# hist-brewing: Sweetening meads and hydrometer questions

NeophyteSG at aol.com NeophyteSG at aol.com
Tue Jul 11 14:09:09 PDT 2000

```In a message dated 7/11/00 8:11:56 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
WyteRayven at aol.com writes:

> If I start a mead, and take a hydrometer reading, and then at the first
> racking I sweeten the mead, do I take a second reading before or after I
> sweeten? If I then sweeten a third time, do I use the original hydrometer
>
>  Is there a book or a web page that explains hydrometer use more in depth?
> The instructions that mine came with are woefully inadequate.
>

A hydrometer measures the density of a fluid relative to the density of
water.  For winemaking, that's a range of around 0.990 to around 1.180, with
water at 60F measuring 1.000.  You'll want to calibrate your hydrometer by
measuring 60F water and seeing if there's a discrepancy, as accuracy can vary
with different hydrometers and manufacturers.  If there is a difference,

If you're measuring at a temp other than 60F, you'll have to adjust the
reading according to the following scale:

50F     -0.0005
60F      0
70F     +0.001
77F     +0.002
84F     +0.003
95F     +0.005
105F    +0.007

For example, if it measures 1.080 at 95F, the actual SG would be 1.085 (1.080
+ 0.005).  If your hydrometer also has a Brix scale, that tells you what the
percentage of sugar by weight is in the must, with a range of around 0% to
38%.

The hydrometer's alcohol scale measures the must's *potential* alcohol if all
the sugars were to be fermented out.  Whether you actually achieve that
potential is largely a function of the yeast you choose.  You can determine
the *actual* alcohol percentage by taking an initial reading prior to
fermenting and subtracting the reading at the end.  For example:

Initial: 1.080SG    10.5%
Final: 1.010SG      1.5%

According to this example, your final product would have around 9% alcohol by
volume.  If, for example, you were making a "Heroic" mead (around 5#
honey/gallon) by adding the honey in stages, you'd also take SG readings at
the beginning and end of each stage, summing the alcohol percents for the
final.

Hope that helps clear up some of the mystery.

Warm Regards,
Shawn

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