View Full Version : Stalled?

12-09-2010, 08:04 PM
12 lbs honey
8lbs frozen blueberries
water to about 4 usg

Mixed it together Sunday evening and added campden tabs.
Monday morning I added pectic enzyme.
Monday evening I used the last of my go-ferm, 5g (should have been 6.25) for a 5g packet of 71b, added must slowly until temp was close (room temp is 65F), and pitched. SG was 1.125
Tuesday morning, added Fermaid and aerated
Tuesday evening, about an inch of foam, aerated SG was 1.120
Wednesday I aerated twice, SG still at 1.115, less foam
Thursday, aerated twice, still 1.115, almost no foam tonight.

I've never had one stall, I figured I'll pick up some K1V tomorrow and pitch that if the SG hasn't changed?
I'm out of go-ferm too, the local shop has Energizer (http://www.grapegrainandbeanstore.com/cgi/commerce.cgi?preadd=action&key=63651), but it has DAP, As I understand it that's fine once fermentation is going, but don't rehydrate with it.
Any suggestions?
When am I supposed to panic?

12-09-2010, 08:20 PM
I'm a newbee, so consider that when reading this:

Adding fruit to the primary can lower you pH. Blueberries aren't as bad as raspberries etc, but most berries are pretty acid.
Some yeast has a low tolerance to low pH.
I would suggest you measure your pH to be sure, then adjust it. The yeast may only be dormant, and therefore could still wake up. Repitch in case it's dead.
If it's really stalled I know EC-1118 is designed for restarting stalled musts, as well as making champagne.

Some yeasts have issues with 'heavy' musts too... although I don't think your SG is all that high.
Read up on your yeast, and then test against it's tolerance parameters.

12-09-2010, 08:30 PM
Actually adding fruit also adds buffering agents that can help stop the pH from swinging around. I've done batches with far far more berries than this and had no stalls. From what I've read pH is often more of a problem with traditional musts because there are no buffering agents. - All that said, if you can measure pH then you might as well, though I doubt it would have swung so low after only 10 gravity points of movement.

This might not be stalled, it may have just slowed down for a day, though the lack of foaming during aeration seems weird.

We need mead mentors to the rescue - this one is beyond my skills to give aid with!

12-09-2010, 08:34 PM
Try moving the fermenting container to a warmer area. It could be your must is a bit chilly for the yeast.

Also, I'll second the pH reading. It could also be a culprit.

Chances are you just need to alter the environment one way or the other for fermentation to pick back up. I'd hold off on the new yeast until you've tried these two things.

12-09-2010, 09:45 PM
It's in the kitchen next to an interior wall. Only way to get it warmer is turn up the thermostat in the house, I turned it up to 70 now. I'll know in the morning if that's enough. Don't have a ph test kit yet.

12-09-2010, 10:09 PM
Ok, keep doing what your doing, and if in a few days it still hasn't moved then we'll know there's trouble.

Also, if you have a second pack of yeast around there's no hard in rehydrating that in water for 15 minutes, then using small doses of your must to acclimatize the yeast to your must's temp and sugar content, and then pitching that in.

Chances are that the yeast you have in there is fine, but adding more won't hurt you, is cheap, and will probably do your peace of mind some good!

12-10-2010, 07:28 AM
I agree with the watchful waiting advice that you've been given already, but it is possible that you may have simply given your yeast a bit too much of a good thing. 71B isn't a great performer in high initial gravities, and 1.125 is certainly approaching that high side. Also, how much in the way of campden tablets did you add? It is possible that you still had relatively high amounts of SO2 in the must when you pitched, and that can stress even the most hardy commercial yeasts.

If your batch doesn't get going in the next day or two, then re-pitching with another yeast (I concur with your thinking: K1V-1116 would be my recommendation in order to preserve those fruit aromatics and complement them with additional esters) is an idea worth considering. If you do pitch more yeast, then I'd suggest rehydrating a couple of packets just to make sure that you pitch a relatively high cell count - that will help to get things going, too. Although go-ferm is a good idea whenever you rehydrate prior to pitching, you can do it in plain water if you have no go-ferm available.

If the re-pitch also fails, then by all means get hold of a way to test pH if you can. Everyone's water supplies are different, and yours may just be acidic enough to have given your yeast a pH challenge to overcome.

Finally, if you still have that frozen blueberry container, read the fine print on it very closely. Does it say anywhere that the fruit was treated with sorbate or other preservatives before freezing?

Oh, and I take the "RDWHAH" adage to heart here - don't panic! We'll get it going one way or another. ;)

Medsen Fey
12-10-2010, 09:57 AM
When am I supposed to panic?

With mead? Never.
Sometimes they are challenging, but with patience, you'll find a way to work with them, though you don't always get exactly what you set out for (see my Mayhaw thread for a fine example).

With blueberries, sometimes the pH is too low and I'd definitely get some pH strips (not a acid test kit) with a range of 3.0-4.0 or borrow a meter to take a reading. Blueberries can sometime be difficult to ferment as they contain some organic acids like benzoic that can impair yeast. Certainly if any other preservatives were added, that will make it even harder.

Hopefully you won't need to repitch, but if you do, follow Wayne's suggestion to pitch a large amount and acclimate it to the must.

Endeavor to persevere!


12-10-2010, 10:03 AM
Thermometer on top of the bucket said 69 this morning. No change in the SG, still 1.115 :(

The blueberries are Wyman's (http://www.wymans.com/), the finest print is the ingredients list: Wild Blueberries. Water is from a 220ft well in the Cambrian-Ordovician aquifer (http://pubs.usgs.gov/ha/ha730/ch_j/J-text8.html), and the ph was 7.0 when we had it tested years ago.

For the campden tabs, Sunday I mixed it at a little over 3 usg, and crushed 3 550mg tabs, added the rest of the water Monday morning just before the pectic enzyme.
Thanks for the advice, I'm just starting my second glass now http://i328.photobucket.com/albums/l342/1k_wayne/junk/al_coholic.gif (I work night shift)

Medsen Fey
12-10-2010, 10:18 AM
I'd check the pH of the must now. If it has stalled, that is one possible reason. If the pH is really low, it will make restarting difficult.

12-10-2010, 12:18 PM
And if for some reason you can't find any pH strips, then get some potassium carbonate (or potassium bicarb) and pre-emptively dose your must at 1 gm/gallon before you resort to re-pitching yeast. If pH is the problem, that should mitigate it. There is little danger that the carbonate dose would elevate the pH too high since those blueberries will tend to buffer the net pH to lower values. Try to use the potassium compounds if you can, rather than calcium carbonate, since calcium carbonate reacts far more slowly - and you want to get this batch kick started at this point.

12-11-2010, 12:11 AM
OK, now I'm confused. The good news is the SG has dropped to 1.110 tonight.

The color is off in incandescent and halogen light, but in fluorescent light the ph looks about 4.0-4.2:


Medsen Fey
12-11-2010, 09:00 AM
You may want to confirm that the strips are good by testing with a little vinegar.

If the pH is okay and the gravity is dropping, your batch may be fine. I'd aerate it let it continue.

12-11-2010, 09:19 AM
1.107 this morning. I haven't tried vinegar, but orange juice was 3.8.

Thanks for the help :)

Medsen Fey
12-11-2010, 09:36 AM
1.107 this morning. I haven't tried vinegar, but orange juice was 3.8.

It sounds like they are working fine.

12-11-2010, 11:15 PM
So it is likely that you just did bump up against your yeast's sugar tolerance - and the osmotic stress led to a long lag phase and a very slow start. You should be OK now that things are fermenting, but you may find that fermentation ends while the mead is still quite sweet.

12-13-2010, 10:21 PM
I've done one more batch with the same yeast and the gravity this high. I checked my notes, and the only differences I can see was the fruit was strawberries and the temp was in the mid 70's, that one finished at 1.015, and it disappeared pretty quick.

It's at 1.090 tonight, I'll post the SG when it's done in the primary.

12-23-2010, 09:04 PM
Update: It's been dropping steady, even with the temp back down to the mid 60's. 1.042 this afternoon. 2 1/2 weeks in the primary, and I racked it into a 3 gal carboy and the rest filled a 1/2 gallon jug. Airlock bubbles are about 45 second intervals.

12-24-2010, 12:48 AM
Glad to hear that it is still going.

12-24-2010, 09:18 AM
My previous post should have said every 4-5 seconds, not 45 seconds. Again, thanks for the help.


01-27-2011, 12:08 PM
Update: Mostly clear but hard to tell because it's so dark, my Streamlight barely penetrates the carboy. Racked out of the secondary this morning, SG of 1.020 and had to sample a glass. This is going to be really hard to let it age. I might have to start another batch right away. ;D

03-20-2011, 05:27 PM
I started another batch the last weekend of February. Starting Gravity was slightly lower at 1.120, and it was holding at 1.010 on March 12 when I racked it onto the blueberries in the secondary. It started up after that and looks like it's still going a week later. :dontknow:

Same source for blueberries and honey, yeast and nutrients are the same with the exception of Go-Ferm, I only rehydrated with water on this one. I've kept the temp at 68F too. I know every batch is different, but I've never had them this much different.

07-18-2011, 09:00 PM
Update: This batch turned out to be the best that's ever come out of my carboys. I'm still not sure why, as the two I've done since using the same recipe and ingredients and were nowhere near as good and are going to need to be aged. I've still got 8 bottles left, and it's going to be really hard to let them age.

Medsen Fey
07-19-2011, 09:17 AM
Is the main difference just that the gravity in the other 2 batches is lower? That much difference in residual sugar will make a huge difference in the taste.

07-19-2011, 09:55 AM
The one I started in Feb went down to 1.010 (OG was lower), the one I started in March finished at 1.022, slightly higher than the one from this thread, and I can't see .002 making that big of a difference. :confused:

Medsen Fey
07-19-2011, 11:59 AM
Were any other of your processes different? In the second batch you mentioned not using GoFerm.

07-19-2011, 08:06 PM
Second batch was the only one that was different. I had more go-ferm by the time I started the third batch.