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Bee Gardner

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I'm a first timer and followed this recipe to a t about three months ago with 3 lbs of honey.

https://www.growforagecookferment.com/how-to-make-a-gallon-of-mead/#wprm-recipe-container-5237

What I have now is about a gallon of liquid that looks like Mott's clear apple juice and smells like it could peel paint with a floral note.

I can't float my hydrometer in it to get a final reading. Mine is just a basic home brew one from my local beer supply store, and it sinks like a rock right now. I was aiming for a very sweet mead but this is incredibly dry and astringent.

Can I fix this? Would back sweetening help or just kick off more fermentation? Would more aging help to mellow the astringent taste?
 

Blacksmith1

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to the first question, you didn't. your yeast did their job and ate the sugar. if you wanted residual sugar you should have used more honey. there comes a point they drown in the alcohol leaving behind any excess sugars. this usually results in a very strong brew.
to the next three, yes, yes and yes, yes.
easy to fix. stabilize it and backsweeten to taste, and age it a bit. I let my brews sit at a minimum 3 months from pitching the yeast. I prefer to let them age 6 months to a year but SWMBO keeps asking "is anything drinkable yet?"
the longer it ages the smother it should get.
 
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Bee Gardner

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Okay. I thought three pounds of honey for a gallon of mead would be enough to leave excess sugar to make it sweet. How much do you usually use when making a sweet brew?
 

Yooper

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Okay. I thought three pounds of honey for a gallon of mead would be enough to leave excess sugar to make it sweet. How much do you usually use when making a sweet brew?
You have to use enough to overpower the yeast you're using. Since some strains will easily go to 18% ABV, that is a pretty big dose of honey. You could have a 18% sweet mead, if you used enough honey.

Yeast will ferment the sugars until there are either no sugars left, or until they die of alcohol poisoning. The best way to make mead is to choose the ABV you want, add enough honey to get there and let it ferment out. Once it's completely clear (read a newspaper through it clear), and no longer dropping lees (sediment), you can stabilize it with campden and potassium sorbate, make sure it's racked to a clean vessel and still remaining clear and no longer dropping lees for at least a few days (longer is better) and then add more honey to taste.
 

Seamonkey84

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Depending on your yeast and nutrient protocol, but it’s usually 3.75lbs in a gallon to get a semi sweet with 16%abv. Many yeasts advertised to go to 18% won’t get there unless you use proper nutrients. But using the proper protocol and degassing, most yeasts will also exceed their advertised tolerance, while also giving a product that tastes better in a shorter timeframe. Look at brays one month mead (the BOMM) thread pinned to the top of the forum, even if you don’t use the same yeasts specifically for the BOMM, it’s a good read for modern mead making. There’s also TOSNA for using other yeasts.
 
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bernardsmith

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I am not sure that I agree with Seamonkey. Yooper's post captures the better practice. You decide the ABV you want and you mix enough honey with the water to achieve that assuming that you know that honey is a desert for the nutrients that yeast need (a desert, not a dessert). That means that you know what you need to do to ensure that the yeast will be able to consume all the sugars in the honey. That mead will be bone dry ("brut") . You stabilize the mead and then sweeten it to the level of sweetness that you prefer given the acidity, the amount of alcohol in the mead, the level of tannins etc.
To adopt Seamonkey's approach you might find that the yeast you pitched THIS time will still plow through every last molecule of sugar OR you might find that the yeast you pitched will quit before they even begin because they cannot transport any sugar through their cell walls because of the concentration of the sugar OR you might find the yeast simply quit with pounds of honey still left unfermented. Always much better to prepare, aim and then fire rather than fire, aim and then prepare...
 

Seamonkey84

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Correct, doing it like I described doesn’t always work. Fermenting dry and stabilizing to sweeten is the most sure way to get what you want, but I havent been very keen on adding any more chemicals than necessary. I haven’t even bout any sorbate yet, just using sulfite tablets for fruits, and maybe a dose before bottling. I also do it this way so the yeast has a chance to work on the flavor of the honey and not just have a sweetened with honey flavor. It’s faint, but I could still tell the difference. Like drinking a really fine tea with a floral aroma and a sweet aftertaste, vs adding a tiny amount of honey to a lesser quality tea.
 
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