View Full Version : first time mead making stuck fermenetion? Help

richard lambert
03-24-2006, 01:33 PM
Hey first time user and first time mead maker. I am having problems with stuck fermentation I am 5 days into it and not much is going on. SG 1.120 temp of the must was 55 f but warm up with a electric blanket to 75. Did not aereate the first two days but am now. My recipe is 21.25 gal of honey local,5 gallons of water 15 tsp of malic acid, 7 tsp of tartaric acid 1.25 tsp of tannin, 4 .5 tsp of energizer 10 camden tablet cush and added 24 hrs, before the yeast and 1 vail of white lab 720. I just read about doing a starter for the yeast? Too late now. Sanitation was impecable and must smells good. Got alot invested and do not want to athrough out this batch. Help!

03-24-2006, 02:08 PM
Now I am making an assumtion here that you mistyped that you used 21.25 lbs of honey not 21.25 gal.

It looks as though you used a liquid culture of yeast (vial). I believe you are supposed to make a starter for the yeast before pitching. What temp was your must when you pitched the yeast? It looks like it was room temp but????

Also, the 21.25lbs of honey might have been a little to much to mix with only 5 gallons. It might have left you with a high initial specific gravity and some yeast have a very hard time with a high SG. I don't know about the white labs 720 yeast though.

I am still pretty new to meadmaking but I thought that 10 campden tablets 24 hrs before you pitch the yeast would prevent the yeast from growing (someone correct me if I am wrong). They are supposed to be approx 1 tablet per 1 gal. If you had 21lbs honey (2gal) and 5 gal h2o there might be 2 extra tablet in there making it a rough environment for the yeast to grow in (I could be totally wrong on this too).

Did you aerate when you first pitched the yeast? If not there might not have been enough oxygen for the yeast initially and they might have died. If they did then aerating now wouldn't help and you might need some new yeast.

Wait for a few more replies before you take this one as fact ::)
Like I said I am a new mead maker too.

03-24-2006, 02:12 PM

WOW, for a 1st time you jumped right in the deep end! I am a newbee also, starting small and working up. But one question I would think you would be asked when the experts get on is: Is it fermenting at all? Also if bubbling in the Airlock? How often are the bubbles? I do know that mead ferments slower than wine.

Have read that Red Star Premier Cuvee yeast is good yeast for stuck fermentation. But wait for the experts on Gotmead. They are very knowledgeable and helpful.

Good Luck,

03-24-2006, 02:24 PM
I hope 21.25 gallons is a typo, although you would rember adding that much honey. That would be 252lbs of honey.

When I first started making mead I followed the old books that have you adding a bunch of acids in the must. What I usually ended up with was a mead trying to taste like a grape wine. I also found that these acids make it a harsh environment for the yeast and I always got really long fermentations. 15tsp of malic acid is to much and 7 tsp of tartaric seems extreme. I stopped using all those food grade acids and I now make my must with just DAP, energizer, and tannin. I think the acids are playing a part with this.

One thing with the campden tablets is, When the must is treated with them it needs some exposure to air so the campden tablets can dissapate. They won't hurt your fermentation but it will hinder it.

I make a starter with all my yeast dry or liquid, its just good practice. I have found that the WLP720 really needs a starter. 5 days with no sign of fermentation maybe you should start thinking about pitching some more yeast. What are you ferementing in a bucket or a carboy? Was it 5 gallons to 21.25lbs or was it 21.25lbs and enough water to make 5 gallons. either way the SG sounds a little low for that much honey.
and defenitily watch those temps. I have to move anything fermenting upstairs during the winter. My basement holds a steady 55 degrees, good for aging not so good for fermentation.
Hope this helps.

03-24-2006, 07:30 PM
Kace is on the right track. Check your pH and buffer to 3.7 - 4.2 and you should be OK. Acid additions up front are not necessary in the majority of cases. There are exceptions, but in this case no need for up front acid.

The WLP720 will only go to 15% ABV so if you repitch I'd avise going with K1-V1116 rather than a Champagne yeast. It will produce less sulfites, and will not impart a bitter sensory flavor, although your acid is already doing that.



richard lambert
03-24-2006, 10:23 PM
thanks for your advise. I live in an area where there are no brewing store. I don't have anything to test PH. Where might get a kit. How do lower the Ph? Where do I find k1-1116? By the way it is 21,5 pounds of honey.

03-25-2006, 01:39 AM
There are plenty of Brewshops on line for you to choose from.

I use:


if you don't find anything there you can try


There are others as well.

for my mead needs.

In what geographic area do you reside? There may be a store close to you with your knowing about it.

You buffer pH with K carbonate to bring the acid into a more friendly range for the yeast to have a healthy fermentation. You measure the pH with either litmus paper in an pH test kit, or with a digital pH meter that you can get in an aquarium/tropical fish supply store.

Hope that helps,


Dan McFeeley
03-25-2006, 11:33 AM
Hello Richard -- welcome to the forums!

Just to add a little background to the discussion on acid additives and pH, although many old time recipes for mead recommended adding various acids to the honey must, even saying that yeasts needed the acid in order to aid the fermentation, it has been found that this isn't true at all.

That's your basic relationship between pH and acidity. High acidity means low pH, and vice versa.

Yeasts have evolved in various ways to compete with other microorganisms. One method is the secretion of organic acids, which they manufacture as byproducts of their metabolic cycles. The secretion of organic acids by the yeasts lowers the pH of the surrounding milieu, i.e., the honey must, which in turn inhibits the growth of bacteria. This helps the yeasts to dominate the micro environment.

Adding additional acid, as is recommended in old time mead recipes, has the effect of lowering the pH even further, lower than pH levels that encourage healthy growth in yeasts. The yeasts can't adjust to the changing pH since the secretion of organic acids is part of their metabolism. It's kind of like stopping breathing. So, they go on secreting acids in a pH that is already too low, the fermentation slows and becomes sluggish, or may even cease altogether.

Hope that clarifies things a bit more.