View Full Version : Go-Ferm & Fermaid K preferences

12-03-2007, 08:04 PM
Trying to get a cranberry and strawberry going and I've finalized a few things prior to starting, but was looking for advice on yeast nutrient introduction. I'm planning on the following:

5 gallons water, 15lbs Clover honey and 71B yeast to ferment out to ~14% ABV

I plan on using a 6 gallon carboy to do primary honey ferment seeing as how a 6 gallon carboy will hold 6.5 gallons to the neck.

If that goes correctly I should have ~ 6 gallons of ~14% ABV mead, to which I will then add 2 lbs cranberries per gallon to the 7.9 gallon plastic fermenter for 2 weeks to "steep". After which I will rack back into the 6 gallon carboy to age/rack again.

Unless the above will be incorrect, the questions I have are: for a 6 gallon batch about how many 71b packs are adequate and what are the thoughts on priming the yeast with Go-Ferm recommended values and then adding fermaidK after a while to continue on.

I've only used LD carlson's yeast nutrient which I have no idea what it actually consists of so I was thinking of ordering both GoFerm for yeast prep then FermaidK as the second addition. I haven't found anything about using them both together rather only GoFerm and nothing more or 2 fermaidK additions.

Should I order both or just use the FermaidK twice and how much yeast is good (packets)?


12-03-2007, 08:26 PM
Keep using the search and you'll find some very detailed answers. In a nutshell:

I'd say go for 2 packs of yeast (10g total). It will work with only 1, but spending the extra $1 will help tremendously.

Go-Ferm is a "rehydration" nutrient, to be added during, well, rehydration. 1.25g per g of yeast, so 12.5g for 10g of yeast.

FermaidK is a nutrient added later, once the fermentation has started. Lallemand's website should have usage details but it's about 1g/gallon at the end of lag and 1/3 sugar break.

Buying both Go-Ferm and Fermaid will make your yeast healthy and happy. You can get away with only one (or neither), but again the extra $1 will make your life easier and your mead better.

Keep searching, there are thick tomes of knowledge on this stuff floating around this site. And good luck!

12-03-2007, 08:54 PM
Go-Ferm and Fermaid-K are definitely worth it, it has helped immensely when I switched from a generic nutrient and energizer (turned out later to be LD Carlson). One thing I've noticed is that additions of Fermaid-K for mead are different than directed, as the directions are for wine musts. Look at brewlogs and recipes to get an idea of what people do (especially people with more than a few batches under their belt). Go-Ferm should be used as directed.

12-03-2007, 11:01 PM
DON'T use a regular yeast nutrient such as Fermaid-K, Fermax, or the like for rehydration! Those nutrients contain di-ammonium phosphate, which provides needed nitrogen to fully hydrated yeast. But that same nitrogen can be toxic to yeast that are still in the process of rehydration. Go-Ferm contains no DAP, and so is safe for rehydrating yeast. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! (and pardon me for raising my voice, but you've gotta be careful with this....)

12-04-2007, 10:12 AM
Couple more to think about:

Yes, a 6 gallon carboy can just hold 6.5 gallons, but you are leaving no room for kreusen and will almost certainly have a spill. Instead, start the batch in the 7.9 gallon plastic bucket, then rack into the carboy once fermentation has finished.

Also, if you start in the bucket, have the cranberries in there from the start so that they can be part of the primary fermentation. Then rack off of the fruit when primary is complete. Reduces the number of rackings (and thus the potential for contamination) and Oskaar has experienced a more complete integration of flavors etc. doing it this way round.


12-04-2007, 06:36 PM
thanks for all the replies folks! Greatly appreciated. I did find that the use of both Go-ferm and FermaidK are an accepted practice. I should have done a bit more research before posting that question here. I ordered a 7.9 some Go-ferm and FermaidK so I should be ready this weekend.

About the 7.9 though, I was thinking of the following in the carboy:

If I put 5 gallons of water with 15-16 lbs of honey in there I still have a decent amount of room left at the top. If 12 lbs honey is ~ a gallon, then I would be at a bit more than 6 gallons... maybe around 6.25 gallons? This would leave me a quart down from the upper shoulders of the carboy. If I'm using 71b yeast, which I read is low foaming, I thought I'd be OK on ullage for foam. My idea was partly based on a user from another forum who mentioned 1lb of honey in 5 gallons water was 1% ABV. So to attain 14% ABV in 5 gallons water I need 14lbs honey in 5 gallons water. This would exhaust or nearly exhaust the 71b, so I thought another 1 or 2 lbs would drive the yeast to the limit and kill it off in poisoning, leaving me with a bit left over to sweeten. I've noticed from my AOM and from another poster elsewhere that when the honey is converted you will lose weight, and from my AOM I noticed that as it's been 2 weeks now I've lost volume a bit. So I thought after it's done fermenting, I'd throw it in the 7.9 and add 12 lbs crushed/frozen cranberries for two weeks then strain and add back to the carboy.

The only thing that I can see would screw the above up is if after I strain out the cranberry I have more volume somehow which could screw up the 6 gallon theory.

I realize the above plan leaves no room for topping off though. I was hoping a fine mesh straining bag would help keep the lees to a minimum so I wouldn't lose as much as a grape must. If I was up the the upper neck after all was back in the carboy I might only lose a minimum in the racking to go maybe down to the shoulder of the bottle and not need topping up.

Did I miss something in my thinking above? It would be easier in the 7.9 but I just don't trust the sanitary aspect of a plastic bucket with a huge lid and a lot of airspace between the top and must. Not to mention I'd have to cut a hole in the lid for the stopper and airlock.

let me know how my logic bounces off some of you before I commit this weekend.

Thanks again for looking in on this thread and helping a newbie make his first mead something to be proud of when getting my friends loaded on it for the first time :toothy10:

12-05-2007, 01:34 AM
Don't worry too much about headspace in primary, as you're generating tons of CO2 to push all the air out. It's common to have a gallon of headspace during primary, so you'll be fine. I've done beers in carboys with 3 gallons of headspace without problems.

If you're going to put the cranberries and the mead together in the bucket, you might as well do it from the beginning. Racking onto the fruit could restart fermentation, even if the yeast is past its listed tolerance, so you'll need an airlock anyway. Plus you'll need to push the fruit down into the mead periodically if it's still fermenting, and this is "safer" to do in primary than secondary: the CO2 cap will be replenished quickly during primary but not during secondary, meaning you'll risk less oxidation of your mead by putting the fruit in at the beginning.

12-05-2007, 01:49 AM
You can usually get a lid for the bucket with a hole already drilled/cut for the stopper and airlock, too.

12-05-2007, 12:31 PM
You can usually get a lid for the bucket with a hole already drilled/cut for the stopper and airlock, too.

But I don't usually even bother with that any more. See here (http://www.gotmead.com/component/option,com_smf/Itemid,412/topic,6143.msg50215/topicseen,topicseen#msg50215).

12-05-2007, 06:06 PM
Actually I don't mind having to cut the hole, I just have these forethoughts that I will usually be doing primary in a carboy and only soaking the fruit for a few weeks. As with grapes, the sugar's in the grape itself so letting it sit in primary is a necessity. But I thought the common thread in mead was most were fermenting the honey first and then soaking the base in the must to impart flavor only? Since my guy with the recipe said to leave the berries in the fermented must for about two weeks I figured it was better to do it after primary in case it's not done fermenting in two weeks. I'm kind of a sanitary freak and I thought opening the primary to punch down every day would subject the must to more bacteria and possibly a stray fruit fly since I wasn't planning on using much ( if any ) Kmeta in the must. Not to mention I have two dogs constantly adding to the dander and hair in the air.

Only reason I shy away from kmeta additions or severely limit the additions is that I take a specific blood pressure medication that doesn't like a diet high in potassium, and I usually drink a glass or two a day of wine nowadays. I figure the less kmeta the better.

I also thought I might be covered on the yeast end if I feed it well and add more honey than it should be able to process right from the start rather than adding more honey later on, or only a very minor amount to adjust for sweetening. I was planning for the cranberry to aim for a 1.010-15 SG after I was done from the initial honey calculation.

Does 71B ferment out much farther than 14%?

12-05-2007, 07:32 PM
Hmmm... Well, the problem with treating your yeast well to achieve a clean, fast fermentation (using things such as Go-Ferm for rehydration and staggered nutrient additions), is that oftentimes the yeast will ferment well beyond their advertised alcohol limits. So a yeast like 71B, which has a nominal max alcohol tolerance of 14%, can regularly go up to 16%, and occasionally beyond. Healthy yeast just tend to live longer. I've had 71B go to nearly 16% in one of my batches.

So if you want to hit a specific % ABV, it is best to add just enough honey or other fermentables when you first mix the must to start fermentation at an initial gravity that will ferment fully dry to the % ABV you want. Then, if you want your final product to be a little sweeter, you can either stabilize the mead chemically or cold crash it and rack cleanly off of the lees several times (not as sure a thing as the chemical stabilization -- but you may have to do that if you want to avoid any potassium additions), then add enough honey or other sugar source to reach the level of sweetness that you desire.

As far as adding fruit to primary or secondary, that is a matter of personal taste. Just keep in mind that any sugar addition in secondary (including that from fruit) will encourage your yeast to ferment further, unless they've completely expired or cold crashed and racked out. I prefer to do some fruit in primary and the rest in secondary, since that yields a more complex flavor profile in the result than doing either primary only or secondary only.

Finally, punching down the cap in an active primary containing fruit helps to prevent infections from taking hold in the mead. A strong yeast culture will swamp the activity of most spoilage organisms, unless those organisms are given a nice nutrient rich medium resting on the top of the must that never has to compete with the yeast! So, punching the cap down into the liquid and giving it a little stir daily, will prevent most nasties from gaining a foothold in your batch.

12-05-2007, 09:04 PM
thanks wayne. Is seems most of the sames things regarding wine fermentation hold true for mead as well. So it's better to shoot for the target abv with the initial SG and then kill the yeast to prevent further fermentation rather than attempt to kill the yeast with ABV. Backsweeten to taste.

My true target ABV is around 12-12.5 actually but I figured as in winemaking the abv in the finished product often is slightly less than the initial calculation from SG.

So I should then shoot forsay 12.5 from the start.

12-06-2007, 12:27 AM
I mix up my must to a target gravity and then use specific yeasts that I've used over time. This is based on doing the same thing the same way over and over for quite a while. Yeast will differ from batch to batch so it's important to proof a recipe several times and record the macro elements of your batches. Then batch your trends based on recipe, time of year, temperature, honey and yeast.

I personally don't find a lot of value in the minutia of each aspect of the fermentation as much as I do the overall trend of the batch from must to completed fermentation. After a few years you'll have a nice collection of data based on recipe, time of year, type of yeast, temperature and length of fermentation. Standard deviations from the group trend are very important and your logs will reveal the reasons for the variances in most cases. There are some variances that will not be easily explained. That is where in my opinion, your mead making skills will grow as you learn to deal with the unexplainable variances and roll that factor into your recipes and methodologies. Manage your ferment toward the standard and remediate the exception as they arise.

Hope that helps,


12-06-2007, 01:08 AM
I'm in total agreement with Oskaar's approach -- keep good notes and correlate all the data until you have a solid basis for making plans... but I bet that you need a more immediate answer to your specific question. ;)

All the sugars in honey are fermentable, so you will find as you develop experience with mead musts, that every molecule will be converted into alcohol if you allow the must to ferment to complete dryness. So your initial estimates of ABV based on gravity will be pretty close to the mark. Note that different honeys contain different amounts of dissolved non-fermentables, so in general there's no predicting where the final "bone dry" gravity will turn out to be, and that adds a bit of uncertainty into the process. In general if you estimate an ABV based on initial gravity, and your estimate is for an end point of 1.000, you are as likely as not to end up with slightly more ABV, as the final gravity often finishes below 1.000.

So if you plan for 12.5% ABV, you'll likely end up there or slightly higher using almost any strain of wine yeast, provided you keep it healthy.

12-06-2007, 09:12 PM
yah this kind of info helps. I'm trying to accumulate as much data from as many folks as I can to create something similar to a log myself. When I made my first wine, I followed only a few recommendations and once I had it rolling in primary I found contradictory information that caused quite a bit of panic and left me making all kinds of unnecessary alterations to the wine due to lack of experience.

This time, I want to tap as much experience as I can and summarize it into a simple form so I have a better idea on what to look for and hopefully expect rather than have another OMG scenario where I'm frantically calling people and pming everyone on the forums asking if I should be panicking or not.

This time I just want to match the best ingredients, calc the right SG values ahead of time and get a bone dry must and adjust from there. I originally was thinking of using more honey to end up with a mead that was at the right ABV and had the finished SG that I would bottle, but as I see it now that leaves more to chance with target ABV so I think I'll use the math to do it dry to 12-12.5 or so now so I can see how it tastes, control the ABV better and backsweeten to taste. I feel it gives me more control.

I started to write an application to log all events, measurements and adjustments so I could chart the deviation over batches and correlate that with tasting notes to take the place of having to remember what did what and how it tasted. I still have to complete the charting for temp/SG over time which I think is something I'd like to track in terms of how it affects flavor. That's one reason I wanted to ferment just the honey first so I could taste each batch prior to adding any base elements so I could compare any changes in the finished products in relation to the fermentation chart. Sometime in the next few years that may prove helpful so when I retire I'm set to start taking orders :)

If it's still of interest to anyone I'll post how it goes.

Thanks once again for the input, I'm sure the wife will be happy enough.

12-07-2007, 12:56 AM
You've got the plan! If you follow the general outline that you've provided here, you're on your way to making first class meads. Let me suggest that you get a traditional batch (only honey and water, with appropriate nutrients) going along side your strawberry and cranberry batches. Even if you hold off until fermentation is complete before adding your fruit in the melomel batches, I think you'll find the evolution of the flavors in the honey-only batch as it ages to be very instructive.

Something that tastes raw and uninviting shortly after fermentation will transform into something else entirely -- and be truly remarkable -- after several months' aging. I believe that meads undergo at least as much of a transformation upon aging, if not more so, than grape wines. Try it -- I think you'll be glad that you did.

12-07-2007, 11:48 AM
I should be starting tonite if everything shows up today from FedEx.

I think I'll do that wayne, I'm going to goto the LBS tomorrow and get 3 or 4 more 1 gallon carboysalong with a couple more 6ers and I'm going to do a plain mead to 12% and then maybe trry just adding a few things around the house to the others, like lemon zest, pomegranate, etc just to add some simple complexity to the honey.

At this point though I only have Sue-B clover honey so I'm a bit limited, but when I find some wildflower, orange blossom or some other honey's on the less expensive side I'll be doing more 1 gallon batches.