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High, off-scale, initial hydrometer reading

eric.burnham

NewBee
Registered Member
Sep 8, 2019
4
0
0
I've started my first batch of mead in many years, and I have some problems right off the bat. My basic question is - can I save this batch of mead?

My initial hydrometer reading is off the scale on the dense side; i.e., it is greater than 1.020. Is this a problem with the hydrometer I bought, or should I add more water? Is it too late to add water? I should be at 4.5 US gallons now.

How much EC-1118 yeast should I use for five gallons of Barkshack Ginger Mead, and is it now too late to add more yeast?

I have very carefully followed the recipe for Barkshack Ginger Mead in Charlie Papazian's book - The Complete Joy of Home Brewing and I note that I used two packets of Lalvin EC-1118 as yeast. I chose it because I live in the US southwest, and the temperature in my house can get as high as 78F

Charlie Papazian's recipe calls for 1 ounce of dry champagne yeast, and each packet of EC-1118 is 0.176 ounces. This means, if I follow Charlie's recipe, that I need three more packets. However, on the packet package, it says that one packet is enough for 1-6 US gallons. I've read other sources on-line that indicate a smaller amount of EC-1118 for five gallons of mead.

Thanks for your help!
 
Last edited:

darigoni

Got Mead? Patron
GotMead Patron
Jun 4, 2016
823
6
18
Brookline, NH
Hmmmm....

You didn’t say when you started this, which makes it kind of hard to say whether it’s to late to do anything.

A hydrometer reading of 1.020 is actually very low. Do you mean 1.200?

If you just started this, then there should be no problem with adding water to change the starting gravity.

EC-1118 is a fairly aggressive yeast, so you can probably get away with using 1g per gallon, but 2 grams per gallon would be better.

There are better sources for mead recipes than a 35 year old book about beer brewing.
 

eric.burnham

NewBee
Registered Member
Sep 8, 2019
4
0
0
I started it late yesterday evening.

The scale on my hydrometer runs from 1.020 to 0.980, and my reading is off the scale, and greater than 1.020, but not by much. So, I think I'm okay as far as that goes? I just won't be able to calculate the alcohol content.

What are some good sources for mead recipes?

Thanks again for your help!!
 

EricHartman

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Mar 4, 2019
312
15
18
Indiana
Well you have arrived at the right place for how to make mead! I landed here about a year ago and I've consolidated a link blast for vital information that I have found here on gotmead. You'll want a new hydrometer as meads will start well past 1.020. Listen to the podcasts and your next batch of mead will get where you want it to go much more quickly. Your current batch will likely require a fair amount of aging to calm some of its angry notes and become a drinkable product as it is fermenting in less than ideal conditions.

The procedure of making mead right:

9-5-17 Ryan Carlson - Modern Mead Making - Yeast in Mead: 9-5-17-ryan-carlson-modern-mead-making-yeast
9-12-17 Ryan Carlson - Modern Meadmaking - Making Happy Yeast: 9-12-17-ryan-carlson-making-modern-mead-yeast-keep-happy
9-19-17 Making Modern Mead - SNA, Racking, Stabilizing and Aging: 9-19-17-ryan-making-modern-mead-snas-racking-stabilizing-aging
9-26-17 Making Modern Mead - Sulfites and Sorbates: 9-26-17-ryan-tom-repas-moder-mead-making-sulfiting-sorbating

The only significant, procedural question, you be left with by the end: How exactly do I cold crash?
Either Vicky or AJ on the podcast 9/25/18 define it as: Cold crash - place your mead (still in primary but gravity no longer changing thus no longer fermenting) in a fridge around 4C for 1+ weeks (generally 1-2 weeks). Helps with flocculation - or clearing the mead by getting yeasts/proteins to stick together.

*some dated information in those podcasts is the concept of degassing. They advise degassing routinely (2-3 times daily) but it is now generally accepted that degassing is only needed to avoid mead eruptions when adding nutrient additions rather than helping the yeasts avoid a toxic environment. So generally it is not done on a schedule but just prior to nutrient additions.

That's probably 10-12h of podcast. Quite a bit of it is banter/filler... but there is gold in there, even in the banter. I've listened to each of them at least twice; taking detailed notes!

The modern mead making series continues from there but they dive into specific meads like pyments, cysers, etc and I've not dived deeply there yet.


Extra goodies I've found helpful:
A very help glossary: https://morewinemaking.com/articles/wine_terminology - fermenters talk weird sometimes!

https://morewinemaking.com/articles/SO2_management information on how to stabilize your mead

https://www.bjcp.org/mead/Mead_Study.pdf - basically a book on this stuff. Some seems out of date but you'll be able to spot it after understanding the podcasts. very helpful section on "balance" & mead faults.

9-25-18 Ryan Carlson - Pairing Yeast to Meads: 9-25-18-ryan-carlson-pairing-yeast-to-meads

10-2-18 Ryan Carlson – Pairing Yeasts to Meads – Part 2:10-2-18-ryan-carlson-pairing-yeasts-to-meads-part-2
8-29-17 Ryan Carlson - Oaking Your Mead: 8-29-17-ryan-carlson-oaking-mead

that oaking podcast is well supported by this supplement: https://morewinemaking.com/web_files/intranet.morebeer.com/files/oakinfopaper09.pdf

Squatchy on acid adjustment/additions for balance

Squatchy on basic mead concepts: http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php/27263-Please-read-this!!!/page2 a large post that details much of the podcasts

Loveofrose detailed oaking experiment: http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php/27970-The-Barrel-Mimic-Experiment
 

Toxxyc

Worker Bee
Registered Member
Dec 21, 2017
377
10
18
Pretoria, South Africa
@eric.burnham please take a picture of your hydrometer, that doesn't sound right to me. Most hydrometers have a much wider range, because I honestly don't see the point in one if it only goes to 1.020 - which is only around 2.3% potential alcohol. That's very, very low.
 

rb2112br

Worker Bee
Registered Member
Mar 27, 2018
116
1
18
Seeing as how it only goes up to 1.020, I'd guess that it is primarily for measurements towards the end of fermentation unless you're looking for ABV's of <= ~2.5%.
 

EricHartman

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Mar 4, 2019
312
15
18
Indiana
That type of hydrometer is generally part of a set. It chops the scale down in size to allow for better resolution/precision (the SG IS 1.0145 vs about 1.014). Not sure who needs this degree of accuracy but its there to be had! That hydrometer might be helpful in the back-sweetening stage of things as you could really hammer down where you like your sweetness... though its likely overkill.

here is the complete set from the same site... you'll notice that the ranges of the three hydrometers overlap

https://www.northernbrewer.com/products/brewery-essentials-herculometer-advanced-gravity-testing-kit
 

Toxxyc

Worker Bee
Registered Member
Dec 21, 2017
377
10
18
Pretoria, South Africa
Hi Toxxyc,

Thanks for your reply! Here is a link to the hydrometer I bought ==> https://www.northernbrewer.com/products/herculometer-precision-hydrometer-0980-1020

I liked it because they say it's more accurate than a triple scale hydrometer, and I didn't know enough about the range.
Yeah that hydrometer isn't going to work at all. You'll notice it says that it's more for the end of the fermentation, not for the start. We might be able to help you still if you post your complete recipe and procedure here? Did you feed your yeast and are you keeping the temperatures in check?