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First Mead Blunder

Hey all,

I recently made my first mead using D47 yeast. I was shooting for a sweat mead by putting enough fermentables to make a 16% mead and relying on D47 to die out around 13-14%, leaving 2% unfermented fermentables.

I’m not sure where I messed up (I think I must have looked at the honey label wrong and did not add enough), but my SG was 1.120, when it was supposed to be 1.160. Using brewers friend calculators, I figure I’ll end up making a 12% mead, and all the fermentables will…ferment. Leaving me with a really dry mead.

I was wondering if I could still add honey (or sugar) to the mead to bring up the gravity, or if I should just wait until the fermentation ends and then backsweeten before bottling.

Any help would be much appreciated!

No problem with adding more honey in the middle of fermentation. It will actually help the yeast to perform better, as high sugar environments are stressful for the yeast and can inhibit their activity, particularly in the initial growth phase.

But before you do that, are you sure you mixed the honey in very well before taking your gravity reading? Honey can take a lot of work to mix well, and you might have a higher concentration of sugar near the bottom of the bucket than what you measured at the top.

Thanks rebuiltcellars!

I’m pretty sure the honey was well mixed. I heated it to around 140 F or so just to make it easier to pour, and then it poured fairly easily into my 1 gallon carboy, after that I shook it and the whole thing was a uniform golden color.

I have some clover honey at home. I know that’s not the most preferred mead honey, but since I’d just be adding a half pound or so do you think it’d matter? Overall, I like the mead process. It’s quite a bit faster than brewing! (at least on brew day)

Thanks!

Shaking isn’t a great way to mix honey and water; stirring does a much better job. Also, heating is something most modern mead makers try to avoid - it causes you to loose some of the volatile aromatic compounds. Just so you know for next time.

How much honey did you use for what size batch? The sugar content of honey can vary, but not by so much that you’ll see a huge difference between what you calculate vs. what you actually measure. Honey will contribute about 35 gravity points per pound per gallon. So to get your 1.160 OG, you should have used 4.5 pounds of honey per gallon. If you used 3.4 pounds per gallon, that would have given you the 1.120 OG.

Whatever honey you use will contribute to the character of the finished mead. I have not experimented with so many different types of honey, but I have made the same recipe using clover honey and using wildflower honey, and the mead with the clover was somewhat bland by comparison. But it was still decent, and it will get the job done if that’s all you have.

Thanks again for the reply!

I realized I just did a knuckle-headed conversion from the ounces of honey I had to what that was in pounds. I ended up putting in something like 2.75 or 3 lbs. I added another pound, and that put me around 1.150 to 1.155 ish. So, if it ferments down to 1.030 I think I’ll be around 1-1.5% unused fermentables.

So, I guess we’ll see what happens. Even if it comes out dry, I’ll just bottle it and then possibly just mix it with a little cider or something upon serving. I don’t really want to mess with knocking the yeast out and then back sweetening with my first batch!

I’ll be brewing a coffee stout tonight, so I’ll be getting back to something I’m a little more familiar with.

Thanks!

That’s a good way to look at it. Also, consider the fact that if your mead does turn out on the dry side, you actually made a more traditional mead. If I understand your volumes correctly (and your ratio of honey to water), I doubt that your mead will turn out bone dry.
Either way, if your first mead experience is anything like mine was around 30 years ago, you’re going to wish you made 5 gallons or more.
:mrgreen:
:cheers:

Thanks everyone for the help!

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