Save my Mead

Hello All,

As you can tell by the name, I’m pretty new to brewing. I have made six or so beers, only one was all-grain, and mostly I just watched that one and drank…

I’ve also made a pretty awesome cider, and a mead that… only didn’t suck.

I made a five gallon batch of mead as my first, allow with a couple 1 gallon batches. I drank the 1 gallons after about six months, well aware that it was kinda early. I was mostly just curious, and wanted to see what an under-done batch tasted like. As I said, it didn’t suck.

I’d used clover honey, cause that’s all I could find… I know it makes things sweeter than other kinds, but… I also couldn’t get my hands on any champagne yeast, so I used “dry ale” yeast…

Now, a little background, I REALLY like dry. I like dry bitter IPAs, I like the dryness of champagne, etc. I do not like sweet. As you might imagine, my brews thus far using clover honey and even the “dry ale yeast” were somewhat sweet.

The original 5 gallon batch that I made, after about 8 months now, I have racked a couple of times, but last time I spilled some. I thought I’d try to add some water, and some more honey, and even threw in a few oranges to change the flavor a bit, knowing full well that my brewing process may be set back a while. I figured, I’m not likely to make it worse than the 1 gallon brews, and I’m probably going to drink it regardless, so what’s to loose, but a few hours of time?

However… My yeast was apparently dead, so it’s been sitting for a little while with extra honey and oranges.

I’d like to get some yeast and throw it in there, and see if it’s salvageable. I want to try to correct the overly sweetness…

I realize there are going to be some folks of the opinion that it’s going to taste less than fantastic, so throw it out and start over, but frankly, I’d rather just drink it as is and cut my losses than throw it out. However, if I can possibly save it, I’d like to.

I’m wondering what kind of yeast to get… there seems to be such a selection that simply saying “Champagne yeast” is like telling the waiter “I’d like food for dinner”… I’ll be using this for future batches of mead and cider. Extra dry would be nice. Any recommendations?

I seriously doubt anyone on this site would tell you to throw it out. Though I personally am not one to drink substandard booze.

Getting it started again at this point does get a little tricky unfortunately. Once you get to a certain level of alcohol it can kill off the yeast before it can get going.

I’m definately not a pro at this by any means, but one of the common meathods for restarting a wine fermentation would be to add your yeast to about 1-2 l of the wine (in your case mead) to get it going. When it has started add another 1-2 littres to that and slowly add more and more each day. Once you get to a couple of gallons you can add to the whole thing.

I’m sure there are other meathods as well, but simply adding the yeast to the whole is not likely to work (did this have a original gravity similar to a wine?)

I would not risk an expensive yeast at this point. Maybe try Lalvin 1118 or something universal like that. It tends to be a fair replacement for a true champagne or cider yeast.

I imagine using a little yeast nutrient in the process would help as well.

Out of curiousity, I just took a turkey baster (sanitized of course) and filled myself a cup of what’s there, as is. It’s not terrible.

Perhaps I’ll just bottle it and chalk this one up to experience… I certainly wouldn’t mind getting the use of that carboy back…

If it tastes good as is, why mess too much with it.

I might as a precaution add a little sorbate to prevent any future fermentation of the nunfermented honey. I don’t have any experience backsweetening with honey, but I imagine the sorbate would be pretty standard practice.

Did you know there is a Mead forum? 8)

Honey, no matter what the variety, will completely ferment out to the alcohol tolerance of the yeast. If you started with enough honey to make a dry 10% mead, US-05 would ferment it to a dry 1.000 SG. If you started with enough honey to make a 17% dry mead and used US-05, you would end up with a sweet 10-11% mead with an SG in the 1.020-30. Because that is the alcohol tolerance of that yeast.

So, how much honey did you use, what was the OG?

What is the SG now?

Consider using a wine yeast, D-47 or 71B, to mike a nice dry 11-13% mead using ~15lb of honey.

I use 71B and “wildflower” honey from a local honey stand. “Wildflower” means they don’t keep the honey separate. So they mix the corn, alfalfa, clover… all into a barrel for packaging.

I’m going to see if they could set back a couple gallons of sunflower honey this year.


I agree that more info on your recipe is needed. If you can achieve your desired final gravity without using a champagne strain I recommend using another strain in the future. Also make sure that you only use premium honey.

15lbs of clover honey.
Dry ale yeast
five teaspoons of yeast nutrients.

That was it for the beginning. Like I say, four months later, I added four oranges and an extra 1/2lb of clover honey thinking to get things started again.

I very stupidly neglected to get an og. I almost always forget that step until it’s too late.

And I did not know there was a mead forum… Sorry bout that. :oops:

What was the SG before adding the fruit?

With 15lbs of honey in a 5gal batch it should have been close to 1.108. Just outside the range of ale yeast. EC-1118 should get it going again.

With 15lbs of honey in a 5gal batch it should have been close to 1.108. Just outside the range of ale yeast. EC-1118 should get it going again.[/quote]

I’m curious to the gravity before adding the fruit.

You are correct that he has probably hit the alcohol tolerance of the yeast. Making a 1pt starter for the new yeast and pitching it to the main mead when active will help the yeast.