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aaubin4
05-24-2016, 05:13 PM
After much urging by my brother, who has been home brewing for years, I decided to give it a try. I read The Compleat Meadmaker, a few other articles, watched a few videos, and read through some of the posts on these articles to make an educated first attempt.
I made two, four-gallon musts. I plan to rack them to four, two-gallon buckets toward the end of the first fermentation (1 gallon of must to each). I will make sample gallons with various fruits to three gallons from each batch, leaven them on fruit for a week or two, them rack to gallon jugs for secondary. I may, also, try spices and oak chips with a few during secondary. My goal was to have small batches with different flavors, so I could tweak them as needed or reproduce them in the future, without a huge waste of funds should they go south. Please feel free to comment with suggestions, things to watch for, etc.

Batch 1:
10 lbs Clover honey (2.25lbs/gal)
5 g Pasteur Blanc yeast
3.5 gal (roughly) Distilled Water
5 g GoFerm
2 g Fermaid O
1 g DAP
O.G.: 1.098
pH: ~4.2

Batch 2:
12 lbs Wildflower honey (3 lbs/gal)
5 g Lalvin EC-1118
3.5 gal (roughly) Distilled Water
5 g GoFerm
2 g Fermaid O
1 g DAP
O.G.: 1.110
pH: ~4.2

The pH is about midrange, I have bicarbonate if needed, but I don't foresee it dropping too much with fruit being added. My initial calcutations came out to 4 g Fermaid O and 2 g DAP, for approximately 310ppm Nitrogen. I added half of each at the start, I will add 1g of Fermaid at 1/3 and 2/3 sugar drops, I will add 0.5g of DAP at 24 and 48 hours (it seems like DAP isn't needed past 1/3 sugar drop). I have potassium sorbate to stop the yeast if I need to back sweeten, and a pectin enzyme (depending on the fruits I choose to use). Again, I think I have a decent handle on it, but I know there is a lot more to learn. Thanks for reading, if you made it this far, and please feel free to share your tips or comments!

-Al

Squatchy
05-24-2016, 08:01 PM
Hi and welcome to the forum.

It's good you have a plan. I wish you would have asked before you made this as you have made a few errors.

I can't tell if you have not planned to do certain things just because of missing evidence in your text. But I will also speak to those missing pieces as well as things you have proclaimed.

One of the most critical steps in making mead is how you rehydrate your yeast. Temps, water hardness, timing, all can either make or break your chances of making really great mead. Your temps with your yeast slurry vs your must at inoculation is critical for a good start as well as oxygenation. Pitch rates are important. You would do better to pitch 2 5 gram packets, or even 3. I would use 3 for a 5 gallon batch.

Distilled water is not good at all. No trace elements and zero dissolved O2 makes it very stressful on the yeast. Using distilled water for rehydration is far worse even still. It will cause the yeast cells to implode.

Temp control during the ferment is crucial. Too hot and you will make fussels. Too low and you will stall out

All of these things should be managed. If you do, your stuff will end up being drinkable way sooner.

If you click on my profile you can then read what things I have been recently posting. Or you can follow me and you will automatically see everything I post. In just the past week or two I have written in detail info about all of these particular pieces of management practices for other newbee's that also got started off on the wrong foot.

Start with this one,,, http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php/25739-Mead-fermentation-start

One good thing is that in time most meads will become drinkable. If you learn of these things you will have great stuff in very short order.

Go learn some, read about the things I have listed here and ask questions. We are here to help.

aaubin4
05-24-2016, 10:03 PM
Thank you for taking the time to reply Squachy. I did read that link you sent. I had also read that you shouldn't use chlorinated water, and since my water comes from Chicago, I figured bottled was the way to go. I hope that my saving grace in this would be that I aerated the must, after pitching, for 5 minutes using a mixing attachment on a drill.
I did rehydrate the yeast with 104 degree water and Goferm, though the temperature did taper off. As for the temperature during ferment, both yeasts have a wide range that I should be able to maintain.
Lastly, all the recipes that I remember seeing called for 5 g of yeast. I didn't realize that putting more in would be beneficial, though it does make sense since you are growing an "army."

Squatchy
05-25-2016, 12:03 AM
Glad to here. You did good :)
Is your water natural spring water or is it truly distilled? Spring is best, plus if you buy a 5 gallon plastic water bottle, now you have the water and a carboy.
Please don't ever use distilled water to rehydrate in. That becomes a terrible disaster and it explodes the yeast.

Your 5 gram packet will work ok. But, if you start with more soldiers (especially in a higher gravity batch) you will get through the lag phase much quicker. This will help because it doesn't give as much time for the unwanted wild yeast to try to dig in. Remember, they will be eating the food you put in there as well. Plus, if you start out with more you safeguard getting a stuck ferment on the back side of things.

When you pitch make sure the yeast slurry and the must are within 10 degrees of each other. The way to do that is the step equalizing I spoke of in one of the other post I replied to. Temperature shock can kill a big portion of your army right off the bat. And, cripple the ones who did manage to stay alive. I see you have carbonates. Your pH should be fine. I have never had a problem if you stay above 3.2

To try and stabilize an active ferment doesn't always work like you might hope. I would suggest if you want, let it rund dry. Cold crash it if you can for a week or so. Rack it off the lees and onto the sulfite/sorbate, and still keep it cool if you can. I sulfite first and then sorbat 24 hours later.

It's great that you are using goferm and fermaid O. I would suggest if you want to use DAP, to only use it for your very first feed. Would you rather feed your kids oatmeal for breakfast or candy bars? DAP whips them into a frenzy, which in turn will cause temperature spikes in larger batches.

Was your pH that high naturally or did you boost it with chems?

Even though the yeast have a large range it seems best to stay on the colder end for sure. I stay in the bottom 25% of the range. To some degree that causes me to slow down making mead in the summer quite a bit. There area few yeast that do well in higher temps. I think of those as summer time yeast.

You have started off better than many of the new people on here. Obviously you have been studying. Good boy :P

aaubin4
05-25-2016, 09:55 AM
I have seen the term cold crashing, but have no idea what it is.

The water was distilled spring water, most likely no nutrients.

After 18 hours, still no bubbling. I know that it can take longer, though I am wondering if pitching the same yeast (5 g more) would help at this point. Of course, I would use more GoFerm and some spring water this time.

I was wondering what you might suggest.

Thanks.

aaubin4
05-25-2016, 03:50 PM
I just finished checking both batches at their 24 hour mark. There was definitely fermentation going on. I degassed and aerated both with the mixer attachment on the drill for 10 minutes. The both foamed up immediately when I began mixing.

Batch 1 dropped 16 points to SG 1.082 (1/3 sugar is 1.067) and a pH of 3.6.

Batch 2 dropped 20 points to 1.090 (1/3 sugar is1.078) and a pH of 3.6.

I added another 0.5 g of DAP (last addition) and added 1 g of Fermaid O (one more planned addition of the same amount).

I am planning to break the batches up (into gallon batches) at the 2/3 drop, and add fruit to three from each must. Does that sound reasonable for a late primary fermentation addition of fruit, or should I wait longer?

Squatchy
05-26-2016, 08:46 AM
It depends. Any fruit added while there is fermentation going on will taste like fermented fruit. Think grape juice vs wine. If you add fruit after you stabilize you will get the fresh fruit/jammy notes. More of a fruit bomb. You may want to do a side by side test with this. Make one batch with fruit up front, one with the fruit added after you stabilize and a third half/half.

Cold crashing is lowering your temps as low as you can. It will cause things to drop out much quicker.

aaubin4
05-27-2016, 04:04 PM
Thanks again Squatchy.

72 hours in, both musts seem to be doing well. I added the last 1 g of Fermaid O to both after degassing and aerating for 10 minutes. PH on Batch 1 was at 3.2 yesterday, I added 1.5 g potassium bicarbonate, and it was up to 3.6 today. SG is down to 1.070 (OG 1.098). PH was ~ 3.3 on Batch 2 today, so I added 1 g of bicarbonate to it as well. Both are sweet tasting, with a hint of honey, yeast, and alcohol "heat."

aaubin4
05-29-2016, 06:08 PM
Today marks day 5, and I just finished checking on the batches. Batch 1 seems to have slowed down. The pH was 3.0 yesterday, so I added bicarbonate, and it is at 4.0 today (a bit high, but within range). SG is now at 1.064 (down from 1.066 yesterday), and just past the 1/3rd sugar mark. If it doesn't pick up, should I consider pitching more yeast? How long should I wait to do so? Also, I plan on adding mangos, peaches, and blood oranges to the three sample gallons (one fruit per gallon), I figured the acid in the fruits should drop the pH a bit.

Batch two is doing much better. PH was 3.2 yesterday, I added bicarbonate, and it is now sitting at 3.6. The SG is now 1.042, which is just past the 2/3 sugar mark. I am planning to divide the must into one gallon batches and add fruit tomorrow. Is that late enough for a late primary add, or should I wait longer? Once on the fruit, should I still degas and aerate daily, as the primary fermentation will still be continuing?

Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions you can provide!