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bobbyzahn
01-21-2006, 01:38 AM
Long story short, decided to dive into wine/mead making over two years ago, bought far too much stuff and it sat around in the basement for a couple years. I've been meaning to make mead for the last year (I've even bought two cases of honey that day one year ago). Unfortunately I don't have a lot of time at the moment so decided to make some cider mead. Nothing but 6 gallons of pure apple juice and 20 pounds of honey. I made the mixture in a big plastic bucket sold for this purpose. I then prepared the yeast by letting it soak in some warm water for fifteen minutes, afterwards I poured it into the bucket and stirred. Nothing happened. No bubbles. Well, maybe a few, but not what i was expecting. Waited 3 days, repeated with new yeast. Nothing. Shouldn't I see rapid bubbling or no?
I couple days prior i mixed some honey /water / apple juice together and mixed in some yeast the same way as above. it bubbled. two days later when there were no bubbles I ended up putting it in a gallon jug with airlock. It's still bubbling and gas still escaping through the airlock. (i believe it's working the way the mead gods intended)
Shouldn't the cidermead be doing something or would it not be as obvious?

any help is greatly appreciated.

bob zahn

Oskaar
01-21-2006, 02:06 AM
Hi BobbyZ,

Welcome to gotmead.com!

What you're making is called Cyser, and it looks pretty hefty from what I can gather.

Can you post your exact recipe with exact ingredients, including yeast type, cider maker and if it was sorbated or not, etc. and please post in format below:

X gallons apple juice
X lbs honey (indicate the type of honey)
X grams of yeaast (indicate yeast manufacturer and yeast strain)

If you can give us this information it will help us help you.

Also, is this bucket covered with an airlock, and did you pour the jug back into it.

Cheers,

Oskaar

Brewbear
01-21-2006, 02:50 AM
Welcome tothe forums ;D
Based on the minimal data provided your must has a OG = 1.157 and a PABV = 21% Those are some big numbers for any brew.
With out any more details it would be a fair assumption that your yeasties were overwhelmed. Generally I pitch a large starter in musts with SG greater than 1.125, give the yeasties a head start.
Please post more detais so we can better help you.

Cheers,
Brewbear

bobbyzahn
01-21-2006, 03:15 PM
and for the specifics....
5 gallons cider
roughly 14.7 pounds honey (clover)
Red star champagne yeast hydrated in water, soaked for 15 minutes then stirred in.
Bucket was covered with a cheescloth to prevent animals from drowning.
very few bubbles. then they went away.

two days later i seperated 3 gallons of the mixture, leaving two gallons in the bucket and reyeasted. twice as many bubbles but not too many. I was under the impression that the yeast likes open air for 72 hours then the airlock is added a carboy with the mixture.

For some reason I was thinking there would be a million bubbles and foam on top. Am I wrong? Should I go ahead and stick it in a carboy?

I have a six gallon carboy and was planning on adding more honey/cider to it, keeping it full.

Thanks for the quick reply (and patience of course).
bob z

Lugh
01-21-2006, 04:15 PM
Hopefully Oskaar will jump back in soon and provide wisdom, but here's a thought on "a million bubbles":

Activity depends on a number of factors. Top on the list is Nutrient level, Oxygen and Temp.

Red Star likes 59-86 degrees F. At the high end you'll get lots of up front activity. If you are closer to 59-60 degrees, activity will be slow.

Did you aerate the must? During/after mixing the honey and cider, you should have mixed in air/oxygen for 5 to 10 minutes. The yeasties really need a lot at the start to reproduce. Some people use a air stone and pure oxygen for a few minutes. Your open vessel method using cloth over the bucket allows more air in than a closed system with an airlock, but the must still needs oxygen loaded up front.

Nutrient level - Yeast needs lot nitrogen, light honey has very little. Usually it's a good idea to add yeast hulls, DAP, and/or Fermaid to the mix to provide needed nitrogen. If you are into no chemical brews, you can add chopped up golden raisins.

Also another thought - preservatives in the cider? Was it 100% raw, did it have Asorbic Acid (which is ok), or did it have nasty Sorbates? Sorbates are used to stablilize and prevent yeast from working and can affect future fermentations.

bobbyzahn
01-21-2006, 09:08 PM
I have a packet of yeast energizer and a packet of yeast nutrients. Will this help? I am very tempted to start pouring stuff in. I'm getting raisins in an hour and will drown them asap.

I did want a high alcohol content in the finished product and was planning on adding a little bit more juice/honey durring fermentation.

thanks again for the advice.

bob z

Lugh
01-21-2006, 09:51 PM
Yeast nutrient couldn't hurt. Prolly a little late for yeast energizer. Make sure you don't put too much nutrient in as it can add unwanted flavor. 1 teaspoon is plenty for a 5 gallon batch.

mouko_yamamoto
01-21-2006, 09:56 PM
Really? I didn't know that. I put 1/2 tsp in my 1 gallon batch, but that was at the beginning, and what the instructions said to do.

Lugh
01-22-2006, 12:50 AM
I'm always of the mind that "less is more" when it comes to chemicals in the mead. I love Go-Ferm and Fermaid, but too many chemicals will impart chemical flavors. Common "yeast nutrient" is di-ammonium phosphate or urea and ammonium phosphate. You want to use as little as possible of these. 1/4 teaspoon per one gallon is what I believe the recommend dose is. Wyeast makes a complex yeast nutirent, and their recommended dose is 1/2 teaspoon per 5 gallons. Fermaid is 10 grams per 5 gallons - a one gallon mead might use 2 grams which is about 1/2 teaspoon.

So it really depends on exactly what you are using. If the directions called for 1/2 teaspoon and you used exactly what was called for, you're ok. If you used Wyeast's mix, it was probably overkill.

Oskaar
01-22-2006, 04:51 AM
Most companies now do not use UREA in their nutrients. Not a good chemical to have in your mead.

OK, Bobby, can you tell me exactly what kind of cider you used, that is, brand name, ingredients, etc. It sounds to me like you have K sorbate in the cider since your yeast isn't taking off, especially after re-pitching. Please take a look at the label and post the exact ingredients. It makes a big difference between a successful easy fermenation and an unsuccessful pain in the ass fermentation. Sorbate is used to prevent re-fermentation, it basically disables yeast from reproducing.

I'm gathering that you're saying there is no foam on top of the cyser must? There should be foam, especially with the Pasteur Champagne yeast, it's a fairly agressive yeast. If it is not working then there is something very wrong.

Let us know about the apple juice right away.

Cheers,

Oskaar

bobbyzahn
01-22-2006, 01:16 PM
Brand: 365 Organic Applie Juice (Whole Foods store brand)
"fresh pressed, not from concentrate-pasteurized"
Ingredients: pasteurized, unfiltered juice from select, organic apples.

If you are unfamiliar with Whole Foods marktet, they are the first organic grocer, and the largest to date. My girlfriend also works there so I got an employee discount along with a case discount (25-28%). I'm praying it's not the juice, mainly due to the fact that I don't think I could drink the remaining 7 gallons.

bob z

bobbyzahn
01-22-2006, 01:35 PM
well, thank you all very very much. When I found this board long long ago I always knew it would come to some kind of good....
Last night I racked the mixture into a carboy while using an air stone for extra air. I stuck the airlock on and went out. This morning it had a few bubbles but not too many. I assumed it was dead.
Then about ten minutes ago I chopped up some raisins and tossed them in for luck....more bubbles...added more raisins....more bubbles. Then added some brewers yeast from Whole Foods and a tad of yeast nutrient. Within moments it had bubbled over the top consistanty for about eight minutes.
I believe it's safe to assume it's working?

bob z

Oskaar
01-22-2006, 02:12 PM
I hope that it's working for you now. It seems so. So your bucket was covered with a sanitizied cloth before, rather than a lid with an airlock in place? If there was no foaming then it was just starting slow it seems. But that brewer's yeast may have also provided some nutrient for the yeasties that were there, as well as kicking into gear themselves.

Anyhow, keep an eye on it and keep it as close to 65 - 70 degrees as you can and we'll see how it turns out.

Best of luck,

Oskaar

Pewter_of_Deodar
01-23-2006, 03:49 PM
So far, raw apple juice is the best fermenter I have experienced so it amazes me you were having troubles. I would suggest next time that you warm some apple juice and use that for your starter. Let the yeast have a couple hours headstart in that before pitching them into the high SG must. Sounds like things are going well now...

Good luck,
Pewter

byathread
01-26-2006, 03:34 PM
So far, raw apple juice is the best fermenter I have experienced so it amazes me you were having troubles.


The juice he used is pasteurized. I wish I could get raw, fresh pressed apples down here but use Whole Foods or other bottled organic juices instead. Oh well, I get great citrus instead.

Glad to hear your mead is going gangbusters now!