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View Full Version : Another "When can I bottle" Question.



Slavens
12-22-2007, 01:40 AM
I brewed a straight mead on March 31st.
Recipe is:
5 Gallons water
13lbs honey
1 packet Red Star Champagne yeast, started as a 1 pint slurry 30 min prior to adding to must (water at 80* and 2tbsp honey)
2 tsp (I think) Marmite (yeast extract) for a yeast nutrient. I had heard about using yeast extract as a nutrient and I found Marmite at Fred Meyer. Given that the mead is still fermenting, maybe it worked. Of, course it could also be a starved yeast. I have no clue.

Brought the water to a boil, & shut of. added all honey and stirred until completely mixed.
brought mixture up to 160 deg F for 15minutes.
Fast cooled the mixture to 80 degrees by repeatedly siphoning between carboy and stockpot through a sink full of ice water
Added yeast slurry and stoppered with an airlock.

First rack off in July mid to late June. and now looking to bottle. I thought it was finished, but it's still visibly bubbling. Not fast enough to even get the lock to bubble, but still visible activity. I'm partial to sack meads and I'm concerned that with the champagne yeast and the length of the fermentation that it will be a dry yeast.

I had read somewhere about using campden tablets to kill the fermentation, but I had also read that it could adversely affect the flavor (which is why I pasteurized the must instead of sulfiting it) and I also saw the post here about cold crashing it. Can someone lend me some first-hand advice?

please forgive the typos, my eyes are killing me. I've never had allergic reactions to a real christmas tree before.

Second day edit:
Hats off to all of you. I've learned more about making mead in the few hours I've been reading this forum than in all my previous research. I've never read anything about a regular schedule for adding yeast nutrient, and every other site I've read has only discussed the amount of honey as it relates to how sweet/dry the mead will be. I have never seen any other site relate the yeast used to the minimum mount of honey needed. :notworthy:
All I can say is WOW

Yo momma
12-22-2007, 07:23 AM
First do an SG test and see where your sugar levels are at. Wait another 3-4 days and check again. If your second reading is lower then your must is still fermenting, and if not then you have CO build up and need to degas your mead. Some times the CO builds up in your lees and give the illusion of fermentation. I would have to say that your fermentation is complete and you need to degas by stirring your lees or just rack off them again and wait for it to clear.

In my experience, I use campden tablet when I mix my initial must and then when I'm soaking my corks before bottling. I have had no complaints from the people that drink my mead about the flavor. I imagine that if you use too many then you would have a problem. If you use one tablet for every gallon of must then you don't have to heat your must. In not heating your must you will retain all the characters of the honey that your using. Most people here do the cold mix method when mixing there musts now.

As far as when to bottle, I bottle when I can read news print behind my jug and then wait another month. Most newbees will bottle early thinking its clear. Believe me I have done it myself and was left with sediment in my bottles. It was yucky looking and people was afraid to try them. I have bottle many now using the method I explained before and it has worked for me. When you think it's clear wait another month. YMMV
:cheers:

Slavens
12-22-2007, 03:28 PM
Something to file in the WTF? category.... The mead has gone from no airlock activity over the last month (never saw a bubble, even though there is light bubbling in the carboy) to a bubble every 60 seconds now that it's on the kitchen counter.

I guess a little more info is in order:

The mead sat under a towel on the kitchen counter for a few weeks until I could get a place for it in the bedroom which is the darkest room in the house and stays the coolest all year long.

Living in Boise, the summer temps hit upper 90s for a few months during the summer and we usually get a week or two that tops 100 degrees.
We run three window air conditioners nearly 24/7 in the summer to keep the house cool, but during the hottest part of the summer it still hits 85 in the house.
Once it cools off in late August, early September, we keep the furnace set between 68-70 and our master bedroom stays about 65-66 degrees until late May, early June when it starts hitting 80-85 outside.

As noted in my previous post, this site has better information than I have found ANYWHERE else. I don't have any hydrometer readings or any idea about PABV because the info I found before (multiple sources) all basically said that the hydrometer wasn't a necessary tool (!!!) and I've never heard of things like PABV before last night.

So, I'm off to the local brew shop, Brew Connoisseurs (brewcon.com) to pick up a hydrometer so I can get some readings.

I guess my questions at this point are:
At 8 1/2 months on a champagne yeast, is this thing still fermenting? (hope to answer this with the hydrometer)
If it is, why? :icon_scratch:
If it's not fermenting, but just a 'gassy' mead, is there a way to make it safe to bottle in standard wine bottles, or must I use champagne bottles?
It's still very cloudy - can't see more then light/dark through the body of the carboy and can barely see my finger through the neck. Why still so cloudy?
When I racked it off in late June, I filled a pint milk jug half full with the dregs from the bottom of the primary fermentation. It clarified over the next two weeks, sitting right beside the carboy. Why did the little bottle clarify but not the carboy?
What should I top the carboy off with when I siphon some off for tasting/testing?

wildaho
12-22-2007, 04:26 PM
Slavens,

I live in Boise too and make quite a few meads. PM me!

Wade

Yo momma
12-22-2007, 06:14 PM
My question to you is how much lees are on the bottom? How does it taste? Other than that the answers will come out with the hydrometer.

Slavens
12-22-2007, 07:09 PM
wildaho, I tried to send a PM, but it seems to be insisting I enter a code from a picture, but the picture is missing and 'listen' feature dumps me back to the main web page.

so, here's the contents of the PM:

Moderated to protect privacy and location of user. Sent by PM to Wildaho. Oskaar

Public portion of post:
Yo Mamma, I haven't tasted it since late June, and the flavor was good, but it had a bit a 'zing' to it. As I mentioned above, I getting ready to pop the top for a SG reading pretty much as son as I get the hydrometer sterilized. With any luck, the prospects of a local tasting will lure wildaho over, and we'll get some good feedback posted.

wayneb
12-22-2007, 07:45 PM
Hey, Les! If Wildaho (Wade) can't make it over anytime soon, you'll probably be able to tell what's going on with a couple of hydrometer readings spaced over several days to a week, like Yo Mamma said. If it is just residual gas from the fermentation and the mead is in fact dry (SG at or lower than 1.000), then you can simply de-gas it and then safely bottle in anything designed to hold still wines. Search the forum for procedures to de-gas (search degas or de-gas). No champagne bottles needed, unless you want the mead to self-carbonate in the bottle. If you do, then Wade can tell you all about how to do that! :cheers:

Oh, and Welcome to "Gotmead?" BTW!!

Slavens
12-22-2007, 07:45 PM
Ok, the mead is DEFINATELY carbonated. I pulled the airlock out and the light jolt to the carboy made it fizz. Also, inserting the hydrometer caused it to fizz considerably and actually floated the hydrometer higher and higher as I watched. I swirled the hydrometer to knock the bubbles off and it sat steady for 20 seconds or so at 1.040 / 1.039. The flavor is light, but good with a slight bite and a light semi-tart aftertaste. The smell has a definite alcohol tinge to it, but nowhere near to the extent it did in late June and nothing that my complete lack of experience would think of as 'off'. If there is a yeasty flavor to it, it's light enough as to be easily overlooked (by me).

Any thoughts? :cheers:

wayneb
12-22-2007, 07:51 PM
There's still plenty of residual sugar at 1.040 for a champagne strain of yeast to keep working, so you probably just have a very slowly fermenting batch, either from lack of enough nutrients, or from cool fermentation temps, or both. You can get things going more robustly again by swirling the lees back up into suspension in the must. You can use a "lees stirrer" for that, or something as simple as a smooth, sanitized fiberglass or metal rod will also work. Just slowly stir up the lees from the bottom... that will also discharge a lot of the built-up CO2, and the yeast will be in an environment more amenable to fermentation after you've purged the excess gas.

Slavens
12-22-2007, 07:53 PM
wildaho, I tried to send a PM, but it seems to be insisting I enter a code from a picture, but the picture is missing and 'listen' feature dumps me back to the main web page.

so, here's the contents of the PM:


Moderated to protect privacy and location of user. Sent by PM to Wildaho.

Oskaar



Thanks Oskaar, I appreciate it!

heh, my daughter is jonesing to click a smiley so these are from her:
:toothy10:

Slavens
12-22-2007, 07:58 PM
There's still plenty of residual sugar at 1.040 for a champagne strain of yeast to keep working, so you probably just have a very slowly fermenting batch, either from lack of enough nutrients, or from cool fermentation temps, or both. You can get things going more robustly again by swirling the lees back up into suspension in the must. You can use a "lees stirrer" for that, or something as simple as a smooth, sanitized fiberglass or metal rod will also work. Just slowly stir up the lees from the bottom... that will also discharge a lot of the built-up CO2, and the yeast will be in an environment more amenable to fermentation after you've purged the excess gas.


I just sterilized my racking cane to pull a little off the top, so it should be fine for the task. So I'd be on track to stir it up and take an SG reading every few days for a couple of weeks to see if they are stable or dropping and continue to monitor? What are your thoughts about the next racking and whether or not I should use a sparkolloid and/or yeast nutrient?

wayneb
12-22-2007, 08:51 PM
At this point in the fermentation, it is too late to add any yeast nutrient except those that provide exclusively amino nitrogen. There's only one commercial provider of such a nutrient that I know of where the guaranteed analysis of the composition is solely amino nitrogen, and that is Lallemand's Fermaid 2133. If you use another nutrient containing DAP or urea (also common sources of nitrogen for yeast, but they are ammonia salts rather than free amino acids) the yeast will not take it up this late in their lifecycle and all you'll end up with is a batch tainted with nutrient flavors. :icon_puke_r:

So I'd recommend that you stir up the lees as suggested, monitor the fermentation with your hydrometer every other day or so, and ensure that fermentation is still progressing. If you can get some 2133, you can add a couple of grams of that.

Once you are sure that fermentation is completed (no change of SG over the course of a week), then I'd wait for most of the lees to settle, then rack into another sanitized carboy and allow the mead to clear further. Only use sparkolloid if you are impatient and you want to bottle right away, or if the mead hasn't cleared to your liking after several more months of bulk aging.

Slavens
12-22-2007, 09:11 PM
I stirred it fairly heavily, and it fizzed like mad. Once the fizzing settled down again, I checked the temp - 71.7 deg F and checked the SG again, for a corrected 1.042. No airlock activity since the stirring, but I'll keep an eye on it.

Thanks everyone!

Yo momma
12-23-2007, 10:13 AM
Thanks Wayne, you seem to explain everything in a lot better detail than I did :notworthy: . You, Slavens, cannot get better help than that from Wayne. Congrads on the figuring out of the must and your back on track. Keep us posted.
:cheers:

Teufelhund
12-26-2007, 04:10 PM
This is almost the exact recipe I had and was shown the error of my ways. Feel free to read Oskaars review of my mead.

OK, for one, the champagne yeast is probably going to give it a burnt taste due to hight temps. It should never go over 70* Mine hit 80*+ a few times. 2) Not enough honey. I used approx 12 lbs for 5 gals and should have used closer to 20-22. Thirdly, champagne yeasts can take up to a year to finish. I used Red Star and sure enough, both times it took at least a year to finish. Racking will re-start fermentation in my experience and usually around every 3-4 months or so after the initial first racking.
This is just from what I've learned in the last few months and from the report. Good luck!

DD

Slavens
12-27-2007, 03:27 AM
This is almost the exact recipe I had and was shown the error of my ways. Feel free to read Oskaars review of my mead.

OK, for one, the champagne yeast is probably going to give it a burnt taste due to hight temps. It should never go over 70* Mine hit 80*+ a few times. 2) Not enough honey. I used approx 12 lbs for 5 gals and should have used closer to 20-22. Thirdly, champagne yeasts can take up to a year to finish. I used Red Star and sure enough, both times it took at least a year to finish. Racking will re-start fermentation in my experience and usually around every 3-4 months or so after the initial first racking.
This is just from what I've learned in the last few months and from the report. Good luck!

DD


heh. I did. It scared me. lol

I'm thinking about trying something. I read some of the stuff on the bentonite, and one of the mentioned was that it was helpful in the primary fermentation as the active yeast stuck to it as did the CO2 the yeast produced. This acted to float the active yeast up and down in the mead as the bubbles finally broke free of the yeast/bentonite particle, which in turn exposed the yeast to all of the nutrients available in the must (instead of sitting on the bottom with the rest of the yeast). I'm thinking that this might be a way to kick start the yeast into a more intense fermentation.

Any thoughts?

wayneb
12-27-2007, 02:03 PM
In my experience the bentonite trick is most effective right at the start of primary fermentation. That's when the production of CO2 is highest, and when you get the most benefit from the yeast "hitching a ride" on bentonite particles. I don't think that it would be particularly effective in rejuvenating a fermentation that has slowed. In fact, it might have the opposite effect, pulling down yeast from suspension when they can't produce CO2 at a rate fast enough to maintain the bentonite conveyor. But if nothing else is working for you, you may want to give it a try....

Teufelhund
12-27-2007, 11:52 PM
Has anyone else noticed the Red Star champagne yeast pulling a late fermentation? Specifically, after at least a year of fermentation.

DD

Slavens
12-29-2007, 02:25 AM
In my experience the bentonite trick is most effective right at the start of primary fermentation. That's when the production of CO2 is highest, and when you get the most benefit from the yeast "hitching a ride" on bentonite particles. I don't think that it would be particularly effective in rejuvenating a fermentation that has slowed. In fact, it might have the opposite effect, pulling down yeast from suspension when they can't produce CO2 at a rate fast enough to maintain the bentonite conveyor. But if nothing else is working for you, you may want to give it a try....

good to know. I really appreciate all the help.

Another question then:
I have three pounds of honey in stock for the next batch. What are your thoughts about mixing it into as little water as I can get away with, pitching a the L-something 1118 yeast and some nutrient and adding it the current batch?
Would this help it along or botch it entirely?
Thanks!

Yo momma
12-29-2007, 10:08 AM
I do believe that EC-1118 by Lavlin is used for stuck fermentations and works well for that. Keep in mind that the 1118 strain has a high alchohol tolerance and will dry it out fast. If it were me, I wouldn't just rehydrate it and throw it in. You might kill it by putting it into a high alchoholic envirement so fast. Slowly get the yeast ready with small doses of the must you plan to invigorate. Kinda like you do to aquarium fish when you first by them. This will get them ready for the task a little easier. YMMV

Slavens
12-30-2007, 04:38 AM
I do believe that EC-1118 by Lavlin is used for stuck fermentations and works well for that. Keep in mind that the 1118 strain has a high alchohol tolerance and will dry it out fast. If it were me, I wouldn't just rehydrate it and throw it in. You might kill it by putting it into a high alchoholic envirement so fast. Slowly get the yeast ready with small doses of the must you plan to invigorate. Kinda like you do to aquarium fish when you first by them. This will get them ready for the task a little easier. YMMV


You know, you guys are the most kick-ass helpful people. Every other place I've been online has been a bunch of stuck-on-themselves pricks ('scuse the french). If you were closer, I'd invite y'all over for a beer.

I'll pick up the yeast tomorrow and get started.

wildaho
12-30-2007, 05:25 AM
If you were closer, I'd invite y'all over for a beer.

Ummm.

I can't be more than 3-7 miles away...

uh hEMMM!

Pedar.TheLostViking
01-02-2008, 09:46 AM
Hay Slavens....

nice to hear that you are getting help. maybe i will be able to get Tiff to get me the stuff to brew my own after we move. 8

i have been asking her for the stuff to try it since before i gave the idea to you. :sad2: :sad5: :sad2: she never gets me what i want.

anyhoo, this site is freakin awesome, thanks for telling me about it. maybe now i will know what i am doing when i get to it.



/want to confuse a bartender? when they ask glass or bottle answer with "Horn".\

later bro

Oskaar
01-03-2008, 01:21 AM
Hey Pedar! Welcome to Got Mead?


Slavens,

My recommendation would be to go with Uvaferm 43 as your restart yeast. The conditions are pretty much custom made for this yeast since you're in the 7+ ABV range. I've used marmite many times in my meads and I usually give them a shot of epsom salts along with the marmite when I'm making a mead with those additives.

Here's (http://www.scottlab.com/info-center/documents/RestartStuckFermentations.pdf) a link to the Scott Labs restart protocol, take a read through and come back with some questions. Take some time to convert the values to your batch size.

Cheers,

Oskaar

Slavens
01-06-2008, 11:22 AM
Slavens,

My recommendation would be to go with Uvaferm 43 as your restart yeast. The conditions are pretty much custom made for this yeast since you're in the 7+ ABV range. I've used marmite many times in my meads and I usually give them a shot of epsom salts along with the marmite when I'm making a mead with those additives.

Here's (http://www.scottlab.com/info-center/documents/RestartStuckFermentations.pdf) a link to the Scott Labs restart protocol, take a read through and come back with some questions. Take some time to convert the values to your batch size.

Cheers,

Oskaar

Thanks Oskaar. How well does the Marmite work? I used it mainly because it was the only thing I could find locally and I didn't have an online source for mead brewing.

I'll check out the link next.

Oskaar
01-06-2008, 02:45 PM
Well, I think it works fine. But I prefer using the nutrients available from Lallemand in support of the ADY lineup. If you need an online source for nutrient and yeast go to:

http://www.morebeer.com they've got just about everything you can think of and plenty you can't! LOL

cheers,

Oskaar