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Pumper
03-14-2011, 11:04 PM
Hey everyone, thanks in advance for the help. I have been frustrated with my first braggot that has stopped fermenting on me. details as follows:

Ingredients:
6lbs Wheat DME
9lbs Local Honey
2oz Hallertau (US)
2oz Tettnang
1oz Fuggle
1oz Saaz
1tsp High Country yeast nutrient (Urea)
2tsp Fermax yeast nutrient
10 g Lalvin D-47
1oz Sweet Orange Peel

Notes:

3 gal boil, added the DME

Hops: 1oz each H,T at 60 min----.5oz each H,T,F,S at 15 min----.5oz each H,T,F,S at 5 min
1oz Sweet Orange Peel at 10 min

cooled wort with previously dissolved and cooled 2 gal of honey/water and then added more water to make a total 5gal batch
rehydrated yeast in the must before stirring

3/2/11 OG 1.120
Fermenting room at 70-73F

3/11/11 SG 1.048 59.4% attenuation 9.35% ABV

3/11/11 racked to secondary- added 1/2 tsp nutrient(urea), 1 tsp Fermax, 5 gr Lalvin EC-1118 ---- no airlock movement, must started to show layers
3/12/11 pH strips indicate 4.4-4.6 (the strips that max out at 4.4 said it was 4.4, and the strips that start at 4.6 said it was 4.6), aerated must and degassed CO2 by shaking carboy, venting gas, repeat-----no airlock movement on 3/14/11

there is a distinct layering of the must going on. the first few inches are darker and clearer than the rest of the must, and there is about 1/2 inch of sediment on the bottom


I have read Oskaar's post on restarting by adding nutrient and 1/2 cup of must in stages to acclimate the yeast. my questions are:

Am i in danger of adding too much nutrient?
Can I do this with the nutrients i have? (that is all my local store has, and i have about 5 days to get this done before i leave for a month)
should i attempt this restart with 10grams of Lalvin EC-1118?
is my pH ok?
did i get enough aeration, or should i rack to a fermenting bucket and whisk the tar out of it?
what am i missing???

Thanks to all, I really hope i can save this braggot.

Meriadoc
03-15-2011, 01:22 AM
Hmm... I'm by no means an expert, but I'm wondering whether it would help to try a different strain of yeast -- in particular, a beer yeast.

Can D-47 handle a wort? I thought that's (part of) the reason there are wine yeasts and beer yeasts.

I'm guessing that the D-47 already fermented what it could out of the must "part", but maybe it's left alone something of the wort "part"?

AToE
03-15-2011, 01:32 AM
Sorry, that's generally backwards actually. Beer yeasts are selected largely for taste/aroma contribution, though in certain cases they can chew through some more complex sugars. Wine yeasts are their tougher cousins. Anything a beer yeast can ferment a wine yeast can probably do too, if not more. (I've had wine yeasts chew through sugar even when beer yeast had done all it could)

Even if a certain beer yeast can ferment more of the questionably-fermentable sugars than a certain wine yeast, we're talking about 2-6 points maximum of difference (as far as I know), not something huge like 20-40 points, that's a stuck fermentation for sure (which I've frankly never heard of in a malt based ferment, those usually have loads of nutrients, good pH buffers, really this seems odd to me).

Now, how that relates to fixing this problem, I'm not sure!!

AToE
03-15-2011, 01:33 AM
Wait a second, there's no current SG in the above post - what's the SG now? Just because the airlock stopped bubbling does not mean fermentation isn't happening, even if you're sure there's no leak around the airlock.

Pumper
03-15-2011, 03:54 AM
roger that on the no bubbles doesn't mean no fermentation.

although the last time i took an SG reading was 3/11/11, the initial fermentation was still less than expected; and the layering going on is, to me, indicative of no fermentation......no bubbles, no foam, no airlock movement, layers forming in the must, 59% attenuation after 9 days, no observable changes after adding Lalvin EC-1118......something is not right.

i will post updated SG tomorrow just to be sure.

no offense to anyone trying to help, but it would be awesome if an experienced mead maker could give some advice

Meriadoc
03-15-2011, 09:08 AM
no offense to anyone trying to help, but it would be awesome if an experienced mead maker could give some advice

There are so many ways of phrasing this request; thanks for choosing this one... :rolleyes:

Medsen Fey
03-15-2011, 09:48 AM
no offense to anyone trying to help, but it would be awesome if an experienced mead maker could give some advice

You have been getting advice from experienced mead makers.

First and foremost is check the gravity again. When you pitch EC-1118 into a batch with 10% ABV, the alcohol will stun most of the yeast cells into submission. The ones that survive will often take a few days to build back up to a population size that is able to show active fermentation. Essentially you go through a long lag phase due to the alcohol. This is why the gradual acclimation of the yeast is recommended through stepped additions of must. By the time you pitch this acclimated starter, the yeast are ready to go in the harsh environment.

If you see the gravity is dropping, you probably don't need to do anything else. Your pH is okay. There should be plenty of nutrients.

If the gravity is not dropping, take a packet of the EC-1118, and acclimate it to your must before pitching it in. If you want to treat the must with yeast hulls, 1 gram per gallon, to bind yeast toxins that certainly won't hurt. After pitching, seal it up and if you have to leave, don't fret. When you get back it should be done.

Endeavor to persevere!

AToE
03-15-2011, 01:33 PM
I don't take any offense to that, I do have written under my username "Meadmaking Novice" which I put there to differentiate myself from those with vastly more experience than myself (though I do have a couple years and over 40 batches under my belt, on top of being one of the most active members here, so I do have some idea what I'm talking about most of the time! ;) There's still tons I don't know though).

When I was starting out I remember being extra comforted when someone with a Mead Mentor badge responded to my worries (even though I knew other people had valid points as well).

Medsen Fey
03-15-2011, 01:52 PM
I don't take any offense to that, I do have written under my username "Meadmaking Novice" which I put there to differentiate myself from those with vastly more experience than myself

You might want to consider updating that; novice you are not.

AToE
03-15-2011, 03:00 PM
You might want to consider updating that; novice you are not.

Ha, I'm still pretty rough in a lot of areas! Maybe "intermediate" would be more appropriate.

Pumper
03-15-2011, 03:42 PM
Sorry to offend on the novice-intermediate-expert stuff......


3/15/11 SG 1.048

i took a reading of the top layer, then swirled to mix and took another reading. to my surprise, both read 1.048 (corrected for temp)

headed to the brew shop now to get more Lalvin EC-118 to start a culture and try to gradually adjust to the must before pitching this time.

should I go ahead and aerate the must again when i pitch the adjusted yeast in a few days?

thanks for the help

Pumper
03-15-2011, 06:50 PM
I found a "how to" pdf on restarting fermentations and acclimating yeast, and did the following:

Boil 6 cups of water for 5 minutes
i didn't have "yeast hulls", so i threw in 7g of red star bread yeast and boiled it to kill it off.....figured that was about the best i could do.
added 1/3 cup honey to water and yeast hulls

rehydrated 10g Lalvin EC-1118 according to directions on packet
added yeast to aerated starter must when it dropped to 80F

added airlock and stored at 73F

we will see how it goes

Chevette Girl
03-15-2011, 08:39 PM
Your SG hadn't changed a bit, confirming that it was indeed stuck, or at least moving so slowly it might as well be stuck.

I think an acclimated starter is the right way to go on that one, if you haven't added it to the alcoholic must yet, I'd suggest you add your original must to your new culture in small increments over a day or so to get the new yeast colony used to the booze.

I've tried all kinds of things to restart fermentations but an acclimated starter is the most reliable...

Medsen Fey
03-15-2011, 08:59 PM
Ha, I'm still pretty rough in a lot of areas! Maybe "intermediate" would be more appropriate.

Actually that's INTERMEADIOT (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12865&highlight=intermeadiot). :)

Pumper, Hightest's instructions (http://home.comcast.net/~mzapx1/FAQ/StuckFerm.pdf) for a stuck fermentation are really useful. Adding your stuck must to the starter a in a series of volume doublings will get you a well-adjusted yeast to pitch into the rest of the batch. I don't think you need to aerate the must anymore. The aeration the yeast get as you build up the starter should be plenty.

Pumper
03-15-2011, 09:18 PM
thanks to everyone for the help.

i made a starter, and have airlock movement after only a few hours. approx 1 bubble every 3-5 seconds

i'm interested in Medsen Fey's "volume doubling" comment. Hightest's instructions say to add 1/2 cup at a time, a total of 3 times before adding it to the main must, and says to start with a 6 cup starter. so that is really no where near doubling the volume, although it does seem (to my newbie mind at least) that a volume doubling would better acclimate the yeast, or at least adding 1 cup, then 3 cups, then 6 cups

anyone done something like this with luck?

given the active airlock, should I go ahead and start adding my first bit of must now, even though it has only been a few hours? and how much?

Chevette Girl
03-15-2011, 09:26 PM
Actually that's INTERMEADIOT (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12865&highlight=intermeadiot). :)


Aww, I totally have to find a way to become a patron so I can have that as my status...

Pumper, glad your starter started!

I make an acclimated starter for any high-SG must or anything I think is stuck, I rehydrate my yeast in 1/4 cup water as directed, then add about 1/4 cup must, then once it starts being active, add a half-cup of must, then in a couple hours, I add a cup, a couple hours after that, two cups, which fills my 1-litre mason jar I use for starters, which so far has been fine for up to 3-gal batches, I'll make a gallon of starter for a 5-gal batch... then a couple hours after that I'll pitch it in. There are many ways to do it, lots of different proportions, I just do that because it's easiest for me to eyeball "double the volume" so I don't have to sanitize my measuring cups :) If you're following an established procedure, keep with it, whoever wrote it probably knew what they were doing... if you're taking the suggestion to add must to it slowly, starting slow with a cup at a time won't hurt either, it'll give the yeasties LOTS of time to become alcoholics, although I'd make sure the volume of starter is at least tripled before you just dump in the works.

Medsen Fey
03-15-2011, 09:29 PM
The way I do it is a little different. I don't start with a 6 cup starter. I just rehydrate in about 125 cc of water with
Go Ferm. Then I add 125 cc of must. When I see it bubbling I add 250 cc of must and when that gets going, I'll add 500 cc of must at which point I have 1 liter and when that is bubbling good, in it goes. If my must has plenty of nutrients I don't add more. Whatever approach you follow, as long as you get the yeast used to the environment they are going into, you'll have better chances for success.

Pumper
03-15-2011, 09:46 PM
right on

kinda wishing i didn't start with such a big starter now.:p

guess i will add 1 cup of must to it now (ok well after dinner in about an hour, got the crab boiling now), and then in the morning if it is still going good i will add 2 cups, and keep going like that for a few days until i fill up my 1 gal carboy with the yeast in it, then pitch it in with the rest of the 5 gal

sound decent?

mmclean
03-16-2011, 03:41 AM
Actually that's INTERMEADIOT (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12865&highlight=intermeadiot). :)



Thanks for the post, Medsen. I added it to my favorites. :)

wayneb
03-16-2011, 11:13 AM
i'm interested in Medsen Fey's "volume doubling" comment. Hightest's instructions say to add 1/2 cup at a time, a total of 3 times before adding it to the main must, and says to start with a 6 cup starter. so that is really no where near doubling the volume, although it does seem (to my newbie mind at least) that a volume doubling would better acclimate the yeast, or at least adding 1 cup, then 3 cups, then 6 cups

anyone done something like this with luck?



Either way will work. All you are doing with either approach is stepping the yeast into a more alcoholic environment gradually, which will maximize the chances that most of your yeast survive to then work in the main batch.

wildoates
03-16-2011, 08:53 PM
Thanks for the post, Medsen. I added it to my favorites. :)

Ditto! I'm happy to have the "idiot" part down pat, anyway. I feel like my successes have been essentially accidental, but I do admit to testing my small store of knowledge by comparing what advice I would give someone with what the mentors actually advise. I'm getting better.

Over the weekend I was showing my daughter's boyfriend how to brew a batch of kit beer, and as we were doing that I edumacated him on brewing in general, whole grain, meads, etc. I surprised myself with how much I've learned in the last couple of years., thanks in large part to many of you here.

Pumper
03-17-2011, 03:54 AM
how much airlock activity is "good enough" to add more must?

i added 1 cup of must a few hours after starting the "starter", then a few hours later i added another cup as it was bubbling every few seconds. then, this morning it was bubbling every 30 seconds, so i added 2 cups.......i wasn't sure if it needed more sugars to ferment, or if it was still adjusting. it has been about 12 hours since the last must addition, and i am heading to bed with it bubbling about once every 30-45 seconds.

if it is still at that bubbling rate in the morning, should i add 2 more cups? or let it sit another day before adding more?

i really need this to work:BangHead:

mmclean
03-17-2011, 04:16 AM
how much airlock activity is "good enough" to add more must?

Airlock activity is not a good indicator. It is just a one way valve used to keep bad air away from your must.

As for adding the must, I'd think that sooner would be better than later. I'm not sure what the recommended rate is, but you don't want this to drag out for days.

Medsen Fey
03-17-2011, 09:52 AM
I usually have built up enough activity in 12-24 hours that I''m ready to pitch. It isn't a long, drawn-out process.

Meriadoc
03-17-2011, 03:43 PM
Sorry to offend on the novice-intermediate-expert stuff......

LOL... none taken!

It did make me chuckle, though -- it reminded me of the good old days online (back in the 80's, when newsgroups were the "internet"), and every September, when new kids came to college for the first time, there would have to be a rash of posts informing them of netiquette.

This would include the reminders that the net wasn't their personal tech support service, and they didn't have some sort of paid contract to get professional help -- so that their "please don't waste my time if you aren't an expert" posts came off as... well... rude (!).

Sorry... but that's how your post came across to me.

Good luck getting your ferm unstuck!

Merry

Clifton
07-25-2011, 01:16 PM
Pumper, I've got a stuck braggot too and was wondering how well your acclimated starter worked. Did you get the gravity to drop significantly?

Pumper
08-04-2011, 10:44 AM
the gravity did drop to about 1.010, which is pretty good considering all things. i just wish i hadn't added so much junk to it in hindsight. i tried everything i could think of, adjusting ph with acid blend (gave a bitter mouthfeel quickly), multiple acclimated starters with 3 different strains of yeast, adding beta-amalayse (extracted it from roasted barley), even used beano :)

nothing seemed to work, so i dropped it off at my local brew shop and they just let it sit for 2 months and it magically fermented, and seems to still be slowly fermenting. maybe the aeration of dumping it into their bucket kicked off the fermentation....i don't know

the product is actually drinkable, just a little sour. i may try to add some oak chips for a bit, and then sulfite and force carb before bottling with a single cascade hop in each bottle. it will be something i won't try again, but i will tell everyone it is amazing stuff, it worked perfectly, i meant for it to taste the way it does, and i'm awesome. :) sadly enough, i think most people will believe me.

Medsen Fey
08-04-2011, 03:37 PM
It is quite common with restarts to see a very slow drop in gravity and almost no visible activity. The steps you took worked, but it just took more time, and the late aeration certainly may have helped.

Every time I add acid blend prior to a fermentation being done and fully clear, I end up wishing I hadn't. It took me a long time to learn that, but it finally sunk in.