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ApostleInTriumph
04-09-2009, 10:28 AM
I'm fermenting a mead right now with raw, organic wildflower honey. I'm not positive, but it appears to have stopper fermenting (or at least letting off gas through the airlock). After sitting and waiting for 5 minutes, there is no activity in the airlock and I'm wondering what has happened. Maybe the yeast died?

Anyone with experience have any ideas?

Thank you!
-Justin

ApostleInTriumph
04-09-2009, 10:32 AM
Oh. The reason I mention that it is raw, organic honey, is because I didn't know if this made a difference. I'm using an alfalfa honey that is not raw in another mead and that one is still going strong.

wayneb
04-09-2009, 11:06 AM
Justin, welcome to the "GotMead?" community! There are actually several different reasons that your fermentation may have stuck, but we'll need to know a little more about your exact recipe and process before we can do more than just speculate. Can you post up the details of this batch? Amount of honey, water, kind of yeast, rehydration (if any), etc.? You can also do a search on the terms "stuck fermentation" from the forum home page, and you'll find a lot of discussion from other folks who had similar problems -- that might give you some additional clues as to what happened with yours.

ApostleInTriumph
04-09-2009, 11:43 AM
Thanks!

I used:
2 lbs of Dawes Hill Raw Organic Honey
1 gal of bottle spring water
1 tsp of Fermax yeast nutrient
and I don't recall the yeast I used (sorry...). It was something that the chap at the homebrew supply store recommended for my first mead. Lalvin champagne yeast or some such thing. I can find out exactly what it was next time I'm in and talk to that guy.

The recipe and process is exactly that same (except for the kind of honey) for my other mead that is still fermenting fine. I dissolved the 2 lbs of honey into the spring water. Took a bit out of the honey water in a measuring cup and put the yeast and nutrient in that. Let it sit for a bit and populate, then dumped it back into the remaining honey water.

I let that sit for a week in the fermenter, then transferred it to a glass carboy with an airlock on top. I checked on it pretty regularly and there was activity in the airlock. It's only in the past 2 weeks that I've noticed no activity.

So due to the fact that the process and ingredients were identical (save for the honey), it leads me to believe that the raw honey is creating the problem.

I appreciate your time!

akueck
04-09-2009, 12:10 PM
Do you have a hydrometer? If so, you should check the SG. If not, you should get one, they're tremendously useful!

Based on what you've said so far, my first guess is that it's done. The only way to know for sure is to check the SG which would be close to 1.000 when finished (for this mead).

wayneb
04-09-2009, 01:03 PM
Yup - I agree. Knowing the specific gravity of the batch as it sets now is the next step you should take. If you don't have a hydrometer, you should be able to pick one up at your LHBS for around $10-$15. If the gravity is at or below 1.000, then fermentation is complete - not stuck. NOTE: be sure to sanitize the hydrometer as well as any device (wine thief) you use to take a sample of the mead from the carboy.

You didn't say how long it has been in that secondary carboy, so your mead indeed might be finished fermenting. Also, lack of bubbles in the airlock is not a reliable indicator of fermentation activity. Check the SG several times over the course of a week or two. If it is slightly above 1.000, but stable at one value for all those readings, then the fermentation is essentially done.

If you used the "usual" Lalvin champagne yeast, then that is likely a strain called EC-1118. It is a fermentation beast, capable of taking this recipe fully dry and leaving you with about 14% ABV. It is capable of working musts heavy enough to produce 18% ABV to total dryness.

So, if your SG is significantly over 1.000 (say 1.010 or higher), your yeast stalled early. That may not be a bad thing, depending on where that SG is and how sweet (if at all) you want the result to be. If it is much above 1.020, however, it will probably taste cloyingly sweet. In the final analysis, the degree of sweetness that you are satisfied with when fermentation finishes is pretty much up to your taste.

A couple of things to note for the future -- don't rehydrate your yeast in anything other than water, or at most water with some rehydration nutrient, such as Go-Ferm, added. Rehydrating in a sugar solution will stress the yeast. If standard yeast nutrient containing inorganic nitrogen salts (such as Fermaid, Fermax, Super Food or pure DAP) is used during rehydration, you'll stress the yeast even more, potentially killing off most or all of the active cells. Yeast don't need nutrients during the rehydration process -- only afterward, once they're pitched in your main must.

One final thing to add to your list for the future is some way to check pH -- either pH strips, or a pH meter. One potential cause of stuck fermentation is the pH of your must dropping too low to allow it to sustain yeast activity. Generally if your must is below about pH 3.2, your yeast are being stressed. Much lower than that and they'll stall out.

Finally, the use of "organic raw" honey has little effect on the fermentation of your mead. It will give you a much tastier result than filtered or processed honey, though!

Hope this helps!

ApostleInTriumph
04-09-2009, 02:22 PM
Thanks for all your help and suggestions!

I didn't think to take a hydrometer reading because it's only been in the carboy for a month. But after the gravity reading, it is a gravity of 1.000 on the nose! So I guess it's done then? Still tastes a tad watery, but I guess there's no harm it letting it sit longer? Any suggestions?

Thanks again!

wayneb
04-09-2009, 03:29 PM
C'est fini! Since it is a dry mead, the flavor profile will be a bit thin and hot at the outset, but will round out and become more a reflection of the honey that you used when it has had some time to age.

No worries!

;D

ApostleInTriumph
04-09-2009, 03:56 PM
Woot! Thanks so much for all your help!