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UDV
03-20-2008, 01:56 AM
So.
Hi.

So I am a newbie.

It was one late night. I was drunk, I had friends over. I got a wine making kit for christmas. I decided to make mead. I sort of followed this

http://davespicks.com/writing/mme/cgmrecipe.html

which is the recipe for mead made good, although when I tried to make it, I couldn't find hops as they are apparently difficult to find. I know things got a little hazy about the required honey part. I'm afraid I cleaned out every single honey bottle I had at home, and I am way *way* past the 10 pounds of honey required for this.

It's now been more than 45 days since I put it in a glass carboy and it's *very* slow fermenting. I did a second load of some Red Star Pasteur Champagne about 2 weeks later and it's still slowly bubbling.

Is there even a way to fix this? I checked everything I did and the carboy was sterilized with c-brite, as the was the airlock, and all the stuff in the interim.

Is there even a description of how-bad-this-mead-could-be? The smell coming off it is pure bread/yeast. Did I add too much yeast, or underestimate how much time is involved? I figure by 45 days it might start to smell at least like something but a loaf of bread.

Thanks in advance

The color is like liquid caramel

Oskaar
03-20-2008, 02:18 AM
Hey Dude,

Welcome to Got Mead?

OK, this is a mead that someone tried to turn into a beer.

Coupla things,

We need your exact recipe in vertical format, for example:

10 lbs honey
3 gal water
5 grams Redstar Champagne Yeast

And then your process for making the mead below it. It's OK if you don't remember everything, but, include as much as you can and don't worry about being right or wrong because everyone makes their mead differently.

I will say that I'm not a fan of boiling my honey as it drives off floral aromas, flavors, enzymes, protiens and other elements in the honey that help during fermentation. Try to post up your recipe as mentioned above because that will help us help you.

Coupla more things. When you boil or heat your must you need to aerate/oxygenate the must before you inoculate it with the yeast, and then continue aerating twice a day for the first several days.

Yeast rehydration is a critical part of making your mead, and if done incorrectly you can stress out your yeast and have a slow, sluggish fermentation that produces off flavors and aromas similar to what you're describing.

pH is a very important part of the equation as well. If the pH is too low the yeast will get stressed and will not perform well and have a slow, sluggish fermentation that will stall well before it should and leave you with a very sweet (too sweet) mead that is full of off flavors and aromas.

Nutrients are also very important so you'll want to spend some time investing (just about 5 bucks for Go-Ferm and Fermaid-K) in nutrients to keep your yeast happy.

The good news is that we can probably help you mitigate the issues you're having to a certain degree. Your best bet is to rack it to another carboy at this point and get it off the dead yeast at the bottom of the carboy for the last six months.

Finally, take some time to read the Newbees Guide to Making Mead. It will cover the issues I've listed above, and give you some good tools to ensure that your next batch will turn out much better than the current batch.

Cheers,

Oskaar

UDV
03-20-2008, 02:27 AM
Going from memory.

13 pounds Honey (mixed)
3 gallons water
1 gallon of unfermened, pure apple juice (pricy)
1 gallon of straight water.

I know I boiled it too long. It was a rolling boil for about 35 minutes.

I know I then used

1 packet (is that 5 grams?) of red star Champange (it's blue colored)

then two weeks later

1 packet of red star champange cuvee and then
1 tablespoon of Fermax

I let this mix sit for two days with

2 cups of pure apple juice

so it would ferment and add it in. It's still slowly doing something.

Was it just too much honey?

Oskaar
03-20-2008, 03:13 AM
Well the yeast wasn't rehydrated properly per Red Star Spec.

There was too much of the Fermax in with the yeast which is a problem because DAP which is in Fermax if I remember correctly, is not good for yeast when it is being rehydrated, and neither are the fruit sugars. Active Dried yeast are packaged with micronutrients necessary for rehydration and you have to literally let the yeast wake up and get acclimated before you plunge them into a new environment. It would be like having you eat a 7 course mead before you went to sleep and dragging you out of bed at 3:00 AM and then dropping you into a pool full of 50% water as an analogy. The food induced deep slumber, coupled with the shock of the change of environment would play hell with your senses. Then after that, we'd make read the entire IRS publication for the tax year 2007.

Basically you want your yeast to wake up as intended after being put to sleep well nourished. Give them the proper environment with the proper nutrient called out by Red Star (whatever that one happens to be) and then inoculate your must with the yeast and they will treat you right.

Other things, the original yeast you pitched has an ABV of about 15% so your PABV will be about 14% which means that if the yeast are actually able to ferment to completion your mead will be dry. I'm guessing they won't make it that far though.

OK, thinks you need right away.

Hydrometer or Brix Refractometer
pH test strips
Long handled plastic stirring spoon
Racking cane
Second carboy so you can rack out of your primary vessel and get this batch going.

Hope that helps,

Oskaar

JephSullivan
03-20-2008, 10:08 AM
Hey UDV! Welcome to GotMead!!!

One other thing that would be helpful to know: Do you still have the bottle that the apple juice came in? Check the label and tell us if "Potassium Sorbate" or any other preservative is listed among the ingredients. If you threw out the bottle, maybe you can swing by the store and check a new bottle of the same stuff.

The preservatives often found in commercially available juices are intended to inhibit fermentation. It increases the juice's shelf life, but this would obviously be a problem if you wanted your yeast to chow down on it! :)

beachfrontmeadman
03-20-2008, 12:58 PM
in answer to the question that seems to be on the tip of your tongue
no i don't think you used too much honey, though a gravity reading will tell us for sure
i normally use 15 lbs. for a 5 gallon batch
and that is for a medium mead, not really sweet and not too dry
so i think you should be fine on the honey front, though it may not taste like much with all t he boiling you did

UDV
03-21-2008, 05:53 PM
Hey UDV! Welcome to GotMead!!!

One other thing that would be helpful to know: Do you still have the bottle that the apple juice came in? Check the label and tell us if "Potassium Sorbate" or any other preservative is listed among the ingredients. If you threw out the bottle, maybe you can swing by the store and check a new bottle of the same stuff.



I bought the apple juice at Corrados in NJ, which has a wine/brew store. In my silly ignorance I didn't check the label on it. I'm almost 100% sure it has something in it. Is there someway of counteracting that at this point?

This is my second of three batches of mead that I have going at this point. The first one was started in January and is fine, the third one is *still* fermenting after 94 days.

What I did after this post was make two batches of:

1 package of Red Star Premier Curvée by heating water to 100 degrees letting to cool to 94, putting in package, and letting it sit for two hours.

Then adding:

2 cups of pure Apple juice-no preservatives
1/4 teaspoon of Fermax (I know it's the wrong one)
and putting them in a sterilized bottle that I can close. Shook vigorously for 5 minutes and then waited.

24 hours later both bottles were fizzing like mad. in about 36 hours the fermentation was stopped and then I pitched this entire mixture into both failed mead batch as described and a test one. The test one is still fermenting like mad, the failed batch is slowly bubbling. It's fermentation is nowhere as vigorous as either of the other two batches I have going. I tried looking online for photographs of what it should look like bubbling but to no avail.

Is it even remotely possible this batch will eventually ferment however slow, or is there something I can add or remove from it to get rid of what ever preservative is still in there?

I'm trying to save it. I don't want to lose the entire batch! :P

UDV
03-21-2008, 05:56 PM
Hydrometer or Brix Refractometer
pH test strips
Long handled plastic stirring spoon
Racking cane
Second carboy so you can rack out of your primary vessel and get this batch going.



I have a spare carboy empty, and all of the above. Would reracking it help? Racking is a bit of a huge pain for me, and I'm seriously considering borrowing or buying some kind of pump that i can use to make it go easier.

is there some all in one pump thing I can buy or use to help make racking go faster, and as well as bottling?

wayneb
03-21-2008, 07:03 PM
Check your LHBS for an "Auto-siphon." That'll help with the initial priming of your siphon. There are also various pump mechanisms out there, but they usually are impractical for small (5 gallon or smaller) amounts.

Also, there isn't much you can do about the preservative that may be present in your juice, except to dilute the batch with additional fermentable must to the point where the preservative is too diluted to have any effect on your yeast. I can't give you a good feel for how much dilution will be needed -- other than to say that when this happened to me I was able to get a fermentation started successfully when the volume of "tainted" must was 1/3 of my total batch size. That is, I added twice as much of a must I knew to be preservative free, so only 33% of the total must came from the original preservative treated juice. YMMV, depending on how much preservative was used in your juice to begin with.

UDV
03-21-2008, 07:56 PM
other than to say that when this happened to me I was able to get a fermentation started successfully when the volume of "tainted" must was 1/3 of my total batch size. That is, I added twice as much of a must I knew to be preservative free, so only 33% of the total must came from the original preservative treated juice. YMMV, depending on how much preservative was used in your juice to begin with.


So When you say 'tainted must' you mean the entire five gallons of this carboy, or the original 1 gallon of tainted apple juice? I'm guessing you mean the entire thing.

I have a spare carboy that I can split this must into leaving me with 2 carboys with ideally 2.5 gallons in each and then get another full 5 gallons to fill into both carboys so that both of them are now full. Is that diluted enough to actually be possible?

Would I have to even go to something nuttier like splitting it into two glass carboys and repeating this process to get more of it in there?

Is there a safety mead receipe that I could use to try to salvage this lot? I hadn't planned on making this much mead, but. :P

wayneb
03-21-2008, 08:58 PM
Yup - I did mean the whole 5 gallons, since that is what it took for me to dilute mine down to where it finally got going. However, my recipe for that batch used 3 gallons of tainted juice; yours has only a gallon. You might get away with less dilution. I might try this if I were you: Grab a brewing bucket (rather than a carboy). Fill it 50% with the tainted must, and add 50% of a juice/honey/water mix that you know has no preservatives. Aerate the heck out of it. Rehydrate two packets of EC-1118, or another workhorse yeast that tolerates less than ideal fermentation conditions (Uvaferm 43 comes to mind, too). Pitch the new yeast in the bucket, airlock the remainder of the original in its carboy, aerate the heck out of the newly pitched batch twice a day, and give it 3 or so days to see if it takes off.

I'm guessing that since you had less tainted juice than I did, the 50% dilution will be enough to allow a vigorous fermentation. You'll then be on your way to getting a fast primary done in the bucket (you ought to be ready to rack to a secondary carboy in a week or so). You can then repeat the process with the other 50% tainted batch, if you wish. If this results in a cyser that is too dry for your taste you can backsweeten it later.

UDV
03-21-2008, 09:56 PM
Yup - I did mean the whole 5 gallons, since that is what it took for me to dilute mine down to where it finally got going. However, my recipe for that batch used 3 gallons of tainted juice; yours has only a gallon. You might get away with less dilution. I might try this if I were you: Grab a brewing bucket (rather than a carboy). Fill it 50% with the tainted must, and add 50% of a juice/honey/water mix that you know has no preservatives. Aerate the heck out of it. Rehydrate two packets of EC-1118, or another workhorse yeast that tolerates less than ideal fermentation conditions (Uvaferm 43 comes to mind, too). Pitch the new yeast in the bucket, airlock the remainder of the original in its carboy, aerate the heck out of the newly pitched batch twice a day, and give it 3 or so days to see if it takes off.


I'll try this tomorrow. I have a bucket free still. I am just short on EC-1118 and I only had one spare packet sitting in the refrigerator.

UDV
03-22-2008, 10:50 PM
Well. I think I botched it.

I racked this original 5 gallon busted ferment and put that into two glass carboys I cleaned and sterilized.

each Carboy now has

about 2.5 gallons of old busted mead
and a little more than 1 and 1/2 gallons of water
and 6 and a half pounds of Honey

I'm going but what was posted that I have to give new material for new yeast to survive on and get over the perservative that was in the apple juice.

The racking went easily after I was able to get the auto-siphon as mentioned previously. I wasn't able to get Go-Ferm and Fermaid-K at the wine supply place. They only have fermax, and it looks like I might have to special order both of these. I did not add any fermax to this at all.

I rehydrated four packets of EC-1118, (they didn't have uvaferm 43, but i looked for that as well). I put each packet in 2 oz of water about 98 degrees, let them sit for 15 minutes, stirred and dropped them into the carboy then finished loading them with water.
and then airlocked them.

I aerated both by massive amounts of shaking and there are still bubbles. I was even contemplating dropping in an air line from a fish tank compressor to throw lots of bubbles on the bottom but I have a feeling that's a hugely stupid idea.

So far it's been about three hours, and there's lots of bubbles on top, but I don't visibly see Fermentation happening. I also got those temperature stickers and put one on each carboy. Carboy A (the original) is at 69-70 degrees, Carboy B is at 71-72ish.

How soon should I let them sit, or keep shaking them daily until something wakes up?

Edit: Sunday.

Fermentation happened at some point after I left the carboys alone. Terminator Yeast indeed. The fermentation was so vigorous it actually went up the airlock.

Now to wait until the bubbles stop!

beachfrontmeadman
03-24-2008, 01:23 PM
if you have a hydrometer i'd keep shaking them everyday untill you hit the 1/3 sugar break

and several guys on here use an aquirum pump with an air stone to aerate their musts, you just drop the sucker in and let it do its thing for about 30 min. and you're done for the day

wayneb
03-24-2008, 02:17 PM
Glad to hear that fermentation is up and running! And yes, I'm one of those that uses an aquarium pump and airstone... but I use either a ceramic fired or a sintered stainless stone rather than those glued-up composites that are usually sold for aquarium air. The ceramics and the SS stones are relatively easy to sanitize -- I have my doubts about how well the composite ones can be cleaned.

UDV
03-24-2008, 11:36 PM
At this point it seems I just have to leave it alone and ignore it now?

You really aren't supposed to touch the thing until primary fermentation stops now. Is that right?

So I should try to find an aerator for that initial process when I do this again? Is it really that important or simply stirring the crap out of the initial must.

UDV
03-25-2008, 05:39 AM
Mead has been fermenting for about a day and a half now.

My question is this. Do I really need to stir it up again? I'm confused as everywhere I've looked I've seen references towards that the first three days are important but it's been more than 24 hours now. Should I re-open the airlock and shake it a lot more? I was under the impression that the aerobic phase of fermentation was only about 24 hours long and at this point it's all on its sown?

http://www.yossman.net/~moya/lj/Mead.mp4

has a video clip of mead batch B, and then mead batch A showing what I think is a healthy fermentation. Clips playable in quicktime 6 or higher.

I would really love to know if these little video clips help, because there is lots of 'little stuff' that you only see on books, but a 2mb video clip makes really clear!

Is this a healthy ferment?

beachfrontmeadman
03-25-2008, 11:20 AM
well the lag phase is going to differ from yeast to yeast and must to must, while you don't need to shake that sucker up any more, it helps
more oxygen means stronger yeast cells, which give you faster fermentation and less chance for off flavors to build up
it also helps to degas the mead, and keep the yeast suspended in solution where they can really get at the sugars

wayneb
03-25-2008, 12:44 PM
Oxygen is required by the yeast as long as they are actively reproducing, and as well for a little while longer once the colony has fully established itself, in order to build up the lipids (fatty acids and sterols) needed to fully form cell walls, which will protect the yeast later in fermentation against the increasing ethanol concentration in the must. So generally speaking, oxygenating your must is a good thing for the first 1/3 of fermentation (i.e. up until the 1/3 sugar break). That's a good rule of thumb, but often for higher initial gravity musts (SG starting out higher than 1.125), I'll pump air into a must up until the 1/2 sugar break. I find that the yeast's ability to survive at or past its rated ethanol concentration is improved with a little more O2 that way.

Bottom line is that aerating the must pre-pitch is essential, but not enough. Your yeast will be happier if provided with oxygen (through shaking, stirring, or pumping air or pure O2 through the must) at least until the 1/3 sugar depletion point has been reached. So I don't even bother with airlocking musts through the first 1/3 sugar break any longer. I just loosely cover the fermentation vessel with a sanitized towel, and I WTC (whip the c&@!) out of the must twice a day once I see active signs of fermentation, until the must gets to 1/3 to 1/2 of the available sugars consumed.

webmaster
03-25-2008, 11:10 PM
During the primary ferment, until I reach the 1/3 sugar break, I try to drop in my drill-mounted stirrer and mix up the must at least once (and sometimes twice) a day. I did this for my last two batches, an orange blossom traditional (semi-sweet) and a meadowfoam traditional (also semi-sweet), and they zoomed through the primary ferment in less than a month, clean and with no off flavors.

With the frequent stirring, you get a *much* cleaner ferment. The yeasties don't have sitting time to clump or settle, so the off flavors that develop 'When Yeast Go Bad' (smirk) doesn't happen. Both of these batches are racked now, after letting them sit for several days after the final stir to let the lees settle. They both have a crisp, clean flavor that is *much* more well defined than batches in which I *didn't* do this.

While normally I would let these batches sit in bulk to age for a while, the orange blossom is for a friend, so I'll have to bottle it in the next week or so. Right now both these batches are *very* good and extremely drinkable.

So yeah, I'd say that stirring during the active fermentation can be *very* beneficial.....

UDV
03-26-2008, 02:40 PM
During the primary ferment, until I reach the 1/3 sugar break, I try to drop in my drill-mounted stirrer and mix up the must at least once (and sometimes twice) a day. I did this for my last two batches, an orange blossom traditional (semi-sweet) and a meadowfoam traditional (also semi-sweet), and they zoomed through the primary ferment in less than a month, clean and with no off flavors.

So yeah, I'd say that stirring during the active fermentation can be *very* beneficial.....


I went ahead and ordered a stirrer, but it looks like my wine store doesn't have them in stock so it's going to be mail order! I also ordered Fermaid K, and gotferm. Sadly it won't help this batch much. So now back to the old fashioned stirring. :P

webmaster
03-26-2008, 02:58 PM
In lieu of a nifty drill stirrer, just shake the crap out of it. I did that for more than 10 years, and didn't have a problem. Just stop up the hole for the airlock with something (I always covered it with a wad of paper towel or plastic wrap).

You'll love the stirrer, though!!!! I can't live without mine now...

Earendil
06-16-2008, 07:19 PM
Great thread; I'm so glad I found this site!

I have a question related to Vicky's remark about stirring. I've seen a several postings that indicate that, especially when fermenting on the lees (using D47, for example), the fermentation will benefit from occasional agitation after the 1/3 sugar break has been reached. The agitation is done without unduly disturbing the must by using a long-handled spatula or other long-handled tool to disturb the lees without risking oxygenation of the must.

Is this beneficial in a must that is not intended for long-term fermentation on the lees and, if so, how much? What regime would you recommend?

Thanks and May the Stars Shine Upon You!


Eärendil

Oskaar
06-17-2008, 01:16 AM
You're talking two different things.

Stirring during fermentation is to keep the yeast suspended. During the primary stirring is beneficial and helpful not only to the ferment but for clearing as well. Do a forum search for particulars. Use my name as the author. In the primary fermenter you are working with "gross-lees" and for the most part they are not beneficial except in certain very specific recipes that I make and have discussed at length in these forums.

Traditional sur-lie (lees exposure) is done after the mead is racked and usually in a barrel. Since most homebrewers don't have barrels we use oak cubes (not chips, again use the forum search tool as this has been discussed at length) to approximate the barrel, and some regular "batonage" (stirring gently so as not to oxidize the must).

There have been a lot of people talking about sur lie in primary lately, and folks need to understand the difference between the two. Gross lees are in the primary and we agitate daily in order to get the live yeast up into the must so it has better access to the sugar remaining to be fermented, to provide rudimentary fining, and most importantly to regulate the pH and expose any colonies of spoilage flora and fauna that may have taken root as the yeast is flocculating toward the end of the ferment. Also, certain yeasts (D47, D254 and others) release a compound that adds some very nice "carbohydrate-like" characters into your mead and delivers a very full mouth feel to your mead.

Take a look at my Southwest Cherry Cyser, and my Bleu Berriez Cyser. I have a pretty full explaination of the processand why things are done the way they are in my recipe.

Hope that helps,

Oskaar

Earendil
06-17-2008, 10:41 AM
Thanks, Oskaar! I did look at 20 or 30 search results before I posted. I had seen mention of stirring the lees in various posts and that suggested, of course, that this might be a beneficial technique. Often such mention is tangential, of course, and though suggestive, does not give you the basic principles.

I have a rhodomel that I'm about to rack, but I thought that I might be doing it prematurely, if I could make things still better by agitating the lees. I searched for 'stir lees' and found bits and pieces but not the underlying principles you described. I'll check these recipes.

Thanks Again,


Eärendil