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View Full Version : One Week Mead can't be a good thing...can it?



Worthewait
10-22-2016, 10:51 PM
Any advice/insight would be great. One gallon batch.
Started the batch on Oct 19th with Red Star Premier Cuvee yeast (comparable to Lalvin EC-1118 Prise de Mousse). On an earlier batch, made many mistakes - ended up with stressed yeast from the start, didn't pay any attention to temperature fluctuations, etc. That batch had to be discarded - I don't have time or skill to attempt to correct those results. This batch however has presented entirely different challenges.

3# Clover Honey
1 packet Premier Cuvee yeast
1 gram Fermax
1 tsp DAP
3L water (250 ml for reconstituting yeast, 2.75L for must)
1 tsp Potassium Carbonate (which brought the pH to nearly 8, so added...
1/4 tsp acid blend, which brought the pH down to 7-ish.
Mixed everything in manually, adding no heat to the must

Starting Gravity 1.126

Pitched yeast after reconstituting for 90 minutes
(Reconstituted yeast by putting it in 250 ml water at 100 degrees F along with 1/4 tsp Fermaid K and DAP then airlocking it for about 90 minutes - letting it naturally cool to ambient temperature. Yeast seemed pretty happy.)
Closed up the house and turned on A/C, keeping the ambient temperature in the mid-70s. Closed up the must in a 3 gallon bucket, covered in cellophane secured with rubber band under the lip of the bucket. Covered everything up with a table cloth to provide darkness. Agitated/aerated must every 6-8 hours (my wife is at home to do the noon aeration). Checked SG every 24 hours.

The following day (Oct 20th), after coming home from work and checked SG which was 1.076 - ALREADY past the 1/3 sugar break of 1.084!!) and pH, which was now 4.
Added 1/4 tsp DAP and 1/2 tsp Energizer. Mixed/aerated and covered it back up.

Waking the next morning, out of curiosity checked the SG again. Good thing since the SG was now 1.042, which is the 2/3 sugar break. pH was steady at 4. The aroma and taste is excellent. Added another 1/4 tsp DAP and 1/2 tsp Energizer. Aerated and covered again.

Returning that evening after work, SG was 1.022 and pH was still 4. Since this was going much faster than expected, transferred to a secondary, leaving lees behind. The color was pale yellow and cloudy. There is still a very sweet taste, but delicious with excellent aroma.

Now today, Oct 22nd, the SG is 1.002 and the must still appears to be fermenting very vigorously. At 1.002 there shouldn't be much sugar remaining to be fermented so I am concerned about the production of fusel alcohols. With the Original Gravity of 1.126 and a Final Gravity of 1.002, I am calculating the abv to be about 16.8%. The aroma has begun to lose some of it's appeal, but that might be due to the higher alcohol content...? I have cold crashed the batch (iced it down in a cooler) to slow/halt the fermentation. Was this a mistake?

The process as of right now has taken 4 days....OG 1.126 to FG 1.002... From what I have been reading everywhere, that just doesn't sound right. I feel like it will mellow into something nice, but am much to new at this to be able to base that conclusion on experience. I think I need to start using a less aggressive yeast, but I wanted to have a yeast that is tolerant of higher temperatures.

Should I chemically stabilize? Should I have left it alone to continue fermenting?

Thoughts?....please.

Squatchy
10-22-2016, 11:28 PM
You might tell us what you want in your finished mead so we can better guide you.

Worthewait
10-22-2016, 11:53 PM
a strong, delicious mead is my desired result. I will likely backsweeten to 1.010 or a little lower, but that will have to be based on the final flavor and residual sweetness.

Squatchy
10-23-2016, 12:04 AM
a strong, delicious mead is my desired result. I will likely backsweeten to 1.010 or a little lower, but that will have to be based on the final flavor and residual sweetness.

What does "strong" mean???
Welcome to the forum friend :)


Why did you add K2CO3 when you didn't need it?

I expect it has harsh off flavors. What does it taste like?

What temps did you do this at?

This batch will need to age a while regardless of how well you managed your protocol.

Did you add the DAP and K in the slurry prior to adding your yeast or did you add this stuff after the yeast got started?

You will either need to stabilize it so you can add more honey to raise your gravity. Or keep adding more honey untill the yeast tap out, and then add more until you hit your "sweetness" level. You always risk getting off flavors when adding yeast on the back side when your yeast are crumping.

Worthewait
10-23-2016, 01:17 AM
Squatchy, thanks for taking the time to provide some guidance. By "strong" I mean 15-18% abv; generally above what I understand the usual wine percentages to be. I wanted to add Potassium Carbonate as a buffer since one of the mistakes made in my first batch was to allow the pH to drop below 3.8. I believed that the Potassium Carbonate would act more as a buffer, rather than significantly affect the pH. I realized immediately that might have been the case had I used Potassium BIcarbonate, but the carbonate form needed something to try and offset so also added the acid blend.
The flavor was extremely pleasant yesterday. I kinda wish I had thought to chemically stabilize then rather than waiting until it hit SG 1.002. The flavor is a little harsh now but I think that's primarily due to the fact that it's had no time to mellow. The taste isn't unpleasant, just not as pleasant as it was yesterday.

The temperature of the must has been maintained between 75-78 degrees F. That's about as good as I can manage right now. I understand that cooler temperatures would be better but I'm using this year to learn the processes and once my wife and I move to our home next year we'll be in a position to create a more ideal environment.

The initial DAP and K were added as slurry, then stirred/blended/aerated prior to pitching the yeast (in addition to the nutrients already in the flask where I reconstituted the yeast).

I plan to chemically stabilize (K-meta and K sorbate) now that the fermentation has stopped due to the cold crashing; unless there's compelling reasoning that I shouldn't.

A couple questions remain:
1. is this an unusual circumstance for fermentation to run it's course so quickly?
2. what does it mean to say "... when yeast are crumping"?

Thanks again for the insight.

Stasis
10-23-2016, 02:27 AM
You mention using: Fermax, Fermaid K, Energizer, and DAP. Are you really using 4 types of nutrient? I found it impossible to calculate how much nutrients you added, especially since I also don't know wether by saying "I added 1/4 tsp of DAP and energizer" means you added 1/4 of each or just 1/4 total. I suspect you added too much nutrients. Even if by calculations you did not add too much, I still wouldn't add nutrients if the ferment seems to be going that fast. I would also not add nutrients to reconstitute the yeast or at the 2/3 break. There is evidence that these practices are either harmful or have no effect at best.
The mead probably tasted better a day before because there was more residual sweetness, which in my opinion is not the right reason to taste good. Ideally a mead would taste good even when dry and there is no sugar to hide the defects.
This seems like you took some ideas from the bomm protocol. If you did, there are no guarantees that protocol works with anything other than BOMMS and even with bomms I'm sceptical it's the best possible practice

Worthewait
10-23-2016, 04:49 AM
Stasis, thanks for reading through my questions and helping make sense of them. I did indeed apply ideas from the BOMM protocol. Didn't use Wyeast 1388, however.

I used Fermaid K (1/4 tsp) one time and that was during the reconstitution of the yeast. Also in that same flask I added 1/4 tsp yeast energizer. The yeast seemed to be activated nicely when it came time to pitch about 90 minutes later (temperature matched must). In the must (prior to pitching) I added a slurry of 1 gram of Fermax (this is the only time Fermax was used in this batch) along with 3/4 tsp energizer.
So all totaled, within the first 90 minutes the yeast had access to 1/4 tsp Fermaid K, 1 gram of Fermax, and 1 tsp yeast energizer.

After that, at each sugar break (1/3 and 2/3) I added an additional 1/4 tsp DAP and 1/2 tsp energizer.

I wish I could be clearer when describing how it tasted but it's subjective and I don't know the accepted terms to use when describing to make sure what I mean is understood. At the 2/3 sugar break there certainly was sweetness remaining but that wasn't why I said it tasted good. It had a very clean, refreshing quality. Essentially I had to convince myself that I shouldn't just continue to enjoy drinking it as it was then. What made that decision easier was that it was too sweet. I estimate it was about 11% abv at that time. I could taste the alcohol but it wasn't overpowering. There was a balance in the taste and aroma - the honey came through in the aroma, but it tasted like wine (just not aged or even mellowed).

It has been sitting in an ice bath for about 5-6 hours now. The fermentation appears to have finally stalled. I have just added a fining agent to drop the yeast out of suspension. I still have hopes for this batch. It still has good flavor. I just think the level of alcohol overpowers most of the other favorable qualities. I'm learning more each day by reading through old and new posts on this site. I'll continue to learn by making mead (or at least attempting) as well.

As to why I'm incorporating BOMM protocols, I'll only be where I am now for 8 more months. After that I'll be moving to the property I have purchased for retirement (which I roughly estimate to be 4,065 miles away, or about 5 time zones). I have no intent of moving liquid on a journey of that length or duration, so all mead making attempts must be complete and either consumed, given away or discarded prior to the move. Until then I am hesitant to start a mead that would take more than 4 months to produce and as moving day draws closer, those time constraints will tighten even further.

Squatchy
10-23-2016, 08:24 AM
Hello again

So a couple pieces for future batches.

Please don't ever re-hydrate your yeast with anything in the water unless you use Gp-ferm. If you use Go-ferm you will give your yeast it's very best start and you will benefit from it many times over. Your nutrients all have DAP in it and is very harmful to the yeast when they are re-hydrating. Once the cell wall is established the membrane controls what passes through the cell wall. Before the cell wall is functional ( as in when your re-hydrating it) it doesn't have the capability to control what passes into the core. So DAP gets inside the cell and cause harm.

Also DAP is not assimilate-able beyond an ABV of 9%. Any add after that and all your doing is adding a bad taste to your flavor profile.

You mentioned you once let a pH drop 3.8. That is a totally fine pH. I don't even worry if it drops to 3. I personally won't add the buffer until I see it needs it. Hightest started using it as a safeguard long ago. As a general theme I would say don't add anything unless you need it. If you use Fermaid O you won't need it at all.

You may have liked the flavor more because it was a bit sweeter. I don't really like bone dry meads at all. If you stabilize, you will then be able to add some honey back without fermentation starting again.

That much ABV will take a while to smooth out because it's pretty boozy. You can add oak and that will help to round off the sharp edge from the alcohol.

Using the most modern protocol makes it easy to make very drinkable mead in 3 months time if you do it right.

I once made a batch that moved this fast and later learned the recipe was in error and it said to use Tablespoons and should have been teaspoons. It eventually turned out ok. Although the overdose of chems was present in the flavor profile.

Stasis
10-23-2016, 08:54 AM
That alcohol taste might be fusels. Basically it tastes to me like cheap vodka rather than the smooth almost imperceptible alcohol in wine. Hopefully it will mellow out but it might take a long time depending on how bad it is

Squatchy
10-23-2016, 09:11 AM
That alcohol taste might be fusels. Basically it tastes to me like cheap vodka rather than the smooth almost imperceptible alcohol in wine. Hopefully it will mellow out but it might take a long time depending on how bad it is

I agree with you Stasis. I don't like that yeast nor do I like EC. The only time I use Champagne yeast is when I make port style meads that I fortify anyway. They take a while to become drinkable. Even when made correctly.

Worthewait
10-23-2016, 01:46 PM
Squatchy and Stasis, thanks. All good advice (and I can use all I can get).
-Squatchy - I still don't know what it means for yeast to be "crumping" but in context I'd guess that to mean that the yeast are still working in absence of fermentable sugars.
-Using oak is a good idea but personally I don't care for the flavor that oak imparts. I'm sure that it would help to add for a short enough duration to help round off rough edges and then remove the oak before it starts to really infuse.
- I ordered some Lalvin QA23 yeast several days ago and should receive those packets this week. I want to try a pumpkin melomel, but really think I should be satisfied with my traditional mead making abilities before taking on a melomel.
- I'll need to order some Go Ferm. In this climate, the yeast really appreciate some kind of jump start. The first attempts I just reconstituted in water and the fermentation never really seemed to take off. One batch had to be discarded. The other has potential, but not sure if I have enough time remaining. That batch has been cleared (beautifully, actually) and stabilized but aromas and flavors are pretty "hot". I have considered adding pineapple (fruit and juice) to make a kind of infusion, but not sure what direction that would go.
- What should be used as nutrient beyond 9% abv, if DAP cannot be assimilated?
- how should I start looking for references for the most modern protocol you referenced? I am assuming that if it was a named protocol that you'd have called it be it's name. If you could recommend a good place to start, or a link, that would be great. Are you referring to TOSNA, or something along those lines?
Once again Squatchy and Stasis, thanks for the guidance. It's much appreciated.

mannye
10-23-2016, 08:59 PM
Aside from the good advice you are getting, although I disagree that the BOMM protocol is suspect, having made many a delicious BOMM, the only other thing I see here is that you're very impatient. If I'm reading this correctly, you're not even 10 days in yet. Even beer takes 30 days ;)

Now that it's out of primary (way too early in my opinion...you could have left it in primary and on the lees for another couple of weeks without a problem) and into secondary, just let it sit under an airlock for a few weeks and give it a taste every two weeks or so.

I suggest you get yourself some Fermaid O, and get rid of all the stuff that uses DAP. My meads made a huge leap forwards (in my opinion) when I took the DAP out of the equation. Others don't have a problem with it... but I think it makes my meads taste "hotter" longer.

Welcome to the addiction! And remember, nothing will help you improve more than making plenty of mead!

Squatchy
10-23-2016, 11:40 PM
Crimping means starting to really struggle and getting close to dying. Hospital term. Yes on TOSNA. I agree with Manny. DAP totally sucks, and O is better than K.

When you start making good traditional everything else will benefit. That is the real proof of your skills and your protocol. You can't hide behind a traditional

Squatchy
10-23-2016, 11:47 PM
Many different oak species and toast levels. Each one adds different pieces to your finished profile. You can influence your mead in lots of different ways and most probably won't give you the flavor you mentioned you didn't like. What you probably don't like I'd French oak with a toast level greater than a medium +

Worthewait
10-23-2016, 11:51 PM
Mannye, I'm still reading and learning every day. This batch is my third batch. Until I can provide a more stable (temperature) environment I will temporarily put any plans I have for following the BOMM protocol "on the shelf". I believe it is a completely valid protocol but if I can't provide the necessary conditions then it just becomes frustrating. I'll confess to being impatient, but with this current batch the reason I moved the must from primary to secondary so soon is that on the first batches I did the yeast came through SO strong that the first batch had to be discarded - either that or use it to remove paint. I do not currently have the time or skill to determine how to fix/dilute/blend a batch of jet fuel into something enjoyable. The second batch I racked to secondary a little earlier than first and avoided the nastiness (the heavy yeast profile), but that'll still take some aging before it will be smooth. I am uncertain how long that will take and I will be packing up my house in about 7 months.

This current batch had the yeast take off faster than I could have imagined (OG 1.126 to FG 1.002 in about 36 hours). I understand now that I was over feeding, but with the fermentation still going strong and almost no sugars remaining...I just didn't see how anything good would come from that so I cold crashed and stabilized it. After all, I am not looking to produce alternative fuel.

That's what comes from trying to apply BOMM feeding methods to champagne yeast, I guess. I can just try to learn from my mistakes and hope that the meads age into something enjoyable before it's time to pack up and move.

Worthewait
10-24-2016, 12:15 AM
Squatchy, thanks for the advice re: oak. I'll have to check that out. Another topic to study. After all the researching this weekend, returning to work will almost be a break...you'll note I said "almost". My loving and lovely wife really wants a pumpkin melomel, so I'll start developing a recipe/plan and submit that for review on a separate thread. This time I'll ask for advice BEFORE I start rather than wait until it's already too late and I'm already looking at ways to control the damage.

I still have hopes for this batch to be decent. It's just a question of time and skill (in other words, it's doomed to failure - but I'll try anyway).

Stasis
10-24-2016, 11:02 AM
Mannye.. I'd hate to see people using the bomm protocol and expecting to get anything drinkable within a short period of time with anything but the specific yeast used in bomms. I agree with what you said: the problem is patience not the protocol per se. But still I would not like to give the impression that something deemed difficult to improve upon for bomms means we can all use that protocol for everything. I am encouraging Worthewait to read up on other protocols, why they think they work and what evidence there is to back it up. Just clearing that up