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View Full Version : What is a "slow" fermentation?



Msarro
08-09-2012, 11:09 PM
Hey everyone. Last Tuesday I started my very first batch of mead, with 1 gal of orange blossom honey, 5 lbs of wildflower honey, 1 lb of organic raisins, and a bunch of bee pollen to act as a nutrient. Then I used 2 packets of 71b yeast.

As of now the fermenter is still bubbling happily (glug every 2 seconds). i snuck a peek inside and saw a healthy krausen (not sure if the term is different for mead making). In brewing beer by now the krausen would have dissipated, and bubbling would most likely have stopped. On average, does this sound normal? Does it sound like a slow fermentation? Should it have stopped by now? I have not yet taken a gravity reading because its still bubbling away. My concern is letting the brew sit on the lees too long because of the yeast (lots of folks saying not to let 71b sit in primarY, can't find any explanation of "how long" on average you can wait).

mediaguru
08-10-2012, 01:52 AM
My understanding (but I'm also a noob) is that this is completely normal and some people have even mentioned leaving primary for up to a month or longer.

Mine has been going for two weeks, and has finally slowed down to the point that it takes several minutes before the airlock bubbles; I plan to check the SG and rack to secondary this weekend, which will be exactly 3 weeks from when I started...

Chevette Girl
08-10-2012, 01:58 AM
You should be OK with 71B for up to 6 weeks is what I've been told, it doesn't start degrading immediately.

Krausen is a beer term but some of us use it in meadmaking, Meads may or may not develop anything like a krausen, I think it depends on the proteins and other components of the must. In any case, its development in meads is not consistent enough to use as any kind of indication other than that you might need a blowoff tube if it starts climbing up your airlock...

If you think about it, your mead must probably has twice the sugar in it as a beer would, and only about half the nutrients the yeast needs to build a strong colony, so it may take longer to ferment. But each fermentation's different, a lot depends on temperature. It's possible but not expected for a mead must's fermentation to be complete within a week and a half... we usually give two weeks as a general timeline to expect, but some are really quick and some are really slow, one member has reported several 24-hour fermentations, and a lot of us have had fermentations that went on for a few weeks. Your SG will tell you more.

Bubbling really isn't a good indicator of how far along your fermentation is either, your specific gravity will tell you far more than your airlock. For all your airlock could tell you, it might still be fermenting or it might be just about done or mostly just degassing... There's no good reason not to take a SG reading at any point in your fermentation, if it's still bubbling, twirl or gently tap the hydrometer to knock the bubbles off.

Have you been aerating it? How much bee pollen did you use? What was your starting gravity?

Msarro
08-10-2012, 07:39 PM
You should be OK with 71B for up to 6 weeks is what I've been told, it doesn't start degrading immediately.

Krausen is a beer term but some of us use it in meadmaking, Meads may or may not develop anything like a krausen, I think it depends on the proteins and other components of the must. In any case, its development in meads is not consistent enough to use as any kind of indication other than that you might need a blowoff tube if it starts climbing up your airlock...

If you think about it, your mead must probably has twice the sugar in it as a beer would, and only about half the nutrients the yeast needs to build a strong colony, so it may take longer to ferment. But each fermentation's different, a lot depends on temperature. It's possible but not expected for a mead must's fermentation to be complete within a week and a half... we usually give two weeks as a general timeline to expect, but some are really quick and some are really slow, one member has reported several 24-hour fermentations, and a lot of us have had fermentations that went on for a few weeks. Your SG will tell you more.

Bubbling really isn't a good indicator of how far along your fermentation is either, your specific gravity will tell you far more than your airlock. For all your airlock could tell you, it might still be fermenting or it might be just about done or mostly just degassing... There's no good reason not to take a SG reading at any point in your fermentation, if it's still bubbling, twirl or gently tap the hydrometer to knock the bubbles off.

Have you been aerating it? How much bee pollen did you use? What was your starting gravity?




I was going to check the SG today but there's still a thick krausen on top. It doesn't smell like any bacterial influence is there, so I assume it's still just fermenting away. Once that breaks down and I can get a SG reading without dipping my hands into krausen I'll go for it. It started at 1.022. I used 5.5tbsp of bee pollen (1tbsp/gal was what I've seen suggested everywhere). I aerated by stirring the first two days and then left it be because it was bubbling and I didn't want to throw in more O2 than necessary once fermentation had really kicked in.

Chevette Girl
08-11-2012, 12:22 AM
You can sanitize a spoon and try to stir the foam down to get a reading... although a hydrometer test tube and a sanitized turkey baster (if you don't have a wine thief) are a grand idea too.

danr
08-11-2012, 03:33 PM
You can sanitize a spoon and try to stir the foam down to get a reading... although a hydrometer test tube and a sanitized turkey baster (if you don't have a wine thief) are a grand idea too.

With this method, do you return the mead from the tube to the fermenter after taking the hydrometer reading?

hepcat
08-11-2012, 04:49 PM
With this method, do you return the mead from the tube to the fermenter after taking the hydrometer reading?

I do. But I clean/sanitize thoroughly before taking a sample. And with a turkey baster or wine theif you can get a sample without disturbing the krausen/foam.

Msarro
08-14-2012, 11:57 PM
I do. But I clean/sanitize thoroughly before taking a sample. And with a turkey baster or wine theif you can get a sample without disturbing the krausen/foam.

The foam has settled out now, and I took a reading. 1.042, from a starting gravity of 1.122. So, that's about ~11% abv. It's not clear yet and it's definitely still fermenting so I'm going to let it do its thing for another 2 weeks and see what the next reading says.