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Weasel
01-24-2013, 04:23 AM
Hey all,

put down my first mead one week ago. It bubbled maybe every 10 secs for a few days and now every 20secs. I'm used to brewing beer where the primary fermentation is faster and more active. There is a thick layer on lee's on the bottom but I'm a little concerned that the fermentation is slowing down early.

From what I read fermentation should take somewhere between 4-6 months? Should it be slowing down already?

The recipe I've used is:
2.6kgs honey
SN9 vintners harvest yeast (its a yeast tolerant to ABV 18%, which includes nutrients)
water up to 10L

The OG was 1.082

Apart from concerns about the brew becoming stuck I'm also unsure as to when I should bottle it. Id like to prime it in the bottle and am hesitant to you any processed chemicals. I like my poisons chemical free ;D

So at what point would it be safe to bottle?

I'm enjoying the mead making process and today actually put down my second batch, a blueberry melomel.

Any help with this would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
Weasel

LeedsBrewer
01-24-2013, 05:49 AM
I am by no means qualified to give advice as the only batch ive done is a JAOM which you just leave alone for a few months and its done.

However, this is worth a read (if you haven't already seen it) http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=108&Itemid=14 Chapter 15.

Have you been aerating twice a day? This will help keep the yeast healthy. When you get to the 1/3rd stage (1.055) you'll probably need to add some more nutrients.

I'd suggest you take an SG reading and see where the fermentation has progressed to.

Weasel
01-24-2013, 06:24 AM
Hey thanks for the quick reply,

I aerated the must initially, shaking it up for ~ 10 mins. But haven't aerated it since.

I just took a SG reading of 1.042 (my OG was 1.082) and gave it a gentle stir. After putting the air lock back on its seems, maybe to be bubbling more, not sure though.

Marshmallow Blue
01-24-2013, 11:23 AM
based on some quick google conversions to useless American Units it looks like you did about 5 pounds of honey for a 2.5 gallon batch? So that is 2.5 pounds per gallon. The yeast may not have enough sugars in there to satisfy the yeast. With my apple cider mead I used a champagne yeast that was about 18%. It chewed through 2 apples, 3 pounds of honey, and half a gallon of fresh apple cider in about 2 weeks to complete dryness. I would try adding a some more honey or some fruit if you want to. See what happens with that in regards to activity.

You can bottle it when the fermentation is done. Ill be bottling the said apple cider mead in a few weeks and I brewed that back in the beginning of October. And I wont drink it until this next October.

Medsen Fey
01-24-2013, 01:48 PM
So that is 2.5 pounds per gallon. The yeast may not have enough sugars in there to satisfy the yeast.
.

A gravity of 1.080 is plenty. When yeast are struggling, adding more honey will only exacerbate the problem. The problem here is that the yeast are undernourished; the vintner's harvest yeast package does not have the nutrients needed to complete a mead fermentation. The pH may also be too low and if you can check it and find it is less than 3.3 you could adjust it upward to at least 3.4 and that might help.

Show meads are challenging and this could be a long fermentation.

If the mead stalls before it goes dry, then you won't be able to carbonate it.

Marshmallow Blue
01-24-2013, 02:16 PM
A gravity of 1.080 is plenty. When yeast are struggling, adding more honey will only exacerbate the problem. The problem here is that the yeast are undernourished; the vintner's harvest yeast package does not have the nutrients needed to complete a mead fermentation. The pH may also be too low and if you can check it and find it is less than 3.3 you could adjust it upward to at least 3.4 and that might help.

Show meads are challenging and this could be a long fermentation.

If the mead stalls before it goes dry, then you won't be able to carbonate it.

I have so much to learn about gravity business. Up to this point (4 batches) I've been using a pounds per gallon and the tolerance of the yeast and fudging around with that. I know the importance of hydrometers and I had one on my Xmas list but didn't get one, so I'm picking up one next brew store run.

Medson: Can adding citrusy fruits and raisins help with PH without having to use nutrient additives?

Medsen Fey
01-24-2013, 03:42 PM
Lemons and limes can cause the pH to be too low. Other citrus fruit work well, and raisins and other fruit can supply nutrients. Also you can use pollen, or organic nutrient derived from other yeast. Any of them can help to insure a complete fermentation.

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Weasel
01-24-2013, 05:15 PM
For the 10 L (2.6 US gal) batch what volumes of orange and raisins should I add? Is it better to add whole oranges or orange juice?

Are here any resources you could direct me to Re: yeast nutrition and pH?

I tasted the brew last night when I took the reading and it is still quite sweet. So the think the sugars are there.

Thanks for the help.

brian92fs
01-24-2013, 05:53 PM
From what I read fermentation should take somewhere between 4-6 months? Should it be slowing down already?


If its a true Show Mead with nothing but honey, yeast and water, then yes it can take that long. However, with some other source of nutrients 7 - 14 days is more typical.



Id like to prime it in the bottle and am hesitant to you any processed chemicals. I like my poisons chemical free ;D


You might want to look at Fermaid-O from Lallemand. Using a nutrient will make this process much easier and this is essential just autolyzed yeast. You could also try making your own with bakers yeast and a microwave.



So at what point would it be safe to bottle?


That depend - If you looking to go chemical free (no sulfites or sorbates) and you have residual sweetness, things get tricky. Sterile filtering, pasteurization or luck may be needed to prevent bottle bombs.

Weasel
01-25-2013, 04:21 AM
My goal for this psuedo-show-mead was to run it as dry as I can. I'd like to try a super dry mead.

How much honey syrup would I need to bump the yeast into carbonation mode?

Or would it be better to use a sugar given the difficulty of fermenting honey?

Why is this different from doing the same with beer?

Thanks for the help.

Medsen Fey
01-25-2013, 07:14 AM
My goal for this psuedo-show-mead was to run it as dry as I can. I'd like to try a super dry mead.

How much honey syrup would I need to bump the yeast into carbonation mode?


Why is this different from doing the same with beer?



It is different from beer because in beer, the yeast have plenty of nutrients and a stable pH and so they rarely get stuck. All of the fermentable sugar gets chewed up. Then you add more fermentable sugar just before bottling and that creates carbonation.

Your mead isn't stuck yet but it is slow, and it is common for meads without nutrients and buffers to stick. When that happens there is still plenty of fermentable sugar but the yeast are unable to metabolize it. Adding more sugar will not help them.

To carbonate safely you conduct the fermentation in a manner to have it go dry, and when all the fermentable sugar is gone (gravity < 1.000) you add a controlled amount to produce the desired level of carbonation.

Your mead may not get stuck, but don't be surprised if it does.

Weasel
02-10-2013, 04:10 PM
Since my last post I racked into a secondary full of 1.5kg of sour cherries and a vanilla pod.

S.G. was still quite high (~1.040). Fermentation took of life a rocket after being quite slow in the primary. Now after two weeks the fruit has fallen to the bottom and the air lock is bubbling once every 90 seconds. I haven't take another S.G. yet as I am waiting until I rack it again.

My question is now that the fruit has fallen should I rack it of the fruit?

I've read a few times now that its better to not leave the mead on the fruit. Many writers suggest that a week is enough time before racking.

Cheers for the help

Medsen Fey
02-10-2013, 04:20 PM
Now is probably a good time to rack.

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Weasel
02-20-2013, 08:43 PM
So I racked the mead and took a reading its a SG of 1. I though I should stabilize it and back sweeten. Following a guide in the forums I added campden tabs and 12hours lately added sulphite(?). Now 12 hours on again I was going to add more honey but it bubbling has started again, although very slowly. 1 bubble every 4 1/2 mins.

Is this the sulphur gas escaping, or some other reaction? Or have I messes up stabilizing and restarted fermentation?

How do you know when your mead is stabilized?

Medsen Fey
02-21-2013, 12:04 AM
Can you please give the gravity with 4 digits (X.XXX) so we know where it is. If your mead hasn't finished fermenting or isn't clear, stabilization often fails. Also you need potassium sorbate in addition to sulfites to insure that it works. You judge success by watching the gravity for a few weeks and if it remains stable, you'll probably be OK.

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Weasel
02-21-2013, 12:33 AM
Sorry the gravity is 1.000 and has been there for two weeks.

I added the campden then potassium sorbate 12 hours later.

It had cleared and gone a nice ruby red colour. Looks great with a flash light shining through it.

The bubbling is really slow.

Thanks for all your help too Medsen Fey.

Medsen Fey
02-21-2013, 08:06 AM
Watch the gravity and see if it changes in the next 2 or 3 weeks. If it doesn't drop more then it is probably done. The gravity of 1.000 means it is at, or very near, the end.

How much sorbate and sulfite did you add? Are you planning to sweeten?

Weasel
02-21-2013, 02:31 PM
Yeah I was planning on back sweetening to approx 1.010. So hopefully you can taste more of the fruit.

With the campden I crushed three tabs in a little warm water and added it to the primary directions on the packet suggested using 2-4 tabs for 10L. My originally 10L must is now only 9L, so I added 3.

With the potassium sorbate I added 1 level teaspoon. The packet suggested 1/2 a teaspoon for very 5L.

If in a few more weeks the SG drops lower am I then able to add more of these chemicals? Or will that start to change the taste of the final product?

Cheers for the help.

Medsen Fey
02-21-2013, 04:04 PM
You've added enough sorbate so you shouldn't need more. You probably have enough sulfite as well so you don't need to add more. You could go ahead and sweeten now and watch the gravity over the next month or so.