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Azagal
01-29-2013, 10:31 PM
Hi everyone, I'm new to mead-making, never had training or anything, but i sure read a lot.
I have started a +-5gallon batch with the following recipe:

BATCH
21 lbs of nohey
5.25 gallons of water
3 tea spoons of nutriments (from the whinemaking store)
1 Wyeast 4184 pacquet (yes, I know...)
5 Campden tablets (put in mush 24h before pitching starter)

STARTER
Smacked the pack... and left it swell overnight, oops.
Warmed 4 cups water
1 lbs (1,33 cup) of honey (overall, same gravity as primary fermenter batch)
Waited 48h.

Original gravity was 1,11, the airlock only started bubbling after 7 days and was always around 45 seconds to a minute between bubbles.

Right now, in 28 days, it got to 1,09 gravity, the liquid is stil fizzy and no off-taste or visible nastiness.
The temerature has been 70 F (21 C).
I didnt test the acidity, but it sure doesnt taste acidic ;)

So... again, the cursed Wyeast 4184, it is not 100% stuck, but it is worryingly slow.
What I wonder is, should I re-pitch with the same yeast or a different, tougher strand (I bought Lalvin D-43).
If I do, in each case, should i rack it off the lies first?
Either ways, I would make a starter with fresh ingredients and gradually add mush to the actif starter.

Thanks, I need help before it lactoferments :-( had high hopes for the kid...

EDIT : the nutriments are sold byt the whinemaking store, no specs on it. I added them over 9 days, first in the mush, then each 3 days.

Side note : I tried making a 1 gallon batch of a different recipe (but same kind of honey) with Lalvin 1118 and no Campden and it stuck too... it even lactofermented before I decided to rack it and tastes of vinegar :-/

Chevette Girl
01-30-2013, 12:51 AM
Hi Azagal. Welcome to the forum, sorry you're having such problems!

I'm sure if you've been reading, you already know that the wyeast sweet mead yeast is a fickle thing. If it's fizzy, there's still hope that the fermentation will finish, but at that rate, it's even slower than my show meads were... If you want to keep trying it, another smack pack might help bring your colony size up to something that can get the job done a little more quickly, but you'd probably have better luck making a nice acclimated starter with some rehydrated EC-1118 or K1V-1116. I'm pretty sure that dried yeast has a much higher cell count than smack packs, which is why a lot of us pretty much just stick to the Lalvin dry yeasts.

You won't be able to tell by taste how acidic it is, the sweetness will mask it. if you want to rule out an acidic must, a pH meter or test strips are what you're going to want. If it's below 3.2 then that may well be the culprit. Be careful, don't let your brew store sell you a titration kit, the acidity from honey apparently screws with the results.

You could safely add another 3 tsp of your yeast nutrient, the recommendation on the package is usually for grape wine which has a lot of stuff in it already, whereas meads don't tend to have much more than sugar to offer the yeast... and if you haven't been aerating it regularly, you should probably start that and keep it up a few times a day until it gets down to about 1.080.

Are you sure what happened with your previous batch was acetification? Malolactic fermentation is something different, and acetobacter is generally what causes a wine to turn to vinegar. Early on in my winemaking career I was SURE a few batches had gone to vinegar but it turned out they just went through a yucky, acidic phase for a few months after they fermented out dry.

Azagal
01-30-2013, 05:15 PM
Thanks for the very complete answer Chevette girl!

I had forgotten about aeration the whole 1/3 of the way, I'l get back to it, adding some nutriments each time up to your recommendation.

And yes, I'l kick my ass and buy acid testing strips.

If I use a new strand, should I rack it beforehand? Poobably won't if I use the same.

akueck
01-30-2013, 08:02 PM
No need to rack if you are repitching. With aeration and nutrients, you can get that Wyeast strain to fully ferment. So you might not need to repitch at all. I'd give it a shot. ;D

Azagal
01-30-2013, 11:53 PM
Thanks for the encouragement, it convinces me to work on it (aerating and nutriments, like I did tonight) for a week or two. Than I'l receive the other Wyeast 4184 pacquet I ordered last week :-D, make a nice starter, aclimate it and repitch to give it some reinforcements.
Can't hurt, can it?

BTW, here is a little test I made:
I decided to repitch my other stuck mead, the 1 gallon batch, with Lalvin-1118 (same I had used), so I made a small starter, but I kept 1/5 of the yeast power, and put it in a glass in whitch I had saved the must used in measuring gravity from my big batch (1.09 G). The next day (today), the fresh starter was happily active and bubbling, the yeast crumbs broken up, while the must in the glass had'nt moved and the yeast crumbs were mostly unbroken. Interesting eh?

Chevette Girl
02-01-2013, 04:58 PM
BTW, here is a little test I made:
I decided to repitch my other stuck mead, the 1 gallon batch, with Lalvin-1118 (same I had used), so I made a small starter, but I kept 1/5 of the yeast power, and put it in a glass in whitch I had saved the must used in measuring gravity from my big batch (1.09 G). The next day (today), the fresh starter was happily active and bubbling, the yeast crumbs broken up, while the must in the glass had'nt moved and the yeast crumbs were mostly unbroken. Interesting eh?

Certainly illustrates why one might want to rehydrate dried yeast in water rather than pitching it dry into the must...

Don't go too nuts with the nutrients there, try to time it so that you've added your entire total by the 1/3 break, don't just go add a measured amount with each aeration or if it takes too long you could end up with too much nutrients in there.

Azagal
02-05-2013, 09:27 PM
Well, after 7 days of aerating (used an egg beater, one step up from the spoon i used before) and adding some nutrients at the start, I tested the gravity today... 1,09. Did'nt move for a goshdarned week, thats even slower than it was. Still lightly fizzy in mouth, visibly fizzy in the tester tube, no off-tastes.

I'm really eager to get my new yeast, I'm not that confident about doing a good acclimated starter (I do have some K1V-1116 on hand).
Tried my hand with the 1 gallon batch, made obvious mistakes, not quite sure of the result. I feel like I'm gonna screw that one up too. If you do know of a good thorough tutorial I'd read/watch it, I'm at the point where I only take advice from actual people :)

EDIT : Oh! Yes, the acidity. Well my genius brewing-store clerk did'nt know if they had any so I still can't test it. Do they carry such items in drug-store or something?

akueck
02-06-2013, 12:52 PM
A hardware store might have pH strips, although they might not be in the correct range (2-5). Can't say I've seen them in a drugstore, but you might try a place where science teachers shop. Pool supply and pet stores (with fancy aquariums) will have them too, but again might not be in the right range.

Azagal
02-20-2013, 11:00 PM
Hello everyone, here is an update.
I received the Litmus strips I ordered and tested the PH. It ain't as precise as I hoped it would be, but it's clearly darker than 3, so roughly 2.5, thus, too acid!

Finaly something clearly wrong I can correct. Yes I waited too long but that's that, it's not wasted yet.

After I correct the acidity, should I wait and see if it restarts to ferment or just repitch?

BTW my first 1 gallon test batch also score around 2.5.

Medsen Fey
02-21-2013, 12:09 AM
After you correct the pH the yeast will often get going without having to pitch more.

Hey! Where's WVMJ? He needs to see this.

Azagal
02-24-2013, 05:45 PM
Gah, nobody has calcium carbonate powder around here, what else can be used to raise the PH? Something more acessible hopefully.
Otherwise I'm gonna order that powder on ebay, but I'm sick of waiting...

Azagal
02-26-2013, 11:14 PM
(BTW, I'm still interested in input about products that can raise Ph)

I'l be damn, I tested le gravity and, afer 56 days, it's down to 1,06. It's a decrease by 0,03 points (roughly 27% of total) in 21 days.
Well it's not dead at least!
Might finish faster if I correct that Ph... I'm "that" close to just dumping baking soda in it hehe.

Chevette Girl
02-27-2013, 12:01 AM
I wouldn't recommend that, you will end up tasting it... hold out for calcium or potassium bicarb, if your SG is still slowly dropping, then the yeast are a lot more likely to perk up and get the job done once the pH is corrected. It might be worth ordering online, although you'll probably end up paying more for the shipping than for the product!

skunkboy
02-27-2013, 12:17 AM
I wouldn't recommend that, you will end up tasting it... hold out for calcium or potassium bicarb, if your SG is still slowly dropping, then the yeast are a lot more likely to perk up and get the job done once the pH is corrected. It might be worth ordering online, although you'll probably end up paying more for the shipping than for the product!

+1, :) (these are not the 10 characters needed to post)

Medsen Fey
02-27-2013, 06:56 AM
Gah, nobody has calcium carbonate powder around here, what else can be used to raise the PH? ..

Potassium bicarbonate (or carbonate) works and is actually preferable to calcium carbonate. Many home brew stores have it. Pharmacies sometime have plain calcium carbonate as an antacid. In a pinch, egg shell is about 95% calcium carbonate, so if you dry and crush them they can be effective.


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Azagal
02-27-2013, 09:19 PM
Totally gonna try the egg shells, wonderfull idea! Thanks again!

Edit: And tell you guys the results :D

Azagal
03-03-2013, 09:57 PM
Hi, after 4 days with eggshell the Ph seems to be up to around 3.5, so I think it worked.
But I think I detect a slight egg or sulphur smell (I had "cooked" the empty shells for hours in the little oven and ground them to a powder before using them).
The gravity is now at 1.048 (61 days in), but I will probably rack it off that junk quickly.

To keep it going stronger I could repitch after racking with the packet I received, should I?

Chevette Girl
03-03-2013, 10:15 PM
If it's going at all, you probably don't need to repitch, it might speed up a bit now that the pH is under control.

Medsen Fey
03-04-2013, 08:07 AM
If you are getting some sulfur smell, adding a few grams of boiled yeast may help.

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Azagal
03-04-2013, 08:19 PM
Oh, like, boil any kind of dry yeast in a small quantity of water? (even supermarket bread yeast?)

And : after this long on the lees and with egg shells in it, should I rack (so the taste doesnt get worst) or let this must finish in primary fermenter?

Racking probably risks to endanger the newfound fermentation i guess, maybe the boiled yeast will solve this... gah...

Soyala_Amaya
03-05-2013, 12:03 AM
Actually, bread yeast is great. Wine yeast works too, but bread yeast is less expensive and easier to kill. Which is the whole point of boiling it, to kill it so the other, living yeast can cannibalize the hulls. The nitrogen and others nutrients should help with your stinkies.

Azagal
03-20-2013, 09:08 PM
Hi everyone, heres my update:

I boiled 2 Fleischmann bread yeast pacquets in some water for 15 minutes and put it in my 5 gallon bucket and it picked up bubbling. 7 days later it's still bubbling, when from a 1,028 to a 1,014 so it's almost done I guess.
Problem: the sulfur smell did'nt go away, but I did'nt mix the brew, aerate or opened the bucket ether, if it makes any difference.
I'm gonna finally rack on sunday, it will probably help, I hope.

I'm getting damn scared of that smell, 'cause if it stays it's game over.
I read somewhere I could fight it with campden tablets, should I try that?

Note: I already put 5 tablets in at the beggining

Medsen Fey
03-20-2013, 09:35 PM
the sulfur smell did'nt go away, but I did'nt mix the brew, aerate or opened the bucket ether, if it makes any difference.
I'm gonna finally rack on sunday, it will probably help, I hope.

...I read somewhere I could fight it with campden tablets, should I try that?



Campden tablets will not help cure a sulfur odor.

Sulfur odors are typically due to undernourished or stressed yeast. Since your fermentation is about done, you can just give a very good aerating, splash racking. That may help get rid of the odor. If that doesn't cure it, and the fermentation is still active, you can give it another dose of boiled yeast as the hulls can bind sulfur compounds.

Once the fermentation is totally finished, if it is still stinky, you can treat with copper by stirring with copper tubing or using a copper scrub pad and that will usually take care of the problem.

Azagal
03-20-2013, 10:15 PM
The copper mesh scrub pad seems like a good idea. After rack, aerating and splashing, should I dump it in and leave it in there a few days, for example?

EDIT: other question after rereading your advice, should I do things in that order = racking manipulations, wait a little, do the boiled yeasts again, check if fermentation is finished and then do the copper scrub?

Medsen Fey
03-21-2013, 06:19 AM
If the fermentation is still active, I'd add the yeast (hulls). As soon as fermentation stops, if it is still stinky, my approach is to splash rack with a copper scrub pad attached to the racking cane. That usually gets it done.

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