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Pantalaimon
07-24-2008, 11:14 AM
Hello,

I'm still trying to make a good batch of mead.
The last time went better and I was hoping this time it would go good.

On the evening of 21 July I made a yeast starter with honey and a pack Braumaster Mead yeast.
On the afternoon of 22 July I made the must and put the yeaststarter with the must in a plasting fermentationbucket with an airlock. It seemed to work: within 10 hours the airlock was already bubbling 1 or 2 times a minute.
Then I was reading on Gotmead that in the 1st phase the mead must have enough oxygen. So I went splashing with a spoon with little holes in it (ofcourse everything sanitized). I got very much foam(4 litres on 9.5 litre mead). I have done this a couple of times, but it seems that after the first time the airlock stopped bubbling. I wondered that the yeast needed maybe a little DAP, so I put a third teaspoon DAP in it. Nothing happened and it still don't do anything.

Should I have more patient or maybe add more yeast in it?
The fact that the airlock have bubbled but it doesn't do anything now worries me.

What should I do?

Thanks,

Pantalaimon.

wayneb
07-24-2008, 11:41 AM
Well, the first thing I'd ask you to do is to supply us with your exact as-mixed recipe, as well as a step by step account of the process steps that you followed along the way. You'll see several recipes (especially Oskaar's) detailed in this fashion in other threads on the site. We can best help you when we know exactly what you've done throughout the batch's life.

I do have some potential things to look for in mind, but I'd rather not jump the gun and suggest a large number of options when we might be able to narrow down the scope of things to look for after we see what you've done thus far.

And yes, be patient... and do not rely on bubbles in an airlock as a reliable indicator of ongoing fermentation -- there are several things that might cause a lock to stop bubbling while the mead in the vessel below it is still fermenting away. Do you have a way to measure specific gravity or brix (hydrometer, or refractometer)? You can unambiguously determine if fermentation is ongoing just by measuring the gravity of your must a couple of times over a 24 to 48 hour period. If the gravity is getting lower, fermentation is still ongoing.

Pantalaimon
07-25-2008, 04:08 PM
Hi, thanks for your reply.

Every equipment was sterilized/sanitised with Chemipro Oxi.
The starter I was made by hot/warm water mixed with honey. When it was cooled down (to somewhat above room temperature) I added the yeast in it and mixed it a bit. Then I put some foil over it. The yeast was Braumeister mead yeast, 3 grams(for max. 50 litres without a starter)
The next day I warmed 8 litres of water in a pan and added the honey. It was 'springhoney'(translated dutch) and wasn't liquid so I warmed the bottles in some warm water. The total amount of honey was 2.7 kilo. The pan was on the fire and was going hotter when I added the honey. It didn't boil but was very hot. After 15 minutes I did it in a water/icebath and within 20 minutes it was cooled down. In the meantime I was stirring and put the foam from it.
When it was cooled down I put it in the fermentationbucket and added the starter. I closed it with an airlock.
After a couple of hours the airlock was working a tiny bit. After 10 hours there was once or twice in a minute a bubble. Then I started aerating/stirring/splashing with a skimmer. At first I got very much foam, 4 litre foam on the 9.5 lires of mead. After that I aerated a couple of times but after the first time the airlock stopped. Then I added a bit (1/3 teaspoon) DAP in it. One day later I posted this message ;)

And still nothing happened.

Could you please give some idea's what you think went wrong, and what I could do about it?

Thanks,

Pan.

wayneb
07-25-2008, 05:23 PM
Well, the best thing to do next is to get a hydrometer, and to measure the specific gravity of the must. Also, you might want to measure the pH if you have the ability to do that. It is difficult to make presumptions about an ongoing fermentation without some quantified data - SG and pH are two parameters that you should keep track of regularly when a mead is fermenting.

Still, the lack of bubbles in the airlock should not be construed as the fermentation having stopped. Listen very closely to the fermentation vessel, or pull off the cover and look carefully at the surface of the must. If you hear a faint hissing sound, or if you see very small bubbles causing the surface of the must to look slightly rough, you still have active fermentation. If not, then you possibly have a problem.

By my calculations, your original starting gravity should have been around 1.084, and the maximum potential alcohol by volume should be around 11.25%. That is not usually a problem for most mead and wine yeasts to ferment completely to dryness (with no residual sugar). If you have no hydrometer available, and you have neither the hissing nor any obvious small bubbles appearing at the surface of the must, carefully take a small sample of the must using a sanitized syphon or a sanitized glass, and then smell and taste it. Then tell us what you sense from that sample.

Pantalaimon
07-29-2008, 10:12 AM
After your message I've bought a hydrometer and a acidtest.
The hydrometer say 1.068 and the acidtest say 2.2 gram/litre. (I hope I did it good)

Today I repeated the hydrometer test and it says 1.050 ! It means that there is still something going on? :P

The taste is still yeasty. But there is a very tiny flavour that reminds me of real mead. If its just the honey or maybe some alcohol I cannot say.

wayneb
07-29-2008, 11:25 AM
Yes - something is still going on! :D But you didn't tell us how much time has elapsed between your first hydrometer reading and the one that you did most recently. If it has been only a day or two, then your fermentation is proceeding well. A drop of .018 (sometimes referred to as 18 gravity points) within a 48 hour period is a good fermentation rate. That same drop in only one day is a very fast fermentation -- either way, you are doing well thus far. It also seems from your description of the flavor at this point, that everything is proceeding well.

Your acid test results suggest that you are using an acid titration kit, rather than a pH meter or pH strips to make your acid measurement. While that titration method is useful to determine the final "acid balance" for grape and other fruit wines, the acid titration method for measuring total acidity does not work well in mead, since there is a chemical equilibrium reaction with the principal acid contained in honey (gluconic acid) that tends to "fool" measurements by titration. For meads it is best to just measure pH, rather than total (titratable) acidity.

Pantalaimon
08-05-2008, 08:56 AM
Thanks for your message! I was away for a week to a festival so I had to leave my mead-in-making for a while :sad1:

Here's a bit of my mead journal:
26 July: The gravity is 1.068
29 July: Gravity: 1.050
5 August: Gravity: 1.018

So after what you wrote, I think its going well. Is it already time to go racking ? :)

I'm indeed using a titration test. Should I just buy some pHstrips?

wayneb
08-05-2008, 11:34 PM
I recommend an electronic pH meter, as it will be more accurate than the strips. Abandon the titration kit for meads. It appears to me that your fermentation is doing quite well! You may rack now, which may slow or stop the yeast activity, or you may wait until the fermentation appears to stop based on repeated SG measurements. The choice is yours. Racking before the mead has reached dryness (SG at or lower than 1.000) can sometimes interrupt the fermentation and you'll end up with a sweet result. You may want to taste the mead at this point to see if you like it at that residual sweetness. If you are satisfied with it there, then rack and finish the stabilization with metabisulfite and sorbate, if you wish.

Pantalaimon
08-06-2008, 09:56 AM
Thanks, I will let it ferment a bit more, to create a drier mead. Let's see how dry it can be :)
I want to have my mead natural, so I don't think I'll add metabisulfite or adsorbate. Thats for a quicker clearing right?
The electronic pH meter I've seen costs about 60 euro's, and thats a bit above my budget. So pH strips it will be.

wayneb
08-06-2008, 10:30 PM
Check one of the European eBay pages for the meter. pH meters (the "pen" type) are available for less than US$30 from many sites.

The metabisulfite and sorbate are not to hasten clearing (although they have that as a secondary effect) but rather they are to stop fermentation and to prevent it from re-starting, should you choose to backsweeten. Meads that have not been chemically stabilized, or alternately racked repeatedly to ensure that no active yeast remain, can re-start fermentation in the bottle. This will at least lead to a sparkling mead or at worst will produce "bottle bombs" that can pop corks or even explode spontaneously. Again, there are non-chemical methods to prevent a re-started fermentation that can involve cold crashing (exposure to temperatures of between 0 and 5C for extended periods), along with repeated careful rackings. Or you can choose to do it the easy way, with the chemicals.

Pantalaimon
08-08-2008, 07:58 AM
Ah, there are indeed cheaper ones. I think I'll get one for my next batch.

I went to my supplier and asked what kind of he had to stop a fermentation. He didn't had any experience with sorbate. And I already have some potassiumdisulfite, thats also possible to use, right? But how much should I use?

The gravity was yesterday 1.010.
I think I'll go racking soon, its dry enough.

capoeirista13
08-26-2008, 08:46 AM
Well, the best thing to do next is to get a hydrometer, and to measure the specific gravity of the must. Also, you might want to measure the pH if you have the ability to do that. It is difficult to make presumptions about an ongoing fermentation without some quantified data - SG and pH are two parameters that you should keep track of regularly when a mead is fermenting.

Still, the lack of bubbles in the airlock should not be construed as the fermentation having stopped. Listen very closely to the fermentation vessel, or pull off the cover and look carefully at the surface of the must. If you hear a faint hissing sound, or if you see very small bubbles causing the surface of the must to look slightly rough, you still have active fermentation. If not, then you possibly have a problem.

By my calculations, your original starting gravity should have been around 1.084, and the maximum potential alcohol by volume should be around 11.25%. That is not usually a problem for most mead and wine yeasts to ferment completely to dryness (with no residual sugar). If you have no hydrometer available, and you have neither the hissing nor any obvious small bubbles appearing at the surface of the must, carefully take a small sample of the must using a sanitized syphon or a sanitized glass, and then smell and taste it. Then tell us what you sense from that sample.






This sounds almost exactly like the situation I'm in right now, thanks for asking this question, WayneB your answers thus far have given me an idea of what's going on and what to do. But I have a few questions.

How do you use a hydrometer? Do you instert it directly into the mead? I did that right before I closed the lid on my must originally, and it was floating at the point where 11% (Potential Alcohol?) was visible, right next to 80 (Ballings or SG I forget!). I get the potential alcohol, I think, but the other measurement was on a scale from 0.999 up to 1.999, with numbers from 10-90 on intervals of 10 in between.

Also, the top of my mead looked as though there were bubbles trapped on/in the surface, is that what you mean by rough?

And during the first day it was bubbling relatively quickly to what I have seen so far, and smelled very strongly of blueberries, but now that stopped and when I stirred my mixture the day after I made the mead tons of bubbles came to the top and it then started bubbling again, but the strong blueberry smell was gone. What does that mean?

wayneb
08-26-2008, 11:32 AM
This sounds almost exactly like the situation I'm in right now, thanks for asking this question, WayneB your answers thus far have given me an idea of what's going on and what to do. But I have a few questions.

How do you use a hydrometer? Do you instert it directly into the mead? I did that right before I closed the lid on my must originally, and it was floating at the point where 11% (Potential Alcohol?) was visible, right next to 80 (Ballings or SG I forget!). I get the potential alcohol, I think, but the other measurement was on a scale from 0.999 up to 1.999, with numbers from 10-90 on intervals of 10 in between.

Also, the top of my mead looked as though there were bubbles trapped on/in the surface, is that what you mean by rough?

And during the first day it was bubbling relatively quickly to what I have seen so far, and smelled very strongly of blueberries, but now that stopped and when I stirred my mixture the day after I made the mead tons of bubbles came to the top and it then started bubbling again, but the strong blueberry smell was gone. What does that mean?


The safest way to use a hydrometer is to draw off a small sample of the mead using a device made for this purpose (search on "wine thief" and you'll see what I'm talking about). Then place the sample in a cylindrical tube just slightly larger in diameter than your hydrometer. Usually the tube that the hydrometer comes in works well for this purpose. Then put the hydrometer in the tube, and read the specific gravity off the SG scale (that's the one going from about 0.996 to 1.170). When you're done with the reading, don't put the test sample back in the main must (it can cause contamination). Instead you can taste it to see how the flavors are changing as fermentation progresses! :drunken_smilie:

If fermentation is happening as it should, you should see a daily drop in your SG reading until your mead has finished fermenting. Early in primary fermentation a drop in SG anywhere between 0.006 and 0.012 per day is typical, and indicates a good fermentation. Sometimes you'll get even more change per day -- that is fine.

Alternately you can place a hydrometer directly in your mead fermenter, but make sure that it is thoroughly clean and sanitized. I prefer to take the test sample because it is far easier to read a hydrometer at eye level than it is to try to see where it floats in a bucket.

The trapped bubbles are part of what I meant by rough -- but also if you look very carefully at the surface of a fermenting must, you'll see a slight roughness as tiny CO2 bubbles percolate out through the top. You can hear the gas release, too - it sounds like a faint hissing noise.

Aromas and flavors will change throughout the course of fermentation, and even while the mead is aging. Don't be alarmed that the intensity of blueberry aroma has decreased as the mead ferments - that's normal. If, after you're done fermenting, you want more blueberry characteristics in the final mead, then add some berries to the secondary and allow the mead to sit in contact with the berries for a week or two before racking off to another, clean carboy.