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View Full Version : Straight Mead, stuck at low FG, repitch?



Cundog
03-24-2010, 09:12 AM
This is a continuation fo another thread. I had tons of help, but thought having a more accurate title may give me just a bit more. Thanks to those who've assisted me thus far.
here's the basic recipe
1gallon must of the following(small batch)
3lb of clover honey
filled to match gallon of bottle water
1/2 packet of Nottingham beer yeast
mixed 1/10
stopped at 1.08FG
very sweet and tasty, just a little yeast/beer flavor
bottled and capped, but a hint bubbly
too suggestion of unbottling and putting back in carboy.
would like a little less sweetness and a higher alcohol content
well, I'm not sure what to do now. I unbottled and put the mead back into the 1g carboy. added about 16oz of water so I had minimum head room. I threw in a few raisins and gave it a good shaking hoping to wake the yeast up. Not working. I had about 4% alcohol before bottling and now I'm thinking I should have just left it alone in the bottles. Just as a side note, not all of what I did was per suggestions. Opinions? Thanks a ton for being here to help!

DaleP
03-24-2010, 09:34 AM
You could add some yeast nutrients and some rehydrated champaign yeast. That would get it going.

Medsen Fey
03-24-2010, 10:04 AM
First let me ask you to confirm the gravity. Is it 1.008 or 1.080?

At 1.008, there will be a bit of sweetness and you'll taste the alcohol.
At 1.080 it will be syrupy sweet and the alcohol will probably be hidden. If your gravity is at this level, you will probably need to pitch some other yeast (a wine yeast).

As Akueck points out in your prior thread (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=15825&highlight=alcohol), checking the pH may help. If it is at or below 3.0, that can definitely cause yeast to stall. Lack of nutrients also cause yeast to become sluggish or stall, and most ale yeasts are accustomed to fermenting in a nutrient rich environment. A honey must with 25 raisins won't have enough. You are probably going to want to add some nutrients.

Hightest's restart instructions (http://home.comcast.net/~mzapx1/FAQ/StuckFerm.pdf) are very good to read. If you follow them, you'll get the batch going and it will be fermented probably to dryness. If you want it sweeter, you can stabilize and backsweeten after it is done.

Endeavor to persevere!

Medsen

Cundog
03-24-2010, 10:14 AM
Thanks for the help. It really is 1.08. I based the number of raisins from the JAO mead, so that was my mistake. I'll have to pick up some nutrients, a ph tester and a different yeast. It was pretty confusing when my 2 JAO meads moved nicely with the same yeasts. I'll check out the restart link. Thanks again, the syrupy sweet low alcohol was not what I was going for. The winery meads I've bought in the past had a sweetness, but higher alcohol level. they must have back sweetened.

Medsen Fey
03-24-2010, 10:24 AM
It was pretty confusing when my 2 JAO meads moved nicely with the same yeasts. ... The winery meads I've bought in the past had a sweetness, but higher alcohol level. they must have back sweetened.

There are other ways to end sweet - "cold crashing" and stabilizing, or sterile filtration - so the wineries might have used techniques to get there.

Joe's recipe works reliably with bread yeast. Other yeast may work but sometimes run into problems. Joe's also has an orange in it, and that adds a load of sterols and a lot of usable nitrogen as well. Other recipes with wine yeast sometimes use a handful of raisins for nutrients as well, but they tend to be with yeast that can ferment in low nitrogen conditions. Ale yeast love beer wort which is loaded with nitrogen, so they may be a little hungry if they only get 25 raisins.

Medsen

Cundog
03-24-2010, 10:25 AM
First let me ask you to confirm the gravity. Is it 1.008 or 1.080?

At 1.008, there will be a bit of sweetness and you'll taste the alcohol.
At 1.080 it will be syrupy sweet and the alcohol will probably be hidden. If your gravity is at this level, you will probably need to pitch some other yeast (a wine yeast).

As Akueck points out in your prior thread (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=15825&highlight=alcohol), checking the pH may help. If it is at or below 3.0, that can definitely cause yeast to stall. Lack of nutrients also cause yeast to become sluggish or stall, and most ale yeasts are accustomed to fermenting in a nutrient rich environment. A honey must with 25 raisins won't have enough. You are probably going to want to add some nutrients.

Hightest's restart instructions (http://home.comcast.net/~mzapx1/FAQ/StuckFerm.pdf) are very good to read. If you follow them, you'll get the batch going and it will be fermented probably to dryness. If you want it sweeter, you can stabilize and backsweeten after it is done.

Endeavor to persevere!

Medsen

Medsen,
I read the restart instructions. I'm only dealing with a gallon must. Do you know what amount the instructions are for? Also, during this process, do I need to be concerned with head room in both the original batch and the restart jug? This is becoming much more difficult than I expected!

Medsen Fey
03-24-2010, 10:46 AM
Given that the alcohol level is pretty low, you probably don't need to build a big starter, but it would be good to acclimate the yeast to the must conditions. So take a 5 gram packet of yeast (EC-1118, or Uvaferm 43 would be great) and rehydrate the yeast in water that is 104F. After twenty minutes, add an equal volume of must from your batch to the rehydrated yeast solution. Wait to see that it starts bubbling good (usually within 1/2 hour) and pour it into your jug.

You probably do need to leave a little headspace in the jug (or use some antifoam drops). Then add some nutrients - 1/2 tsp DAP and 1/2 teaspoon of Fermaid K (or energizer). That may get you going.

If that doesn't work, then we really need to know the pH, and can take you though the build up of a starter to which you gradually add the gallon of must.

Bonne Chance!
Medsen

Cundog
03-24-2010, 11:00 AM
You're awesome! This is costing a bit more than I expected, but I will not give up. I need GotMead.com stickers and tshirts. I'm a big fan already! I'll let you know how things go!

Cundog
03-24-2010, 09:37 PM
Okay, came back from Weekend End Brewer(local home brew store) and bought all listed stuff below. Pulled the straight mead jug out of the closet and the raisins are suspended in the must. There is a small amount of bubbling action coming from the bottom and encapsulating the raisins. The airlock is active but, very slow, like more than a minute apart. But, there is action. Should I just add nutrients or still restart the whole thing. Or just let it go and see what happens? Thanks. Sorry I'm so bothersome!

akueck
03-25-2010, 12:37 AM
Since you said it was clear before you initially bottled it, you probably don't have that many yeast cells in there. I'd repitch it. You could add nutrients and oxygen and build up the population you have, but that could take awhile.

Cundog
03-31-2010, 01:38 PM
So everything was restarted last night. We'll see how it goes. Newest problem. The back of the yeast package says, keep refrigerated! It's been in a cabinet about 69 degrees. man, this is becoming much harder than I thought. :p

akueck
04-01-2010, 12:24 AM
Dry yeast is amazing. Kept refrigerated, it will last seemingly forever (I think the attenuation is in the single digit % per year). Leaving it at room temperature will accelerate the death of the yeast cells, but assuming you bought it less than about 6 months ago, you should be ok.

Cundog
04-01-2010, 08:23 AM
Dry yeast is amazing. Kept refrigerated, it will last seemingly forever (I think the attenuation is in the single digit % per year). Leaving it at room temperature will accelerate the death of the yeast cells, but assuming you bought it less than about 6 months ago, you should be ok.

Thanks, that makes me feel much better!

AToE
04-01-2010, 12:41 PM
Not to hijack, but to hopefully lessen your worries, I recently bought some dried ale yeast from my LHBS that had expired in 2007 because I felt sorry for them (they help me out all the time as best they can but have little business for anything other than wine kits). It worked totally fine.

Cundog
04-01-2010, 02:31 PM
Not to hijack, but to hopefully lessen your worries, I recently bought some dried ale yeast from my LHBS that had expired in 2007 because I felt sorry for them (they help me out all the time as best they can but have little business for anything other than wine kits). It worked totally fine.

Great, that does help me worry less! All I know is the restarted mead looks like someone shook a soda bottle. the bubbles are coming up faster than ever and the airlock is going off about every three seconds. The Nottingham yeast(beer yeast) was much slower, but I didn't use nutrient or anything then.

Cundog
04-02-2010, 09:39 AM
Okay, the restarted mead is really working hard. the airlock is going off about every 2 seconds. New question. How long do I let the little guys work? Do I check the gravity reading to see what alcohol level is? If it reaches the level I want do I rack and stabalize? Thanks.

Medsen Fey
04-02-2010, 10:31 AM
Which yeast did you use for the repitch? If it was one of the Champagne yeast, racking and stabilizing is probably not going to stop active fermentation. You can either let it go dry, then stabilize and sweeten, or you can "cold crash" it by placing it in a fridge at temps below 40 F when the gravity gets down to the level you want. After it stops and clears, you'd need to rack and stabilize before it warms up or it will restart again.

Cundog
04-02-2010, 11:02 AM
Which yeast did you use for the repitch? If it was one of the Champagne yeast, racking and stabilizing is probably not going to stop active fermentation. You can either let it go dry, then stabilize and sweeten, or you can "cold crash" it by placing it in a fridge at temps below 40 F when the gravity gets down to the level you want. After it stops and clears, you'd need to rack and stabilize before it warms up or it will restart again.

I used the EC-1118 as you suggested. It won't eat away all the sugars and turn into rubbing alcohol(just an exageration) will it?

Medsen Fey
04-02-2010, 11:26 AM
I used the EC-1118 as you suggested. It won't eat away all the sugars and turn into rubbing alcohol(just an exageration) will it?

Yeah, pretty much. ;D
At least, the alcohol content is going to be a little higher. You used 3 pounds of honey and that equates to a potential alcohol of somewhere in the neighborhood of 14% ABV so this batch will likely run completely dry. The ale yeast would poop out at about 12% ABV. Going to 14% is not terrible, but it will take some time to age and integrate.

After it is done and clear, you can stabilize and sweeten with more honey to get the level of sweetness where you want it. With a little age (like 6 months or a year) the alcohol and honey will have blended into a smooth, delicious flavor.

Again, you could try to stop it around 12% by sticking it in the fridge with the gravity near 1.010. Even so, it will still need time to age.

Medsen

Cundog
04-02-2010, 01:10 PM
Thanks so much, Medsen.