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20% alcohol?

Hey all,

So I made my first mead a few months ago, and it’s been tucked away in the corner of my basement until recently.

When I bottled it, I took a final gravity reading and got 1.001. My starting gravity was 1.150, which means this sucker is around 19% alcohol.

My question is, I used Lavlin D47 yeast for this mead, and the packaging says it’s only alcohol tolerant up to 14%, so do you think I just messed up a gravity reading, or is it possible to go that far above the alcohol tolerance of a yeast?

What’s written on the label are probably averages so your reading could be right.

I would agree with The Cat. One of the risks you may have at that high of an alcohol is autolysis, so if it it has been on the yeast for that long, you may want to rack and even consider throwing in some oak (or even cedar) cubes/spirals for additional aging. Sounds like a beast!

In my experience, the alcohol tolerance ratings for Lalvin yeasts are pretty accurate within a couple percentage points. I suspect you measured a highly honey dense sample to get that OG. The FG is pretty typical for a dry mead.

How much honey did you use and what was the batch size? Honey is reasonably consistent in sugar per pound (as long as you stay away from Chinese honey), so it should be easy to figure this out.

I used 3.5 lbs wildflower honey in a gallon jar, and then topped off with water. This was my first mead attempt, so it felt a little “seat of my pants-ish.” Maybe I didn’t with enough water or something.

I did rack it off the yeast cake about two months into fermentation, so before bottling it was in secondary.

Technically, it’s a melomel, because I added cinnamon and oranges.

What’s confusing is, if it’s that high in alcohol, you’d expect it to be super dry, but it’s actually quite sweet. I like the taste of it, and I’d make it again, it just seems like a really high alcohol content.

According to my calculation, 3.5 lbs of honey mixed with enough water to make 1 gallon total should give an OG = 1.120. If your gallon jug is actually a bit smaller than 1 gallon, that could be enough to make the measurement 1.150 as you saw it. Or it could be the gradient issue if the honey wasn’t mixed as well as you thought initially. From experience, I can say it is harder to mix honey well than you might think.

Take another gravity reading now. If it now tastes sweet, maybe it is the FG reading that is off? Bubbles clinging to the hydrometer can throw off the reading, so try to degas the sample first.

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