View Full Version : Did I overfeed?

03-03-2011, 06:58 PM
So I made my first two batches of mead last week. Both are happily fermenting at 68-70F as we speak.

#1 - 2011/02/25
10 lbs. meadowfoam honey
4 lbs. blackberries
water to 5 gallons
O.G. 1.078

Rehydrated d47 for 15 mins in 100F water, meanwhile mixed the honey with one gallon of 150F water until completely dissolved. Added filtered cold water to reach 5 gallons and 1/2 tsp wyeast beer yeast nutrient. Shook carboy 3x daily for the first 3 days with the cap off and added an extra 1/2 tsp of the same nutrient on day 2. On day 4 the S.G was 1.046, so I added 4 lbs. of the Oregon Fruit Co. whole blackberries in syrup. Since I have been shaking vigorously twice a day with the cap and blowoff tube in place to "punch" the cap.

#2 - 2011/03/01
16 lbs. local blackberry honey
water to 5 gallons
O.G. 1.128

Rehydrated d47 for 15 mins in 105F water, meanwhile mixing honey with 150F water until dissolved. Added filtered cold water to 5 gallons, 1/4 tsp DAP and 1/4 tsp wyeast beer nutrient. This one was in a bucket, so I've been popping the lid off 3x daily and stirring vigorously to aerate. On day 2 the lag was over so I added 1/2 tsp each DAP and the beer nutrient. Today fermentation is vigorous and I added 1/4 tsp each DAP and beer nutrient with more stirring.

After reading this board I feel like I may have been adding too much of the nutrients. The first one didn't get the DAP because I didn't have it at the time, and I figured that the lower S.G. and blackberries would decrease the nutrient needs. Really I'm more concerned about the show mead.

As far as background, I have been brewing beer for 6 years, and fully understand that process. That's why I used the beer nutrient, cause I had it on hand. After reading here I decided to add in the DAP, figuring that the beer nutrient is too low on YAN. If I have been overfeeding is there something I can do to correct the situation?

I want the melomel to finish dry, as I plan on kegging and carbing it and then bottling in 12 oz. for summer BBQ's as an alternative to the beer. Hopefully I can have it drinking by the end of August, since that's when my summer really starts. The show mead I would like to finish in the 1.000-1.005 region, which I think may be achievable with D47. If not I was thinking of adding EC-1118 to finish it dry, then stabilizing and backsweetening if needed. I'm in no rush to get this one done, as I plan on bottling it still and letting it age out.

Anyway, I'm really a beer drinker and only recently have I actually had any mead that I enjoyed. The meads I've had in the past have all been too sweet for my taste and not particularly interesting, until I tried some home brew made with local varietal honey that turned me on to good mead. Hopefully I'll be able to recreate some of those nice flavors.

03-03-2011, 07:48 PM
Welcome to Got Mead!

I'm far from an expert - especially on nutrient additions, but it doesn't sound to me at all like too many nutrients. I normally put between 4-6 tsp. for my 6.5 gallon batches of both yeast energizer and DAP in. And this has been working really well for me, the honey I get seems to be quite low in nutrients to start with.

Your meads sound yummy!


03-03-2011, 08:26 PM
Does sound good, but I have to wonder how much better it would be without heating it as you did... The majority (at least last time I asked the question) don't heat their honey up at all. You'll get more flavor/character from the honey if you don't heat it up.

I used the Wyeast nutrient in my initial batches of mead... Not nearly as good as DAP. You'll need at least double the amount of the Wyeast compared with DAP... I would recommend measuring by weight, not volume. That way you get the correct amount of nutrient added.

For the melomel, I would plan to have more blackberries on hand for when fermentation is finished. I would also rack off of the berries in 5-7 days (from when they were added)... At that amount of honey, it should go dry. I used 8# of honey and a total of 7.5# of blackberries in my melomel (3 gallon batch) and it has gone dry. I added 3# of berries during fermentation, then the rest after fermentation was complete (or was before I added more berries)... Last time I checked the SG, it was 1.002...

Chevette Girl
03-03-2011, 08:55 PM
Welcome to a new facet of an old addiction (I mean hobby, of course ;D)

With wines, the typical dose of DAP (yeast nutrient) is a teaspoon per gallon, and for meads I add half again. The yeast energizer I use has a recommended dose of 1/4 tsp per gallon, and I'll double that for meads or if I'm using a "needy" yeast like RC-212.

I don't make beer myself but if the amounts you'd use are significantly less than 1 tsp per gal, it's probably because the beer wort has so much more nutrition for the yeast than honey water does.

So for your 5 gallon batches which I would typically start at 5 tsp, and so far if I'm reading your post correctly, you've totalled 1 tsp beer yeast nutrient in one batch and 1-1/2 tsp each of DAP and beer yeast nutrient to the other so I think if anything, you're a little low. But don't sweat it, some people don't use nutrients at all and they still get mead/wine at the end of it all!

And just a nomenclature thing it took me a while to catch on to, all you can put in a "show mead" is honey, water and yeast. If you've added anything (DAP or nutrients) to it, it's now a traditional mead.

03-04-2011, 01:02 AM
Thanks for the info Chevette Girl. Since they're both fermenting quite vigorously now I'll probably just leave them as is, but in the future I'll keep that in mind. I was just worried since the usual dose is 1/2 tsp - 1tsp in 5 gallons for beer. I think that there is a lot less nitrogen in beer nutrient, and mostly zinc and other essential things that aren't in wort.

Golddiggle, thanks for the heads up on the heat. I'm really hoping that it won't make too much of a difference. I figured that the honey was about 60, so the mix shouldn't have gone much over 100, and I mainly did it to help speed up dissolving the honey. In the future I think I'll just invest in a lees stirrer and use cold water though, since these varietal honeys that I never knew existed smell and taste so good. Also, I was planning on adding a few pounds of blackberries in a month or so, which is why I only went with 4 lbs this time. I may split off a gallon of this batch and not add extra berries to that so that I can compare the difference.

I will correct myself on the show vs traditional naming in the future.

Thanks for the quick replies everyone.

03-07-2011, 06:41 PM
Ok, so after that advice I took SG readings on both of those meads. The Melomel was at 1.028 and the traditional was at 1.082 (this was a couple days ago). I added 1 T to the traditional of each nutrient, and was faithfully stirring it to degas/aerate. it is now past the 1/2 sugar break, so I stopped stirring and have just been degassing 2x per day by swirling the fermenters. I haven't checked the gravity on the melomel yet, but bubbling is slowing and I figure that I'll get it off the berries in the next few days if it is getting near completion. I'm afraid of taking it off the lees too soon, though, as I really don't want it to stick. As long as the taste is ok, I think I'll probably leave it on the berries until it starts to clear slightly.

On a side note, I haven't been able to brew any beer for a couple weeks due to an injury. The open fermenters has been killing me, so I started two more batches.

6 lbs. clover honey
1 lb. dark brown sugar
5 gal. TreeTop 100% apple juice
O.G. 1.088
1 t yeast nutrient
1 t DAP
1 pt. Wyeast 1332 washed yeast slurry

16 lbs. meadowfoam honey
Water to 6 gallons
O.G. 1.112
1 t yeast nutrient
1 t DAP
71B rehydrated in 100 F water for 15 mins

I know that I way overpitched the ale yeast in the cyser, but I had it on hand and it's a little less attenuative than other popular ale yeasts. I would like this one to finish semi-sweet, if possible, but if it does go dry I'll stabilize and backsweeten. I'm planning on aging this on some cinnamon and possibly a small amount of nutmeg and then kegging and carbing for Christmas time, if it's ready by then. If not I'll bottle it off in champagne bottles for next year.

I fed both batches 1 T each nutrient and DAP after the lag was over, then another 1/2 T each on day 2. I was stirring both to degas/aerate, but they have both hit the 1/3 sugar break as of last night, so I'm going to swirl to degas from here on out. I can't believe how much faster the 71B is going than the D47. I've actually had to put that bucket in my fermentation chamber to keep the temp down below 70, even though my house is about 62. Likewise, the ale yeast is going gangbusters, but that's to be expected when you pitch enough yeast for a 10 gal lager into 5 gallons of sugar water. For some reason that one isn't generating as much heat, though, and has been a steady 66 F.

03-13-2011, 06:13 AM
So maybe this should be moved to the brewlog forum, if a mod sees fit to do so, have at it, either way I'm going to keep updating this as a 4x brewlog I think. Call it an experienced fermentationalist's overkill foray into honey wines!

Today I racked. The melomel was at 1.014, which was earlier than I wanted, but it was just starting to pick up a bit of that astringency that I associate with orange peels, and I wanted to get it off the fruit. It was quite cloudy, so I'm sure I've got a healthy yeast culture in there, and it's still bubbling happily, so I think I'll be ok. If it doesn't drop another point I'll still be happy, as the flavor is awesome. It's tart fruit with a slightly lingering marshmallow sweetness in the swallow. Hopefully that bit of astringency fades out. I'm really excited for this one and late summer evenings.

The cyser was at 1.018, so that went into a 5 gal better bottle. It's also very tasty, though a bit hot. This one may need some time to mellow after all is said and done. So far there it's all apples, without a hint of honey or brown sugar. I was playing with flavors for finishing sauces for pulled pork and I might split one gallon off this batch. I was thinking of adding cinnamon, blackstrap molasses, and a bit of mild new mexico powdered chile. How about a nice, dry, slightly spicy BBQ mead to wet the pallet before digging into pulled pork and 'slaw?

The two traditionals are both around 1.010. Each of these got racked as well, and I made sure to pick up just a bit of the lees. I can actually tell the difference between the two, as the blackberry is definitely fruitier than the meadowfoam, but both are "hot". If these were beers I would say that they have potential, but right now given the choice I'd take a cold PBR over either one. They're on the top shelf wearing some old sweatshirts and the plan from here on out is to forget they exist until the leaves start falling. At that point I'm going to split each batch and oak half. Then sometime later when the oak is appropriate I'll bottle them and cellar.

In the meantime I'm putting some thought into my next batch. Strawberry keeps coming up...

Medsen Fey
03-13-2011, 07:47 PM
After reading this board I feel like I may have been adding too much of the nutrients.

You are not adding too much; if anything you are light. In a 5-gallon batch, adding 1 tsp of DAP and 1 tsp of energizer will give less than 75 ppm YAN. While some yeast will be able to function with this small amount, for high gravity batches to be successful, you'll probably need more.

04-27-2011, 01:13 AM
So, the melomel finished up at 0.996 and I racked it again. It's crystal clear, but I'm going to let it keep bulk aging for a while and see how it goes. There isn't a hint of sweetness now, but the blackberries are very apparent.

I kegged the cyser at 1.010 and it's very nice. It's been in the lagering fridge at 38 F for a couple weeks. After I drew off the yeast I haven't touched it. I'm going to hold out as long as I can to start tasting.

I racked the two traditionals to 5 gallon carboys last week, as neither was showing significant activity. They are both very cloudy with yeast, but the gravity hasn't changed on either since my last post. The blackberry is at 1.008 and the meadowfoam is at 1.014. They are both way too sweet for my tastes. The meadowfoam is past they yeast's rated tolerance, and the blackberry is right at the rated tolerance.

Here's the thing. I have a batch of skeeter pee that I started about 10 days ago with a pack of EC-1118. Like a good boy I made a starter and slowly acidified it until it was at the pH of the must, which I adjust up to 3.4 with CaCO3. It's completely done now, and I'm ready to rack it onto the sparkloid then stabilizing agents. I am going to have a nice healthy yeast cake in the bottom of the bucket, though. See where I'm going with this?

I was thinking of pitching a cup of thick slurry from the skeeter pee into each of the traditionals to get them to go dry. Is there anything wrong with this? The OG of the pee was 1.065 and the pH when it finished was right at 3.2, so the yeast shouldn't have been particularly stressed. I was also going to take the leftover slurry and pitch that into a new batch of cyser that I have the ingredients for. Is there any reason not to use the slurry in this way?

Medsen Fey
04-27-2011, 09:50 AM
You can use the slurry that way. I wouldn't do it if I had a batch with stinky, sulfur-odor-producing lees, but if they smell OK, you should be fine using them. I'd take them and acclimate them to the musts that you are going to add them to, and they should help you get complete fermentation.

04-27-2011, 01:30 PM
Cool, thanks Medsen. The pee actually fermented very clean and at only 9% ABV I think it should be fine. As far as acclimating the yeast I was thinking of putting a cup in a sanitized growler and adding a 50/50 mix of the must and some 1.040 fresh must. Once this is actively going I'll throw the whole mix in the carboy with the rest of the mead. Is this a safe procedure?

Medsen Fey
04-27-2011, 04:00 PM
I'd take the slurry and get it going with a little fresh must, then I'd start doubling the volume with successive additions of your stuck must.