View Full Version : First Mead batch not ferementing

12-18-2008, 04:38 PM
I followed the recipe but instead of the wine yeast I used a smack pack of mead yeast. Put into my fermenter bucket but found it had a leak, by the time I had moved it to my better bottle, I had lost close to a gallon. I had read that you should not have much head space so I added water to remove the head space. Have added yeast energizer and nutrient (enough for a beer not a wine) and yet it is still not bubbling well. Should I move it to a bigger bucket with more head space? Brewed on Sunday and today is Thursday, checked this morning and no big bubbles.:confused:

12-18-2008, 04:55 PM
Hello brewlady. I wont be able to help you much but these good folks will, but i will say they will be able to help alot more if you post as much as the recipe as you have including what you have been doing up to date. That way they can play CSI and fix you right up. By the way welcome to GOTMEAD.

12-18-2008, 05:05 PM
13lb honey (local clover)
1 tbsp gypsum
4 tsp acid blend
1/4 tsp irish moss powder.

Followed instructions with cooking and cooling, but used Sweet Mead Activator Wyeast ACT4184- 4.25 oz instead of wine yeast. Noticed that the bucket was leaking around the drum tap so had to rush bottle the weizen I had brewing so I could move the mead to the better bottle. Did this, since I lost close to a gallon used water to make up the difference. Two days later no fermentation, added yeast energizer and yeast nutrient as per beer to see if could get it kicking, stirred, still not active fermentation.

12-18-2008, 05:26 PM
I'm no pro, but I have made a lot of mistakes and learned from most of them. One of those mistakes I made was using, irish moss, apparently mead does not hide the flavor the irish moss contributes as well as beer does. Also, it isn't necessary for clearing, as time/racking can do that. Also, I was told not to put in any acid blend in the beginning of the mead making process, thankfully I got that advice before I made my mead.

As for the fermentation not starting I have no clue, but when the real gurus get a look at this thread they will probably ask you for gravity, temperature, ph, probably what kind of yeast energizer/nutrient and how much, and maybe a more detailed process like "I boiled ____ for x mins..."

12-18-2008, 06:45 PM
..Gravity readings will be our biggest help here, especially if you have a reading after you added water to the batch, and a current reading. Without that we really can't tell what's going on with your batch.

Just a few other questions...

Was this a 5 gallon batch to start with?

..If so, you went from approximately 13% potential to about 11%. Which means you might end up with a thin dry mead for this batch.

..Are you using an airlock that "bubbles" if you have an active fermintation so that you're not relying on surface bubbles to determine fermentation?

..Do you have access to a brew shop that carries Lalvin Dry Yeasts and FermaidK nutrients?


12-18-2008, 09:34 PM
The first reading (before adding water was 1.042, it is a 5 gal batch, I added less then a gal of extra water. I can check at the shop tomorrow as that is what I was thinking is that I will need to re-pitch some more yeast, in beer this doesn't matter not sure with honey. I do have another 2 pounds or so of honey that I could add. I will try to get a reading.

12-18-2008, 10:06 PM
Hi ndbrewlady and Welcome to the mean green (but friendly) GotMead? Machine!

A starting gravity of 1.042 seems awfully low for 13lbs of honey in 5 gallons. The Mead Calculator (there's a link to your left in the Site Menu) shows that 13lbs of honey in 5 gallons should give you a gravity 1.104. After your dilution it should be around 1.083 (I think).

Are you sure that the honey got mixed in well and that you are reading the hydrometer correctly? And Wrathwilde's question about the airlock is a very good one. Are there any tiny bubbles in your must at all?

Also, do you have an idea of the temperature of your must was when you pitched the yeast?

12-18-2008, 10:19 PM
I am used to beer, was in a hurry and did not write it down, I currently have an api of 1.082, just took some (spilled some mead on the carpet, but oh well). Now I know the api was right, I really thought it was high compared to the starting api for my beers. Still tastes like strong honey water, not alcohol flavor. I changed air locks, for some reason the three piece one I am using on that better bottle keeps losing water, tis just a little but enough to make me wonder what is going on. I followed the recipe I had just boiled for 30 min, it had cooled enough to add the yeast, small bubbles inside the bottle but still no real bubbles through the air lock. Since I had it open I used the time to re-circ some, at this point and time I would pitch more yeast if I was doing a beer, and that is why I am asking.

12-18-2008, 11:10 PM
Sounds like your gravity matches the estimate pretty well then. That 1.042 reading seemed awfully low.

Do you have a means of measuring pH in 3.0 - 4.0 range? Using acid blend during primary might have driven your pH too low (below 3.2) and it could be hindering your yeast.

Your recipe looks like an old one where it called for 1.) heating your honey 2.) using gypsum 3.) using irish moss and 4.) using acid blend. Back in the early days many beer brewers adapted their techniques to mead but we've since found that none of the above are necessary and can actually hinder proper fermentation.

And when you say "it cooled enough to add the yeast", can you estimate what temp that might have been?

Since you have small bubbles, try this: stick your ear right next to your better bottle and see if you can hear a "hiss". If so, you are golden. Mead doesn't always take off with a roiling, boiling ferment like some beers do.

So, if you have the means, check your pH before repitching and then go with a dry wine yeast like Lalvin D47 instead of the smack pack. The liquid sweet mead yeast is notorious for being inconsistent.


12-18-2008, 11:38 PM
That is what I had read after I did some more research (of course after I did the brew). It was around 72 degrees when I pitched the yeast, a little cooler then I like, but should have been fine. We are having an extreme cold here and I am having a hard time keeping the mead near 70. Awesome, I got two big burps when I put my ear to it. And it is acting like my honey wheat before I added the yeast energizer after I read the honey is hard to start fermenting, then it just took off. Is why I added the energizer to the mead to see if it would gete it going.

12-18-2008, 11:56 PM
Glad to hear about the burps! Sounds like it might be working then.

Keep aerating it twice a day until you reach the 1/3 sugar break. In your case that should be around 1.055 or so. Daily gravity readings are a good practice so you know when you reach it.

Let us know how it is going tomorrow.


12-22-2008, 06:09 PM
OK, so it never really did seem to take off, and with our current cold snap I seemed to be having a hard time keeping it over 65 in the closet. So I got a belt for it, move it to a bucket (belt works better and it put more air in) then added some nutrient and everything is kicking now... Will have to check SG later.

12-22-2008, 07:45 PM
nice! good luck!

12-25-2008, 10:36 PM
OK more notes-I dont' have any access to Fremaid K so I was using nutrient instead.
12/23 added more energizer and nutrient 1.068 will stop adding nutrient. Flavor did change a little this time.
12/25 still fermenting plan to check again when it slows down.

12-26-2008, 03:43 AM
OK more notes-I dont' have any access to Fremaid K

..A little known fact ~ On the planet Arrakis the native women were recruited by the service industry, often to clean rooms and make beds for the rich spice traders at various hotels and private residences, these women were called Fremaid, K? ;)

oK, now that the history lesson is over, if you have access to a computer... you have access to Fermaid K and GoFerm @ morewinemaking.com (linked) (http://morewinemaking.com/search/103219/beerwinecoffee/coffeewinebeer/Yeast_Nutrition)


01-01-2009, 10:58 PM
Since my last post it has been burping steady, now at one every 15 secs. finally cracked the lid to check api 1.052. Is it going to be ok to add some thawed raspberries to this after it slows down? I have some extract that I didn't get around to adding to my wheat beer that I could add also. I was going to put it on the raspberry let it sit for a month or two. Let me know if I am doing it correctly. Like the flavor so far, but I like sweet stuff..:D