View Full Version : Very slow fermentation

11-15-2012, 09:29 AM
Hi. First time trying to brew mead, and a little concerned about the fermentation speed.
Started two show meads (different SGs) three days ago, and a cyser two days ago. Now the cyser is doing fine, airlock going every 2-3 seconds, but the meads merely have some bubbling in the liquid, but no activity in the airlock.
I'm using EC-1118, added some yeast nutrients at the start, and thought I had aerated them well. Any idea what might be going wrong? Anything that might be able to speed things up?
(I have a bit of a time limit here, due to circumstances beyond my control, anything that can't be safely bottled in four weeks time will have to be thrown away)

11-15-2012, 10:23 AM
Mead doesnt ferment as fast or vigorous as some beers and whatnot. It can, but usually from what ive seen, doesnt.

11-15-2012, 10:44 AM
Yeast like apples, so that is why your cyser is doing so well. As for the show meads, they could take months to fully ferment! Mead is generally a slow mistress. Don't be disheartened though. At the end of the month, when you need to bottle them, you could stabilize them and save them from being thrown away.

Hope the helps,

Vance G
11-15-2012, 10:45 AM
WOW! You think that is slow. I have a fermentation that has been going on since Early October slowly chugging along and hopefully will finish someday. You need a little patience. That yeast is going to start up and go thru your sugars like a buzzsaw under most imaginable conditions. If you aren't using something loaded with perservatives and your temps are 65 or higher, it will ferment until it reaches its rather high alcohol tolerance or runs out of fermentable sugar. Possibly your Original gravity or sugar concentration was too high, but that is hard to do with EC-1118. You are probably doing as I do and that is worrying just to stay in practice.

11-15-2012, 11:18 AM
Original gravities were 1.074 and 1.115, so shouldn't be a problem.

Thanks for the help. If need be I'll just stabilize early, and end up with something rather sweeter and less alcoholic than I had intended. I have potassium sorbate, but does cold crashing help at all with stabilizing, or just put things on hold?

11-15-2012, 12:21 PM
I have a cyser which has stalled a bit, ambient room temp is 61 degr. F. Using Safale US 5, which should be good to 59 Degr. F. So I move it upstairs where temp is 68 Degr. F., and it seems to have picked back up.

Chevette Girl
11-15-2012, 01:25 PM
Jimbo, you'll want both sulphites AND sorbate, and yes cold crashing can help with it but won't stop a fermentation by itself.

The cold will deactivate the yeast and make them settle out within a few days of refrigeration. Then you'd rack it off whatever settled out, and add your metabisulphite and sorbate, the sulphite knocks out whatever yeasties are left and the sorbate keeps any survivors from replicating.

If you added nutrients, it's not a show mead (it's a traditional), and if you didn't, it's not going to be done in 4 weeks... You didn't post your SG's or your recipes so we can't tell you if you've overloaded your yeast giving them an excuse (there's a reason we ask for the exact recipe :)) or if they're just being slow to start for no particularly good reason. Also, did you rehydrate your yeast according to the package or did you dump it in dry?

It sounds like your traditional meads ARE getting started, but it's not uncommon for some musts to take a couple days for the yeast to build up to where the airlock starts going, as long as you can see the bubbles in the must, there's hope! It should probably increase in activity level.

11-17-2012, 08:32 PM
Thanks for all the advice.

Took gravity readings today. Cyser was down to 1.002, so I'm now cold crashing and stabalizing it. The traditional with OG 1.074 is now at 1.020, but there's never been any airlock activity. Is this normal, or is it possible that the bung isn't airtight? Other traditional is now going fine.

And an unrelated question: What's the importance of clearing? Is it just to improve the appearance, or does it have other purposes?

11-17-2012, 11:57 PM
Yeah I would think theres a air leak somewhere there. Unless your bewing like 1 gallon in a 20 gallon bucket. Clearing is making sure all the yeast and other stuff is not in your bottles which could cause carbination or other side effects. No yeast, no fermintation.

Medsen Fey
11-18-2012, 02:11 PM
...is it possible that the bung isn't airtight? Other traditional is now going fine.

And an unrelated question: What's the importance of clearing? Is it just to improve the appearance, or does it have other purposes?

It is almost certain that your container is not sealed, or your airlock is cracked. The gravity drop tells you it is fermenting, do if you aren't seeing bubbles, they are going out somewhere.

Clearing is important for aroma and flavor in addition to eye-appeal. Yeast taste crappy (try some if you doubt) and add bitterness. Sitting on a large amount of yeast sediment (lees) can produce sulfur odors and/or off flavors so you generally don't want to bottle something until it is clear.

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

11-19-2012, 08:38 AM
Is it ok to add the sulphite/sorbate to the primary before cold-crashing? (I ask, because it won't fit in my fridge with the airlock attached, and I don't want to risk it exploding in there). If so, should I still add more sulphite/sorbate when it's racked?

Chevette Girl
11-19-2012, 12:09 PM
You CAN, but the sulphites won't be as effective. And you won't need to re-sorbate it, that stuff doesn't break down like sulphites.

Alternately, you could put a sanitized piece of plastic wrap over your carboy in place of the airlock so it fits in the fridge, use at least a double-layer and hold it in place with an elastic band. It's a fine short-term solution that I've even used long-term, the seal is imperfect so it'll allow CO2 to escape slowly if needed but not much oxygen will get in because the tendency is for the pressure to be higher in the carboy rather than lower.

11-19-2012, 05:06 PM
One question about taking hydrometer readings. I've not seen anything about how the CO2 in the must affects hydrometer readings, but today I took a reading, transfered the sample between two glasses for a couple of minutes, to try and release the CO2, and then took another reading. The first reading was at 1.067, and the second was at 1.047. That seems like a huge difference. Is there something I've missed, or is this actually correct?

Chevette Girl
11-19-2012, 05:40 PM
CO2 coming out of solution will stick to your hydrometer and boost it up to artificially high readings so yeah, this does happen as you have experienced, but most of us have found that spinning the hydrometer or gently tapping it (I bounce mine gently off the bottom of my plastic test tube or vigorously swirl my wine theif with the hydrometer and must in it) to shake the bubbles off the hydrometer, then getting a quick reading before the bubbles raise it up again does usually work to a sufficient accuracy.

11-19-2012, 06:32 PM
Ok, that makes more sense. Probably doesn't help that I was pouring it into the jar with the hydrometer already in there...