View Full Version : First batch - Fermentation Started - Stopped

03-08-2016, 07:40 PM
This is my first batch.
After I had already begun the process, I read a thread that explained that for the yeast I used and to make sack mead, I should have added the honey is stages, will do next time. I also read a thread about stirring/aerating and adding nutrient until the fermentation started. I did that. Now fermentation started but stopped, I stirred again and added nutrient to get it going again. I am concerned that I may not know what to do to ensure a good batch.

Should I keep doing what I am doing? Would like some comments and suggestion on my procedures?

5 gal. batch

put 1 1/2 gal. water room temp
2 tsp. nutrient
Popped Wyeast 4184 Sweet Mead
Waited 3 3/4 hours for yeast

Mixed in 1 /1/2 gal. clover honey
Stirred till dissolved
Added water to about 5 1/2 gal.
Measured 1.30 (a bit high)
temperature 66
pitched yeast (package did not swell much)
Stirred virtuously 10 mins and aerated with small pump 15 mins
Mixed in about a cup of pollen
Day 1 - 3:00 complete

Day 2 1:30 no bubbles added 1tsp nutrient stirred and aerated
Day 3 8:15 no bubbles 2 tsp nutrient aerated temp had dropped to 62 so I added a flood light next to bucket raised temp to 66-88
Day 4 11:00 tem p 70 2 tsp nutrient stirred and aerated
Day 5 8:30 slow bubbles in airlock
Day 6 10:45 added 2tsp nutrient gently stirred checked ph it was 4-5 by afternoon good bubbles

Left town, removed light
Rugby 7s Las Vegas - good time
Day 15 - no bubbles
Day 16 - 9:00 Measured 1.075 temp 62-64 added light back added 2 tsp. nutrient stirred well, not vigorously 3:00 - temp 66 slow bubbles

03-08-2016, 08:15 PM
Some questions I would ask up front to get a better sense of what's going on:

1. What kind of nutrient are you using?
2. Did the yeast packet really swell when you activated it? (I know you said not much; did it swell at all? Just wishful thinking, maybe?)
3. What was the purpose of the cup of pollen?
4. When you aerated, did you do so with oxygen, or just air?

Pending your answers, I think you may just be the victim of an old/weak yeast packet, and/or osmotic shock. Liquid yeast holds a significantly lower cell count than even a 5g dry active yeast packet. Like 10 billion cells instead of 100 billion. That's a big difference. Additionally, it does not look like you gave the yeast any opportunity to adjust gradually to the very high sugar content of your must. The more experienced mazers here would probably recommend pouring your yeast slurry into a sanitized mason jar with some pre-boiled, cooled water, and slowly adding a little of the must at a time to it, to raise the sugar content gradually. Otherwise you risk osmotic shock to the yeast (the sudden change of the presence of high concentrations of sugar outside the cell wall, as compared to inside the cell wall). This shock can cause the yeast to simply quit on you. And the Wyeast Sweet Mead yeast has a pretty well established reputation as a quitter.

Personally, I would strongly consider at this point (over two weeks in!) that you sterilize your must with sulfites, and after the sterilization period is over (24 hours), repitch using an established, reliable yeast like 71B-1122, using the GoFerm rehydration protocol, and the TOSNA nutrient schedule described at www.meadmaderight.com. Additionally, you should try to hold your must temperature in the low to mid 70s until fermentation starts, and then allow it to drop down into the low to mid 60s range for the remainder of the ferment.

Best of luck!

03-08-2016, 09:02 PM
LD Carlson on the nutrient: food grade urea and diammonium phosphate. 1tsp per gal instructs
Swelled just a bit, half maybe.
Pollen was for allergies, read it in a recipe.
Aerated with just air sanitized aquarium pump and stone.

I Starsan everything! A lot more to the Forrest than the elves. I anticipated that I may need something so I ordered, before I left, and have in my possession (newbie). potassium metabisulphite and potassium sorbate both LD Carlson. I also have lalvin 71b-1122, another Wyeast 4184, and a white labs WLP720. How would you warm up the must? Did no know about yeast slurry adjusting. Will reaserch the slurry gradual add. Will adjust per link and repost. Appreciate the response and any other pointers.


03-08-2016, 09:13 PM
Your measured Original Gravity of 1.300 is nearly impossibly high for the amount of honey you added to a 5 gallon batch. You added ~3.42 lb of honey per gallon, that will give you a high O.G., but not 1.300 high. BUT, the O.G. was probably high enough to give your yeast a very rough time.......maybe leading to the stall.

Adding nutrient everyday until a fermentation starts is not a best practice. Rather the correct amount should be added up front so as to not stress your yeast in a high O.G. and nutrient deficient must for a number of days. You can then add nutrients again at the 1/3 and 2/3 sugar breaks.

Also, use your hydrometer more, don't depend on bubbles to indicate a healthy ferment.

There are a couple of articles on DenardBrewing.com that you should read. Would provide a link, but I can't reach the web site right now.

03-08-2016, 10:16 PM
Here's the link: https://denardbrewing.com/blog/category/articles/

Read the last two articles on that web page. They really helped me when I was getting started.

03-09-2016, 09:40 AM
bmwr75 - Sorry, that was a typo original OG was 1.130. Checked it today and it is 1.072, planning to aerate and check again tomorrow, will checkout the link you provided

03-09-2016, 07:54 PM
I had ordered another Wyeast 4184 Sweet Mead when the fermenting was slow. I popped it today and it is swollen, unlike the first package. What risk do I take by adding this to the must? I fear that I received a bad/old/weak yeast packet. Since the yeast strain is the same I was planning on adding it but thought I would inquire as to the damage I may cause.

03-09-2016, 08:26 PM
My opinion, your really too far into the ferment at this point to (1) aerate any more or (2) gain any benefit from pitching more yeast. If your ferment is still going strong, as it must be if you've dropped 60 gravity points, continue to monitor, keep the temp in the mid sixties or so, degas regularly but don't aerate any more, and let the mead finish out. Other advice may vary but that's what I'd do.

Medsen Fey
03-10-2016, 06:56 AM
Adding the same yeast will just have the must stun them into inaction as it has already done for the yeast in there (who at least had a chance to get used to it).

Can you check the pH? This strain requires pampering. If you can't check the pH, consider adding 2 tsp of a carbonate.

Try adding yeast hulls 10 grams or more. If you don't have yeast hulls, boiled bread yeast may help.

Aerating (gently, or you get a big clean up) it once more may not help, but it won't hurt and I'd try it.

Raise the temp back up to 70-73F.

Adding 1-2 grams of Epsom salts is an old meadcrafter trick that sometimes helps.

Recognize that the best you'll get to is about 1.045 in terms of gravity because this is a yeast that will max out at around 11% ABV.

If none of that gets it going, you'll need to pitch a different strain of yeast. 71B is not good for restarts. EC-1118, DV10, QA23, & Uvaferm 43 are among the best yeast for restarts. With a restart you will want to build an acclimated starter.

Endeavor to persevere!

03-12-2016, 01:42 PM
Good advice Mazer828, I did not see the post from Medsen Fey until now. I trashed the other 4184. Basically I jut waited. I degaussed gently for the next days only with good results. OG today was 1.030. I think I will do the secondary fermentation tomorrow. I did put the light back on the bucket to bring the temp back up to ~70. get it: Yeast only needs o2 for the first few days then without the o2 alcohol is produced.

I have learned a lot about yeast in the past few days: each as a potential alcohol content (and how to estimate from the OG drop), each has an optimal temp, and there are slow, medium, fast starters. Need to research the ph a bit more and if I need to stun the yeast if I add more honey prior to bottling.

Started batch 2 today Lavin 71b-1122 og 1.10., same clover honey, no pollen.

03-12-2016, 03:01 PM
Glad your luck is improving! Most often the ingredient we neglect to add enough of is patience.

Not sure what you mean by "doing the secondary ferment". You mean racking to a secondary? That's not necessary unless your intent is to try to slow or stop your ferment where it is. Racking will leave the majority of your yeast cake behind. Have you tasted the mead as it is now? How is the sweetness level? When it's getting close to where you want it to stop, then racking will help keep it there, or close enough.

03-12-2016, 03:42 PM
Mazer, thanks again, yes, racking to a secondary. If I have this correct the yeast should 'start stopping' around 11% which should be around OG 1.045, like Medsen stated. Today it was 1.03 or ~13%. The 4184 has an Alcohol Tolerance: 11% ABV. Since I aerated the must longer some of the sugar may have not been converted to alcohol?

Found on http://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/yeast-fermentation-and-the-making-of-beer-14372813
When oxygen is available, pyruvic acid enters a series of chemical reactions (known as the tricarboxylic acid cycle) and proceeds to the respiratory chain. As a result of respiration, cells produce 3638 molecules of ATP for each molecule of glucose oxidized.

In the absence of oxygen (anoxygenic conditions), pyruvic acid can follow two different routes, depending on the type of cell. It can be converted into ethanol (alcohol) and carbon dioxide through the alcoholic fermentation pathway, or it can be converted into lactate through the lactic acid fermentation pathway (Figure 3).

Any Idea what I may have done to the must? I don't know what to look for if I converted the sugar to ATP molecules. I just tasted the must. It is sweet with a smooth finish, a little alcohol in the finish. Not quite the wine finish of a Redstone Traditional. First batch and all, don't know if my taste evaluation makes sense. Not sure what to look for at this time in the process.

I was planning to rack to the secondary, glass carboy, and let it clear-up and age for while. Maybe 2-3 months before bottling. I have read various methods on the length of time to age in the carboy and the need to rack another time. The consensus is there is no rush.

03-12-2016, 04:04 PM
Absolutely no rush. If yours is where you like it, you can certainly rack it and let it clear. Only need for successive rackings is to separate the mead from any substantial precipitates.

For a first mead it sounds like you're doing fine. Keep up the reading and research! Knowledge is power!

03-13-2016, 12:54 PM
The Wyeast Sweet Mead Yeast is inconsistent and published alcohol tolerances mean nothing. I had several batches go to 14.5% and this was back in the dark ages before I was really adding nutrients to my meads. Having said that, my meads won some medals with this yeast but in my experience it takes a year, usually two, of aging to be really good. Overall, the meads I made with this yeast are good but I use other yeasts now for better predictability.