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claude3c
04-18-2016, 06:00 AM
Hi all

I attempted mead for the first time this yr. 4 weeks ago i made a must of 25 litres of water and 18 lbs of honey initial gravity 1.110

pitched Lalvin 71b and away it went expected it to be done in 2 weeks but with continued cold weather i think has effected it now 4 weeks, i have a brew belt on it to try and keep some heat in it but temps have varied between 18 and 24 degrees but could have been a lot lower in the nights - kept out the garage -

took a reading yesterday as it didnt bubble while i was watching it - could have just been cold, temp strip on fementer reading 20oC- gravity 1035, dont know if it is because alcohol is too high for yeast or because of temp make it about 9% is this good?

i was going to rack it into a secondary fermenter to clear under air lock to age it.

i only have plastic Youngs fementers ive read a lot about aging the mead and some insist that it should age in glass only others say plastic is fine?

when i rack it should i agitate it to get CO out and O2 in?

thanks for reading

matt

Mazer828
04-18-2016, 06:20 AM
Hi Matt and welcome to the forum and to mead making!

Lots to talk about...

First off please forgive me my awkwardness with the metric system. Sounds like you're doing a fairly straightforward traditional with 71B, good choice for a first mead. Your temps seem to be good (64-75F range), although a little more stability may have helped your ferment carry a bit farther. 71B can go 14-15% and sometimes higher so I wouldn't say 9% is quitting time. And with 1.035 SG you've still got a bit of sweetness to deal with unless you wanted a sweet mead. What was your goal? Also you made no mention of how you hydrated your yeast and how you fed them during the ferment. Could be a variety of reasons the ferment seems to have slowed.

Some initial recommendations just as preliminary steps until you can provide more details:

1. Keep your temp more stable. Try to keep it in the 65F (18-19C) range. You can do this with a water bath or a variety of other household methods. Google is your friend.

2. Don't rely on your airlock as a Guage for fermentation activity. Use your hydrometer. Get to know it. Love it.

3. Don't rack your mead just yet. Let that yeast cake do some more work. Stir it up daily but do not Oxygenate! Just keep the yeast awake. They're getting sleepy and they're not done working yet.

4. When you finally do rack (when the fermentation has stopped, or when you want to encourage it to stop) do not oxygenate. Siphon quietly, minimize bubbles, and minimize head space. Oxygen is only your friend at the beginning of the ferment. Mead is pretty darned resilient when it comes to post ferment oxidizing, but no need to take unnecessary risks.

Look forward to hearing back from you on the rest of the story.

Cheers! 🍻

claude3c
04-18-2016, 07:17 AM
Hi

thank you for your reply.

yes i thought id start of simple as its my first attempt. i added 1tsp per litre of yeast neutriant before adding the yeast so 5 tsps and havent added anything else ahould i add more?, i hydrated the yeast (2 packets) in half pint of the must before adding to the rest. initial fermentation was fast but now its coimg to the end i think the cold night - which shouldnt be global warming my arse - is knocking it out and its taking longer to wake up during the day.

im a bit lothe to open the fermenter and give it a stir dont want to introduce any nasties if you know what i mean or is the alcohol content high enough not to worry about that.

thanks again

Matt


Hi Matt and welcome to the forum and to mead making!

Lots to talk about...

First off please forgive me my awkwardness with the metric system. Sounds like you're doing a fairly straightforward traditional with 71B, good choice for a first mead. Your temps seem to be good (64-75F range), although a little more stability may have helped your ferment carry a bit farther. 71B can go 14-15% and sometimes higher so I wouldn't say 9% is quitting time. And with 1.035 SG you've still got a bit of sweetness to deal with unless you wanted a sweet mead. What was your goal? Also you made no mention of how you hydrated your yeast and how you fed them during the ferment. Could be a variety of reasons the ferment seems to have slowed.

Some initial recommendations just as preliminary steps until you can provide more details:

1. Keep your temp more stable. Try to keep it in the 65F (18-19C) range. You can do this with a water bath or a variety of other household methods. Google is your friend.

2. Don't rely on your airlock as a Guage for fermentation activity. Use your hydrometer. Get to know it. Love it.

3. Don't rack your mead just yet. Let that yeast cake do some more work. Stir it up daily but do not Oxygenate! Just keep the yeast awake. They're getting sleepy and they're not done working yet.

4. When you finally do rack (when the fermentation has stopped, or when you want to encourage it to stop) do not oxygenate. Siphon quietly, minimize bubbles, and minimize head space. Oxygen is only your friend at the beginning of the ferment. Mead is pretty darned resilient when it comes to post ferment oxidizing, but no need to take unnecessary risks.

Look forward to hearing back from you on the rest of the story.

Cheers! 🍻

zpeckler
04-18-2016, 09:08 AM
yes i thought id start of simple as its my first attempt. i added 1tsp per litre of yeast neutriant before adding the yeast so 5 tsps and havent added anything else.

A point of clarification: You said your total batch size was 25L? At 1tsp nutrient per L that would be a lot of nutrient! Did you mean "1tsp/gal?"

Do you know the brand of nutrient you used?

Did you add all the nutrient right at the beginning, or did you use Staggered Nutrient Additions (SNA)?

--------
(You used mostly metric in your post, so I'll use it in my reply. Frankly, it's what I'm more comfortable with as well.)

Regarding your yeast rehydration, I'm concerned that it might not have been the best. Pitching dry yeast into water that's less than 30C impairs the fluidity of the yeast's cell membrane. This is very important for yeast health, and will help them with the fermentation ahead of them. You should rehydrate at relatively warm temps. Specifically, plain water at 40C (104F), but never more than 43C (110F) because this will kill the yeast. 40C is the optimal temp. Don't use distilled water, spring water or tap. Sprinkle the 5g packet of yeast over the top, sir gently, and let sit for 15 min. Then add about 100mL of your must, wait 15 min, add another 100mL. The goal is to give the yeast some sugars to start eating, AND slowly get then used to the lower temp of the must. Sudden swings in temp can shock therm. Don't add the yeast to the must until the temps are within 3-4C of each other.

What is even better is to rehydrate with a nutrient called GoFerm specifically designed for the task. The amount of GoFerm is 1.25x the mass of yeast using dissolved in 45C water that is 20x the mass of the GoFerm used.

For example:
5g packet of yeast
5g * 1.25 = 6.25g GoFerm
6.25g * 20 = 125mL water

Be sure not to add the yeast to the rehydration solution until it cools to the required 40C! Wait 15min sheet you add the yeast, then add 100mL of must, and repeat until the rehydration solution and the must temps are within 3-4C of each other.

*** If you can't get GoFerm to rehydrate with, DO NOT substitute another nutrient! The nitrogen salts (DAP) in nutrients can be toxic to yeast during rehydration. If you can't get GoFerm just rehydrate in water. Of course, once the yeast are rehydrated the regular nutrients are fine to use in the mead.

Squatchy
04-18-2016, 09:12 AM
So tell us about how you re-hydration of the yeast , or how you pitched it. Did you monitor your temps while pitching?

Don't rack it yet, lets see if we can get it to ferment some more. If you can bring it in the house to keep the temps more consistent that would be good. Stir it up to keep your yeast in suspension. Don't worry about opening up your container. Swirl it up until the color is consistent.

Squatchy
04-18-2016, 09:16 AM
Sorry about the double post. Not sure how this happened. Might be the 4' of new snow we received around here in the past 24 hours.

zpeckler
04-18-2016, 09:35 AM
100% agree with Squatchy, don't rack yet. Getting rid of all that yeast won't help you when you want them to wake up and eat more sugar. Stirring up the lees back into solution works by evenly distributing the yeast throughout the must, giving them access to the sugars.

Do you have test strips you could use to check pH as well?

zpeckler
04-18-2016, 10:35 AM
More detailed rehydration instructions. (http://www.morewinemaking.com/public/pdf/whydra.pdf)

(Ignore the part about adding nutrients to the must. This paper is meant for winemakers, and the amount of Fermaid-K they recommend isn't quite enough for mead.)

claude3c
04-18-2016, 10:39 AM
Hi

yes your right its 1tsp per gallon not litre so 5 tsps added of youngs yeast nutrient. and i added it all in at the beginning and beat the must to get some air into it

as i was letting the Must cool i took a jar of it off and added some cold water to cool it then added the yeast when it was about 30oC i guess they kicked off well and had 2 half pins working well added to must when it was down to about 36oC

id love to have it in the house but wife not a fan i have a brew belt on it and a blanket wrapped around the top to try and keep the heat in - this time last yr is was 20oC plus this year bearly breaking into the teens.

ill sterilise a plastic spoon i have and give it a good swirl around and re- seal it and see how it goes ill give it a week and take another reading

thanks again guys im hoping its just the air temp thats stalling things if not sweet mead it is lol

thanks

Matt

claude3c
04-20-2016, 11:30 AM
Hi guys

I stirred it up and last few days temp is up to 26oC now and it is bubbling every 18 secs again it must be a temp issue I'm having. Thanks for your help plus I've had a taste now and it's awesome
Thanks
Matt

Squatchy
04-20-2016, 02:57 PM
Go buy a hydrometer friend :)

Bubbles don't mean a thing

Mazer828
04-20-2016, 04:53 PM
Shifty, misleading, inconstant, unreliable, deceitful little scamps!

claude3c
04-25-2016, 06:13 AM
ok its been a week since i give it a stir and temps been up and i took a gravity reading it is 1035 it doesnt seem to have changed? any suggestions more yeast or more neutrients?
thanks
matt

zpeckler
04-25-2016, 07:32 AM
Classic example of the unreliability of watching the airlock.

The bubbling from the airlock you're seeing is the CO2 coming out of solution when you agitated the lees and increased the temp.

The lesson here is that watching the airlock means diddley-squat. The hydrometer is the reliable measurement. It should always be used it to monitor the progress of a fermentation, not the airlock. When you're having a difficult fermentation like this one you should check a gravity before any intervention, and then a couple of days/weeks afterwards to see if what you did had any effect. It's good that you followed up with a gravity reading because you confirmed that the fermentation is still stuck.

As far as where to go from here, I'll have to defer to wiser heads who have more experience in the matter. I haven't had a stuck fermentation (yet... knock on wood) so my knowledge of how to get it restarted is purely theoretical. Bray Denard has an article on his website, FWIW: www.denardbrewing.com