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View Full Version : Plastic particles, sanitation concerns, yeast shock



Crowing
11-24-2014, 01:17 AM
My mead partner and I racked our first batch tonight which freed up our bucket for a second batch. However...
Our first problem was siphoning water through a siphon that was rinsed but not sanitized. Then we noticed our stirring spoon was chewing up the bottom of the bucket and there are some small plastic flakes now floating about.
Then we rehydrated our yeast and pitched it without atempering at all with our must being 66 and the yeast slurry being probably 85-90
Partner also managed to dunk the entire measuring cup into the must after it had been on several counter tops and there were about a half dozen other "woops that wasn't sanitized" moments.
This went much less smoothly than our first batch, I guess I'll just leave it in the basement and see if anything happens. Recipe was:

Wildflower honey: somewhere around 3.5 pounds plus
A little over 1 gallon water
1g fermaid k
2g DAP
D47 rehydrated in goferm
OG was 1.110 but with I'm sure there was some honey that wasn't dissolved.

Any estimate on chances of success?

GntlKnigt1
11-24-2014, 12:36 PM
Not great, but if you have some K1 yeast, that might help. The temp difference between must and starter probably delivered some serious shock to your yeast. Also, rack it through a cheesecloth filter. The plastic pieces are not good, as the scratches are potential hiding places for unwanted infections. The undissolved honey is not a big issue; the yeast will find it. Hopefully, there wasn't so much as to drive your SG over 1.140 or so.

Might make it....

bathtub brewer
11-24-2014, 03:00 PM
I have had similar moments, mostly with beer, but I find as long as the yeast you are adding gets off to a running start then usually things will be fine. Once your yeast gets established it will usually hamper other things growth.

Crowing
11-24-2014, 07:40 PM
Well there's some activity for sure, SG is down a few points to 1.106. White foam on top looked a little funky but I've only made my one gallon of cyser before so I don't know if it's funky bad or funky normal. I can't post the pic cause its 54kb too large apparently. If this takes off, when do you guys think I should drop my second nutrient addition?
As for the plastic, I assume the pieces will do no harm as long as they don't make it into bottles/glasses since its the same food grade plastic anyway.

EJM3
11-24-2014, 08:15 PM
I've been at mazing for a little over a year now and have had a lot of those oops moments in the beginning. Generally as long as you have a good strong ferment nothing can really survive it. The pH drop alone kills of lots of unwanted critters, and the rising alcohol levels take care of almost everything else. Some sulfite and sorbate also help to get rid of the nasties as well as keep the yeastie beasties from going to town just when you think they are done. I have only had one batch of something go off from a suspected infection to date (knocking on wooden head), and none in the last 10 months. But I use vodka to sterilize everything that comes into contact with my must, fermentor, utensils, etc. Gone through 3 1.75L bottles to date, just remember to not take you sterilizing fluid internally. That is what Mead is for!

The plastic will not hurt you per se, but it is unsightly, and really detracts from the whole of the mead you are making. I had some trouble with a bipolar friend, and one of my batches still has small bits of plastic shavings from whatever he was doing in it. The aroma and flavor are still in line with my original tastings, so the plastic did no physical harm to my mead, but it's pretty nasty looking.

mannye
11-24-2014, 08:52 PM
I get black plastic shavings from the lid of my fermenting bucket. They are of no concern. The divots left behind in the bucket can be more worrisome because as GK said, they can be safe harbor for bacteria.

skunkboy
11-24-2014, 11:10 PM
Yeah, once you dig into your buckets kinda hard to clean/sanitize them again. The plastic flakes shouldn't be a big deal, as long as they settle out before you bottle/keg...

Crowing
11-24-2014, 11:44 PM
Well I figure it's just motivation to get a bigger fermenter and one of those neato degassing wands.

mannye
11-25-2014, 09:32 AM
I use a slotted stainless spoon that s way too short to reach the bottom of the bucket. That way there's no chance of scraping the bottom. I dropped it once on the last day of aerating/degassing and just left it in there rather than root around with tongs. All was well.

Crowing
11-27-2014, 01:11 AM
Well this actually seems to be going well. It's at 1.090 (down from 1.110) and its releasing plenty of co2 when I stir it up. It tastes pretty good to me, right now it's just sweet with a bit of a fruity note that I don't understand.
How should this smell? It doesn't smell bad or anything but its got maybe an acidic smell to it? Not really sure what it is I'm smelling.

joemirando
11-27-2014, 01:59 AM
Well this actually seems to be going well. It's at 1.090 (down from 1.110) and its releasing plenty of co2 when I stir it up. It tastes pretty good to me, right now it's just sweet with a bit of a fruity note that I don't understand.
How should this smell? It doesn't smell bad or anything but its got maybe an acidic smell to it? Not really sure what it is I'm smelling.

Does it smell kind of like cafeteria orange/grapefruit juice? Most of my batches smell that way from day 2 or so until well into secondary. I've never had it survive to bottling, and never had it ruin a mead. I've never been able to figure out what causes it either.

Joe

Crowing
12-07-2014, 11:34 PM
Well for an update, this stalled out pretty hard. I added some nutrients and it now has a hideous foam on top, is at 1.062, tastes and smells really bad. It's still probably too cold to get going but we'll see if it moves any this week, if not maybe ill pitch some E1118 on top and see if that helps. I fully intend to drink this, just maybe not in the same decade I had planned on.

skunkboy
12-07-2014, 11:51 PM
If it is too cold adding 1118 probably won't change much ...

Chevette Girl
12-08-2014, 02:06 AM
The nice thing about an "it's too cold" stall is that as soon as you warm it up, it should start right up again.

And I had a lid that used to leave plastic shavings floating in my must, I just racked out from under them. Far more concerning is gouges in the bottom of your bucket, as others have stated, it's a great way to harbour bacteria.

You'll eventually get yourself into sanitation habits and procedures... sometimes coordinating all of it together can be a bit much but if you've got a partner ("here, hold this for a second while I get the sanitizer") it can make life a whole lot easier. So can a sprayer of sanitizer.

And yeah, getting the "whoops, that wasn't sanitized" experiences immediately before you start the fermentation is probably better than having "oopsies" after fermentation is complete.

And that fruity note? Probably K1V throwing off esters, which it can do when it's kept cool. I got esters in my apple cider and it was pretty nice.

Crowing
12-08-2014, 10:16 AM
We actually have a sprayer of sanitizer and we're pretty good about dousing everything liberally and making sure to sanitize everything, the night we made this was just too late and we were far too tired. We've since named this batch Wildflower Mishap.
I have a space heater but I don't want to turn it on because i dont want temps to fluctuate for our first batch which is sitting in a jug down there, finally starting to clear somewhat after refusing to stop fermenting when we racked it.

Crowing
12-22-2014, 01:19 AM
Update for this batch: I brought it upstairs to the bedroom and wrapped a hoodie around 8 days ago it to reignite the ferment. It kicked back in a bit, went from 1.062 to 1.042 in those 8 days. It looks, smells, and tastes very bad. We decided to leave it in primary and see how far it drops in another week, or longer. Hopefully when we rack this it will be enough to fill a gallon plus a 32oz bottle, 32 oz will be an experiment with juniper berries.

Medsen Fey
12-27-2014, 12:17 PM
Your pH may be an issue. Can you check it?
D47 works fine at 66F.
Do you have some yeast hulls to add? If not, consider adding some GoFerm or some boiled bread yeast - 2-3 grams may work.

It isn't likely to smell or taste very good now. After it clears and ages for a few months, the change will be dramatic.

Crowing
12-27-2014, 05:43 PM
It's down to 1.024 now, I expect maybe an fg of 1.004-.010 so it's still actually doing something

Crowing
01-11-2015, 06:30 PM
This came out to 1.004 before I racked it today. It does not taste good. It is very dry, that's really all I can discern. That and... The 28 yeasty ounces left over after racking can get you feeling pretty good. We have this now in a slightly cloudy gallon jug. I think I need to refine my palate if I want to be good at this.

GntlKnigt1
01-11-2015, 06:33 PM
See Medsen's comment above. Will need aging and perhaps back sweetening.

Crowing
01-11-2015, 06:42 PM
I plan on aging it until whenever and however long it needs. It's just a shame it's only a gallon so I won't have any to drink. We have two more gallon jugs, one needs to be filled with mead and that leaves the other for revolving rackings. Then I think it's time to move to five gallon batches. Now if only I could find honey at a price approaching reasonable.

EJM3
01-11-2015, 07:05 PM
I plan on aging it until whenever and however long it needs. It's just a shame it's only a gallon so I won't have any to drink. We have two more gallon jugs, one needs to be filled with mead and that leaves the other for revolving rackings. Then I think it's time to move to five gallon batches. Now if only I could find honey at a price approaching reasonable.

Here's a listing of CT (http://www.farmfresh.org/food/foodcategory.php?foodtype=4&zip=06340&show=40&sortby=closeness), even one is Groton, one 7 miles away, etc...

Crowing
01-11-2015, 07:13 PM
Oh I've done my HW. I've tried all those places and more and the best deal I can get nearby is a "gallon" for $57 except they weigh the jar in with the gallon so it's more like 9.5 pounds for $57. And all you can REALLY find in CT is wildflower, no varietals unless you can afford $8+ per pound. And as an extra hurdle, a large percentage of the suppliers listed on that (and other) sites are now defunct for some reason or another. What I really want is 5gal pails for a reasonable price but I'm not having any luck.

joemirando
01-11-2015, 09:25 PM
I plan on aging it until whenever and however long it needs. It's just a shame it's only a gallon so I won't have any to drink. We have two more gallon jugs, one needs to be filled with mead and that leaves the other for revolving rackings. Then I think it's time to move to five gallon batches. Now if only I could find honey at a price approaching reasonable.

Another CT Yankee here. From the middle of the state. I haven't moved to 'gourmet' honeys yet. I've been using BJ's clover honey (8 bucks for 3 lbs) and its okay for most things. I DO have a pound or so each of wildflower, buckwheat and Orange Blossom that I plan on using for backsweetening batches, but I'm also constrained as far as finances are concerned, so large quantities of good quality honey are beyond my reach right now. I've made truly good meads using BJ's store brand honey, I just wonder how much better it could be with 'real' honey.

Don't worry about "only" gallon batches. Its true that they're wasteful of yeast, since you use the same amount of yeast for a gallon batch as you would for a 5 gallon batch, and the returns are small, ie waiting months for 1 gallon as opposed to waiting the same number of months for 5 or 6 (or more) gallons, but there's something to be said for the freedom that gallon batches give you to experiment.

A local home brew shop should be able to sell you 4 one gallon jugs for around $20. On the other hand, you could check with an Italian restaurant or two and see if they get their 'house wine' in gallon or 4 litre jugs. The 4 liter jobbers make decent carboys, since when you rack off the lees you usually end up with right around a gallon and maybe a jigger to sample. I make my gallon batches to just over 4 liters and rack to a gallon jug, which usually fill it to the neck of the jug to minimize headspace.

Yeah, you'll move on to 5 or 6 gallon batches. Its a natural progression. But when you want to diddle with a recipe, it's easier to sacrifice 3 lbs of honey rather than 15 or 18.

Good luck!

Joe

EJM3
01-11-2015, 10:03 PM
I buy the wildflower in a bucket because it is only $180 ($9 a quart). Wildflower here is regularly going for $15 a quart ($300 a bucket). And varietals are around $20 to $25 a quart ($400 to $500 a bucket), plus they will not sell varietals in buckets, only quarts and barrels (I never bothered to ask the price of a barrel) here. There are no citrus here so no OB for me, or most other varietals as they are WAY WAY outta my price range. Plus after my big batches are done I'm sticking to small gallon batches to keep it affordable.

Crowing
01-11-2015, 10:40 PM
$180 is EXACTLY what I want to pay for a 5gal bucket. But around here everyone thinks "I CAN sell it for more so I WILL sell it for more" (Gas Only just dropped from $3.99/ gal) I've found only one producer that will provide 5gal and it's a two hour drive one way for wildflower honey I can't sample beforehand, for $225. I can't bring myself to go to BJs cause I keep picturing bear shaped corn syrup when I do, even if its not true. I have a mental block about anything pasteurized at all as well. (You're processing it more by doing that, don't charge MORE MONEY for the "artisanal" raw honey)

joemirando
01-11-2015, 11:00 PM
$180 is EXACTLY what I want to pay for a 5gal bucket. But around here everyone thinks "I CAN sell it for more so I WILL sell it for more" (Gas Only just dropped from $3.99/ gal) I've found only one producer that will provide 5gal and it's a two hour drive one way for wildflower honey I can't sample beforehand, for $225. I can't bring myself to go to BJs cause I keep picturing bear shaped corn syrup when I do, even if its not true. I have a mental block about anything pasteurized at all as well. (You're processing it more by doing that, don't charge MORE MONEY for the "artisanal" raw honey)

I know what you mean, but it's really not bad honey. At least I believe its all real honey. The taste is pretty good. Just like when I was a kid. It lists countries of origin, and yeah, I'm positive its pasteurized.

I'd recommend busting open the wallet for 8 bucks and giving it a shot in a gallon batch. Worst case, you backsweeten with a good honey.

As an aside, and way off topic, I just paid $2.179/gal for gas... at BJ's. The way they price gas (zone pricing) is a crime.

Crowing
05-28-2015, 04:44 PM
Just racked this the other day, was pleasantly surprised with the taste. Will continue aging it, considering backsweetening with just a bit of honey in water to top off the jug, but it's so nice and clear I dont want it to cloud up again.

mannye
05-29-2015, 06:33 AM
Better to use a neutral white wine than water and honey to top off. That will restart fermentation.


Sent from my TARDIS at the restaurant at the end of the universe while eating Phil.

EJM3
06-09-2015, 04:35 PM
Unless you sulfite & sorbate to prevent refermentation...