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I am making Honey Mead for the first time soon, I will try making 2 1 gallon jugs. I have everything I need (Jugs, siphon, DAP, red star wine yeast, honey, sanitizer, carboy), but I want to make a sweet mead with about 15% ABV when fermentation is done. My yeast will survive up to 18% and I don't want to add chemicals to get them to stop at 13-15%. But I also want the mead to stay sweet afterwards. Should I just add enough honey and DAP for the yeast to survive to 15% ABV and then back-sweeten? If so, when am I suppose to back-sweeten it? Do I sweeten it after I rack it or right before? Also is there way to make the yeast stop at 15% without chemicals?

EDIT: I also have a hydrometer, I have all the materials and tools required to make the mead, just confused on the procedure.

  • How are you planning on monitoring your ABV? – Dave Nov 1 '18 at 13:45
  • I have a hydrometer, sorry forgot to add that in there. – johnsokt01 Nov 1 '18 at 14:19
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Your options for stopping fermentation are to add chemicals (which you mentioned don't want to do), pasteurize it with heat, or cold-crash it to make the yeast go dormant.

If you think you can end up with greater than 15% ABV, another option is to let the yeast finish out on its own and you can dilute it back to where you want it.

You back-sweeten at the end, but if you go that route you need to make sure your yeast is done or inactive, otherwise your fermentation will kick back off; that's not so bad when you are still in a carboy, but not so good if you've bottled and capped it. Often wine, mead, and cider makers who want a sweet product will add sulfites before they back-sweeten to inactivate the yeast.

If you want a non-carbonated sweet mead you can try to walk your way into it. You would first calculate what drop in gravity points you need to get 15% ABV, which if you use the standard equation (which isn't strictly true at high gravities) of ABV = (OG - FG) * 131.25, you need about 114 gravity points. You would start with a certain amount of honey, let it ferment out and measure the final gravity, then keep adding more honey in small steps until you eventually add the number of gravity points you originally needed (e.g., if your first ferment dropped 60 points, you would need to add and ferment out 54 more points to get you to 114 points).

As you can see, that requires a certain amount of attention and care, so a lot of people just sulfite when they get where they want to be.

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