Mead Lover's Digest #102 Sun 21 March 1993

Forum for Discussion of Mead Brewing and Consuming

John Dilley, Digest Coordinator


re: Slow yeast in very high gravity mead (Dick Dunn)

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Date: 20 Mar 93 10:37:50 MST (Sat)
From: (Dick Dunn)
Subject: re: Slow yeast in very high gravity mead

Jay Hersh writes:
> …Being an advocate of pasteurization (not boiling) as
> is Dan Fink I steeped the 12 lbs (1 gallon jug) of honey in
> 1 gallon of water at 190F for 40 minutes…

Why so long? I'm not criticizing, just curious…I'd think that just
bringing it up to a temp that high would suffice.

[plus a gallon of cool water after that]
…so we're at a 3 gallon batch, correct?

> Oh yes, to the original preboiled gallon of water I added
> yeast nutrient, 1.5 oz of acid blend, and Gypsum.

Couple of things to check here:

  • How much nutrient? Given the high gravity, I'd think you'd
    want 3 tsp, maybe more, of the typical urea+ nutrient
  • Why gypsum? (beer-brewing habit?:-) You shouldn't need a
    water amendment like that for mead…but more to the point, the
    gypsum will both buffer (which is OK) and reduce acid. The
    amount of acid blend added is already on the low end of
    "normal". You might just be low on acid.

[notes on pitching several times]
> I also wonder if so high an original gravity could have an effect
> on the yeast…

> Anyone else have experience with very high gravity musts??
> All my other meads started at 1.080 or thereabouts, so this
> is new territory for me.

I've started at 1.110, and the final product was quite good, but it took
about six months to finish fermenting. That's twice or more what I'd
expect for starting in the 1.080 range you mention.

There is some "conventional wisdom" (but I confess I don't know how con-
ventional it is, let alone how wise:-) that says to start at a lower
gravity and add honey as it ferments. I've done this, and it seems to
work. Fermentation takes off quickly, and the total fermentation time is
reasonable. The trick is in finding a good technique to add the honey and
manage the variation in total volume: Obviously you don't just toss a
pound or two of honey into a room-temperature liquid and give it a quick
stir! I've mixed the additional honey with about 1/2 its volume of water
to thin it out, and introduced it (warm) at a racking. As for adding
volume, it's OK to start with substantial headspace in the carboy while the
initial fermentation is fast. Still, I'm not happy with the technique,
and trying to calculate the gravity ahead of time is a nuisance.

Dick Dunn -or- raven!rcd Boulder, Colorado USA
…Simpler is better.

End of Mead Lover's Digest