hist-brewing: New to brewing, Fermentation question

Pug Bainter pug at pug.net
Wed Jun 30 19:45:18 PDT 1999

Jonathan L. Shapiro (jls462 at psu.edu) said something that sounded like:
>     Hello, I had a quick question about the fermentation period of mead.  I
> had followed the recipe below a few months back as my first experiment in
> brewing.  My question has to do with the part about adding the vodka or
> grain alcohol to end the fermentation.  Rather than doing this, could I let
> the fermentation continue until it stops naturally?


> Does anyone have an
> idea of about how long that would take as opposed to what is indicated in
> the recipe?

It honestly shouldn't take much longer than a couple months with that
amount of honey in a 1 gallon batch. Most recipes call for 3-5 lbs of
honey depending on the yeast and desired sweetness. (*I* stay in the
3-4 lbs per gallon range.)

> Is there an easy way to be sure that fermentation has stopped?
> (I have yet to obtain a hydrometer)

Without a hydrometer, it is a guess. If there are no more bubbles forming
in the mead, it is *probably* done. Of course if you happen to miss
them, it could carbonate in the bottle.

> And lastly, I assume doing so would
> affect the alcohol content of the mead, but will it drastically effect the
> flavor?

Letting it ferment out will make for a dry mead. With only 2 lbs of
honey, it will probably all ferment out and be bone dry.

Of course *I* like that.

> One of the things I liked about this mead was the fact that it
> tasted a bit like an apple pie, so it worked great as a desert drink, though
> it did almost seem too sweet for some occasions.

That is because the yeast is killed very early on. You could probably
have the same beverage if you just used slightly more alcohol, like
another teaspoon or two and avoided the fermentation process. 
Fermentation for only 48 hours is not much for alcohol content. The time
in the fridge may or may not cause fermentation. I'm not sure why there
is a secondary fermentation listed since after the addition of the vodka
there is no yeast.

Btw, it should have a good flavor if it ferments out, but it will be dry.
This is a fairly standard mixture of spices in meads.

As well, I would recommend using a real airlock instead of the paper
towel. They are cheap and reusable.


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