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Cheshire_Cat
05-31-2010, 02:07 AM
Hi Again!

So going to attempt my first mead tomorrow, I've been reading to try and get as much information as possible. This has led me to a couple questions...

1) Stirring-- A couple places I read insist that I stir the mead vigerously for the once a per day for the first few days to oxygenate... others don't say anything about this at all...Whats the word on this? Is this important?

2) It was suggested that I use Go-Ferm and Fermaid-K as yeast nutritant. Understand how to use Go-Ferm. Fermaid is suppose to be use at the 1/3 sugar break. What does this mean? Can someone give me an example with a typical starting OG?

Thanks a bunch!!

fatbloke
05-31-2010, 06:22 AM
Hi Again!

So going to attempt my first mead tomorrow, I've been reading to try and get as much information as possible. This has led me to a couple questions...

1) Stirring-- A couple places I read insist that I stir the mead vigerously for the once a per day for the first few days to oxygenate... others don't say anything about this at all...Whats the word on this? Is this important?

2) It was suggested that I use Go-Ferm and Fermaid-K as yeast nutritant. Understand how to use Go-Ferm. Fermaid is suppose to be use at the 1/3 sugar break. What does this mean? Can someone give me an example with a typical starting OG?

Thanks a bunch!!
Ok, so with number 1, the whole point is that the yeast does need oxygen in the earlier stages.

Some like to go the "whole hog" and bubble compressed O2 through the must with an "airstone" (available usually via the local aquarium/fish supplies place) or maybe just an aquarium air pump.

Others will use a "whizz stick" (which can also be used for de-gassing after the ferment) and electric drill.

Then others will just use the handle of a sanitised long plastic spoon or stirring paddle.

It then depends on the regime you want to use i.e. once a day, twice a day, etc.

Also, for how long i.e. where in the fermentation process? The 1/3rd sugar break, the 1/2 sugar break? etc etc.

For the second part of the question......

If the must has a gravity of 1.099 and the finished ferment would have a gravity of 1.000, then the 1/3rd sugar break is 1.066 or the 1/2 sugar break would be 1.047.

It's Ok if you're not being accurate to the 1/3rd decimal point, and getting too obsessed with the numbers. So using the example above, 1.070 to 1.060 would be fine to have a small range to consider the 1/3rd sugar break or 1.050 or so for the 1/2 sugar break.

To know where the ferment is at, you will need to keep checking and it depends on the fermenter as to how easy it is to check i.e. a bucket, and the hydrometer can be sanitised and dropped in to take a measurement, it's not quite that easy with a narrow necked glass fermenter/carboy/demi-john etc. You have to remove a sample (sanitised turkey baster or a wine thief) to put in the sanitised testing jar and then put the sanitised hydrometer in to measure.

It's one of the reasons that a lot of people like to start a ferment in a bucket and then when it gets to where they like/prefer, the will rack it over to a glass fermenter which is then air locked to finish the ferment.

It all sounds confusing, but it's really straight forward. Like it's up to you if you have to use a testing jar to measure, some will return the sample to the ferment, others won't. I do....

But I'm equally sure that you can see why I've used "sanitise this or that" terminology. Hygiene is the main issue to prevent any unwanted naturally occurring airbourne yeasts getting into the batch.

Also, the starting gravity (or Brix etc) depends on how much honey you've used. It's common with traditional meads, to use in the region of 3lb to 3 1/2lb in the gallon (I use 3 1/2 to 4lb per gallon as I'm measuring in imperial gallons not US gallons). So I'd suggest that you mix 3lb with water up to a gallon (or the same ratio if you're making a larger batch) and then take a measurement

regards

fatbloke

p.s. Oh and from memory, you'd hydrate the yeast with GoFerm, but once the ferment has finished the "lag phase" (it's bubbling the airlock), then you'd add the FermaidK - not necessarly wait to the 1/3rd sugar break. Nutrients added at that stage are usually part of a "staged nutrient addition" regime

Cheshire_Cat
05-31-2010, 09:55 AM
It's one of the reasons that a lot of people like to start a ferment in a bucket and then when it gets to where they like/prefer, the will rack it over to a glass fermenter which is then air locked to finish the ferment.



Wow, perfect thanks so much!

One follow up question... I was planning on using a glass carboys (5 gallon) for both first and second fermenation. It sounds like a plastic bucket fermenter would be easier for the first. I only have a 6 gallon bucket, is this an issue? I was told I want as little space in the fermentor as possible. Thinking about it though, most of air should get pushed through the airlock during primary fermentation, leaving mostly CO2. I am I correct? Or should I stick with the 5 gallon carboy.

I know I probably over thinking most of this... but trying to make sure my first batch is drinkable :).

thanks!

Jord
05-31-2010, 10:25 AM
So much CO2 is producted during primary fermentation that you don't need to worry about oxidation at that point....hence the stirring/aerating during the first three or so days of ferment....the bacteria need oxygen at that point. You will definitely want to limit headspace in the secondary fermenter though.

The only issue I've had doing smaller batches in a 6 gallon bucket is that I can't use the hydrometer in the bucket as the liquid isn't deep enough to get a full reading as it nears the end of fermentation.

Cheshire_Cat
05-31-2010, 10:27 AM
Perfect! Thanks so much guys!

AToE
05-31-2010, 12:31 PM
Plus, at the beginning of fermentation you actually want oxygen getting into the must, so headspace is a good thing.

And as fatbloke said, you'll want to be adding fermaidK right after what is called the "lag", which is usually 3-24 hours (yup, big range of time it could possibly take, sometimes even longer). Lag is over when you see some sign of fermentation having started, bubbles in the airlock, or if you're using a bucket with no airlock, then bobbles coming up in the mead, or foam on top (you might not get foam). Then you'll want to add more at the 1/3 mark in the ferment.

If you can post your recipe and process today (or as soon as you can) we can help you out with some suggestions as to how much nutrient to use at what points, as well as tips on exactly how often and for how long you should be aerating (and help you out with any problems that crop up).

Cheshire_Cat
06-02-2010, 04:49 PM
Nice thanks again guys! Unfortunately, after 48 hours I have no fermentation. If nothing is going on when I get home tonight I am going to have to pitch some more yeast.

AToE
06-02-2010, 05:49 PM
Possibly a dumb question, but are you looking for visible signs of fermentation, or taking SG measurements? Mine are sometimes sneaky...

fatbloke
06-02-2010, 06:13 PM
Nice thanks again guys! Unfortunately, after 48 hours I have no fermentation. If nothing is going on when I get home tonight I am going to have to pitch some more yeast.
It's probably still best to leave it alone, as sometimes the lag phase can take quite a while i.e. a couple of days.

Me? I'd carry on as is..... i.e. stir it once a day as it's quite possible that it needs more O2 to get it have made/reproduced enough to start actually showing signs of fermentation.

Plus, what yeast was it ? Some take longer than others to "kick off".......

But yes, I'd still give it either a good stir, or I'd be using a sanitising spray in a liquidiser and then giving half a jug full of must a good whizz and then putting it back into the main body of the must (never had a problem doing that - and the sanitising spray is 5 campden tablets and 1 teaspoon of citric acid made up in 1 pint of water in a spray).

regards

fatbloke

p.s. and then, as soon as you see bubbles on the surface or in the airlock, then bang the FermaidK in it......

Cheshire_Cat
06-02-2010, 06:47 PM
Wow all this help is amazing!

I gave it a good stir last night. I will do it again later tonight. I just pulled some out to check my SG and it has dropped some since pitching. Also, in the hydrometer bottle there are a lots of small bubbles... so it's doing something.

I used red star pasteur champagne yeast...

I'll leave it alone another couple days and keep an eye on it.

Thanks again!

Cheshire_Cat
06-06-2010, 09:38 AM
Hi Guys,

So, I waited about 5 days and nothing happened. My SG didn't move at all after the first day. On Friday I repitched some more yeast... after two days still nothing, still the same SG. It smells fermenty, and when I put the must in a hydrometer cup there are lots of bubbles.

Any thoughts that might help??? I would like to save the batch if I can.

Thanks!

Chevette Girl
06-06-2010, 11:34 AM
If it smells fermenty and there are bubbles being formed, you're probably OK. Does it fizz if you stir it? Sometimes it takes a while for the yeast to breed enough to start dropping your SG even when it's fizzing like mad, I've even had it fizzwhen I stirred it but showing no airlock activity yet (that only lasted a day in my case).

Did you use a starter or just toss the yeast in?

Cheshire_Cat
06-06-2010, 12:12 PM
Hi Chevette Girl. Yeah, fizzing like mad, and does fuzz up when I stir. There is definatly something going on. No airlock activity at all though. I re-hydrated and pitched, no starter. Next time I am going to do a nice starter! Just worried cause its been a week. I was hoping the second batch of yeast I put in would kick start it some.

Thanks!

Chevette Girl
06-06-2010, 01:02 PM
If it's fizzing, you can relax, it's obviously doing something! :) The airlock should start up soon... (unless you've got a fermentation bucket with a loose lid like one of mine which has never made an airlock bubble)

I've only recently started using starters myself, and they're probably a good way to go if a) you're starting with a high SG, b) you're pitching a second time because the first didn't take, or c) you're using ingredients that have given you problems before.

The quick and easy way I've been using (because I can't get my hands on yeast energizer) is to start by hydrating your yeast as per the packet in a large mason jar, then add enough must to double the volume and aerate the heck out of it (so, add as much must as you'd used water to rehydrate), give it a couple of hours to get nice and foamy, and then double the volume with must... repeat until your container is full, give it another six or eight hours to really get going, then pitch...

ckbryant
06-06-2010, 08:35 PM
The fizzing is gas production, so you're doing fine.

Well, I should say--some form of microorganism is thriving in there, and we hope it's either your yeast, or something else that will produce an agreeable product. All in all, I would say signs point to "don't worry."

If you are in a plastic fermenter, the seal may not be good enough to channel the gas through your airlock. Or your gas production may not be generating enough pressure to bubble through the lock yet. It's not really a problem at this stage of play, although you want a really good seal for the longer clarification-and-settling-down phase of things.

My preference is not to lean on the hydrometer so much from day to day. I'm more in the faction of "let the magic happen." One thing to watch--if you have fizzy liquid, the bubbles may cling to the hydrometer and give a faulty reading. Swirl the test sample a bit to liberate the bubbles, and give the hydrometer itself a twirl in the test flask.

I don't think you indicated whether you provided nutrient for the yeast. That can be a cause of sluggish fermentation in honey, which is nutrient poor. Your friendly neighborhood homebrew store will have a variety of spiffy products available, but even a half teaspoon of generic "yeast nutrient," which is probably nitrogen, will give impressive results.

There is also the question of how much honey you have in the must. At 3 1/2 pounds honey to the gallon of must or higher, yeast can have a hard time getting to work. Adding water to dilute the honey might resolve this, or, again, time.

Finally, sanitary procedure can, ironically, turn around and bite you in the butt. Substances such as bleach must be comprehensively rinsed off of any equipment you are using to horse around with the must, and no-rinse sanitizers have to be used at the correct concentrations, or you may find yourself "sanitizing" your yeast culture. Doesn't sound like the case here, but thought I'd mention.