PDA

View Full Version : Done or stuck?



Bobbynogz
02-09-2012, 03:28 PM
Hi guys,

I pitched exactly 12 days ago, and it took a good 48-72 hours for my yeast to get into full swing. It bubbled nicely (about 1 bubble every 5 seconds, in a one piece airlock, 1 gallon batch) up until now.

The recipe was simple really, 1 gallon water, 3lbs honey, two teaspoons of Tronozymol nutrient/energizer, a bit of cinammon, and Wyeast Dry Mead yeast.

Over the past 48 hours, they have been getting noticably slower, and last night I sat and watched it for a few minutes - it hasn't moved even a millimetre on the airlock since then.

I am slightly worried about the rather severe snow we've just had. I've tried my best to keep the room it's in at a level 20C (that's 68F for you Americans!), but perhaps at night it's been getting a little chilly. I still doubt though it's got to any lower than 58F.

I understand mead has a primary fermentation where the airlock will show alot of activity, but after about two weeks will then slow to just 1 bubble every 30 seconds or so. However, I'm worried as to whether my ferment is stuck as nothing seems to be happening at all.

I do not have a hydrometer reading of the OG, but simple maths indicates it was around the 1.085 mark. I took a hydrometer reading today, which comes out at pretty much 1.000 flat. Surely the fermentation can't be done in 12 days... Right?

I decided to rack it into a new carboy, and give it a teaspoons of nutes/energizer again to see if I can will up any activity in the airlock. Not a peep.

I'm really a bit puzzled, it smells right, santized well. I really can't believe that it would be finished this fast.

More yeast, perhaps?




Cheers for the help guys, I'm a bit puzzled!

mmclean
02-09-2012, 03:59 PM
Hi Bobbynogz, welcome to GOTMEAD?

At 1.000 you are done. Congrats on a successful ferment. At best you will only get a bone dry mead at .98, maybe .97.

Woo Hoo! Meadcrafter in da house!

:occasion14:

Cheers

PitBull
02-09-2012, 04:03 PM
Over the past 48 hours, they have been getting noticably slower, and last night I sat and watched it for a few minutes - it hasn't moved even a millimetre on the airlock since then.

I am slightly worried about the rather severe snow we've just had. I've tried my best to keep the room it's in at a level 20C (that's 68F for you Americans!), but perhaps at night it's been getting a little chilly. I still doubt though it's got to any lower than 58F.

I understand mead has a primary fermentation where the airlock will show alot of activity, but after about two weeks will then slow to just 1 bubble every 30 seconds or so. However, I'm worried as to whether my ferment is stuck as nothing seems to be happening at all.

I do not have a hydrometer reading of the OG, but simple maths indicates it was around the 1.085 mark. I took a hydrometer reading today, which comes out at pretty much 1.000 flat. Surely the fermentation can't be done in 12 days... Right?
Welcome to GotMead!

I could be done... or not. Fermentation can easily be completed in 12 days. Just don't count on it. Most often the yeast will ferment the mead slightly below 1.000 to say, 0.996 give or take a couple of points, but not always. No need to be in a hurry. I'd let it set at least a week and take additional readings every couple of days.

The question at this point is "How are you going to clear the mead?". If you're going to let it clear naturally, you have many months to decide if it's "done". Measure the final gravity (F.G.), then rack and stabilize before bottling/bulk aging.

If you're going to use a fining agent, at least a month is recommended for fining after degassing. Usually a combination of these two work well. Let it clear for a while (several months) and then add a fining agent. After a final racking, check the gravity to ensure that it has not changed, stabilize, then bottle/bulk age.

If you filter, check the final gravity to ensure no change, stabilize and then bottle/bulk age.

In all cases, check the make sure you stabilize to prevent bottle bombs.

mmclean
02-09-2012, 04:06 PM
.005 points will not matter one way or aother. Let's just call it done. :)

Bobbynogz
02-09-2012, 06:59 PM
Hey guys,

Thanks very much for your replies. Although, there's a couple of terms I need to clear up...

My plan was to let it sit in the carboys for two months, rack it, and let it sit for another couple. After that, I was thinking of using bentonite to clarify.

What do you mean by degassing? I presume you mean getting rid of the rising CO2 in the mead, but how do you go about doing this? Can you do it without having to buy more gear?

The other was stabilising it, I presume this is some sort of sulphite or something to crash the yeast, am I right?

This is my first ever brew (of anything) so I'm still learning.

Much appreciated.


Oh, and I had a quick taste of my mead the other day. It's a bit watery and not very honey tasting. It smells of white wine, though, so I'm guessing it has alcohol in it!

chams
02-09-2012, 07:19 PM
From your original gravity it could easily be done. I always measure before adding nutrients. You may taste them as leftovers.
Congrats. Now let it age. Add some spices or oak if you want a bit more flavour.

Bobbynogz
02-09-2012, 10:47 PM
Cheers for the help guys.

Anyone have any ideas why it tastes so watery though? 3lbs of honey went in there at the start... I was also expecting a bit more taste of alcohol too.

maykal
02-09-2012, 11:58 PM
Hi there,

I guess it's normal to not have a honey taste if it has fermented dry. You can backsweeten it later on to get some of that honey sweetness/aroma back into it.

One thought has come to mind. You say you put in 3lbs of honey for 1 gallon. I assume you're not American because of the temp comment. Was that a US gallon (3.78 litres) or an Imperial Gallon (4.55 litres)? I'm thinking if it's the latter, it could explain why it doesn't taste as strong as you expected (and why it reached 1.000 quicker than you expected, although 12 days doesn't seem excessively fast).

fatbloke
02-10-2012, 01:05 AM
It's done. But if you think about it, its not gonna taste much like honey as you would associate honey with sweet, not the other non-sugar elements like acids. Plus its likely to taste a bit thin as any viscosity/mouthfeel from the original must as mixed would be from the sugars in the honey and you've fermented those.

I'd say rack it now, to get it off the sediment and then again on a couple of months.

Oh and it does no harm to put a region on you profile listing as it often helps as advice is or can be more localised....

Bobbynogz
02-10-2012, 01:17 PM
Hi there,

I guess it's normal to not have a honey taste if it has fermented dry. You can backsweeten it later on to get some of that honey sweetness/aroma back into it.

One thought has come to mind. You say you put in 3lbs of honey for 1 gallon. I assume you're not American because of the temp comment. Was that a US gallon (3.78 litres) or an Imperial Gallon (4.55 litres)? I'm thinking if it's the latter, it could explain why it doesn't taste as strong as you expected (and why it reached 1.000 quicker than you expected, although 12 days doesn't seem excessively fast).

This is a bit confusing now, and I can see where I've potentially gone wrong. To make the units standard, I have used 1.35kg of honey for 4.55 litres. Perhaps the recipe I was working off was using US gallons, and I should've put a bit more honey in.

I may go and put some more honey in to make sure it's fermented all the honey?

Chevette Girl
02-10-2012, 09:23 PM
If you just add more honey, the yeast are likely to just eat it on you so it'll make more alcohol but won't be sweeter. This is why you'd want to stabilize it. And give it some time, if you had a nice clean ferment (and it sounds like you did), it might not taste strongly of alcohol, but it'll be there... and there's a point in time, usually between six months and a year, where the honey flavour returns, along with a perception of sweetness, so it's possible you might just need to rack it and leave it alone for a while before you decide if it needs to be stabilized and backsweetened.

mmclean
02-10-2012, 10:16 PM
Adding oak will give a little mouth feel to a mead.

I like to add a handful of raisins or some dried figs to the recipe.

maykal
02-11-2012, 01:32 AM
Hi Bobbynogz,

Yes, I'm guessing the recipe was in US measurements - most of the recipes on this site are. I just convert everything to metric right at the beginning. Anyway, I plugged your numbers into the mead spreadsheet and it came back with an OG of 1.089 and a predicted ABV of 11.85%.

If that's good enough for you, then I would just let it age in the carboy, rack it again if more sediment forms, and when it has cleared, stabilize it and bottle it. As the yeast has gone through all the honey before reaching its tolerence, the mead will be dry.

The Wyeast Dry Mead Yeast (if it's the 3632) is supposed to have a tolerence of 18%, which means you could try to restart fermentation with more honey to get the ABV up a bit more. Adding more yeast or nutrients won't do anything because the source of sugar (honey) has already been depleted, they have nothing left to work on. That's why nothing happened when you racked it and added some more nutrient/energizer.

If you add some more sugar, this should (I think, I'm a newbee too) kick start the yeast again and they'll go to work on the new source of sugar, the ABV will go up, and fermentation will restart.

If you are happy with 12% ABV, but want it to taste sweeter, you have to stabilize the must so that when you add some more honey for sweetness, the yeast don't get excited and start fermenting it out again.

fatbloke
02-11-2012, 05:25 AM
This is a bit confusing now, and I can see where I've potentially gone wrong. To make the units standard, I have used 1.35kg of honey for 4.55 litres. Perhaps the recipe I was working off was using US gallons, and I should've put a bit more honey in.

I may go and put some more honey in to make sure it's fermented all the honey?
As some of the others have already mentioned, just putting extra sugars (honey) in, is likely to just let the yeast carry on fermenting them.

Also, don't worry unduely about the mix of numbers i.e. pounds or kilo's per litres or pints or which gallon measures to use, unless you are trying to exactly replicate someone else's results - which is quite difficult to do anyway, one persons orange blossom honey will be different to another persons i.e. honey from the same type of plants but in different locations etc, the same applies to the water.

The only thing I've found in connection to the water thing, is that it's far better to use soft water for brewing, mead making etc - and given that you are located in London, then your water is gonna be like mine i.e. hard as nails, with high levels of calcium/magnesium. I've moved to using reverse osmosis water, that I get from a local aquarium shop. The RO process removes all of the calcium/magnesium salts (chalk in English), as well as chlorine and chloramine added by the utility companies for safety/hygiene reasons, as well as pretty much all other stuff that might be in it (and any other commentary about nutrients from water is bollocks - because if you're relying on the water to provide some of that, you'd need water that is undrinkable by virtue of the amount and type of nutrients that the yeasts need).

As for the numbers thing with recipes, yes I also automatically make my batches to 1 imp gallon/4.55 litres - so yes, my JAOM attempts will be a little less sweet from those who make it to 1 US gallon, but it's still comes out fine i.e nice and perfectly drinkable after between 2 and 6 months aging after the fermenting has finished and the fruit dropped. What I do is to aim for a specific gravity reading, which I work out will give a certain % ABV with the drop in gravity during the ferment - I use the chart that Bob, who runs "wines at home (http://www.winesathome.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?912-Wine-Making-Calculators-and-factsheets)" has on his website (it's the one listed as "alcohol calculation chart"). It gives you the alcohol content for a given drop in gravity, so a drop of 100 points gravity is equal to 13.58% ABV etc.

If you use the chart while you keep notes on each brew, then you can follow the ferment when you do other stuff, like staggered nutrient additions, or move the fermenter to a different location to change the temperature of the ferment, etc etc

So you haven't done anything "wrong" particularly.

As for "mouth feel" or viscosity, there's been a few methods of modifying that mentioned already. Like you can just add more honey, a little at a time, until you've passed the yeasts alcohol tolerance and it can't ferment any more (a.k.a. step feeding). As mmclean mentions, there's oak, though I'd have thought that the stuff that is extracted from the oak that affects mouth feel, is likely to be tannin - so yes, you can add wine tannin (from the home brew shop). Additionally, you can add glycerin as well, because that adds to the viscosity increasing mouth feel, though it can also add a tiny amount of sweetness (it's an inherently sweet tasting material).

Personally, I'd say not to worry about this at the moment. Just get it cleared and ready to be aged for at least 6 months (possibly longer). Once you like what you're tasting when you test taste it, you can modify it then i.e. if too sweet, a small amount of acid, if still too "thin" tasting, a little tannin or some oak chips etc, maybe some glycerin. If it's not sweet enough to your taste, you can back sweeten with something to increase that, etc etc etc....

Bobbynogz
02-11-2012, 10:38 AM
Hi guys,

Thanks all for the replies. I warmed up some honey in water and put it in, the carboys are now bubbling again (1 every 2 mins or so) so I reckon it's started fermentation again. I don't mind having more alcohol, in fact, I'd rather squeeze as much as I can out of it. I'll backsweeten later down the line to get the taste back.

Thanks again!

PitBull
02-11-2012, 12:49 PM
Adding oak will give a little mouth feel to a mead.
I agree. Oak is a great way to give mead a little bite, and my personal favorite. But a little goes a long way. Start out light with abot 0.2 oz/gallon. You can always add more. The lighter the honey, the more pronounced the oak flavor will be.

Another way is to add tannin. It's typically available at your LHBS, but you can also get white wine tannin which will not impact a slight color change to your mead.

You can also add acid or acid blend. But IMHO, this is the least desirable.

Mouthfeel also seems to improve a bit with aging, but perhaps no necessarily enough.

I have a side-by-side taste comparison posted here in the patron's section (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=18393&highlight=tannin). If you're planning to become even semi-serious about making mead, wine and/or beer, a patron membership is THE best bargain on the internet.

fatbloke
02-11-2012, 04:46 PM
Hi guys,

Thanks all for the replies. I warmed up some honey in water and put it in, the carboys are now bubbling again (1 every 2 mins or so) so I reckon it's started fermentation again. I don't mind having more alcohol, in fact, I'd rather squeeze as much as I can out of it. I'll backsweeten later down the line to get the taste back.

Thanks again!
That'll be fine, the only points being that the higher the alcohol, often the more watery or thin a newly fermented batch can seem. Also, the higher the alcohol, the longer it might need to be aged for, to mellow out.