My first mead is in the fermenter; went in at 1.084. I read I want to add nutrients at 2/3 and 1/3 attenuation, so 1.056 and 1.028. My process for beer is; seal the fermenter, and forget about it for 3-4 weeks. I never check the gravity along the way, so I have no clue about how long fermentation actually takes.

So at what point should I check the gravity?

And what’s my clue to transfer it off the yeast, Is it just bottoming out, or is it more like a couple weeks after bottoming out?

Meads are strange beasts, and it is difficult to estimate how long active fermentation will take. It could complete in two weeks, or it could take several months to reach terminal gravity.

I would recommend you check gravity every couple days, or even every day to catch the mead at the right time to add the nutrients. I’ve had fast moving wines that I checked morning and evening to catch it at the proper time.

There is no need to rack before the mead is fully done and the yeast has mostly flocculated (unless you want to use a white wine technique of racking before the fermentation is done to encourage a stronger finish). Though if the mead is taking forever to ferment, I would not leave it more than a couple months before the first racking.

Today marks 12 days in the fermenter. OG was 1.084; it is currently 1.003, and the airlock was STILL bubbling before I took the reading, so I know it’s not done yet. This is fun.

Rack it now to remove 90% of your yeast and help prevent it from going bone dry, if you want. Even add gelatin first if you really want to knock it out.

Today was my first chance to rack it, per Dave’s suggestion, and in the past 3 days it got down to 0.998!

Tasted a sample, there’s still so much yeast in suspension so that’s what dominates the flavor. The alcohol is very present, but thankfully nothing off; no rubber, solvents, rotten eggs, or rocket fuel. I also get some of that nice honey flavor on the finish, so I’ll have to see how it tastes when it clears, and consider back sweetening if the gravity drops any lower.

It probably won’t drop much lower, if at all. Meads tend to end up somewhere around 1.000 +/- 0.003, though that can vary depending on the honey, yeast, any fruits, etc. Not like wines that can reach 0.992.

I personally find that back sweetening is a much more reliable method to use than trying to arrest the fermentation. Just make sure you stabilize the mead with sulfite and sorbate before adding any sugar or honey for final sweetening.

No harsh flavors is great for your first try, especially as you fermented during the warm months. I’m guessing you had some form of temperature control.

Bottled yesterday. It was such a gorgeous gold in the fermenter. In a glass it looks like a Pinot Grigio. I’ve hade sweet and semi-sweet, but I’ve never had a dry mead before – not a lot of selection locally – and this is really dry, but I like it, and I left it dry so I can experiment. I want to figure out how much more honey to add to find the right compromise between mine and my wife’s taste. Then I can scale it up for the next batch. OK, I also don’t have sulfate or sorbate so I didn’t want to add more honey.

Dave and Rebuilt,
Thanks for the help. I hope to learn enough to one day pay it forward. Batch 2 is on deck.