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knowlesbrew
12-16-2008, 11:10 PM
I have started a batch of high gravity sweet mead. I used 20 lbs of honey and added water up to 5.5 gallons. I had an OG of 1.12.

I am worried about getting a good fermentation. I was wondering if it is ok to use a sanitized stainless air stone during fermentation?

Also does anyone think I will have enough yeast left to carbinate the Mead or am I going to have still. I would rather have sparkeling but I dont want to add the sugar if it isnt going to do anything. The yeast I am using says it can handle a ABV to 18% based on the yeast table of this site.

WRATHWILDE
12-16-2008, 11:35 PM
Welcome to GotMead!!!

To Answer Your Questions ~



I am worried about getting a good fermentation. I was wondering if it is ok to use a sanitized stainless air stone during fermentation?

IT'S OK DURING THE FIRST 3 DAYS IN PRIMARY, when the yeast need oxygen, AFTER THAT IT IS DETRIMENTAL. Also, are you thinking of pumping pure oxygen, or a filtered air pump? From what I understand pure oxygen needs to be limited to short bursts, a couple of minutes at a time, to keep from harming your yeast. Air pumps on the other hand can be run just about as long as you want as it's impossible to overload your yeast with oxygen from the air we breath.



Also does anyone think I will have enough yeast left to carbinate the Mead or am I going to have still. I would rather have sparkeling but I dont want to add the sugar if it isnt going to do anything. The yeast I am using says it can handle a ABV to 18% based on the yeast table of this site.

Without knowing the yeast you used, your rehydration process, and other recipe specifics... it's impossible to tell. If your yeast was rehydrated properly then it will ferment to dry, and adding carbonation sugar at bottling will indeed give you a sparkling mead... or bottle bombs if you over do it. A gravity of 1.12 gives you a potential of about 16% Alcohol.

Cheers,
Wrathwilde

wildaho
12-16-2008, 11:42 PM
Hi knowlesbrew and welcome to GotMead?

Could you please list your recipe and process (so far) in a list format for us? Be sure to include specifics like individual ingredients, yeast strain and re-hydration method, nutrient additions, temperatures, gravity readings, pH, etc. You haven't really given us enough information to work with and we ask everybody to list the details. We can't read your mind and don't want to make assumptions.

That being said, you can use an aeration stone if you like. Most here use a lees stirrer due to it's versatility instead.

Your biggest bang for the buck will be nutrient additions and proper fermentation management. I'm guessing from your brief description that you are shooting for a traditional mead? These are especially in need of nutrients due to the lack thereof in the honey. Ya gotta feed your yeast!

So, get us a list of your recipe and we can help you whip this baby into shape!

:cheers:
Wade

Kee
12-17-2008, 01:00 AM
Hello, Knowlesbrew. I'd suggest you also do some forum searches on making sparkling meads. There's plenty of good information that falls into that whole 'never knew you never knew' category.

knowlesbrew
12-17-2008, 01:34 PM
Yep I am shooting for a traditional mead. I would like a Semi-sweet. I am a true newbie to Mead so I am just trying to see what I get.

Recipe:

5.5 Gallon batch
20 lbs of Minn Clover Honey
Yeast Nutrient (Bought from Midwest Supplies.com)
720 White Labs Sweet Mead Yeast
Gelitan Finnings (To be added when I move to secondary)

Process
I boiled some water, put the honey in a sanitized bottling bucket. Added about 2 gallons of boiling water. Mixed them together until the honey was disolved. Added cool water till It was around 5.5 Gallons. Pitched the yeast.

OG ~1.125

I also have a vial of the 715 Dry White Labs yeast, I was thinking about adding if I get a stuck fermentation or if my gravity was too high. I am also worried that my ABV will be above the limit for the sweet mead yeast so I wont be able to do a sparkeling.

I also have some yeast energizer I bought from mwsupplies would that be a good thing to add at this point?

I Started it on this last friday, I have a solid looking fermentation going on right now.

I have shaken my carboy hoping it will help to get some air to the yeast a few times.


Thanks for the help

wildaho
12-17-2008, 04:37 PM
Thanks for posting your recipe. It will help us get you dialed in. A few more questions and I think you'll be rocking and rolling.

First off, what is your level of brewing experience? Have you made wine or beer before?

This one has been going for 5 days now. What is your current gravity? Your hydrometer is your best friend when it comes to making mead. It can be the first indicator of problems or knowing when to do what. Doing things based on time is inconstent as your fermentation speed can be affected by several factors.

Do you have any idea what the contents of your yeast energizer are? The formulaes vary from brand to brand. Some are nothing more than dead yeast cells. Others may contain Uric Acid, DiAmmonium Phosphate, minerals, vitamins or a combination thereof.

Most folks on the board here have settled on a mixture of FermaidK (from Lallemand) and DAP for their nutrient needs. It provides the majority of things yeast need in a honey must and the dosing and scheduling are pretty well documented for a speedy well managed fermentation. FermaidK can be purchased from MoreWine.com if your LHBS doesn't stock it.

Honey lacks the in-built nutrients that a beer wort has and nutrient additions are vital to the health and speed of your fermentation. Without the proper nutrients, your yeast can become stressed. Slow or stuck fermentation, off flavors (fusel alchols, that rocket fuel taste), strange smells and other problems are symptoms of that stress.

The White Labs Sweet Mead Yeast is a fickle beast and known for it's inconsistency. Sometimes it has worked well for me and other times it has either stalled or never even started. With your OG of 1.125 you have a PABV of 16.8%. This yeast is rated for 15% so it may or may not leave you with the desired finished sweetness.

On another note, sweet and sparkling are pretty much mutually exclusive unless you force carbonate.

There should be no need for the gelatin finings. Time is your best fining agent and the extra age does wonder for building the character of your mead.

Shaking your carboy works fine for aeration as long as it's done vigorously. It can be awkward to do though. Aeration stones are a viable option but please note the caveats that Wrathwilde listed. Just be sure to aerate twice a day until your gravity drops by one third (known as the 1/3 sugar break). This would be about 1.083 or so with your starting gravity. After that point, gently swirl your must every day to keep your yeast in suspension where it can do it's work.

Have you added any nutrients yet? It's hard to recommend how much to add and when without knowing it's composition. Normal additions would be at the end of lag phase (when visible signs of fermentation have started) and again at the 1/3 sugar break with the possibility of another addition at the 2/3 break.

Get back to us with the above info and we'll get you dialed!

:cheers:
Wade

knowlesbrew
12-17-2008, 10:47 PM
I started brewing a few months back and have 7 batches under my belt, all extract. I am currently putting together materials to get into All Grain. I have a few ingredient kits ready and waiting. I decided to give mead a try partly because the coldness of winter makes brewing outside unpleasent and I wanted to try something new. I have never tasted a Mead before. This is my second batch of mead so far. The first one I did was with a kit I bought from Midwest supplies. Pretty much the same setup just 12 lbs of honey, White labs 715, yeast nutrient 5.5 gallon batch. I left it in the primary for a month then moved it to a secondary where it has been for a little over a month. The Gravity when I moved it to secondary was .990. I didn't take an OG. I have planed to leave it for another month or so then bottle it.

The Yeast Nutrient I used said it has ammonium phosphate. I added the yeast nutrient with the yeast. I don't know exactly how much I added. It came with a kit I got from midwestsupplies.com. Probably about a tablespoon id say.

I haven't taken a new Hydro reading. Right now I have it in a 5 gallon Carboy with only a couple inches of head space. I was nervous to do another hydro because people say that you should have as small amount of head space as possible. I didn't want to take the mead out and then have too much head space for when I transfer it. Is the small amount of head space that important? I don't want to make vinegar.

Any thoughts on what would happen if I added the 715 dry mead yeast? If it does stick, although it looks like it has a very good fermentation going right now, I will probably add it. I will do a Hydro reading tomorrow and let you all know what I get.

Thanks a lot for helping me. I know some of this stuff I can find the answers to in older post and stuff. But I do appreciate the info

wildaho
12-18-2008, 12:33 AM
Mead doesn't seem to be as susceptible to oxidation effects as beer (and even that is over rated), especially during active fermentation. Your little yeast beasties will quickly fill your new head space with more CO2. Headspace only becomes an issue for long term aging. Vinegar won't be a problem so long as you sanitize things well.

Hold off on adding any other yeasts. If your first batch went well and this is one chugging away, you'll probably be fine. Just keep on aerating and taking regular gravity readings so that you can monitor its progress. Regular readings also allow you the opportunity to taste and smell your mead as it progresses. Taste and odor can be indicators of things that aren't right. In particular, watch for a sulfur or rotten egg odor, it can be indicative of a need for additional nitrogen.

Depending on where your current gravity is, you might want to add more nutrient. But get the reading first! I would definitely recommend buying some FermaidK and DAP. Not only for this batch but also for any future batches you might do. Also look into Go-Ferm for re-hydrating yeast. It's also available at MoreWine.com

On the subject of yeast: the dried Lalvin yeasts have a proven track record with meads and are one heck of a lot cheaper than the White Labs Liquids. A buck vs $7.50-$10.00??? It's a no brainer!

Keep us posted!

:cheers:
Wade

knowlesbrew
12-19-2008, 02:10 PM
Hey, I did a gravity reading after it had been in a primary for a week. It hadnt moved much 1.12. It is def fermenting though. I have it in a glass carboy and there are lots of bubbles. I will wait a few days and do another one then add the nutrient when I get around 1.08. No foul smells or tastes. Pretty much still taste like honey water at this point.

I was also thinking about making this batch a blueberry mead, by adding blueberries to the secondary when I move it. I found some canned blueberries on www.midwestsupplies.com. Midwestsupplies also has some sort of blueberry extract that comes in a 4 oz bottle but I am not quite sure about that. Anyone have any advice about this? Would the blueberries be too much with the 20 lbs of honey for a 5.5 gallon batch I am already using?
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/products/ProdByID.aspx?ProdID=4794

Thanks for the advice on the yeast and yeast nutrient. I will order some for my next batch. The closest LHBS is about a 3 hour drive for me so I order things I need in bulk to save money on shipping.

P.S. I did another gravity test for the other batch of Dry that has been in the secondary for about a month and a half. It tasted very similar to the Korean Style liquor "ShoJu" (I have no idea if I spelled it right) anyone tried the stuff?

osluder
12-19-2008, 03:37 PM
It tasted very similar to the Korean Style liquor "ShoJu" (I have no idea if I spelled it right) anyone tried the stuff?

Yes, I spent many "wasted" nights drinking soju (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soju) while on business trips to South Korea. ;D