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View Full Version : Finally trying mead again; aeration/nutrient Q



Brew2Drink
09-13-2008, 01:08 PM
Greets folks, so after moving into a new place and getting a little free time i'm trying once again to make a batch of mead.
Recipe: 5 gal
5 gal. water
12 # honey
red star champagne yeast
.5 tsp energizer
.5 tsp dap

so i did the no boil method, used a lee's stirrer and added the nutrients and yeast. I'm wondering how critical it is to aerate the must 2-3 times/day for the first 3 days? I'm just a bit concerned about contamination after spoiling my first batch. Should I not be scared and just sanatize the lees stirrer and do it a couple times a day for the next 3 days? what about adding more dap/energizer? just curious as to what you long time makers/experts usually do. glad i found this site and have a community thats so willing and able to answer questions, big thanks to all. :cheers:
brew2drink

Yo momma
09-13-2008, 01:45 PM
It is very important to aerate for the first 3 days or until your first 1/3rd sugar break. During the time of aeration your yeast are reproducing. Your stronger yeasties are reproducing as well. The oxygen your giving them also creates a strong cell wall so they can complete the task without falling out prematurely. Leaving you on the light ABV side with tons of retainable sugar. Most people want a must that is highly active and the only way you test that is with a hydrometer. Ony 1 gal. of honey in going to get chew through rather quickly. What exactly are you looking to end up with?

Oskaar
09-13-2008, 01:53 PM
Hey Brew!

Aeration twice a day is fine. As you mentioned, be sure to sanitize that lees stirrer really well before stirring/aerating the must. Cover the vessel with a sanitized cloth, bung or whatever is appropriate for the fermenter you're using. After about three days, go ahead and airlock the fermenter.

Hope that helps,

Oskaar

Brew2Drink
09-13-2008, 03:48 PM
What exactly are you looking to end up with?

Good question heh. My batch I'm just hoping to get a feel for making mead and what a simple/traditional mead will be like and how much time it should take. I'm hoping to convert as much of the sugars to alcohol as possible. I'm not looking for quickness, but rather some smooth drinkability. I'm planning on storing in a 5 gal carboy for 9-12 months then bottling.

Its been about 3 hours thus far and no krausen as of yet. OG was 1.080, which is equal to a few beers i've made in the past, but not exactly super strong for mead I'd say. just FYI i'm using a 6.5 gal carboy with airlock for primary fermentation. I'm planning on aerating with the lee's stirrer before bed tonight, then again the morning and evening for the following 2 days at which point i'll pull some must with the thief and take another gravity reading. I'm also planning to add 1 tsp of energizer at the 1/3 sugar break pt.

Since I added energizer and DAP when i first mixed should I add them again after the lag phase?

What are the thoughts/recommendations of adding again at the 2/3 break pt.? I suppose these are the steps I should take if I want to get the max bang for my buck out of the honey?

The last attempt I racked to the secondary after nearly one month in the primary, does this seem like a normal amount of time before racking to the secondary? I've got pretty high hopes for this batch of mead as I've invested nearly another $100 worth of equipment to help make my mead making exp easier. :toothy10: Thanks again for the advice, brew2drink (even if it does take over a year for mead ;)

wayneb
09-14-2008, 12:23 PM
Well, first I'll ask you to provide a bit more detail about the process you used to rehydrate and pitch your yeast. You've done a great job of summarizing your recipe for us, but knowing more about how you kicked this batch off will help us to know if there are any potential issues with your process that may contribute to the slow start. For example, did you rehydrate your yeast before pitching it? If not, that could contribute to the slow start as yeast don't actually do their best when rehydrated in the must -- especially if that must has inorganic nitrogen (i.e. the DAP) added.

As you noted, your starting gravity is pretty low for a mead. I'd expect you to have a very robust fermentation going on by now, so if you don't, then please check the pH of your must and let us know what that is before we go further. I'd say since you only used 1/2 tsp of "energizer" (which is usually some yeast hulls mixed with vitamins) and DAP (that's only about 2 g of each), that adding another 1/2 tsp after lag phase is a good idea. But if you're not already at the 1/3 sugar break with this relatively "lightweight" must, I'd be surprised. Have you been taking daily SG measurements? If not, then I'd suggest you take one now, and let's gauge the robustness of your fermentation thus far based on that.

Brew2Drink
09-14-2008, 09:04 PM
Greets again, I'm afraid I don't have the tools to take a pH reading :-[ I took a SG reading not long ago, about 18 hours since i pitched the yeast. I rehydrated my yeast for about 20 min. with room temp, filtered water, before i pitched into the carboy. SG after 18 hours 1.068; OG 1.080, so I have yet to hit the 1/3 break point. My carboy is located in a dark room, temp. 64 degrees. Fermentation is definetly not robust, but I did manage to spin my drill fast enough to create a minor eruption through the neck of the carboy :icon_king: I added 2/3 tsp of energizer and 1/3 tsp of DAP when I pulled a sample of the must and aerated this evening. Am I missing anything? I'll watch and see what happens, and post another SG reading tomorrow. Thanks for all the advice, brew2drink

wayneb
09-14-2008, 10:04 PM
Actually, any mead fermentation that is producing a drop in SG of .010 or more in a 24 hr period is healthy. Employing all the tricks of this trade, with careful staggered nutrient additions, pH management and regular aeration you can achieve rates more than double that, but as this is only your second venture into meadmaking, I think all is well.

I suspect that you're used to seeing more activity in your beers, and the lack of krausen has you concerned. No worries, mate! I think everything is proceeding according to plan, from what you've reported thus far.

ken_schramm
09-14-2008, 11:03 PM
What exactly are you looking to end up with? ...I'm not looking for quickness, but rather some smooth drinkability. I'm planning on storing in a 5 gal carboy for 9-12 months then bottling.

I am confident that your desire to convert all of your sugar to alcohol will be met, but I'd say that your hopes of a smooth drinker with a champagne yeast and only a gallon of honey may require good bit of time to be satisfied. Red Star Champagne can rip through a lot of sugar, even with only a little bit of nutrient, and you will likely be left with a mead that is bone dry and a tad "hot." It may take three years or more to settle down.

If you are in this for the long haul, set that one aside, and try one with 1056 and an OG of about 1.120. That'll probably be about 15-16 lbs of honey in 5 gallons. Hit it with 300 ppm of FAN, and a decent supply of micronutrients. I like Fermaid K. If you want to keep it simple, you could do 1 tsp DAP and .5 tsp Fermaid K at end of lag, and 1.5 tsp DAP and another .5 tsp FK at 3 days. It should settle out after roughly 85-100 points of attenuation, and you should have something that will be drinking smoothly in 4-6 months after fermentation is complete.

Welcome to the addiction, uh, I mean hobby. There's no going back now.

Schrammer

Brew2Drink
09-15-2008, 12:35 PM
thanks wayne and ken, good words of wisdom there, i guess once i rack this mead to the secondary i'll do one with more honey/higher OG. I was indeed troubled by the lack of krausen and what seemed to be slow rate of ferm after brewing beers for many years. all seems to be as it should be I suspect. so how do you guys make so many different batches of mead and keep them in a single container to age? theres no way i'm going to go buy 4 more 5 gal carboys to let my mead age 6-12 months at a time when they cost me $50 a pop. whats a cheaper alternative?

Medsen Fey
09-15-2008, 01:07 PM
Corny kegs can usually be found for about $30. I use a lot of them (and I can't break them either). :laughing7:

wayneb
09-15-2008, 01:45 PM
I personally have one 6.5 gallon carboy, three 6 gallons, seven 5 gallons and two 3's, all glass and all accumulated over quite a few years. I manage to get things mostly lined up so I'm ready with the 6.5 or one of the 6's when I go to rack from my primary buckets, and I pretty much keep up with bottling at the other end. But it seems I'm always short some carboys (as well as wishing that I could bulk age a little longer on some of my meads) and I have considered going the cornelius keg route that Medsen suggests. I haven't started picking any up yet because I've been told by several folks that these are being phased out by the soft drink industry. I worry about the availability of seals, etc., in the future. So for the time being I think I'll augment my stash with some Better Bottles and see how those work out, at least for the initial rackings to secondary. The Better bottles are slightly cheaper than glass (especially with the recent spikes in glass cost since the Mexican source has dried up), and they are way lighter and thus cheaper to ship than glass.

Brew2Drink
09-17-2008, 09:28 AM
Ok after 3 days of aeration I've good constant bubbling thru the airlock, about a bubble every 3 seconds. SG is only 1.060 from 1.080, past couple of days its been dropping about .004/day. Would it be worth my while to keep aerating until i hit the 1/3 break at 1.053 then add more nutrients, or should I just let it go and continue to take SG readings daily until i hi the break point? ???

1BraddogsBBQ
09-17-2008, 09:14 PM
Not to hijack the post but I just recieved 5 corney kegs shipped for $126.69. They were 19.99 per.
So if they are going to phase them out I guess I will pick up some extra gasket kits.

Also... on Carboys.... the local Bet-Mar Beer making supply store here had a major jump in the glass carboys. I think $33 or $34 for a 5 gallon one. I went to a place called Carolina Pottery and got one for $19.99. Heck at that price I should buy a few.

Medsen Fey
09-17-2008, 09:41 PM
Not to hijack the post but I just recieved 5 corney kegs shipped for $126.69. They were 19.99 per.


Heck, at that price I wouldn't mind a few more. May I ask where such a fine deal is being offered?

CBBaron
09-18-2008, 04:57 PM
I I haven't started picking any up yet because I've been told by several folks that these are being phased out by the soft drink industry. I worry about the availability of seals, etc., in the future.


The soda industry has been phasing the corny kegs out for the last couple decades so this is nothing new. However Corny kegs have become very popular with home brewers as a beer keg. Enough so that they are still manufacturing new kegs despite the availability of used kegs. I do not think you will have any problems sourcing kegs parts for the foreseeable future.

I have been wanting to get some kegs for my beer but I had not thought about using them to age mead. That may be a good excuse to pick up some kegs before I have my kegerator.

Craig

wayneb
09-18-2008, 06:10 PM
Well, that's what they used to say about glass carboys.... ;D

CBBaron
09-19-2008, 01:21 PM
Well, that's what they used to say about glass carboys.... ;D


Oh I'm not saying they will continue to make new corny kegs, though I suspect they will, I'm saying all those old kegs still in use provides a demand for parts. That should be sufficient to ensure at least the o-rings remain available and probably other parts needed to use and repair Corny kegs.

A friend of mine claims to have a source for inexpensive carboys. If that doesn't pan out I will be buying several corny kegs for long term aging of meads.

Craig

Medsen Fey
09-19-2008, 01:53 PM
Since most of the parts of the keg are stainless steel, the only parts that may need to be replacee are the O-rings, the poppet valves, and the pressure release valve. They are readily available and for $50 you can probably stock enough for 1 lifetime.

The one suggestion I offer anyone thinking about kegs is to use oversize O-rings. (http://www.williamsbrewing.com/KEG_LID_SEALING_O_RING_P58.cfm) The regular size rings may not create a tight seal unless pressurized. If you don't have it pressurized, liquid can sometimes leak out (and air can get in). With the thicker rings, a tight seal can be made without pressurization (most of the time).

wayneb
09-19-2008, 02:00 PM
You guys are converting me! ;)