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Johnnybladers
02-13-2006, 09:38 PM
Hi, I'm new to the forum as well as making (or currently attempting to make) mead. I started a batch of semi sweet orange blossom mead (as outlined in The Complete Meadmaker) on 1/17/06. After 2 weeks of minimal lock activity, and a bit of forum reading, I checked SG (from original of 1.120) at 1.100. I added 2tsp yeast energizer and blended. Airlock activity increased from previous high of 10 blips per minute to 37. Almost two weeks later as activity slowed, I rechecked SG at 1.06. Still seemed pretty high so I added a bit of fermaid (I don't know if I'm doing the right thing but it seemed to be the thing to do). Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Jon

WRATHWILDE
02-13-2006, 11:59 PM
JohnnyB,

What yeast did you use and what's the temp in your brew area... both can have an effect on how fast you can expect it to finish. Sounds like its still going so I wouldn't be too concerned at this point.

Wrathwilde

Johnnybladers
02-14-2006, 05:00 PM
Hello Wrathwilde, thanks for the response,
I used ten grams of lalvin 71B-1112, rehydrated for 20 minutes (I started rehydration before checking must temp so I had to wait a little longer than 15 min for must to cool, pitched into app 87 F must) The must was 15 lb orange blossom honey, 4 gal distilled water, 5 grams fermaid-k. O.G. was 1.120 -1.125 app. Plastic fermenter is in the basement at 68-70 F. I did not use bottled O2 (plan to in future for first 72 hours) but I did stir well and used a blender for some of the must. I had a few bubbles after the second morning, but it never got above about 10 blips per minute, hardly the frenzy I was expecting (I never tried this before and don't really know what to expect). After the previously mentioned addition of energizer and the resulting increase in bubbles, the activity slowed to about 4 or 5 bpm so I checked the S.G. expecting to be on the right track only to find that it hadn't dropped that much (now at 1.06 after almost 4 weeks). Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Jon

lostnbronx
02-15-2006, 07:07 PM
JohnnyB,

It may be the water you used. Distilled is actually the poorest choice for mead, because it contains no dissolved minerals of any kind. The yeasties need trace amounts of certain things in order to ferment properly, just as any other organism does. Yeast nutrients do not usually include such minerals, because even tap water contains at least some. The harder the water, the better for the yeast, in fact. You may want to add a pinch (just a smidge, really) of Epsom Salts to the batch -- this has been known to help in cases like this sometimes.

Good luck. :)

-David

Johnnybladers
02-15-2006, 09:49 PM
Hi lostnbronx,
So I was avoiding my own tap water, which is quite hard, thinking distilled was the way to go, only to find it isn't. Guess maybe I was overthinking it. What is the ideal water to use (even if this batch goes south I have a few more in the planning), tap (from a well in my case), bottled spring, etc? I'll try the epsom salts within the next few days. Thanks, Jon

mouko_yamamoto
02-15-2006, 10:05 PM
Some say spring, some say tap. I haven't really noticed a difference, though I'm sure the experienced mazers could tell you there is. However, as long as your tap water doesn't have high amounts of nasty chemicals, say chlorine, you should be fine with that. However, there are some places I'd not use tap water. My old place had water so nasty, I couldn't drink it. Didn't try it in mead, 'cause I figured if I didn't like it straight, I probably wouldn't like it fermented.

lostnbronx
02-16-2006, 12:37 AM
I think Mouko is right about the water -- avoid any overly chlorinated stuff from the tap, and you're fine. Some well water has other problems to consider, such as bacteria and pollutants, but, as a rule of thumb, if the water is safe to drink, it's safe to ferment with.

Please keep us informed of your progress with this. If the Epsom Salts don't help, maybe something else will.

-David

lostnbronx
02-18-2006, 04:32 PM
Hey Johnny,

What's the latest on this? Did the Epsom Salts help? If not, there may be other things to try.

-David

Johnnybladers
02-19-2006, 10:03 PM
I added 1/4 tsp (I wasn't sure how much to add so I started small) Friday at 4 p.m. and swirled the fermenter. Tonight at 8:30 I was only getting about 3 blips per minute from the lock. I have an order for some supplies on the way including PH test strips (the meters look nice but replacing the probe every year at the price of the whole unit griped me) and calcium carbonate in case I have PH issues. I also have more of the original yeast (lalvin 71b-1122) and EC-1118 and was wondering if a large (2 liter) starter or a 2 liter starter put into 1/2 gallon same O.G. allowed to ferment to approximately the current S.G. of the 5 gallon batch would be the thing to do. By the way lostnbronx, I found a thread that you contributed to about water hardness etc: too bad I hadn't found that before I got started, maybe I wouldn't have had the problems. I guess that's the way learning goes. :)
Jon

lostnbronx
02-20-2006, 02:05 PM
Johnny,

Okay, so we can rule out the water. Take a taste of this...1/4 tsp. seems like a lot to me. I mean, maybe not, but a pinch of Epsom Salts means just that...a tiny amount -- only what you can pick up between the very tips of your fingers. Too much salt compunds in a mead can be considered a flaw (though not in a marinade mead, necessarily).

It does seem like P/h is a good issue to look at next. Keep us updated.

-David

Johnnybladers
02-20-2006, 08:40 PM
Hopefully I didn't overdo the epsom salts (I actually tasted it to see what it tasted like before adding any to the must, it's not salty at all. In fact sodium isn't listed as an ingredient at all. ) but I wanted a measurable amount and 1/4 teaspoon was the smallest I had. As far as PH, I won't be able to check it until my order comes in. If PH isn't the issue, any thought on the previously mentioned yeast starter additions?
Jon

Johnnybladers
02-27-2006, 09:12 PM
My order of stuff came in today and I was able to test with P.H. strips. The strip didn't change color at all ( 3.0) so I kept adding calcium carbonate (app. 4 1/2 tsp) until it came up to app 4.0. I was also told to try a warmer location, so I brought it upstairs on Saturday, which didn't seem to make much difference. I'm hoping to see an increase in activity, but I'm concerned that since the yeasties didn't have the P.H. they like they may not come back around. Any thoughts?

Johnnybladers
03-30-2006, 09:44 PM
Here's the updated story. I made a starter (based on Ken Schramm's DME solution, and "doubled" the solution as he outlines) and then added to it a near copy of 1/2 gallon of my original must. After it had begun a healthy fermentation, I added (in steps) 3 cups of the troubled partially fermented must. I used my new handy dandy oxygen system liberally during this whole process. My healthy yeast bomb was then dropped into my very slow batch. A couple of weeks later, the SG had dropped to 1.01 (below the target of 1.02) and I racked into a carboy (my very first 5 gal racking ;D) As to what it may taste like in the future? Guess I'll find out in a year or so. Much thanks to everyone who gave helpful pointers and advice. Lessons learned....don't use distilled water, and check P.H. Thanks again, Jon