Acids in mead

molecular structure of yeast

A common flaw in meads is a poor balance between acid and sweetness. You need a little acid to offset the natural sweetness in mead.  Honey is not a high-acid substance to begin with, and is diluted with a lot of water.

Adding acid will lower the pH level in your must, and proper pH balances promote healthy fermentation, so I avoid messing with it until fermentation is well and truly done.   A fermentation pH around 3.5 is generally the goal.  Adding a lot of water can bring the pH to 5-7, so you may need to add acid to promote fermentation.  Remember that natural acids are produced by fermentation itself.  If your goal is a dry mead, the acids formed in fermentation may be sufficient.   I check my pH whenever I take a hydrometer reading.  I keep a tube of small strips of litmus paper in my brewing kit, available from my local homebrew store.

To manage this, once your must is assembled, all the honey and water mixed evently, take an acid reading.  A simple buy cheap xanax pills acid-testing kit available at most homebrew or winemaking supply shops will serve.  I’ve seen a number of bloggers comment that the kits have a one-percent solution of sodium hydroxide and make a real point of the strength.  If you like science, you can calculate the acidity needed to arrive at the final residual sugar (hence the degree of flavor sweetness) you want in your mead.  For example, a mead with 2 percent residual sugar will need an acidity of is 6.5 g/L (0.65 percent total acidity). For a braggot style of mead, lower alcohol and made with malt,  look for a pH around 5.0.

How do you add acidity to your must?  You can buy a powdered acid blend (usually citrus, malic, and tartaric acids from a variety of fruits) at your supply shop. I used to routinely add 1 tsp lemon juice per gallon, or 2-3 scraped lemon peels per 5 gallons.

I favor tasting the must after it’s finished fermentation to see if I need to adjust the flavor for acid-sweetness balance.


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