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View Full Version : Opinions on how to fix this batch of traditional needed please.



Chiron
02-20-2014, 07:58 PM
Hello Got Mead! I would appreciate some opinions on how to proceed with this batch of traditional. It was really coming along great, then I blew it and added 2 lbs of honey thinking that I could re-start the ferment and give more body. Now I have a cloudy, super sweet product.

I just canít seem to quit fiddling with this stuff. Note, my hydrometer cracked, thus no reading are available.

I am considering: (any other choices are welcome)

1. Pitch a packet of ec-1118 or premier cuvee
2. Blend with another batch of dry traditional
3. Let it go, then mix with something

Here is my recipie:

12/15/2013 - Traditional Mead 2

13 lbs Round Rock Honey (15 lbs total after addition)
4 Gallons water
3 tsp bentonite
Yeast nutrient + DAP
Raisins (about 20 or so)
71B Yeast

Primary is a 6 gallon carboy

Step feed nutrient + Dap
Daily Oxygen using a fish pump w stone

1/5 First racking (Perfectly clear)
2/7 Second racking on 2/7/2014 (at this point it was perfectly clear and taste great)
2/7 Added 2 lb of honey and 32 oz of water (Trying to start a new ferment)
2/16 Honey addition was a bad move. It's cloudy and overly sweet. Still active ferment.

Thanks,

Pete

loveofrose
02-20-2014, 09:26 PM
Step 1 - Get another hydrometer ASAP.
Step 2 - Wait for the ferment to finish based on gravity readings. EC1118 has a max ABV tolerance of 18%. 15 lbs of honey in 5 gallons yields 15.7% ABV. I seriously doubt it is done fermenting.
Step 3 - Don't panic. All will be well. It is just going to take a bit longer than you originally thought.

WVMJack
02-21-2014, 04:31 AM
Is it still actively fermenting then what is the problem? If its just degassing with all the low pressure systems we have running around lately that is different. Always have a backup hydrometer (I am clumsy so I have 2 backups). Is it warm enough for 71B where its at? The cloudy is probably just from the proteins in the honey, you can easily fine it out with sparkaloid after you get your fermentation status determined. You also may have not added enough nutrient at the start for 71B, without gravity checkpoints though who knows what is going one really. If you wanted to really burn off the extra sweetness EC1118 will do it for you, then it will be dry, so you will add more honey, too much or just right next time? WVMJ

GntlKnigt1
02-21-2014, 06:18 AM
Check your pH. If it is below 3.0, it can stall the fermentation. Add some potassium (or calcium) carbonate to raise the pH a bit...3.5 is good. Repitching yeast in a must that is below 3.0 is likely a waste of time and effort, but K1 yeast is sometimes recommended for restarting fermentation.

Chiron
02-21-2014, 10:11 AM
Thanks for the replies. I'm heading into town to get another hydrometer this weekend.

My pH strips came out right between yellow (weak 6.0) and orange (strong 4.0). Also, my meadery (home office) stays at between 68f and 72f degrees.

I'll get some measurements next week and make a decision then. If the K1B has actually stopped and it's still to sweet, I'll probably pitch the ec-1118, then back sweeten.

Is Sparkaloid better than Bentonite?

Kinsman
02-21-2014, 08:08 PM
Hey, just wanted to share a little experience with the bentonite. It does work, and you should only use it two weeks, or so, after first trying sparkaloid. Anyway, be careful with the bentonite. It is very much like throwing cat litter into your mix.

EJM3
02-21-2014, 11:22 PM
I have been reading up on bentonite, and have read in many places that overdoing the bentonite will strip the mead of color, flavor, aroma, etc... It is a super absorbent natural compound that acts somewhat like activated carbon and just absorbs everything around it.

fatbloke
02-22-2014, 04:11 AM
Screw the clearing etc, I'm with Jack, Bray and Doug on this.

Finish the ferment first!

If it happens that the batch doesn't pick back up and it does indeed stall, there's ways of attempting restarts etc, equally you can stabilise it and use some acid to balance it. Low pH is only a hazard while the yeast is there doing its thing.....

So basically keep an eye on it and get some current measurements so you know where its at......

GntlKnigt1
02-23-2014, 03:50 AM
Screw the clearing etc, I'm with Jack, Bray and Doug on this.

Finish the ferment first!

If it happens that the batch doesn't pick back up and it does indeed stall, there's ways of attempting restarts etc, equally you can stabilise it and use some acid to balance it. Low pH is only a hazard while the yeast is there doing its thing.....

So basically keep an eye on it and get some current measurements so you know where its at......

Unless you added acid to the must when you started, like I did with my first batch, following the recipes in Making Mead by Bryan Acton and Peter Duncan. Not only did their advice screw up my first batch, but almost messed up Threecats first batches, and apparently messed up Joe Matiolli too, in his early stages. That book is a menace !!

fatbloke
02-23-2014, 04:51 AM
Unless you added acid to the must when you started, like I did with my first batch, following the recipes in Making Mead by Bryan Acton and Peter Duncan. Not only did their advice screw up my first batch, but almost messed up Threecats first batches, and apparently messed up Joe Matiolli too, in his early stages. That book is a menace !!
Well no, I don't think so Doug. Just that its method/technique that's over 40 years old, when they didn't realise about how acidic honey really is, or the gluconic acid/delta glucono-lactone action on pH.

After all, their ideas about using acids to correct flavour are used even now, I like to use their mix of 2 parts malic and 1 part tartaric to balance/correct my meads, especially traditionals.....

Yet its not so dissimilar to another old book from that stable, "First Steps in Winemaking" by CJJ Berry. His recipes do work but he seems to like far too much sugar. Bob, who runs winesathome.co.uk, has re-written some of them so they use less sugar and sometimes a few other mods, to make stuff more drinkable by current standards.

Personally, while I agree with that view, a lot of it is to do with changing taste in wine (and mead) types. People don't seem to enjoy such sweet wines these days, we seem to have moved more to medium/dry yet that doesn't mean the old recipes were bad.......just different.

Plus they don't seem to have had access to such good quality ingredients as we have currently - or were they just different quality ingredients ?........

GntlKnigt1
02-23-2014, 06:29 AM
Sorry FB, looks like we just disagree on this one. Adding any acid (other than perhaps some lemon juice) to yur must at the start of fermentation is like asking for stuck fermentation. Been there, done that, and have the t-shirt. IMO, adding acids usually does little to improve flavor, except perhaps for traditionals, where acid could be added AFTER fermentation.

Sent from Arthur Dent's towel smothering a volume of Vogon poetry, some of which just leaked out.

loveofrose
02-23-2014, 09:24 AM
I'm sure FB meant adding the acid after ferment for current practice.

fatbloke
02-23-2014, 09:29 AM
Sorry FB, looks like we just disagree on this one. Adding any acid (other than perhaps some lemon juice) to yur must at the start of fermentation is like asking for stuck fermentation. Been there, done that, and have the t-shirt. IMO, adding acids usually does little to improve flavor, except perhaps for traditionals, where acid could be added AFTER fermentation.

Sent from Arthur Dent's towel smothering a volume of Vogon poetry, some of which just leaked out.
Yes, I quite agree, but that wasn't the thinking in the mid 60's to mid 70's.

Look at the publishing gumpf at the start of the book, it details when it was first published. Then the dates of reprint and/or updating.

I'm thinking there was a reprint a few years back, but without checking my copy, I don't think its been updated since initial publication (might be wrong......)

GntlKnigt1
02-23-2014, 06:50 PM
Yes, it is dated, but I can't imagine adding acid to must before fermenting was EVER a good idea, so being old is no excuse....

Sent from the Nexus of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy which has been infected with Vogon poetry, some of which leaked out here.

WVMJack
02-23-2014, 08:03 PM
I have never had any problems adding acid before fermentation to the primary, taking into account how much is in the honey, which really isnt much, like 0.1% TA, and dont have the problems I keep reading about on this group. Maybe our well water buffers things better. I am not sure how it can screw up a whole batch unless you went nuts and added way to much? ps I hate pH meters, totally unreliable, I bet most people using them on here really dont have a clue how to really calibrate one or even store them properly or realize the probe is really not meant to last many years and needs to be replaced regularly, they really are a PIA. WVMJ

antonioh
02-24-2014, 05:43 AM
Adding any acid (other than perhaps some lemon juice) to yur must at the start of fermentation is like asking for stuck fermentation.

When I started about four years ago, I always corrected the water with tartaric acid , the same way I would do with wine, and as I was using pineapple bark as ferment, sometimes I used K-meta, both always upfront. I had some stalled fermentations , but curiously never in those I used K-meta.

antonioh
02-24-2014, 05:48 AM
And K-meta was an insurance against acetification, as I was always leaving too much air space above.

GntlKnigt1
02-24-2014, 07:14 AM
Me too. I need some elastic carboys to adapt to the quantity of liquid in them! LOL

Sent from Arthur Dent's towel smothering a volume of Vogon poetry, some of which just leaked out.

GntlKnigt1
02-24-2014, 12:21 PM
WVMJ, at least several of us use the "el cheapo" pH meter... and I calibrate mine about every 3 months...and yes, they do 'drift' out of accuracy, so storage and calibration are important. It works a lot more reliably than litmus paper IMO, and as I am assembling what I can of my old mead logs, I see that pH was an issue in at least my first 3 batches. I also tried the acid titration kits, but for a guy that has the "red-green color blind" thing (like a significant minority of the male population), that was not great either.

Not a perfect solution, but good enough....

WVMJack
02-24-2014, 08:15 PM
You cant do a TA on honey as there is glucoconic acid (I think that is the right spelling?) that can shift with the pH and throw off the readings, whole scientific and even meadmakers have published papers on this, so I just assume its about 0.1% and go from there and measure the TA of the fruit juices we are going to add and then add in the honey factor. Curious why pH causes so much problems in trad meads but not so much in melomels, must just be the buffering. I wonder if using raw unfiltered honey has more buffering with the additional proteins it contains than the honeys others are having problems with? WVMJ


WVMJ, at least several of us use the "el cheapo" pH meter... and I calibrate mine about every 3 months...and yes, they do 'drift' out of accuracy, so storage and calibration are important. It works a lot more reliably than litmus paper IMO, and as I am assembling what I can of my old mead logs, I see that pH was an issue in at least my first 3 batches. I also tried the acid titration kits, but for a guy that has the "red-green color blind" thing (like a significant minority of the male population), that was not great either.

Not a perfect solution, but good enough....

wayneb
02-24-2014, 11:04 PM
WVMJack, it really is all about the buffering, or lack thereof in pure honey-based musts. Using raw honey instead of filtered helps (as you guessed, the stuff in there pre-filtering, like pollen, misc. proteins, and even some bee bits add a little buffering capacity) but even the variety of honey has an influence on the buffering capacity of the must. Darker honeys tend to carry more of the compounds that ionize in solution, and they provide a buffering capability that the glucose lacks. Still, when I make a pure traditional mead in order to ensure that I'm going to get complete fermentation (especially with a lighter honey such as raspberry blossom or white clover), I'll add some potassium bicarbonate to supply that buffering potential.

GntlKnigt1
02-25-2014, 02:56 AM
My first 3 batches of mead ever, made back in 2004 from honey that I got directly from a beekeeper in Wisconsin, had issues attributable to low pH. As a result, I monitor it (and read about it and study it) more closely than the general mead making population, and esp since I got the 'el cheapo' pH meter, I have been surprised at how precipitously it can drop, esp in first 8 days or so. Drops from 4.8 to 4.2 or even more are routine, and larger drops happen from time to time.

joemirando
02-28-2014, 12:40 AM
I have been reading up on bentonite, and have read in many places that overdoing the bentonite will strip the mead of color, flavor, aroma, etc... It is a super absorbent natural compound that acts somewhat like activated carbon and just absorbs everything around it.

After adding approximately 1.25 times the bentonite recommended (first clearing didn't do the whole job so I added a little more), I noticed a very strong metallic taste and smell to a traditional mead. It ruined it. It never (well, not in almost 2 years) went away.

Since then, I have taken to using about 75% of the recommended dosage. If that doesn't work, I switch to... sigh, what is it called.... ah... Sparkloid. I have considered trying SuperKleer, but that will be for a 5 gallon batch if I ever get it.

I am also 'settling in' the the point where I am willing to actually wait for nature to do its thing and let the mead clear naturally. Most of them have/will. I have only 2 that have not cleared after 6/8 months. One is a traditional made with honey from a bee keeper (Basswood) and the other is a cyser. If they don't clear on their own eventually, I will think about Sparkloid or SuperKleer.

Joe