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Talon
08-05-2004, 06:25 PM
Here's something of interest that might be kind of funny to read;
I've a lemon melomel and a tupelo sweet mead that are both sitting in the carboy, happilly topped with an air lock. The interresting part is that I can see bubbles forming and rising to the top, especially when racking, it bubbles like champagne... The really interresting part is that the airlock is not popped and letting the CO2 out. It's like there's nothing happening to them and they've fermented out. On a side note, I've added grape tannins to try to help clear them out and on the sweet tupelo, it worked to a degree, but not much. So, I'm thinking the tannins will add some complexity to the mead.

Now, any ideas what might be causing this or why this may be happening? I've not any clue.

I thought it might be a stuck fermentation, but that shouldn't be the case as it's carbonating even after racking, so that shows me that the yeast is still active. Just for a quick check, I've a 1 gallon that's half tupelo, half orange blossom that's doing the same thing. I added a 1/4 tsp of yeast nutrient and the thing just bubbled up an had a head like a good beer. I tried it on the 1 gallon as I won't be too upset if something happens to it vs the other 2...

I'm going to my homebrew store in Orlando to pick up some bottling supplies tonight and will be picking up some yeasts, finning agents and of course bottles. So, hopefully I'll have everything I need should you guys recommend something I might need.

Jmattioli
08-05-2004, 08:11 PM
DId you take a SG reading? Get a gauge at the Orlando store if you don't have one. Also sounds to me like it is laboring very slowly. Tell us what kind of yeast you are using and how much lemon in the lemon melomel. Possibly it is too acidic and is laboring ever so slowly. Get some PH strips at the store also. If your SG reading tells you it is definely not near done then I think your PH may be the problem. It is hard to say without knowing your exact recipe and yeast used and temperature and conditions where it is fermenting.
More data please. And what does it mean the airlock is not popped? Are you using a water S trap airlock or something different?
Joe

Talon
08-05-2004, 10:50 PM
Unfortunately, no, I didn't have a hydrometer at the time when I pitched the original yeast. I'll have to get that reading tonight... Depends on how crazy it is when I get home...
They are all fermenting in 78 degrees, airconditioned in a nice, dark corner of my kitchen with almost no light getting to them.

For the sweet mead, all it was, was a gallon of tupelo to water, with 4 tbs acid blend, 6tsp yeast nutrient, 2tsp citric acid. 1 tsp irish moss. I used Cote des blancs, Red Star yeast.

This is the original recipe for the lemonade mead:
Ingredients: (1 gallon)
1.2 L lemon juice (43 fl oz)
900g mixed honey (2 lb)
1tsp Yeast nutrient
15g acid blend (0.5oz.)
Red Star Premier Cuvvee.
I made 2 1-gallon batches. I believed I'd made a mistake as it was too lemon flavored and bitter at 3 months. So, I combined the 2 gallons with 3 gallons of water/honey mixture with no additional additives. The yeast originally took off like a rocket and fermented quite well.

As for the air lock being popped, what I mean is that the float of my 3 piece airlock hasn't risen to the top and bubbles aren't coming out of it. The float is sitting so that the inside top of it is sitting on the central stem.

I will be sure to pick up some ph strips today while I'm there.

Thanks,
Talon.

Norskersword
08-05-2004, 11:03 PM
I've noticed alot of people like to add some acid to their batches, but how does this benefit? I do know that alot of acid is a bad thing, since it is often the cause of of slow/stuck fermentation, but if there is so much risk involved, to what great benefit is it worth the risk? ???

Sorry, I'm not contradicting you, I'm just trying to fill some gaps in my limited knowledge. ;)

Talon
08-05-2004, 11:08 PM
It is used to help counteract some of the sweetness in the mead if it's too sweet.

Norskersword
08-05-2004, 11:31 PM
Oh I see. I guess a lemonade mead could potentially be the sweetest mead on earth! To me the sweetest alcoholic beverage has always been "Smirnoff Ice" (like hard lemonade) which is sickeningly sweet.

Some people consider Chaucer's to be a Dessert Mead, which is classified as sweeter than a sweet mead, and complain about the sweetness. I don't think it is sweet at all compared to that Smirnoff Ice stuff. When I first had Chaucers I was thinking "This is sweet??"

A lemonade mead must be a real challenge with balancing acidity. I salute you. Let us know how it turns out! ;D

Talon
08-06-2004, 06:33 AM
Okay, the PH for the sweet tupelo is 3.6 and the PH for the lemon mel is less than 2.8 as that's the lowest color on the scale for the litmus paper.

Going to run to my friend's house and grab my wine thief so I can take a hydrometer reading...

Talon.

Talon
08-06-2004, 08:36 AM
Just on a whim, I re-tested the sweet tupelo and it is also less than 2.8. I had accidentally gotten some bubbles on it from the renewed fermentation that's started in it all of a sudden. So, I'm going to leave that one alone.

Any suggestions with the lemon melomel?

Haven't gotten my hydrometer in there yet as I've not gotten my wine thief. Will keep you posted on it.

Jmattioli
08-06-2004, 09:29 AM
Definitly way too much acid. Your recipe has way too much acid for a fast complete fermentation. It was done that way in the old days of meadmaking especially in England but it took forever to ferment and even longer to age. Most honey needs no or little acid to be in the PH range for good fermentation. As it ferments, the process causes it to become more acidic naturally. I would recommend you add acid at the finish to taste for the balance you like. It helps to counteract a cloying sweet mead with a pleasant tartness.
Joe

Talon
08-06-2004, 09:33 AM
So, to counteract the acid, use some calcium carbonate/baking soda? And just so I know, what acidity am I looking to bring it down to?

Thanks,
Talon.

Jmattioli
08-06-2004, 10:42 AM
So, to counteract the acid, use some calcium carbonate/baking soda? And just so I know, what acidity am I looking to bring it down to?

Thanks,
Talon.
You want to bring up the PH making it less acidic. A PH of 3.7 to 4.6 has been recommended by a scientific study by Morse and Steinkraus for optimum fermentation. However if you can get it anywhere above 3.5 it should be okay for this stage. You have to be very careful with calcium carbonate as too much will leave a taste in your mead. There are usually warnings with it on how much to use as it can produce a chalky taste. Add 1/2t at a time and stir then test and repeat as necessary.

SteveT
08-07-2004, 11:32 PM
You want to bring up the PH making it less acidic. A PH of 3.7 to 4.6 has been recommended by a scientific study by Morse and Steinkraus for optimum fermentation. However if you can get it anywhere above 3.5 it should be okay for this stage. You have to be very careful with calcium carbonate as too much will leave a taste in your mead. There are usually warnings with it on how much to use as it can produce a chalky taste. Add 1/2t at a time and stir then test and repeat as necessary.

I recently learned that K Carbonate is available as an acid reducer, with none of the potentially chalky taste of Ca Carbonate...

Talon
08-22-2004, 08:11 PM
Okay, I added some baking soda to my lemon mel and my "oops" meth.
I started with the 1 gallon meth. I added half a teaspoon to it and it did a little bubble bit and then simmered down. It rose from a 3.2 to a 4.2 with little bubbling once the baking soda hit the bottom.

Now, since I figured it wasn't a violent reaction with the "oops" meth, and since it was a 5 gallon batch, one teaspoon would work in raising the PH a bit before I measure again without too much reaction... Leaving it on the carpet where it had been for the last 3 months, I pull off the airlock and dump a teaspoon of baking soda in... Pop the airlock back on and sit back. Before the baking soda had fallen half way to the bottom, a sudden fizz starts to form... It fizzes and bubbles soo well that it bubbles through the airlock and sprays alcohol through the holes until the pressure is soo great that the airlock and stopper go flying!

After exclaiming a holy exlitive, I try to cap the thing with my hand as I pick up the slippery mess off the carpet. Trudging the 7 feet to the kitchen sink as the foam sprays from under my hand like a fire extinguisher, I make it to the sink and place it down as the foam overruns the carboy. My wife hands me the mop and tells me to clean up the mess while I wait for the foam to go down...

So, after cleaning the mess up, I re-measured the PH. It said it was something like 3.4/3.2... Kinda in the middle. So, I add another teaspoon to the mead and let it do it's thing, safely in the kitchen sink...

After this second eruption, my wife threatened to ground me and take away my baking soda and teaspoon. I forewent the second PH measurement as I believed it prudent action to clean up my carboy and get things back to order as dinner was ready and I wasn't going to further annoy the lady of the house with any more mead messes. (I had already made my passion fruit mead earlier. Actually it's for her since she loves passion fruits.)

So, in conclusion, if you get the bright idea, even though you've tried an experiment to see how it would react, when trying to ballance out the PH of a batch, put it in your sink!

Jmattioli
08-22-2004, 08:44 PM
Thanks for sharing your experience in the post Talon. You might have saved someone else from a similiar experience. Also as a general rule it is good to remember when you use Citris fruit or Citris juice in a recipe, it already contains acid and therefor there is no need for acid blend in the recipe. Unfortunately there are a lot of recipes floating around out there that someone has added an ingredient to such as lemon juice but left in the acid blend that probably would have been okay if the juice wasn't added. Its the same with other fruits like Apples which contains quite a bit of Malic acid and therefore would not require any additional acid at the start or finish to balance the must or taste.
Joe

Talon
08-22-2004, 11:47 PM
The only one I added citric acid in was the 6 gallons of sweet mead. The lemon mel had more than enough from the fruit alone so none was added and the oops mead didn't have any added at all, unless there's some in the rind of the orange that I used.

The sweet tupelo is now madly bubbling away and continuing fermentation without modification to it at all. So, I'm going to let that one sit as it is...

I can't wait to check on the others to see how they've turned out after adding the baking soda and 24 hours later.

Talon.

Jmattioli
08-23-2004, 01:24 AM
Talon Aug 6th wrote
(snip)This is the original recipe for the lemonade mead:
Ingredients: (1 gallon)
1.2 L lemon juice (43 fl oz)
900g mixed honey (2 lb)
1tsp Yeast nutrient
15g acid blend (0.5oz.)
Red Star Premier Cuvvee.

This is where I got the data for my last comment. The recipe had about 3t of Acid blend (15g) which usually includes all 3 acids (Malic, Tartaric, and Citric) in addition to the 43 oz of lemon juice.
Joe

Talon
08-23-2004, 02:24 AM
I stand corrected. I was working from memory and didn't recall using acid blend. Sorry. I should have re-read what I posted. And after double checking my notes on those batches, I did indeed add it according to the recipe.

Oskaar
08-23-2004, 06:32 AM
Can someone give me a good description of what Tupelo honey tastes like please? I'm considering buying about 36 pounds to make a batch of sweet show mead, and would like an idea of what someone who has worked with it, and made a couple of batches from it relate their insights.

adTHANKSvance,

Oskaar

ScottS
08-23-2004, 06:31 PM
I bought some from the health food store recently, just to taste it. I have never made mead with it. My first impression was that it is way sweet without too much flavor. Like cheap clover honey, but not quite as bland. No where near as good as my local wildflower honey. I have no intention of making mead with it.

I do know some commerical meadmakers who swear that it makes the best mead. I take their advice with a grain of salt, as they went out of business in a year. :)

Talon
08-23-2004, 07:55 PM
It makes a great sweetner without too much taste and won't crystalize as fast as the other honeys. It is usually the most common honey that you'll find on the tables at restaurants, the other being clover. When mixed with other honeys for the short meads that my wife makes, it adds some complexity to the mead. I've not taken a nip of my sweet tupelo mead yet, but when it's ready for a good taste, I'll take a nip and give you my notes as to how it turned out.

Talon.