View Full Version : Is it stuck?! Help...

02-01-2011, 08:52 PM
Hello everybody, cheers from México!

Im not quite sure if my mead is stuck.... what im sure is I am stuck I decision making.... so,

I started a 5 gal. must made with wild flower honey and got 1.082 OG.
I made a starter for Red Star Montrachet strain using the same honey but adjusting to 1.048 OG and used 1 sacket. I got near 200mL of sediment in the starter (near the 1% of total volume recomended in Schramm's Book).
I used also 1 tbsp of yeast nutrient and energizer each, and pitched the starter at the temperature range the yeast's fact sheet says.

(By the way, Montrachet really releases a H2S smell... at the beginning)

So, I pitched de 200mL of starter sediments to the must @ 20 - 22 °C both, along with 2 tbsp of yeat energizer and nutrient both, and took care of aereate the must previouslly.

It started well (but nothing close to vigorous, violent, awesome, as many describe)... at a peace of 2.5 G points (0.025) per day.
8 days after, I got 1.062 and started to see lower activity. So I aereated it once more and add 1 tbsp of energizer again.

Today, 11 days after, I got 1.054, but the must is very clear and there's a very thick sediment (around 2in), and activity seems to be over....
It should be around 3.8% ABV, so It is far from yeast's alcohol tolerance limit.

The only thing I can think of is temperature, as it is @ 19 - 21, but Im not sure. The plan was to rack it to a secondary with some raspberries, but not at this alcohol level...

pH started around 4.5 and went around 4.0 by 11th day.

Any clue or sugestion??
Experience with Montrachet in Melomels?
This is my first mead batch!!!

Medsen Fey
02-01-2011, 09:46 PM
Welcome to GotMead Wally!

I'm sorry you are having a problem. Montrachet is usually a reliable (if somewhat stinky) yeast.

How did you check the pH?
What kind of energizer is it? and what are the ingredients?

If your pH is okay I'd:
1) Add yeast hulls (ghosts) 1 gram per gallon - to bind yeast toxins and provide sterols.
2) Aerate it well. Stir up those lees to get all the yeast back up into suspension.
3) Bring the temp up to 23 C

If that doesn't get things going, you may have to pitch another yeast.

Endeavor to persevere!

Chevette Girl
02-01-2011, 11:51 PM
I have a pair of show meads that fermented vigorously for a while and then slowed right down, they were already starting to clear when the SG was still above 1.040 (day 20 or so) but they've continued chugging along very slowly since... I second Medsen's suggestion to stir it up and aerate and add yeast hulls (or boiled yeast), sounds like you're on track with your nutrients. Also, check the SG again, it might just have kicked into low gear, not stopped altogether... yeast are fickle creatures, they do what they want, not what we want...

02-02-2011, 12:05 AM
Hello there!
Thanks a lot!
It really feells good to have such fast replies!!

The pH measurement may not had been the most precise, I used paper strips... About the energizer, I used one I got from Crosby and Baker, and the only thing you can read in the bag is:

"A balanced formula of vitamins and yeast food for faster and more complete fermentation"

As for the Nutrient, I used the so called FERMAX also from C & B.

I read about a "rule" of not aerating if the fermentation has gone more that 1/3 of the available sugars... I will aerate as you both have told me, but would you say that such "rule" really deserves consideration?

Thanks again!
Im very excited I have replies!! :) ;D

02-02-2011, 12:20 AM
Limiting aeration once your must is past the 1/3 sugar break is a valid recommendation. Too much oxygen introduced once the yeast are predominantly in their anaerobic phase of fermentation will end up oxidizing your mead. However, a little stirring, gently from the bottom, so as to minimize sloshing at the surface while still re-suspending your yeast, is a good idea whenever the fermentation slows unexpectedly.

Since you're not too certain about your pH measurements at this time, I'd also recommend picking up some potassium carbonate or bicarbonate to add to the must in the event that the pH ends up being lower than you think. Low pH is one of the most common reasons for stuck fermentation when all the other things (nutrients, initial yeast viability, temperature, etc.) have been accounted for.

02-02-2011, 03:33 PM
Thanks again to all....
I have tested pH this morning, unfortunately again with paper strips....
But what I got was a pH more likely to be around 5.0 rather than 4.0...

So, I am a little bit more confued :rolleyes:

Could it be that the paper strips are not working propertly or
a pH abobe ~ 4.5 is the cause of stuck fermentation (by the way, it is confirmed, I took gain S.G. and it was the same 1.052

So, do you think I should proceed with potassium carbonate anyway, swirl the fermenter and add yeast energizer? Or adjust pH on the contrary, with acid blend?


I just read your post about checking pH paper strips reactivity... with vinegar and Baking Soda... I'm on my way to do it.

02-02-2011, 03:47 PM
Ok, I did the test on paper strips....

Vinegar: got around 1
Water and baking soda: got around 9~10
Must: Got once more somerhing around 5.0


Chevette Girl
02-02-2011, 04:03 PM
If your pH is indeed around 4, it's not likely your problem. Low pH = high acidity, so you don't need to worry till it's down around the mid 3.somethings (you'll have to look up the exact pH limit for yeast, I don't know offhand). And your day 11 reading was 1.054, today's was 1.052, so it looks like it's just slowed down a lot, not stopped altogether.

I HAVE had a sugar fermentation I thought was done perk up a bit and start fizzing for a few days months later with acid addition, it was part of a taste experiment I did a while back so I never thought to check the SG... you can always draw a sample out into a sanitized jar or something and add a pinch of acid blend or a few drops of fresh lemon juice and see if it gets more active. For that matter, you can try another sample with a pinch of potassium carbonate if you already have it on hand, if one takes off again, you know what you need, if neither does and your sanitary measures are sufficient, you could put the samples back in the must, the acid in one should counter the base in the other.

But if your pH strips aren't reading at least .5 high, it probably won't do anything.

Also, to check your pH strips, if you've got any distilled water (even that which has collected on a pot lid over boiling water), that should be right at 7.0...

Regarding late aerations, mead doesn't oxidize as badly as grape wines do and as long as there is still fermentation going on (which there seems to be) I don't think it's going to hurt anything as the yeast are still active, they will probably still use it. Now, I wouldn't leave an oxygen stone in there all day, but a good stir with a llittle splashing might be what it needs, it's quick, easy and shouldn't do any damage even if it's not the solution. Same for late feedings as long as it's an energizer rather than straight DAP yeast nutrient.

So to sum up my long-winded dissertation: Two things recommended by other trustworthy folks like wayneB and Medsen that can't hurt at this stage: a bit more energizer and a good stir, even if you don't splash.

Chevette Girl
02-02-2011, 04:15 PM
Ok, I did the test on paper strips....

Vinegar: got around 1
Water and baking soda: got around 9~10
Must: Got once more somerhing around 5.0


Hmm, yeah, I'd definitely like to see what these things read for distilled water, you don't want to stick your hand in something with a pH of 1... According to the chart I found here (http://www.visionlearning.com/library/module_viewer.php?mid=58), vinegar should be around 3...

02-02-2011, 08:08 PM
Just one note:

I did an error typing last post (I had my fingers frozen, We had this rare and abnormal -4°C in my town :D) I meant 3 instead of 1 in the vinegar pH reading... :rolleyes:

What I did was add 2 tbsp of Nutrient (I finally know It is yeasts hulls, DAF and "vitamins") and gave a really good shake and.... Baaam!!! It blown out the stopper very strongly and a lot of effervescence was seen....
After an hour or so Eureka! A shy and lonely bubble appeared at the airlock.
(A lot of CO2 / H2S dissolved in must??)

I think I'll wait a couple of days and see what happens.

02-05-2011, 07:13 PM
Thank's all for your help!
I think you did it again!!

Two days ago (2 days after the first nutrient additon), I added 3 more Tbsp of Yeast Nitrient and added near 2 gm of CaCO3 (I had problems finding K2CO3 and gave it again a good shake.....
I added the carbonate inspite of my doubted 4.5 ~ 5.0 pH meassure with paper strips.

Today, I see a bubble near avery 1 1/2 minutes.
I haven't take another S.G to see what's happening....

What I see is new colonies forming in the surface (I just hope they are the Montrachet survivors to my unexperience and not some other wild cousins).

I still have this very thick sediment in the boton, and what Im not sure is whet to rack to secondary.....

According to S.G.?
Reccomended time of contact between must and lees?
I just want to avoid off flavors comming from this sediment.


02-06-2011, 03:44 AM
I generally recommend waiting to rack until the fermentation is done (or nearly so). Racking early removes a lot of yeast, which can really stall your fermentation. While the yeast are still chugging along, the sediment should not be contributing off-flavors. You can give the mead a gentle stir or swirl to kick the lazy yeast back into suspension, which should keep the lees (sediment) from harboring any spoilage organisms and might also speed things up for you.