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GriffinBros
11-28-2008, 04:27 PM
So we appear to have done something wrong. Our sweet mead is not showing any activity at all. The yeast was used was Wyeast. Below is the brew log so far.


Saturday November 22nd
Simmerered 2 gallons (about 23 pounds) of raw orange blossom honey, and about 2 quarts of water, for several hours
Skimmed off wax until there was very little coming out.

poured one cup into blinder and blended with water

poured honey into 3 gallon carboy, added one gallon purified drinking water. Let must sit overnight to cool.

Added activator sweet mead yeast, activated the night before, and kept at about 70 degrees overnight. Must was at about 78degrees when yeast was added.

Gavity before adding yeats was not readible, as it was too dense for the hydrometer reading.
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Sunday November 23rd
Shook bottle vigarousely
76Degrees
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Monday November 24th
Moved to 6 gallon carboy
Added one gallon purified drinking water
Shook Vigarousely
74 degrees
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Tuesday November 25th
No fermentation evident
Added one more gallon of purified drinking water.
Shook Vigarousely
74 degrees
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Wednesday November 26th
Still no fermentation evident.
72 degrees
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Friday Neveber 28th
Still no fermentation
74 Degrees

liff
11-28-2008, 05:41 PM
The reason you have no activity is that there is too much honey.

Sugar/salt/honey does not go bad because there is not enough water for metabolic activity for the yeast. High gravity ferments are mush harder to accomplish because of this osmotic pressure causing strain on the yeast. This is WAY higher in gravity than your normal 'high gravity ferment'.

You have about 7.6 pounds per gallon. There is no such yeast that will ferment that. Four pounds per gallon will ferment out sweet.

My advise is to dilute your must out to 5.75 gallons total volume (add 2.75 gallons of water). I would even bet that the yeast start to work again all by themselves, but I would still repitch.

Very nice brew log, that helped me see the problem straight away, thanks.

GriffinBros
11-28-2008, 05:53 PM
Thanks a whole lot. We thought that was the problem. That's why we added the two gallons after pitching, but figured that would do the trick. We are at 5 gallons total now. Before the addition two you are saying we should add. I just want to make sure.

liff
11-28-2008, 07:12 PM
Ah, I did not see that. You did add the two gallons of extra water, so the total volume is 5 gallons right now. Sorry. 23 lbs in 5 total gallons is still pretty high, but should ferment somewhat.

If this was my ferment, I would: first, dilute to 4 pounds per gallon maximum, then repitch with a large, acclimatized, starter.

Sorry for not catching the two dilutions in your first post.


Edit: Non-sensical word order

wildaho
11-28-2008, 07:20 PM
If you decide to re-pitch, you might want to try one of the Lalvin dry yeasts in place of the Wyeast Sweet Mead. The Wyeast is notorious for being fickle. The Lalvin is about a buck per package and works consistently. The Wyeast is anywhere from $7 to $10 a pop and is iffy.

Be sure to re-hydrate the Lalvin yeast properly and use GoFerm and FermaidK according to directions. Search the forum for re-hydration to get the full details.

GriffinBros
12-02-2008, 12:51 PM
Hey guys thanks for the help. Couldn't get to the site yesterday to give an update, but we didn't do anything, because I wanted to get clarification from my last post, just shook it up really good Sunday night, and Monday morning it's going. 1 bubble about every 10 seconds.

I'm worried about it still though, I know the honey/water ratio is pretty high, and I'm worried about it being too sweet. My partner in crime like sweeter things, I prefer my alchol to be a little my dry. So I have questions that is basically a future trouble shoot possiblity. If it is too sweet by the time it is done fermenting, what would happen if you added water at that point to dilute it? Would it need to sit and kinda melt together or is that just an all around bad idea?

Medsen Fey
12-02-2008, 01:29 PM
Hi GriffinBros,

Were you able to get a starting gravity after the dilution?

You are definitely going to end syrupy sweet if you used the Wyeast sweet mead yeast (which has a tolerance of 11-12% ABV) with 23 lbs of honey in a 5 gallon batch. That amount of honey would leave you sweet if you were using a high alcohol Champagne yeast. Pitching at really high gravity tends to prevent the yeast from starting (as you've seen) and also tends to prevent them from reaching their alcohol tolerance. It may also cause the yeast to produce more "off" smelling compounds like volatile acids.

If you take your final mead and dilute it with water, you will dilute the sweetness (somewhat), but will dilute the flavor and acidity as well as the alcohol. Low alcohol sweet meads are a ripe target for spoilage organisms.

Other alternatives include making a second batch of mead that is totally dry, and blending the dry mead and the sweet mead to get a level of sweetness that you like. Or, depending on where your gravity is now, you could try gradually increasing the volume of this batch with water while it is fermenting to make a larger batch with less residual sugar while maintaining the same 11-12% ABV. Attempting this could stall the yeast as they do not like sudden shifts in osmotic pressure, and in order to get the gravity down to a level that will only leave it a little sweet, you probably will need to add another 3-4 gallons of water. If I were to try this I would probably add the water over a 24-36 hour period.

Lastly, you can pitch a high alcohol, good-for-restarting yeast such as EC-1118, which has been acclimated to the must (in a starter preferably) which will give you a much higher alcohol (18%), but still sweet result. It might take some age to smooth out, but wouldn't leave you nearly as sweet.

Those are your main options for handling a mead that has too much sugar in it. What is your gravity now?

Medsen

GriffinBros
12-02-2008, 02:16 PM
We did get a reading after we diluted of 1.15, checked again today and it's at 1.14, which I was coming back to add and saw your response ;) I'm still not 100% sure how to tell how that is going to turn out or where we wont it to stop, or figure the 1/3 sugar break.

This is only our 3rd batch ever the first was god awful not enough honey, the second came out ok, but needs to age.

Your options are greatly appreciated. You guys are awesome!

Zanny849
12-02-2008, 02:30 PM
Hi, I'm Zanny, I am Griffin's Partner on this adventure.

Currently our largest carboy is only 6 gallons. I was thinking about just adding the last gallon of water, or we talked about maybe splitting the batch into 2 carboys and add more water to each. The worry I have about splitting it is how to get equal amounts of yeast in both halves.

Its currently bubbling once every 6 or 7 seconds and its at about 73 degrees.

Medsen Fey
12-02-2008, 02:42 PM
Hi Zanny,

You have the makings for an original GotMead yeast test!

If you take the current batch and stir it good, and rack half of it into another carboy, the yeast will be evenly distributed. The extra aeration will do them some good also. In one carboy, you can dilute the must down to about 1.100 (slowly and gently) buy adding about 50% more water over time.

You can add nutrients to both batches, and if you can check the pH, check it for both and watch and see what happens. You can compare the results to see what the difference in gravity produces. If the high gravity batch sticks, you'll be able to pitch another yeast if you like.

Whatever you decide to do, keep us posted.

Medsen

Zanny849
12-02-2008, 03:11 PM
Medsen,

This sounds like an interesting idea. We might do this, not sure yet. Were going to discuss what we want it to be, and the options we have. I will let you know in a day or so what we decide.

Thanks for the idea!

-Zanny-

GriffinBros
12-02-2008, 04:12 PM
Medsen,

Questions abound.

We are torn between the idea of experimentation and lots of mead here.

If we split and do what you suggest we have one batch that should be good (Batch A) and one that may be way syrupy (Batch B).

We could take Batch A and B and blend, possibly coming up with something a tad to sweet still.

We could add a different yeast to B and have two different meads.

Or third option split and add water to both. Ending up with 8 gallons of HOPEFULLY good stuff.

Not sure what Im looking for as an answer just kinda curious to the benefits of these options interms of the process.

Zanny849
12-10-2008, 12:49 AM
So, I split this batch into 2 carboys, added some yeast nutrient, added 1 gallon of distilled water to each carboy, then added half a pack of Red Star Premier Cuvee wine yeast to each.

The Gravity of each is currently between 1.09 and 1.10.

If were going for a sweet mead, would this gravity be good, or should I add more water?

Medsen Fey
12-10-2008, 10:35 AM
Hi Zanny,

With the approach you have taken, you won't end up with sweet mead. Adding water lowers the concentration of sugars, and the less you start with, the less residual sugar will remain. With a gravity of 1.100 and a low alcohol sweet mead yeast, you should have some residual sugar and at least a semi-sweet mead, however, you have added a Champagne yeast with an alcohol tolerance of 18%. This is a strong fermenter that will eat all the sugar in these batches leaving you a completely dry mead.

If you want to have it sweet, at this point your best bet is to let the Premier Cuvee finish dry, let it clear, rack it, then stabilize with sulfite/sorbate. Then you can add honey to get it to the level of sweetness you like the best and will have a sweet mead with 12-13.5% ABV. That should be tasty.

Happy Mazing!
Medsen

Zanny849
12-10-2008, 12:26 PM
Thanks Medsen!

That's a little disappointing, but hey, were learning. If were using the premier cuvee in the future, what would be a good gravity to have to keep some residual sugars?