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View Full Version : Any harm in a slow burn Fermentation?



Ounitron
10-06-2011, 08:36 PM
Started out my first batch this week, armed with just enough information to be dangerous. The batch is as follows:

4lbs of clover honey
1 gallon of water
1 tsp DAP
~1/2 tsp of red star chapaigne yeast (13-15% abv I believe)

no hydrometer (I'll have one before i'm ready to rack it)

Sanitized a bunch of stuff. Brewed it all together (minus the yeast of course) at about 160 for 20 min no boil. took the scum off and cooled to ~80 and pitched yeast.

First day, nada. I was a little worried about it. Figured out i was supposed to aerate it. It tried to punch me through the airlock when i picked the bucket up. Mostly it just blew the airlock water all over me. Aerated it, (refilled the airlock) and it has consistently been bubbling every minute or so since. Never the wide open stuff, but steady, and it's got a decent foam when i pop it open to aerate. Good smells, like honey-beer ish. Is there any harm in just letting it go like this? If there's some damage, i can try more yeast or something, but i hesistate to mess with it if it's doin it's thing and I just don't know it. I've tried searching several variations on "slow/stuck ferment" and everything there seems to be a fair margin worse than what i'm seeing. Just curious if there's any harm done in a slow burn.

Much Obliged for any information.
- Ounitron

Chevette Girl
10-06-2011, 08:45 PM
Welcome to the addiction! Er, hobby... glad to see you already plan to get a hydrometer, the sooner you get one, the sooner you can tell what your must is doing for sure! Airlock bubbling is not a very good indication of the health of your fermentation.

So, that's 4 lb honey AND one gallon of water, not 4 lb IN one gallon? Probably won't be TOO hard on them yeasties but I wouldn't be surprised if this one finishes sweet, as 3.5 lb IN 1 gallon gives a 17% potential alcohol level and your yeast isn't rated that high.

Do keep aerating it as often as you can stand to...

Ounitron
10-06-2011, 09:28 PM
thanks for the quick reply. I've been aerating twice a day since tuesday now, and have no issue continuing. Is there some magical breakpoint where oxidation becomes an issue?

As to the sweet, that's the aim. My sense of smell was destroyed a long time ago so i'm rather limited on taste as a result. Dry alchohols with no nuances = gasoline, so i'm hoping to leave a little sugar in the bottle :)

Chevette Girl
10-07-2011, 06:06 PM
That really sucks, I've got a friend who lost his sense of smell due to a face injury and it's interesting when we compare foods, he's a decent cook by taste alone, I work with smell more than taste in a lot of cases... and he feels the same about alcohol, it's got to have something else going for it because the taste without the aroma just isn't worth it.

Ok, back to your situation, generally you want to aerate for the first third of the fermentation. How do you figure this out?

Well, you take your trusty hydrometer, and... <sigh> you're gonna hear a lot of that till you get one :)

Essentially you take your specific gravity reading, estimate your endpoint (you'd have to figure out where your yeast should probably stop, ballparking a 17% potential must and a 14% potential yeast, I'm going to take a wild stab, assume your must started around 1.130 and will probably finish around 3% which is roughly 1.022. So you take the difference between these (0.108 ), divide that by three (0.036), and subtract this third from your initial specific gravity, which would be somewhere around 1.092. It's generally safe to aerate a bit longer than that, meads are pretty resistant to oxidation and honestly you probably won't hurt it even if you splash it around every day until it stops making bubbles (at which point I hope you have a hydrometer so you know when to rack!), unless you're going at it with an oxygen stone or 20 minutes at a time with a whisk, you're probably not going to get that much more oxygen in there than the yeasties will eat so there shouldn't be much left to oxidize your mead, and the CO2 bubbles being produced will likely displace most of the oxygen before it does any damage.

Ounitron
10-07-2011, 06:48 PM
hehe, hydrometer incoming. I'll start taking readings this weekend and kind of watch for that target number (1.022), or alternately, for it to just stop changing much. As for the aeration, i'm just giving it about 5 min of agitating the bucket so i don't have to freak out about introducing critters. Good to know that it's not going to destroy it if i overdo it a small bit timewise. I feel sorry for your friend, it makes eating and drinking pretty blah. I eat alot of spicy foods, and constantly demand that my wife taste/smell whatever it is i'm cooking or brewing :)