Amount of honey used during the initial creation of must:
The amount of honey you use to make your mead will have a small effect on the alcohol level. The more honey the higher the alcohol. So, dry meads will have a bit less alcohol and sweet mead a bit more.
Adding honey later in the ferment - You can always add more honey to your batch of fermenting mead after the initial ferment has finished. This will make the mead sweeter and boost up the alcohol level.
The most important factor when it comes to alcohol content in mead
The yeast you use is the single most important factor when it comes to alcohol content. Every strain of yeast has a specific tolerance for alcohol Once this tolerance is reached the yeast will die and the ferment will end. These tolerances are well documented and here are the figures for some of the more popular yeasts that are used in mead and wine making:
|Red Star Wyeast 3267
If you are a beginner to mead making and you simply choose your yeast and follow standard formulas for making mead without adding extra honey you will get a pretty accurate indication of alcohol content. With adjustments for amount of honey it can vary by one or two percent either way. With a dry mead that is light on honey the percentage would come down and with a sweet mead the percentage would go up,
One thought about Alcohol content. If you are trying to make a dry mead with a very low alcohol content - say below 10 or 11% it will be very susceptible to going bad. Alcohol acts as a preservative and a low alcohol content makes it susceptible to contamination. You may end up with a vinegar mead!
Calculating Alcohol Content with a Hydrometer - I have some information about using a hydrometer here
You can get a fairly accurate calculation of the alcohol content in your mead if you take two hydrometer readings of it. The first reading should be taken when the initial must is mixed. Just the honey and water mix, take the reading before you pitch any nutrients or yeast.
And when the mead is completed and ready to drink you take a second hydrometer reading. The difference between the two measurements will give you a good indicator of how much alcohol is in it. This difference is a drop from the first reading to the second.
Here is the formula for calculating the alcohol level:
Take your final hydrometer reading and subtract it from the original reading. Then divide this by .00736. The answer is your alcohol content in percent.
Let's say your original reading was 1.08
and your final reading is 1.01
Your subtraction gives .07
Divide this by .00736 and the alcohol content is: 9.51%
Lalvin ICV D-47 Yeast A vigorous white wine yeast that will leave a wine very full bodied with enhanced mouthfeel. Accentuates varietal character and contributes ripe tropical fruit and citrus notes. Recommended for Chardonnay and Rose as well as mead, when nutrients are supplemented. Whites, rose, mead.
Lalvin EC-1118 Yeast - AKA Prise de Mousse. Saccharomyces bayanus. A low foaming, vigorous and fast fermenter good for both reds and whites. It is also ideal for ciders and sparkling wines. A very competitive yeast that will inhibit wild yeasts. It will restart stuck fermentations because of good alcohol and sulfite tolerance. This is a very neutral yeast that will have very little effect on the varietal character of the grape. A popular strain that ferments fully and flocculates well producing compact lees. Good for cool fermentations. Champagne, dry reds, whites, ciders and sparkling. 45-95° F (7-35° C)
Lalvin K1-V1116 Yeast - A vigorous and competitive fermenter that, because of its neutral effect on varietal character, is very well suited to fruit wines as well as wines to be made from grapes. Grapes and fresh fruit. 59-86° F (15-30° C)
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