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Where's my alcohol?

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learo05

NewBee
Registered Member
Jul 26, 2006
9
0
0
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Hi All,
I am brewing my first batch of mead and have a problem I never imagined...
I pitched my yeast (Lalvin EC-1118) on July 15 and fermentation was going excellent. I checked it on July 19 and got SG 1.36 Alc 5%. I checked it again today (July 26), (the fermentation slowed to a crawl as of yesterday), and it is SG 1.000 Alc 0%. Can this be true??? Has anyone else experienced this or is there a way to fix it?? The temperature in the room it was fermenting is 85 F (29.5C) which is well within the acceptable temp for the yeast.

Thanks in advance for any help anyone can offer,
Rob
 

JamesP

Senior Member
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Dec 3, 2003
654
1
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Brisbane Australia
SG measures how much honey/sugar is left.

Congratulations, the yeast has almost finished (It will probably go to 0.996 or lower).

EC-1118 is FAST, and at that temperature, I'm not surprised.
It is preferable to keep the temperature a little lower if you can (around 20C to 25C), but that is difficult in the middle of Summer :-\
 

akueck

Certified Mead Mentor
Certified Mead Mentor
Jun 26, 2006
4,958
10
0
Ithaca, NY
Just to expand on the last post...

The %alcohol numbers you're reading are "potential alcohol" numbers. To determine the amount of alcohol in your mead, subtract the final reading (0%) from the initial reading (whatever it was) and there you go. Since your mead is just about done, there is almost no sugar left and therefore no potential for further alcohol generation--thus your 0% reading.
 

lostnbronx

Senior Member
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Dec 8, 2004
1,020
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learo05,

Welcome to the Forums! Glad to have you here.

Could you post your exact recipe? I agree with the previous posts, but I think we'd all love to see what you're working on.

Welcome, again.

-David
 

learo05

NewBee
Registered Member
Jul 26, 2006
9
0
0
51
Thank you for the answers! I was really worried there.
I went with a basic recipe, I wanted to make a traditional mead for my first try (5 gallons)-

4 Kg summer blossom honey
1.5 Kg buckwheat honey
3 tsp yeast nutrient
1 tsp acid blend

I got the honey from the farmer's market, (unpasturized) and, boiled it for maybe 10 minutes on and off to get some of the wax, etc out. I had read that some people boil it, some don't - so I went half way. I'll be racking this weekend and will bottle sometime in January. It'll be hard, but I am determined not to open a bottle for at least 2 years.

Next attempt, I am going to try adding fruit. Pear or apple and maybe a spice or two...
 

Angus

Lifetime Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Aug 19, 2005
908
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0
51
Milwaukee, WI
Learo05,

Just a quick note on your first SG reading. It should have been 1.036.

Also, with respect to boiling, mazers use different methods to make their Mead with great results, but try a batch without boiling the Must. You may find the delicate flavors from the honey are not lost.

Angus
 

Pewter_of_Deodar

NewBee
Registered Member
Sep 23, 2004
1,867
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Cedar Rapids, IA
Learo,

I do the halfway thing you mention. I heat to 170F or so and whisk the batch and skim the scum. Part of it is that it is the way brewing mead was done in the Middle Ages and I am in the SCA. Part of it is that I like the results...

But like Angus suggested, try a batch with no heat and see which one you like best. Make sure to use the same recipe (especially the honey) except for heating or you won't know what caused the differences.

Good luck,
Pewter
 

Pewter_of_Deodar

NewBee
Registered Member
Sep 23, 2004
1,867
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64
Cedar Rapids, IA
I threw your recipe numbers into the mead calculator and came up with an SG of 1.089 with an 11.9% ABV. So your batch currently has about 12 percent alcohol.

I don't think anyone ever directly said it but (%ABV potential at start - %ABV potential at finish = % alcohol in final result). Ask questions if you still have any...
 

learo05

NewBee
Registered Member
Jul 26, 2006
9
0
0
51
You're right, it was 1.036 on day 4(or somewhere very close to it). I didn't think to take a reading on day 1.
Pewter, interesting you should say you don't boil it much to stay to the Middle Ages tradition, that was my reasoning as well. I was going to make beer, but I saw Beowulf & Grendel before I bought any supplies, and was intrigued by the Mead.
Oh, just to make sure of this - I put one campden tablet into the secondary for every gallon when I rack, correct?

Thanks again everyone! Talk to you soon.

Rob
 

Angus

Lifetime Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Aug 19, 2005
908
0
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51
Milwaukee, WI
Learo05,

Rather than use sulfites (campden tablets) to halt any fermentation, try using some of the natural methods instead, such as putting the mead in the fridge, carefully racking off the lees and letting it age. This will avoid the sulfite taste, will allow those who are sensitive to sulfites to drink it, and will be more in tune with your Middle Ages tradition. Make sure all fermentation has ceased if you are going to use this method to avoid making bottle bombs.

Angus
 

Oskaar

Got Mead Partner
Administrator
Dec 26, 2004
7,874
5
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The OC
Angus,

Proper dosing of sulfites will not leave a flavor. This is why it is advisable to use powder and K metabsulfite as opposed to Campden Tablets which are soduim metabisulfite. Also one needs to be aware of the ppm being added to the mead and the pH of the mead as well. Over addition will certainly result in fouled mead with a sulfurous taste, properly dosed mead will not.

Learo05,

Which Beowulf and Grendel are you speaking of? I just saw the one with Gerard Butler and Stellan Skarsgard and aside from being long and pretty boring, I didn't hear one mention of mead in the entire movie. I replayed it a couple of times because I just couldn't beleive it, but they always mentioned beer rather than mead. It really put me off for the rest of the movie. I just couldn't get behind the portrayal of Grendel in the movie either.

Cheers,

Oskaar
 

learo05

NewBee
Registered Member
Jul 26, 2006
9
0
0
51
It was the same movie. I visited some websites about the period after seeing it, and that's pretty much how I discovered Mead. That and I remember a line in The 13th Warrior - "It's not grain, it's honey!!"
 

Oskaar

Got Mead Partner
Administrator
Dec 26, 2004
7,874
5
0
31
The OC
Dude,

Can you point out which part of the movie that mention of mead happened. Like I said I replayed it several times and didn't pick up on it. If you can point me to the right spot that would be great.

To me, 13th Warrior was a much better movie

Cheers,

Oskaar
 

learo05

NewBee
Registered Member
Jul 26, 2006
9
0
0
51
I found out alot about the period from websites about the movie/poem. That's where I found out about mead and meadhalls, etc. I agree, the 13th Warrior was a bit better. :)
 

Oskaar

Got Mead Partner
Administrator
Dec 26, 2004
7,874
5
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31
The OC
Oh, OK.

Schwew! I thought I was going bonkers there for a minute. As far as I could tell (I replayed the thing three times listening for any mention of mead) there is no mention of mead at all in the movie. They always say they drank too much beer, or "will you have some beer?" but nothing about mead. That in itself really put me off on the movie, and the rest of it just plain bored me out of my mind. It had real potential, but kind of fizzled out like a flat beer!

Cheers,

Oskaar
 

learo05

NewBee
Registered Member
Jul 26, 2006
9
0
0
51
lol, sorry to make you watch it so many times!
I must say I'm not looking forward to racking this weekend and doing nothing for the next 6 months waiting to bottle... I may have to start another batch...
 

Angus

Lifetime Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Aug 19, 2005
908
0
0
51
Milwaukee, WI
Oskaar said:
Proper dosing of sulfites will not leave a flavor. This is why it is advisable to use powder and K metabsulfite as opposed to Campden Tablets which are soduim metabisulfite. Also one needs to be aware of the ppm being added to the mead and the pH of the mead as well. Over addition will certainly result in fouled mead with a sulfurous taste, properly dosed mead will not.
So, NaSO2 will result in a salty taste if too much is added. KSO2, if added appropriately, will not leave any detectable flavor. And effectiveness of SO2 decreases as pH increases. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction Oskaar. An area I was weak in. I found this pretty good site to assist in the addition of SO2: Winemaker

Angus
 
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