PDA

View Full Version : First time with the new Yeast



jthompson706
12-05-2009, 04:22 PM
Hey everyone, I've got a nice easy recipe that i've made a few times and it always comes out well but I recently decided to try it with Wyeast's Sweet mead Yeast Smack-Pack thing... I started it yesterday and no signs of fermentation yet. It looks like all the yeast settled to the bottom. Makes me worry I did something wrong. What do you think?

AToE
12-05-2009, 04:27 PM
What's the recipe? Seems a bit early to be worried about it, but most of the people here who've used that yeast have had a really hard time with it.

akueck
12-05-2009, 04:57 PM
Hi and Welcome!

Please post your entire recipe and process notes, and any measurements you've taken. The more detail you provide, the better we can answer.

jthompson706
12-05-2009, 10:03 PM
Sure, the recipe is:
1 gal water
1 lemon
1 cup black tea
3lbs honey
12 cloves
yeast (this crazy sweet mead thing)

My SG was 1.07. Thanks for any help. Even just some reassurance that its the yeasts fault would be nice.

trennels
12-05-2009, 10:16 PM
12 cloves? Sounds like a toothache remedy!

Seriously, does this come out tasting "hot"?

jthompson706
12-05-2009, 10:19 PM
Nope, no heat.

akueck
12-06-2009, 01:06 AM
Did you "smack" the pack of yeast before pitching? Did you let it swell up?

AToE
12-06-2009, 04:39 AM
Sorry, you sure about that SG? 3lbs of honey in 1 gal should be way way higher than 1.070, I'd expect that SG from less than 2 lbs.

Smarrikåka
12-06-2009, 05:09 AM
His recipe is 3 Ibs honey plus 1 gal water (around 1.25 gal must), not 3 Ibs honey in a 1 gal must. It still seems slightly low though.

fatbloke
12-06-2009, 08:07 AM
Low is good for wyeast sweet mead yeast.

I found it a complete PITA as it seems very easy to get a stuck ferment with it.

When I tried it, it was 3lb of honey in 1 gallon (imperial i.e. 4.55 litres) and it still stuck.

If I try it again, I'd make the must so it's got a gravity that will give about the 10% mark, which if I remember correctly, is the tolerance of the sweet mead yeast......

So, no, I'm not a fan of it.....

regards

fatbloke

p.s. when I used it, I also made an identical batch using the Wyeast dry mead yeast. Both packs seemed to swell ok, but only the dry mead yeast fermented as it should.......

I don't know whether it might have been something to do with osmotic shock to the yeast, causes by too higher gravity or not.......

jthompson706
12-06-2009, 08:15 AM
I thought the gravity seemed low. When I've made the recipe in the past it always starts out higher (closer to 11%). Yes, I allowed it to swell. I also bought the dry mead yeast at the same time, hoping to experiment with both. But now I'm all gun shy.

akueck
12-06-2009, 02:53 PM
You can help the yeast along by aerating it and adding nutrients, which you haven't mentioned using so far. Do you know the current gravity? Does it still look like nothing is going on?

You can aerate in many different ways--big spoon, lees stirrer, shaking. The important thing is to start slow to get the dissolved gases out or you'll have a mead-splosion on your hands. Try also adding ~2-3 grams of yeast nutrient and see if that helps.

jthompson706
12-06-2009, 02:56 PM
Yeah it still looks deathly inactive. I did stir it up yesterday... more out of desperation then technique but if that'll do something good I'll keep it up. I haven't added a yeast nutrient and I'm not sure if I have any, I do have some yeast energizer but I've had a difficulty knowing when to use which. So, aerate and feed is the solution?

akueck
12-06-2009, 04:13 PM
This yeast is classically unruly and unreliable, but I'd say your best approach is to give it some air and nutrients. Try adding the energizer, those are usually similar to nutrient (depends on the brand). You could also try adding "natural" sources of nitrogen like dried fruit (make sure there is no sulfite).

If you have other yeast, you could also try using that instead. Your call.

jthompson706
12-06-2009, 04:28 PM
Well now I just feel like this yeast is taunting me. I also bought some dry mead yeast (also Wyeast) and I planned on doing test batches with each. If I can't make these little buggers do there job would it be wrong of me to toss the dry mead yeast in there?

wayneb
12-06-2009, 04:38 PM
It would not be a bad idea at all. If the sweet mead yeast are truly dead, they will serve as food for the newly pitched cells. If they are merely stunned, then the newly pitched yeast will dominate, and these weaker cells will eventually succumb and drop out of suspension.

I'd pitch a different yeast strain in there ASAP, to avoid any possible contamination issues from any stray spoilage organisms that may get a foothold without a good strong yeast colony solidly in control of the fermentation.

Medsen Fey
12-06-2009, 04:45 PM
Hi jt,
What temperature are you keeping?

wayneb
12-06-2009, 04:54 PM
Even more than temperature I'd be somewhat concerned about pH, especially since I see that a whole lemon was added to a one gallon batch. Do you have the ability to measure the pH of this must?

jthompson706
12-06-2009, 04:55 PM
A cozy 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

jthompson706
12-06-2009, 04:57 PM
wayneb, I have no idea what the ph is... I gave tossed in some energizer and if they don't get in the game within a day or two I'll pitch the dry mead yeast.

wayneb
12-07-2009, 02:01 AM
Rehydrate it per the manufacturer's recommendation, and if the batch still doesn't take off and you can't measure the pH, then try adding 5 g of potassium bicarbonate, potassium carbonate, or calcium carbonate. You may have a must that is too acidic for the yeast to take off.

jthompson706
12-07-2009, 10:55 PM
Well, I added the energizer yesterday and saw no improvement this morning so, when I came home from work, I started preparing the dry yeast for pitching. After a few hours of letting that swell, I opened the lid on the fermenter and... I have bubbles. There's no action in the airlock and the colonies look like nothing I've seen yeast build but this yeast has not stayed true to my expectations thus far. What are the chances that its some mold or other unfriendly invader? I'm pretty careful about sterilization and no one else uses that space...

Medsen Fey
12-07-2009, 11:00 PM
It is most likely that this is the yeast you pitched. For some reason it has had a prolonged lag phase. Perhaps the pH (this yeast is very sensitive). In any case, you should aerate it well and give it time.

Of course if you want to pitch the other yeast, you certainly can.

jthompson706
12-07-2009, 11:05 PM
If this yeast is finally getting it's act together, I'll give it a shot. I had planned to start two batches anyway. Thanks for all the help. It shall be aerated.

fatbloke
12-08-2009, 05:13 AM
If this yeast is finally getting it's act together, I'll give it a shot. I had planned to start two batches anyway. Thanks for all the help. It shall be aerated.
Damn! it's good for me to learn that this yeast truly is a PITA. When I first tried it, I thought it was something I'd done....... obviously not.....

If it is starting to do it's thing, then as you've got reasonably good records of your progress, I'd be trying to ferment it to completion.

I'd say that you should get some proper nutrients if possible, something like FermaidK (there's quite a few different brands).....

jthompson706
12-08-2009, 08:43 AM
Fatbloke, yeah it's working it. It's slow and unimpressive but it's doing something vaguely resembling yeast. Unless this is the best mead I've ever had, I most likely won't use this yeast again. In the past, with this recipe I've used Moncharet, which I'm finding out isn't the best and a few articles I've read call it the unequivocal worst. What would you recommend for this recipe? Especially if I like a little sweet. Also, Fatbloke, is that the energizer you recommend?

fatbloke
12-08-2009, 09:32 AM
Fatbloke, yeah it's working it. It's slow and unimpressive but it's doing something vaguely resembling yeast. Unless this is the best mead I've ever had, I most likely won't use this yeast again. In the past, with this recipe I've used Moncharet, which I'm finding out isn't the best and a few articles I've read call it the unequivocal worst. What would you recommend for this recipe? Especially if I like a little sweet. Also, Fatbloke, is that the energizer you recommend?
Can't really suggest "energiser", because just about all the stuff sold here, is "combined" nutrient, like FermaidK".

Though I understand that in the US, the term energiser is usually for DAP (Di-ammonium Phosphate).

Lots of the recipes here at gotmead, seem to recommend that if a recipe suggests X amount of, say, FermaidK, then they halve it and replace the "missing" half with DAP, either that, or a first addition of nutrient/FermaidK (or whichever brand you have), is done as per the guidance for Fermaidk (add it once you see some signs of fermentation) and then they'll add the half and half above at either 1/3, 1/2 or 2/3 sugar breaks, as determined from hydrometer readings - example being 1090 for starting gravity, with final expected to be 1000, so 1/3'd be at 1060 etc etc.

I don't know if that's any good for you......

I normally only have DAP when I can justify the postage cost, as it's not cheap shipping here.......

regards

fatbloke

wayneb
12-08-2009, 01:05 PM
In the past, with this recipe I've used Moncharet, which I'm finding out isn't the best and a few articles I've read call it the unequivocal worst. What would you recommend for this recipe?

FWIW, I've made some pretty fine meads with Montrachet yeast. I believe that it got its (undeserved, in my opinion) bad rap during the initial "ramp up" of the modern meadmaking era (that is, in the early to mid 1990's). We didn't fully understand back then just how lacking in basic yeast nutrients a mead must can be.

Montrachet is a finicky yeast strain (actually it is a mixture of several compatible monocultural strains), and it will perform badly if not properly fed and cared for. It's nitrogen needs are high, relative to other strains of winemaking yeast. It tends to both create lots of hydrogen sulfide and produce lots of harsh tasting higher order phenolics when not fed enough nitrogen, or when lacking in other necessary vitamins.

But with our current state of meadmaking knowledge we've learned how to properly feed our musts, and I have found that with adequate nutrient additions, and care to keep the must pH above 3.4, Montrachet works quite well in a number of my metheglins.

As always, YMMV, and there are lots of choices of less finicky yeasts to work with out there. Still, I admit to some fondness for this bad boy.... ;)