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View Full Version : Sweet Show falling short of expected finish?



Alehkhs
04-06-2012, 12:44 AM
Hello, I currently have my first mead ever (first brew of anything ever, AND first post - be gentle with me!:o) sitting in my kitchen, and the bubbling in the airlock has slowed from 1 per ~30 seconds since last Friday (March 30th) and is currently at 1 bubble per 50 seconds.

When I checked the gravity on Friday, it showed a gravity of 1.050, which I think brings me to just under 11%abv. I had been expecting a 14%abv, given the amount of honey used and the yeast I chose.

So I'm wondering if I should settle for where this is at and rack it, or if there is something more I can/should do. I have another round of 10g Lalvin D47 Yeast, 10g Go-Ferm Rehydration Nutrient and 8g FermaidK Nutrient (Midewest Homebrewing) at hand that I can use, but I'm not sure what to do.


Here's the story so far:


18 lbs Pure Clover Honey (Costco)
Distilled Water to 5 Gallons (currently in a ~6gallon 6.5? carboy, will rack to a 5 gallon)
10g Lalvin D47 Yeast
10g Go-Ferm Rehydration Nutrient (Midewest Homebrewing)
8g FermaidK Nutrient (Midewest Homebrewing)

Original Gravity (22/2/2012): 1.131

21/2/2012 - Fermentation bucket unusable, move to large carboy.
22/2/2012 - Slow start fermentation. ~24h lag phase. Stir/Aerate.
23/2/2012 - Bubble/5sec. Stir/Aerate.
24/2/2012 - Bubble/4sec. Possible Mold? Remove with siphon tube. (Have determined this was likely protein scum coming to top)
26/2/2012 - Bubble/4-5sec.

02/3/2012 - Check PH, find it to be low, bump it to ~3.9-4.0

30/3/2012 - Bubble/30sec. SG 1.050. Stir slightly to degas and try to bump up fermentation a bit (failed).

05/4/2012 - Bubble/50sec.





So, ideas?
Where do I go from here?
???

Legitapotimous
04-06-2012, 01:00 AM
The foam is krausen (spelling?) and should be punched down, when u aerate.
Seems like patience the only thing in your way ;-) been there then i did the Quick cyser.. Rewarding to say the least

But if ur feeling frisky go ahead and rack at the abv u have if you like the taste, if ur wanting abv then wait it out be my guess.

akueck
04-06-2012, 01:10 AM
Welcome to GotMead!!

I would not rack it yet. Continue gently stirring it to keep the yeast in suspension (but don't aerate it) and you might see it chug along for another week or so. When the gravity stops dropping, you can rack it then. Don't go by bubble count, it's an awful measure of fermentation rate. You didn't mention the temperature, but if it's less than about 70-72F you could increase it a couple degrees to help the yeast finish out. I'd not go above 74 though, and also avoid jumping more than about 5 degrees.

In the future, you'll want to add more nutrients than you did for this batch. I'd say it's better not to try and add them now since you're near the end stages and I'm going to assume it's still plugging along. But for next time you might want to invest in some DAP (a white crystalline powder often just called "yeast nutrient"). Check out the many threads on staggered nutrient additions and you'll see some of the many approaches to feeding the yeast.

Deacon Aegis
04-06-2012, 01:10 AM
Hello, I currently have my first mead ever (first brew of anything ever, AND first post - be gentle with me!:o) sitting in my kitchen, and the bubbling in the airlock has slowed from 1 per ~30 seconds since last Friday (March 30th) and is currently at 1 bubble per 50 seconds.

When I checked the gravity on Friday, it showed a gravity of 1.050, which I think brings me to just under 11%abv. I had been expecting a 14%abv, given the amount of honey used and the yeast I chose.

So I'm wondering if I should settle for where this is at and rack it, or if there is something more I can/should do. I have another round of 10g Lalvin D47 Yeast, 10g Go-Ferm Rehydration Nutrient and 8g FermaidK Nutrient (Midewest Homebrewing) at hand that I can use, but I'm not sure what to do.


Here's the story so far:


18 lbs Pure Clover Honey (Costco)
Distilled Water to 5 Gallons (currently in a ~6gallon 6.5? carboy, will rack to a 5 gallon)
10g Lalvin D47 Yeast
10g Go-Ferm Rehydration Nutrient (Midewest Homebrewing)
8g FermaidK Nutrient (Midewest Homebrewing)

Original Gravity (22/2/2012): 1.131

21/2/2012 - Fermentation bucket unusable, move to large carboy.
22/2/2012 - Slow start fermentation. ~24h lag phase. Stir/Aerate.
23/2/2012 - Bubble/5sec. Stir/Aerate.
24/2/2012 - Bubble/4sec. Possible Mold? Remove with siphon tube. (Have determined this was likely protein scum coming to top)
26/2/2012 - Bubble/4-5sec.

02/3/2012 - Check PH, find it to be low, bump it to ~3.9-4.0

30/3/2012 - Bubble/30sec. SG 1.050. Stir slightly to degas and try to bump up fermentation a bit (failed).

05/4/2012 - Bubble/50sec.





So, ideas?
Where do I go from here?
???

Welcome to the forums. I'm sure someone will come along soon that can give you a bit more official of a welcome. One of the first things I might suggest is that you spend the next three days or so measuring the current fermentation rate with your hydrometer and see if those numbers are still dropping. There are several things to note that may have helped your fermentation. First, I would have used about twice the original amount of yeast to get the ferment started. 20g of dry yeast for a good 5 gallon ferment. That said, you might want to consider going ahead and rehydrating about 10g more of the D47. Once you get it rehydrated, about 15 minutes at rest, pitch some of your must into the yeast, about enough to double the liquid volume of your starter. This should help the yeast acclimate to the conditions of your must. Let this starter go for about 30 minutes and double the volume again by pitching more of your must into the starter. Let it sit for about another 30 minutes, then pitch everything into your carboy and see if it takes off. Once it starts to take off again, you might want to give it a slight bump with a yeast energizer.

Something else you can consider is making a starter using Lalvin K1-V1116, which could possibly take your mead bone dry, but you could always stabilize and backsweeten. Others may advise this as a last resort move though.

Did you do any stepped nutrient additions durring your initial fermentation prior to 1/3 sugar break? How about oxygenation of the must? You may want to give the NewBee Guide to the left a read through and look up things like SNA here on the forums as well.

Most of all, one thing I'd advise is Don't Panic! I had a very similar situation in that my ferment stuck pretty badly for a while. I ended up pitching more yeast to try and get the fermentation going again. It did eventually get started and I've managed to bring that batch from an initial starting gravity of 1.117 down to 1.020 last time I checked. That is still too sweet for me, but the batch is still fermenting, even though it is going very slowly at this point. I expect that it will eventually drop to 1.010 or there about, putting it right about where I wanted it anyway after full fermentation. It's just taking it a month to get there.

Anyway, that's kinda some things I might look at doing, but I would wait and let some other, more experienced mead makers sound off first before doing anything. I'm only on my second batch ever, so keep that in mind. Good luck with this batch and let us know how it progresses for you! ;D

tweak'e
04-06-2012, 03:43 AM
don't add any more yeast. just put some more FermaidK Nutrient in tho it realyl needs dap as well.
do not forget to degass it before adding.

then just leave it.

fatbloke
04-06-2012, 04:17 AM
don't add any more yeast. just put some more FermaidK Nutrient in tho it realyl needs dap as well.
do not forget to degass it before adding.
then just leave it.
There's no starting gravity listed, but I'd guess that the subject batch is well over half way through.

The FermaidK/DAP regime is what's normally recommended for a full SNA technique and as a minimum, that'd be 2 doses - provided that the yeast was hydrated with GoFerm (it seems it was), then a first dose would be added when the lag phase is complete, minimum once daily aeration down to the 1/3rd sugar break, a final aeration, then adding the second half of the calculated nutrients, then lock off and let finish.

Hence the stage that the OP is at, I'm thinking that gentle stirring to keep the yeast in suspension, as per akuecks idea but also the additon of either some yeast hulls, or if not available, some boiled bread yeast (1 or 2 teaspoons, simmered in 100 to 150mls of water for 4 or 5 minutes, then cooled to room temp before adding) would be the way to go and then just let it finish, taking a reading every second or third day.

Once the brew shows the "3 consecutive readings" (across about a week or so), then it's finished and can be racked.......

Just my tuppence worth.......

Alehkhs
04-06-2012, 04:33 AM
There's no starting gravity listed, but I'd guess that the subject batch is well over half way through.

Original Gravity is kinda hidden in the middle of the OP: 1.131


So it sounds like just stirring it (once a day? week? twice?) is the main suggestion here. I did stir it when I took the latest reading, but the bubble-rate didn't come up at all. I know that bubbles are a terrible indication of fermentation, but 1 bubble per minute seems really slow.

So stirring. I will stir, I guess?

11%abv would be fine though, if this never continued, right? It would just be sweet, which I suppose is what I was aiming for, but I'm paranoid as hell (see: me thinking kraussen was mold - I still worry), and I don't like it not going according to plan.

Smells wine-y, tastes... not great, but I hear age is an important factor here?

tweak'e
04-06-2012, 04:51 AM
don't forget the 1/3 or 1/2 way break rule is not hard and fast. it varies a lot on the yeast as to when the alcohol inhibits the yeasts ability to use N.
adding Fermaid K is not to bad as its only a small amount of DAP. the extras in it will help a lot.

otherwise just leave it. the last half of the ferment takes a long time compared to the first half.

akueck
04-06-2012, 02:30 PM
I'd say you don't need to necessarily get in there and stir it every day, but at least give the container a twist to re-suspend any yeast on the bottom. If you stir it on top of that, more's the better.

You could add some organic nitrogen (i.e. boiled bread yeast). Not sure how much that will help at this point, but it might. I would personally not recommend adding anything with DAP, including FermaidK. Your yeast are unlikely to use the DAP at this stage.

You might find this one stalled out without going to heroic measures. If you do want to go that path, you can look up a "restart protocol" for instructions. I would say it's better to think about making a second batch instead. You can either leave this one be, with a little lower alcohol and more sugar than you intended (call it a dessert mead ;) ), or whip up a batch with a starting gravity closer to 1.100--which should end up dry--and blend the two finished meads to dilute the sugar (you might see renewed fermentation after blending, so don't bottle right away if you go this route).

Chevette Girl
04-06-2012, 05:07 PM
Hey, welcome to the addiction- er, forum! :D

1.131 is a bit ambitious for a traditional mead and a yeast other than K1V-1116 or EC-1118, keep in mind for future batches that the higher your SG, the harder it is for the yeast to get started (and keep going), you get a much easier fermentation if you have a lower starting gravity like Akueck suggested, and then just backsweeten. If you don't stabilize it, you may have to wait it out and backsweeten a few times before the yeast poop out but at least it won't be finishing too sweet.

edit:
And the boiled yeast is a good idea, I had a ferment that had been stuck for a year at 1.030 and I fed it some nuked bread yeast in an attempt to draw out another problem, and it started back up...

Medsen Fey
04-07-2012, 12:01 PM
Welcome to GotMead Alehkhs!

There's a lot of advice flowing your way here, and unfortunately, you're going to have to pick through it to decide what to do as some parts of it are much better than other parts.

A starting gravity of 1.131 is not a problem for D47. With a gravity this high pitching 10 grams of yeast is adequate, though pitching a higher rate initially would do no harm. Pitch more D47 now is not the answer, even if you acclimate them because the problem that is impairing your current will impair any additional D47 unless you do a large biomass pitch with about 5 grams per LITER.

What you are observing is a classic mead fermentation as often occurred before it became common practice to supplement with nutrients. The fermentation starts slow and proceeds at snails pace for several month (perhaps 6-9) before it finally finishes. Seeing stability over the period of a week will not be enough to insure the yeast are finished as the rate of drop may be very Slooooowwwww. Opening and stirring it regularly will encourage more oxygen to be dissolved and may promote acetic acid bacteria leaving you with excessive volatile acidity and an aroma of nail polish. This is not a problem with most fermentations that are nourished properly as the fermentation will be done in 2-4 weeks, so opening and stirring creates no problems, but in a fermentation that is going to last months you have a different situation. Swirling the mead in an airlocked container to keep active yeast up in suspension will help a little.

D47 is not a good performer when it is starving, and that is what has happened here. You provided enough Fermaid K for only about a gallon of mead. At this stage of fermentation, the yeast will not be able to assimilate DAP well, and if more is added, the yeast may use some and perk up, but they will leave a lot for spoilage organisms, and a sweet mead with plenty of nutrients left is an open invitation. Fermaid K, which contains a lot of DAP is also a poor choice. Fermaid O, or some of the organic yeast nutrients which don't contain DAP can still be used to get this thing going. With these products, something in the range of 5-10 grams per gallon will probably be enough. The amino acids provided will help the yeast get going, however it may also raise the pH up a bit higher. When your sweet mead is finished, you may want to check the pH and adjust it a bit because the sulfites and sorbate won't work as well if the pH is above 4.0.

If you don't have Fermaid O or organic yeast nutrient, you can use bread yeast, brewer's yeast, or other wine yeast and boil them in a little water (or nuke them) and pour them in. This will function similar to the yeast nutrients though it will provide a bit less nitrogen. I think adding some usable nitrogen will still allow this fermentation to finish without having to do much else, but if it doesn't work, Akueck's suggestion about restarting will be effective.

I hope that helps.

Endeavor to persevere!
Medsen

TAKeyser
04-07-2012, 12:27 PM
I think you've gotten some good advice from everyone,but I do want to clarify 1 thing. What you have made isn't a show Mead it is a Traditional Mead, a Show Mead is just Honey, water and yeast so the addition of the nutrient (and I believe the rehydration agent, since it contains nutrients) moves it from the show mead category into the Traditional category. Not that it matters much as most of us do Traditional since Show Meads are difficult, but it might come up one day if you decide to enter competitions.