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View Full Version : First Cyser - low O.G., fast fermenting



ZelieMike
10-17-2013, 05:37 PM
Hi Folks, old beer brewer, new mead brewer checking in on his first batch.

I have a question about fermentation range noted during my first (on-going) recipe and hope for a little guidance before I do the first transfer or rack up. First, the recipe for a 1 gallon must:

- 3 lbs. of honey from a local beekeeper recommended by other mead/wine makers
- 8 liquid cups of apple cider made from my own trees (mostly Macintosh)
- Water to top
- Some fresh ginger root scraped in
- Dash of Allspice and Nutmeg
- Yeast energizer
- Various tannin, and clarifier additions from recipe
- A champagne yeast added 24 hours after must mixed and honey dissolved

My O.G. (actually Balling/Brix) in the must was 10.5 (about 1.041 or so), much lower than the calculator suggested it should be. After adding the yeast, the balling rose to 16 (1.062) in 24 hours, then went to 8 (1.031) in 48, and to 1 (1.004 the red line) in 72 hours.

I checked my balling stick and it is functioning correctly in water. I can only think that the sugar content of my cider was not near what I thought it was.
So, my question is do I work to add some cane sugar to the primary fermenter at this point? Transfer to secondary fermenter, then add some sugar? Or, use my old beer priming techniques and rack up since I am so low at this point. I guess my goal would be to add enough sugar at some point to get the S.G/Balling/Brix up close the presumed O.G. on the calculator. The must S.G. response struck me as strange given the rather lengthy fermentation time I read about for mead, even with the activator.

Thanks in advance for your help.

ZelieMike

anir dendroica
10-17-2013, 07:01 PM
Sugar content never increases over time. If you see that, that means that either your first reading was wrong or (more likely) the honey was not completely dissolved.

Something is goofy here. 3 lbs of honey + 1/2 gal apple juice in a 1 gallon volume will yield SG = 1.13, and even with champagne yeast under ideal conditions that will take about a week to ferment dry.

One or more of the following is true:

1. There is undissolved honey at the bottom of your fermenter.

2. You added less than 3 lbs of honey.

3. Your total volume is larger than one gallon.

4. Your hydrometer is inaccurate.

5. You have a poltergeist performing strange alchemy on your mead.


If #1 is ruled out, I would add honey instead of sugar, and I would add it a little at a time (1/4 lb or so) until the alcohol and body reaches a desirable level.

MikeTheElder
10-17-2013, 07:02 PM
Something isn't quite right, 3lbs honey in straight water should have given you a SG of approx. 1.100(25.5 Brix).

With the apple cider SG should have been around 1.130

I just made a couple apple cider Cysers with nearly the same ratios and my OG was 1.150

Also, when taking SG during active fermentation be sure to degas your sample because the CO2 bubbles will give a false reading

Dwhite
10-17-2013, 07:03 PM
In a gallon just the 3 lbs of honey should have gotten your S.G. to
1.100. Something is wrong.

All the Best,
D. White

ZelieMike
10-17-2013, 07:26 PM
Thanks,

I have checked the balling meter, and it seems fine. No honey hanging on the bottom that I can find. The honey jar said 3 lbs, and felt like it, but I don't have anything other than that. I did add a camden tablet though. Would that affect anything.

I do like the degassing idea. Not something I considered. I keep the must covered in the primary with an air lock. Beer style. I can see fermenting bubbles going on when I open it up to measure. So, somthing is still going on.

Should maybe I leave the air lock off? Will honey dissolve but stay in suspension? My beer tricks don't seem to apply here.

Maybe I'll just run up to the supply store and check out a new hydrometer.

ZelieMike

MikeTheElder
10-17-2013, 09:07 PM
With the honey, apple cider and champagne yeast you used, let it ferment dry, if you add more honey now, it might not ferment dry and end up being too sweet.

You can always back-sweeten to taste later,

BTW always back-sweeten Mead with more honey, some people consider it heresy to use any other sweeteners. LOL

ZelieMike
10-18-2013, 09:23 AM
Thanks. I am going to check out a new hydrometer. BUT, if I really am a racking S.G., should I trust my eyes and the lil ole bubbles I see and let it stand, or trust the hydrometer?

ZM

MikeTheElder
10-18-2013, 02:37 PM
Thanks. I am going to check out a new hydrometer. BUT, if I really am a racking S.G., should I trust my eyes and the lil ole bubbles I see and let it stand, or trust the hydrometer?

ZM

You should take everything you read,see,feel, measure and taste into consideration.

Relying on any one thing exclusively can lead to problems.

Mead is pretty forgiving as far as handling(racking) is concerned.

ZelieMike
10-27-2013, 04:49 PM
OK Folks, so I finally figure out, I think, what was going on. I assumed my primary fermentor was only 1 gal and built the mead accordingly. However, when I bothered to you know, actually read the bucket, I realized I had two gallons so I pretty much halved everything.

So, I switched out from my old beer airlock to a S lock to see if any activity was ongoing and got minimal. So i transferred to secondary fermentors, a 1 gal glass carboy and a 1 liter glass carboy and slapped the S locks on again. Of interest is after some initial activity, the S lock on the first pull in the 1 gal carboy leveled off suggesting little to know fermenting, while the S lock on the 1 liter shows me a lot of activity.

At this point I am unsure of any "fix" other than waiting until all fermenting activity stops as shown by the S locks, and then backsweeten. Or, can I add some more sugar at this point in the form of more cider or honey in the secondary fermentor and try to bring the ABV up a bit?

thanks.