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SeanD
11-23-2016, 04:23 AM
Hello everyone,

I was wondering if you could give me some advice please ?

My wife bought me a book on making mead last Christmas and Iíve been mooching around your forums since and decided to take the plunge. I created my first batch on Sunday afternoon and itís now Wednesday and I havenít seen hide nor hair of a bubble in my airlock. Am I being too anxious or have I killed it ?

Mixed 3.5 lbs honey in a plastic bucket with ĺ gallon spring water. Added 1 teaspoon of Fermaid K and 1 teaspoon Tronozymol. Gave it a good stir. SG was 1.094. Warmed up 2 fl oz spring water and let it cool to just over 40 deg C and added a 5 gram packet of Lalvin D47. Waited 15 mins then added it to the must and stirred continuously for approx. 5 mins. Topped up to just over a gallon and popped the lid on. Batch is sitting in my study with a sheep wool wrap around the outside because itís quite a cool room (popped a thermometer between wrap and bucket and itís 20 deg C). Needless to say every piece of equipment was sterilized before use.

Should I leave it be, try and resuscitate, stir it every day or start again ?

Any advice/comments/ribbing would be gratefully received :)

djsxxx
11-23-2016, 05:52 AM
I don't think that gravity reading is correct. Probably the honey hadn't completely dissolved.

According to the got mead calculator your sg should have been around 1.126.

Take another sg reading now and let us know the value. Only real way to check if fermentation is happening... A drop in sg = fermenting

Sent from my SM-G925F using Tapatalk

pdh
11-23-2016, 09:28 AM
One procedural change you might consider in the future: it sounds like your rehydrated yeast was at 40 deg C and you pitched it into must that may have been at 20 deg C. That's a difference of 20 degrees C between the two. On the D47 data sheet, the manufacturer (Lallemand) says the temperature difference should never exceed 10 deg C.

Here's what I do: rehydrate the yeast as per the directions on the package, using a large glass measuring cup. After the 15 minutes of rehydration, I add a few spoonfuls of must to the measuring cup. Let it sit for 5 or 10 minutes, then add a few more spoonfuls. Do this as many times as necessary (usually two to four times), until the rehydrated yeast in the measuring cup is close to the temperature of the must. Then pitch the contents of the measuring cup into the must.

Squatchy
11-23-2016, 09:29 AM
You should have seen activity within hours. Bubbles don't really tell you much. By a hydrometer. I would suggest a crushed Camden tablet for a couple days and repitch. That is after buying a hydrometer and checking the gravity.

It's hard to tell from your info but I'm guessing your temps were to far apart and you killed the yeas when you pitched. Rehydrate like you did. After 20 minutes or so add a small portion of must to your yeast slurry every 10 minutes until the temp of your must and the slurry are within 10 c of each other before you pitch.

zpeckler
11-23-2016, 09:56 AM
Exactly what Squatchy said, but within 10įF, not C!

pdh
11-23-2016, 10:01 AM
Lallemand actually says 10 degrees C, not degrees F:

http://catalogapp.lallemandwine.com/uploads/yeasts/docs/1317dc750dd46376e409cb2b3ed050949d1cbcc0.pdf

I agree that that seems like a big difference and when I'm pitching I try to keep it much closer than that.

Squatchy
11-23-2016, 10:16 AM
You are correct pdh. I actually make it the same temp every time. That's not hard at all

SeanD
11-23-2016, 03:24 PM
Ah, thank you gentlemen. Looks like my mistake was to just "chuck" the yeast mixture straight into the must after 15 mins instead of gradually bringing it to the same temp. Duly noted. Do I need to re-add another lot of Fermaid and Tronozymol too ?

pdh
11-23-2016, 04:20 PM
No, don't add any more nutrients -- the stuff you added originally is still there -- you don't need any more at this point.

Once you're past this pitching-temperature problem, you might want to look into "staggered nutrient addition" which is the practice of adding nutrients gradually, rather than all at once in the beginning. But you've already added nutrients to this batch, so that's an issue for next time.

jeffvenuti
11-23-2016, 10:34 PM
Sean, you'll be happiest with the results of D47 if you can keep it at or below 18 deg C. After you get it going of course, using the helpful suggestions already posted here.

Jeff

SeanD
11-25-2016, 04:26 AM
Thanks Jeff,

Took the lid off and gave it a stir. Although there were no bubbles in the airlock the must was effervescent. Rehydrated a yeast mixture again and stabilised the temp so they near as damn matched before pitching. It's been two days and I can see droplets forming on the top of the lid but still no airlock bubbles. Am I being too paranoid ? Maybe there is an air leak in the lid ? I did have to drill the hole for the rubber bung airlock insert.

If I get no bubbles in the airlock at all how long do you think I should leave it before racking to a glass demi john ?

jeffvenuti
11-25-2016, 08:24 AM
Sean, the only way to reliably tell if there is active fermentation is by monitoring for changes in specific gravity measurements. Have you been doing this?

As djsxxx mentioned, your initial gravity reading was likely off so you can't compare to that. Try two, cosecutive days.

Jeff

caduseus
11-25-2016, 10:24 AM
Thanks Jeff,

Took the lid off and gave it a stir. Although there were no bubbles in the airlock the must was effervescent. Rehydrated a yeast mixture again and stabilised the temp so they near as damn matched before pitching. It's been two days and I can see droplets forming on the top of the lid but still no airlock bubbles. Am I being too paranoid ? Maybe there is an air leak in the lid ? I did have to drill the hole for the rubber bung airlock insert.

If I get no bubbles in the airlock at all how long do you think I should leave it before racking to a glass demi john ?

What you see means nothing compared to changes in specific gravity. If you have not been doing readings the whole time, then do it now. I generally check the readings at least every 2 days and stir 2x/daily or more.

pwizard
11-25-2016, 12:28 PM
Thanks Jeff,

Took the lid off and gave it a stir. Although there were no bubbles in the airlock the must was effervescent. Rehydrated a yeast mixture again and stabilised the temp so they near as damn matched before pitching. It's been two days and I can see droplets forming on the top of the lid but still no airlock bubbles. Am I being too paranoid ? Maybe there is an air leak in the lid ? I did have to drill the hole for the rubber bung airlock insert.

If I get no bubbles in the airlock at all how long do you think I should leave it before racking to a glass demi john ?

Did you ever get a hydrometer?

If the must is cloudy and effervescent, fermentation has probably started and you should be ok.
Don't worry too much about the airlock-- those things don't always work properly on fermentation pails, especially after the gasket gets old or if there's a poor fit. Just set the lid on there loose and you'll be fine. You don't need a tight seal until secondary. Also, take off that sheepskin wrap if you haven't already done so. D47 needs to be kept cold (mid 60s is great) for best results.

bernardsmith
11-25-2016, 03:36 PM
Hi SeanD - and a belated welcome. Unless you are certain that there is a perfect seal in your plastic bucket the CO2 produced by the yeast will find those gaps and exit there rather than through the airlock - They need to use more pressure to escape through the water seal than they would through imperfect seals between the lid and the bucket. As everyone has said, the only effective way to know what is going on is to take hydrometer readings. Bubbles tell you very little, if anything.

SeanD
11-26-2016, 06:20 PM
Did you ever get a hydrometer?

Yes, I had one from the start. My initial ready was skewed as it only showed 1.094. However, I dipped it yesterday and it was 1.034 and today it's in the red scale 1.010.

jeffvenuti
11-27-2016, 07:18 PM
Signs are pretty clear that your mead is fermenting. Hydrometer readings are key. But that one day drop of 24 points is surprising at the end of fermentation, so I'm a little suspicious of the accuracy of you readings. Regardless, you're well on your way to your first mead. Congrats!

pdh
11-27-2016, 07:55 PM
Sean: have you tasted it yet? If not then you may want to do that the next time you take a hydrometer reading -- just drink the sample from your hydrometer bottle instead of pouring it back into the must or throwing it out.

At this point it will almost definitely taste "hot" and sharp and edgy -- you'll see what I mean when you taste it. That's generally what we expect at this stage; I'm just suggesting that you taste it now (if you haven't already done so) so you can start learning how the taste changes as your mead ages, and also so you have something to compare to if you make more mead in the future with different procedures or ingredients.

Do *not* be alarmed if it doesn't taste very good yet!

Squatchy
11-27-2016, 08:55 PM
Sean: have you tasted it yet? If not then you may want to do that the next time you take a hydrometer reading -- just drink the sample from your hydrometer bottle instead of pouring it back into the must or throwing it out.

At this point it will almost definitely taste "hot" and sharp and edgy -- you'll see what I mean when you taste it. That's generally what we expect at this stage; I'm just suggesting that you taste it now (if you haven't already done so) so you can start learning how the taste changes as your mead ages, and also so you have something to compare to if you make more mead in the future with different procedures or ingredients.

Do *not* be alarmed if it doesn't taste very good yet!

If that what you expect it to taste like you're not doing things right. Mine is always very drinkable in 2-3 months. Even at 16%ABV.

pdh
11-27-2016, 09:22 PM
> If that what you expect it to taste like you're not doing things right. Mine is always very drinkable in 2-3 months. Even at 16%ABV.

Understood. But this is his first batch -- his recipe and procedure probably differ from yours in a bunch of small ways that as you know can make a big difference.

Squatchy
11-27-2016, 11:08 PM
I see what you mean brother.

SeanD
11-28-2016, 07:26 PM
Asking me to taste the mead already... made my day !! Had to restrain myself on day one. I see what you mean about being hot and edgy. It had a slightly warm "after feeling" after swallowing it and to me it was recognisable as a mead drink instead of dishwater. Tasted fine to me but then I'm biased.

Anyway, took a reading tonight and it was 1.00. Would this be the correct time to rack into a demijohn ?

Squatchy
11-28-2016, 08:16 PM
Asking me to taste the mead already... made my day !! Had to restrain myself on day one. I see what you mean about being hot and edgy. It had a slightly warm "after feeling" after swallowing it and to me it was recognisable as a mead drink instead of dishwater. Tasted fine to me but then I'm biased.

Anyway, took a reading tonight and it was 1.00. Would this be the correct time to rack into a demijohn ?

You could, but what would you gain and what thinking has you asking this question. Way too many people think one should rack now, or even sooner. Bad information on the web has lead unexperienced people to think you need to run from the lee's as fast as you can. Not true. You do want to keep them suspended so stir every few days and keep your must cool. By leaving you mead with the lee's for a couple weeks or more you are exposing the living yeast to left over "trash" from the ferment. They will eat the mess and in so doing clean up things that take to age out latter.

If you did want to just move over EVERYTHING, that would be fine. Your lees are your friends for a couple moths as long as you keep them stirred up.

SeanD
11-28-2016, 10:21 PM
My reasoning was that I had read in a number of places that leaving it too long after the fermentation had finished/slowed down enough would impart an undesired flavour (nutty was one description). My SG readings appeared to be all over the place so I surmised that as my latest reading was at a point where certain sources said to rack it I should do so.

So by keeping it a bit longer before racking (so long as I stir every few days) would be better in the long run as it will clean it up quicker ? In your experience what would be the specific point where one should stop and start this process, going from stirring twice a day to once every two days and then racking ?

(Jeez, sorry if this is not making sense. It's 2 in the morning here, it's taken me half an hour to spout this babble and I'm supposed to be up 4 hours time to go to work !!)

pdh
11-28-2016, 10:40 PM
> In your experience what would be the specific point where one should stop and start this process, going from stirring twice a day to once every two days and then racking ?

You're now at the point where you may get five different answers from five different people on this forum. I tend to rack sooner rather than later (after a certain point -- only after the S.G. has settled and obvious signs of fermentation have stopped), but I know that Squatchy does exactly the opposite. We both seem to be happy with our results, so maybe it doesn't matter as much as we might think it does.

You won't ruin the mead by doing it one way or the other, as long as you're careful about the racking and you don't oxidize the mead via multiple careless / splashy racking. So my advice would be: do whatever feels comfortable and reasonable to you. Then maybe try doing it differently with your next batch, and see which approach you prefer; or maybe not, if you're really happy with the results from this batch.

And congratulations on your first batch!

Squatchy
11-28-2016, 11:51 PM
I agree with pdh that you will eventually find your way. And that is a wonderful thing. I think once you find what works for you your mead will take a life of it's own and you will be free to try different things.

I will tell you my experience. I have found that as I continue to stir things up to re-suspend them, it seems to concentrate the lees more somehow, and it takes less and less time for the detritus to sink back down. And then you will notice the stratification sooner as well when the top starts to clear some. If I do this for a few weeks (3-5), and then let it rest it clears pretty fast. When I used to rack and then wait it took months sometimes for it to clear. I feel it taste cleaner sooner as well. I find the sooner I get my mead clear, or semi-clear the faster it turns the corner to become drinkable. I also feel it develops a rounder mouth if I let it sit with the lees longer.

It's not uncommon now days to keep it in the lees for a few weeks, stabilize it, cold crash it and then rack in a couple more weeks. Now then, I will either add adjuncts if that's what's called for. Or, I'll fine it if I am not planning on adding anything more that would muck things up. Rack it when it's clear and then run it through the filter. Now I can drink it or age it.

I have found the sooner it's clear the sooner it starts to become drinkable. This now goes full circle: If I stir it on the lees for a few weeks I end up saving 2 or 3 times that waiting for it to clear if I rack it too soon.

Wine makers have reason to get it of the detritus so it doesn't become vegetal. This is where that fear came from. I see face bookers all the time think they should rack at 1020 and then wonder why things stall.

We have influences that have come to the mead world from wine makers that are not true in mead. And, we have beer making fears that have jumped the fence from that side as well. Legitimate for each arena. But are not the case any longer in the mead world. Some of these are fear of oxidation issues, fast racking, infection fears, nutrient additions (or lack there of), filtering/finning, lees exposure, open top primary's and more.

One things is for certain. Mead is very resilient, and there are many roads to the same destiny!