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Earthson
04-22-2010, 11:02 PM
Hello,

I'm a total noob to mead, and barely a novice with beer (been brewing beer for about 6 months). Sorry for this long post, but it I've read that DETAILS make all the difference.

Anyway, I just siphoned my 2nd batch of mead out of the plastic pail today (after about 25 days). There was the typical white yeasty stuff on the surface, and covering a few lemon segments. No big deal. But, there was also an ugly little spot (size of a quarter...maybe bigger) of green mold floating on the surface. - no, I don't have a photo, 'cause I panicked and immediately siphoned it into the glass carboy :rolleyes: - as if the extra 30 seconds would have made a difference. :rolleyes:

Anyway, I had read somewhere in the forums that the mead can be saved by siphoning from the bottom, and leaving a little extra mead in the pail. I also read that it should be fine as long as it tastes ok. It tasted fine and I see no evidence in the carboy of any spoilage.

So, anything I need to do, or is it just a waiting game?

____________________

I should also mention that THIS batch was piggybacked on the previous one I did, so as to re-use the Wyeast Sweet Mead yeast. Not sure if it makes a difference, but I'll give a brief description of each batch.

1st batch: Melomel
4 gal spring water
14 Lbs clover honey (raw, creamed)
2 Lbs mixed frozen fruit - raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, blackberry
3 large oranges - segments
2 lemons - zest removed then chopped into segments
20-ish raisins
1 cup tea

-heated honey in jars until almost liquid
-boiled water and turned off
-added honey
-added fruit/zest, let sit in heat for 5 minutes
-poured off into plastic primary, through a net to collect fruit
-added yeast

*didn't take any readings...I know...:rolleyes:...rookie mistake...

- it sat for 3 weeks, and then I transferred to carboy.

2nd Batch: Regular old mead
4 gallons spring water
17 Lbs liquid raw clover honey
3 lemons
1 cup tea

-same steps as before, and then poured into onto the remains of the last batch. This works great for beer, but I'm questioning the idea with mead. 25 days later, transferred to carboy, and the mold issue popped up. It that just too long to have the fruit sit in the pail? Any advice would be welcome!

Ryan

_________

By the way, I snuck a little taste today of the 1st batch (approx 6 weeks old). OH MY GOD! I'm in heaven! :o I'm not sure if it'll last to maturity! Patience was never my strong suit.

Earthson
04-22-2010, 11:06 PM
I should also mention that I didn't use any campden tablets. I thought I was anal enough about sterilization. Guess not.

wayneb
04-22-2010, 11:22 PM
Now is the time for Campden (aka metabisulphite). To ensure that the mold doesn't start growing again (and even if you were perfect about siphoning, some mold spores may have come along for the ride), you will want to bring the free SO2 level up to between 50 and 75 ppm (mg/litre). For an "average" mead pH of 3.5, that would take adding about 2 grams of metabisulphite to a 5 US gallon (19 litre) batch. Since each "standard" campden tablet supplies about 0.44 grams of metabisulphite, you'll need to crush and dissolve about 4.5 tablets to get that much free SO2 added to your must. If your total volume differs from the 19 litres, you can calculate the ratio of campden for your must volume relative to that 19 litre standard.

Earthson
04-22-2010, 11:55 PM
But won't that halt fermentation?

wayneb
04-23-2010, 12:13 AM
If fermentation is proceeding at a healthy pace, 50 ppm will not phase the yeast. SO2 only works to prevent re-starts in yeast that have already mostly gone dormant. It doesn't stop a vigorous fermentation, although that is a common misconception.

Even if fermentation were to stop (from added sulphites or from other causes), making sure that the mold doesn't get a foothold in your must is of paramount importance at this point, and we can work to re-start fermentation later if necessary.

Earthson
04-23-2010, 12:50 AM
Thank you for the helpful info!

So, I'll just crush and dissolve in some boiling water and add it to the must. Just pour it in? Or do I need to stir it up?

Should I do the same with the 1st Batch as well, even though it showed no signs of mold?

akueck
04-23-2010, 01:02 AM
Don't boil it, you can pre-dissolve it in some cool water (preboiled if you like) or stir it in gently.

Is batch 1 done? If it's not broke, don't fix it. If it gives you peace of mind, however, you can dose both batches.

meadiac
04-23-2010, 02:33 AM
i'm a newb, only done 4 batches and most are still aging! but i've read, studied enough to have a good idea of what i'm doing. so far all of my meads taste good, even at an early stage. my question to you is this:

why do 5 gallons when you're a beginner mead maker? no judgments here; just curious. perhaps you should do one gallon batches until you have it under control a bit. much cheaper on mistakes! i MAY go to 3 gallon batches next since i own two better-bottle carboys, still experimenting here! keep logs of what you did for each batch, it helps in the future! anyway good luck to you!

now sipping an excellent and YOUNG joe's grape pyment.

Earthson
04-23-2010, 09:31 AM
why do 5 gallons when you're a beginner mead maker? no judgments here; just curious. perhaps you should do one gallon batches until you have it under control a bit. much cheaper on mistakes!

The answer is simple: GREED! >:D

I thought about it forever before I got started. And, I just couldn't imagine waiting all that time just to have a gallon. Haha - just greed. Well, plus I had the carboys already, but no gallon jugs.

Medsen Fey
04-23-2010, 10:07 AM
why do 5 gallons when you're a beginner mead maker? no judgments here; just curious. perhaps you should do one gallon batches until you have it under control a bit.

There is nothing more frustrating in mead making than to produce a batch that turn out to be exceptional only to look and see that you only have 3 bottles of it! Even as a noob, I figured some of my batches would turn out good just through sheer luck, and when then did, I wanted to have some to enjoy and share. I can accept some failures (even though costly), but truly I can count the batches I've had to toss on one hand. The ones that have turned out to be mediocre are either getting more aging or have found their way into blends that turn out to be better than the mead by itself.

Bigger is better! :)

And Earthson, were you swirling the mead each day? Typically if you do so, it washes any developing mold cells on the fruit surface into the acidic, alcohol bath and kills them.

Is your fermentation finished? Can you give us a gravity reading? I ask because a stuck fermentation is more likely to develop a spoilage organism.

Also, whenever you reuse yeast the risk of contamination is somewhat higher.

PitBull
04-23-2010, 10:42 AM
why do 5 gallons when you're a beginner mead maker? no judgments here; just curious. perhaps you should do one gallon batches until you have it under control a bit. much cheaper on mistakes!

now sipping an excellent and YOUNG joe's grape pyment.
Another reason is to build up your "inventory". Some take longer to age than others. I have a dry mead that is really starting to get tasty at 8 months. I've sampled it every couple of months, so if I had only done a gallon, it would be gone before hitting its flavor peak.

It's so tempting to sample you first meads often, but it's easier to be "patient" when you have a couple of dozen bottles of several types of mead to start with.

Earthson
04-23-2010, 06:30 PM
And Earthson, were you swirling the mead each day? Typically if you do so, it washes any developing mold cells on the fruit surface into the acidic, alcohol bath and kills them.

Is your fermentation finished? Can you give us a gravity reading? I ask because a stuck fermentation is more likely to develop a spoilage organism.

No, I was not swirling it AT ALL. Aerated it well at the start and then just left it all alone (except for a few times when I opened the lid to see how it was doing).

I will take a reading tonight and get back to you.

Earthson
04-24-2010, 11:47 AM
Ok, here are the readings/info:

1st batch: 6 weeks old melomel
- Gravity 1.018
- Airlock empty of any sign of bubbles
- No bubble appear to be rising in must
- A few big bubbles on surface
http://img706.imageshack.us/img706/4175/p1000683u.jpg (http://img706.imageshack.us/i/p1000683u.jpg/)

http://img706.imageshack.us/img706/3883/p1000684d.jpg (http://img706.imageshack.us/i/p1000684d.jpg/)

2nd batch: 26-ish days old
- Gravity 1.070
- Airlock full of bubbles
- Massive amounts of bubbles rising through the must
*with those readings it seems like it had hardly fermented at all before, but it appears to be fully active now

http://img163.imageshack.us/img163/7606/p1000687w.jpg (http://img163.imageshack.us/i/p1000687w.jpg/)

http://img163.imageshack.us/img163/540/p1000686e.jpg (http://img163.imageshack.us/i/p1000686e.jpg/)

Thanks,

Ryan

AToE
04-24-2010, 08:05 PM
Looks like you need to track down a 5 gallon carboy for that first one, get rid of that airspace - especially as it's already had contamination issues. Beautiful colour on that one by the way.

Earthson
04-24-2010, 08:24 PM
luckily the red-ish one hasn't had any contam issues (the lighter one did). But, I will still transfer it over to a smaller carboy right away as it is sitting on quite a bit of sediment.

AToE
04-24-2010, 11:19 PM
Sorry about that, I'd confused which one had had the issues.

Medsen Fey
04-26-2010, 04:22 PM
Earthson, you need to get rid of that headspace in your melomel or you may develop problems with it. That is way too much, and could allow spoilage organism to take hold.

As for your second batch, you've gone from somewhere around 1.110 to 1.070 in a month - something is not right. That is very slow. Which yeast are you using? Are you able to check the pH? Did you ever give it any nutrients?

The aeration from the racking may have helped it get going faster, but I'd still be concerned that this is going to stick.

Medsen

Earthson
04-26-2010, 06:38 PM
Earthson, you need to get rid of that headspace in your melomel or you may develop problems with it. That is way too much, and could allow spoilage organism to take hold.

Thanks for the tip. I have siphoned it into a smaller carboy. It is right at the neck now.


As for your second batch, you've gone from somewhere around 1.110 to 1.070 in a month - something is not right. That is very slow. Which yeast are you using? Are you able to check the pH? Did you ever give it any nutrients?

The aeration from the racking may have helped it get going faster, but I'd still be concerned that this is going to stick.

Medsen

- I'm using Wyeast Sweet Mead - and yes, I've read all about it being a tricky yeast that may stick. :(
- I did not give it nutrients, but I do have a little package. Maybe you can help with the instructions. It is a 50g bag. It says to add 30ml per 23Litres. I know 1ml=1g when dealing with liquid...but what is the deal with powder?
- What about yeast energizer? Should I be adding that as well?
- I've never checked PH before...can you buy little litmus sticks at the LHBS?

Thanks,

Ryan

wayneb
04-27-2010, 10:52 AM
That's a weird way to specify dosing instructions; obviously someone screwed up, unless there are also some standard solution prep instructions there somewhere. Is that a LHBS no-name nutrient, or is it a commercial branded preparation?

Medsen Fey
04-27-2010, 01:37 PM
- I did not give it nutrients, but I do have a little package. Maybe you can help with the instructions.

5 ml = 1 tsp, but 6 tsp might be a lot depending on what it is. Does it list ingredients on the package? Does it look like white crystals, tan-colored powder, or a mixture of both?

Earthson
04-27-2010, 06:44 PM
It is No-Name from the LHBS. (Since joining the forum, I've seen that name brand ones are better)

The Energizer is tan; the nutrient is white.

I just went with 1 teaspoon of each. It seems to be pretty active - getting 5 bubbles per minute in the airlock. (See pic)

wayneb
04-28-2010, 12:03 AM
From the descriptions, the nutrient is DAP and the energizer is predominantly, if not completely, yeast hulls.

FWIW, one teaspoon of DAP is approximately 4.0 grams and one teaspoon of the energizer is very likely around 2.75 grams (based on my yeast hulls assumption). So with one teaspoon of each, you haven't added very much nutrient at all.

Earthson
04-28-2010, 12:58 AM
From the descriptions, the nutrient is DAP and the energizer is predominantly, if not completely, yeast hulls.

FWIW, one teaspoon of DAP is approximately 4.0 grams and one teaspoon of the energizer is very likely around 2.75 grams (based on my yeast hulls assumption). So with one teaspoon of each, you haven't added very much nutrient at all.

Ok, so how much should I be adding to the stalled mead? And how much to a new mead? ??? My brain hurts from all the learning :icon_scratch:

wayneb
04-28-2010, 08:05 AM
Ok, so how much should I be adding to the stalled mead? And how much to a new mead? ??? My brain hurts from all the learning :icon_scratch:

Sorry, the calculations of how much nutrient to add are some of the most confusing in meadmaking - I can understand your problem.

Generally speaking, any mead or wine-strength fermentation can benefit from the addition of nutrients, especially yeast assimilable nitrogen, or YAN. Unfortunately given that you used the Wyeast Sweet Mead yeast in here, nutrients may not be sufficient to keep things going. You should strive for a target value of at least 225 ppm YAN (some from fruit if you use fruit in your recipe, and the rest from nutrient additions), and even more if the initial gravity is high or if the yeast strain that you use is a high nitrogen demand yeast.

I will get back to this later today and give you some specific recommendations for your batches (since I'm actually on travel this week and I've got to log off and get to "real work" shortly) although with a stuck batch it is often too late to get things fired up again simply from a nutrient addition. If someone like Medsen or Oskaar want to jump in here and provide you with more details in the interim, that would be fine, too! ;D

Earthson
04-28-2010, 09:21 AM
Thank you. I'd hate to lose a batch so quickly. If it truly is too late for nutrients, then I predict (from reading Oskaar's posts), it might be time for EC-1118 ;) Anyway, I'll wait and see. Thanks again.

Chevette Girl
04-28-2010, 06:04 PM
I am led to believe that if you use boiling water to dissolve your metabisulphites, the heat may destroy the properties you want. All the indications I've seen suggest to use warm water, and never to add it to hot must... so if you want to sterilize your water before you start (probably not necessary since the sulphites will sanitize it anyway), I'd suggest you boil it and let it cool before mixing in your sulphites. Good luck, I am interested to hear if it works on your slime!

Medsen Fey
04-28-2010, 06:23 PM
From looking at those nutrients, I'd probably add another 3 tsp of the nutrient and an additional 2 tsp of the energizer if the gravity is still above about 1.050. Beyond that point the nutrients may not be much help.

The pH may also be a problem here.

Earthson
04-28-2010, 07:32 PM
Just took a reading and the gravity hasn't moved a bit, even though it appears to be letting off lots of gas. Guess it is time to throw the EC-1118 at it - rehydrating as I type.

wayneb
04-29-2010, 09:21 AM
Thanks for stepping in with some dosing advice, Medsen! My apologies for not getting back sooner -- we worked until midnight last night and I was in no mood to fire up the laptop when I got back to my room.

Earthson, even though EC-1118 is a brute, you should follow re-start protocol and acclimate your yeast by adding a little of the already in-process must after you rehydrate the yeast and before you pitch it into the main batch. The idea is to gradually get the yeast used to the slightly alcoholic environment of the must rather than shocking them by hitting them with the full impact all at once. You're probably not far enough along to require a multiple succession of incremental additions. If you just add an amount of must equal to what you have of yeast slurry to the rehydrated yeast, then let that mixture set until you see signs of fermentation, then pitch, that should work for you.

Once you then see signs of activity in the main batch, add the nutrients as Medsen suggested.