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View Full Version : Mead Fermenting Too Fast?



Teufelhund
10-17-2007, 02:59 PM
Hi All,

New member but I have been brewing my own for about 2 years and I've never had a batch do this. Standard sack mead recipe ( 1 gal raw honey, 5 gal spring water, 1 pkt Montrachet Red Star yeast, peels of 6 lemons, 5 tbsp very strong Darjeeling tea, bring to 170*, let set overnight, bottled into 6 gal sterilized carboy). The thing was, after 2 weeks or less, it completely quit fermenting. It smelled OK, musty, but no vinegar or aspirin smell). So I wondered if the yeast was old. I added 2 tsp yeast nutrient. Nothing. I then racked out 1 qt., added fresh yeast and re-introduced it to the main. Still, nothing. It has dropped major sediment and is quite clear. It still smells musty but again, no bad odors. I'm going to rack it out today to get rid of the sediment but is there a way to see if it's done or spoiled?

Thanks!

DD

Oskaar
10-17-2007, 04:12 PM
Welcome to Got Mead!

Current gravity and pH please.

Teufelhund
10-18-2007, 12:19 PM
Afternoon!

SG was almost @ 1.0 /0.. I looked at it this morning and it appears that it is fermenting again. I'm guessing that the excessive amount of sediment was causing autolysis. I had almost a cup. :icon_puke_r:
I don't do ph tests. Never really saw the need. I have ph meters and such but I use them exclusively for the orchid breeding equipment.
I'll keep you posted as to the fermentation if it increases.

DD

Johnnybladers
10-18-2007, 07:00 PM
I don't do ph tests. Never really saw the need.

DD

ph can have a serious affect on fermentation or lack thereof for one.......

akueck
10-18-2007, 09:15 PM
So the current SG is 1.000? Doesn't sound like a stuck mead at all, sounds more like it's done. And it's clear, so congrats!

liff
10-19-2007, 08:33 AM
Welcome.

I vote done also. 12 lbs honey and 5 gallons of water makes 6 gallons of must right?

That means this could go no higher than 11% or so, that is not much of a challenge for Montrachet to do in a week I think.

I recently fed an elderberry wine using White Labs champagne yeast, I made 18.3% alcohol is 6 days. I think your mead is done. Excellent work. :icon_thumleft:

Teufelhund
10-23-2007, 12:10 AM
Well, it's slow cooking again. Very clear, still a bit of sediment and a about 2 doz small spots where minute bubbles have risen. I know it can't be done as I just started it a month ago! I still have 10 gals of sack mead w/ regular 6 month Montrachet yeast and it was due on 4/29 but they're still going too. Slow, but steady. Just goes to the mead to run the show.
Thanks for the tip on the ph. I haven't seen a post yet (although I know it's out there somewhere...) on proper ph. What should it be close to? Is it different for different meads, say, lemonade mead as compared to strawberry melomel?
For the most part, I stick to the basic sack mead and my only melomel was just 6 added Granny Smith apples. Plans for different kinds are in the works as well as trying to size down from my normal 5 gal at a time.
Thanks all!

DD

akueck
10-23-2007, 12:44 AM
You'll find a lot of discussion on pH, but a few quick tips. pH will depend on both the ingredients and the yeast. Shoot for around 3.5 (+/- 0.3 or so) once fermentation is good and going--yeast activity lowers the pH from 4-5 initially to 3.5ish. If you're making a lemon mead you'll have to watch your starting pH, otherwise you should generally be fine. (I haven't had pH related problems thus far. <knocks on wood>)

Rhianni
10-23-2007, 05:46 PM
If the current gravity is 1.000 its pretty much done. Another test is what does the sample you measure the gravity with taste? I did read where you have another batch that took a long time but 1 month is about right. Unless you are having very strict control methods than I wouldnt be surprised to have wide variances in the speed and intensity of a fermentation even with same recipes. .

Teufelhund
10-24-2007, 12:00 AM
Rhianni >>>> Another test is what does the sample you measure the gravity with taste?

I didn't bother to taste it. It was still musty and raw.

>>>I did read where you have another batch that took a long time but 1 month is about right.

No, the Montrachet should take 6-9 months whereas the Champaigne yeast will take a year or so. I've never had fully fermented mead in a month. The two batches I did last Nov. were made with wine yeast but are finally about done. The one is still rather cloudy but the other one is a beautiful amber/redish color and very clear. Both were done with the same recipe, same yeast batch and same honey producer. Both have been racked 3 times.

>>>Unless you are having very strict control methods than I wouldnt be surprised to have wide variances in the speed and intensity of a fermentation even with same recipes.

Climate controlled closet, constantly 75*-80*. As a very anal scientist, I try to keep the variables to a minimum.

DD

akueck
10-24-2007, 01:06 AM
I'm wondering about your definition of "done" if you think it should take a year. Fermentation can be done long before a mead clears, thus the contention that "it's done" when it hits 1.000. But if you're thinking more along the lines of "ready to drink, clear and pretty", then no it's not done, hehe.

For me, things get done in a hurry (2 weeks?) and even clear quickly (must be something in the water), so consistently requiring a year to finish seems like a long time.

Also 80 seems a little hot, have you tried lowering the temperature to the high 60s? Once fermentation is over (SG is stable), cooling will help the mead to clear as well.

Oskaar
10-24-2007, 01:12 AM
No, the Montrachet should take 6-9 months whereas the Champaigne yeast will take a year or so. I've never had fully fermented mead in a month. The two batches I did last Nov. were made with wine yeast but are finally about done. The one is still rather cloudy but the other one is a beautiful amber/redish color and very clear. Both were done with the same recipe, same yeast batch and same honey producer. Both have been racked 3 times.


Shund,

I've read a few of your posts and I'm seeing that you're operating under some notions about fermentation that are not entirely accurate. Generally only weak, unhealthy fermentations will take more than a month. I alluded to this in another post you made in the past couple of days related to your method of rehydrating your yeast and the way you prepare your must.

The preponderance of my fermentations last two weeks, three at the outside. If they run longer than that I know I've done something wrong. There are exceptions such as low temperature fermentations (60 degrees F and below) for specific applications and very specific yeasts. A quick word on the two yeasts you mentioned in your post below.

From LeSaffre:
Red Star Montrachet
(Davis 522) is a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and has been derived from the collection of the University of California. This strain has been widely used in the U.S. since 1963. It is a strong fermenter with good ethanol tolerance, and will readily ferment grape musts and fruit juices to dryness. This strain also has good tolerance to free sulfur dioxide. This strain is recommended for full bodied reds and whites. It is not recommended for grapes that have recently been dusted with sulfur, because of a tendency to produce hydrogen sulfide in the presence of higher concentrations of sulfur compounds. Montrachet is noted for low volatile acidity, good flavor complexity, and intense color.

Red Star Pasteur Champagne
(Davis 595), a strain of Saccharomyces bayanus, has been derived from a pure culture slant of the Institut Pasteur in Paris. This strain has been widely used in the U.S. since 1968. It is a strong fermenter with good ethanol tolerance, and will readily ferment grape musts and fruit juices to dryness. This strain also has good tolerance to free sulfur dioxide. This strain is recommended for all white wines, some reds and for fruit juices. Although this yeast is somewhat flocculant, it is not commonly used for sparkling wine. Pasteur Champagne has been recommended, by several sources, for restarting stuck fermentations.

Preparation/Rehydration:
Red Star Active Dry Wine Yeast may be used with or without prior rehydration. For best results, add 1 kg. dry yeast to 5-10 liters of water or must at 36°- 39°C (97°- 102°F). After 10-20 minutes, the yeast is ready to use. Yeast activity will be reduced with higher or lower temperatures, or by prolonged soaking. Temper rehydrated yeast by adding small amounts of cool juice prior to inoculating. Warm, freshly rehydrated yeast may not survive inoculation into juice that is significantly colder. Ferments best between 15-30 deg. C, (59-86 deg. F).

The upper and lower temperature range are the extremes at which the yeast will ferment. Generally mead fermentations need to be conducted at 70 degrees or lower and if the temperature climbs to 75 or above for a very short time it won't affect the overall fermentation other than to speed it up. If the temperatures are sustained above 75 and into 80 degrees over time, the flavor of the mead will definitely be altered and it will take a very long time for the volatile fusels and higher alcohols to mellow out if they ever do. The upper fermentation ranges you see are generally related to red wine fermentations which generally tend to run higher on the temperature scale. However, temperature control is key and for every 1 degree brix drop in your must there is a 2.3 degree F increase in temperature. The temperature can build up very quickly and kill off the yeast living in the must when the temperature rises above 100 degrees F.

It's been my experience that Montrachet has a very pronounced "burnt-plastic" flavor in meads that are fermented at temperatures above 75 degrees F, and less pronounced when fermented at 70 degrees or less. You'll also very likely have fusel flavors due to volatilization during both fermentation and aging. These fusels will give your mead a rocket fuel flavor. I've had OK meads with Pasteur Champagne and Premier Cuvee. I like the results I get from the Lallemand yeasts much better though, and I find that I have more vigorous, healthy and rapid fermentations when following proper rehydration and Staggered Nutrient Addition schedules coupled with daily aeration and agitation throughout the fermentation.

Oskaar

Teufelhund
10-24-2007, 10:50 AM
AKueck wrote: >>>I'm wondering about your definition of "done" if you think it should take a year.

When it stops fermenting i.e. no more bubbles in the airlock. After it stops, I wait a week, rack it out and let it go again for a week or two. If there's no activity, then I know it's done. I usually have to rack at least 3 times in the 6-9 months it takes
That's the only way I've known and never had any problems yet so that's why the whole 1 or 2 month mead just blows my socks off. But then again, I'm doing 5 gals at a time too, so that may also be a factor.
Thanks for the imput!!

DD

wayneb
10-24-2007, 11:15 AM
ssteufelhund, let me add my voice to Oskaar's and the others here, because you and I share a lot of experience making mead the "traditional way." I mean traditional in the sense of using techniques and recipes that were developed when meadmaking was "re-discovered" here in the early to mid 1970's. I can attest to meads taking 9-12 months to slowly percolate in glass carboys thick with dust tucked away in my closet back in my apartment in Texas... with airlocks drying out not once, but several times, before the mead was done fermenting! Please take my word for it, and then verify it yourself by experimenting with the "new" techniques discussed here on the Gotmead site -- it is no longer necessary to wait months for a mead fermentation to complete. I made mead literally for decades using processes I learned back in the 70's, and I considered myself an expert meadmaker at one time. Then I took a hiatus from the hobby for several years. Just for grins, about a year and a half ago, I decided to check online for any new ideas in meadmaking before I blew the dust out of my old carboys to make a new batch or two. I even bought several packets of Red Star Montrachet and Pasteur Champagne, since they were the yeasts I'd used most in the past.

Boy - was I BLOWN AWAY by what I was reading, both here and on other meadmaking forums. Things like must oxygenation, nutrient additions (according to a staggered protocol; not all at once), different yeast strains for control of fermentation kinetics and flavor management, temperature and pH measurement and adjustment... all were new to me. The claims of super quick fermentation and extremely rapid clearing posted here were almost unbelievable to this "seasoned expert." But I decided to try out the new techniques for myself. Darn it if they don't work EXACTLY AS INDICATED!

The bottom line for me is that I was immediately humbled (me, an expert? HA!), and extremely thankful that people like Vicky were willing to host sites like Gotmead, so all this new knowledge could be disseminated to the larger meadmaking community. :notworthy: And, with the success of my first batch using the new protocols, I went absolutely nuts! I have to confess that I'm extremely happy to be a married man, not the least because I'd have blown way past my 100 gal legal limit in the last year if I were single! :laughing7:

Now I've reached the point that I'm bellyaching because my most recent batch, an Uber-mead of 1.180+ equivalent starting gravity, might take as long as 3 weeks to finish primary fermentation! Man, I do LOVE this hobby, and everyone here who has helped me to bootstrap myself up to the current state of the meadmaking art!

Teufelhund
10-24-2007, 11:53 AM
Oskaar,

WOW! Thanks! I only have the mead making guide from the Asatru Alliance and never really did research on the yeasts themselves. The only other help I got was from another buddy out in AZ who had made it before so we talked alot.
Red Star is the only yeast I've been able to find. The Lallemand yeasts I found on-line ( http://www.lallemandwine.us/products/yeast_strains.php ) Their lab tech told me that these were best for meads: DV10: Champagne selection for primary and secondary fermentation
DV10 was selected by the SOEC in the Champagne region and is approved by the CIVC in Epernay. DV10 has strong fermentation kinetics over a wide temperature range and relatively low nitrogen demands. DV10 is famous for its ability to ferment under stressful conditions of low pH, high total SO2 and low temperature. Low foaming and low VA production characterize it. DV10 is considered a clean fermenter that respects varietal character and avoids bitter sensory contributions of other one-dimensional ‘workhorse’ yeasts such as Prise de Mousse. It is classified as a Saccharomyces cerevisiae bayanus.
Lalvin V1116 (K1): The secure choice for light, fresh, crisp whites
The Lalvin V1116 has been isolated in 1972 by Pierre Barre of the INRA Montpellier. Lalvin V1116 tends to express freshness of white grape varieties. Natural fresh fruit aromas are retained for a longer time when compared with wines fermented with standard yeasts (such as Prise de Mousse). When fermented at low temperatures (below 16°C) and with the right addition of nutrients, Lalvin V1116 is one of the more flowery ester producers (isoamyl acetate, hexyl acetate, phenyl ethyl acetate). These esters bring fresh floral aromas to neutral varieties or high-yield grapes. Among the high ester producers, Lalvin V1116 is the most resistant to difficult fermentation conditions such as low turbidity, low temperature, and low fatty acid content. Lalvin V1116 is recommended for the fermentation of ice wines. It can also be used for rosé or basic red wines.
He also mentioned a anchor VN13 but I couldn't find it. I found sellers in smaller quantities at http://morewinemaking.com/search/102731 which will be helpful. What is your perspectives on those he mentioned? Which ones do you use.
Now here's another question for you (yeah....no kidding. Insert Oskaar smiley slapping his head in frustration) You wrote " and I find that I have more vigorous, healthy and rapid fermentations when following proper rehydration and Staggered Nutrient Addition schedules coupled with daily aeration and agitation throughout the fermentation." So you shake your meads up during fermentation? Never thought about adding nutrients during fermentation either. Is there a % per gal you use? Is it the ID Carlson or do you have a special brand? Can you tell me more about your agitation methods? Also, how does one measure brix? Is that the one pac line on the hydrometer? I also turned down the temp in the brewing room so I'll be closer to 70*. We'll see how that goes.
I noticed that for the entire week, the amber batch I started 10/29/06 has been fluctuating in the airlock. It now has a 'negative' bubble in the airlock, if that makes any sense. I'm going to rack it once more today and let it settle for a few days but I think it's done.
At least I was doing my yeast correctly by letting it start for 20-30 min. at least. :icon_thumleft:
You know, I used to visit the mead maybe 2 or 3 times a week but now you volks have me looking at it every day and pondering doing smaller batches as experiments. ;D Thanks so much for all the help.

DD

ehanuise
10-24-2007, 11:54 AM
Wayne, you sound like the shopping channel :laughing4:
Kidding apart, you're right, someone used to the 'old way' is facing a paradigm shift when introduced to current techniques. :icon_study:

Teufelhund
10-24-2007, 11:59 AM
Hi Wayne,

You know, I'm just trying to be like a sponge, taking notes, looking at new possible recipes, etc... I'd eventually like to try my hand at some reds some time or some nice German reisling but for now, I'm trying to catch up to the pros here and get the Art perfected. Once I know all the new basics, I'll try to experiment.
This forum really has helped alot. Thanks to all who have replied!

DD

wayneb
10-24-2007, 12:14 PM
Sorry to all if I went a bit over the top with that last post! Just trying to give credit to all these wonderful folks, ya know. ;)

Anyway, Oskaar will probably tell you ssteufel, to use the Search Tools (there are two - one associated with the forum only, and the other searches the broader Gotmead site) to find the answers to all your questions. He's covered all those topics at one time or another in the recent past. The search tools are actually pretty helpful. For example, check out here (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_smf&Itemid=412&topic=3351.0), which is what I found searching on "Staggered Nutrient Addition" just now.

And I'm sure that Oskaar will take all this as a reminder of how welcome the book that he and Vicky are putting together will be when it gets published! ;D

Oskaar
10-24-2007, 03:00 PM
Hey Ssteufelhund,

I suggest taking a read on my Blue Berriez Cyser (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_smf&Itemid=412&topic=4657.msg38385#msg38385) recipe. I go over much of what is entailed in doing a traditiona mead in granular detail. This includes stirring, swirling (agitating) aeration, etc. As well as mixing up the must and using a staggered nutrient addition. Take a gander at that recipe, and then also take a look here (http://) for additional infomation on nutrient, rehydration and must mixing.

I use More Beer and More Winemaking all the time. The rehydration nutrient they carry that I like is Go-Ferm (http://morewinemaking.com/view_product/15480/102738) (add 1.25 grams per gram of yeast that you intend to use) and then the Fermentation nutrient I like is Fermaid-K (http://morewinemaking.com/view_product/15483/102738). I'm working with some new ones but for now those work very very well. Also take the time to read their Guide to Yeast Rehydration (http://www.morebeer.com/public/pdf/whydra.pdf) and their Mead Making Instructions (http://www.morebeer.com/public/pdf/wmead.pdf) there are some portions of the Mead Making instructions that are not, in my opinion correct including the measurement of TA and the second addition of DAP at the 1/3 sugar break. By that time based on my readings, and supplemental materials from Scott Laboratories, Vinquiry, Lallemand and the ICV (Intercooperatif du Vin) I feel that using only Fermaid-K, or Fermaid-2133 (even better at that time frame) is the way to go. Yeast are looking for Amino Nitrogen at that point rather than Ammonia Nitrogen from Ammonia Salt (DAP).

Your Homework:

I suggest that you take some time and read the materials referenced above (my recipe isn't exactly a reference but it does cover a lot of ground) read them all and digest them a bit because there is plenty to digest.

Then, come back with a "new-fangled-syle" recipe idea and post it up either here or in the Recipe Discussion Section (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_smf&Itemid=412&action=collapse;c=4;sa=collapse;#4).

Use the vertical recipe format you see in my recipe and then we can get down to giving you some ideas about how to have some really tasty mead in six months or less. I have a couple that are great in five weeks!

Also consider subscribing as a Got Mead Patron as there is some very specific information and some incredible recipes to be found in the Patrons Area, that are accessible only to Patrons. For twenty-five bucks I've done a lot worse!

Take a chance . . . Custer Did!

Oskaar

Johnnybladers
10-24-2007, 05:33 PM
There is so much information on this site that you could easily become overwhelmed. I stepped into meadmaking about a year ago so when you referenced fermentations taking 9+ months I was scratching my head thinking "are you for real". I couldn't more strongly recommend to you to read (my first "session" was about 6 hours straight) many of the previous posts, consider getting a copy of Ken Schramm's book The Complete Meadmaker(TCMM might be something you see referenced ) and become a patron member of Gotmead. The information in the patron's section is above my head.....for now.

Rhianni
10-24-2007, 07:10 PM
Rhianni >>>> Another test is what does the sample you measure the gravity with taste?

I didn't bother to taste it. It was still musty and raw.



The reason I mentioned to taste it is that its another way you can test the sugar level. If you think that 1.000 in your experiance at this time isnt right because it should be fermenting for several more months you can use your taste buds to guesstimate the gravity. It it tastes really dry than there is no more sugar for the yeast to eat. I also find it easier to catch funky off flavors that would indicate another critter apart from the yeast and correct it at an early stage before too much damage is done. at any rate....

The others have commented on the 1 month vs 9 month fermenting times. I definately agree with getting a patron membership. There are some incredible discussions and techniques in there about aeration, nutrients needed, and many others that go into more indepth than 1 thread deservers. Ken Schramm's book is wonderful. Between the two is pretty much everything a meadmaker needs to know