View Full Version : little help?

09-07-2012, 06:02 PM
Hey everyone

I'm in the middle of brewing my first batch of mead, and im mainly just looking for some reasurance that everything is doing ok;

I used ~1.5 kg of honey topped up to a gallon with lalvin rc-212 and a teaspoon of 'youngs yeast nutrient' which is apparently a mix of diammonium phosphate and ammonium sulphate.

little disclaimer - i dont own a hydrometer, and have no readings whatsoever - i know it works a lot better with one, but things are as they are e.t.c.

anyways, i pitched the yeast and sealed it away at around 3 AM on the fourth (UK time) and its not really behaving like i expected

Its in a two gallon bucket at present, and the airlock is bubbling, but quite infrequently - like once every minute or so. i think it bubbled a little more frequently towards the beginning but not by too much. i did go to sleep fairly soon after it started, but at no point have i seen any foam layer, or any sediment - it seems to be a homogenus opaque honey colored liquid. no krausen, or anything else ive been told to expect. i dont -think- il have missed the krausen, but ive never done anything like this before, so i have no idea.

i have a one gallon glass demijohn to rack into for secondary fermentation, but im not sure when to rack it - ive heard once it bubbles every thirty seconds, or whatever - the problem being its never been much faster than that.

my girlfreind claims it was bubbling a lot faster before, but shes claimed a lot of things about the frequency of it, to the point ive had to get a stopwatch out and shes been wrong everytime, so i dont think she has that much of a point >.> but i confess it could have been faster, but she is by no means a reliable source.

i did take the lid off a few minutes ago, there was a tiny bit of foam on the top and it didnt smell like plain honey water - i think it smelled a little alcoholic, but i couldent say for definate since there was a very strong yeasty smell.

i have had a piece of cloth covering it (to keep it out of the light since its sitting on my bedroom floor :P) so again, i might have missed something, but i havent seen any foaming, any sediment, or much of anything really.

the seal on the airlock is good as far as i can tell, if i depress the lid it bubbles and if i hold it down an arbitary amount the pressure level in the airlock doesent seem to change.

the room its in is between 20 and 25 C on average

i was careful with sanitation and i aerated the must with a paddle.

id be grateful if anyone could tell me whether there is a problem or not, and when i should be thinking about racking to secondary?

apologies in advance if i missed anything relevent

09-07-2012, 09:46 PM
Doesn't sound problematic. Buckets tend to leak, even when the seal seems fairly good.

A hydrometer is really the only way to know when it's time to rack. You can use one on this batch, even if you didn't take any initial readings.

09-07-2012, 10:23 PM
Ah, thats good news

so, say i were to get hold of a hydrometer, what am i looking for before racking?

09-08-2012, 05:20 AM
Ah, thats good news

so, say i were to get hold of a hydrometer, what am i looking for before racking?
As an "additional" to your initial question, if you read around the bazaars, you'll see mention of people using staggered nutrient additions (SNA), where they split the nutrient calculated into at least 2 parts.

Now they also usually mention using FermaidK and DAP (di-ammonium phosphate). Without doing lots of mail ordering (from either the EU - specifically Brouwland in Belgium or the US) your closest equivalent would be the Youngs nutrient you've mentioned for a source of DAP (the other ingredient, is, I believe, an anti-caking substance) and for the FermaidK equivalent, Tronozymol is likely to be the closest.

The nutrient thing is pretty important to be aware of, because you've used RC-212, which while being a "red wine" yeast (which is really of little consequence), but it is known as a nutrient hog and can go "stinky" quickly (stinky alludes to the stressed yeast producing hydrogen sulphide - rotten egg stink).

as for the hydrometer thing ? without a starting gravity you wont know what the likely strength will be. Also, you can't know with any great certainty that the ferment hasn't stuck or is finished. With correct management, RC-212 can reach 16% ABV, and to reach that, you'd need a gravity drop of about 118 points. While you could use the mead calculator, it's only gonna be a guess as to what the likely starting gravity might have been (it guesses the likely sugar content of the honey etc). I don't like that so I just take a reading of the base must mix.... then monitor the drops in gravity as it ferments.

If you get a hydrometer and take a reading (get a cheap plastic measuring tube as well), you can then keep an eye on the numbers.

For what you're looking for ? I'd have thought that you'd be expecting a final gravity of 1.010 or lower.

If the brew does go stinky, add something like 1/8th teaspoon of the youngs nutrient (which is really as an arse covering thing) and get some bread yeast and either boil (well simmer) it for 5 or 10 mins in 100mls of water, let it cool then add a teaspoon or so and stir it in. If it does get stinky, a good stir and addition of the boiled yeast usually does the trick.

it's easiest if you let it finish the ferment - and to confirm that, 3 identical hydrometer readings, each test taken a couple of days apart, so the 3 readings are taken across a period of about a week. If there's any drop between readings, then it's still fermenting.

09-09-2012, 04:36 PM
thanks for the tip. i think im going to try to pick up a hydrometer from town in the next couple of days.

out of curiosity, i know naming conventions can sometimes be weird, but why is it called secondary fermentation if its best to do it after fermentation has ended? is it a throwback to an abandoned method, or is actual fermentation in two vessels only really applicable in certain circumstances?

also, if i rack it out once fermentation is finished, do i need to use an airlock or would a solid bung work, since there is no more gas production?

09-09-2012, 05:26 PM
The secondary thing ? Not sure, though some do indeed rack brews at certain points. Not arbitrary points, but where they want. Sometimes its to remove the gross lees or so that there may, originally, have reduced the chance of autolysis, etc.

You'll find a few linguistic peculiarities here. It's a US based forum so the slight difference in the use of language aren't a surprise. It's often harder to work out the difference of what's available in their market and whether we can get equivalents.

As for keeping finished ferments under airlock ? Yes its usual. The finished brew will continue to release CO2 so you just keep an eye on the liquid level in the airlock. I tend to leave it like that for 6 months or so. Then I rack and de-gas, if I'm bulk ageing, only then do I stopper it with a solid bung or cap.....

Chevette Girl
09-10-2012, 01:24 AM
Good call on the hydrometer, it's the only way to know for sure what your must is actually doing.

"Seondary Fermentation" is kind of a misnomer, the bulk of the fermentation ("primary") should already be done by the time you rack to your "secondary fermenter".

Sometimes it's just a delineation based on your container, a lot of us do our primary fermenation in a bucket for ease of fruit handling, etc, and then rack to a glass or plastic carboy after it's calmed down and the yeast have eaten most of the available sugars.

Usually we recommend that you rack your mead or wine into secondary at a SG of 1.000 or when the SG stops changing, but the specific gravity can still drop down to .980, sometimes lower. And even if your SG hasn't changed in a week, it can still slowly drop over weeks or months once you've racked it. So sometimes there IS fermentation going on in what we call secondary.

Some folks will call it tertiary once they've racked it again, I don't bother keeping track of that, I just rack it every time there's enough lees settled out to bother with. And I airlock everything until it's bottled, because I don't often tend to stabilize it, so it's always possible that fermentation could kick up again if there's any sugars left in the wine. And as Fatbloke said, it will release CO2 for some time even after the yeast have called it quits.

09-11-2012, 05:28 AM
well, im now the happy owner of a hydrometer, so i hope to start readings today

i did have a quick question re steralisation though - obviously i cant put an unsteralised hydrometer into my mead, but it seems a little ridiculous to make up a bunch of bleach just for something so small since i cant boil it - i cant think of any way to steralise it other than that, but any ideas are welcome - does anyone know roughly how many ml you need in a normal sort of size measuring tube minimum to seat a hydrometer? to save hassle im considering finding something i can boil steralize and ladle out a little, but obviously three + readings doesent sound like such a negligable amount of the mead :/

bleach isent the end of the world, but i thought id ask just in case :P

09-11-2012, 08:35 AM
The easiest sanitiser (as opposed to sterilising - few people will have the right kit for that i.e. an autoclave) is to just dissolve 5 crushed campden tablets and a teaspoon of citric acid, in 1 pint of water, and keep it in a hand spray. You rinse/wash whatever in warm water and soap/washing up liquid, making sure all soapy residue is removed, dry, then spray with the sanitiser, leaving the whatever to have 3 or 4 minutes of contact time and bingo. Sanitised to the appropriate level.

Standard sized hydrometers normally use a 100mls measuring tube, but if your hydrometer came in a plastic tube with 2 slightly different caps, then it should be one that you can use as a testing tube. Mine is like that and you need a smaller sample and to be able to stand it upright so you get an accurate reading.

Oh, and don't use bleach for sanitising unless you have no other option. Because sodium hypochlorite is very "clingy" and takes a lot more rinsing than soap.....

09-11-2012, 08:45 AM
well, i say bleach, its vwp, which i was led to believe is bleach based?

and that is exactly the kind of suggestion i was hoping for, thanks

guess that means another trip into town tommorow :P

09-11-2012, 09:53 AM
Never used it, the local HBS has the Ritchies one, which I believe is also bleach based, so it only gets used when a DJ or whatever is really manky and it gets rinsed too death.

09-12-2012, 07:49 AM
one last question - how long will the solution stay effective in the spray bottle?

09-14-2012, 12:37 AM
Don't know definitively, but I make it up and it seems to work fine for 3 weeks to a month. I've generally used it all by then and make a new batch up.

I've had no problems or infections etc in the 6 or 7 years I've been using it like this...