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View Full Version : Be Patient, or Take Action



Mead Man
11-07-2015, 03:47 PM
I need some advice. Its been many years since I've brewed anything, and certainly at least 15 years since I last brewed Mead (I only ever made one batch, but it was a success) I started this new batch 7 days ago, and I need some advice as to whether I just need to be patient, or if I need to take some action before its too late. The following is the mead recipe I followed pretty much to a T, the only exception being that I quadrupled the recipe:

"Syr Michael of York Mead

Ingredients

1 Gallon Water 2 1/2 lbs Honey
1 Lemon 1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1 pkg Ale or Champagne yeast
Syr Michael of York, raised in the East Kingdom, wrote the original article in the Knowne World Handbook on brewing. He has won East Kingdom brewing competitons several times with this recipe.

Boil the water and honey. Add the juice of the lemon and the nutmeg. Boil, skimming the foam that rises to the surface, until it stops foaming. Let cool to blood temperature, actually under 90 degrees F, then pitch the yeast.

Let it work two and a half weeks, bottle it and let it age two weeks.

PUT IT IF THE REFRIGERATOR, AS IT CAN BECOME EXPLOSIVE IF LEFT OUT AFTER THIS"

So here then is whats happened to date:

- Pitched an Ale yeast (approximately 10% alcohol tolerance) 7 days ago. I did little to no aeration, did not add any energizer or nutrient, and did not stir the yeast in. Again, none of these things were called for in the recipe, so I did not do them. Perhaps the recipe assumed that these were standard steps in all mead making which is why they were not specified in the recipe? What can I say, I'm new.
- OG: 1.072
- Very slow start to yeast activity, and after about 4 days, air lock activity had all but stopped. Almost no change in gravity, so I did a serious aeration, and activity started up again. Certainly more air lock activity then previously.
- Day 7: Gravity at 1.062. Air lock activity steady at about 1 bubble every 10 seconds

Here then are my questions:
- seeing as I quadrupled the recipe, should I have quadrupled the amount of yeast I pitched? If so, is it too late to add more yeast now, and if I do, would tossing in a nice robust Champagne yeast be the way to go?
- the recipe suggests that after 2 weeks I should bottle the mead. Is it safe to assume that because I quadrupled the recipe, I should expect it to take 4 times as long to ferment before I bottle?
- is everything fine the way it is moving along, and I just need to be patient?
- I wanted to follow the recipe as closely as possible, as this is apparently an award winning mead, but should I be adding energizer &/or nutrient at this stage of the game, even though it is not called for? And if so, how much of each, and when? (or is the lemon juice I squeezed in a sufficient nutrient addition?)
- Should i continue to aerate and/or degas through fermentation, or again, should I just leave things alone. Again, I don't want to deviate from the recipe if in fact everything is happening as it should be
- as the recipe suggests that once bottled, these bottles may become explosive, I'm assuming that it will be carbonated, which is what I am after. That said, because little info is given about what the SG should be at bottling, (and because I did deviate from the quantity the recipe calls for), at what SG should I bottle to make sure it will be carbonated?

Most of my experience with brewing is with wines, and as I recall, the air lock activity with those was always quite intense, which is why I am concerned with the seemingly very slow rate of fermentation with this batch of mead.

Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated, as I'd like this batch to reach its full potential. Thank you!

PapaScout
11-07-2015, 07:49 PM
If it were my batch I'd take a few ounces of the must, add hot water and wait until it's down to about 100F degrees, then add another packet of yeast and let that sit for 15-25 minutes until it foams pretty well.

While you're waiting for the yeast to foam up, add something to give the yeast some nutrients (raisins are good) and aerate the must. I use a drill with an aerator on it, but shaking works too.

Pitch the yeast again and report back in a couple of days.

(Others who do traditional show meads with no nutrients added may say this is going great, but to me it seems slow)

Mead Man
11-09-2015, 11:16 PM
Thanks for the advice. I have decided to let things play out for now without touching things. Fermentation seems to have picked up somewhat since my original post, and I'd like to see how things finish up if left untouched. We'll call it a learning experience. If things get stuck before fermenting out, i will then follow your advice and re pitch.

bernardsmith
11-10-2015, 10:43 AM
The problem may be the addition of lemon in the must. Do you know what the pH of the mead is? Honey is quite notorious for its inability to control pH and when you add acid to the must you can find the pH drops to a level that really inhibits fermentation. If the idea of adding lemon is to give the finished mead some zing! then add the lemon before you bottle not before you pitch the yeast.

As to repitching, I would turn PapaScout's method on its head. Create a small starter with a fresh packet of yeast and say a cup of apple juice (no preservatives). Allow that starter to ferment for a few hours then add 1 cup of your stuck mead to the starter. Allow that to ferment for a couple of hours and then add the same volume again (doubling the volume that is active) from your stalled batch - and continue doubling the new batch every few hours so that you are slowly adding the problem batch to a vigorously fermenting batch. Simply repitching more yeast into a problem may kill the added yeast and you are back right where you started.

Mead Man
11-11-2015, 02:20 PM
Thank Bernard. As far as the lemon goes, again, I was just following a recipe that I found, and my goal was to follow it to a T. Being from a renowned mead maker, I figured the closer I follow it, the less chance of failure. As well, that would give me a basis for any modifications I would make to future batches. I'm assuming his thought in adding the lemon was to add some zing, but I'm not really too sure. Again, the fermentation has started up again, all be in not overly vigorously. I have done some reading that suggests "show meads", (and I believe that this mead would fall into that category), are sometimes made without the addition of any nutrient or energizer, so for now, I'm going to let things play out in the interest again of following the original recipe as closely as possible.

If things do stall out, with the starter method you are suggesting, what type of yeast would you suggest using, and up to what point do I keep doubling the starter before pitching the whole thing back into my primary fermentor?

Thanks.