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Wynx
01-30-2017, 01:10 AM
Hello all. I only got into home brewing a week ago actually but already have several wines brewing in 1 gallon buckets / jugs.
Yesterday I decided I would make a big batch of mead on a 5 gallon 6 month recipe so it would be ready just in time for my annual boat trip with all my friends.
Figured that would be a nice treat for everyone.


First the recipe, then where I may have gone terribly wrong:

Ingredients: 15 pounds pure n simple honey. 5 gallons water. 38oz frozen raspberries. 1 packet Lalvin B17-1122 yeast(5 grams). Yeast energizer.

First I heated the honey up with some water and poured that into the bucket, filled it up to 5gallon mark. Then I took the OG BEFORE adding raspberries. It was 1.080.

I crushed the raspberries by hand in the bag and dumped into the bucket. Next came yeast energizer.
Problem number 1: thought it said tablespoon not teaspoon. Dumped a whole tablespoon in and realized the mistake. I was able to scoop half of that out because it was sitting on top of the floating raspberry debris.

Then I added one packet of yeast. Time: 10pm.

Today at around 2 pm (16 hours in) I noticed airlock activity. One bubble per 10 seconds.

I left for a while came back around 10 pm and ZERO airlock acitivity!

I opened the lid and took a whif. Nose got the burns from the C02. I mixed it up and released a bunch of C02.

I took the SG again and now it's at 1.110?!
It went up!

So I'm afraid I didn't add nearly enough yeast.

The liquid temperature has been hovering right at 60(F).

The airlock ceasing activity has me worried that it's already done fermenting what it can.

Did I not add enough yeast? Can I add more yeast? Did I mess something up with the energizer? I feel like something went wrong.
Thanks for reading!

Wynx
01-30-2017, 03:57 AM
Update: so I checked it one more time before going to bed and noticed that the layer of raspberries on top was so thick it was blocking a lot of C02. I siphoned out nearly all of it so now nothing's blocking it and I hope that helps but I feel like the yeast is all dead from lack of oxygen or something.
Still hoping it's okay to put another packet of yeast in.

darigoni
01-30-2017, 08:46 AM
I assume you meant 71b and not B17.


Did you do anything about sanitizing the raspberries? (i.e. Campden tablets).

The extra energizer should not be a problem or adding more yeast. You may want to try and raise the temperature of your must, as 60 degrees is at the low end for the yeast (59 to 86). Maybe 72 degrees?

You may want to check out the NewBee guide (top of website) and the nine week Meadolgy series on YouTube. Pat particular a attention to weeks 6 and 7.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oODPBYXqfjk&t=976s

If you don't get action soon, you may want to start thinking about using a more aggressive yeast (K1-V1116 or EC-1118). You'll lose some flavor, but better than something else landing in there and infecting it.

zpeckler
01-30-2017, 10:14 AM
1. Your SG went up because the fruit releases sugar into the must.

2. When fermenting with fruit you need to break up the "cap" daily. For this reason it's a lot easier to ferment these kinds of batches in plastic buckets because of the wide mouths.

Wynx
01-30-2017, 11:22 AM
Yes that's what I used! And it's currently in a 6 gallon plastic bucket, not a carboy.

Wynx
01-30-2017, 11:24 AM
I did not sanitize the fruit. I have campsen tablets on hand. Even though some fermentation has begun already is that something I could do now and then add more yeast after 24 hours? Im also afraid since fermentation had been low activity that I'm going to get some bad stuff growing in there over the last 36 hours it's been sitting there.
And thanks I'll check that out now.

Wynx
01-30-2017, 11:28 AM
Update: I just checked it and it seems removing a lot of that fruit floating on top helped start it up again. It is now bubbling once every 4 seconds 😋.

I'm still wondering if 1 packet of yeast was enough since row SG is so high now. Should I add another?

zpeckler
01-30-2017, 11:47 AM
Recheck your gravity. Airlock activity is next to useless for monitoring the progress of a ferment. It's way too influenced by too many variables, and is highly subjective on top of it. Ignore it. When in doubt, follow your fermentation by checking the gravity.

Read the NewBee guide here on the GotMead site about basic principles of cap management. There's a ton of great basic info for someone just starting out in there as well. Get Schramm's book "The Compleat Meadmaker" or Steve Piatz's book "The Complete Gide to Making Mead." Read them both thoroughly if you plan on continuing making mead as a serious hobby. All these resources contain great info to help you make the best mead you can!

bernardsmith
01-30-2017, 12:29 PM
Hi Wynx and welcome. Not entirely certain but the first reading you got would seem to be a little low. My rule of thumb is 35 points per pound of honey in a gallon of water and since your recipe used 3 lbs I would expect the starting gravity to be closer to 1.105 than to 1.080. That to me suggests that the honey was not fully mixed throughout. And yes, certainly, the fruit will release sugars over time and so up the gravity even more.
The CO2 that the yeast produce will force the fruit to the surface (half the weight of the honey will be the total weight of the CO2 that the yeast produce- ie about 7.5 lbs of gas so we are talking about a fair amount of gas), which is why you really want to a) ferment in an open bucket loosely covered with a cloth and b) stir the fruit into the mead a couple of times a day to remove the CO2. The pressure of the CO2 on the yeast can create problems for the yeast that result in off flavors. The CO2 will also increase the acidity of your mead which during the most active part of fermentation may be enough to stall the fermentation if the pH drops to 3 or lower (and with honey that can happen)

Wynx
01-30-2017, 12:54 PM
Thanks for the replies!
I just took another gravity reading and it looks like it's gone from 1.110 to about 1.108 overnight.

Edit: no no it's exactly at 1.110

Squatchy
01-30-2017, 01:02 PM
One thing that no one has brought up. And I suspect could be the culprit. Is that I'm curious, how did you pitch your yeast? In other words there's a rehydration process that you should follow. Many people back in the day used to just sprinkle the yeast on top of the must. We now know that that's not a very good way to create a biomass as you lose more than half of your yeast cells right off the bat, and the rest are wounded. Please give us a description of how you treated your yast prior to pitching. You should read the Scots Laboratories 2016 handbook and I believe on page 7 it will tell you how to rehydrate yeast. This to include the temperate in your temperatures so that when you pour your yeast slurry into your must you're dropping your little ones into the swimming pool at the same temperature that they've been in so they don't suffer from temperature shock

caduseus
01-30-2017, 01:06 PM
One thing that no one has brought up. And I suspect could be the culprit. Is that I'm curious, how did you pitch your yeast? In other words there's a rehydration process that you should follow. Many people back in the day used to just sprinkle the yeast on top of the must. We now know that that's not a very good way to create a biomass as you lose more than half of your yeast cells right off the bat, and the rest are wounded. Please give us a description of how you treated your yast prior to pitching. You should read the Scots Laboratories 2016 handbook and I believe on page 7 it will tell you how to rehydrate yeast. This to include the temperate in your temperatures so that when you pour your yeast slurry into your must you're dropping your little ones into the swimming pool at the same temperature that they've been in so they don't suffer from temperature shock

Ditto. Plus if you can use Go-Ferm when rehydrating. Also don't pitch the hydration liquid into the must unless there is less than 10 degrees different between must and yeast starter.
Both of these techniques will make your yeast more healthy and vibrant to chew away that sugar in the must.

Wynx
01-30-2017, 01:27 PM
One thing that no one has brought up. And I suspect could be the culprit. Is that I'm curious, how did you pitch your yeast? In other words there's a rehydration process that you should follow. Many people back in the day used to just sprinkle the yeast on top of the must. We now know that that's not a very good way to create a biomass as you lose more than half of your yeast cells right off the bat, and the rest are wounded. Please give us a description of how you treated your yast prior to pitching. You should read the Scots Laboratories 2016 handbook and I believe on page 7 it will tell you how to rehydrate yeast. This to include the temperate in your temperatures so that when you pour your yeast slurry into your must you're dropping your little ones into the swimming pool at the same temperature that they've been in so they don't suffer from temperature shock

I have heard people say both to rehydrate and not rehydrate. A buddy of mine that got me into it said it's a waste of time and doesn't do anything so I just poured it into the must and stirred!

Wynx
01-30-2017, 01:39 PM
Okay I've been watching those videos and reading the links and for the most part it seems I haven't made any major mistakes. Failing to rehydrate the yeast is one. As well as not using a campden tablet for the fruit.

A couple things I'm not finding answers to elsewhere:

1. Can I go ahead and buy another packet of yeast and add it properly?

2. Will the last 3 days of extremely light fermenting activity have caused it to develop any bacteria or other nasties?

caduseus
01-30-2017, 02:04 PM
Okay I've been watching those videos and reading the links and for the most part it seems I haven't made any major mistakes. Failing to rehydrate the yeast is one. As well as not using a campden tablet for the fruit.

A couple things I'm not finding answers to elsewhere:

1. Can I go ahead and buy another packet of yeast and add it properly?

2. Will the last 3 days of extremely light fermenting activity have caused it to develop any bacteria or other nasties?

1. How many grams of yeast did you already have?
2. Not necessarily. There is some slow down in general. I would take daily hydrometer readings.


As far as your friends recommendation, I have 2 thoughts:
1) Mead is not made exactly like wine, beer, or cider. Any recommendations, even if world renowned experts in one of those areas, is to be taken with a hefty amount of salt;
2) There are 2 general approaches to mead making:
I) Pitch and leave: there are some who put minimal work into making mead but have great meads....1-2 years later. This approach is fine if you are willing to wait.
II) The meticulous method: this requires more hands on work especially the first week. This is more intense in work and monitoring. This works well...but much faster results with good product- IF DONE CORRECTLY.

So I guess you need ask yourself which approach you want. The answers to our questions will differ based on your response.

Wynx
01-30-2017, 02:08 PM
Caduceus,
I started with 5 grams of yeast for my 5 gallon bucket, non rehydrated.
I definitely want to do a more hands on approach. This is addicting. I can't seem to go 3 days without starting a new batch of something.
I have the interest to put in the effort!

I just bought another packet of lalvin 71B. Waiting to see what people say before adding it.

Also I took the reading today and also tasted it. I know it's only been 3 days and not much has happened and most of the sugar is still there but it tasted absolutely amazing. I hope the end product tastes anything like this.

Squatchy
01-30-2017, 03:23 PM
So yes , go ahead and add the extra yeast. Your friend is dead wrong. I hang my hat on what the PH'Ds have to say that have spent their entire life working with wine yeast. You'll find that in the handbook I mentioned as well as any other writings from people that are yeast /wine business.

Wynx
01-30-2017, 05:30 PM
Squatchy,
Okay I got another 5gram packet of that yeast and pre hydrated it! I'll take gravity tomorrow night to see if anything happening.

Another noob question:
Can I just drop the hydrometer into the bucket? I feel like I'm losing too much because I have to scoop about 2 cups out every time I want to check.

zpeckler
01-30-2017, 06:37 PM
Can I just drop the hydrometer into the bucket? I feel like I'm losing too much because I have to scoop about 2 cups out every time I want to check.

This isn't beer, the worry about "contamination" is much, much less. Provided the hydrometer and test jar is properly sanitized you can just pour the test sample back in the fermentor.

Squatchy
01-30-2017, 07:02 PM
And, if you want you can just let your hydrometer float in your vessel. Just don't break it in there or you will have to pitch the entire batch.

Wynx
01-30-2017, 07:30 PM
Oh zpeckler and squatchy, that's awesome news! I took the lid and airlock off because I was told here I need to let oxygen in. Then other people tell me to use the lid and airlock on primary fermentation. It seems pretty split. Is either one make or break?

I've had cloth over it all day but I just walked out and saw my cat had torn it off. Trying to see what it was... really hoping he didn't contaminate it. I'm sure the C02 scared him right off.

But this makes me want to lid it back up.

Edit: I decided to lid it but leave the airlock off and put cloth over the small hole. Hopefully this is a decent medium.

Wynx
01-30-2017, 07:47 PM
Pitched the new rehydrated yeast earlier today. Just took a gravity reading. It's at 1.100 now. Looks like it's back in action! Thanks everyone!

Squatchy
01-30-2017, 08:35 PM
Then other people tell me to use the lid and airlock on primary fermentation. It seems pretty split. Is either one make or break?

One of my favorite lines is: Ask 5 mazers and you will get 9 different answers.

Part of the problem is we have new and old science overlapping each other. This is compounded even more with this wonderful thing called the internet. In an afternoon everyone instantly becomes an expert. Thanks to youtube and facebook, you can read for thousands of hours and watch weeks worth of experts. Each one eager to tell the world all of what they know. Unfortunately there is a far cry difference between the understanding one gains from reading and doing. Plus, all to often people are just repeating what they have already heard 100 times. Remember once the world was flat. If enough people say the same thing over. Even if they only think it's true because they hear it all the time. It becomes true.

One thing is true for sure. There are many different ways to make great mead. I would suggest stay away from everyone on youtube and facebook. At least for a while, until you understand enough to decipher through the bull shit. The guys down at the home brew shop more likely than not, aren't really mazers. (remember, making a mead or 3 does not make one a mazer) and just hang out here and read your ass off. Lurk like a boss. Try to learn on your own. Verify what you think is true. And lastly ask here on the forum after you have did your own homework. Read peoples post that seem like they have an understanding of the bigger picture. Some threads around here are chock full of great information. Not just one liner answers.

bernardsmith
01-30-2017, 10:02 PM
I strongly agree with Squatchy. Moreover, the re-interest in mead was fueled, I think by Papazian when he ignited home brewing (beer) and brewers tended to adopt Papazian's approach to fermentation. Towards the end of each of Papazian's books he has a chapter on mead and makes no distinction between brewing beer and making mead.
Brewers, for good reason, are profoundly anxious about infections - they are after all working with grain and grain is very susceptible to bacterial infections not least because the grains are exposed to cooling from high heat; they aerate before they pitch the yeast; they seal their carboys - they have no reason to degas to remove CO2; they tend not to continuously monitor the fermentation but use time to determine when the active fermentation is over and grain may have enough nutrition for the yeast they use and the ABV they aim for. And most folk who self publish on Youtube and facebook may be expert brewers (or not) but they tend to make mead as if honey is grain

Wynx
02-02-2017, 01:51 AM
Update:
The mead has been progressing pretty well. These are my readings:

Raspberry mead:
1/28/2017: 1.100
1/31/2017: 1.091
2/01/2016 am: 1.081

And theres been a disgusting looking thick layer of foam on top which I've learned to love to see.

But in the last day that foam has been absent. There's still foam but it's more of a beer being poured into a glass foam.
And the SG hasn't changed since this morning at all.

Although I know that's such a short time, I am concerned because from midnight last night to this morning it lowered an entire .01 and now hasn't budged even a .001.
And the foam thing being absent.

The only changes I've made are i got the temperature up from 59 to 64 and have the lid completely sealed now instead of cracked.

The airlock is still showing acitivity though. One bubble about every 5 seconds.

Maybe I'm just being over protective of my batch but I just really want it to work out!

Squatchy
02-02-2017, 11:01 AM
Patience my friend :)

darigoni
02-02-2017, 11:02 AM
Have you been doing any degassing (vigorous stirring)?

Wynx
02-02-2017, 01:47 PM
Okay admittedly I am being over precautious so I apologize for the copious amount of questions. SG today reads 1.074. progress!

2 or 3 times a day I open the bucket, i stir and splash and try to get gasses out, but it is still veerryyy carbonated.

And NOW I have a serious question. This morning, as per usual, I woke up, sprayed my stirrer with easy clean solution, and rinsed with water. then stirred the bucket vigorously.
Did the same to my hydrometer, the container to test the gravity, and the scoop to transfer the liquid to the container. Then I poured it back into the tub.

Well it has just been brought to my attention that overnight a water pipe burst and my area is on a BOIL ORDER! They even closed local schools and the community college nearby. Hospitals aren't doing surgeries, etc.
I used this water to wash off the hydrogen peroxide (I don't have access to a better sanitizer atm. I get paid tomorrow.)
Does anyone think this can be detrimental to my mead?

Squatchy
02-03-2017, 01:53 AM
What were you using hydrogen peroxide for? You will probably be ok. Si your ferment still going strong?