hist-brewing: Re: help with brix

Dan McFeeley mcfeeley at keynet.net
Thu Feb 17 07:40:07 PST 2000

At 04:00 AM 2/17/00 -0800, Tevildo wrote:

>I think it's rather naive to assume that all honeys are 78% sugars and 22% 
>water. That leaves no room for any of the numerous other components (don't 
>bother trying to tell me that amounts by volume are negligible), and ignores 
>the natural variations between batches. You could, on the other hand, say 
>that for all practical purposes 4/5 of honey by volume is fermentable 
>sugars. That I wouldn't have a problem with.   

You're right -- it's not only naive to assume that all honeys are 78% sugar
and 22% water, it's inaccurate.  The 78% is not a percentage of the total
content of the honey, it's a percentage of the Brix reading.  Any honey
with a water content of 22% would be a low grade you couldn't find on the
market.  Anything over approx. 18% water content will allow the osmophillic
yeasts in the honey to wake up and ferment the honey.  The 22% is not water,
it's a percentage of the solid matter making up the Brix reading.

Ok, let's take that 18% water content as a working figure.  With 18% water,
that means that approx. 82% of the honey is solid matter.  This is the Brix
reading.  Now, approx. 78% of that 82 Brix is going to be fermentable sugars.
The other 22% of the Brix is stuff like proteins, colloids, minerals, and
nonfermentable sugars.  

To steer the conversation to historical matters, it's well known that the
floral source of the honey is a strong factor in the composition of the
honey, color, sugar and acid content, and so on.  Some honeys will do well
in a mead, others may be more difficult to ferment.  Is it possible that
in earlier times, some regions would have had difficulty making mead with
the honey available in their area while other regions, using different
honeys, would do quite well.  Do you think there might be anything to
this idea, or is it just hyperspeculation?

Dan McFeeley
mcfeeley at keynet.net

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