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I read several recipes and talked with people at my local brew shop and thought I had a pretty good idea of how to make my first batch of mead but after I've already got it going I'm now over thinking and wondering if I did it wrong.

Currently I'm making 1 gallon and have mixed 3 pounds of honey with the water to make up a gallon as I want it on the sweeter side.

I was instructed to heat some water and honey together until melted enough to combine, add to my sanitized bottle, fill the rest with cool water and add my yeast at below 80⁰f.

I did all that and threw my airlock on top and it's currently bubble away in my cupboard. After 3 weeks I was told to bottle them using a siphon and seal them to do a secondary fermentation for at least 3 months. Reading other stuff I now feel like I'm totally wrong and am worried. This is a very important gift and I want it to be right. Any tips or could tell me where I went wrong if I did?

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    As long as it is bubbling, don't panic.
    – chthon
    May 30, 2022 at 14:37
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    Second, did you read about and understand gravity of a sugar solution?
    – chthon
    May 30, 2022 at 14:38
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    From my calculations 3 pound (1.5kg) of honey mixed with water up to 1 gallon (appr 4l) gives a gravity of 1.144. This amounts to a mead of about 20% ABV. This might be too strong for your yeast to survive. It would mean that your mead stays sweet.
    – chthon
    May 30, 2022 at 14:44
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    Which yeast did you use?
    – chthon
    May 30, 2022 at 14:55
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    From your question I don't see any explanation what is happening that makes you worried or what you are asking about?
    – Mr. Boy
    Jul 7, 2022 at 14:06

1 Answer 1

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So, from an small calculation your mead has a gravity of 1.144 or 33° Brix.

If a yeast was able to convert all this sugar (from the honey) into alcohol, it would yield 20% ABV. Most yeasts will not tolerate this, and die when reaching a level between 13% and 17% ABV. It would mean, though, that because your mead cannot ferment further, it stays sweet.

However, what you will have is that your yeast will work slower and slower. Bottling after three weeks with this gravity is overly optimistic.

The reasons that the yeast will work slower and slower are twofold:

  • Increasing alcohol level will stress the yeast and kill of weaker yeast cells
  • Lack of proper nutrition will also stress the yeast

So you will need to have patience and wait until your mead stops fermenting. That will take more than a couple of weeks, probably a couple of months.

As for sweetness, what you should understand is that what we experience as sweet is mostly through the sugars glucose, fructose and sucrose. However, yeast will always ferment these into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Honey is almost pure these sugars. This means that it is difficult to make sweet mead without special techniques or other chemicals, especially for a beginner.

You might be lucky in two ways:

  • The alcohol could kill your yeast and leave residual sugars, without a chance that the fermentation starts again
  • The yeast that was recommended has some sweet-like byproducts, and as such makes your mead taste sweeter

I also recommend buying a book on brewing mead, that will give you more information.

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  • I'm totally okay letting it go months and months is it needs. I would prefer it to be sweeter so that doesn't bother me. All of the recipes I had read online for a 1 gallon batch of sweeter mead said 3 lb of honey so should I decrease on my next try? May 30, 2022 at 21:21
  • Would you be able to suggest how long to leave it? I will buy a hydrometer now that I know a little better but is there a number I should be looking for. I'm going to go and try and find a good book too so thank you for the suggestion May 31, 2022 at 22:42

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