hist-brewing: Re: Brix definition.

Jerry Harder mastergoodwine at alltel.net
Thu Feb 17 14:59:05 PST 2000

Dan McFeeley wrote:

> At 04:00 AM 2/16/00 -0800, bjm10 at cornell.edu wrote:
> >
> >So it all comes down to "Honey is 78% sugar."--am I right?
> Almost.  "Honey is 78% sugar" says that 78% of everything, water included,
> is sugar, which doesn't describe the sugar content of honey as Brix well.

Not true.  "Saccharometers using Brix or balling (which are identical )
calibrated to read concentration of sucrose in g per 100 g of solution."
- Wine
testing and Production, Dr Bruce W Zoecklein

 Thus brix is % by weight. not " a measure of the percent solid material
to the
water content, usually in grams solid matter per 100 ml water." as you

One pound honey for every .75 pounds of sugar is not too bad of an
though.  It will produce gravitates a little low because honey is closer
to .8.
The gravities will be even a little lower than you might expect with the
number if you are adding honey to a specific water volume, because the
situation is further compounded by the fact that while you're
adding almost the right amount of sugar you're also adding some water.
Substituting about 1 lb honey for .85 lb. sugar will get you very very
close.  Conversely if your bringing a measured amount of honey to a
gallon the method avoids the error for the water contained there in and
so using 0.8 will give a better answer.
There is still some errors due to the sugar concentration in honey

Another really odd way to is to use a chart for Imperial gallons. (First
Steps In Winemaking Has such a chart. )  Substituting pound for pound
honey for water (something I was told you could do when I started making
meads 15-20 years ago and not correct) and using US weights and measures
in your brewing for lb. and gallons gives results of about .002 to .006
specific gravity points high at high gravity.  This book (or at least
the older version ) did not specify it's chart was in Imperial gallons.
The new one has a metric chart too and this is what finely tipped me
off.  It took me all those years to discover where those errors came

I use a honey refractometer, and a scales that weighs to 0.1 lb. for
brewing, and
a gram scales for sample experiments.  My numbers work out to well
within the
errors of the equipment- less than 1%.  As to the stuff in honey that is
sugar, these things play an extreme effect on flavor profile but are so
they cannot be measured by gravity changes.  They are several orders of
magnitude beyond what is readable on a hydrometer or refractometer.

The brix refractometer measurements for 5 honeys I have on hand are as

78.1 Goldenrod honey fall 97
79.3 Maple
80.6 Nebraska wild flower-mostly clover
83.4 End cap honey
79.5 Goldenrod honey fall 94

I buy all my honey from local beekeepers (Both here in Nebraska and when
I was in St. Louis) in 5 gallon buckets.  I have never had trouble with
honey fermenting but these all seem to be high moisture.  Take that for
what it is worth.  They may not match up with what is published as
ideal, but they are what they are.

It is worth noting that the end cap honey is the result of processing by
relatively intense heat in the process of wax production.  The original
honey was very light and pale while the honey left over from the wax
production is almost black.  It is unusually thick and produces a dark
mead with an apple-like flavor.  I expected higher brix from it before
even measuring it.

The many different estimates we are seeing may well be do to
experimental modifications accounting for regional differences in honey,
equipment differences, and personal technique (like where exactly you
think the 5 gallon mark on a carboy is) ect.  Each person needs to use
what works for

You can make a cheap simple honey measureing devise by collecting jars
the tall thin olive ones and put honey in them.  Watch how the bubbles
float to the top when they are turned over.  Make the bubbles the same
size. Faster = thinner honey.  Calibrate that with your test results. 
Keep the jars in the freezer so they don't crystallize.  Bring them and
test sample to same / room temp before using.  If you can figure the %
sugar write that on them.

I encourage all to continue refining there process of measurement and
analysis I'm big on exact measurements.  They always work no matter who
you are.  Inaccuracy can confuse yourself and others.  I and have
invested in the expensive equipment because I want to start a winery
specializing in meads.  My numbers will have to work or I will end up
with much more headaches than most.

Master Goodwine.

Master Goodwine.

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