View Full Version : Making sure I have everything in order.

12-04-2012, 01:56 AM
Alright, I think I'm set to start my first traditional. It's going to be a 5 gal batch. Was hoping for a 16% ABV, FG around 1.010, but it's looking like I'm going to have to settle with 14% ABV this time around.

Because the closet I do my fermentation in is usually around 72 degrees, I picked up some 71b for my yeast. Based on this post, I figured I would use the same schedule listed in the second entry in this thread, second post for nutrients. Just need to stop by my brew shop and get some Fermaid.

My big concern is that it was recommended to me add the honey in batches, though at that time I was thinking of shooting for a higher ABV. Because I know that you have to rack fairly frequently with the 71b, I was planning on racking every few weeks, and topping off with honey/water until I get to where I want my FG. This brings up my big question. How can I tell when I hit my 1/3 break if I'm continuing to add honey?

Also, I have a secondary, more minor question. I know I will need to aerate quit frequently for the first few days to a week, but how much will I need to afterward?

Thanks for the info, and any tips are appreciated!

Vance G
12-04-2012, 02:21 AM
You do NOT need to rack that frequently with the 71B. It takes a month and a half before anything much occurs and at your temperature, your fermentation will be done in probably two to three weeks. Don't rack until your fermentation is done or you will just take the process to a crawl. Areating the first probably three days is a good thing, but then it is time to put it under airlock and keep new 02 from getting in the must. There are strategies that call for a gentle stir to cause a loss of excess C02, but no more incoming 02 is required. You really don't need to add both honey and water for additional feeding, you can just use the mead calculator to tell how much honey to add in the beginning. Or if you are set on step feeding reserve part of the requirement for your target Specific Gravity and add it in a few days. With your temperatures, the fermentation isn't going to take long to get to the 71B alcohol toerance.

12-04-2012, 02:23 AM
I'm going to be doing primary fermentation in a better bottle. Will that affect the amount of O2 that reaches the must? And also, should I then add all the honey at once if fermentation will be done that quickly?

Vance G
12-04-2012, 02:40 AM
The first three days I would leave a few quarts of headspace. i would just put a cloth over the top to keep out dust. Then cap it with something and rock it back and forth and shake it to agitate 02 in. Do it everytime you think about it the first three days feeding as per your plan. By three days in, I will bet that 1/3 of the sugar will have been used and it will be time to airlock it. A clean new sanitized airstone, airline and an aquarium pump will also areate nicely. Before you airlock it add your additional water to top it off. My advice is to use the mead calculator and shoot for a dry mead and then backsweeten to taste if you think it needs it or if you want to coax the ABV a little higher.

Chevette Girl
12-04-2012, 09:56 AM
For aeration, you only need to do this while your yeast is building up its colony size, which works out to around same timing as you'd be adding nutrients and energizers.

Generally when I do a batch where I intend to step-feed, I estimate that the 1/3 break is somewhere between where it is according to my starting gravity and where it would be according to the Mead Calculator if I added all the honey at once.

You don't really NEED to step-feed with 71B unless you're trying to push its tolerance, as Vance said.

The way I step feed is I make a must that should just go a bit past dry (usually starting somewhere sensible like 1.110, definitely not higher than 1.120), make an acclimated starter for the yeast, and then when the SG goes below my low sugar threshhold, I boost it up to my high sugar threshhold (in my case, every time it goes below 1.010 I add honey to bring it up to 1.020). And you don't want to be adding water if you're step-feeding, it may raise the gravity but the dilution from the water will negate any new alcohol produced unless it's sweeter than the original must.

But if you really have your heart set on a higher alcohol level in this mead, I'd suggest a different yeast, perhaps K1V-1116 rather than 71B, it should be fine at that temperature too.

12-04-2012, 10:20 AM
The air stone setup seems to work pretty good. For around $12-$13 you can get a small pump, tubing, and a 5" stone at Wallyworld. I'm fermenting in a bucket with a hole in the lid so I ran my tubing through the hole and just set the lid down on top of the bucket. You could run your tubing down through a drilled stopper. I'm pretty sure that 5" stone will go through the mouth of a carboy. I filled the gap left in the hole up with a piece of sanitized cotton ball squeezed in beside the cotton to keep fruit flies or whatever out. I stirred twice a day and then turned the air pump on for an hour each time.

Three days is when my traditional had reached the 1/3 sugar break. At that time I took a hydrometer reading, stirred one last time, added what extra fodder I decided to add to the must, put my lid on tight, and put in an airlock. If you care to and haven't already read it, here's a link to a thread about my traditional, air stone, etc.,. http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=20616

I don't think the primary fermentation will be affected much, if at all, by oxygen permeating through the better bottle being as the time of primary fermentation is relatively short compared to secondary fermentations/aging and there is a lot of co2 present to displace the oxygen and to keep things "stirred up". LOTS of folks appear to do primary fermentations in plastic buckets which I believe isn't as impermeable to oxygen as better bottles are. After the first rack I think it is better with glass *but* there are lots of people who continue on with better bottles. For long term aging...months and years...great care should be made in keeping the mead in an oxygen-free environment to halt oxidation and glass is wonderful for that. Naturally, when racking/siphoning care should be made not to let the mead splash around much being as this causes rapid oxidation. Excessive stirring once the fermentation is much past the 1/3 sugar break should be avoided, also. I wouldn't sweat having the primary fermentation in a better boy, though. ;)

I'm a rank newbee so take what I wrote with a big grain of salt, but I don't think I wrote anything that will harm your mead. :)

Best wishes,

12-04-2012, 10:28 AM
I think I'm going to have curb my greed for this first one and just stick with the 14 I'll get from 71b. Hoping to pitch on my day off tomorrow. I think I have everything I need to know. Will just add all my honey in the beginning and let it go. Thanks for all the info folks! Wish me luck ;)

12-04-2012, 10:57 AM
David, are you going to rehydrate your yeast before pitching?

Go-Ferm is your friend. ;)


12-04-2012, 11:23 AM
I'm planning on rehydrating. Does Go-Ferm really add that much of a benefit?

12-04-2012, 11:23 AM
Just one correction: there is nothing wrong with agitation throughout the fermentation process. Past the 1/3 break though, you must find ways to agitate that will not introduce more O2. Example: oversized stir plate. Keeping your yeast in suspension will lead to faster ferments with less potential for off-flavor. Speaking from experience, you can knock days off a ferment in this way.

12-04-2012, 12:38 PM
Congrats on making some mead! I'd like to share something from my own experience I realized after working with mead for about a year. It dawned on me one day that I didn't have to make five gallons at a time when just starting out with a new recipe. To experiment with ingredients and process, why not make five successive one-gallon batches?

Measure pH, sugar levels, taste and smell on a regular basis as the fermentation progresses and keep detailed notes. Plot your sugar profile on a chart and see when the 1/3, 1/2 and 2/3 breaks happen. As you do each batch, develop a process that works for your yeast and must. Try different nutrient levels at different times and see how it affects the fermentation process. Try different fermentation temps. When you get some data, sit down and compare.

I start my small batches in an open 2-gallon glass jar or 2-gallon fermentation bucket (covered with cheesecloth) and then transfer to a one-gallon jug (shaped like a carboy) when it is time to go under an airlock (around the 1/3 to 1/2 break when aerating / degassing is no longer needed). I then use the one-gallon jugs for secondary fermentation and aging.

By working over and over with the same ingredients in this way, I have been able to get fermentation to run faster and cleaner, yielding a better result. Knowing how a particular yeast interacts with nutrients and sugar over time is a huge benefit. Keeping good notes means you can go back later and see what happened, even years later.

The best thing is the batches are small, don't take up a lot of space, and if something goes bad, it is a lot easier to dump one gallon than five!

You can still clear, age, rack and bottle your small batches, just like you would with a large batch. You get to refine your process without spending a ton on ingredients and the small batches are really easy to handle. When you hit something you like, then you can just scale up the ingredients and make big batch, knowing that you will likely get a good result from your process and expensive ingredients.

Good luck!

12-04-2012, 12:40 PM
icedmetal, thanks for that. I had only thought of that movement of must without adding oxygen "in passing". What I have been doing is simply "rolling" the bucket around on the bottom edge in a circular fashion to get the must swirling inside the bucket...when I stop swirling I can see the bucket moving a tad (it's sitting on padded carpet :eek: ) as the must continues to swirl for a few moments.

From what I understand the Go-Ferm can make a big difference in the health of the yeast. I used it on my traditional (actually I used Go-Ferm Protect, a new version) and it seems to have worked well though I don't have much experience in fermenting to compare it to other ferments. Go-Ferm was recommended highly to me by some folks that are way more knowledgeable that I am about these things. I'm sure things will turn out well without Go-Ferm, but it isn't expensive and a little goes a long way. :)