PDA

View Full Version : Completely newbee, first batch not foaming.



Montead
02-07-2013, 03:34 PM
I am completely new to this. I have no one around me that I can research from but I am determined.
First batch of mead. I used the complete Mead maker book as a guide.
I had been researching that you didn't need energizer or nutrients so I didn't put it in initially.
Recipe:
15 lbs of raw alfalfa honey.
4 gallons of water.
Lavlin ec-1118 yeast. One package.
Followed instruction from Ken schramms book.

Temperature of 75deg f. when yeast added.
No idea how to read ph.
But s.g. Reading was 1.119
Week and a half later I am struggling to know if anything is happening.
Smells like yeast is present/active. (without seeing or smelling I am doubting myself)
I found out yesterday that I can maybe should be stirring daily.
Took reading yesterday and sg was 1.117 (maybe). Took again today and it does seem to be any different.
I also have heard you can add energizer/nutrients in stages so I added 1/2tsp of energizer.

I don't know where to go from here.
Should I just wait? Should I be seeing more activity? Should I reactive yeast activity???? HEEELLLLPPP. please!
Blundering in Canada.
Thanks in advance if anyone is out there that can help out.

fatbloke
02-07-2013, 04:13 PM
Your first "port of call" should be the yellow dialogue box on the left. The link to follow is "New Bee Guide".

Show meads (water, honey and yeast) are or can be a complete PITA. So it may be a case of walk before you try to run, just don't panic and dump it. Meads need patience and understanding.

And of course, welcome to the forums....

brian92fs
02-07-2013, 08:17 PM
Did you re-hydrate the yeast first or just dump the packet in? If you just dumped them in, then I'd suggest getting another packet and re-hydrating in water first and re-pitching. If you have a LHBS in your area, you might also consider picking up some GoFerm to re-hydrate the yeast in.

Here's a link to the re-hydration instructions (http://www.lalvinyeast.com/strains.asp) from Lalvin.


Dissolve the dry yeast in 50 mL (2 oz) of warm NOT HOT water (40- 43C /
104-109F). Let stand 15 minutes without stirring, then stir well to suspend all the yeast. Add to previously sulfited must. (The yeast should not be kept in the rehydration medium longer than recommended.)

Here's another link (http://www.scottlab.com/product-103.aspx) from Scott Labs on how to use GoFerm (in case you choose to try that out as well)

Whether you re-pitch or not, make sure you aerated it well. For my 5-gallon batches, I use a lees stirrer on a electric drill and run it for 5 - 10 minutes. I then give it another 30 - 60 seconds shot with the drill every day thereafter until it hits the 1/3 break.

Also, your gravity of 1.119 is pretty high. In addition, EC-1118 is a workhorse capable of taking that dry. That would give you a 15.5% to 16.0% ABV. You might consider adding some more water to bring the gravity down to the 1.098 to 1.106 range. That would keep your ABV in the 13% to 14% range.

There's nothing wrong with a 16% ABV mead. It'll just take longer to mellow out and loose the hot taste that higher ABVs produce. Or it'll take a lot of back sweetening to mask it (think Ruby Ports here).

Once you do get the fermentation up and running (should have a fizzy sound like a newly opened soda), continue adding some of that energizer you bought. Maybe another 1/2 teaspoon each day until it hits the 1/3 mark.

brian92fs
02-07-2013, 08:17 PM
Your first "port of call" should be the yellow dialogue box on the left. The link to follow is "New Bee Guide".


PS - I second this

Chevette Girl
02-09-2013, 02:58 PM
Yay, another Canadian... where are you? (the user CP has a place to list your location).

I've done it both ways and you get a much cleaner and quicker fermentation if you use the nutrients. The 1/2 tsp of energizer you've added is a good start but you want that much _per gallon_, at least. And stirring is good but as Brian suggested, in the early stages you need to aerate as well, stirring with lots of splashing around to get air (with oxygen) incorporated into the must.

Are you brewing in a bucket or a carboy? Buckets are easy to aerate, carboys make you get a little more creative. Some folks (like Fatbloke there) like to remove some must and put it in a sanitized blender and give it a whiz before pouring it back in... I brew in a bucket and like to use a whisk.

Montead
02-09-2013, 04:14 PM
Wow super responses. Thanks so incredibly much.
I will work thru each (much appreciated) response.
As well as sharing what I have done and how I got the SG to start moving again.

Fatbloke- thanks for the welcome. So this would be referred to as a "show mead?"
Not sure if that is a good thing or not. Sometimes my wife is a PITA but still worth hanging in there! Will I be able to say the same thing about my "show" mead?!! (hopefully)
I didn't dump it and the story gets better. But I will get to that.

Brian 92fs- I did indeed rehydrate the yeast. Being very particular about all the amounts and temp. of yeast. I would never of thought I could just dump it in.
I have no idea what a LHBS is so I don't know if I have one in area.
Regarding stirring. Our local wine supplier store is only open half a day during work days. I was finally able to get in there and ask a bunch of questions as well. With most backing up what is going on here as well. (which is always encouraging).
I picked up the stirring attachment for the drill and have started hitting twice a day. Not sure if I should still hit it for the five to ten minute amount but usually have been doing the 30-60 seconds now.

Regarding abv my wife loves a good dessert wine so that is what I am shooting for. I honestly don't know the benefits or downfalls to having a high abv. Is it just the alcohol taste. I really don't mind letting it sit for a long time to get it to settle out?? Will I be able to get a high abv to be a good "dessert" mead. ( just by sweetening even if it gets dry?). I also thought I could kill yeast with a deactivating agent. Is that foolish???

BIG NEWS. - SG Started to move. Turns out fermentation doesn't like to happen at 50deg f. Hahaha.
Local store advice said I should bring it up to 70-80 range. I was told cool dark place....(they probably were not talking to Canadians)
So now I am super excited. I need to add the nutrients a couple more times but I am good with that.

Chevette girl- hi fellow Canuck. I am on the opposite side of the country. Alberta here.
I am fermenting primary in a bucket so that makes stirring nice. I have the attachment for the drill so aerating should be an issue.


Thanks so much all. And I will be definitely gleaning as much info from here as possible since this is all so new to me. The funny thing is this. I have only tasted two types of mead so far so my expectations arent to high yet. I bought my wife bees last year for her birthday and so we have our own source of raw honey which is great. I am intrigued by melomels. Are this what fat bloke would be referencing as walking before I ran?? Or are those just s picky?

I will post a picture of my primary in case anyone is interested.
Thanks again all.
Montead.

Montead
02-09-2013, 04:18 PM
http://img.tapatalk.com/d/13/02/10/u8a6e2ag.jpg
Starting to ferment again.

Chevette Girl
02-09-2013, 08:02 PM
I have no idea what a LHBS is so I don't know if I have one in area.

"Local Home Brew Store", aka, your wine supply store.

"Show mead" is just a designation for a mead where no ingredients but honey, water and yeast are involved. You've already added some nutrients so now yours is considered a "Traditional mead". There's nothing WRONG with show meads, just that they're notorious for being really, really, really slow to ferment out and some of them never even finish. A "melomel" is a mead made with fruit, a "metheglyn" is one made with flowers, herbs or spices, a "cyser" is mead made with apples and a "pyment" is a mead made with grapes.

Yes, you can add things that inhibit fermentation (it's called stabilization, generally involves sodium/potassium metabisulphite and potassium sorbate) but it's a LOT easier to stabilize a finished fermentation than to try to stop one in full swing, and if it's still got sugar in it, it's a lot safer to bottle it if it's been stabilized.

There are a couple more Gotmeaders out your way, lucky you!

Nidhoggr
02-10-2013, 05:03 PM
http://img.tapatalk.com/d/13/02/10/u8a6e2ag.jpg
Starting to ferment again.


Are you using a 20 gallon plastic fermenter from Midwest Supplies? If you are, you're not gonna wanna try and use that for anything other than a primary. Just a heads up.

Montead
02-14-2013, 03:59 PM
Are you using a 20 gallon plastic fermenter from Midwest Supplies? If you are, you're not gonna wanna try and use that for anything other than a primary. Just a heads up.

I do realize that. I will be racking into glass carboy soon. This is only primary and ever only primary.

Montead
02-16-2013, 02:55 PM
Alright. Question now. The gravity is only down to 1.106 from the original 1.119. Today was the day that the recipe told me to rack into carboy. With the must not moving for the first week should I leave it in the primary for another week or till a certain specific gravity is reached ???
I realize it could still do its job in the carboy. But I don't want to be in to much of a hurry. What is your advice?

fatbloke
02-16-2013, 03:47 PM
The recipes that use time scales aren't that helpful. Honey and yeast being natural products are unpredictable. Time isn't.

Gravity readings are the way to understan what's going on.

You've got a handle on those so stick with them.

I did notice you mention what seemed like quite a low temp for fermentation I'm presuming you've got something to warm it or you just moved it to a better location ???

The brew can stay in the bucket all the time its fermenting well. Either till it stops or when it's getting close to finishing. A good guide is when it gets close to its tolerance.

Checked back and see EC-1118. Also that you only mention using a half teaspoon of energiser ? If so, I'd suggest at least 2 teaspoons more straight away.

Montead
02-16-2013, 05:37 PM
I did notice you mention what seemed like quite a low temp for fermentation I'm presuming you've got something to warm it or you just moved it to a better location ???

The brew can stay in the bucket all the time its fermenting well. Either till it stops or when it's getting close to finishing. A good guide is when it gets close to its tolerance.

Checked back and see EC-1118. Also that you only mention using a half teaspoon of energiser ? If so, I'd suggest at least 2 teaspoons more straight away.

Perfect.
Yes i moved it to a spot that is keeping it at around 70deg F. I am toying with trying to keep temperature up to the 80 range??
I also have added 1/2tsp a total of four times. Over the last week and a half. I was under the belief that I should stop at the 2tsp total mark?? Is there validity to that advice?
I have also been using a lees stirring rod just about daily. Seeing about 0.001 daily drop in SG. Seems slow but I am at least excited its moving. I just racked my berry mead after it dropped from 1.068 to 1.002 in like a week. So that messes with your mind a bit. I totally realize that each batch reacts so different and the berries provides a lot more nutrients for yeast to feed on. Even so I was SHOCKED.
I will check back on ec-1118 tolerance. I know it is way up there. Thanks for the response. It helps so much when a guys feeling a little unsure of himself due to the learning curve. I have since started a JOA version. No raisins or spices and added cranberries. Very excited about it as well.

Montead
03-29-2013, 02:09 AM
I need some help again hopefully someone can assist me.
Now after about two months I test my alfalfa traditional mead and it is only reading 1.082. I was given the direction that I was supposed to keep stirring every day or so. I had no idea if I was supposed to stop at some point or just keep going until I got to final gravity.
I started to really question myself. I began to worry about oxidation. About two weeks ago I racked it to a carboy. Reading this forum tonight I started to wonder if I shouldn't have racked it since it wasn't done fermentation???
I have been watching the airlock and I am only getting 1 bubble every two minutes. Unless I stir it then about two days later it is back to about 1 bubble every 50 seconds. I have been testing the gravity about every 4-6 days. And it seems to have REALLY slowed down since I put it in the carboy. The last five days it had only gone down about 0.001 gravity. Grrrrrr.
Did I mess up. Do I need to repitch? Just be patient? I hear about others traditional meads going a lot faster. Do I need to add more nutrients? Is there some limit to the amount of nutrients I should be adding?
Please help. I really have no idea what I am doing.

I also did some other batches of melomel type meads. They dropped really fast. Down to the proper fermentation in approximately 2 weeks. They all have a really strong alcohol taste. I am not exactly sure what the terms means but "green" or "hot" flavor seem to explain it well.
I am really hoping that they mellow out over time. What do you think? Is that possible?
I have a JOA going and haven't tasted it yet.
I realize that I really don't have someone local to talk to so I am leaning pretty heavy on this forum.

NZMatt
03-30-2013, 04:59 AM
I suspect that is way to slow for a primary ferment. What was your og? May have gone bad, does it smell off? Am a noobie myself sorry but it sounds like something has gone wrong. If your brew is not bugged you might be able to save it by re pitching with some more nutrients. Any idea what your pH is?
You should stir vigorously until the 1/3rd sugar break to degas and oxygenate your must. After that yeast no longer need /can use o2 and it can be harmful to the final product. So from then on you should stir gently to degas and re-suspend the yeast only.
Wait for further opinions before doing anything though.
Your melomels will be fine. File and forget em for a while. Good luck.

Medsen Fey
03-30-2013, 10:38 AM
Your yeast have been under nourished if you have added only 2 tsp of nutrient. What type of nutrient did you add - white crystals or tan powder?

Another factor that can create this problem is low pH. Can you check the pH?

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

Montead
03-31-2013, 08:01 PM
My Starting Gravity was 1.119
It does not smell off at all or taste of at all.
I do not have a ph tester. I should look into getting one.
I have been graphing my gravity readings and realized today that it was going slow before, but it even slowed down more after I racked to the carboy...
I think I need to repitch and hope that it takes even thought the ABV% is in the 5.5% range. I have no idea if the yeast will take or not.

Matt, What is the 1/3 Sugar break? Does that mean for example that my 1.119 should be stirred until 1.040 range?

How much nutrients is it ok to add? The nutrients I am using is a yeast energizer my local brew store suggested. It has the number 161 on it and it is more of a powder than crystals.

Chevette Girl
04-03-2013, 09:10 PM
Sometimes racking too early can cause things to slow down because you've left a lot of the yeast that are supposed to be doing the job at the bottom of the primary fermentation vessel.

If your starting gravity was 1.120 (I'm rounding for ease of math), your 1/3 break (when 1/3 of the expected or available sugars have been consumed) would be 1.080. So if yours is around 1.082 then you're getting pretty close, if you're going to add nutrients and/or energizer, I'd suggest doing it soon and also giving it one more good aeration as well (also more difficult in a carboy than in a bucket as you'll soon see). If it's gotten much past this point, then you might want to stay away from chemicals and probably go with microwaved bread yeast as a nutrient feed for your must, it will still be able to use more organic forms of nitrogen even if it can't assimilate something like DAP anymore.

Medsen Fey
04-03-2013, 10:43 PM
Another 3 tsp of your nutrient should get things moving. Double that might be even better.

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

Montead
04-06-2013, 12:22 PM
Thanks so much. I was able to get things moving again. I added one more packet of rehydrated ec1118 and 1 tsp of nutrients. I have been stirring daily for the last five days. It is to the point where I am getting one bubble from airlock every 10 seconds so I am very content with that. I have racked and filtered and bottled some if my other ones now. Here is a picture of some. http://img.tapatalk.com/d/13/04/07/a4ypymyh.jpghttp://img.tapatalk.com/d/13/04/07/zyperyse.jpg

Thanks so much for your help.