PDA

View Full Version : First-timer - two questions about yeast



Hagroth
07-03-2012, 04:46 PM
Hey!

I'm going to try brewing mead for the first time, but I have two questions before I begin:

I have ordered two different kinds of yeast. Both are from Wyeast: one is called "dry mead" (18% alcohol tolerance), the other "sweet mead" (11%). I wonder if it makes any difference if I make a dry mead out of the "dry mead" yeast or if I can pour in a little more honey in it and still make a sweet mead with 18% alcohol, or vice versa?

I also wonder whether it's worth the effort and money to get energizer and nutrient? Is it just about speeding up the process? If the yeast for some reason stops working before having reached the alcohol tolerance for the yeast, can't you just pour in more honey?

Thanks in advance, especually replies before Friday are appreciated!

kudapucat
07-03-2012, 06:26 PM
Hey!

I'm going to try brewing mead for the first time, but I have two questions before I begin:

I have ordered two different kinds of yeast. Both are from Wyeast: one is called "dry mead" (18% alcohol tolerance), the other "sweet mead" (11%). I wonder if it makes any difference if I make a dry mead out of the "dry mead" yeast or if I can pour in a little more honey in it and still make a sweet mead with 18% alcohol, or vice versa?

yes, though fermenting to 18% will likely require ageing.
You can make a 10% with the dry yeast.
You can make a dry mead with the sweet yeast.
The percentage relates to the tolerance if the yeast. Ie how much alcohol it takes to kill them.
This labelling annoys many a meadher, as it is misleading to newbees.



I also wonder whether it's worth the effort and money to get energizer and nutrient? Is it just about speeding up the process? If the yeast for some reason stops working before having reached the alcohol tolerance for the yeast, can't you just pour in more honey?

Thanks in advance, especually replies before Friday are appreciated!

Yeast fodder is important.
It speeds up the ferment yes. (some people who don't use it have waited 2 years for a ferment to finish)
It also keeps the yeast fat and happy.
So they do a better job, and your mead is ready to drink sooner, requiring much less ageing.
If you're happy with the work an underfed slave and his scrawny horse will do for you. Then fine.
I prefer to use freemen who are strong, healthy and happy to work.
Good luck.

Hagroth
07-03-2012, 06:30 PM
...


Yeast fodder is important.
It speeds up the ferment yes. (some people who don't use it have waited 2 years for a ferment to finish)
It also keeps the yeast fat and happy.
So they do a better job, and your mead is ready to drink sooner, requiring much less ageing.
If you're happy with the work an underfed slave and his scrawny horse will do for you. Then fine.
I prefer to use freemen who are strong, healthy and happy to work.
Good luck.
Sorry, I messed up. I meant making sweet mead with the dry yeast and vice versa, but it looks like you've covered the question anyway.

Hehe, yeah, that makes sense! If one would go with something more natural like apples or something as yeast nutrient, is it possible to reach anywhere near the same level of efficiency?

Soyala_Amaya
07-03-2012, 07:57 PM
...what do you think they're putting in the yeast nutrient? Yeast is a living organism, it needs real, organic food. Nitrogen, sugars, all sorts of things. You're not putting in anything 'unnatural' when you feed your yeast, if you do then the yeast wouldn't eat it either and it probably wouldn't pass the FDA guidelines.

Midnight Sun
07-03-2012, 08:38 PM
A lot of commercially available yeast nutrients consist of a mix of diammonium phosphate and yeast hulls (double check the packaging to make sure). Mead musts do not generally contain enough micro nutrients required for a healthy fermentation, hence the additions.

If you want to avoid adding DAP, then you can make your own yeast hulls: rehydrate some bread yeast, boil in the microwave, and add to the must. But in all honesty, DAP is probably as widely used commercially as sulfite and is considered safe in the quantities we use.

As far as getting micro nutrients from something like apple juice or malt, I'm sure you'd be fine if you use a low-nutrient need yeast like K1V. Using something like RC212, which has high nutrient needs, would probably result in sulfur smells and off flavors.

Hagroth
07-03-2012, 08:55 PM
...
I know, just a bad selection of words. Of course I'm aware it's natural, I meant more "natural" in the romantic sense if you catch my meaning, you know - traditionally gathered ingredients preferably from local flora like in the times before the industries.


...
Ah, thank you! What do you think of the nutrient need of Wyeast's mead yeasts (dry and sweet)? And what if you would try to make your own yeast from scratch, would that have a high nutrient need?

Boogaloo
07-03-2012, 09:14 PM
Yeast only nag when they feel unappreciated.

Midnight Sun
07-03-2012, 09:40 PM
A correction to my earlier post, "nutrients" tend to be mostly DAP and "energizer" micro nutrients and sometimes DAP. See this post (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=20094&highlight=nutrients+additions). Sorry about the error.


Ah, thank you! What do you think of the nutrient need of Wyeast's mead yeasts (dry and sweet)? And what if you would try to make your own yeast from scratch, would that have a high nutrient need?

Hmmm... no experience with either of those. A web search yielded info for the sweet here (http://www.wyeastlab.com/he_m_yeaststrain_detail.cfm?ID=44) and the dry here (http://www.wyeastlab.com/rw_yeaststrain_detail.cfm?ID=58). They both say add nutrients, but don't say how much. Perhaps moderate needs? Anyway, this post (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=19585&highlight=nutrients+additions) has some good answers on dosage. I personally follow a nutrient schedule similar to the second post in the thread, here in quotes:


Here is the schedule that I typically follow (unless I'm using someones recipe and they give something different), don't remember where I got this from.
One teaspoon of Fermaid-K and two teaspoons DAP should be adequate for a 5 gallon batch. You can mix them together for a stock blend and add them using the following schedule:
Add teaspoon yeast energizer/nutrient mix after lag period.
Add teaspoon yeast energizer/nutrient mix 24 hours after fermentation begins.
Add teaspoon yeast energizer/nutrient mix 48 hours after fermentation begins.
Add teaspoon yeast energizer/nutrient mix after 30% of the sugar has been depleted.

Don't forget to scale to your batch size.

As for making my own yeast strains, regrettably I must pass that question off to one of the more experienced mazers. I am willing to attempt unusual ingredients occasionally, but won't risk a fermentation to unknown yeast. Others have done it successfully, but I am too afraid of failure :p

kudapucat
07-03-2012, 10:33 PM
<snip>
As for making my own yeast strains, regrettably I must pass that question off to one of the more experienced mazers. I am willing to attempt unusual ingredients occasionally, but won't risk a fermentation to unknown yeast. Others have done it successfully, but I am too afraid of failure :p

I made a cidre recently. It took off on it's own before all the apples were pressed. So I let the wild yeast continue.
It tasted GREAT at bottling.
3 weeks later, it has a weird nose, and and odd flavour.
It's not nasty, but it's not great. Here's to hoping it improves, and conditions appropriately.

Wild yeasts are a gamble, and without high quality industrial equipment, you wont be able to guarantee that the yeast you're growing doesn't get taken over by a new strain you accidently introduce.
Some people like dabbling in it, but I wont do it again unless forced to again, not for a few years anyhow.
There are so many variables you can play with and make more romantic, that can screw up your mead without dabbling with your yeast as well.
For Science, we need a control group. Then one parameter is changed in the test group. then the results are compared.
Leave testing your yeast to be one of the last experiments you try.
Extra spicing, acid additions, backsweetening, residual sweetness, romantic yeast fodder - all these things are ok to play with one by one for a newbee. (which I still consider myself)

JAO uses no nutrient, no energiser, and basic bread yeast. That's about as romantic as you can get, and it's almost fail safe.
(FWIW raisins are used in JAO as yeast fodder. it seems to be effective. I have seen cidre recipes that reccommend a 'week-old' steak be tossed in the vat as yeast fodder, but that just creeps me out)

fatbloke
07-03-2012, 11:36 PM
Well, whoever it was that mentioned about the marketing nomenclature is spot on.

Wyeast and white labs both sell "mead yeast", yet how the hell do they know which isolates were used ? when there are no examples to analyse, plus even the historic recipes that are around don't tell you/us/them ?

The wyeast "sweet" mead yeast is over priced, finicky as hell to use and (IMO) a waste of money.

It's easier and cheaper, to work out which dry yeast makes good meads, of a particular type and go with that. And no, I don't mean whatever champagne yeast they sell, because of the sweeping generalizations they (most HBS) make about meads.

Dry yeasts have a higher cell count, longer shelf life, are cheaper, more.easily managed, etc etc.

The wyeast dry mead one isn't too bad, but still not cheap...........

Hagroth
07-04-2012, 05:12 AM
Wow, thanks everybody for your elaborate replies! :)

I suppose the Wyeast mead yeast is rather expensive, I'll probably try something else when I make more.

Unfortunately, my store doesn't have the energizer, just the Wyeast nutrient. Do you reckon I can manage without the energizer, or is there any good way of substituting it?

kudapucat
07-04-2012, 06:32 AM
<snip>
(FWIW raisins are used in JAO as yeast fodder. it seems to be effective. I have seen cidre recipes that reccommend a 'week-old' steak be tossed in the vat as yeast fodder, but that just creeps me out)
You could try a few raisins.

fatbloke
07-04-2012, 06:46 AM
Wow, thanks everybody for your elaborate replies! :)

I suppose the Wyeast mead yeast is rather expensive, I'll probably try something else when I make more.

Unfortunately, my store doesn't have the energizer, just the Wyeast nutrient. Do you reckon I can manage without the energizer, or is there any good way of substituting it?

well, as half the mead making world mixes the terms nutrient and energiser up, the wyeast nutrient should be fine as I understand its a combined nutrient, with yeast hulls, trace minerals and DAP. So similar to FermaidK, fermax, etc.

Hagroth
07-04-2012, 07:30 AM
Ok guys, apparently even the nutrient is sold out. They do have some wine nutrient however. If this wine nutrient contains DAP, it should be fine as well, right? Essentially, all that I really need as a nutrient would be DAP?

Apparently, the Wyeast nutrient blend (the one sold out) contains:
"A blend of vitamins, minerals, inorganic nitrogen, organic nitrogen, zinc, phosphates and other trace elements that will benefit yeast growth and complete fermentation."

Or how about just plain vitamin B? One wine nutrient I found contains just that.

Or maybe this one, expensive but the only they've got in store: Servomyces: http://shop.humle.se/tillsatser/jastnaring/servomyces-jastnaring

Apart from the "commercial" nutrients, you recommended raisins. This is one reply I got from another forum:



Since Wyeast Sweet mead yeast is a pita at times I would suggest this. Make a starter. If you are doing anything more than 1 gallon but also 5 gallon or less then follow this:

2 cups warm water
cup clover honey
“Nutrients” (See below)
Mix all that together and add your yeast. Cover with a paper towel and let sit for 6 – 12 hours. There should be some vigorous activity by then and you pitch that into your must.
For the nutrients I don’t like using my commercial nutrients like DAP or Fermaid K. I save that for the must. Instead I use 2 100mg B6 tablets and 10 fine chopped raisins. That will provide what the yeast needs to build strong cell walls. If you don’t have that then you can use tsp of commercial yeast nutrients.
What do you think? It won't make much of a difference if I don't use clover honey but a honey of unknown/mixed plant origins, will it?

akueck
07-04-2012, 02:01 PM
A starter is not a bad idea for the "liquid" culture yeasts, since they are alive when you get them and of unknown health. The starter will confirm that they are well (i.e. you didn't get a dead pack, which you can usually get reimbursed), and also you can boost the cell count while you're at it.

However, B6 is not all the yeast need. Cell walls require a good bit of oxygen and fatty acids, cell division requires nitrogen compounds, and the other micronutrients support the other various functions e.g. ion pumps. And the list goes on and on... B vitamins are a good thing to add, but they'll be in the blended commercial nutrients anyway.

And the raisins. Consider the fact that the commercial nutrients are developed for wine making. Wine musts are 100% grapes. Raisins are grapes. So yes, adding raisins is better than adding nothing, but they are far from a replacement for the more concentrated nutrient formulations e.g. Fermaid et al.

For the honey choice, there is some variation in natural nitrogen etc content with the different flower sources. But none are going to change your nutrient schedule appreciably.

Hagroth
07-04-2012, 07:21 PM
...
Ok, thank you! I think I'm going for a 1 kg package (almost) of the Wyeast nutrient (smaller packages weren't in store). Since I'm a complete beginner I guess that's the safest bet.

Does anyone have any experience of the Wyeast mead yeast? Apparently, you have to sort of crack open the inner bag, shake it and let it swell. Then you pour it directly into the must.

And please check so I've gotten it all right:

Recipe, 9,5 litres total:
7,5 litres of tap water
4 kg of locally produced honey, unknown/mixed plant origin
Wyeast Nutrient Blend: The amount listed on the package - for 9,5 litres that'd be about 1 gram (according to the instructions, 2,2 grams is enough for 19 litres).
Wyeast Sweet Mead Yeast: The amount listed on the package - for 9,5 litres that'd be about one half package (according to the package, one complete package is enough for six gallons = 22,8 litres).

Step 1, sanitizing using Star San: I'll just clean a large bucket or a bathtub or something with PBW and then fill it with water with the admixture of Star San listed on the packaging. Then I'll submerge the equipment I'm going to use in this bath and let it stay there for 1-2 minutes according to instructions. The fermenting buckets might be a bit harder to clean so I'll just take some of the water + Star San solution, fill the fermenting buckets with it, wait for 1-2 minutes and then simply pour it out without rinsing.

Step 2: I'll just pour 7.5 litres of lukewarm (room temperature) tap water (the tap water in Sweden is good) into the fermenting bucket.

Step 3: I'll heat the honey up by putting its bucket in a sink with hot water (the honey is still in its bucket) until the honey is perfectly liquid.

Step 4: I'll just pour all the honey into the water in the fermenting bucket, using some lukewarm honey to get the last scraps of it out of the honey buckets.

Step 5: I'll now prepare the nutrient: "Dissolve Wyeast Nutrient in warm water. Add solution to kettle 10-15 minutes prior to end of boil." This would only be 1 gram of nutrient.

Step 6: I'll now pour the nutrient solution right into the must in the fermenting bucket.

Step 7: I'll now prepare the yeast according to instructions - basically just crack open the inner bag, shake it and let it swell. Then after a few hours, as listed on the package, I'll just pour it right into the must in the fermenting bucket.

Step 8: Now I'll just stir the must for more than five minutes.

Step 9: Finally, I'll put the lid on, put the airlock on there, and put it all away in my basement (dark and a little cooler than room temperature) and wait for a couple of weeks.

Step 10: If it stops processing, I'll check the alcohol in there by extracting some of it through the tap of the fermenting bucket and check the readings. If it's not at the tolerated level yet, I might pour in some more honey or nutrient? If I'm happy with how it tastes, I'll just rack it over to my glass carboy and put it away for maturing.

Is that how you do it? Very grateful for feedback!

akueck
07-04-2012, 08:58 PM
Yeah, more or less. You should probably pop the inner packet in the yeast package a few hours before mixing up the must, just to not have to wait later. Also you don't need to boil the nutrient, you can just mix it in.

Usually we will follow a "staggered nutrient addition" schedule rather than dumping it all in at the beginning. The Wyeast instructions are more for beer. You can search for tons of info on that.

Hagroth
07-05-2012, 04:59 AM
Yeah, more or less. You should probably pop the inner packet in the yeast package a few hours before mixing up the must, just to not have to wait later. Also you don't need to boil the nutrient, you can just mix it in.

Usually we will follow a "staggered nutrient addition" schedule rather than dumping it all in at the beginning. The Wyeast instructions are more for beer. You can search for tons of info on that.
Thanks, yes, of course I'll prepare things in parallell, but this was just to simplify the desciption of the procedure. :)

Why do they recommend boiling?

Yes, the guys over at Homebrewtalk recommended that as well. Unfortunately I'll be gone the first week of fermenting. This is the page they recommended anyway:
http://home.comcast.net/~mzapx1/FAQ/SNAddition.pdf
Like I said, I'll be gone for the first week. Is there any risk that my must will reach its fermenting mid-point or that the sugar levels will have been depleted below 50% within a week?

Will my method of checking gravity and the current status - extracting a little bit of it from the tap of the bucket - work? Or do you have any better suggestions? My fermenting buckets aren't transparent so you can't put a floating meter in there unfortunately. Maybe I could open the lid and put my sanitized meter in there anyway? Or should the lid stay closed at all costs? Also, how do you recommend I check the sugar levels, using the hydrometer on the extracted sample?

I might also check the PH value according to this page, probably when I get home after one week of fermenting: http://www.stormthecastle.com/mead/checking-ph-of-your-mead.htm

Oh, and one more thing! I'd need to check the gravity before I start so that I can measure the resulting amount of alcohol, right? What kinds of measurements should I do before starting the fermenting process?

Chevette Girl
07-05-2012, 10:07 AM
Like I said, I'll be gone for the first week. Is there any risk that my must will reach its fermenting mid-point or that the sugar levels will have been depleted below 50% within a week?

Heh, yes, a very good chance. So you might want to dose it with half once the lag phase is over and the other half right before you leave. Or chuck it all in after lag. I did up-front nutrient additions for years and it didn't seem to hurt anything... there is no ONE WAY when it comes to meadmaking, there is only what worked for each of us... :)


Will my method of checking gravity and the current status - extracting a little bit of it from the tap of the bucket - work? Or do you have any better suggestions? My fermenting buckets aren't transparent so you can't put a floating meter in there unfortunately. Maybe I could open the lid and put my sanitized meter in there anyway? Or should the lid stay closed at all costs? Also, how do you recommend I check the sugar levels, using the hydrometer on the extracted sample?

If you've got enough must in the bucket that the hydrometer floats, you can do it that way, when you're just trying to figure out where you are in your fermentation, it doesn't have to be too accurate, +/- 0.005 is close enough if you're just trying to figure out how close you are to a 1/3 or 1/2 break. You actually want to be aerating this for the first 1/3 to 1/2 of your fermenation too (as much as you can at the beginning and then right before you leave), and in the second half, you're producing enough carbon dioxide to blow any oxygen that gets in right back out, so popping the lid off to take measurements isn't a problem at all until there's no more fermentation going on, that's when you have to be careful about oxygen exposure. As long as you sanitize the heck out of everything, you can put your sample back in, but if you're using a spigot, I'd recommend trying to sanitize that too, before and after use, so it doesn't grow anything funky in between measurements. What I usually do is plunk my sanitized hydrometer into a sanitized wine thief and take the measurement right in the thief, then let the must back into the bucket.


Oh, and one more thing! I'd need to check the gravity before I start so that I can measure the resulting amount of alcohol, right? What kinds of measurements should I do before starting the fermenting process?

You want a fairly accurate initial specific gravity at the beginning so you can figure out how much alcohol you have at the end, and also so you know where your 1/3 to 1/2 points actually are. Getting a pH and temperature are not critical but they can be useful data.

Hagroth
07-05-2012, 10:21 AM
Heh, yes, a very good chance. So you might want to dose it with half once the lag phase is over and the other half right before you leave. Or chuck it all in after lag. I did up-front nutrient additions for years and it didn't seem to hurt anything... there is no ONE WAY when it comes to meadmaking, there is only what worked for each of us... :)

Ah well, I'll just throw a couple of grams in there, one today and one tomorrow before leaving I guess. But doesn't the fermenting process take like two weeks? One would expect the different "milestones" like the 50% sugar level to take a little longer, in relation to the total fermenting period.



You actually want to be aerating this for the first 1/3 to 1/2 of your fermenation too (as much as you can at the beginning and then right before you leave), and in the second half, you're producing enough carbon dioxide to blow any oxygen that gets in right back out, so popping the lid off to take measurements isn't a problem at all until there's no more fermentation going on, that's when you have to be careful about oxygen exposure.

Oh, most of the tutorials I've seen always put the lid on. Here, for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WV6_D0fP-YM
But you're saying that I shouldn't put the lid on the week I'm gone (which should roughly account for 1/2 of the fermenting process)?

Chevette Girl
07-05-2012, 10:39 AM
Ah well, I'll just throw a couple of grams in there, one today and one tomorrow before leaving I guess. But doesn't the fermenting process take like two weeks? One would expect the different "milestones" like the 50% sugar level to take a little longer, in relation to the total fermenting period.

Yeast don't wear watches or look at a calendar, they just perform their job as best they can given all the tools you give them. Most of us have had a few fermentations that just dragged and dragged, and most of us have had a few that have blasted through the 1/3 break before we took our second SG reading.



But you're saying that I shouldn't put the lid on the week I'm gone (which should roughly account for 1/2 of the fermenting process)?

Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that you should leave the lid off entirely while you're gone (that's just asking for it), just that removing it to check on things is not something to be afraid of. Some folks here do the first half of fermentation with only a sanitized cloth or towel over the bucket. I don't because that's just asking for fruit flies around here, but the theory is that it allows better CO2 escape and oxygenation.

Hagroth
07-05-2012, 10:54 AM
Yeast don't wear watches or look at a calendar, they just perform their job as best they can given all the tools you give them. Most of us have had a few fermentations that just dragged and dragged, and most of us have had a few that have blasted through the 1/3 break before we took our second SG reading.

Of course, but I won't be able to take any measurements while I'm gone so the clock is my only friend :/ I hope it's not that picky, I'll check the status when I get back home and see if I need to put something more in there. But it's always nice to have estimates when possible :)



Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that you should leave the lid off entirely while you're gone (that's just asking for it), just that removing it to check on things is not something to be afraid of. Some folks here do the first half of fermentation with only a sanitized cloth or towel over the bucket. I don't because that's just asking for fruit flies around here, but the theory is that it allows better CO2 escape and oxygenation.

Hehe ok, thought so!

I came up with another question: Some people say that Wyeast's claim that their smack pack Activator yeasts is enough for five gallons isn't true. Does anyone have any experience in this? If not, I could always take a bit extra yeast, that won't hurt will it? Is it possible to overdose the yeast as long as you stay within a margin of perhaps 50%?

Chevette Girl
07-05-2012, 11:35 AM
I've never used a smack pack myself, but some folks here routinely double or triple-pitch so I don't think it will hurt. Just make sure you use the same strain, some do not play well with others.

Hagroth
07-05-2012, 12:05 PM
I've never used a smack pack myself, but some folks here routinely double or triple-pitch so I don't think it will hurt. Just make sure you use the same strain, some do not play well with others.
Ok, I'll use a little more yeast than the package says then, just to be safe. What if it isn't enough and the fermenting has stopped by the time I get back home without reaching the alcohol tolerance level of the yeast? Can I just pour in some more and continue the fermenting by then?

What about nutrients? Would it be devastating if I'd throw in, say, 10-20 grams rather than the usually recommended 2-4 grams before I leave for one week?

Thank you very much for the quick answers, totally rep'd! :D

Midnight Sun
07-05-2012, 05:37 PM
I myself have not used smack packs for mead, I have for beer. To insure a good takeoff I always use in conjunction with a starter. As strange as it sounds, a packet of dry yeast has just as many, if not more, viable yeast cells than a smack pack.

Certainly no harm in over pitching yeast. As Chevette mentioned, some recipes call for two packets of yeast. In high gravity musts, or other conditions that make fermentation difficult, it may be a requirement. Or less commonly, you make a starter....

I don't recommend overdosing the nutrients. Whatever your yeast don't use will be available for spoilage bacteria. Also, too many nutrients may add off flavors.

Hagroth
07-05-2012, 05:42 PM
...
All right, thank you!

I'm about to start now, there's one thing that isn't quite clear to me. Reading the hydrometer. I'm thinking of sanitizing it in a bath of Star San solution and then lowering it into hte must before pouring yeast in there. Should that be before the nutrients as well by the way? Anyway, that should be all right, right? I'll just stick it in there until it floats and read the scale and then pull it out and continue with putting in nutrients and yeast and so on.

kudapucat
07-05-2012, 06:17 PM
I usually measure the gravity before adding yeast and energiser.
This is because then you know more of the weight is due to sugar.
Also the yeast will drop out at the end. So they won't be measured then either.
Also, I usually measure SG in a small vial, not in the must itself. It's much more convenient, and easier to read.

akueck
07-05-2012, 06:20 PM
The Wyeast nutrient instructions are geared for beer. So they say to add them at the end of the boil, which is something that you do for 99% of beers.

I wouldn't leave the lid totally off, but you could probably get away with a less than airtight seal. I think the point was that the CO2 produced will take up the headspace, assuming a less than totally open fermenter.

Chevette Girl
07-05-2012, 09:06 PM
What if it isn't enough and the fermenting has stopped by the time I get back home without reaching the alcohol tolerance level of the yeast? Can I just pour in some more and continue the fermenting by then?

That's not quite the way it works... when you pitch the yeast, the reason they need nutrients and energizer and oxygen up front is because the first thing they set to is multiplying. Unless you dramatically underpitch, the only difference will be saving time on a couple of doublings (a yeast culture doubles its cell count in about 90 minutes). By the time it hits lag phase it's making alcohol and not multiplying as much, by the time you hit 1/3 sugar break, it's pretty much made as many yeast cells as it was going to. If it gets to a point and then stops before it hits its tolerance (we refer to this as sticking, or a stuck ferment), simply adding more yeast will not get it to finish because the new yeast won't be acclimatized to the alcohol content and will probably give up before they get started. If you end up with a stuck ferment, let us know and we'll walk you through the restart procedures... and thanks for the rep! Always glad to help!

Hagroth
07-05-2012, 09:11 PM
Thanks everybody, I'll read your replies tomorrow as I need to get some sleep now. I have initiated the fermenting process and it feels terrific! :)

Just one question - the airlock. I filled it with water until it wouldn't take anymore. The water was now about halfway through the little spheres of whatever you want to call them. I put the airlock into the little hole in the cork of the fermenting bucket, and screwed the airlock lid/cork onto the airlock. This is correct, right? I don't quite think it makes sense because the airlock's there to let gasses out - wouldn't the lid prevent those gasses from going any further than the last air room inside the airlock? The airlock is supposed to be closed; the airlock lid/cork sealed? I'd appreciate any replies within six hours a LOT! Thank you! :)

Chevette Girl
07-05-2012, 09:14 PM
As long as air can get through your airlock (that being its purpose) you should be fine, the caps on those things usually are either full of holes or are not a tight seal. If you're using a bucket, you should be able to get it to blurp if you press down on the lid of the bucket and push some air out. If you can't, take the lid off the airlock, the only reason for the lid is to keep fruit flies out and to keep the water from evaporating as quickly.

Hagroth
07-05-2012, 09:16 PM
As long as air can get through your airlock (that being its purpose) you should be fine, the caps on those things usually are either full of holes or are not a tight seal. If you're using a bucket, you should be able to get it to blurp if you press down on the lid of the bucket and push some air out.
My cap didn't have any holes. Not that I saw anyway. The bucket/airlock DID blurp however, bubbles did go through the water inside the airlock when I put the bucket down and so on.

Chevette Girl
07-05-2012, 09:19 PM
My cap didn't have any holes. Not that I saw anyway. The bucket/airlock DID blurp however, bubbles did go through the water inside the airlock when I put the bucket down and so on.

Then you're fine. Even the lids with no holes generally aren't an airtight fit. I use plastic wrap over mine when the caps crack or disappear...

Hagroth
07-05-2012, 09:36 PM
Then you're fine. Even the lids with no holes generally aren't an airtight fit. I use plastic wrap over mine when the caps crack or disappear...

All right, makes sense! :)

Here's a picture of the airlock and the lid I'm using by the way: http://shop.humle.se/utrustning/jasning/forkultivering/jasror

Hagroth
07-06-2012, 07:09 AM
Oh, can I ask you one more question? This isn't urgent at all however: I chose to fill my bathtub with about 30 litres of water, enough to submerge all my tools into it. I then applied the recommended dose of Star San. I didn't just submerge and wash the equipment before usage, but I used this bath as a sort of storage for all my equipment between usage. For example, I would put my mixing spoon in there, pick it up when I was about to use it, and then put it back in after I'd done my stirring. Star San is supposed to be a no-rinse product, so I never rinsed anything. I just picked it up, shaked it a little bit to get rid of at least some of the foam/solution and then used it.
Also, before I poured my water (the ingredient, that is) into the fermenting buckets, I had washed them thoroughly with a sponge and partial submersion/rotation in the bath. There was a little foam still in there and probably some of the water + Star San solution, but I did shake it a bit to get rid of as much of it as possible before pouring my water in there.
This leads me to my question: This is no problem is it? They say "Don't fear the foam" and that the foam becomes nutrient or at least digestive for the yeast or something like that. Have you done anything like this when you're making mead?

Thank you!

Midnight Sun
07-06-2012, 01:06 PM
I use a product similar to Star-san, Iodophor. Yup, totally no-rinse. I have tried both rinsing with tap water after sanitizing with Iodophor and also no rinse. I couldn't detect any difference, so now I only use the no-rinse method as it is easier. I totally understand your question, though, it was very hard for me to embrace the foam the first time I tried it.

Keep in mind if you use bleach, you definitely need to rinse after using. I know you didn't ask about it, but I just thought to mention it. I like to change things up every 5-6 batches, but that is probably overkill.

Hagroth
07-06-2012, 02:19 PM
I use a product similar to Star-san, Iodophor. Yup, totally no-rinse. I have tried both rinsing with tap water after sanitizing with Iodophor and also no rinse. I couldn't detect any difference, so now I only use the no-rinse method as it is easier. I totally understand your question, though, it was very hard for me to embrace the foam the first time I tried it.

Keep in mind if you use bleach, you definitely need to rinse after using. I know you didn't ask about it, but I just thought to mention it. I like to change things up every 5-6 batches, but that is probably overkill.
Ok thank you, that's comforting. Even though I've read it before it's definitely hard to ignore the foam.

Yes, of course :)

akueck
07-06-2012, 10:22 PM
I routinely have giant piles of foam shooting out of the carboy as it fills. No worries, it's just foam. :)

Hagroth
07-07-2012, 04:05 AM
I routinely have giant piles of foam shooting out of the carboy as it fills. No worries, it's just foam. :)
All right, thanks everybody! Exciting to see how it turns out! :)

Hagroth
07-15-2012, 12:22 PM
Ok, it's been more than one week and I've just returned home. The "blurping" intervals in the airlocks is 1 min 50 sec for one batch and 1 min 15 sec for the other (they have varying degrees of honey in them). This is a bit long, isn't it? The fermenting can't possibly be completed already, 9 days later, can it?

I suppose I'll have to measure the alcohol content with a hydrometer to see how it's been doing. Do you think the following method is good?

1) Let the mead flow into the glass cylinder using the sprigot in the fermenting bucket and do the measurement. (The glass cylinder and the hydrometer have been sanitized with Star San).
2) Open the lid of the fermenting bucket and pour the sample back in, followed by of course shutting it again like before.

I won't have to worry about contagion or anything if I follow this method?

Thanks!

akueck
07-15-2012, 12:26 PM
9 days is well within the normal range of fermentation times. You'll have to measure the SG to be sure, of course.

As long as the inside and outside of the spigot are also sanitized (a spray bottle is handy for this), you should be ok to return the sample. Or you can choose to use it as a quality control check and pour it directly into a glass instead. :)

Hagroth
07-15-2012, 03:28 PM
9 days is well within the normal range of fermentation times. You'll have to measure the SG to be sure, of course.

As long as the inside and outside of the spigot are also sanitized (a spray bottle is handy for this), you should be ok to return the sample. Or you can choose to use it as a quality control check and pour it directly into a glass instead. :)
Great my spray bottle finally comes in handy :) The latter does sound like a better idea, I'd need to taste it sooner or later anyway ;)

Done, it tastes really sweet and pretty good, and it's quite transparent, has a slight yellow tinge to it and a little sparkling. A bit of white foam when first pouring it but that's probably normal. But I'm unsure about my readings, so I'd need some help here.

My hydrometer's scale looks like this: http://www.allafrance.com/products/images/IMG_CATALOGUE/200-100-1_FRG.jpg (It's called "Wine hydrometer" from the brand "Alla France".)

First of all, water was at about 0 when I measured it, which would mean 0 translates to 1... Then what would "120" mean for example? 1.120? And "40" would mean 1.040? 0 through -10 (the black area) is highlighted with "WEIN FLASHENABFULLUNG", which means that's when it's ready to bottle, according to the instructions that's below 6 Oechsle.

If I was correct in the above paragraph, these are my results:

Batch 1 (more honey):
OG = reading 115 = 1.115; SG = reading 110 = 1.110
% Alcohol = ((1.05 x (OG – TG)) / TG) / 0.79 = ((1.05 * (1.115 - 1.110)) / 1.110 ) / 0.79 = 0,6%

Batch 2 (less honey):
OG = reading 102 = 1.102; SG = reading 93 = 1.093
((1.05 * (1.102 - 1.093)) / 1.093 ) / 0.79 = 0.2458 = 1,1%

In that case, my mead is far from done, as my yeast's tolerance is 11%. Should I apply more nutrient?

akueck
07-15-2012, 08:41 PM
Yup, sounds not done yet. More nutrient would be an appropriate step, as well as some aeration.

Hagroth
07-16-2012, 05:14 AM
Yup, sounds not done yet. More nutrient would be an appropriate step, as well as some aeration.
Ok, I'll give that a shot. I'll pour in one teaspoon of nutrient, open the lid and stir it for five minutes before sealing it again.

Hagroth
07-16-2012, 08:58 AM
Before I do that, I have another question. What do you think of the current speed? The sweeter batch went from 1.115 to 1.110 while the drier one went from 1.102 to 1.093 in 9 days. I have no evidence that the fermentation has actually slowed down since this is my only reading. The dry batch went down 0.009, about 0.010 in gravity in 9 days, so I'd need like 90 days all in all to finish this off, wouldn't I? That's pretty slow, isn't it?

Chevette Girl
07-16-2012, 12:27 PM
This does seem a bit on the slow side for a traditional but I've seen show meads go this slow... You probably want to do a really good aeration on both batches (daily), and if you haven't gotten nutrients and energizer into these batches, I'd highly recommend it, you're still within the first third of your fermentation.

Hagroth
07-16-2012, 12:38 PM
This does seem a bit on the slow side for a traditional but I've seen show meads go this slow... You probably want to do a really good aeration on both batches (daily), and if you haven't gotten nutrients and energizer into these batches, I'd highly recommend it, you're still within the first third of your fermentation.
Yes, I've now added one teaspoon of "Wyeast Beer Nutrient Blend" to each batch, stirred them good for a couple of minutes each and sealed them up again. The nutrients dissolved with a hissing sound and white foam was produced to a smaller extent, maybe 3 cm above the surface before stirring. Would adding one teaspoon to each batch tomorrow as well and then letting them be for like 9 days be all right? The reason being I'm going travelling again unfortunately (but I can make sure someone shakes them up a bit daily if that'd be a good idea). In fact, maybe I should add even more? I mean, this guy says: "Fermaid K is instructed to use 1 tsp per 5 gallons but in a high gravity must you may use up to 4 times as much nutrients." (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f30/problematic-mead-339201/) The instructions for my nutrient says I should use 0,5 teaspoon per 5 gallons, but that's apparently for beer since it's aimed at beer, judging by its title. My mead batches obviously have pretty high gravities right now (1.110 and 1.093). So I reckon 2 teaspoons per 3 gallons over the course of 2 days shouldn't be unreasonably much, what do you think?

Take a look at this by the way: "If you only used 1tsp of nutrient to the must you need to add more. Normal dosage is 1tablespoon per gallon of must. Higher OG batches can need even more nutrients." (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f30/problematic-mead-339201/) That'd be 9 teaspoons in total for each batch!

Chevette Girl
07-16-2012, 12:48 PM
I usually go with 1 tsp of yeast nutrients per gallon so your idea's not a bad plan. These don't really qualify as a particularly high gravity for a wine (~1.110 is around average) but definitely would be high grav for a beer. I would definitely pop the lids and splash the must around as much as you can as often as you can before you take off again though, even if you have to pour some of your must into a sanitized container and whip the crap out of it with a sanitized blender or sanitized whisk, your yeasties probably still need a good dose of oxygen.

Edit: oh, and aerating it before dropping powders into must will help prevent mead explosions, that foaming you noticed can sometimes get out of hand!

Hagroth
07-16-2012, 01:00 PM
I usually go with 1 tsp of yeast nutrients per gallon so your idea's not a bad plan. These don't really qualify as a particularly high gravity for a wine (~1.110 is around average) but definitely would be high grav for a beer. I would definitely pop the lids and splash the must around as much as you can as often as you can before you take off again though, even if you have to pour some of your must into a sanitized container and whip the crap out of it with a sanitized blender or sanitized whisk, your yeasties probably still need a good dose of oxygen.

Edit: oh, and aerating it before dropping powders into must will help prevent mead explosions, that foaming you noticed can sometimes get out of hand!
Is that 1 tsp per gallon every time or in total? About the blender thing, can't you just santize a blender and operate it directly in the fermenting bucket? Or are you talking about a situation where you simply can't access it with a blender, like in a glass bottle?

Thanks, will consider that next time! :)

Chevette Girl
07-16-2012, 01:23 PM
Is that 1 tsp per gallon every time or in total? About the blender thing, can't you just santize a blender and operate it directly in the fermenting bucket? Or are you talking about a situation where you simply can't access it with a blender, like in a glass bottle?

Thanks, will consider that next time! :)

If you've got a hand blender, that would do the trick in a bucket as long as you're not also using a fruit bag like I usually am, I didn't re-read the whole thread to remember whether you were using a bucket or carboy. A wire whisk would work too, that's what I often use, it won't get caught on my fruit bags :)

And if I'm only using nutrients, yeah, 1 tsp per gallon in total because that's what the packet recommends, but I often break that up into several feedings and I'll cut the total amount in half if I'm using energizer as well.

Soyala_Amaya
07-16-2012, 07:29 PM
...using a fruit bag like I usually am...

That's why I like to weight my fruit bags with sanitized fish safe glass beads. A pound or two works pretty well and makes managing the cap much easier too!

Hagroth
07-22-2012, 01:56 PM
So I've been gone for five days now and apparently something's happening in one bucket. The formerly slow dry batch is "blurping" every 20 seconds while the formerly active one (that blurped every 20 seconds a week ago) has reduced its pace to but once every several minutes! I take it the blurping isn't the most reliable way of determining activity, but do you reckon I should make sure someone takes the lid off and shakes it for a bit or something? What would you do in my position? There's no way of measuring the gravity until I get home again I'm afraid.

Chevette Girl
07-23-2012, 12:49 AM
You're right about airlock activity not being a good guide. If they're both chugging along, I wouldn't worry. The one that was going faster before may well be slowing down as it's finishing, and the other one's worked its way back up to a good pace a few days behind the other batch, finishing up the last little bits of whatever sugars were left... I don't see your gravities listed here so I can't tell you if it was actually dry or not, but even if it had gotten to 1.000, I've had some wines get as low as 0.990 and others have reported lower than that.

With any luck they'll both be around the same place by the time you return!

(now stop fretting like a new parent and go have some fun/get some work done, depending on the nature of why you are gone!)

Hagroth
07-23-2012, 04:21 AM
You're right about airlock activity not being a good guide. If they're both chugging along, I wouldn't worry. The one that was going faster before may well be slowing down as it's finishing, and the other one's worked its way back up to a good pace a few days behind the other batch, finishing up the last little bits of whatever sugars were left... I don't see your gravities listed here so I can't tell you if it was actually dry or not, but even if it had gotten to 1.000, I've had some wines get as low as 0.990 and others have reported lower than that.

With any luck they'll both be around the same place by the time you return!

(now stop fretting like a new parent and go have some fun/get some work done, depending on the nature of why you are gone!)
Well, I call it "dry" simply because it's drier than the other one ;)

lol, will do! I think I'll just let them be until I get home and get the opportunity to do a gravity measurement again. Thanks! :)

Hagroth
07-29-2012, 02:45 PM
Update:

2012-07-28
I checked the gravities again:

"Sweet":
OG = 115 = 1.115; SG = 97 = 1.097
% Alcohol = ((1.05 x (OG TG)) / TG) / 0.79 = ((1.05 * (1.115 - 1.097)) / 1.097 ) / 0.79 = 2,2%

"Dry":
OG = 102 = 1.102; SG = 72 = 1.072
((1.05 * (1.102 - 1.072)) / 1.072 ) / 0.79 = 3,7%

July 16th the sweeter batch went from 1.115 to 1.110 while the drier one went from 1.102 to 1.093 in 9 days. Now, in 13 days, they've gone from 1.110 to 1.097 and 1.093 to 1.072 respectively.

Hagroth
08-11-2012, 03:23 PM
Update:

2012-08-10
I checked the gravities once again:

"Sweet":
OG = 115 = 1.115; SG = 90 = 1.09
% Alcohol = ((1.05 x (OG TG)) / TG) / 0.79 = ((1.05 * (1.115 - 1.09)) / 1.09 ) / 0.79 = 3%

"Dry":
OG = 102 = 1.102; SG = 60 = 1.06
((1.05 * (1.102 - 1.06)) / 1.06 ) / 0.79 = 5,2%

July 16th the sweeter batch went from 1.115 to 1.110 while the drier one went from 1.102 to 1.093 in 9 days. During the following 13 days, they went from 1.110 to 1.097 and 1.093 to 1.072 respectively. The next 13 days they went from 1.097 to 1.09 and 1.072 to 1.06.

So they aren't accelerating, that's for sure. Do you think I should still just let them be or is there anything I should do? Thanks!

infoleather
08-28-2012, 03:01 AM
Strange as it sounds, a package of dry yeast is as much, if not more, than a smack package viable yeast cells.

Hagroth
08-28-2012, 03:29 AM
Strange as it sounds, a package of dry yeast is as much, if not more, than a smack package viable yeast cells.
Right, so your point is smack packages aren't really worth it? The reason I got a smack package is because I'm a complete beginner at all things considering brewing and it's the only yeast that was labelled "mead yeast". Since I was a beginner, that seemed the safest option.

kudapucat
08-28-2012, 04:35 AM
"mead yeast" is a common misnomer.
Many experts have had trouble getting "mead yeasts" to ferment.
Fact is mead's still young, and small market share. The research money is just not there.
Use a recommended wine, beer or bread yeast, depending on what you're brewing.

Hagroth
08-28-2012, 05:16 AM
"mead yeast" is a common misnomer.
Many experts have had trouble getting "mead yeasts" to ferment.
Fact is mead's still young, and small market share. The research money is just not there.
Use a recommended wine, beer or bread yeast, depending on what you're brewing.
Ok, thanks. But what would you recommend me to do about this ridiculously slow fermenting process? I haven't measured it since August 10th but I figure I'll do it later today.

Chevette Girl
08-29-2012, 10:30 AM
As long as they're still going, there's hope. And a slow ferment isn't ncecessarily a bad thing, unless you're impatient. As long as it's not making stinkies or off tastes, I'd just let it do its thing.

If the SG's stop moving, then I'd consider a repitch with an acclimated starter using EC-1118 or something similar, with a high alcohol tolerance and a kill factor.

Hagroth
08-29-2012, 01:27 PM
As long as they're still going, there's hope. And a slow ferment isn't ncecessarily a bad thing, unless you're impatient. As long as it's not making stinkies or off tastes, I'd just let it do its thing.

If the SG's stop moving, then I'd consider a repitch with an acclimated starter using EC-1118 or something similar, with a high alcohol tolerance and a kill factor.
I just checked the gravities again today and I didn't get very uplifting results... Well, the "dry" batch is still making progress, but it seems to me the "sweet" one has given up entirely.
For both, the foam was very minimal when pouring into my measuring glass, as opposed to what it used to be like. They don't stink, they both smell and taste great. I'll try repitching the sweet one, once I've checked the pH-values.

2012-08-29

"Sweet" batch
OG = 115 = 1.115; SG = 88 = 1.088
((1.05 * (1.115 - 1.088 )) / 1.088 ) / 0.79 = 3,3%

"Dry" batch
OG = 102 = 1.102; SG = 38 = 1.038
((1.05 * (1.102 - 1.038 )) / 1.038 ) / 0.79 = 8,2%

The dry mead airlock did release gas every 70 seconds or so.
The sweet batch was entirely silent the 5-10 minutes I spent down there in the basement. Moreover, it didn't release any gas even when I pressed down on the lid and thus forced whatever gas that ought to have been in there out. So it seems to me that one is entirely dead.

I'll get some pH-measurements done as well soon.

Chevette Girl
08-29-2012, 02:18 PM
Until you get identical readings a week or two apart, it's still going... Have you been stirring or aerating these at all? Stirring, or at least swirling the carboy around every day to keep the yeast in suspension could help. And I'd probably give each of them a really good aeration if you can.

Hagroth
08-29-2012, 04:45 PM
Until you get identical readings a week or two apart, it's still going... Have you been stirring or aerating these at all? Stirring, or at least swirling the carboy around every day to keep the yeast in suspension could help. And I'd probably give each of them a really good aeration if you can.
My readings are pretty much +-3, so for the sweet batch (the dead one), that's pretty much the same value for 19 days! I haven't touched them at all, so I guess I'll give them a little aerating right now, maybe that'd be a good idea. At least the sweet batch since I've got nothing to lose. I'm going to buy that EC-1118 tomorrow as well and repitch if it doesn't give any signs of starting going at all after aerating it.

kudapucat
08-29-2012, 04:52 PM
Your dry batch has just entered what I call the 'drinkable SG range' so it's sweet.
The sweet batch would be unbearable and cloyingly sweet.
Hang in there, wait until the yeast really give up the ghost, then repurchase EC-1118 as CG suggests if you're still not happy.
It's what EC-1118 is famous for- restarting ferments.
But it has a high tolerance so could take both batches dry, so last resort eh?
It also ferments hard and strong, which can 'commercialise' your brew, blowing off delicate aromatics that make it unique.
The most important trait of a meadher is patience, the second most is more patience, the third luck, and after that comes procedure, sanitisation, experience etc...

Hagroth
08-29-2012, 05:53 PM
Your dry batch has just entered what I call the 'drinkable SG range' so it's sweet.
The sweet batch would be unbearable and cloyingly sweet.
Hang in there, wait until the yeast really give up the ghost, then repurchase EC-1118 as CG suggests if you're still not happy.
It's what EC-1118 is famous for- restarting ferments.
But it has a high tolerance so could take both batches dry, so last resort eh?
It also ferments hard and strong, which can 'commercialise' your brew, blowing off delicate aromatics that make it unique.
The most important trait of a meadher is patience, the second most is more patience, the third luck, and after that comes procedure, sanitisation, experience etc...
That's seems about right.
The sweet batch is dead, and seems to have been for 19 days at least. But I'll see if it gets going again within a couple of days now that I've aerated it for a few minutes.
It having a high tolerance shouldn't be a problem as long as I monitor it and kill it off when it reaches the alcohol level I'm trying to achieve right?
Ok, I'm not much of a wine taster, I'm just excited to make my first brew haha. But I'll take that into consideration, definitely!
Also, I take it EC-1118 would be like the standard yeast for restarting ferments in this forum am I right? Or maybe in home brewing over all? Does anyone use it as the original yeast?

---------------------------
Apparently you can't edit previous posts once you've made a new one, so I need to do it here:
In my previous post, the SG for the "dry" batch is too low. It's not 38, it's 48:

"Dry" batch
OG = 102 = 1.102; SG = 38 = 1.046
((1.05 * (1.102 - 1.048 )) / 1.048 ) / 0.79 = 6,8%

Chevette Girl
08-29-2012, 10:24 PM
The sweet batch is dead, and seems to have been for 19 days at least. But I'll see if it gets going again within a couple of days now that I've aerated it for a few minutes.

I had one batch that stuck for a year at 1.030 restart all by itself when I aerated the bejeebus out of it and fed it some bread yeast to try to de-stink it when I discovered a problem, so anything's possible.

And if the EC-1118 takes it dry, you can always just add more honey till it can't eat any more...

Hagroth
08-30-2012, 01:44 AM
I had one batch that stuck for a year at 1.030 restart all by itself when I aerated the bejeebus out of it and fed it some bread yeast to try to de-stink it when I discovered a problem, so anything's possible.

And if the EC-1118 takes it dry, you can always just add more honey till it can't eat any more...
Oh, maybe mine could be revived as well then :)

Well, the EC-1118 still can't tolerate more than maybe 18%-20% which I believe is the upper limit for fermented brews am I right? And add more honey? Can't you just kill it off by putting it in the cold or something?

kudapucat
08-30-2012, 07:58 PM
EC-1118 has an official tolerance of 18% but can go further it treated nicely.

You can put yeast to sleep by chilling it. We call it cold-crashing.
But they won't die, and will wake up when it warms up.
You can easily kill yeast by heating (losing alcohol and flavour) or by alcohol poisoning.
You can kill sleeping yeast with chemicals, but don't try this on an active ferment - you must cold crash first.
Adding more honey will feed the yeast until the alcohol kills them, or the honey runs out.

Chevette Girl
08-30-2012, 08:14 PM
Cold will only stun yeast, it won't kill it. But if you get the mead to near 18% and it stops, that's usually a pretty good indication that you've maxxed out the yeast. I generally wait a year before bottling just to make sure, but if you're less patient and want it sweetened, you'd have to stabilize it with chemicals to prevent the yeast from becoming active again.

Hagroth
09-05-2012, 01:30 PM
I think I know what the problem is now. First of all, the basement is 16 degrees Celsius which is too cold (the yeast package reads 18-24 degrees), so I took them upstairs where it's 21 degrees. They are now working but slowly, even after four days.

I went and bought some pH-strips to check the pH and apparently the pH in both batches is actually about 3.1, which is too acidic. Stormthecastle.com (http://www.stormthecastle.com/mead/checking-ph-of-your-mead.htm) recommends adding some calcium carbonate in there. What do you guys think? Is it just adding some calcium carbonate until it's at about 3.7-4.0 and then closing the lid, or is there anything else I should do as well?

Chevette Girl
09-05-2012, 02:05 PM
Might be a good idea, but go easy on it.

Potassium carbonate is a better idea as it dissolves more quickly, don't be impatient if all you can find is the calcium carbonate, I would give it a day or two between adjustments to make sure you're not going to overshoot your pH correction.

I found 1 teaspoon in a 3 or 4 gallon batch of red currant wine brought it up from 2.8 to 3.2, so if I were you I'd start with 1/4 tsp per gallon, stir well, then check again in a day or two. It'll fizz because of the chemical reaction.

Hagroth
09-05-2012, 02:15 PM
Might be a good idea, but go easy on it.

Potassium carbonate is a better idea as it dissolves more quickly, don't be impatient if all you can find is the calcium carbonate, I would give it a day or two between adjustments to make sure you're not going to overshoot your pH correction.

I found 1 teaspoon in a 3 or 4 gallon batch of red currant wine brought it up from 2.8 to 3.2, so if I were you I'd start with 1/4 tsp per gallon, stir well, then check again in a day or two. It'll fizz because of the chemical reaction.
http://forum.northernbrewer.com/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=51511
Hehe yup, I think I'll be going for potassium carbonate instead ;)

Ok, thanks for the heads up!

kudapucat
09-05-2012, 04:51 PM
Cold will only stun yeast, it won't kill it.

Yep.
See? Told ya. Glad to hear they're waking up in the warmer atmosphere.
Your false start may have done something that means it will continue at this slow rate.
Give it a chance, wait it out, it should be an ok brew.
DWHAHB. ;-)

Hagroth
09-06-2012, 06:49 AM
I've found one place selling potassium carbonate. It's a shop for home brewing, tobacco DYI etc. They sell potassium carbonate for making home-made snuff (tobacco), according to them it should be pure potassium carbonate. What do you think? It should be what I'm looking for, right?

http://www.pgw.se/product_info.php?products_id=756

Hagroth
09-06-2012, 01:08 PM
Ok, I just measured the SG again, 2012-09-06:

Sweet batch:
OG = 115 = 1.115; SG = 82 = 1.082
((1.05 x (OG – TG)) / TG) / 0.79 = ((1.05 * (1.115 - 1.082)) / 1.082 ) / 0.79 = 4%

Dry batch:
OG = 102 = 1.102; SG = 40 = 1.040
((1.05 * (1.102 - 1.04)) / 1.04 ) / 0.79 = 7.9%

In the last 8 days, the dry batch has increased its ABV by 1 percent while the sweet batch has gone up by 0.7%. Obviously, simply moving them up here has increased their speed. They're both at it at about the same speed as the first days of fermenting. The dry mead should in other words be done in about three weeks, while the sweet one will take a lot longer - 7 weeks. I've added some potassium carbonate, about one tsp (in about 2.6 gallons) since I need to increase more than 0.4, into the sweet mead, mostly because it's the slowest one. I stirred it pretty vigorously for five minutes and then shut the lid. I'll check the pH-value again in 24 hours.

Chevette Girl
09-06-2012, 04:56 PM
Sounds like you're on the right track, as long as things are still moving and you're patient, you should get some good meads out of this! :D

Hagroth
09-12-2012, 06:15 AM
I'll check the gravity again tomorrow. However, one bucket is leaking slightly (leaves a small puddle on the floor after 24 hours) so I'm thinking about buying a new one and everything that's needed, sanitizing and simply pouring (racking basically, I guess you'd call it) the entire batch into the new bucket. It's the spigot that isn't attached properly. This shouldn't be a problem right?

wayneb
09-13-2012, 10:50 AM
Well, racking isn't so much pouring as it is siphoning the liquid from one container to another. This is done both to minimize the amount of mixing with the air (to keep the possibility of oxidation to a minimum) and to remove the generally more clear liquid from the yeast residue (lees) on the bottom of a container.

Since your batches are still fermenting, if you do rack rather than pour, you should be sure to suck up at least the top layer of the lees, since there will be a significant number of actively fermenting yeast cells there. If you rack only clear liquid you run the risk of stopping the fermentation, because there may not be enough active cells in the liquid to keep the fermentation going.

Hagroth
09-13-2012, 10:56 AM
Well, racking isn't so much pouring as it is siphoning the liquid from one container to another. This is done both to minimize the amount of mixing with the air (to keep the possibility of oxidation to a minimum) and to remove the generally more clear liquid from the yeast residue (lees) on the bottom of a container.

Since your batches are still fermenting, if you do rack rather than pour, you should be sure to suck up at least the top layer of the lees, since there will be a significant number of actively fermenting yeast cells there. If you rack only clear liquid you run the risk of stopping the fermentation, because there may not be enough active cells in the liquid to keep the fermentation going.
Thanks! I see, I'll make sure to get everything back in there pretty much.

Another, completely separate question: I screwed up the drilling into the new bucket, so the spigot wasn't completely sealed (thankfully, I tested it with water first). I'm wondering if I can use silicone to seal it up from the inside so I can use the bucket anyway. Will the silicone disturb or dissolve/release particles into my brew? Are the ones that say that they can be used in aquariums "brew-proof" as well?

Vance G
09-13-2012, 02:08 PM
the fish safe silicone has no antibacterial additives as the other 'bathtub caulk has for a good reason. I don't know if it is officially good safe, but it wouldn't bother me a bit.

Hagroth
09-30-2012, 05:37 PM
All right, I ended up buying a new bucket instead. Anyway, the batches are doing about -10 every week, equal to a little more than 1%. Currently:

pH: Dry: 3,4-3,6; Sweet: 3,6

Sweet:
OG = 115 = 1.115; SG = 51 = 1.051
((1.05 * (1.115 - 1.051)) / 1.051 ) / 0.79 = 8,1%

Dry:
OG = 102 = 1.102; SG = 10 = 1.010
((1.05 * (1.102 - 1.010)) / 1.010 ) / 0.79 = 12,1%

I have managed to speed up the process in the dry batch by adding potassium carbonate and increasing the pH-value by 0,4. I'm not sure if it was due to the potassium carbonate but I suppose it's a good guess. The sweet batch has remained at its constant pace of -10 every week. Potassium carbonate once increased its pH and speed, but the last time I added more potassium carbonate (another teaspoon), the pH didn't increase at all (hasn't by now either) and neither did the speed.

So:

1) Is it possible the sweet batch has reached it's maximum pH-level, no matter how much potassium carbonate I pour in there? Maybe it can't accumulate any more?
2) As you can see, my dry batch has gone past 11%, up in the 12% now and hasn't shown any signs of slowing down as it's still in the same pace as last week. This is in spite of the fact that according to the manufacturer, the maximum percentage for this strain is 11%! Is this normal, will it continue much further, should I tae any precautions etc.?

Thanks! :)

Hagroth
10-05-2012, 10:46 AM
Update: It's now at a gravity of 1.005 ~ 12.8% ABV! Wouldn't that mean it's almost like water, meaning that pretty much all sugar has been used? In the last few days, it's been going at the same speed post 12% as before reaching 12%. It's very clear, smells wonderful and tastes pretty good. Strong, and not too sweet. And what if I'd bottle it while still sparkling (which means it's still fermenting a bit, am I right?), I'd probably need champagne bottles in that case right? How long would they hold before exploding?

Chevette Girl
10-05-2012, 10:57 PM
Unless you've started off with a batch you're sure will go to completion and still have some yeast capacity left, making a sparkling batch isn't something to do on a whim or you have a serious risk of bottle bombs. I haven't done the math but if your mead would finish out at .995 (I've had mine go as low as .990) from 1.005, that's WAY too much carbonation, not safe...

kudapucat
10-06-2012, 05:52 AM
Yeah.
Don't do it.
Ferment it out.
If you think the yeast has oomph left, add a measured amount of sugar when you bottle. This is safe.

Hagroth
10-06-2012, 08:17 AM
Unless you've started off with a batch you're sure will go to completion and still have some yeast capacity left, making a sparkling batch isn't something to do on a whim or you have a serious risk of bottle bombs. I haven't done the math but if your mead would finish out at .995 (I've had mine go as low as .990) from 1.005, that's WAY too much carbonation, not safe...
Well, it's gone all the way from 1.102 to 1.005. How do you appreciate the amount of carbonation here? Because if I get it right, carbonation is sort of fermentation isn't it? Albeit a very slow one?

I'll check tomorrow to see if it's started to slow down.

kudapucat, I see, so to have a sparkling wine, you add some sugar AFTER fermentation has finished? I'm not really aiming for a sparkling mead, but I was just wondering :) Which brings me to something I've been wondering for a while - if carbonation is a form of fermenting, and if you have champagne for instance, wouldn't pressure be built up greatly over the years and smash the bottle sooner or later? Or is that prohibited by the fact that corks aren't 100% air-proof and might allow some gas to slip out when pressure is built up?

I also came up with another idea - if I'd like to bring some of my mead to a party in a few weeks, and it's still fermenting a little bit (or just some carbonation) (however, fermenting is bound to have stopped by then because my yeast has already surpassed its tolerance at 11% by 1,5%!), would a plastic coke bottle be safer? I won't have time to really store the couple of bottles I'd like to bring anyway, so I was thinking perhaps a coke bottle would allow some gas to slip out (since they aren't completely air-proof) and thus prevent an explosion?

kudapucat
10-06-2012, 05:28 PM
If its active, and you unscrew the top regularly, you could put it in any bottle.
As for champagne. It's fermented dry. It doesn't keep fermenting, because there's no sugar left to ferment.
It's calculating the residual sugar that's hard, so we just wait til it's finished, degass then add a measured amount.
The yeast eat this measured amount, make it sparkle, run out of food and go to sleep.

Corking an active ferment is dangerous, because you don't know how much sugar remains.
You don't know how much CO2 is already in the wine.
There are a couple other dangerous unknowns, but these are the biggest.

Hagroth
10-06-2012, 06:01 PM
If its active, and you unscrew the top regularly, you could put it in any bottle.
As for champagne. It's fermented dry. It doesn't keep fermenting, because there's no sugar left to ferment.
It's calculating the residual sugar that's hard, so we just wait til it's finished, degass then add a measured amount.
The yeast eat this measured amount, make it sparkle, run out of food and go to sleep.

Corking an active ferment is dangerous, because you don't know how much sugar remains.
You don't know how much CO2 is already in the wine.
There are a couple other dangerous unknowns, but these are the biggest.
The reason I thought champagne was still fermenting was because I thought the sparkling was CO2 bubbles produced by the yeast as they eat the sugar. I just found out that's not quite the case - the "bubbles" are produced by the fact that the air in the bottle is carbon dioxide and are the result of the reaction between the carbon dioxide and the liquid, if I understand things correctly. :)

Chevette Girl
10-06-2012, 06:26 PM
Please allow me to elaborate: while yeast are doing their thing merrily eating your sugar and turning it into alcohol, they also produce CO2, which is initially dissolved in the must. This is always going on during your fermentations, but because we use an airlock to maintain a pressure equal to the atmosphere, the must will only hold a certain amount (depends on pressure and temperature) and the rest comes out solution, increasing the pressure within your vessel which will then equalize with the atmosphere by escaping through your airlock.

If you allow your vessel to be closed up tight, the pressure will build up as the amount of dissolved CO2 increases as the yeast keep producing more and there's nowhere for it to go, this will continue until the yeast finish the sugar or the pressure causes the vessel to burst.

What you're doing when you bottle carbonate is a very measured amount of fermentation to give you a measured amount of carbon dioxide which you know will be safe for your vessel.

If you want to retain some "sparkle" in a currently-fermenting mead, a pop bottle is a safe way to go, you can squeeze the bottle and if it gets too hard, let some pressure off... or you could see if you can find one of the older pop bottle lids where you can pop the gasket out, if you put a pinhole in the middle of the gasket and drill a hole in the middle of the cap and then put it all back together, it'll allow some gas to vent (ie, the excess, dangerous amount) but it'll hold onto most of it. This is how the "Brew in a bottle" beer I've made a few times is done, if you can find that at your local store it might be worth the $5 just to have a cap you know is rated for a plastic pop bottle. There's another company that sells just the caps in Australia but I've gone and forgotten the name, maybe Kudapukat remembers.

kudapucat
10-06-2012, 06:27 PM
The co2 is produced by the yeast eating the sugar. So is the alcohol.
The co2 dissolves into the brew.
Under pressure, more of it dissolves.
When you pop the cork, the pressure reduces, the co2 comes out of solution, and bubbles to the surface.

Hagroth
10-07-2012, 02:40 PM
Ah thanks, makes sense now.

Update:

2012-10-07

Sweet:
OG = 115 = 1.115; SG = 44 = 1.044
((1.05 * (1.115 - 1.044)) / 1.044 ) / 0.79 = 9%

Dry:
OG = 102 = 1.102; SG = 1 = 1.001
((1.05 * (1.102 - 1.001)) / 1.001 ) / 0.79 = 13,4%


The dry batch has surpassed its tolerance by 2,4%! Hasn't shown any signs of slowing down, except for a decrease (compared a bit more than to one week ago) of about 0,25 SG/day, so it's now at -1,25 SG/day. It might be slowing down a bit but it's got to stop soon enough.

Also, the sweet mead still hasn't increased its pH after the potassium carbonate I poured in weeks ago! The speed has also slowed down to -1 SG/day. Is it possible the sweet batch has reached it's maximum pH-level, no matter how much potassium carbonate I pour in there? Maybe it can't accumulate any more?

Chevette Girl
10-09-2012, 12:35 PM
Also, the sweet mead still hasn't increased its pH after the potassium carbonate I poured in weeks ago! The speed has also slowed down to -1 SG/day. Is it possible the sweet batch has reached it's maximum pH-level, no matter how much potassium carbonate I pour in there? Maybe it can't accumulate any more?

I had the same problem when trying to adjust my aquarium's pH when I was a kid, something in there was buffering it and it kept returning to the same pH within a couple of days no matter how much of what I added. But looking at the theory on how chemical reactions work when you're neutralizing an acid, there shouldn't be a limit like that until you've reached the solubility limit for potassium carbonate which should be pretty high, but there can be buffering effects that keep knocking it back to where it was. Don't forget, the yeast continue to produce acid, so they may be responsible for the returns to your low pH.

Hagroth
10-10-2012, 04:33 AM
I had the same problem when trying to adjust my aquarium's pH when I was a kid, something in there was buffering it and it kept returning to the same pH within a couple of days no matter how much of what I added. But looking at the theory on how chemical reactions work when you're neutralizing an acid, there shouldn't be a limit like that until you've reached the solubility limit for potassium carbonate which should be pretty high, but there can be buffering effects that keep knocking it back to where it was. Don't forget, the yeast continue to produce acid, so they may be responsible for the returns to your low pH.
I see, well I'm not sure if I dare to add any more to be honest. Not for a while anyway. The speed is fairly constant right now so it'll do.

The dry batch has finally started to slow down by the way, and has now reached 1.000 (13.55% ABV), now progressing at just -0.5 units per day, in comparison to -1.25 units per day a week ago.

Hagroth
10-28-2012, 07:16 AM
Hey again,

The meads have now stopped fermenting. I actually bottled the dry batch (which finished first) directly after it had stopped and brought some with me on a trip. It was pretty decent and appreciated :) It got a little too dry though thanks to the yeast transgressing the supposed tolerance level at 11% by 2.6% and thus ended up at 13.6%. The sweet mead stopped at 9.3%, 1.7% short of 11%.

Now this has started to get me wondering whether I should rely on yeast packages' supposed alcohol tolerances or if I should completely ignore those? What truth is in those numbers anyway? Can I get a 11% ABV batch from a 19% tolerance yeast by adjusting the OG so that the batch will have reached 11% by the time it's reached about 1.000 in gravity (which is where meads are supposed to end up, isn't it?). Perhaps I should just stick to Lalvin EC-1118 for all upcoming yeasts no matter what ABV I'm after?

kudapucat
10-28-2012, 08:32 AM
Yeast tolerance to alcohol depends on how well it's treated. I've had them stall out a little early, and also over-achieve.
If you're fermenting dry, then it only matters that the tolerance is not reached, so 11% using EC-1118 is wholly achievable if you ferment the batch dry.
The tolerance is also used to aid the 'artform' of residual sweetness. It's a bit hit and miss though.
I wouldn't use EC-1118 though. There are kinder yeasts that give better flavours. I tend to use K1V-1116 or D47
As they're readily available.
EC1118 is very aggressive, and can blow off delicate aromas. If you use it, slow it down by keeping it extra cool. It can make nasty stuff if you run it bear the top of its temp tolerance, or alcohol tolerance.

Chevette Girl
10-28-2012, 08:37 AM
The %ages listed in the documentation on yeast will be the average for lab testing, presumably with grape must. So they should be treated as a guideline, not as a be-all and end-all definitive answer. Living organisms have a way of making scientists scratch their heads, why should yeast be any different?

If you start a batch with only enough sugar to get you to 11%, it doesn't matter whether the yeast's tolerance is 19% or 16%, you can only ever get 11% out of that batch.

Different yeasts have different strong points. 71B may not have the alcohol tolerance of EC-1118 but it won't ferment all your delicate aromas right out the airlock, either, but it's ok to forget about EC-1118 and it won't give off-flavours to your mead like leaving a 71B batch on the lees. D47 likes low temperatures and makes harsh fusels at higher fermentation temperatures, where K1V-1116 is known to be good for higher-temp ferments and produces fruity esters when fermented at low temperatures. RC-212 is a whiny-pants nutrient hog in early fermentation, but it sure does a nice job preserving fruity flavours in melomels. Bread yeast is good up to 12% and doesn't seem to gove off-flavours when left on the lees for 6 months to a year but its lees are fluffy and that can hard to manage. I guess what I'm trying to say is that you would want to select your yeast based on more than just its alcohol tolerance.

I think the common consensus around here with Lalvin users would be that K1V might be one of the better go-to yeasts if you're just going to stick with one type.

Hagroth
10-28-2012, 08:39 AM
Yeast tolerance to alcohol depends on how well it's treated. I've had them stall out a little early, and also over-achieve.
If you're fermenting dry, then it only matters that the tolerance is not reached, so 11% using EC-1118 is wholly achievable if you ferment the batch dry.
The tolerance is also used to aid the 'artform' of residual sweetness. It's a bit hit and miss though.
I wouldn't use EC-1118 though. There are kinder yeasts that give better flavours. I tend to use K1V-1116 or D47
As they're readily available.
EC1118 is very aggressive, and can blow off delicate aromas. If you use it, slow it down by keeping it extra cool. It can make nasty stuff if you run it bear the top of its temp tolerance, or alcohol tolerance.
Ah, I just used EC-1118 as an example though since it's one that came to mind. But there's one weird thing here, and it's that my sweet mead, using the same yeast with a supposed tolerance of 11%, ended up at just 9.3%. It went from it's OG of 1.115 to just 1.042. 1.042 is pretty far from 1.000, and judging by the density and its taste, there's a lot of sugar left in there. What may have caused th yeast to die off like that so early? If any of the batches should have gone above the tolerance level, it should've been the sweet mead since the only difference between the batches is that the sweet mead had one more kg of honey. I also added a lot of potassium carbonate before it started to slow down. It's all like a huge paradox - the sweeter mead stops earlier than the one with less honey; potassium carbonate didn't increase the pH but (maybe not the cause but there seems to be a connection) for some reason the batch started slowing down when I added the potassium carbonate.

Oh, and thank you, Chevette Girl, you replied before I had a chance to see it. So the only thing you can be sure of is the maximum amount of alcohol that it's going to result in, but it can stop basically anywhere along the way? That's from my experience with my sweet mead anyway, which was nowhere near getting dry nor its yeast's tolerance, yet stopped at 1.042 ~ 9.3 ABV.

Chevette Girl
10-28-2012, 01:37 PM
See, that's the thing, the listed tolerance is not a maximum, either... as you've seen from some cases on here as well as yours, the yeast occasionally blows right past its tolerance if the conditions are somehow just right for it.

Now, if I recall, you'd used the wyeast sweet mead yeast which I think is the yeast that has given even very experienced meadmakers problems. Add a fussy-pants yeast to the pH problems you had with that batch, and it's not too surprising it crapped out early. If it's really too sweet, you can always make another drier batch and combine them. Just make sure to stabilize it or depending on the other yeast you use, it may then eat all the leftovers that the sweet mead yeast couldn't handle! :)

Another factor you might not have thought about, the more honey you start with, the harder a start it is for the yeast, and the harder the start, the higher the risk of an early stall. Not that 1.115 is really high, but it might have been too much for a yeast that's only rated to 11%.

Hagroth
10-29-2012, 07:53 AM
See, that's the thing, the listed tolerance is not a maximum, either... as you've seen from some cases on here as well as yours, the yeast occasionally blows right past its tolerance if the conditions are somehow just right for it.

Now, if I recall, you'd used the wyeast sweet mead yeast which I think is the yeast that has given even very experienced meadmakers problems. Add a fussy-pants yeast to the pH problems you had with that batch, and it's not too surprising it crapped out early. If it's really too sweet, you can always make another drier batch and combine them. Just make sure to stabilize it or depending on the other yeast you use, it may then eat all the leftovers that the sweet mead yeast couldn't handle! :)

Another factor you might not have thought about, the more honey you start with, the harder a start it is for the yeast, and the harder the start, the higher the risk of an early stall. Not that 1.115 is really high, but it might have been too much for a yeast that's only rated to 11%.


Oh, I meant that you can know the maximum possible tolerance by calculating the difference between OG and assuming it'll end up with an FG of 1.000 or 0.995 in the driest scenario.

Yes, I've had various problems with this yeast. Very slow fermentation etc. Will definitely give one of the yeasts you people listed a try next time.

One weird thing here is that even though the sweet batch has stopped fermenting, it's still very cloudy/foggy. It used to be fairly clear before I introduced it to a couple of teaspoons of potassium carbonate. Also, it's kind of starting to taste a bit sour. I'm not sure if I might have imagined it since I just had a small mouth of it but I'll try tasting again later today.

And I'm about to buy some glass carboys later today. What would you recommend - should I bottle it straight away directly from the plastic fermenting buckets or perhaps store them inside glass carboys for a month? Is the sour taste due to it not being separated from the sediment (which would mean I should perhaps store it in a glass carboy for a while)?

Chevette Girl
10-29-2012, 09:25 AM
OK, just checking, not everyone understands right away why their yeast rated for 18% won't give them that if they only feed it enough sugar for 12% :)

If you're sure it's stopped, yeah, I'd rack it off the lees, although "sour" isn't something I'd associate with leaving it on the lees too long. If it doesn't start clearing within a couple weeks or months (by the time you want your carboy back and are either happy with it or have given up on it and want to bottle it or dispose of it) introduce it to some bentonite... it might drop right clear within a few days. Maybe. Them yeasties are tricksy beasts.

I rarely bottle anything from primary, I'm way too much of a klutz and I always stir everything up with the racking cane while futzing around with the bottles, so even if it's a batch that didn't NEED racking before bottling (like a JAO) I usually rack it a week before I want to bottle it if there's any sediment at all. But most of the time, I rack into secondary as soon as the SG stops moving because there's too much headspace in the plastic fermenter and most of my creations need a couple months to clear anyway.

Hagroth
10-29-2012, 11:36 AM
OK, just checking, not everyone understands right away why their yeast rated for 18% won't give them that if they only feed it enough sugar for 12% :)

If you're sure it's stopped, yeah, I'd rack it off the lees, although "sour" isn't something I'd associate with leaving it on the lees too long. If it doesn't start clearing within a couple weeks or months (by the time you want your carboy back and are either happy with it or have given up on it and want to bottle it or dispose of it) introduce it to some bentonite... it might drop right clear within a few days. Maybe. Them yeasties are tricksy beasts.

I rarely bottle anything from primary, I'm way too much of a klutz and I always stir everything up with the racking cane while futzing around with the bottles, so even if it's a batch that didn't NEED racking before bottling (like a JAO) I usually rack it a week before I want to bottle it if there's any sediment at all. But most of the time, I rack into secondary as soon as the SG stops moving because there's too much headspace in the plastic fermenter and most of my creations need a couple months to clear anyway.


Hmm, you know what? I suspect I left too much headroom in the fermenting bucket. I only had 10 litres of mead in a 30 liter bucket. A couple of samples (very small glasses) I put out weeks ago have started to taste sour, obviously because of exposure to oxygen I'd believe. It's been standing for a couple of weeks in that bucket now post-fermentation. Hmm, is this batch lost?

Also, I've had problems with pH-values as you may have seen. Have you had similar problems? What are the causes of too low pH? Is it the honey itself? Or is it all a gamble?

And for my upcoming batch, I'm going to try some better yeasts and nutrient/energizer. For nutrient/energizer, I've read Wyeast Nutrient Blend (the one I used for the current batches) is more for beer and not mead. The ones I've heard mention of when it comes to mead is E.C. Kraus nutrient and energizer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s28auin8k6M) and Fermaid-K from several threads. I'm just curious as to what you're using?

Hagroth
10-29-2012, 02:30 PM
Sorry for the double-post but I can't edit my last one anymore. Do you use campden tablets at any stage? Most people use it on the must prior to fermenting, but sometimes it's appropriate to do it on the wine (or mead I take it) before bottling. Do you think that's anything worth spending any effort on?
On the same note, a book I recently looked around in said that a cure for an oxidized wine (caused by waiting for too long before racking - I haven't racked at all!) is campden and then storing it for a while. It mentioned refermenting in more extreme situations but it isn't that bad... yet, anyway. I just tasted it again, and it still tastes good. It's a bit strong, you can still feel the sweetness and flavor it's always had, but there's a little hint of sourness in there that didn't use to be there.
Here's a picture by the way: http://imgur.com/PASV3

Chevette Girl
10-30-2012, 12:26 AM
Huh, I'd never heard of campden tabs as a cure for oxidation, just as a preventative. I'm also not sure if it can get rid of off-flavours from leaving it on the gross lees for too long, sounds kinda hokey to me, so if anyone else has heard of or experienced this, please enlighten me!

To me, oxidation tastes/smells the way sherry does. Others have reported it tasting like wet cardboard. "Sour" isn't really something that points to oxidation. It's possible the natural acidity is now showing through but it's no longer really masked by residual sweetness as it would have been while it was still fermenting.

If your meads are sweet, campden tab and some potassium sorbate before bottling will drastically reduce your chances of having spontaneous refermentation in the bottle, I personally don't bother if my mead or wine has been aging in the carboy for a year or more. The sorbate/sulphite one-two punch also prevents other organisms from getting in there and spoling your meads or wines and it can also guard against oxidation to some extent... but if you allow it a lot of contact with oxygen, it may well oxidize no matter what you do. Personally, with the exception of delicate fruits like pears and watermelon or something that's prone to spontaneous fermentation like homemade apple cider, I never use campden tablets before a fermentation. I prefer a good strong fermentation to kick the butts of anything in there that shouldn't be.

And refermenting? You'd need to add more sugars to feed the yeast and more water to dilute the alcohol, and the last time I had a spontaneous referment, it did not blow the weird off-aroma out the airlock like I'd hoped it would, still smells like diesel fuel even after dropping from 1.030 down to 1.000.

Hagroth
10-30-2012, 08:50 AM
Huh, I'd never heard of campden tabs as a cure for oxidation, just as a preventative. I'm also not sure if it can get rid of off-flavours from leaving it on the gross lees for too long, sounds kinda hokey to me, so if anyone else has heard of or experienced this, please enlighten me!

To me, oxidation tastes/smells the way sherry does. Others have reported it tasting like wet cardboard. "Sour" isn't really something that points to oxidation. It's possible the natural acidity is now showing through but it's no longer really masked by residual sweetness as it would have been while it was still fermenting.

If your meads are sweet, campden tab and some potassium sorbate before bottling will drastically reduce your chances of having spontaneous refermentation in the bottle, I personally don't bother if my mead or wine has been aging in the carboy for a year or more. The sorbate/sulphite one-two punch also prevents other organisms from getting in there and spoling your meads or wines and it can also guard against oxidation to some extent... but if you allow it a lot of contact with oxygen, it may well oxidize no matter what you do. Personally, with the exception of delicate fruits like pears and watermelon or something that's prone to spontaneous fermentation like homemade apple cider, I never use campden tablets before a fermentation. I prefer a good strong fermentation to kick the butts of anything in there that shouldn't be.

And refermenting? You'd need to add more sugars to feed the yeast and more water to dilute the alcohol, and the last time I had a spontaneous referment, it did not blow the weird off-aroma out the airlock like I'd hoped it would, still smells like diesel fuel even after dropping from 1.030 down to 1.000.
Ok, maybe it's completely normal and I'll get the sweeter taste back by storing it for a while. Well, I guess there isn't much to do except for racking it as soon as possible and hope for the best. I'm going to rack it using a hose and a bottle-filler thing to minimize splashing into a glass carboy small enough to make minimal airspace, and store it there for a few months. I guess that's the best thing I can do?

I noticed one interesting thing though yesterday. After having pushing on the lids of the fermenting buckets of the two batches in order to push out the gas and stabilize the water level inside the airlocks (in order to see if there's anything going on in there), I noticed days later that the water level in the sweet mead's airlock hadn't changed noticably, but the one in the dry mead's had! So maybe there's something going on in there still. This is despite both being completely stable and still for weeks. The dry one has been for over a month.

Anyway, do you use any preservatives when bottling? Like campden (potassium metabisulphite)? This guy, whose Youtube videos I've been mainly following when making these batches, recommends it: http://www.stormthecastle.com/mead/chemicals-used-in-mead-making.htm

kudapucat
10-30-2012, 11:24 AM
Temperature can make an airlock bubble.

Chevette Girl
10-30-2012, 12:34 PM
I don't always stabilize before I bottle, depends on the batch and my patience:risk ratio at the bottling time. It's not a bad habit to get into.

Hagroth
11-27-2012, 07:52 AM
All right, the two batches have been standing in glass carboys completely void of any light in a 14-15 C ambience in almost a month. I can see thick layers of sediment at the bottoms, we're talking about an inch in each carboy. I should probably rack it by now, right?

Also, I'm about to start two new batches in a few days using D-47 and the "Dry Mead" yeast from Wyeast I never opened. I'm just wondering how staggered honey additions would work out? Would it be worth it? I'm aiming at making sweet meads, perhaps finishing at 1.030 or so (I really liked my 1.042 FG, 9.3% ABV batch actually, the 0.9995 13.6% one was good and definitely drinkable but way too dry to be enjoyable in loads, tasted too much like wine IMO; The sweetness is relevant since the more honey, the more staggered additions are necessary FWIH). The reason I'm skeptic towards staggered additions is because I suppose it'd make the gravity measurements very theoretical or even impossible, am I right?

Chevette Girl
11-27-2012, 11:03 AM
You can calculate it if you know your exact volume of must and your exact volume of honey. Other than that, yeah, you can estimate your OG using the total amount of honey added (presuming you keep careful notes and are accurate in your measurements). I typically say to hell with it and do a spirit indication test at the end once the SG stabilizes after the final addition.

Medsen Fey
11-27-2012, 02:11 PM
The reason I'm skeptic towards staggered additions is because I suppose it'd make the gravity measurements very theoretical or even impossible, am I right?

Step feeding makes calculating the ABV a little more challenging, but as long as you measure the volume of liquid added, and factor in the resulting dilution, you can get a pretty good estimate.

The bigger question is why do you want to step feed it? Typically, I don't usually do that unless trying to push yeast beyond their maximal ABV tolerance, or trying to get maximum alcohol while remaining dry. If you want a sweet mead, you can just start at a higher gravity or backsweeten.

Hagroth
11-27-2012, 04:34 PM
You can calculate it if you know your exact volume of must and your exact volume of honey. Other than that, yeah, you can estimate your OG using the total amount of honey added (presuming you keep careful notes and are accurate in your measurements). I typically say to hell with it and do a spirit indication test at the end once the SG stabilizes after the final addition.
I see, well I don't like doing it in theory since something tells me different honey products have different amounts of sugar and so on. And I'm pretty much still a beginner, so I want to keep it simple of course. Ah well, do you usually do staggered honey addition or should I be fine if I just rehydrate the yeast properly before pitching it?

Medsen Fey, yeah I guess it might be overkill and not necessary then :) I just want to make a sweet traditional mead and I read somewhere that too much honey from the start might shock the yeast. However, I'm going to rehydrate it according to the instructions to try to maximize results.

Chevette Girl
11-27-2012, 04:38 PM
I only do it if I'm pushing the yeast too, otherwise it's just easier to do it all at the beginning. I don't like to start with a SG of more than about 1.120 so if the amount of honey I want to add in total would give a higher SG than that, I'd mix until I got my 1.120 and then hold the rest back until fermentation's in full swing and it's eaten at least half of the sugars it started with.