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AngryViking
12-21-2012, 12:45 AM
Hello shiny happy meady people. I've been having problems with my first attempt at mead and google keeps sending me your way. I'm really hoping I didn't colossally mess up here. I used a basic recipe with some chemical additions as suggested by the owner of the local homebrew shop.

15 pounds of honey
5 gallons of water
5 crushed campden tabs
1.5 tsp tannin
9 tsp tartaric acid
18 tsp malic acid
1 packet of lalvin EC-1118 yeast

I waited a day per the instructions before pitching the yeast. I rehydrated the yeast the instructions on the yeast packet and after 72 hours I saw no signs of fermentation. I then pitched a second pack of yeast in, dry, per the shop owner and bought a hydrometer against his advice. While the yeast seemed a little busier this time and hung out on top my SG is still at 1.1 72 hours since this second pitching.

I'm tempted to perhaps rack and pitch yet again. I'm also worried it's all the tabs and acids that are the problem.

Room temperature is 70, as is the mead per the temp strip.

Golddiggie
12-21-2012, 01:29 AM
IMO, the acid was unnecessary and possibly harmful. Get some PH test strips (for wine should be good) and get a reading on the must. You want above a PH of 3.2. You should also only need a single packet of EC-1118 for ~5 gallons of must (or even 6).

I wouldn't rack again, but I would get some yeast energizer and/or nutrient (Fermaid, Fermax) and hit the must with the recommended dosage (typically 1tsp/gallon of must)...

I would also look over the newbee guides on these forums to see how to properly start a mead. IMO, the guy from the LHBS is giving you either really dated methods, or he's really a grape wine maker and doesn't know much about making mead. Once you get the mead to start fermenting, you'll probably have it go to very dry, and not have much honey flavor/aroma left in it (nature of the beast when you use EC-1118 in a must with that OG).

I do suspect that the acid, and other chemicals, you added are the source of your issues. I've never used tannin or acid in any of my meads and have never had an issue with them not taking off within a normal amount of time.

fatbloke
12-21-2012, 08:23 AM
Well reading the op and GD's posts, I suspect GD has hit the nail on the head, though I'd suspect that the sulphites as well. There's no need to hit honey musts with campden tablets.

So I'd guess its stunned the yeast as there's no guarantee that they'll dissipate in 24 hours. Yes they will dissipate but 24 hours is a guide/guesstimate.

Hence the lagging being increased some.

Personally I'd just aerate the hell out of it at least once a day for a couple of days as that's likely to help it kick in......

AngryViking
12-21-2012, 09:27 AM
Ok, so what's the rescue plan here? Obviously however well meaning I'm not listening to the homebrew guy again. Do I just stir a lot or add yeast energizer/nutrient too? And no new yeast?

Vance G
12-21-2012, 09:51 AM
Just re-read fat blokes comments and consider doing what he suggested. Give the yeast inhibiting substance a chance to dissipate. Wait a couple days and see if you don't get some action.

Medsen Fey
12-21-2012, 11:18 AM
I suspect your issue is that you added a massive dose of acid, and the pH of your must is probably so low it is stalling the yeast. Either get a pH meter or some test strips for wine that have the range from 3.0 to 4.0 covered. If your reading is coming in at 3.0 or lower, then you'll need to add potassium bicarbonate (or carbonate) or calcium carbonate to get the pH above 3.2 and then the yeast will be able to function.

EC-1118 is a strong yeast that can tolerate low pH well, and they may gradually be able to multiply enough to get fermentation going in your must, but it won't be a vigorous, healthy fermentation.

Also, have you double checked your gravity reading? 15 pound plus 5 gallons of water won't give a gravity reading of 1.172.

Intheswamp
12-21-2012, 11:30 AM
Medsen, I think the OP meant that the SG was 1.100...72 hours after the last pitch.

Ed

Intheswamp
12-21-2012, 11:32 AM
AV, did you rehydrate your yeast for the first pitch? Did you use something like Go-Ferm to help the yeast get off to a good start?

Ed

AngryViking
12-21-2012, 11:42 AM
MF, you might be right about the sg. It was sitting at 1.1, I went to grab my camera to make sure and it was at 1.13 if I'm reading it right.
Swamp, no I put it in dry and didn't add anything additional.
Due to me apparently not knowing how to use a hydrometer I may wait a few more days and take a few additional readings. But visibly nothing is happening. No bubbles in the airlock at all, which I know isn't an exact indication, but yeah.

AngryViking
12-21-2012, 11:50 AM
Swamp, sorry yes the FIRST pitch was rehydrated. The second one wasn't.

Golddiggie
12-21-2012, 11:51 AM
Look for bubbles on the surface of what's in the fermenter. You might need to shine a light on an angle across the surface to see them. That can be your first indication that you've got life in there.

AngryViking
12-21-2012, 03:46 PM
Can you use both energizer and nutrient? And how much energizer do you use?

Golddiggie
12-21-2012, 03:52 PM
Can you use both energizer and nutrient? And how much energizer do you use?

You can, you just use the recommended dosage levels. How much depends on the must volume. It also depends on if you're going to give it ALL the nutrients at once, or do a stepped program.

AngryViking
12-21-2012, 03:56 PM
I'd probably do it all at the same time. The nutrient has dosage levels, the energizer does not.

Golddiggie
12-21-2012, 04:02 PM
Typically energizer is 1/2 tsp per gallon of must. Nutrient (not DAP) is 1 tsp per gallon of must. Typically that is.

Medsen Fey
12-21-2012, 07:37 PM
If your energizer is one like Fermaid K, Wyeast nutrient blend, Fermax, or other similar product that looks like tan powder and is composed of a combination if DAP and autolyzed yeast, you may have better results if you use more energizer and less DAP.

So 1 tsp energizer and 1/2 tsp DAP per gallon is recommend more often. That works out to be about 200-250 ppm YAN which will work for most regular strength fermentations.

However, we typically suggest getting a scale as it is far more consistent to go by weight. A tsp of energizer is about 4g and a tsp of DAP is closer to 5g


Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

AngryViking
12-22-2012, 11:30 AM
I put the recommended dosage of nutrient and energizer in yesterday afternoon. It's clinking away now, not a jackhammer but it seems promising. Not a lot of foam, but maybe that's normal?

fatbloke
12-22-2012, 11:36 AM
I put the recommended dosage of nutrient and energizer in yesterday afternoon. It's clinking away now, not a jackhammer but it seems promising. Not a lot of foam, but maybe that's normal?
Well, whatever the actual problem was, whether it was the high amount of acid you indicated using or the campden/sulphite needing more time to dissipate or whatever, if it's fermenting away now, that's good.

Just keep an eye on it though, what with the amount of acid you quoted and that meads do show quite wild pH swings during the fermentation, you should keep checking the pH level at least once a week with either a pH meter or wine range litmus paper test strips. It wants to be above about 3.0 with the "apparent" sweet spot being at about 3.4 pH.

Don't worry about a lack of foaming, it's not a beer and some yeast/honey combo's don't show much foaming anyway.....

Golddiggie
12-22-2012, 11:40 AM
Well, whatever the actual problem was, whether it was the high amount of acid you indicated using or the campden/sulphite needing more time to dissipate or whatever, if it's fermenting away now, that's good.

Just keep an eye on it though, what with the amount of acid you quoted and that meads do show quite wild pH swings during the fermentation, you should keep checking the pH level at least once a week with either a pH meter or wine range litmus paper test strips. It wants to be above about 3.0 with the "apparent" sweet spot being at about 3.4 pH.

Don't worry about a lack of foaming, it's not a beer and some yeast/honey combo's don't show much foaming anyway.....

Unless you degas/aerate it... :eek:
Then, if you don't have a large enough vessel, have a damp towel ready to cleanup with after (you, the floor, the wall, maybe the ceiling)... :eek:;D

AngryViking
12-23-2012, 10:21 PM
By the way, just wanted to thank you guys. It's been bubbling away since I added the nutrients and energizer. Happy little yeast :) I'd of just had honey juice if I didn't stop by.

Golddiggie
12-23-2012, 10:31 PM
See, it pays to listen to your yeast when they tell you to go to a mead making site. :D Just think of what you can make with all the great information right at your fingertips now.

AngryViking
12-24-2012, 02:12 PM
Ha, I suppose that's true. They're still pumping away. The top was pushing the other day actually. Gassy little guys aren't they?
Within the fermenter there is definitely a sharp citrusy smell. Is this normal at this stage or is this a carry over of the acids from the start? Basically, should I be concerned about this right now?
SG is at 1.070 down from 1.100

fatbloke
12-24-2012, 02:21 PM
No its nothing of concern. Mead ferments can get a bit on tbe funky side, but its the usual bad smells to watch out for......

AngryViking
12-28-2012, 06:49 PM
Hey all, it's currently at about 1.035 and seems to lose .010 a day. Just wondering what FG I should watch for or when abouts to rack it. Thanks again.

icedmetal
12-29-2012, 01:25 PM
Rack it once the gravity stabilizes for a few days straight. When that will be is anyone's guess. I usually use D47, so I can take the lazy route: wait 2-3 weeks from fermentation start, then rack. If your yeast is ok for leaving the must on it for some time, mayhap you can be lazy too!

Chevette Girl
01-01-2013, 08:42 PM
I then pitched a second pack of yeast in, dry, per the shop owner and bought a hydrometer against his advice.


Obviously however well meaning I'm not listening to the homebrew guy again.

Advising you against repitching, repitching dry, or purchasing a hydrometer? If your homebrew guy tried to dissuade you from buying a hydrometer, I'd be looking for a better homebrew guy too!

Glad to hear your must is finally doing something. The campden tablets, though not required, probably aren't responsible, the effect should have been gone by 24 hours, I'd be betting on the acidity too, although I've made that same mistake myself and still got fermentation eventually. And I've even had to wait a few days for things to get going when I had a must that should have had no problems to surmount!

AngryViking
01-03-2013, 08:10 PM
UPDATE: It's been stuck at 1.030 since Dec 29. I've been out of the province for a couple days, but last checked it on Dec 31 and it was 1.030 then as well. Seems a bit high for an FG to me or should I accept this and rack?

Chevette Girl
01-03-2013, 11:33 PM
<perks up> Province? :)

I've had EC-1118 stick around there before on a must it should have taken dry, try nuking some bread yeast in water and pouring it in when it's cool.

AngryViking
01-04-2013, 01:46 AM
Yes, I was in the Island for NYE.
Is the bread yeast plan to kill off the yeast or is this to reactivate it? Pretty new to this.

Chevette Girl
01-04-2013, 07:57 AM
The bread yeast is a way to feed the wine yeast that's safe to add late in fermentation. Sometimes it'll perk up and get the job finished.

AngryViking
01-04-2013, 05:57 PM
Alrighty. Well I went with the bread yeast. Hope this takes off.
Should it not, is there any problem with a 1.030 mead other than it would be a bit on the sweet side?

Chevette Girl
01-05-2013, 06:50 PM
A JAO wine stops around there, so there's some evidence that that level of sweetness is completely acceptable if you like it. The only thing "wrong" is that it could randomly kick up again for no apparent reason if you don't stabilize it. If it tastes good that way, it's fine, if it doesn't kick up again with this recent attempt and you find it tastes too sweet, you could try making another batch in a similar manner (perhaps refining your techniques a little, I'd start with not adding any acid) and hoping IT goes dry, then blending the two... or drink it cut with soda water or something. Really, there is no wrong way to hande it as long as it tastes good, just unsafe things that could happen if it kicks back up in the bottle.

Although given that this started at 1.100 and finished at 1.030, it's not going to have the alcohol content to be a long-term aged brew, it's just shy of 10%. That said, I've had an 8% wine that has stayed good for years... so as always, your mileage may vary. Sugar content also seems to be in your favour when it comes to resisting negative aging effects... at least in my experience.

Re-reading your brewlog, I'm suspecting Golddiggie and Medsen are right and your pH may have been on the low side to start but as fermentation happened it went down even more and is now too low for the yeast and if you can get your hands on some potassium carbonate (or calcium carbonate if you can't get the potassium stuff), a few teaspoons of that might well help.

AngryViking
01-06-2013, 04:25 PM
Alright, well I'll give it another day on account of the bread yeast. To stop it do I just use a campden tab?

Chevette Girl
01-06-2013, 08:54 PM
Campden tab (sulphites) will stun the yeast, adding potassium sorbate will keep any that wake up from breeding again, you kind of want the one-two punch to be safe.

psychopomp23
01-07-2013, 02:31 PM
Yeah...that one-two punch works really well...I learned that!

fatbloke
01-07-2013, 02:54 PM
Alright, well I'll give it another day on account of the bread yeast. To stop it do I just use a campden tab?

Don't mistake the difference between stabilising to prevent fermentation restarting and trying too stop an active fermentation. Stabilising is easy once you've had a number of consistent and identical reading. Stopping an active ferment can prove quite hard. Invariably you have to cold crash for a week or two before racking off sediment and onto the stabilising chems......

Chevette Girl
01-07-2013, 04:12 PM
But in this case, AngryViking would be stabilizing a stalled-out mead, which is already stopped. And I really think the problem here would be the pH anyway... but you can't trust that to hold it still either.