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jon667
08-14-2011, 05:43 PM
Hi,
I have read a lot of the posts for stuck fermentation as I already had this issue and had to re-pitch with this batch.
Recipe is 14.5 lbs local honey to bring to 5 gal. total. I started with just a bit of yeast nutrient and used some useless "sweet mead" yeast. I did not know that mead needed to be aerated daily, so it obviously needed more o2. It stalled almost immediately and weeks later I re-pitched with KV-1116 and added Fermid K and nutrient.
It started fine through the 1/3 break when I added more nutrient (recommended dose)...then has slowed tremendously. Here is the whole course:
Original pitch with sweet mead on 6/27 only moved from og=1.10 to 1.09 in 2 weeks. Shaked primary daily.
Re-pitch kv:
7/13 sg=1.09
7/16 sg=1.08
7/19 sg=1.072
7/23 sg=1.062
7/24 sg=1.06
7/25 sg=1.059
7/27 sg=1.05
8/8 sg=1.034
8/14 sg=1.03

There seems to be a lot of info about stuck fermentation early on, which I am thankful for, but what do you do when you are past the 2/3 sugar break and you just want 1.03 to ferment to just below 1.0?
Thanks

jon667
08-15-2011, 04:47 PM
Mead is at a constant 67 degrees. I don't have ph strips but from tastings it does not appear to be extremely acidic.
Last night I stirred the must hoping to get things rolling.
Getting one bubble every 22 seconds.

kudapucat
08-15-2011, 05:35 PM
It's only been a month. Relax, settle down it's still going, and there's not much sugar left for the yeasties to fight over.
It'll get there. RDWHAHB.

AToE
08-15-2011, 07:51 PM
I'd say pretty much the opposite of that - this has been a really slow fermentation from the start, "only a month" would make me freak out personally (even when I do cool slow ferments I don't have ones last much longer than 10 days) and now it's only moved 4 gravity points in 6 days - and it still has almost 1/3 of the fermentation left to go.

It may not be totally stuck, but it's darned close if not. It may crawl past the finish line, but I doubt it.

At this point I don't think there's a whole ton you can do. You can get it's temp up a little above 70F, make sure you swirl the yeast back into suspension every day at least, and add yeast hulls (or if you don't have those, boil some bread yeast, let that cool and add it). You could also consider adding some calcium bicarbonate (or just calcium carbonate) especially if you can test the pH - taste testing won't tell you much of anything accurate when it comes to whether pH is the problem.

Other than that you're looking at making an acclimatized starter with something more tank-like, such as EC1118, or uvaferm43 (especially the 43). There should be some tutorials around this site on making an acclimatized starter to restart a stuck ferment.

kudapucat
08-15-2011, 09:18 PM
forgive me, I read 1.003 down to less than 1.000
I always write 4 digits, so sometimes I screw up, yep ignore my post :-(
Apologies once again,
and thanks for not flaming my baltantly incorrect post.

AToE
08-15-2011, 10:11 PM
Ha, no worries, I also always write all my SG out to the full 4 digits, and when anyone shortens it it always screws me up bad! (Plus half the time when they shortened it, they also typo'd it!)

jon667
08-17-2011, 12:15 PM
I added about one packet of boiled bread yeast and have been stirred once daily. I'll pick up a ph kit and some bicarbonate.

If it does not pick up steam, but continues to ferment very slowly...what am I risking? I know the yeast may start to break down and add off flavors (how long does that take; already happening?), but I'm trying to weigh racking off the lees and adding small bits of honey over months to get the desired SG, vs. repitch.

Thanks for all the input. This is has been a hard way to start a hobby, but I think through advice I have received on this site my next batch should be smooth running.

AToE
08-17-2011, 01:21 PM
That yeast won't give you problems with lees-character, should be fine, so don't worry about that.

My concern would only be that it probably won't creep along for long, it'll probably just stop and you'll have a very sweet mead.

Could you clarify that bit about adding honey? I'm not following why you'd want to do that if it's potentially stuck at too high of a gravity anyways (or were you saying you'd add honey to backsweeten afterwards if it ended up dry?).

jon667
08-17-2011, 01:39 PM
I'm gonna guess from your response that adding honey after primary fermentation won't add to fermentation significantly. Now that I think about it, what I was thinking doesn't make sense at all! Sorry.

You know the strange thing is that the mead taste pretty dry right now. I guess I'm not used to straight mead (only had commercial Melomel which seemed pretty sweet).

I think I'm just going to re-pitch per your advice with an acclimatized starter (I guess i'm layering the fermentation ;). I really do want something I can age so I can see how this changes the character, so I need the 10%+ alcohol content and I think hearing you, I'm not going to get it with what I've got going.

AToE
08-17-2011, 02:24 PM
I'm gonna guess from your response that adding honey after primary fermentation won't add to fermentation significantly. Now that I think about it, what I was thinking doesn't make sense at all! Sorry.

Right, if it's already got sugar to eat but isn't eating it, then giving it more would just compound the problem.


You know the strange thing is that the mead taste pretty dry right now. I guess I'm not used to straight mead (only had commercial Melomel which seemed pretty sweet).

Some of that could be bitterness from the yeast too, which will fade. 1.030 is scary sweet even for most sweet lovers in a traditional!


I think I'm just going to re-pitch per your advice with an acclimatized starter (I guess i'm layering the fermentation ;). I really do want something I can age so I can see how this changes the character, so I need the 10%+ alcohol content and I think hearing you, I'm not going to get it with what I've got going.

Sounds like a good plan, let us know what you do exactly and how it works out.

Medsen Fey
08-18-2011, 10:05 PM
I'd check the pH and adjust it up if necessary while letting it warm up to about 75 F and aerating it again. If that doesn't get it to finish up, I'd repitch with Uvaferm 43 or EC-1118.

By the way, how much nutrient and Fermaid K did you add in total?

jon667
08-19-2011, 05:41 PM
I tested PH and it looks like it was sitting at about 3.3, I added calcium carbonate per the directions to get it to about 3.5-3.6. That might have actually started the fermentation again.
I actually tried to make an acclimated started with 1118 but it was pretty slow (I followed the double volume every 2 hour method I found in other posts, also aerated to hell out of the starter). It was just not doing much, so I added 3/4 tsp fermid K and 1 tsp nutrient. this kinda got it going. After doubling to 1/2 gallon I pitched it.
I actually think that the ph was the problem. Don't even know I needed the starter, but that the heck, it was 1/2 gal of mead.

8/16/11 it was at 1.028, today at 1.025 and bubbling every 8-10 seconds.
I think i'm just going to ride it out at this point. Hopefully I can get it to ferment out by stirring it daily to mix up the yeast.

Total 4.5 tsp F.K., 1-2 packet boiled bread yeast, and 7 tsp nutrient. This is an estimate.

jon667
08-19-2011, 07:40 PM
Following advice, I moved the mead upstairs...74 degrees.
Seems to be increasing in co2 output, bubble every 6 seconds.

Chevette Girl
08-19-2011, 08:17 PM
Sounds about right, if it's too cool the yeast work more slowly.

jon667
08-27-2011, 01:29 PM
Just thought i'd finish up the post here in case anyone else has this issue.

Thankfully, with the good advice here, I have just about successfully fermented out my first batch of mead! SG is at 1.005 from OG of 1.100. It is still bubbling away so I hope to get it to SG .999, but I'm not too worried about it as I was planning to back sweeten anyway.

Plan on racking in a week or so and bulk aging for 6 months, another year in the bottles and we'll see what we got. I'm flirting with oak for half the batch, but we'll see.

Thanks for all your help, and good drinking!

AToE
08-27-2011, 01:33 PM
Great to hear!

jon667
11-08-2011, 07:01 PM
Had hoped I would have some good news on this first very challenging batch, but a sample 2 months into bulk aging leaves me a little worried.
I tried some and it was barely drinkable. There is a strong off alcohol taste that is pretty offensive (I assume this is what high concentration of fusels taste like).
It cleared up nicely and has a decent nose, but it is just not drinkable.
I know mead requires some aging, but I guess I hoped that it would at least somewhat drinkable this far into the process.
Don't know if there is anything else to do or just hope age mellows this stuff out.

Medsen Fey
11-08-2011, 07:48 PM
It is tough being a new mead crafter.

The most important ingredient in mead is patience, and this is where you start adding it liberally. Your mead is not even 90 days old. It probably won't be great at 190 days. At 900 days, it will taste entirely differently than it does now, so put it away to age it for 18 months to 2 years and you'll see what the magic of time does for mead.