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spospo
11-29-2012, 06:41 PM
First post on here, first batch of mead, and in need of some help! I know I will probably leave some necessary details out here, but thank you so much in advance.

5gal batch
15lb clover honey
10g EC-1118
5tsp energizer
1/2tsp nutrient
Water to 5 gal

Pretty basic basically. Unfortunately, I completely blanked on using the hydrometer until day 5, but my SG then was 1.070. Today is day 26, SG is 1.052. It was the same exact SG 1 week ago. While fermentation appears to maybe have stopped/slowed, this seems a little...wrong for lack of a better term. Here was what I observed if it helps.

-Week 1: airlock was bubbling along nicely
-Week 2 (mid): stopped bubbling, pretty much at all. Checked the seal, switched out the airlock. Aerated. SG of 1.056 about that time. Temp 72F. Got a little bit of bubbling going
-Week 3 until now: nothing really. I added another 1/2tsp of nutrient about 1 week ago without a budge in SG

The only thing I can think of that may have gone wrong was rehydrating my yeast. It may have sat a little long while I was waiting for the must to cool. After hydrating for 15m, I stirred it (read somewhere to do that). It then sat in the water for another 20m or so.

So what do I do now?

Vance G
11-29-2012, 07:24 PM
I don't think that yeast is stuck and 15 pounds should not have maxed out it's alcohol tolerance. Personally I think you just need to be patient. 72 should be plenty warm for that yeast. You might want to see if your hydrometer measures 1 with the proper temperature plain water. Or get a spare hydrometer and see if the readings match.

Medsen Fey
11-29-2012, 08:42 PM
It may not be stuck, but it is definitely in trouble. Using EC-1118 with 15 pounds of honey should go bone dry in a couple of weeks with a healthy fermentation.

The first thing I'd do is check the pH-this is a common problem with traditional meads. If the pH is below 3.2 I'd try some potassium bicarbonate to nudge it up to 3.4.

If pH is not the problem, there may be other inhibitors which can be bound by adding yeast hulls. Was your energizer a tan powder or white crystals?

Endeavor to persevere!

Intheswamp
11-29-2012, 11:21 PM
At the risk of talking out of turn (being the newbee that I am)...here goes. :)

What are the ingredients of your nutrient?

What are the ingredients of your energizer?

I've got a bag of L.D. Carlson "Nutrients" and it says it contains DAP and food grade urea. Instructions say to add 1 teaspoon per gallon of must.

I've got a bottle marked "Energizer" that says it contains DAP, yeast hulls, magnesium sulphate, and a Vitamin B Complex. Instructions say to add 1/2 teaspoon per gallon.

I've read *somewhere* in a couple of places that most instructions for these two types of additions are intended for wine musts (my energizer specifically states "wine must" on the label). I've also read (remember, I'm a newbee so all I am aware of is what I've read) that mead must requires more added nutrients than grape/wine musts and that a traditional mead must requires even more nutrients due to honey being the only raw ingredient from which the yeast can get any nutrition (I don't think honey has a lot of nitrogen).

Using *my* additives, for 5 gallons I would have used at a minimum 2-1/2 teaspoons of "energizer" and 5 teaspoons of "nutrients". Those would have been the prescribed amount for *wine* musts. Considering this is a mead must and a traditional (no fruits to get nitrogen or other nutrients from) I would probably have asked the forum if I needed to add more that the "recommended" amounts (or blindly went and added more :rolleyes:).

Could the yeast be malnourished? If so, can nutrients be added this late in the game? Am I way off-base and need to crawl back under my rock? ???

Just some uneducated thoughts.
Best wishes,
Ed

ETA...rather than generic "nutrients" I'm wondering whether the yeasts had a shortage of nitrogen. If your energizer is a blend like mine then your nitrogen levels would have been small being as the bulk of what you added was only partially comprised of a nitrogen source.

Intheswamp
11-29-2012, 11:27 PM
Having said what I did above, I recall that in The Complete Mead Maker, that something like 2 teaspoons of energizer and 2 teaspoons of nutrients are called for in the recipe for one of the traditionals he has listed (stated as being show meads but...). So, your must may have very well had enough nutrients. :confused:

Ed

Chevette Girl
11-30-2012, 01:47 AM
I have gotten EC-1118 to go significantly further than that (although still not to dry) with just a teaspoon per gallon of DAP, no energizer or anything. My guess would be with Medsen, that it's a pH thing...

spospo
11-30-2012, 07:03 PM
My nutrient is "Wyeast Beer Nutrient Blend." It is sort of a tan color. My energizer is "Brewcraft Diammonium Phosphate." It is white and sort of like crystals.

Just did the pH thing...it, of course, is some color that is not on the chart. My strips are along a green/blue range. The color change was really sort of more of a brown. Um....huh.

Any more thoughts? I have another pack of EC-1118. Would re-pitching the yeast be fruitful at all?

Chevette Girl
11-30-2012, 07:47 PM
You could try a repitch, but the thing is, it won't help if your pH is actually the culprit. I don't know what "brown" means, maybe you could see if you can replicate the colour using baking soda in water or some vinegar (not on the same strip, of course).

Medsen Fey
11-30-2012, 11:05 PM
You'd probably be better off if you take 4 or 5 packets of bread yeast (a couple of tablespoons) and boil then in a little water (or nuke'em) and toss that in. Dead yeast will provide yeast hulls, some amino nitrogen, and will bring the pH up a little.

Getting an accurate pH reading is important with traditional meads. If you don't invest in a pH meter, when you do future batches, use mostly the tan colored powders for nutrients and that will help to buffer the solution.

YogiBearMead726
11-30-2012, 11:53 PM
Getting an accurate pH reading is important with traditional meads. If you don't invest in a pH meter, when you do future batches, use mostly the tan colored powders for nutrients and that will help to buffer the solution.

Seconded. My pH meter got all jacked up in my move, but I haven't had much need for it since I only use those "tan colored powders" (Fermaid K and Fermaid O) as nutrient in my traditional batches, and so far so good.

Jas53
12-01-2012, 12:22 AM
Seconded. My pH meter got all jacked up in my move, but I haven't had much need for it since I only use those "tan colored powders" (Fermaid K and Fermaid O) as nutrient in my traditional batches, and so far so good.

Don't want to hijack the thread - but are there any recommended pH meters?

Intheswamp
12-01-2012, 10:19 AM
My nutrient is "Wyeast Beer Nutrient Blend." It is sort of a tan color. My energizer is "Brewcraft Diammonium Phosphate." It is white and sort of like crystals.

Just did the pH thing...it, of course, is some color that is not on the chart. My strips are along a green/blue range. The color change was really sort of more of a brown. Um....huh.

Any more thoughts? I have another pack of EC-1118. Would re-pitching the yeast be fruitful at all?
It is interesting that what you describe is opposite of what I have. My "nutrient" is the heavy nitrogen source and is a white, crystalline looking substance. My "energizer" a fine multi-ingredient tan colored powder. Seems our additions are marked oppositely from each other.

It seems the terms "nutrient" and "energizer" are used somewhat haphazardly in places which can be confusing for newbees (like me). From what I can tell, though, the white crystal stuff is usually going to be a heavy nitrogen source consisting of mostly DAP, whereas a tan colored powder will be a more varied blend of ingredients with a modest portion being DAP included.

spospo, in regards to the naming (nutrient or energizer) of the additions, the way your's are labeled makes more sense than the way mine are. "Nutrients" seem like they would be a more well-rounded "complete" healthy mix while "energizers" seem like they would have only one or two high-powered energy ingredients in them. The good thing for newbees like us is the good folks here on Gotmead that help clear things up for us and get us on the right track!! :thumbsup:

Ed

spospo
12-03-2012, 05:07 AM
So I tried my pH strips in vinegar just to see what color range I was working with; that too turned it somewhere in the brown/tan range rather than the blue/green range the bottle shows. I am going to try a few other experiments with the strips and see if I can get a somewhat accurate pH reading here in the next few days.

Chevette Girl
12-03-2012, 09:43 PM
When I was trying to calibrate a pH meter last year, I read online that most commercial white vinegar has a pH around 3 (but I'd expect some variation), try one with pure water and another with dissolved baking soda and see what colours you get, if you get the same colour, take your strips back, they're busted :p (or perhaps out of date, I've heard they're only good for a year or so but who knows how long they were on the shelf)...

bigdan110
12-04-2012, 08:35 PM
i was begining to think i had that problem with my strips till i tried it on water. wasnt helping that my mels are pink/red and deep dark red :BangHead:

Chevette Girl
12-04-2012, 11:52 PM
I've found that if I don't submerge the strip but instead place a drip just touching the colour pad, I get the correct colour no matter what colour the wine/mead is...

spospo
12-09-2012, 12:40 PM
finally got around to testing the pH against other things. looks like it is in between apple juice (usually 3-3.5) and lemon juice (2-2.5). Basically I think it is too acidic. How much of the potassium bicarbonate do i add? at least i think that is what i bought. it isn't in front of me right now.

Medsen Fey
12-09-2012, 01:12 PM
For a 5-gal batch, I typically add 1 tsp at a time until I get the pH above 3.2. It does take some time to equilibrate, so it pays to go slowly and avoid overshoot.

Correcting pH doesn't have to be done immediately.

spospo
01-06-2013, 05:18 PM
Success! I added the potassium bicarb about 10 days ago (???) and finally got around to measuring again. pH is on the scale of my test strips! Just about 3.6 I think. SG went from 1.048 to 1.036! Less sweet finally! Going to let it keep trucking along. May move it to a warmer place since the basement is getting colder these days

spospo
02-05-2013, 07:42 PM
Alright, measure the SG this past weekend - 1.014. I am going to wait to get 3 flat readings before moving to my secondary. It tastes much less sweet now, which is good. The problem, however, is that I think it tastes much more yeasty then it did before. (Used EC-1118 if you don't want to read the original post)
-Why is this? Less sugar to cover the yeast taste?
-How can I fix that? Will it improve when I rack off the lees? Should I use sorbate (or whatever it is...) to stop fermentation?
-Does it make a difference if I am thinking of adding fruit and/or juice to the secondary?

I have read through the newbee guide several times but still need some clarification (no pun intended)

Thans

Chevette Girl
02-05-2013, 10:51 PM
If it's still fermenting, still cloudy, then yes, it will taste yeasty, and possibly seem moreso than before for the reasons you suggest. This should lessen as the mead finishes fermenting and clears up as the yeast drop out of suspension.

Sorbate won't stop a fermentation, all it does is make the little yeasties' pizzles fall off so they can't replicate. Most of the time even sulphites won't stop a fermentation if it's still active. If you really want to stop it where it is now, I'd recommend cold-crashing it to force the yeasties to go dormant and settle out, racking off them, and then hit it with sulphites and sorbate.

The difference if you want to add juice in secondary is based on whether you want this juice to ferment or not. If you want it to ferment, go ahead and rack it anytime but you'll have to wait a little longer for the yeast to finish their job and settle out, if you just want it to be the equivalent of adding a fruit juice pack like in a wine kit and have it not ferment, then hit it with the stabilizing chemicals first, let it clear a bit, then rack onto your fruit or juice.

spospo
04-13-2013, 12:41 AM
all right. back with another question. things went along really well. had consistent flat SG readings, used sorbate, and racked only ~8lb of blueberries. that was about a month ago now.

I took a sample today. There is some subtle blueberry in there, but overall i would like it a little sweeter. What are my options for backsweetening other than honey? If I do use honey, my 5gallon carboy is filled to the max, so any good suggestions on how to go about this?

I know people say mead gets better with age, but does it every get sweater?

Chevette Girl
04-22-2013, 10:25 PM
It will not increase its sugar content on its own, but with age meads CAN develop a perception of sweetness.

I think your best option for getting it sweeter would be to backsweeten it with honey. Siphon out a glassful and have a taste, add honey until you're happy with it, check the specific gravity, then bring the rest of the batch up to match your adjusted sample. By using the mead calculator you should be able to figure out how much honey you need to add and from that you should be able to estimate the volume of mead you need to remove from your carboy to make room for the honey.