View Full Version : the dwojniak thread

03-07-2009, 04:13 PM
Originally Posted by beekind
i believe 6 lbs of honey/1 gallon is called a dwojniak (someone correct me if i am wrong). i have two gallons that's been fermenting since winter solstice. it's still chugging away-though very slowly, now. in the beginning it behaved no differently than any other meads (big blow-off in the beginning). i've racked only once, but will be racking again this weekend and will be checking the gravity.

for one gallon:
6 lbs local wildflower honey
2t energizer
2.75t nutrient
lalvin ec-1118 yeast

i goofed the starting gravity reading, but as you can guess, it was pretty high.
i found the recipe online. it's called "CE Gaines Polish Mead". Unfortunately, i just wrote it down and don't have a link to paste. the recipe he has is a bit different as he has irish moss and gypsum in it.

so, the update. the current gravity is 1.130. if we assume the starting gravity was 1.219 according to the mead calculator. my honey is generally almost exactly as the mead calculator calculates.
i did step feed it, but i had to kinda eyeball as i didn't have a starting gravity and i didn't think to use the calculator. it's still fermenting, although veery slowly.
i'm starting to think it maybe stalling. should i chuck some more nutrient in?
any thoughts to get it to 18%?

Medsen Fey
03-07-2009, 06:05 PM
I'm actually impressed that they were able to get going. You've given those yeast a massive challenge and super-high gravity batches often don't reach the yeast tolerance.

Adding more nutrient (DAP) at this point will probably not help. Those yeast won't be able to assimilate it well this far into the fermentation so it will hang around. A product like Fermaid 2133, or Fermaid O, or other pure yeast extract without the DAP will be easier for them to use. Fermaid K (which does have some DAP) might also work.

Other things to help include yeast hulls 1 gram per gallon, and perhaps a gram of Epsom salts.

I suppose I might aerate it well even at this point. I'd also check the pH as that can be a factor in a slow-down.

When you say you step-fed it, how did you do that?

03-07-2009, 06:32 PM
yeah, it definitely wasn't a real step-feed scenario. i normally feed when i start the must and at the 1/3 sugar break, but this time, since i had no idea what my gravity was, i just fed part of the nutrients at 10 days when i did my first racking.
i'll try the yeast hulls, epsom salts, and aerating. if that doesn't work, i'll have to try some of the other stuff (i live out in the boonies,i'll have to try and find the other stuff online).
thanks, soo much.

Medsen Fey
03-07-2009, 06:47 PM
Generally the term "step feeding" is used to describe adding incremental amounts of fermentable sugars (honey or other) to a batch after it has started, or when it is nearly done.

Spreading out the nutrient is typically referred to as a SNA or "staggered nutrient addition". I don't mean to sound overly finicky, it is just that I want to understand what steps have been taken without creating any confusion.

As a rule of thumb, early racking of a mead leaves behind viable yeast and doesn't help you get a complete fermentation.

If there is any way to check the pH I would encourage that as it is the most easily fixed problem.

Endeavor to persevere!

03-07-2009, 11:23 PM
thanks. total brain fart. i have a one year old baby and haven't had a real night of sleep since she was born. this kind of thing happens all the time for me, now.
step feed. i did not step feed. i questioned it when i was whipping up the batch, but i'm still a beginner and the recipe didn't call for it. when i racked this batch after ten days, that was before i knew about those critters at the bottom of the carboy were still alive. i had always thought they were dead. normally, i'm pretty lazy about racking so it's not an issue. that's what i get for following directions. ;D
now, i'm trying to find instructions i saw from oskaar for making ghosts. i'm hoping to try your suggestions tonight.
thanks, again.

03-10-2009, 11:20 PM
okay, on saturday, i added about a gram of ghosts and a gram of epsom salts, and aerated. unfortunately, there's no action.
any suggestions? you said to check the ph, but i do not have a ph kit. i can get one this weekend when i go to big city (seattle). if i find out that it the ph is too low, what would i add to raise the ph?
would i then repitch?

thanks for all the help,

by the way, you helped me with a super sweet cyser back in the fall (4.5# honey/1 gal). it turned out absolutely amazing. BIG thank you, from my wife and me and many friends.

Medsen Fey
03-11-2009, 08:46 AM
i have a one year old baby and haven't had a real night of sleep since she was born.
I feel your sleep deprivation (I have an 8 month old). :)

normally, i'm pretty lazy about racking so it's not an issue. that's what i get for following directions. ;D

Being a major procrastinator, and generally a bit lazy, I never dreamed I could find a hobby where these qualities would be considered assets. Go figure. ;D

When you go to the store, don't let them sell you an acid test kit. These kits allow you to measure the titratable acid (TA) in wines, but they don't work well for meads as the gluconolactone in the honey throws off the accuracy of the test. More importantly, the yeast don't really care about TA (now the Mead makers.... well that's a whole different topic).

What the yeast care about is the pH (a measurement of how much of the acid is free). This is measured with pH strips, but you'll want to get ones with a range that goes below 3.0. There are types for beermaking that don't go that low, so you have to ask for the right ones. A much easier way to check is to use a pH meter. You can easily find them on Ebay for around $25 - essentially the same tool as someone would use to measure the pH of a swimming pool or an aquarium. These devices must be calibrated, and they sell solutions to make it easy. Personally, after a hydrometer, and my EZ-siphon, this is my next favorite tool.

If your pH is okay (above 3.1) then it doesn't need adjustment.

What temperature do you have it? Sometimes letting it get warmer will get the yeast to push a little farther.


03-11-2009, 01:02 PM
And if you do need to raise the pH of your must, the best things to use are either potassium bicarbonate (my personal preference) or potassium carbonate. Sodium bicarb (aka baking soda) would also raise pH and sometimes I've heard folks at local homebrew shops advising that, but it will introduce a salty flavor in your mead so I would recommend against it. I also caution anyone using calcium carbonate (aka pulverized chalk), because although it does work and doesn't introduce salty flavors, it doesn't really dissolve very well in a water-based solution (such as your must) and it works very slowly as compared with the potassium compounds. If you inadvertently add too much (as is often the case when you're trying to kick-start a sluggish fermentation and your first dose doesn't seem to do too much in the first few hours), you'll end up with a "chalky" character in the final mead. In case you're wondering what that is, think about sucking on a Tums or Rolaids tablet -- not what I expect from my mead. ;)

Also, traditional Polish methods for making Dwojniak and Poltorak meads usually involve starting from a more reasonable initial gravity (say 1.120 or so) and making many small additions of honey once you are past the first 1/3 sugar break. Yes, it is step feeding, and yes, unless you ferment at relatively low temperatures you are going to produce some fusels as a result, but they mellow with aging. Many Polish dwojniak and poltorak meads are oak aged (barrels) for a number of months before bottling. Also, dwojniak or poltorak strength does not necessarily imply super-high final ABV. The poltoraks produced by APIS in Poland are typically 16 to 17% abv. They simply finish sweeter than their Trojniak and lower grade cousins.

03-11-2009, 11:13 PM
thanks for ALL the information.
i've got everything on the shopping list for this weekend.

as far as temp. goes: i originally had it going in a room at about 65F, but then transferred all of the meads to a back room that was about 62-65F. we did have a super cold spell and it dropped to 60F for at least a full day before i realized it. after that, i heated the room up to 65F. i have raised that up to as high as 70F to see if that helped (it didn't), but even that makes me edgy (it seems the meads i've been making like 65F; anything over makes them kinda :o). when the temperature had dropped to 60F, the mead had already slowed substantially.

i'll let ya'll know as soon as i get the mead ph tested.

by the way, i had looked everywhere (i thought) for dwojniak and trojniak recipes and never found any. when i found the recipe that i'm using (ish), i was too excited to question too much.
oh well.

03-22-2009, 01:11 AM
so, i received the ph papers in the mail today and ran a test on the mead. it looks like the ph is around 3.8(ish). to my novice mind, the ph seems to be okay, or am i incorrect?

should i adjust the ph more (i bought some potassium bicarbonate) or repitch, or....?


03-22-2009, 07:51 PM
Your pH is excellent. Generally in the range between 3.4 and 4.0 is good to go. Your fermentation may have stalled because you started out with such a high initial gravity that you stressed the yeast, and this might be as far as it will go.

If there is no change in SG over the course of 2 to 3 weeks, then you can consider this one to be done. If it has finished too sweet for your taste, you can always blend it with a dry sack-strength (over 14% ABV) from another batch, and you will get the final sweetness profile closer to where you want it to be.

03-23-2009, 01:14 AM
Well, i guess i should have known it was too good to be true. Those great Polish meads, of course, wouldn't be so easy as to chuck it all together, then reap the rewards in a year. Next time i try a dwojniak, i'm going to get a recipe from one of you guys.
The gravity is done, so i'm going to take your advice and whip up a dry mead to blend it with.
Thanks, for all the great help.