WHAT IS A HYDROMETER?
A hydrometer is a tool used to measure the density, or specific gravity, of a liquid. It’s typically a long, narrow glass or plastic tube with a weighted bulb at the bottom and a scale printed on the side. The scale is marked with numbers that correspond to specific gravity, which is a measure of how dense a liquid is compared to water. The higher the specific gravity, the more sugar or other dissolved solids are in the liquid.
WHAT IS A HYDROMETER USED FOR?
In making mead, a hydrometer is used to measure the specific gravity of the honey/water mixture before fermentation and after fermentation. By doing so, you can determine how much sugar has been converted into alcohol, which gives you an idea of how strong the finished mead will be.
WHAT IS A HYDROMETER USED FOR?
Before fermentation, you would take a sample of the honey/water mixture and measure the specific gravity with the hydrometer. This will give you the starting specific gravity, or “original gravity” (OG), of the mead. Once the mead has finished fermenting, you would take another sample and measure the specific gravity again. This will give you the final specific gravity, or “final gravity” (FG), of the mead.
HOW DO YOU USE A HYDROMETER?
To use a hydrometer, you would fill a graduated cylinder (or other narrow vessel) with enough of the liquid to fully submerge the hydrometer. Make sure the liquid is at room temperature, as the density of a liquid can change with temperature. Gently lower the hydrometer into the liquid, making sure it doesn’t touch the sides or bottom of the cylinder. Once the hydrometer has settled, read the specific gravity measurement at the level of the liquid surface. Be sure to take a note of the reading.
HOW TO CALCULATE ALCOHOL PERCENTAGE OF MEAD (ABV)?
Once you have both the OG and FG measurements, you can calculate the alcohol by volume (ABV) of the finished mead using a formula:
ABV = (OG – FG) x 131.25
EXAMPLE OF HOW A HYDROMETER IS USED IN THE MEAD MAKING PROCESS:
Here are step-by-step instructions for using a hydrometer to make mead:
- 250ml Graduated cylinder
- Measuring spoon
- Large Baster
- Honey (local is best)
- Fermenting vessel (e.g. carboy or bucket)
- Sanitizer (ex: Star San)
Sanitize all equipment, including the hydrometer and graduated cylinder, using a sanitizer solution or by boiling them in water for 10 minutes.
Determine the desired starting specific gravity for your mead. This will depend on the type of mead you’re making, but a good rule of thumb is to aim for an OG of 1.080-1.120.
Measure out the appropriate amount of honey and water according to your recipe. A common ratio is 1 part honey to 3 parts water, but this can be adjusted based on your desired sweetness and strength.
Mix the honey and water together in your fermenting vessel until the honey is fully dissolved.
Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. This is important because temperature can affect the density of the liquid, which will affect your hydrometer readings.
Use a measuring spoon to take a small sample of the honey/water mixture and transfer it to the graduated cylinder.
Place the hydrometer into the graduated cylinder, making sure it is fully submerged and not touching the sides or bottom of the cylinder.
Take a reading of the specific gravity by looking at the scale on the side of the hydrometer at the level of the liquid surface. Record this reading as the OG of your mead.
Pitch your yeast into the fermenting vessel and seal it with an airlock.
Allow the mead to ferment for 2-4 weeks, or until fermentation has slowed significantly.
Take another sample of the mead and repeat steps 6-8 to measure the final gravity of the mead.
Use the formula ABV = (OG – FG) x 131.25 to calculate the alcohol by volume of your mead.
As always, be sure to sanitize all equipment and follow proper fermentation practices to ensure the safety and quality of your mead.
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