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Aqualab
12-31-2012, 04:20 PM
Stuck or insanely slow fermentation.........?

I started a 12-gallon batch back on November 4th. 8-gals of spring water, 30 lbs of clover honey and 4tsp of Fermaid-K. 3 packets of K1V1116 yeast. Starting SG -1.091. Fermenter is located in the basement, typical ambient temp is 64 F.

I added an additional 5 lbs of honey in .5 gals of spring water, 4 tsps of Fermaid-K and aerated the end of November when the SG had steady stated at 1.039 and no activity coming from the blow-off.

About two weeks ago I checked the SG and it had risen to 1.044 (increase due to addition of honey?), still no activity from the blow off. I added 80g of Fermaid-O to the must per advice received on here and also swirled the fermenter for a minute or so to agitate yeast and raised the basement's ambient temp to around 68 F which triggered some brief activity in the blow-off.

I just checked the SG again and it is still at 1.044. pH is 4.64. Tastes and smells fine - sweet but can definitely taste the alcohol. No action from the blow-off

Not sure how or if I need to do anything? Just relax and let it do its thing or do I need to act to prevent contamination, off flavoring, etc...?

Thanks as always,
Bill

Medsen Fey
12-31-2012, 04:45 PM
If the gravity isn't dropping then it is stuck. If I'm reading correctly you have about 3 pounds of honey per gallon so the effective starting gravity was slightly above 1.100. K1V should take this bone dry.

You added plenty of nutrient and the pH is OK so the other thing you can try before repitching is to boost the temperature up to 73-75 F to see if that kicks the yeast into action. If not, it is time to repitch with a yeast that is good for restarts- Uvaferm 43 is the best but EC-1118 (red star premier cuvee), DV10, & QA23 are all good. You'll want to acclimate the yeast by progressive additions of must so they can get it done.

You might be tempted to use K1V again but I wouldn't recommend it- it is already stuck here, and it isn't really a very good yeast for restarts.

Endeavor to persevere!

Aqualab
12-31-2012, 05:27 PM
Thanks Medsen. I will try boosting the temp in that area of the basement and see if that gets it going again........... The wife's gonna have a fit with me burning expensive propane to heat the basement just to make the yeast more comfortable. I may be keeping the yeast company.

obscured by clouds
01-01-2013, 02:21 AM
What about using a heating pad wrapped around the side, the kind you use for a bad back on a timer. I know they make ones for buckets/carboys that would be much more controllable. Or maybe even insulation? Or a heat lamp on a timer? Or an aquarium heater? Thinking there would be better solutions then reverting to heating up the whole room.

Aqualab
01-01-2013, 06:41 PM
I guess one option would be to not make mead during the winter months up here in Syracuse NY. I looked online and found silicone rubber 120-volt heat strips in various widths and lengths and may go that route - they are not cheap. Nothing out there that I could find specifically made to cover a conical vessel so I'll have to gerry rig an insulation jacket. The mead is again bubbling along at a good clip now that I have the basement temp at 72 degrees!

obscured by clouds
01-01-2013, 08:26 PM
Have you looked into something like this?
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/the-brew-belt-1.html

I know I am going to have issues here with the heat in the summer, and I don't like to turn on the AC unless I am really hot. I can figure solutions, but nothing cheap. However I like less the idea of not making any Mead this summer!

Chevette Girl
01-02-2013, 01:12 AM
If you can make an enclosed area with plywood or rigid insulation, a 100-watt light bulb can keep things surprisingly warm...

Aqualab
01-06-2013, 01:30 PM
So after a week or so increasing basement temp to 72 F, the SG is now at 1.020! Dropped 0.024 in that time. I like the alcohol/sweetness taste at this SG so I added two packets of superkleer yesterday to clarifiy. I also returned basement temp to the normal 60-64 F average yesterday. Will the addition of the clarifier itself stop fermentation or do I need to do/add anything else? Still seeing some action in the airlock, though very much reduced. More than likely will tail off with cooler ambient temp again? Hoping to bottle next weekend - depending on the clarity of course.

fatbloke
01-06-2013, 03:16 PM
Get it stabilised before you bottle. Just because you've hit it with finings doesn't mean you'll get all the yeast cells out and there's residual sugars which could easily restart fermenting if and when it warms up.......otherwise you've got potential bottle bombs on your hands......

Medsen Fey
01-06-2013, 06:23 PM
Fatbloke is right. Your batch isn't ready for bottling and won't be ready in a week if you want to do it safely. You've used a very hardy yeast that will try to take the gravity down below 1.000. Ideally, to stop it where it is, you put it in a fridge and "cold crash" it for a couple of weeks (or until it mostly clears) then rack it off the old yeast and stabilize with the combination of potassium metabisulfite and potassium sorbate. Then you need to watch it at room temp for 3 or 4 weeks to make sure the gravity isn't slowly dropping. Then you'll be safe bottling. Otherwise you could be making bottle bombs.

This is one of those situations where patience as a mead-crafter really pays off.

Aqualab
01-07-2013, 05:04 PM
I racked the 11-gals of mead out of the conical and into two 6-gal carboys yesterday. Airlocks on both are slightly active. Looks like apple cider! The intention was to artificially stabilize using potassium sorbate prior to bottling, and after having clarified. Temp in basement is back to normal 64 F or so on average, so that should slow down fermentation.

In hind sight, I guess I should have used a different strain of yeast that would have only taken the SG down to between 1.020 and 1.010 as this is the level of sweetness with accompanying % alc we have decided we like by trying various brands of commercially available meads. As it stands now, our mead tastes somewhat similar to Chaucers brand. That being said, what yeast strain would you recommend to achieve an ending SG in that range for my next batch?

Thanks

Chevette Girl
01-08-2013, 01:02 PM
It's not recommended to just use sorbate, if you don't sulphite it too, there are bugs that can eat sorbate and leave behind geraniols (yeah, just what you think) that can't be removed.

Medsen Fey
01-08-2013, 01:36 PM
CG is correct. And if geranium odor isn't enough, using sorbate alone is not reliable for preventing renewed fermentation.

With a gravity of 1.090 most yeast will take it dry if properly managed. Perhaps some lager strains and lower alcohol ale yeast might leave a tad of sugar.

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

Aqualab
01-08-2013, 08:55 PM
Thanks - yes, I ordered potassium sorbate and potassium metabisulfite and will add both according to their prescribed amount.

Medsen Fey
01-20-2013, 05:43 PM
For sorbate, 1 gram per gallon works, and keeps it under the taste threshold for just about everyone.

For KMeta - you can adjust the amount based on pH and measurement of the free SO2 to achieve a molecular SO2 level of 0.8 mg/L. Without going through all that, if you use 1.5 Campden tablets (660 mg) per gallon, that will usually work OK. But please remember nothing works 100% and you want to watch for a good while before bottling to make sure the gravity isn't slowly dropping.