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BrewinNColorado
11-13-2008, 10:33 AM
I decided to make a candy cane mead for Christmas of '09 so I did the following:

ingrediants:
15 lbs wildflower honey
water to 5 gallons
Wyest yeast nutrient
1116 yeast
Peppermint tea (made from dried peppermint leaves, boiled to create a tea. To be added in secondary)

11/10
poured the honey into the fermenter
added 2 gallons of hot water to disolve
added remaining water (not cold but cool) to bring up to 5 gallons
added Wyest yeast nutrient per instructions
pitched yeast (Temp was 84)
inserted my airstone and airated for 5 minutes

11/11
foam is on top

11/12
no more foam, but lots of large bubbles

11/13
gravity reading... still just above 15%
I added a little more yeast nutrient just in case, but there should have been enough from the original time.

Each day I have airated 2 times a day, once in the morning an one at night by using my airation stone for 5 minutes.

Each night I check the grravity, still just above 15%

The temp in my house is 60 at night and when I am at work, and 67 when I am home.

I used 1116 because it appears to be a good fast yeast that also has a high alcohol tolerance, low nutrient need and wide temp range.

Any ideas on why it never started?

Angus
11-13-2008, 11:15 AM
Morning Brewin,

From the look of your procedure, you are doing everything right. I will ask a couple of questions to help focus down on the problem. How did you prep the yeast before pitching?

One possible reason, old yeast. Resolution - get another couple of packets (I found 2 starts things off much better), rehydrate, and pitch.

Other reason could be the temperature. Can you raise it to around 72ºF to see if that gets it off and running?

Finally, what is the pH? This could also stall things before they get going, which will require some adjustments if it is too high or low.

Angus

BrewinNColorado
11-13-2008, 11:34 AM
One possible reason, old yeast. Resolution - get another couple of packets (I found 2 starts things off much better), rehydrate, and pitch.

Other reason could be the temperature. Can you raise it to around 72ºF to see if that gets it off and running?

Finally, what is the pH? This could also stall things before they get going, which will require some adjustments if it is too high or low.

Angus


Good morning

When I get home tonight, I will try pitching a second just to see what happens. This time, I might hydrate in a glass for the 15 minutes, then add some of the must, then wait another hour before pitching into the fermentor.

Given the temp tolerance, what do you think is the liklihood that the temp is too low?

Unfortunately, I do not have a ph meter. That is on my list of items to buy, along with a portugeese floor corker, and refractometer.

I really do appreciate yours, as well as everyone else's advice, and I always have.

For those who are new and reading this, please take everyone's advice. Everyone is very knowledgable in mead making. My advice, don't sweat the small stuff and enjoy what you do.

Angus
11-13-2008, 11:55 AM
Temps can actually be very important and a small change can make a big difference. I have stalled out in 66ºF temps, only to have it take off again when I brought it up to 72ºF. Give that a go, if possible.

With the yeast, making a starter may help, although you will probably need more than an hour. Give the starter 12 to 24 hours for the yeast to build up a good population before pitching. Per the NewBee Guide:

"To make a yeast starter, sanitize a small container and add 2 cups of either juice, prepared Must, or water with 0.5 cups of Extra Light Dry Malt Extract. Add 0.5 tsp. of nutrient (not DAP or Fermaid K as the ammonia salts can be toxic at high levels to first generation yeast), seal the container and shake vigorously to aerate the solution. If you are using dry yeast, rehydrate it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Bring the starter solution to 95°F, add the yeast and cover with either a sanitized cloth, some foil, or with an airlock if possible. Let it stand in a warm location for 12 to 24 hours before pitching into the Must. Be aware that the type of liquid used may affect the flavor of the Mead, particularly if too much is used. Lighter juices such as white grape or apple juice will not add color or much flavor to the Must."

Angus

wayneb
11-13-2008, 12:40 PM
Michael,

One other question -- did you pitch the yeast dry the first time, or rehydrate it first?

And still one other question -- you say that you added nutrient per directions, but exactly how much did you use?

That should help us to narrow in on the most likely cause. Angus is probably right with his assumption about old yeast, but I'd like to be sure that we covered all the other bases. Where did you get your yeast and how long did you store it before using it?

OK - that's enough questions from me for now! ;)

BrewinNColorado
11-13-2008, 01:31 PM
Hey WayneB

We need to meet up some time so you can give an expert opinion about my attempts. I want to see what you think of myy chocolate and an orange (not a JAO).


One other question -- did you pitch the yeast dry the first time, or rehydrate it first?

I pitched it dry


And still one other question -- you say that you added nutrient per directions, but exactly how much did you use?

Per the Wyest intructions, 1/2 teaspoon per 5 gallons


Where did you get your yeast and how long did you store it before using it?

I got the yeat from "Hop To It" in Boulder. I got it no more then a couple of months ago and had it in the fridge the entire time. Took it out 30 minutes prior to pitching to let it warm up. The package was room temp when I opened and pitched.

Hope this answered your quesions. I was surprised when it did not take off, so I figured there was something I might have missed. I will crank up the heat tonight and thn check it out tomorrow morning. If there is still no fermentation then I will get a starter going.

Thanks again for all of your help and knowledge!

Medsen Fey
11-13-2008, 01:57 PM
While dry pitching can work, rehydrating in water that is the right temp (104F) makes a big difference. You'll find most of the folks around here are big advocates of rehydrating the yeast with GoFerm (a rehydration nutrient) and doing so following the manufacturers instructions. When this is done, the yeast performance is unquestionably better, and you will nearly eliminate this problem.

There is good reason for this (besides the fact that the mazer formerly known as Oskaar says so). The active dry yeast are shriveled up like raisins, and by rehydrating at the correct temperature you maximize the unfolding of the cell membrane. This means the cell will be able to take up nutrients more effectively and to divide more easily. The result is a more-likely-to-start, faster, cleaner fermentation.

Try it and you won't go back.

Medsen

BrewinNColorado
11-13-2008, 02:22 PM
I understand that there is a better ferment by having a starter, I am working torwards it. I am in the process of building my own stir plate, and all I have left to get is the case, switch and pot. I should have it completed in a few months. Though, with my other batches, I had no problems with fermentation this way, but I do understand that it better to have a starter because it helps ensure the yeast viability.

wayneb
11-13-2008, 03:28 PM
Yup, Michael -- we should get together sometime. I know we tentatively talked about it in the past. Next time I have a reason to head to Boulder we can maybe meet up at Hop To It, and we can sample some of mine as well as some of yours. I'll keep you posted....

Yes, there is nothing inherently wrong with anything that you did for this batch, so unless the water that you used was excessively chlorinated (highly unlikely), or there were contaminants in your honey that killed off the yeast (also highly unlikely), you may have gotten a bad packet of yeast. It isn't unheard of, and although the guys who run Stomp Them Grapes / Hop To It are some of the most knowledgeable and meticulous LHBS managers that I know, they don't have total control over their supply chain.

Definitely try another pitch, and as Medsen suggests, rehydrate per Lallemand's directions, and you might even want to toss in some of your existing must to the yeast after rehydration just to "proof" it (verify that fermentation actually starts). Then let us know how that goes.

Good luck. We'll help you to get this going, one way or another....

Wayne

Medsen Fey
11-13-2008, 04:09 PM
I understand that there is a better ferment by having a starter, I am working torwards it.

Wayneb is right - the starters help to make sure the yeast are viable and will improve fermentation. Even so, proper rehydration will make sure your starter gets going properly as well.

By the way, you don't need a stir plate to make a good starter (but they are cool).

BrewinNColorado
11-14-2008, 03:39 PM
It looks like my problem was with the temperature. I kicked up the temp and overnight it dropped about 1/4 to 1/3 of a point, so it is not just below approx 15%.

Thank you WayneB and Medsen Fey for your help!