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Clove
11-14-2008, 09:58 PM
Hello everyone!

First, I apologize for not being able to provide all the details for my current wine, as in being a novice it never occured to document the exact amounts, times, or much else of that. I can and will provide what I do know, however.

I began a gallon sized batch of mead back in early october (5th-9th), using ~2 pounds of wildflower honey for a base, EC-118 Lalvin Champagne yeast (full packet) and a stick of cinnamon/4 cloves/dash of vanilla extract for spices. I racked it to a one gallon jug at the two week mark, on advice from another forum upon noting that the primary was performed in a spring water jug. During the racking, I added ~1 cup of honey mixed with 1 cup of strong Celestial Seasonings orange spice tea, and left the cloves and cinnamon in the primary fermenter. This resulted in maybe an inch of head room between the cork and the must.

So far things have been going well, but within the last week I have noticed that fermenting bubbles will get caught near the top in a sort of foam; disturbing the foam in any way moves the bubbles away, but they stay somewhat connected. It has also begun clearing a bit, enough to see the shadow of my hand on the other side of the jug.

So, if it weren't obvious already, I was wondering what the bubbles at teh top might be. They are tinted with the color of the must, but otherwise entirely white, so I dont think it is a mold or anything, and I was as thorough as I could manage, boiling everything for sterilization immediately before use (siphon tube, jug, racking cane, airlock and parts). Any ideas?

Kee
11-15-2008, 12:15 AM
Welcome to GotMead.

It sound like things are okay. I have a similar film on some of my meads. I'm sure the experts here (I'm a noob) will be able to tell you exactly what it's called, why its there and chemically how it forms. :) If you'd like to post a picture just to be sure, feel free.

wildaho
11-15-2008, 01:44 AM
Hi Clove, and Welcome to the GotMead? Bright Green Shiny New World!

I've never been able to determine if the name for the "scuz" that appears during fermentation is called the same thing in a must as it is in wort. In the beer world, it's called "krausen" (pronounced kroy-zen).

It's a normal part of the fermentation process. It's mostly different proteins, dead yeast cells and other effluvia that are naturally occuring byproducts. It might look icky but don't worry about it. As your fermentation progresses, it will fall down and become part of the "lees" at the bottom of your fermenter.

Out of curiosity, how is your fermentation progressing? Are you taking specific gravity reading with a hydrometer to monitor it?

Wade

Kee
11-15-2008, 02:19 AM
Wildaho strikes again. :) I should lay money on you knowing!

Clove
11-15-2008, 02:38 AM
Well, it has a pleasantly spicy aroma, and one mouthful made my head spin when I tested it during the racking oh so long ago, so I would imagine it is going well. there is a fair amount of sediment at the bottom, as well, so Im thinking that it might almost be done with the fermentation.

I've also got another batch going. Same qualities, cept without the spices and with clover honey as well. It also uses...KV1-117, is it? Sounds right... In either case, it has actually had a week and a half less time to ferment in general than my initial batch, and it is already beginning to clear to the point of reading large text through the jug.

I'm glad to hear that the foam isn't likely to be anything harmful. I'm usually impatient as is, so its a wonder that I havent already gone nuts from waiting. I'd hate to imagine myself if this batch went to hell :p

wildaho
11-15-2008, 04:05 AM
The most important ingredient when making mead is patience! :evil5:

The second most important is knowledge of some tools and techniques. If used properly, you don't need as much patience! At least during the fermentation phase anyway. Aging is another story all together. :BangHead:

Please don't judge your fermentation by the amount of lees on the bottom, the clarity or a certain amount of time before racking. It could be stuck and stuff will fall any way. The way this one threw a krausen after racking and adding more honey makes me think that your initial ferment was stuck or stressed in some way. The racking seems to have roused the yeast which means that it wasn't fermenting properly to begin with.

A hydrometer is your best friend. They are cheap ($5 to $15) and give a great insight in the kinetics of your ferment. Daily readings of the specific gravity let you know when fermentation is done or if there are any problems on the way.

This mead is almost a month and a half old now. After you learn a few of the techniques here, that can probably be shortened to one or two weeks for complete fermentation. As it stands now, we don't know if it's done or not. I definitely wouldn't bottle it until you can get a hydrometer reading. Bottle bombs are no fun!

Clove
11-16-2008, 07:38 PM
The idea of checking to see if the fermentation is done is certainly a wise one to think about. Since I was unable to take an initial SG, though, how would I be able to use the present reading to determine the "doneness" of the fermentation?

Medsen Fey
11-16-2008, 08:18 PM
Hi Clove,


Welcome to the new and improved* GotMead?


You may not get the exact number, but if you use the JamesP's Mead Calculator (see link in the column to the left) and input 2.75 lbs of honey (the original 2 lbs + 1 cup) into 1 gallon the estimate (and only and estimate) is a gravity of 1.101. You could be significantly higher or lower depending on the moisture content of your honey. Still, it will put you in the right ballpark.


That means the EC-1118 should take it completely dry (less than 1.000).


Note for advanced users
Using a refractometer reading and hydrometer reading, you can estimate the original gravity based on the difference between the two. A calculator that does this can be seen at http://brew.stderr.net/refractometer.html (http://brew.stderr.net/refractometer.html).


Medsen



*Ho Ho Ho Green Giant!

wildaho
11-16-2008, 08:35 PM
In your initial post you mentioned approx 2 pounds of honey in a 1 gallon batch. If you use the link over to your left on the Site Menu called "Mead Calculator" and plug in these numbers, you get an original gravity of about 1.074 and Potential ABV of 9.83%. The addition of another cup of honey (~0.75#) brings the OG to around 1.095 and a PABV of 12.76%. The 1118 yeast will go to around 18% if everything is right so it should chew through this amount of honey easily.

That means that if this mead is done fermenting, it will have a final gravity of 1.000 or less (it may go as low as 0.996). If it is much higher than that, it didn't finish fermenting yet.

We might not be able to figure out the exact OG but the ballpark figures above show that we can know if it is done fermenting.

Knowing your current gravity will give you a great idea on whether this is done or not. Ball park figures work great (Close counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, atom bombs and fermentation gravity readings!).