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View Full Version : Help: My mead has fallen and it can't get up!



spartan36
03-27-2015, 09:14 PM
Hi there, 2nd time mead maker, and I'm in over my head. I made a 3 gal. Blueberry melomel recipe I got from Leeners.com. I followed the instructions exactly, except I used Blackberry blossom honey. It bubbled well for only about 3-days, then stopped. Completely. I never saw another bubble, but I left it alone for a total of 28-days, then racked it. Smells & looks unchanged from the day I put it in. Though I didn't take a starting S.G. reading, it measured 0% alcohol on a proof hydrometer.

So I don't know what to do. Dump it? Put it back with new fruit and try again? If so, given the chemicals/quantities added originally, what besides new fruit & yeast, and how much, would you put in?

Here's the recipe as I made it. Please read the procedure, as I think the way they have you pitch the yeast may be to blame.

http://www.leeners.com/mead/recipes/blueberrymead.shtml

Thank you for your time.

fatbloke
03-28-2015, 08:44 AM
You need to work out where it's at. To do that, you will need to test it with a hydrometer - one that is graduated with gravity readings (proof type hydrometers are marked/calibrated for spirits).

It is entirely feasible that it could have fermented completely, but you won't know that until you've checked the gravity.

I'd guess, having had a read of the recipe, that is may have done that because between the puree and the honey (don't know what the sugars level of the puree might be but 2lb of honey in a gallon is pretty light/low IMO), the sugar levels won't have been ridiculously high.

One thing you may find, is that puree can be a complete PITA to use, because it can be a swine to remove by racking (the sediment is very fine and just runs through a racking hose like water). If you're gonna use "standard" methods, it may pay to have some pieces of muslin to put over the end of the racking cane, then keep the end of the racking cane close to the upper level of the liquid, enough to maintain the siphon action. Then when it gets close to the sediment and starts to keep clogging up the racking cane/muslin, strain the last bit though some fine cotton material (couple of thicknesses of muslin maybe ?) Or, cut the top off a 2litre pop/soda bottle (re-inforce the top with some sticky tape), then put the sediment in that, seal it up with some cling wrap and put it in the fridge for a couple of days, until it's settled into distinct layers, then you can just carefully siphon off the last of the liquid and reduce your racking loses to an absolute minimum.

Either way, take a reading with an appropriately calibrated hydrometer - I'd guess you'd be looking for something between 1.010 and 0.990 depending on the yeast type you used.......

WVMJack
03-28-2015, 09:24 AM
This is why we tell you guys to take a starting gravity even if you are following a recipe, who knows what is going on. One thing about reading your hydrometer, pay attention to the wording, you have 0% potential alcohol, that means you have 0% potential to make more alcohol, it means you already made all the alcohol and your ferment is probably over, if you look at the scale closely you will see further up the scale there is higher and higher levels of potential alcohol, that means that you have the possibility to make this much potential alcohol starting at this level and if it goes all the way down to 0% potential, which means you used up all the sugar. An easier scale to use is the specific gravity, it starts out higher and goes lower and is easier to understand and is most often used on here as a measure of the potential alcohol and the level of sugars in the must. WVMJ

EJM3
03-28-2015, 12:51 PM
Can you check the pH?? If you added the recommended 6 tsp (AKA: 2 Tablespoons) of acid blend you might have some issues with a stuck ferment due to very low pH. As the ferment progresses the pH lowers. I was worried that my initial reading of 4.4 were too high, but during the course of the fermentation it dropped to 3.4. That is fine, good & normal, but if it had dropped under 3.2 there could be a stalled/stuck fermentation. Yeasties like it somewhat acid, but not too much, yeasties are like Goldilocks, everything has to be "just right" for them. The active bubbling only being 3 days can happen, I had a couple of melomels that burned through everything in ~5 days, but I use a much more honey.

After looking at that recipe I notice a few discrepancies in that is says under procedures: "Add 1 gallon of water, acid blend, yeast nutrient, pectic enzyme and grape tannin. Stir well." There is no tannin mentioned in the ingredients list, nor how much.

It then has you "Open the packet of wine yeast and pour it into the fermenter pail. Pour the must into the fermenter. Add water to make a full 3 gallons." The yeast needs to be rehydrated first, then add or it can kill or cripple the yeast.

There is this line "Mead is very susceptible to oxidation." I have been taught otherwise, that grape wine & beer are the oxidative PITA's...

It then has you rack at least twice & up to 3 times, that's fine and will help clear the mead, but you will experience racking losses each time. The 3 gallon carboy can/will lose up to 1/2 gallon by racking that many times, so you will have less than you started with for sure. Unless you are super careful and leave only a slight dribble and ALL of the sediment in the bottom (hard to do!)...

The next statement is this "All recipes except Sweet Mead do not use any additives on this racking", False! K-Meta (Potassium Metabisulfite) is added at bottling time to help reduce oxidative damage & act as a preservative.

And the last statement I can see major problems with is this: "Cap or cork the bottles. Store them upright in a dark cool place." If you CORK a bottle do NOT store it upright or the cork will dry out and allow spoilage organisms & Oxygen to enter and ruin your hard work. Corked bottles (real cork, not necessarily the synthetic ones) should be stored on their sides...


These are my opine & experiences so YMMV.

spartan36
03-28-2015, 03:19 PM
Thank you. Yes, I noticed the Tannin discrepancy beforehand and contacted them about it. I believe they said 1/8-1/4 Tsp./gal. but they didn't sound too sure. I can't believe I'm the first to point this out to them.

Even Though I've only made mead once, just from what I read that did not sound like the optimal way to pitch the yeast. I agonized over whether to follow the packet instructions, or the recipe. Since it loves oxygen, it didn't seem smart to throw an unstarted yeast on the bottom to fight for it's life. But being new to this, I didn't dare not follow what I thought was an established recipe.

Guess I'll go get a hydrometer and Ph tester then see where we're at.

WVMJack
03-28-2015, 08:36 PM
If you hang out here long enough you will learn to use the recipes as guides, you will understand why things are done and even recognize when someone has no clue when they are writing up a recipe and you know you can do it better since you will know what the options are to get to the same place. You really got the get the hydrometer going to know the first step of whatever it is you are making. Good luck, WVMJ

Chevette Girl
03-31-2015, 01:16 AM
Yep, you'll learn (or at least learn to ask us!) what parts of an interesting recipe you should keep, which you should discard altogether, and which you should update to current accepted practices...