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View Full Version : Another JAOM question/ first mead batch ever



pokerfacepablo
08-27-2012, 04:14 AM
Maybe it's me and I need a little bit of reassurance. I just made my first batch of JAOM and things were off to a great start. I followed the traditional ancient orange recipe and added raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. I'm positive that I pitched the yeast properly because i had big time bubbling action within an hour. The extreme bubbling lasted for about three days and came to a screeching halt. I used my lees stirrer twice a day and added both yeast nutrient and energizer again after the bubbling had significantly decreased. I checked the pH and it read 3.8. Should I be worried? Is this normal?
It seemed like every youtube video I watched the bubbling would continue for another 1 to 2 weeks. I used the slap pack Wymeast #4184. Unable to check the specific gravity because I used the glass carboy instead of the bucket... stupid rookie! Any novel ideas if this isnt normal????

fatbloke
08-27-2012, 04:55 AM
Maybe it's me and I need a little bit of reassurance. I just made my first batch of JAOM and things were off to a great start. I followed the traditional ancient orange recipe and added raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. I'm positive that I pitched the yeast properly because i had big time bubbling action within an hour. The extreme bubbling lasted for about three days and came to a screeching halt. I used my lees stirrer twice a day and added both yeast nutrient and energizer again after the bubbling had significantly decreased. I checked the pH and it read 3.8. Should I be worried? Is this normal?
Yes, a pH of 3.8 is about average. It becomes a problem when it's below about 3.0 or less. Equally, the different types of fruit should also not be a problem.


It seemed like every youtube video I watched the bubbling would continue for another 1 to 2 weeks. I used the slap pack Wyeast #4184. Unable to check the specific gravity because I used the glass carboy instead of the bucket... stupid rookie! Any novel ideas if this isnt normal????
That particular yeast does have a reputation for being finicky as hell to use. It's got a tolerance of 11% alcohol and it does seem that you have to aim a batch to no more than about 12 or 13% ABV, so that it doesn't have a problem with osmotic shock.

If you have a hydrometer and test jar of some sort, then you can sanitise a turkey baster at the same time as sanitising the hydrometer and test jar, take the sample with the turkey baster, make the test and I still put most of the sample back into the batch (never caused me a problem so far), with a tiny amount to taste to see how it's progressing flavour-wise.

If you've used the same ratio of honey to water that's listed in the JAO recipe, then that might actually have been too high a gravity and be what's (possibly) causing the problem.

Did you take a measurement of the gravity before pitching the yeast ? As that's the best way of knowing how far it's got i.e. comparing the start gravity to the current gravity. Then the amount that it's dropped by can be calculated to a strength/% ABV.

I've learned, though problems I've had with smack packs of liquid yeast, that for meads, it's best to make a starter (more research for you to think about). Hence I use dry yeasts and rehydrate them as per the pack instructions, as they tend to have a much higher cell count.

I'd suspect that if you do take a reading, then leave it for a week or so, then take another reading, that if it doesn't change, then it's stuck, whereas if it's still going down, albeit slowly, then leave it be.

If it's stuck, it could be time to think about how to restart the fermentation. There's plenty of info about that kicking around the forums. But it's worth considering what yeast you might need to use for a restart, as it needs to be something that's quite robust - and no, despite what other threads say, I don't like using champagne yeasts unless it's absolutely necessary. I like to use the Montpelier strain (K1V-1116).

Dunno if any of that is of any help/use......

pokerfacepablo
08-27-2012, 06:02 AM
Well I didn't have the starting SG.... another mistake. Figured I couldn't mess up a JAO recipe. After roughly about 4 days fermenting, my SG is now .994. It tastes like a tarty alcohol. Could it have only taken 5 days to ferment? I also had a proof hydrometer with a reading of 11%.

fatbloke
08-27-2012, 07:06 AM
Well I didn't have the starting SG.... another mistake. Figured I couldn't mess up a JAO recipe. After roughly about 4 days fermenting, my SG is now .994. It tastes like a tarty alcohol. Could it have only taken 5 days to ferment? I also had a proof hydrometer with a reading of 11%.
Proof hydrometers aren't as helpful as they sound, when it comes to working out the amount of sugars available for the yeast to munch on.

You haven't messed up, just got to a point that isn't in the normal routine of the JAO recipe.

In any case, if you're getting a reading of 0.994, then it's pretty much finished it's ferment anyway and the yeast has already munched it's way through the sugars.

So I'd just leave it alone, until the fruit has dropped, then rack it off for ageing.

Normal JAO batches finish sweet, somewhere about the 1.030 area, so once the fruit has dropped and you've got it racked, you will have to age it for a while to work out whether it needs a bit of back sweetening or not.

It's always handy to make a JAO as closely to the original recipe as possible, that way you've got some idea how it's supposed to taste from the original recipe i.e. a "benchmark" batch. Then divert with modifications from there........

pokerfacepablo
08-27-2012, 07:20 AM
It tastes pretty decent now so I could imagine a few months from now. Much obliged Fatbloke:)

pokerfacepablo
08-27-2012, 07:26 AM
The newbee guide mentions something about punching it twice a day. Do I continue to keep punching/stirring until all the fruit drops (the cap) or stop earlier in the process?

Chevette Girl
08-27-2012, 11:00 AM
Wait, did you call this a JAO? Just to straighten out something, if you'd added other fruit and that was the only change you made to the recipe, it would be considered a JAO variation... if you used anything other than bread yeast, you haven't made a JAO, you've made a spiced melomel. Further, if you actually read all the text in Joe's original recipe, stirring, punching down the cap and adding nutrients are no-no's. Like Fatbloke said, you should give it a try sometime, it's fun, tasty and drinkable a lot sooner than a dry melomel is likely to be.

If it's down to .994 then you had a nice quick fermentation, as Fatbloke said, they're done. Good job! ;D

In a JAO, we set it up and walk away until the fruit sinks, and because of the residual sugar content and the use of bread yeast, this makes a desirable product that's drinkable quickly. It breaks all the rules you'll see in the Newbee guide, but all for good reasons which you may eventually come to understand if you really get into all the physical and biological processes going in in winemaking.

With a more typical recipe using wine yeast, nutrients and other fruits like you did, we usually don't leave it on the fruit for longer than about two weeks (which is why a lot of us ferment in a bucket and use a mesh bag to contain the fruit) and we also don't let it sit on the yeast for longer than about a month, some yeast strains (most notably Lalvin 71B-1122) can start to break down and release nasty flavours. Bread yeast doesn't seem to do this but I'm not familiar with whether any of the smack-packs are likely to cause problems. Usually you can stop punching down the cap once all the foaming subsides, when the bubbles trapped in the fruit gunk push the fruit above the surface of the must, that's when you tend to have problems. If it's just under the surface you can probably stop worrying about it, although it may take a few days for the trapped CO2 to come out of the fruit. Daily stirring until fermentation's complete can keep the yeast in suspension so they can do their job better, but yours are all done so it's time to let things settle out and rack it off the fruit and the gross lees so it can clear up nicely for you.

pokerfacepablo
08-28-2012, 01:02 AM
Again, my bad. I did read all of the text but I had also been watching youtube videos and other articles which gave small variations. You're right, just stick to the recipes on this site verbatim. It tastes kind of tarty sweet now so I have a good feeling about it. Not bad for using a smack pack first time. Good idea about transferring to another carboy... I will do this in another 2 wks.

pokerfacepablo
08-28-2012, 01:11 AM
next time I'll use my plastic carboy and a mesh sack... Thank you again.