View Full Version : My first meads - possibly stuck?

03-30-2008, 08:47 PM
Hey all - I've been reading this forum for a bit and decided to actually join up. I started two 1 gallon batches of mead on 3/19/08 and I've got a question or two about them. First, the recipes:

Batch 1:
3lb orange blossom honey
water to 1 gallon
1tsp DAP
Red Star Premier Cuvee yeast

Batch 2:
same thing, but 4.5lb honey

I boiled about half the water I needed, turned off the heat, added honey, then DAP. Afterwards, chilled to ~100F, pitched the yeast, racked to carboy, aerated, and airlocked. Did not test SG (I know, I know).

The first few days had some good fermentation, but yeast activity slowed dramatically on the 5th day or so. I racked them off into another carboy yesterday and tested the batches. The more-sugary mead had SG of 1.11, did not test other. The 4.5lb batch was very sweet, but noticeable alcohol. The other was much more dry, and actually pretty pleasant to drink.

My questions are in regards to the fermentation, namely:
1) Did I do something wrong in providing a proper environment for the yeast? I was thinking I added the DAP too early, since I've been reading you should add it at the 1/3 break point. Other concerns: Temperature of ~60F, killed yeast in pitching, sugar levels (perhaps too high?).
2) Should I try to repitch, and if so, what should I do (e.g. add more DAP, aerate again)?

03-30-2008, 08:53 PM
On a more positive note, I started a bit more outlandish mead yesterday, and fermentation is going very well.

Coconut Mead (1gal):
2.5lb orange blossom honey
1 can coconut milk
water to balance
1tsp DAP
Red Star Premier Cuvee yeast from above batches

Boiled 1/2 the water, added honey, added coconut milk, racked to carboy, added remaining water, cooled to ~95F, added DAP and yeast, aerated and airlocked. OG 1.07

The yeast have been going nuts, in fact I'll probably have to skim some off the top to keep the carboy from overflowing.

03-30-2008, 10:55 PM
I think that most people aerate the must and then pitch the yeast.

Medsen Fey
03-31-2008, 10:05 AM
Welcome to GotMead undyingfutility!

If you haven't read through the Mead NewBee Guide (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=108&Itemid=14), I recommend taking a look. It is chock full of good info.

If you measure the gravity in each of your batches, you will be able to track each one's progress, and will be able to diagnosis it early if they stick. Each batch performs a little differently.

It sounds like your fermentations got off to a good start. For future batches I would suggest rehydrating the yeast before pitching, and I don't like to pitch at 100F, I like to pitch at room temp. I don't boil my water or anything else. Adding DAP to the must is not a problem. The yeast perform their best when the nutrients are added in stages, and you can do a search on SNA or staggered nutrient additions to get more info. In many instances, folks will start adding DAP at the end of lag phase which may be just a few hours or a day after pitching. Personally I add nutrient to the must prior to pitching as you did.

You used about 4 grams of DAP in a gallon batch - that is more than enough DAP. You may need other micronutrients however. B-complex vitamins, Magnesium and other trace mineral. A yeast energizer such a Fermaid K can provide these and adding a gram or two per gallon can be helpful - but carefully as overdosing these can give off flavors.

You aerated your must which is essential after boiling the oxygen out of the water, and it is helpful to aerate it daily for the first 3 or 4 days or until the 1/3 sugar break.

So it seems you are doing many things correctly - Now to the problems:

In your 3 pound batch, what is the current Sp. Gravity? Is it still bubbling through the airlock? Although 5 days is very fast, it is not unheard of for a mead to complete in that span. If your Sp Gr is still high, then you may have stalled, and the first thing I would check is the pH. Without any buffers added, the pH can sometimes drop precipitously and leave you stuck.

In your 4.5 Lb batch, your starting gravity (based on the mead calculator) was around 1.165 which is very high. This stresses the yeast from the start (and will choke some entirely) and will likely leave you with a stuck fermentation. You say the gravity is 1.110 - is it still going? I would again check pH as this is an easily correctable issue when identified. Racking should have aerated it. Adding some yeast energizer such as Fermaid K (1 gram) may help. Adding yeast hulls may also be of some benefit.

Endeavor to persevere!

03-31-2008, 06:17 PM
I remeasured the gravities today.
3lb batch - 1.05
4.5lb batch - 1.12

I aerated the batches again and added some more yeast, and I've been getting some good airlock activity - I think I may be ok. As for pH, I don't have any equipment for testing that. Where could I get something? and what's best (e.g. litmus paper, titration setup)? Anyhow, thanks for the input!

03-31-2008, 06:25 PM
As far as testing pH goes, litmus papers aren't accurate enough in the 3.4 to 4.0 pH range to be of much use, and as they age, they become less sensitive. Your best bet is to pick up a battery powered, hand held pH meter (Hanna instruments makes several models), which can be had for under $100 at most LHBSs, and often for under $50 on eBay.