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Gerret
01-02-2017, 04:09 PM
Brand new mead maker as of last Friday and I am a little concerned about my fermentation. After a lot of reading and preparation I started with a 1 gal batch of traditional mead and a 1 gal batch of berry melomel as I had 6 lbs of honey to use. After a rigorous sanitation regiment, former executive chef so I had some experience with food service sanitation, I put everything together early Friday morning. It's Monday now and things don't seem to quite be progressing yet; the melomel is bubbling at about 1 bubble ever 5 to 6 seconds but the traditional wasn't bubbling at all.

Went through the forum and checked a couple of the threads and decided to check if my seal was tight on the lid; it was fully pushed down but there seemed to be a little bit of give on one side which has since been weighed down. After that I waited a day but still no activity. Recipes are as follows

Traditional mead - SG: 1.150
3 lb wild flower honey
1 pack Lalvin D-47 yeast rehydrated with 3.8g go-firm, then tempered down to temperature of must before pitching
1g fermaid k added at pitch, 24 hours, and 48 hours
spring water up to 1 gal


Berry Melomel - SG: 1.110 before addition of berries
1 lb frozen triple berry mix
3 lb wild flower honey
1 pack Lalvin D-47 yeast rehydrated with 2.5g go-firm, then tempered down to temperature of must before pitching
1g fermaid k added at pitch, 24 hours, and 48 hours
spring water up to 1 gal

Both meads are being held at around 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

Help, what could I be doing wrong!?

Farmboyc
01-02-2017, 04:17 PM
Well I am not familiar with D-47 but what immediately stands out is your SG. 1.15 is pretty high to start and might be beyond the ability of your yeast.

I have started them this high with KV1116, DV 10, and EC1118 but these are known as tough yeasts.

Gerret
01-02-2017, 04:21 PM
I'll fully admit that I may have read my starting gravity wrong, I'll definitely check it again once I get off of work to make sure that it actually is at that gravity. If that is the case and it is actually at that starting gravity, is there anything specific that I should do to remedy that?

pdh
01-02-2017, 04:28 PM
Have you measured the S.G. recently? You can't really trust airlock activity as a measure of fermentation -- there could be leaks that allow the CO2 to escape via means other than through the airlock, so it might be producing more gas than you realize.

As Farmboyc said, the O.G. of the traditional mead is very, very high; too high for many yeasts. Having said that, 3 pounds of honey in 1 gallon should have come in around 1.105, so I'm surprised that you got as high as 1.150. Are you sure that reading is correct?

Gerret
01-02-2017, 04:32 PM
Are you sure that reading is correct?

Honestly no, I'm not sure lol. I'm going to remeasure the gravity once I get home.

caduseus
01-02-2017, 04:51 PM
Well I am not familiar with D-47 but what immediately stands out is your SG. 1.15 is pretty high to start and might be beyond the ability of your yeast.

I have started them this high with KV1116, DV 10, and EC1118 but these are known as tough yeasts.

Only with the most TLC by experienced mead makers can D-47 handle SG that high. I am not experienced with D-47 but I believe that temp is the high end of acceptable for that yeast. Maybe someone on here with experience with that yeast can comment.

If you wanted a high ABV, you should have used one of the yeasts above OR less honey with D-47 but freeze concentration afterwards.
If you wanted it super sweet, you can always add honey after fermentation is over.

What are your goals? How high ABV? How sweet when fermentation is complete (SG)?

Gerret
01-02-2017, 04:54 PM
What are your goals? How high ABV? How sweet when fermentation is complete (SG)?

I was hoping for around 14 - 16% ABV and I was hoping for a dry mead.

caduseus
01-02-2017, 05:17 PM
I was hoping for around 14 - 16% ABV and I was hoping for a dry mead.

I just checked the GotMead calculator and the brewers friend calculator. While the numbers somewhat differ, BOTH predict a SG of of no higher than 1.026 based on the information you gave below.

Something is missing???

Gerret
01-02-2017, 05:33 PM
Thanks for looking at that, I think I just need to check my hydrometer again tonight, I think that I have just read it wrong.

Farmboyc
01-02-2017, 05:36 PM
I just checked the GotMead calculator and the brewers friend calculator. While the numbers somewhat differ, BOTH predict a SG of of no higher than 1.026 based on the information you gave below.

Something is missing???
3lbs/US gallon should be around 1.108 or 14% alcohol potential.

bernardsmith
01-03-2017, 11:07 AM
3lbs/US gallon should be around 1.108 or 14% alcohol potential.

I agree. Three pounds of honey dissolved to make 1 gallon (US) should give you a reading of 3* .035 = 1.105 (so while you hit all the numbers you may have them jumbled a little) :o which has a potential ABV of 105 * 131 = 13.75% ..

Farmboyc
01-03-2017, 10:21 PM
I agree. Three pounds of honey dissolved to make 1 gallon (US) should give you a reading of 3* .035 = 1.105 (so while you hit all the numbers you may have them jumbled a little) :o which has a potential ABV of 105 * 131 = 13.75% ..
http://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20170104/f1fec3792df361d1fe15a502cebe9cd0.jpg


There ya go Bernard. My actual measured numbers come in a bit higher than the calculator numbers in all cases. So there is that but thanks for the condescending reply.

PCChazter
01-04-2017, 09:48 PM
Welcome to mead making!

As everyone else mentioned, that is quite a high OG. But you basically have the same recipe, minus the berries, and slightly different amounts of nutrients. So your traditional should be fairly close to your melomel in OG, if anything it should be less. You used the same yeast, so it's not because it is unable to handle it, unless you used a dead pack, which does happen from time to time. You can try to re-hydrate a new pack yeast, and "prime" the yeast by adding some of your must to it and let it eat at it for about a half hour before pitching it. But first, make sure it is not already fermenting! Check the SG, and do not rely on the bubbler as an indicator of health.

Another possibility is that your pH is too low, this is a problem with traditionals. Yeast likes to have a pH of around 3.0-3.5 and will try to drop the pH to this level. Unfortunately, honey and water do not have a lot of ability to buffer pH, so when the yeast tries to drop the pH, it majorly overshoots. Once the pH has reached too low (I think 2.6 or less,) the environment is caustic to the yeast, and the yeast will not metabolize. Sometimes this can be fixed by removing some of the CO2 (which adds Carbonic Acid), but in most cases, you may have to adjust the pH manually. This can be done with some calcium carbonate (yes this is the same chemical as chalk.) Depending on the pH buffering of the must, .3-.4 grams per litre will raise the pH by .1. You do need to be careful about how much you add, as it can change the flavour if too much is added.

Something I like to do before I pitch yeast in my traditionals is add a pH buffer. In a 5 gal batch, I will add 10g of cream of tartar and 2-4tbsp of lemon juice. The cream of tartar (tartaric acid) will crystallize out in a cold crash or over time, but will not add much to the flavour; lemon juice changes the flavour as well as the pH buffering.

I hope some of this helps, but before trying anything, make sure the SG is not moving, and don't use the bubbler as proof of fermentation.

Squatchy
01-04-2017, 10:14 PM
No disrespect meant towards the above. But it's not good practice to add lemon juice, or any other acid up front in your must. That just pushes the pH even further in the wrong direction all the more. Also if you use K2CO3 it will buffer the pH without flavoring your mead.

Lastly 1108 is not a difficult gravity for a wine yeast at all. I start at 1120-1140 all the time and never have any problems

PCChazter
01-04-2017, 11:24 PM
No disrespect meant towards the above. But it's not good practice to add lemon juice, or any other acid up front in your must. That just pushes the pH even further in the wrong direction all the more.

Yes, you are pushing the pH in the wrong direction if it is already very acidic, but unless you have a very acidic honey, it won't be detrimental.


Also if you use K2CO3 it will buffer the pH without flavoring your mead.

You are definitely not wrong there.
Potassium carbonate would work better than calcium carbonate, as you don't have the risk of the chalky flavour, and would also work well as a buffer. I couldn't find any when I had this problem (if I remember correctly, I checked 3 or 4 winemaking stores, and only one had calcium carbonate, none had potassium carbonate!), and I needed to find a buffer. So instead I used lemon juice in the must before pitching yeast, then moved to using less lemon juice and cream of tartar to buffer the pH, as most of the tartaric acid will just crystallize out. I actually forgot about potassium carbonate, so thanks for bringing it up!

caduseus
01-04-2017, 11:32 PM
No disrespect meant towards the above. But it's not good practice to add lemon juice, or any other acid up front in your must. That just pushes the pH even further in the wrong direction all the more. Also if you use K2CO3 it will buffer the pH without flavoring your mead.

Lastly 1108 is not a difficult gravity for a wine yeast at all. I start at 1120-1140 all the time and never have any problems

I agree whole heartedly. Adding lemon juice may work great for grape and fruit wines, but not for meads. It is correct that the yeast can overshoot in lowering pH and sometimes overshoot. Honey does not have the buffering capacity to overshoot this.

While Chalc (CaCO3) will lower pH but why add chalcy taste to your mead. I am not aware of ANY situation where you would use chalc over another buffer

Either K-carbonate or K-bicarbonate will work for buffering while simultaneously providing potassium to the must to help nourish the yeast. As far between the 2, I have used both and not sure which is better.

pwizard
01-05-2017, 09:01 AM
I use CaCo3 (b/c it's the only thing my LHBS has for that) and I've never noticed a chalky taste in my meads. Worst case scenario is it takes a bit longer to clear but fining agents (or just waiting) usually take care of it.

caduseus
01-05-2017, 09:48 AM
My LHBS does too. Hence I get mine on amazon. Keep in mind in addition to the chalky taste problem, potassium is more nutritionally beneficial for the yeast than calcium is. Denard brewing talks about this at length on his site