Slightly spicy.
That's actually not true. Honey does not ferment on it's own until a certain water content has been reached. When the water content is high enough, it happily ferments on it's own, given the time, because it is full of wild yeasts and bacterias.

If you throw in enough industrial brewers yeast, the wild yeast gets outcompeted but will still be active in the background. Most of the wild yeasts will go dormant once alcohol levels get higher
 
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MJd

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Just reaffirming the good comments on here that you should not boil the honey (a gentle heat at most to dissolve) and you need to add nutrients. I recommend fermenting in the 60s or low 70s for temp to preserve those flavors. Yeast - any number will do, but D47 and EC1118 have worked for me.
 
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