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ande1497
07-15-2012, 12:31 PM
okay, like all the other newbees i'm new to Mead and started my first batch and it seems to not be working.

15 lbs of honey
28 pts of water
12 tsp of malic acid
6 tsp of tartaric acid
1 tsp of tannin
3 tsp of energizer
8 campden, crush
fruite wine yeast.

I didn't check the sg when i started. Here is how i did it. put the honey in warm water to dissolve it. Then i added the acid to the mix and mixed it. then i added the tannin, energizer and campden. I waited 24 hours and added the yeast. (first yeast i put in warm water second yeast i put in dry) No bubbles for 36 hours so i then added another packet of yeast (dry). I then went on vacation for 4 days and my wife said she didn't see bubbles. I'm back and just checked the PH its 3.3 and the S.G is 1.11.

What do i need to do to get this thing fired up? or is it working?

Honey is from local farmer. Everything was sanitized and clean when i started.

Whats going on with this stuff?

Thanks

akueck
07-15-2012, 01:32 PM
Welcome to GotMead!

Well, my first thought is "wow that's a lot of acid". Given your pH reading (how did you get this--strips or a meter?), this must is on the bottom end of where most yeast will ferment happily.

I would suggest increasing the pH by adding some potassium bicarbonate. Add a few grams, stir well, and check the pH again. Keep adding more until it's around 3.5-3.8. At that point it's possible that the yeast will wake up and get going, or you might find you need to add more. A good thorough aeration would be a good idea as well.

In the future, skip those acid additions completely when mixing up your initial must. Acid additions are common in fruit wine recipes, to make the must more closely mimic grape wine. However, honey is a totally different critter and comes with its own acidity--it just can't be measured by TA as in grape musts. (Search for "gluconolactone" to read all about that.) If you find that your finished mead needs acid, you can add it to taste at that point.

fatbloke
07-15-2012, 02:24 PM
Welcome to GotMead!

Well, my first thought is "wow that's a lot of acid". Given your pH reading (how did you get this--strips or a meter?), this must is on the bottom end of where most yeast will ferment happily.

I would suggest increasing the pH by adding some potassium bicarbonate. Add a few grams, stir well, and check the pH again. Keep adding more until it's around 3.5-3.8. At that point it's possible that the yeast will wake up and get going, or you might find you need to add more. A good thorough aeration would be a good idea as well.

In the future, skip those acid additions completely when mixing up your initial must. Acid additions are common in fruit wine recipes, to make the must more closely mimic grape wine. However, honey is a totally different critter and comes with its own acidity--it just can't be measured by TA as in grape musts. (Search for "gluconolactone" to read all about that.) If you find that your finished mead needs acid, you can add it to taste at that point.
As per akueck's comments above, though I'd suggest that if you're confident of the pH reading, it's also entirely possible that because you've used campden tablets in the must (not necessary with honey/water musts - but some will use them with batches that have fruit elements in them), that it could still be in "lag phase", where the sulphites are retarding the yeast growth/development (I sulphited a batch of grape concentrate that I'd bought for back sweetening - it had grown a bit of mould, so I just strained the mould out and sulphited it - after a couple of days, I mixed it up according to the kit instructions. It took nearly a month to start fermenting, but it did ferment dry). Sulphites will dissipate, especially if you're aerating the must, they sometimes need more than 24 hours.......

I doubt that yours will take as long to kick off, as mine did in my above example, but it will help it along if you give it a damn good stirring, at least once a day, to help get some air/O2 to the yeast (a good thing at the early stages of ferment). Then keeping an eye on the gravity as it drops, you just stop stirring/aerating at about the 1/3rd sugar break - your 1/3rd break should be about 1.075 if the 1.110 SG is right). That's the point where you just air lock it off and let it finish.

ande1497
07-15-2012, 06:52 PM
yes i did us the tablets. I will try what you guys have suggested and let you know. I copied the recipe from the winemakers recipe handbook and thats what they recommended for the acid and other ingredients. It smells like the yeast is fermenting when i pull the lid. I brew beer and wine and it smells similar to when its fermenting. I also did the test on the PH strips.

if you guys have a better recipe i'm open to it please send it over and i'll fire it up next time.

thanks

akueck
07-15-2012, 08:34 PM
There are tons of recipes right here! Just search for a keyword that strikes your fancy, and you'll probably find others have toyed around with it already.

fatbloke
07-16-2012, 05:04 AM
yes i did us the tablets. I will try what you guys have suggested and let you know. I copied the recipe from the winemakers recipe handbook and thats what they recommended for the acid and other ingredients. It smells like the yeast is fermenting when i pull the lid. I brew beer and wine and it smells similar to when its fermenting. I also did the test on the PH strips.

if you guys have a better recipe i'm open to it please send it over and i'll fire it up next time.

thanks
Your problem is that, being new to mead making, it's not so easy to work out about current suggested method (it's why I try to direct people to the NewBee guide), plus things like boiling/heating/"pasteurising" honey musts or adding acids, etc.

They're old techniques, that were either valid at the time (genuine reasons when they were used) or because of the relative lack of the knowledge that "they" used to have compared to what we have now.

For instance, a lot of older recipes suggested boiling the must, but that harks back to when it was the water that needed sanitising more than the honey. Plus "they" didn't know that honey is so anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, etc - yes they knew it had some healing properties, but not really why.

Also, it seemed that nobody had bothered to check the relative acidity or pH of honey musts. It does seem that these two (relatively big points) weren't thought of before the resurgence of mead making, when ? something like the early 80's (possibly a bit before).

After all, there was no real mead market then, other than a few apiarist types who'd always made some, but probably didn't know why they didn't need to do some of the processes that they used etc......

You don't need a recipe per se, just know a few points that will allow you to make a drinkable batch (I'll try to list them)....

1. How much honey ? = well you need to work out a reasonable gravity to aim for at the start, because too low gives a thin, watery sort of brew. Too much and the gravity is so high, that the yeast can have trouble starting the ferment, if at all (one of honey's protections from spoilage, is that the levels of sugar are so high, that the yeast just die off from osmotic shock).

Honey doesn't just keep fermenting forever. Yeasts have a tolerance to alcohol, which after all, is the waste product from them (yes, we like to drink yeast pee). At a certain level of alcohol content, they die off as the alcohol becomes toxic to them.

If you dig about, you'll find various tables that give information of how gravity relates to alcohol content, and that some yeast makers/producers publish data (Lalvin being the best data out there) that includes the maximum tolerance, when the yeast is used for grape musts. It's not necessarily accurate for meads, but it's a good guide.

Average honey usage would be in the 3 to 4 lb per gallon area - but again, add the lower amount and test the gravity.

2. The Water ? = well there's a fair bit of commentary about that. Basically if you like your tap water then that's probably fine to use. So called "spring water" isn't the magic bullet that some think it is. It'll be ok to use in most cases. RO/reverse osmosis or distilled water is also good, as it's as close to "soft" water that a lot of people can get, plus the lack of trace elements and oxygen in it isn't an issue. You should be adding nutrients/energiser/etc for the yeast to much on anyway, plus we now understand about the need for air/O2 by the yeast in the early stages of development/fermentation, so you should be adding that as well, by aeration of some form.

3. Acids/Acidity ? = Well Glucono delta-lactone (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glucono_delta-lactone) is one of the things that comes to mind. It's sometimes called gluconic acid. But the sugar content masks much, if not all, the signs of acidity. If you just take a pH reading of a must you've mixed to the gravity you want, you'll find that it's not that far from the same pH as vinegar, but it tastes nothing like it. So as the "sweet spot" for mead ferments is something in the 3.5 to 3.8 area anywhere about that, or even a little higher is fine. Yeast might like an acid environment, but if it's too acidic (below about 3.0pH) it will struggle to start the ferment or can cause a stuck ferment.

The main reason for aeration early in the ferment, is to give the yeast cells some air/O2, but it has the additional benefit of brining any sediment up into the mix. Which creates the "nucleation points" that carbonic acid (a.k.a. dissolved CO2) that the yeast have also produced can bind too and that gets removed from the ferment as bubbles of CO2. So aeration also helps prevent the wild swings in pH that you can get from a ferment, especially a newly started ferment.

4. Nutrients ? = It's current practice to use "GoFerm" rehydration nutrient to rehydrate the yeast. It's specifically formulated to have little or no nitrogen content, as nitrogen in the form that we use (di-ammonium phosphate) can be damaging to the newly developed yeast cells.

If you mixed a must, you don't add any other nutrients/energisers initially, you just rehydrate the yeast in water, GoFerm and a little bit of must, then once it's had 15 to 30 minutes or so getting wet, you add the mixture in, but then don't add anything else until there are visible signs of ferment (bubbles in the airlock etc).

If it turned out that you couldn't get GoFerm, then it's Ok to just rehydrate the yeast with water, as per pack instructions. Then I would add the first half of the nutrient as per splitting it up below, and then pitch the yeast.

Then it's also current practice to work out how much nutrient/energiser is likely to be needed (you can get all technical with that, but for ball park numbers the guidance on the pack is usually adequate to work). It's also recommended to use FermaidK or O, Fermax, Tronozymol, etc (tan coloured powder) combined nutrients, mixed with some extra nitrogen (DAP a.k.a. di-ammonium phosphate. it looks like white crystals similar to salt or sugar). I use 2 parts of the combined nutrients and 1 part of the DAP i.e. for a gallon batch, 1 teaspoon of the combined nutrient and half a teaspoon of DAP.

That can be kept separate until needed or it could be mixed up, then once you see some bubbles in the airlock, add half, aerating/stirring the ferment first, and a little bit after you've added the chems to mix them in (it's suggested to do it like that, so you can prevent a mead eruption spouting out the fermenter). you then take a gravity reading.

The aeration, done at least once a day helps with the yeast development, and taking a reading after each aeration means you can judge how the ferment is progressing and you will know when to add the second half of the nutrients. That's when the ferment has reached the 1/3rd sugar break e.g. if you started with a gravity of 1.090 before pitching the yeast, then the 1/3rd break is at 1.060

The 1/3rd break is when most aerate for the last time, add the second part of the nutrients/energiser and then airlock the ferment off to allow it to go into "anaerobic phase" when most of the alcohol is produced.


I think that's about it for the moment, if anyone else thinks of a point worthy of addition to those 4, I'm sure they'll add it.

I like to start my ferments at between 1.100 and 1.110 as that seems a healthy level that the yeast can easily manage (it allows for potential alcohol content of 13.5% to 15%). If you use a yeast that can handle more, it's usually best to read up about "step feeding" and add further honey later. Which is less likely to stress the yeast and cause problems.

I hope that makes sense. It should allow you to make straight forward "traditionals" successfully, just using the honey you like (or can get) and water, with nutrients and yeast. No "recipe" needed.

For other types of mead, you may need to either read up on the ingredients you want to use first, about when to add them, how much etc. Then you may need to follow a recipe, at least for some guidance in how it's made.

Kelvin
07-16-2012, 05:11 AM
Awesome rundown, Fatbloke. Thank You

fatbloke
07-16-2012, 08:07 AM
Awesome rundown, Fatbloke. Thank You

Da nada. Open source mead making.......spread the knowledge :D

Chevette Girl
07-16-2012, 12:21 PM
Yeah, thanks, Fatbloke. I've bookmarked it, that's a good link to send Newbees to read so we don't have to repeat the same thing every single time...

ande1497
07-17-2012, 04:01 PM
okay, i've added everything that was suggested and got the PH up to the 3.6 maybe a little higher (i'm using the strips so its hard to say exactly) I added a new packet of yeast and its been about 24 hours and nothing. I also started two wines yesterday at the same time and they are bubbling like crazy.

On a side note i just started another batch of mead with the direction from fatbloke. Lets see if i get some activity tomorrow.

I have not given up hope on the first batch hopefully time will tell. Is it bad to leave it longer in the fermentation bucket? will it spoil or anything i need to worry about?

Any other suggestion if this round doesn't work?

I'm stirring it every day now. when i put the yeast in i didn't stir it i just let it do its job.

Chevette Girl
07-18-2012, 01:47 AM
If it still doesn't start, I'd suggest getting another packet of yeast and repitching. Make sure you rehydrate or whatever, according to the yeast manufacturer's directions, and you may want to look into using a starter... It is possible you got a dud package, I've had it happen once or twice now. And it should be OK in the bucket for at least a little while, the acidity that was in there should have held off most other organisms, if you can get it started, a vigorous fermentation will kick the butt of anything still stupid enough to be there.

Deacon Aegis
07-18-2012, 12:48 PM
I'm not sure what type of yeast you are using here, but try a real hardy variety such as K1-V1116 or EC-1118 and as Chevette Girl mentioned, rehydrate it using GoFerm or something like that. I'm not entirely sure what fruit whine yeast is, but it may simply not be hardy enough to handle the mega chemistry snafu you've got going on with this must. Acids, sulfates, and then bases to balance the acids back into tolerance, that's a cocktail that may require a much hardier yeast to deal with... Just a thought.

ande1497
07-18-2012, 12:50 PM
well i finally got bubbles. they are not crazy but it is working. Just got done stirring it. Got a little shock with that. Had an overflow issue. Figures if its not one thing its another. The other mead i started is really taking off used flatbroke direction and it looks good at this time.

Thanks to everyone that has helped, nice to see people take time to reach out and help. I know a lot of people get upset with the newbees but we are trying and thanks to those that help.

Any other suggestion i'm all ears.

Chevette Girl
07-18-2012, 01:52 PM
Thanks to everyone that has helped, nice to see people take time to reach out and help. I know a lot of people get upset with the newbees but we are trying and thanks to those that help.


I'm fortunate to only have ever belonged to forums full of mostly nice people so I've never experienced the garbage I hear about mistreatement of noobs.

We like newbees, we can learn from them, and when something we suggest works, it feels good to have helped, and if it didn't work in that situation, someone else will suggest something, so we learn what else can be tried.

The only thing that we'll ever politely chide newbees about (aside from off-topic promoting of strong political views, or abusive behaviour etc) is when they fail to either have a look around the site or check out the search function and then ask things like, "How do you make mead with apples" when there have just been three recent threads on that subject, or "Where do I start" because they never bothered reading the Newbee Guide.

If you had enough bubbles that you had a MEA (mead explosion accident), congrats, your fermentation's kicked off just fine! I recommend you start slowly next time you stir it, and if it starts foaming up a lot, pull back and just stir the foam till it dies down, then slowly go back to stirring it...