View Full Version : First batch, not sure if it's working

08-01-2016, 02:44 PM
Newbie just giving mead-making a whirl for a nice homemade XMas present.

I followed this recipe: http://www.stormthecastle.com/mead/brew-1-gallon-of-honey-wine-mead.htm

1 Gallon glass jug, rubber stopper, 3-piece airlock. Filled the airlock to the line with some of the star-san mixture, plopped the domed piece in, and capped. 3lbs of Orange Blossom Honey, Lalvin D-47 yeast (about half package), Spring water, 1tsp of Yeast Energizer and Nutrient. Activated the yeast in warm water (did not check temperature, didn't have a thermometer). Put it all together on 7/29, and I have not seen any bubbles through my airlock. Checked for leaks, it's sealed up tight.

Looking for suggestions. The only thing I can think of is that I screwed up with the yeast/nutrient/energizer. Maybe the water was too hot, or the nutrient/energizer was done incorrectly.

I did not take a hydrometer reading when I started, but I did a couple hours ago and it reads (I believe) 1.160. Gravity too high? I shook the mixture up to see if it would kickstart something, but I haven't noticed a difference.

Help? :p

08-01-2016, 03:01 PM
Also, there's about 1/4in of white settled on the bottom

08-01-2016, 03:03 PM
1.160 is a very high starting gravity. Doubt your problem is the energizer/nutrient with respect to fermentation starting up.

Suggest you pour some of your must into a sanitized wine bottle and cap it. Then add spring water to your 1 gallon jug to replace the must that was removed. Measure your SG. Then pitch a new packet of yeast that was rehydrated in warm water for 15 minutes. Use the wine bottle of must to top up when you rack the first time and for subsequent rackings if there is any left over.

08-01-2016, 03:18 PM
1.160 is very high and your yeast is probably suffering from osmotic shock. This can be overcome by diluting the must with water so the gravity drops, as @bmwr75 mentioned. However I do not think a yeast re-pitch is immediately necessary. Just lowering the osmotic conditions might be enough for the yeast already in there to start working. Too much yeast in the beginning can give off a yeasty or 'bready' taste and smell.

At least make sure you pitch the same yeast type you used the first time if you do go for a re-pitch and keep your temperature in check. Yeast with a hard time are known to produce too many fusels so keeping things within their temperature range is essential right now. I'd also rack off the excess lees quite early on. Don't "forget" this project for a week past being due for secondary.

08-01-2016, 03:38 PM
Thanks guys. How much do you think I should pull out? I have a wine bottle sterilizing right now. Or should I pull some, check with hydrometer, repeat if necessary? If so, what should I be shooting for?

Appreciate the input

08-01-2016, 04:03 PM
Normally I wouldn't judge this honey to water ratio anywhere near to 1.160 (not even 1.140 which is where my own 1/1 ratio meads usually start). If you are SURE that you read it right and it's 1.160 and not 1.060 or anything then I'd get it to below 1.140.

If 3780mm is (1.)160 where any added water is (1.)000 then 1mm of must contributes 160 / 3780 = 0.042. Thus, (160 - 140) / 0.042 = 476.2mm to replace with water (.000) to reduce the gravity by 20 points. This will get you 1.140. I'd remove an even 500ml since must is fickle. Do a gravity check and adjust further if it's necessary.

Give the yeast 24 hours to kick in. If it's not mayhem in there by then on its own, re-pitch.

08-01-2016, 04:17 PM
p.s. if you come to re-pitching it (at below 1.140 mind you) take a 50ml sample from the must add to this 10ml of water and warm it gently, add to this your yeast and energizer. Then let re-hydrate for the appropriate amount of time. This will help acclimatize the yeast to the osmotic conditions of the must. :) just a random hint in between.

08-01-2016, 04:25 PM
Thanks! I'll give it a whirl in a bit and see how it goes. Will update after 24 hours :)

08-01-2016, 05:14 PM
Well, after doing what was suggested, I then realized I wrote the hydrometer reading wrong -__- it was 1.116, NOT 1.16. It's now sitting at 1.112.

I should have rechecked before doing all that. Lesson learned. Hopefully I didn't just ruin it :(

08-01-2016, 06:12 PM
Then it probably wasn't osmotic shock. Give it 24 hours and check the gravity again. If it hasn't dropped any further you need to do a re-pitch.

08-02-2016, 10:31 AM
Activated the yeast in warm water (did not check temperature, didn't have a thermometer).

In addition to the osmotic factors by others, your rehydration could also be a major problem.

You need to measure the temp of the water you rehydrate in. This is really, really critical. For starters, if you rehydrate the yeast in water over 104F the heat will kill them. If you rehydrate in water that's too cool their cell membranes don't reconstitute properly and their health is severely impaired. For a must with a gravity as high as yours you need the yeast to be in tip-top condition.

Lastly, when you pitch the yeast you need to make sure the temperature of the rehydration solution and the must is within 10F of each other. If the temp difference is too much the sudden drop in temp will kill off a substantial portion of your yeast population. Again, with an OG that high you need as many healthy yeast as possible to complete your fermentation.

Refer to the attached guide for proper yeast rehydration. (http://morewinemaking.com/public/pdf/wineyeastrehydration09.pdf) If you can't get your hands on GoFerm, don't substitute any other nutrient. Just rehydrate in water. GoFerm is specifically designed to not include DAP, which is harmful to yeast during the rehydration phase. Only use DAP or other nutrients once you've pitched the yeast into your must. Regardless of whether or not you're able to use GoFerm during the rehydration, be sure to do the tempering step to slowly lower the temp of the rehydration solution to within 10F of the must.

Good luck, dude. Let me know if you have any questions.

08-02-2016, 09:46 PM
Repitched the yeast following the guide zpeckler linked at around 3pm today, paying close attention to the temperature with my brand-spanking-new thermometer. I am now (9:45pm) seeing many small bubbles coming to the top of the mixture, nothing through the airlock yet. Looking promising!

Is there anything I should be doing to it over the next couple days? I didn't do anything with Energizer and Nutrient since I figured it was still in the mixture from before, so let me know if that was wrong.

Thanks so much for all the help!

08-03-2016, 09:50 AM
The energiser was there for the re-hydration. But that's too late now. The gap between pitching and fermentation kicking in will be longer but since you're already seeing bubbles I say just leave it alone. Monitor it over the next couple of days to make sure it all stays contained (you're using a carboy right?) in the fermenter. Ideally you're taking gravity readings every couple of days to check how fast it's burning through the sugar but if that's not possible your main concern will be visibly assessing the activity and smelling the emitted gasses for anything that resembles sulphur.

08-04-2016, 08:34 AM
She's bubbling like crazy now, so everything is back on track. No smelly gasses, I am using a carboy. I'll take a reading later today to see where it is currently. I also popped the cork on the extra must and it was pressurized, so I guess there are a few live yeast left in there

Thanks for all the help

08-04-2016, 02:43 PM
Well All Right.............

good news.

08-04-2016, 06:42 PM
It's reading pretty consistently at 1.062 now, bubbles still happening, no sulfur smell

08-08-2016, 02:11 PM
Reading at 1.016. I should rack into secondary at 1.000, right?

08-08-2016, 02:35 PM
Reading at 1.016. I should rack into secondary at 1.000, right?

Lalvin D47 has a tolerance of 14% ABV give or take. It's likely going to stop at around 1.010 to 1.005. If it's around that mark and fermentation has gone visibly still you can rack to secondary.

:) happy brewing