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Newbie question about evaporation

Argaen

NewBee
Registered Member
Sep 12, 2017
7
4
3
I started a mead batch with 2 gallons of water, 8 pounds of honey and two satchets of yeast. Primary fermentation started on May 16th. I racked to secondary today, June 6th.

I only got a gallon and a half, and I see that the mead is a lot darker than my previous batch (see attached picture).

Is it possible that so much has evaporated? It has been hot lately, but not enough to turn the A/C on yet. Or did I simply measured the wrong amount of water at the beginning of the process?

Should I add more water to fill the carboy that is only half filled?

mead.png
 
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Argaen

NewBee
Registered Member
Sep 12, 2017
7
4
3
No idea, I brew without hydrometer.
I'm almost convinced that I only used 1 gallon of water instead of 2 by mistake.
 

Dan O

Honey Master
Registered Member
Oct 12, 2020
157
73
28
New Hampshire, USA
No idea, I brew without hydrometer.
I'm almost convinced that I only used 1 gallon of water instead of 2 by mistake.
There is no way you lost that much to evaporation. When racking, you will always lose some, but, not to the tune of 1/2 a gallon.

How do you measure your gravity? How do you know when it's done without gravity readings? 1 pound of honey will give you .035 points of gravity/ gallon.
4 pounds of honey/ 1gallon will give you a very sweet dessert style mead, with a starting gravity of approximately 1.400.
I personally would rack both of them to a larger container, making sure to get as much of the lees as possible, then add water to make 2 full gallons, rack it back into the one gallon carboys & let it sit.
You want the lees because it still has a lot of yeast that will help finish the ferment & clean up after itself. Once you add water, your ferment will likely kick up again.
Without a starting gravity reading, & having so much honey in there, it may need a while, especially if temperature control is an issue.
I would also suggest getting a hydrometer for future use, though. Without a gravity reading, you have no ability to accurately tell where you are in the ferment.



I hope this helps.
Happy meading 😎
 
Last edited:
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Argaen

NewBee
Registered Member
Sep 12, 2017
7
4
3
I don't measure gravity at all. For my previous batches I let it ferment for a few weeks in a large container with a loose cover, waited a few weeks for fermentation to slow a lot, rack into carboys with airlock, wait a few months, rack into bottles and drink.
My plan for this last batch was to use 8 pounds of honey + 2 gallons of water (that works out almost exactly as using 3 pounds of honey and fill with water up to 1 gallon). It fermented strongly the first week, then slowly the next two weeks. I'm still surprised that I got so little after racking, I was expecting to fill those two 1 gallon carboys and have at least a couple pints left over.
I believe now that I made a mistake when measuring the initial water (I was using a 1 pint measuring cup and probably miscounted somewhere) and now I have an extra sweet mead.
 
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Dan O

Honey Master
Registered Member
Oct 12, 2020
157
73
28
New Hampshire, USA
I don't measure gravity at all. For my previous batches I let it ferment for a few weeks in a large container with a loose cover, waited a few weeks for fermentation to slow a lot, rack into carboys with airlock, wait a few months, rack into bottles and drink.
My plan for this last batch was to use 8 pounds of honey + 2 gallons of water (that works out almost exactly as using 3 pounds of honey and fill with water up to 1 gallon). It fermented strongly the first week, then slowly the next two weeks. I'm still surprised that I got so little after racking, I was expecting to fill those two 1 gallon carboys and have at least a couple pints left over.
I believe now that I made a mistake when measuring the initial water (I was using a 1 pint measuring cup and probably miscounted somewhere) and now I have an extra sweet mead.
Gotcha. Best of luck. Keep us posted
 

ShadowVII

NewBee
Registered Member
Nov 14, 2021
19
3
3
36
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
I don't measure gravity at all. For my previous batches I let it ferment for a few weeks in a large container with a loose cover, waited a few weeks for fermentation to slow a lot, rack into carboys with airlock, wait a few months, rack into bottles and drink.
My plan for this last batch was to use 8 pounds of honey + 2 gallons of water (that works out almost exactly as using 3 pounds of honey and fill with water up to 1 gallon). It fermented strongly the first week, then slowly the next two weeks. I'm still surprised that I got so little after racking, I was expecting to fill those two 1 gallon carboys and have at least a couple pints left over.
I believe now that I made a mistake when measuring the initial water (I was using a 1 pint measuring cup and probably miscounted somewhere) and now I have an extra sweet mead.
I’m genuinely curious. How do you tell then if your fermentation has stalled, or by some means prematurely ended compared to your initial plans/calculations?
 
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Dan O

Honey Master
Registered Member
Oct 12, 2020
157
73
28
New Hampshire, USA
I’m genuinely curious. How do you tell then if your fermentation has stalled, or by some means prematurely ended compared to your initial plans/calculations?
I would say the first sign of a stopped ferment would be a stuck gravity reading. If it's the same gravity 3 times in a row over a period of 2 weeks & if it's higher than it should be (too sweet), it's stuck. You can boil some yeast for 20 minutes or so & cool it & add it to the must, it may kick-start it again.
I hope this helps.
Happy meading 😎
 

ShadowVII

NewBee
Registered Member
Nov 14, 2021
19
3
3
36
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
I would say the first sign of a stopped ferment would be a stuck gravity reading. If it's the same gravity 3 times in a row over a period of 2 weeks & if it's higher than it should be (too sweet), it's stuck. You can boil some yeast for 20 minutes or so & cool it & add it to the must, it may kick-start it again.
I hope this helps.
Happy meading 😎
I can completely agree that your advice would be the way to measure it. I’m just wondering how Argaen would be able to tell that without using a grav reading like he was saying.
 

Medsen Fey

Fuselier since 2007
Premium Patron
People can use a refractometer to follow progress.
There is also an ancient thread around here about using a postal scale to monitor fermentation progress. As sugar is converted to CO2 and blows off, the weight goes down (as the gravity drops).
So there is more than 1 way to skin a cat. 🐱

But if one chooses to fly by the seat of the pants and bottle things that seem to have stopped bubbling and cleared, sooner or later, when things warm up or the moon comes into the proper alignment, or the yeast think you aren't looking, they will create an eruptive if not explosive suprise. 💣
 

ShadowVII

NewBee
Registered Member
Nov 14, 2021
19
3
3
36
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
People can use a refractometer to follow progress.
There is also an ancient thread around here about using a postal scale to monitor fermentation progress. As sugar is converted to CO2 and blows off, the weight goes down (as the gravity drops).
So there is more than 1 way to skin a cat. 🐱

But if one chooses to fly by the seat of the pants and bottle things that seem to have stopped bubbling and cleared, sooner or later, when things warm up or the moon comes into the proper alignment, or the yeast think you aren't looking, they will create an eruptive if not explosive suprise. 💣
I know the explosive feeling you describe. When I started the beginning of my blood mead I mistakenly used a brew bag, and didn’t have my fill line marked (so I estimated, and poorly). Long story short, the brew bag and fruit blocked the airlock. I heard a pop in the wee hours of the morning and went back to sleep. Woke up to about a half a gallon spread out around my kitchen. :eek:
 
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Argaen

NewBee
Registered Member
Sep 12, 2017
7
4
3
I’m genuinely curious. How do you tell then if your fermentation has stalled, or by some means prematurely ended compared to your initial plans/calculations?
About stalled or prematurely ended fermentations, I don't really know.

To avoid explosions I just wait. So far I've made 2 successful batches and I'm about to bottle the one I mentioned at the beginning of this thread.
I keep the mix 3 to 4 weeks in a primary fermenter (wide bucket, loose lid), until I hear little bubbling. 2 to 6 months in secondary (glass jars with airlock), until I see very few bubbles. Then rack into botles with stopper (like these ones).

The thing that got me to try brewing for the first time was this blog post from Patrick Rothfuss, to quote him "...Vikings made this, and I guarantee that they did not own a hydrometer. They just thumped it together in a barrel and then drank it..."
 

ShadowVII

NewBee
Registered Member
Nov 14, 2021
19
3
3
36
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
About stalled or prematurely ended fermentations, I don't really know.

To avoid explosions I just wait. So far I've made 2 successful batches and I'm about to bottle the one I mentioned at the beginning of this thread.
I keep the mix 3 to 4 weeks in a primary fermenter (wide bucket, loose lid), until I hear little bubbling. 2 to 6 months in secondary (glass jars with airlock), until I see very few bubbles. Then rack into botles with stopper (like these ones).

The thing that got me to try brewing for the first time was this blog post from Patrick Rothfuss, to quote him "...Vikings made this, and I guarantee that they did not own a hydrometer. They just thumped it together in a barrel and then drank it..."
I agree with the Viking comment, it’s absolutely true! They did do it off of instinct and tradition, and the first brewers would have had to guess at everything :unsure:
 

EricHartman

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Mar 4, 2019
488
148
43
Indiana
Even the ancients worked to improve the science... if I remember properly there's a method of floating an egg to determine completion that was used in antiquity. Also one must account for desire of the human brain to get intoxicated... likely we've all poured foul drinks down our gullet to achieve an altered state (ye old English fine malt liquor comes to mind); easy to assume our ancestors would be even less discriminating given reduced options! There's certainly nothing wrong with the pour and prey method to making mead but you're limited in troubleshooting and diagnosis when things go wrong. In addition predicting results will be difficult. Given the cost of the honey most prefer the increased odds of a good result with the modern practices.

Ps- do some searching on the forum for bottle bombs. If your finished meads have any residual sugars (any sweet taste) then handle sealed bottles with care and assume they are going to shower their environment with mead at some point.
 

ShadowVII

NewBee
Registered Member
Nov 14, 2021
19
3
3
36
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Even the ancients worked to improve the science... if I remember properly there's a method of floating an egg to determine completion that was used in antiquity. Also one must account for desire of the human brain to get intoxicated... likely we've all poured foul drinks down our gullet to achieve an altered state (ye old English fine malt liquor comes to mind); easy to assume our ancestors would be even less discriminating given reduced options! There's certainly nothing wrong with the pour and prey method to making mead but you're limited in troubleshooting and diagnosis when things go wrong. In addition predicting results will be difficult. Given the cost of the honey most prefer the increased odds of a good result with the modern practices.

Ps- do some searching on the forum for bottle bombs. If your finished meads have any residual sugars (any sweet taste) then handle sealed bottles with care and assume they are going to shower their environment with mead at some point.
I agree wholeheartedly on all accounts good sir, and I agree especially that bottle bombs are always a possibility.
 

EricHartman

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Mar 4, 2019
488
148
43
Indiana
About stalled or prematurely ended fermentations, I don't really know.The thing that got me to try brewing for the first time was this blog post from Patrick Rothfuss, to quote him "...Vikings made this, and I guarantee that they did not own a hydrometer. They just thumped it together in a barrel and then drank it..."
Normally I support mead making but that man needs to finish his kingkiller chronicles series before he is allowed to make more mead! Darn near as slow as Mr. R. R. Martin!
 
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Argaen

NewBee
Registered Member
Sep 12, 2017
7
4
3
Normally I support mead making but that man needs to finish his kingkiller chronicles series before he is allowed to make more mead! Darn near as slow as Mr. R. R. Martin!
My headcanon says that those two have a secret bet, the one that publishes the next book first loses.
Maybe we can get Brandon Sanderson to finish both series if he gets bored on a plane or something :ROFLMAO:
 
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Squatchy

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Nov 3, 2014
5,272
95
48
Denver
If the Vikings had the stuff I own they would have died to use it. They weren't stupid. At the time, they used the best science they had. And would today. I hate how everyone wants to think they are Vikings. Or wants to make stuff as the Vikings did. Their stuff would most likely suck, for the most part, compared to today. Back then most all of it would have been based on superstition/ religious beliefs. Ok. Gotta go. I need to go chop down some trees with a rock to make a boat. Because no way in hell a Viking would ever use a chain saw! Or a hydrometer. Haha
 

Argaen

NewBee
Registered Member
Sep 12, 2017
7
4
3
If the Vikings had the stuff I own they would have died to use it. They weren't stupid. At the time, they used the best science they had. And would today. I hate how everyone wants to think they are Vikings. Or wants to make stuff as the Vikings did. Their stuff would most likely suck, for the most part, compared to today. Back then most all of it would have been based on superstition/ religious beliefs. Ok. Gotta go. I need to go chop down some trees with a rock to make a boat. Because no way in hell a Viking would ever use a chain saw! Or a hydrometer. Haha
Current meadmaking stuff equipment would quickly get you a great social position among Vikings of old.

My take was not to do this without an hydrometer because it's "traditional", just that it is possible. I sanitize my stuff and use commercial yeast. But this is not my full time job and I enjoy it with minimal equipment.
 
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Squatchy

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Nov 3, 2014
5,272
95
48
Denver
Current meadmaking stuff equipment would quickly get you a great social position among Vikings of old.

My take was not to do this without an hydrometer because it's "traditional", just that it is possible. I sanitize my stuff and use commercial yeast. But this is not my full time job and I enjoy it with minimal equipment.
It's all good brother. Having fun is what it's all about
 

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