View Full Version : First Batch, First Post.

08-29-2012, 02:20 PM
Hi all.

Last week i started my first attempt to make some Mead.
As usual when I attempt anything, something simply
must go terribly wrong.

# DAY 0:

In this case, I followed a recipe of 15l, (One I got in the store I bought
my equipment from.) Only to realize, near the end of preparing my must,
I am the proud owner of a 10l demijohn. I left out the banana's the recipe prescribed,
and continued anyway.


A drinkable mead. I dont care if it ends sweet or dry, if it's drinkable
I'm happy. (I'm a man of manny tastes.) Should end sweet though.


Polyflower honey, 4kg.
Raisins, 250gr.
Kittsinger Yeast - Haute Sauternes. (Appearantly sweet wine yeast).
Water 7,5l (before boiling)
Citric Acid 15gr
Wine Stone Acid, 60gr
Tannin, 12gr
YeastNutrition, 6gr

Mistakes to remember not to make in the future:

- Read the recipe BEFORE starting :D
- I did not boil the honey. Unfortionaly I also forgot to boil the raisins.
- I also did not stirr my yeast when re-hydrating.
- Take a sugar reading AND WRITE IT DOWN!!!! Calculated initial reading: 1126.

# DAY 1

The must seems to bubble, much like lemonade. You can hear it too.

# DAY 5

I probably have a leak somewhere. While the water in my airlock moves slightly to the
right, no bubling to be seen in the airlock anymore. Bubling in the must is there
but greatly decreased. Smells verry accidic, but could be normal. It tastes not unlike
Orange vitamines, those tablets you dissolve in water. (Smell and taste are greatly different
though. Better taste then smell.) Did a sugar reading. Only 1120???? Or my initial sugar levels
are way off, or I've got myself some verry lazy yeast? Boiled some bread yeast(6g), and added it
to the must. Aereated the must. (Did not do so before, the recipe did not mention this) Also dressed
the DemiJohn with an old pyjama of mine, for heat conservation. Silly DemiJohn :)

# DAY 6

Bubbling observed in the must again. Not in the airlock though, cant find the leak? Oh well.
Did a reading again. 1100? What now they're like on relatin or something? I'm a little concerned
about the acid taste, but probably should not worry about taste this early in fermentation. If it
remains, definately cutting back on acids the next batch. Maybe get my hands on some ph-paper.

That's it till now.
Feel free to fire some remarks!

Chevette Girl
08-29-2012, 02:47 PM
Welcome to the forum, and it looks like you're getting a headstart on your learning by doing it the hard way! :) (making mistakes is the best way to learn because then you remember it, or at least, that's what they keep telling me, but sometimes I feel like all I do is learn new ways to make mistakes;D)

Not everything you've listed is a mistake though. A lot of us never boil our honey and I've chucked raisins in straight out of the bag, so don't sweat that too much.

Not stirring the yeast during rehydration? We only stir gently anyways, I only ever give it a swirl to make sure all the lumps are submerged, I've read that their cell walls are vulnerable during rehydration and to avoid stirring until the 15 minutes (or whatever suggested aeration time) is up... you just don't want it lumpy when you pitch it, because that will mean the centres of the lumps might not have been properly rehydrated.

For your next endeavour though, I'd go without the acid additions. Something I didn't know until I came to this forum is that honey has its own acidity, so adding acid to your must can actually cause the pH to go too low and might tick off your yeasties. That said, I used to make my meads with lemon juice and they finished about as well as any of my meads made without acid additions. Sometimes it matters, sometimes it doesn't, but the general suggestion around here is not to bother with acid additions until fermentation's over, and then, only to taste.

If your aeration and boiled yeast doesn't keep it chugging along, pH strips might be a good idea, and you may need some potassium carbonate to bring the pH up a bit, you want it to be at least 3.4, much below that and the yeast can get really ticked off (or if you can't get that, calcium carbonate is what I use, just be careful with it, some folks have reported "chalky" flavours from using too much and be aware that it can take a few days to fully dissolve and for the pH to reach equilibrium.

So what's the temperature in your brewing area? If it's too cold, that could also account for slow yeasties.

And yes, when you aerate, it knocks a lot of the dissolved CO2 out of the must and it takes a while for the yeast to replenish it to the point where it ends up leaving the must and going out the airlock.

I have one fermentation bucket where the airlock never bubbles, it's a crappy seal so it only ever gets used for primary fermentation when oxygen's not the end of the world. Usually carboys are better, and I always dip the stopper in sanitizing solution before installing it in a carboy so the liquid can seal any minor leaks between the stopper and the mouth of the carboy.

08-30-2012, 05:05 AM
Activity seems to have returned. No foam at all though. Going to try to
get my hands on some ph-strips this evening after work anyway.

My mead is fermenting at a more or less stable 20-22C (68-71,6F).
(Crappy summer this year in Europe.) I could put it in the attic where it is
hotter during the day, unfortionatly during the night that would be

08-30-2012, 02:40 PM
Got those ph-strips. 2,5! (Somewhere between 2 & 3 anyway.)
I'm slowly torturing my yeast to death, how's that for a
first mead :D

There is still some bubling but not as much as yesterday.
Sugar reading went down a point to 1099.

My first idea was going to try to decrease the ph by adding
honeywater, and fill up my carboy as full as possible. Could only get
my hands on some grocery honey though :(. At least its cheap.

Then when I measured the remaining space on the carboy (through
filling up my other carboy l by l), I only have anouph space
for another 0,5l. (It looks so much bigger :()

I could find myself a bigger carboy tomorrow (15l?), transfer my
entire must (junk at the bottom included) to the new carboy, and
fill it up? Or should I leave my lees behind and rack the normal way?
Also should I repitch some yeast, or should that not be nececary?
I could offcourse just toss it away and start over.

Any ideas?

08-30-2012, 03:10 PM
Well, I follow your comment about the summer weather - been pretty shite here too.

Anyway, pH strips aren't really accurate enough. You should be able to find a pocket pH meter for 30 to 40 euros. Which are accurate enough.

I'd suggest that if your strip is suggesting between 2 and 3, that it may be a bit low i.e. below 3 is not so good, so its worth thinking of looking for something to raise it a little (mid 3 to 4 is the "sweet spot" for yeasts/mead).

In the meantime, if you aerate the batch at least once a day (twice might be better), then that converts the carbonic acid, to gaseous CO2, so aeration helps both ways, it adds oxygen to help yeast development and it removes the CO2.

So if you tried that for a couple of days while you sort out something to raise the pH a little, it should be fine.

Chevette Girl
08-30-2012, 10:03 PM
Expanding this batch out to the intended size might help, especially if you're using nice hard well water, which is often higher pH :) And I just checked, bananas have a pH of approximately 4.5.

But I'd definitely suggest some potassium or calcium carbonate (precipitated chalk) if you can get your hands on some at your local brew store.

08-31-2012, 03:00 PM
Got me a ph-meter, calibrated the thing and took another
sample from my must.

PH: 2,65. Wasn't to far off after all appearantly.

Suger: 1100, no change, even rose a bit?
Can I conclude my Yeast died on me?
This probably means I'll have to pitch a new pack of

I also got me an extra carboy (also 10l), a few
packages of yeast, and some calcium-carbonate.
No potassium available at the shop.

Now I could do several things.

I could split the carboy over two bottles and fill with water.
If required, additional calcium could be added.
The lady at the shop suggested waiting to add additional
honey till SG drops quit a bit to give the yeast a rest.

Alternatively I could keep this batch in its carboy, nuke it
with calcium till ph+-3,7, and make a completely new
batch in the other carboy, untainted by my disasters,
and not risking to wast another pile of good honey.

Should combining them still result in a good mead?

08-31-2012, 08:13 PM
I'd advise starting with just raising the PH to 3.4, give it some O2 and see if it wakes up on it's own. Yeast is hard to kill, easy to stall so just begin by giving it a good environment and see if it can take it from there.

Chevette Girl
09-01-2012, 12:30 AM
Agreed, your pH is lower than that of vinegar!

09-02-2012, 09:51 AM
Agreed, your pH is lower than that of vinegar!

And a name is born, 'Chateau Vinaigre'!

Thanks for the advice btw everyone, its really helpfull!

For anyone happen to end up in the same situation as I,
the following thread also helped me:

I added 5tsp of Calcium Carbonate yesterday.
(tsp = TeaSpoon, topped off with a knife.)

Reading today: SG 1091, PH 2,90. I added another 12tsp,
this sould bring my ph to 3,5 (if cacium carbonate vs ph
is linear). Going to let it settle till tomorrow and
read it again.

Medsen Fey
09-02-2012, 10:41 AM
(if cacium carbonate vs ph
is linear)...

It isn't.
The pH scale is logarithmic. You need less to move it as the pH rises. Ideally, you don't want to overshoot and usually if you can get it above 3.2 the yeast can get going.

Also, potassium bicarbonate (or carbonate) is preferred over the calcium versions, though I will use a combination when a large amount is required.

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

09-02-2012, 04:15 PM
Some hours have passed since my last Calcium Carbonate addition.
Current reading: ph 3,10. Anyone have an idea how long 'longer'
actually means in terms of rising ph by Calcium Carbonate vs Potassium? Going to take another reading tomorrow evening.

SG 1190. Verry small change, but that's ok considdering the verry
small timeframe.

Also, potassium bicarbonate (or carbonate) is preferred over the calcium versions

Hmmm I thought they did'n carry it at my local store, and wasn't willing to pay
10 shipping for a 2 purchase from another shop, but according to their website,
they do stock it. They call it 'Kalinat Erbsloh', who could have guessed :)
Stupid commercial names, lets call a dog a dog shall we? :)
Definatly going to stock some next time I get there.

09-03-2012, 12:41 PM
Another reading. SG 1080, PH 3,08.
PH is dropping again? Guessing the calcium carbonate has stopped
working and somehow ph is falling again. The SG keeps dropping too,
yet fearing the PH may fall lower and stall the yeast again, going to
add another 5 tsp of calcium carbonate.

It still smells and tastes like vitamin tablets btw.

Chevette Girl
09-03-2012, 03:20 PM
Ordinarily I'd say, go easy with the calcium carbonnate. I think I read that sometimes it can take a day or two to completely dissolve. I'd probably go with half as much as you think you need, I generally start with a teaspoon or two per 5 gallons, give it a day, if it's still too low, add a little more... but yours seems to be pretty stubborn about it. Make sure you give everything a good stir before you check the pH.

09-04-2012, 12:35 PM
Make sure you give everything a good stir before you check the pH.
I do, after adding Calcium (dissolved in cooked water). I start by gently
rocking the carboy, slowly increasing in spead, to avoid MEA, till I
can send the raisins and lees flying through the entire carboy.

The must is bubbling happy again, indeed yeast is a durable beast.
Reading: PH 3,20 SG 1072. Tastes less like vitamin now, but tastes
quit bland, with little to no honey aroma. With some luck (lots of)
aging is going to improve this a bit. Going to leave it now
and see what the PH does the following days.

Considdering this batch will probably never turn out even drinkable,
I started a second batch parralel to this one, WITHOUT acid additions.
(Only added some boiled yeast cells.) Going to continue this one as a
learning effort though.

PS: Appearantly 'a teaspoon' is an official measurment in the US,
to the ammount of 5ml. My teaspoon is literally teaspoon, filled
to the border without a mountain on top, closer to 2-3ml. Maybe
this explains the perceived mild reaction of my mead to the calcium?

Chevette Girl
09-04-2012, 01:24 PM
PS: Appearantly 'a teaspoon' is an official measurment in the US,
to the ammount of 5ml. My teaspoon is literally teaspoon, filled
to the border without a mountain on top, closer to 2-3ml. Maybe
this explains the perceived mild reaction of my mead to the calcium?

That definitely explains a lot... my tea spoons are actually about 3 ml level, my table spoons are actually pretty accurate at around 15 ml, which is a proper tablespoon. Every cutlery set is probably a little different though. Having a set of measuring spoons is highly recommended for just such reasons. Better yet is to do it by weight... then you really know how much you added.

Medsen Fey
09-04-2012, 06:29 PM
... My teaspoon is literally teaspoon, filled
to the border without a mountain on top, closer to 2-3ml. Maybe
this explains the perceived mild reaction of my mead to the calcium?

This is why we often encourage folks to go by weight- and a gram scale is cheap.

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

09-06-2012, 12:29 PM
This is why we often encourage folks to go by weight- and a gram scale is cheap.

I will in the future. I avoided this a bit since mine is broken. It works fine, but shuts down really soon. As in: put cup on the scale. Putt 'calibrate' button. Enter calcium carbonate. Dang scale shut down before I could finish filling the cup :).

Another reading:
SG 1060, Ph3,15. PH keeps dropping? SG too, thats a good thing atleast.
Going to get myself some potassium carbonate soon, just in case it keeps getting worse.

PS: The other batch I started 4 days ago seems also to have a major drop in PH.
It started out with a PH of 4,55, and dropped now to 3,76. (It dropped SG from
1130 to 1102). Is this normal, and if so I hope this will not continue to drop?
(I used the same yeast as this one, Kittsinger Haute Sauternes.) Unlike my
first batch, this one tastes yummie though!

EDIT: Typo.

Chevette Girl
09-06-2012, 04:53 PM
Heh, sounds like it needs new batteries.

Yeast do cause acidity so the pH drop is to be expected. And if it's under about 3.4 you probably do want to adjust it a little.

09-08-2012, 04:34 AM
Ph 3,14, SG 1051.
Slight improvement in taste.

Got me some potassium carbonate yesterday.
Ph is quit stable now. Best I leave it alone
for the time beeing?

Heh, sounds like it needs new batteries.

Exactly my initial thought, only that happened to be my wife's thought too when she changed them a couple weeks ago. Guess I'm on the lookout for a new scales too now.

09-08-2012, 04:55 AM
My first attempt at labelmaking:


Medsen Fey
09-08-2012, 08:42 AM
Well done! :D

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

09-08-2012, 12:42 PM
I love it! So are you planning on creating a series of Failed Experiments, with similar themed labels? ;D

09-09-2012, 10:16 AM
Do you plan to taunt us again a second time?

09-09-2012, 02:58 PM

I hope it has elderberries in it. :)

09-10-2012, 03:51 AM
Do you plan to taunt us again a second time?

Oh, but that is not a picture of me,
thats the symbolification of one of the demons that
try to keep me from my guest for the holy mead!

I love it! So are you planning on creating a series of Failed Experiments,
with similar themed labels? ;D

I intend to keep this one a VERRY limited edition,
but who knows ;)

I hope it has elderberries in it.

Unfortionatly no it doesn't. Going on the taste it does seems
as it got hamster in it though. ;)

09-10-2012, 12:56 PM
Ph 3,02, SG1038

Ph goes down even further. Guess we'll get that potassium
carbonate I bought to work. Going to add 6g and see how
this influences ph.

09-11-2012, 01:54 PM
Yes, that pH is definitely getting too low to be comfortable for your yeast. Add the carbonate, then take two further pH readings - one shortly after the addition, and the next about an hour later. pH in the must is a dynamic quantity, and you may find that the equilibrium value after some time has elapsed isn't exactly the same as the one you get immediately after the addition.

ALSO - be sure to dissolve the carbonate completely in some cool water before adding it to the must. If you add powdered dry carbonate directly to a fermenting must, it will cause a rapid release of CO2 that could result in a mead eruption.

09-12-2012, 12:39 PM
Ph3,22, SG1028.

Did another addition of 6g Potassium Carbonate. This should bring Ph slightly
above 3.4, max 3.5?

While Calcium added a chalky taste, is it possible the
Potassium added some sort of bitter taste? To the ammount I
can only stomach a small sip of it? I'm gonna put it in the
fridge a couple of hours and taste again. (This improved taste
for previous samples, and leaves a lot of dark brown sediment
at the bottom.)

you may find that the equilibrium value after some time has elapsed isn't exactly the same as the one you get immediately after the addition..

Hey Wayneb,

I made myself the habit to first take readings, then
modifications, and wait for the next day or so to check
results, so I can be certain my modification finished
working and has spread through my mead.

09-13-2012, 03:32 AM
Tasted my sample I put yesterday in the fridge.
Again lots of dark brown sediment on the bottom.
While it had a really strong taste, it was
suprisingly drinkable, even slightly pleasant?

09-14-2012, 12:54 PM
#DAY 22

Ph3.46, SG1022.
Ph is where I want it, SG is slowing down greatly.
After a drop of >100 I think the yeast is nearing
its limits? I'll wait to rack till it stops

10-01-2012, 04:54 AM
#DAY 38

SG1012. Fermentation came to a near-halt.
Racked to another demijohn. Topped of with
some honeywater for my next batch.

Btw, when is the best time for stabilization and
backsweetening? Before bulk-aging (so the sediment
from the honey can drop), right before bottling (so you
get atleast an idea of how the mead will finally be), or
somewhere in between?

Chevette Girl
10-01-2012, 04:03 PM
Depends... do you want to backsweeten? Or do you want to let nature take its course?

Fatbloke likes to do his right away because he knows how sweet he wants it.

I leave mine to do their thing so I can see what I'm working with before I go changing things. You never know, I might suddenly start liking dry wines and meads :p

If you're not sure, I'd give it six months, taste it, if it needs to be sweetened, stabilize it and age it another six months if you need to let anything drop out.