Mead Brewing?

Pug Bainter pug at
Mon Dec 9 12:01:23 PST 1996

>> In those cases had the yeast gotten to alcohol tolerence or simply
>> ran out of food/sugar? Since most wine references I seen suggest to
>> get the SG down as close to 1.000 as possible, I would think that
>> they simply didn't have any more sugar to convert.
> I've never made such measurements in the mead I've made. Are you saying
> that as the sugar is used up the S. G. approaches 1.0?

That's what I'm saying. 1.000 is the SG (density) of standard water at
70F (?). If I remember right, alcohol has a lower SG than water. I don't
know much about the actual chemistry though and should pick up a book
on it. (*grumbles for thinking he didn't have to have chemistry in school*)

> Is this reading
> affected only by the sugar content? Or do other things that have been
> added affect it also?

It's mostly the sugar (fermentable and non-fermentable) content. Other
things do affect it, but usually only minorly in my experience. (ie.
spices and other flavorings, actual pulp will skew it though)

> If 1.0 means no sugar then that would be a very dry mead.

Yes it is and would. I know a lot of people who like it this way though.

> What kind of numbers should one expect to see:
> a) at the first, when you start brewing?

We start at about 1.130 to 1.150 with our stuff. This can ferment out to
18-20% given the right yeasts. Some people suggest to stay below 1.100
which is about 14% if fermented out.

> b) at the end for a sweet mead?

I would guess around 1.020 to 1.040 for a sweet mead. The one we entered
was at 1.052 and might have been a little too sweet for some folks.

Btw, we took third in the mead category despite being entered improperly
as a traditional mead when it's a metheglin mead. (*grumbles at entry
people*) We don't know if we would have placed any higher if entered in
the correct catagory since we still had good marks. One of the meads
that beat us took 1st runner up overall. (Of course it was a young mead
that hadn't aged anywhere near long enough. Next time we'll do it right
by planning in advance instead of entering at the last moment with what
we were currently bottling.)

> c) at the end for a dry mead?

Since most of the sugar in honey is fermentable it will come close to or
below 1.000.

Take a look at
for some real good guidelines for judging. Some of the relevant
information is:

  Varietal modifier: The variety of honey that a mead is made from will often
    have a large effect on the flavor of the mead. The brewer should specify
    the varietal honey (for example, clover or orange blossom). The mead should
    have some character from the varietal honey, especially if it is a
    traditional mead.
  Strength (Hydromel / Standard / Sack) modifier: The strength of a mead is
    primarily based on the original gravity. Hydromels (watered mead) will have
    specific gravities roughly less than 1.080. Standard strength meads will be
    in the original gravity range from 1.080 to 1.120. Sack meads will
    generally be greater than 1.120. This modifier was designed so that
    well-made delicate hydromels will not be overlooked in favor of the more
    emphatic sack meads.  Make sure to judge each strength of mead according to
    its own merits.
  Sweetness (Dry / Medium / Sweet) modifier: The perceived sweetness is largely
    a function of the final specific gravity, but other variables such as the
    acidity will also have an effect. Roughly, a dry mead will have a final
    gravity less than 1.010, a medium mead will fall in the range from 1.010 to
    1.025, and a sweet mead will be greater than 1.025.
  Carbonation Level (Still / Sparkling) modifier: Still meads should have
    little or no carbonation. Some slight carbonation is acceptable. Sparkling
    meads should have a definite effervescence and tingly mouthfeel. Tiny
    bubbles are preferable to large bubbles.

> d) are the numbers similar for wines?

And ciders as well. Beers are a completely different ballgame due to the
materials used and the alcohol contents desired.

>From a humor file I got today:

In Kentucky it is by law that anyone who has been drinking is "sober"
until he or she "cannot hold onto the ground."


Phelim Uhtred Gervas  | "I want to be called. COTTONTIPS. There is something 
Barony of Bryn Gwlad  |  graceful about that lady. A young woman bursting with 
House Flaming Dog     |  vigor. She blinked at the sudden light. She writes
pug at           |  beautiful poems. When ever shall we meet again?"

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