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stromam
10-18-2009, 12:17 PM
Hey everyone, I started a batch of metheglin/melomel and here is my recipe.

17 lbs of honey (from a local homebrew shop)
5 oranges, sliced with skins intact
1/2 cup of raisins
5 cinnamon sticks
fresh ground nutmeg
fresh ground allspice
1 smack pack of Wyeast ACT4184
1 capsule of servomyces
SG=1.123

I smacked the yeast about 3 hours before it pitched it (package was nice and swollen)

I basically just mixed everything together in the fermenter (after sanitizing of course), which involved immersing my gallon and a half of honey in a bucket of warm water to make it easier to pour. I started with all my honey and 2 gallons of water and mixed the piss out of it with a long paddle with holes). I felt that it was pretty well aerated, so I added the rest of the ingredients (including squeezing about half of one of the oranges straight into the must) and brought the final volume up to 5 gallons. I didn't take the temperature of the must before I pitched the yeast, but it couldn't have been over 80.

After about 3 hours I got one bubble out of the airlock, but It has been over 24 since pitching and that was the only bubble I got. Please help, I don't know if somehow I killed the yeast, or if the servomyces capsule wasn't enough nutrients, or if squeezing the oranges made it too acidic(i dont have any test strips), or if the skins of the oranges still had some pesticides(i did wash them with soap and water before cutting them up).

Thank you very much!!

akueck
10-18-2009, 12:58 PM
Hello there!

Airlock bubbles can be deceiving. What does it look like, smell like, sound like? What is the current SG?

You will almost definitely need more nutrients and more aeration. Those smack packs are not meant to inoculate 5 gallons of 1.123 must (even if it says so on the label). If you have something like DAP or a generic yeast nutrient, you might consider adding 1-2 g/gallon and giving it a vigorous thrashing.

Kee
10-18-2009, 02:39 PM
Welcome to GotMead?!

I agree with Akueck. Airlocks are not a good indication of fermentation. If you don't have a perfect seal, you won't necessarily have airlock activity. Do you have a hydrometer? If not, get one quickly. It will be your best friend!

Also, how did you sanitize? Can you take the pH? All these things will help the mentors figure out how to tweak your recipe... or if it even needs tweaking.

stromam
10-18-2009, 03:07 PM
Yeah, I have a refractometer and the SG was 1.123, I just checked it when I aerated more and also I added 2 more servomyces caplets. The SG is the same. I sanitized with StarSan, which has worked well for me in the past. When I opened it up it smelled and looked great. Hopefully this will do the trick, but please feel free to add more comments and let me know what you think.

afdoty
10-18-2009, 05:30 PM
Yeah, I have a refractometer and the SG was 1.123, I just checked it when I aerated more and also I added 2 more servomyces caplets. The SG is the same. I sanitized with StarSan, which has worked well for me in the past. When I opened it up it smelled and looked great. Hopefully this will do the trick, but please feel free to add more comments and let me know what you think.

White labs recommend adding only one Servomyces tablet per 5 gallons. I don't think you need to add any more....

Is it foaming at all? Any type of activity when you stir it? I'd be real curious about your PH.

Medsen Fey
10-18-2009, 05:57 PM
What temp are you keeping?
Do you see any sign of fermentation on the surface of the must (bubbles, the lightening of the color as it becomes milky, etc.)

akueck
10-18-2009, 06:01 PM
Also remember that refractometers only work (in isolation) in the original must. Once there is alcohol, they get thrown out of whack. You can use a calculator (there are a bunch out there if you look) and can figure out what the SG really is.

What does "looks great" mean? Did you see any bubbles? Hear anything?

Servo does not seem like a sufficient nutrient source. It sounds mostly like something that is usually called "energizer" rather than "nutrient". You need a nitrogen source; the raisins will likely not be enough.

ibwahooka
10-18-2009, 07:09 PM
I didn't take the temperature of the must before I pitched the yeast, but it couldn't have been over 80.


I know I'm still a NewBee myself to the world of meadmaking, but this could have been your biggest mistake. I've been brewing (sodas, beer, wine & mead) for about 6 months now and I can tell you that temperature is the most deceiving thing out there. Always double check your temperature!

For example: yesterday I started my watermelon mead and was going to try to pitch the yeast right before bed. I felt the carboy and the must felt about room temperature, but when I double checked with my thermometer the temperature was still almost 90 degrees. Didn't feel that hot, but it was. I waited until this morning to pitch and lo and behold everything is progressing nicely.

Just remember to try and judge temperature by touch is very deceiving.

-Shawn

stromam
10-18-2009, 08:58 PM
I found a nice calculator for the refractometer so I'm not worried about that anymore, but nice heads up, I never would have thought of that. I know the temp was not too high as to kill the yeast. Is there anything I could use for a nitrogen source besides yeast (my homebrew store won't be open until tuesday and I'm worried about leaving it susceptible to wild yeast/bacteria until then). Also i have read that other people have been stirring/aerating the must multiple times a day... should I be doing that... and for how many days? I don't have any pH strips (again homebrew not open til tuesday). When I said looks/smells great I just meant it doesn't look ruined. It doesn't appear to be doing anything.

After stirring it again and adding more servomyces it appears to be at least starting. The lock is bubbling (about once every 20 minutes), but I would like it to go a lot faster. Do i just need to be patient, or does it need something else? Thanks for all the help guys.

stromam
10-18-2009, 09:24 PM
Newest update, I just pulled the top and checked it. It looks like there are some bubbles and maybe suspended yeast/bee legs on the surface (it actually looked a lot like moldy bread, but i'm pretty sure the white was from bubbles). It still smells good. I gave it another good agitation and re-sealed it. I don't have a thermometer on that pail, but it is sitting right next to my cider which is at an even 70 F (the bathtub they are in stays at a pretty even temp).

Looking at it this time, i got a little worried. I'm not sure if the stuff on top was good or bad. I know floating trub from ale in its early stages looks pretty gross, but how do I know if this stuff is bacteria/mold or if its yeast? Thanks again.

Yo momma
10-18-2009, 09:51 PM
I have made mead from lemons and grapefruit. The PH is hard to control in those musts. I would aerate the hell out of it 2-3+ times a day for 3 -4 min at a time. Get yourself some better yeast 71b would be good and make a starter for it before repitching. Also did you wash your oranges. They look clean but just a small amout of pesticide can kill your yeast.

Can you take some pics and show us what you see?

Medsen Fey
10-19-2009, 09:36 AM
This mead isn't going to be like a lemon batch. Having 5 oranges in a 5 gallon is essentially what you have in JAO, and this recipe is very similar to JAO except for the use of servomyces and the substitution of the Wyeast sweet mead yeast. That yeast, by the way, is perhaps the most finicky and inconsistent strain around, and it leaves a lot of new mead makers very frustrated.

Now that it is bubbling, aerate it a couple of time each day for the first 3 days (or until the gravity drops down to about 1.095). Giving it a little yeast energizer such a Fermaid K, might be very helpful (around 4 tsp). It is not going to go as rapidly as a beer fermentation, it will not make nearly as much foam.

Don't worry about the floating stuff - it will eventually sink.

Now is the time to start adding the most important ingredient - Patience!

Medsen

stromam
10-19-2009, 10:00 AM
Thanks Medsen, I think you're right, I just need to be more patient. I also just realized late last night that this is a JAO (I found it on another website that claimed it as their own). I think its kicking up now, this morning there was a significant amount of foam on the surface. I switched from my s-type trap to my 3 piece and immediately the middle piece started rising (although very slowly), so I think its gonna work. I'll try and pick up some yeast energizer/nutrient to kick it up a notch (BAM) and it should be happy fermenting. Thanks for all the help guys, my mind is now at ease and I can sleep easier.

Kee
10-19-2009, 10:48 AM
Glad to hear it's going. The lag time on the first few batches always seems to takes a LONG time, regardless of how long it really takes. :)

If you haven't already, check out the Newbee Guide (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=27&Itemid=13). It's very helpful and worth the read! It's been 18 months and I still find myself going back to it.

Good luck.

AToE
10-19-2009, 02:31 PM
I would recommend reading the newbee guide no less than twice, and the more the better. When I started my first batches I even printed some of it out and kept it next to me.

Oskaar
10-19-2009, 09:52 PM
Thanks Medsen, I think you're right, I just need to be more patient. I also just realized late last night that this is a JAO (I found it on another website that claimed it as their own). I think its kicking up now, this morning there was a significant amount of foam on the surface. I switched from my s-type trap to my 3 piece and immediately the middle piece started rising (although very slowly), so I think its gonna work. I'll try and pick up some yeast energizer/nutrient to kick it up a notch (BAM) and it should be happy fermenting. Thanks for all the help guys, my mind is now at ease and I can sleep easier.

Please PM me that website.

Cheers,

Oskaar

stromam
10-21-2009, 05:08 PM
Final update. Added some yeast energizer yesterday and aerated 2-3 times a day, the thing has taken off!!! I'm getting a bubble every 2-3 seconds now. Wow, don't underestimate those nutrients/energizers.

Jess
10-24-2009, 01:22 PM
LOL! Patience is most definately the hardest part about beer brewing/wine making. I'm a newbie to mead making but I can't count the batches of beer that I just knew were duds but after a few more days of waiting, took off like gang busters. Yeast just gets temperamental sometimes and decides to move at its own pace. My m.o. now is to pitch the yeast, slap the lid on and forget about it for 48 to 72 hours. I've yet to be disappointed. But I do understand the anxiety. You hate to imagine all of that time, effort and money being poured down the sink.

akueck
10-24-2009, 02:11 PM
My m.o. now is to pitch the yeast, slap the lid on and forget about it for 48 to 72 hours. I've yet to be disappointed.

This may not be the best approach. With proper aeration and appropriate pitch rates, beer wort should start fermenting within the first 24 hours. Mead musts often (probably more like always) benefit from some nutrient and oxygen additions during the first 24-72 hours. Properly rehydrated dry yeasts that we here usually use for meads will show signs of fermentation in as little as a few hours, and this point is a very common spot to add nutrients to help them build strong cell walls. Mead musts are very low in nutrients and you'll see quicker, healthier fermentations by properly managing them during the first few days.

Medsen Fey
10-24-2009, 02:43 PM
One of the reasons I like using Lallemand yeast is that when rehydrated properly with GoFerm it is quite rare for lag phase to last more than 12 hours.

Jess
11-03-2009, 01:08 AM
This may not be the best approach. With proper aeration and appropriate pitch rates, beer wort should start fermenting within the first 24 hours. Mead musts often (probably more like always) benefit from some nutrient and oxygen additions during the first 24-72 hours. Properly rehydrated dry yeasts that we here usually use for meads will show signs of fermentation in as little as a few hours, and this point is a very common spot to add nutrients to help them build strong cell walls. Mead musts are very low in nutrients and you'll see quicker, healthier fermentations by properly managing them during the first few days.

I hear ya', Medsen but in time I learned the quirks of my preferred yeast. I use exclusively Wyeast Liquid Yeast "smack packs". A bit pricey but well worth the extra $$$. I have a heated cabinet in which I incubate my yeast packs and it stays at a constant 70F. Whenever I break (or smack) a pack of yeast and it blows up within a few hours, the ferment in the wort starts within a couple of hours. But on occasion I get a pack that just won't swell up even after twenty-four hours. Those are the batches that usually take a couple of days to get started. I just learned the nature of the beast that I was using and stopped worrying. I've yet to lose one single batch to stuck fermentation or lack of fermentation. Of course, I'm speaking about beer experiences here. But on my first mead, I broke open a Wyeast Champagne Yeast pack and it swole up like a football and I knew that it would take off like a rocket. And it did.

Oskaar
11-03-2009, 08:47 AM
I hear ya', Medsen but in time I learned the quirks of my preferred yeast. I use exclusively Wyeast Liquid Yeast "smack packs". A bit pricey but well worth the extra $$$. I have a heated cabinet in which I incubate my yeast packs and it stays at a constant 70F. Whenever I break (or smack) a pack of yeast and it blows up within a few hours, the ferment in the wort starts within a couple of hours. But on occasion I get a pack that just won't swell up even after twenty-four hours. Those are the batches that usually take a couple of days to get started. I just learned the nature of the beast that I was using and stopped worrying. I've yet to lose one single batch to stuck fermentation or lack of fermentation. Of course, I'm speaking about beer experiences here. But on my first mead, I broke open a Wyeast Champagne Yeast pack and it swole up like a football and I knew that it would take off like a rocket. And it did.

Pretty much what Medsen and Akeuck are getting to here is that with a properly rehydrated batch of ADY (Active Dry Yeast) your results will also be predictably consistent, and since many of our folks are on a tight budget $$$ are also a strong consideration. Another factor that they're pointing out is batch management. Pitch and forget works fine, but managing the yeast once the batch is inoculated will yield a stronger, faster and more complete ferment than not managing it. You'll also have mead that matures more quickly and is drinkable sooner, along with a higher overall quality in my experience.

Cheers,

Oskaar

afdoty
11-03-2009, 05:41 PM
You'll also have mead that matures more quickly and is drinkable sooner, along with a higher overall quality in my experience.

Cheers,

Oskaar

Indeed! After a couple years of the so-called "pitch and run" and a year (almost) of following protocols and proper batch management, I can say, without a doubt, these methods are superior! Knowing the nuances of your favorite yeast is important, but it's also important to consider how your yeast will work under a more controlled regime of management.