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Thread: Dead Mead?

  1. Default Dead Mead?

    I am attempting to make my first 1 Gallon batch, but I cannot get it to ferment. Here is my recipe:
    3 1/4 lbs Unfiltered honey
    7 pts water
    3 tsp Malic acid
    1 1/2 tsp Tartaric acid
    1 1/4 tsp Tannin
    3/4 tsp Energizer
    2 Campden tablets, crushed
    1 packet of Lavin D47

    I pitched the yeast after it sat in 90 degree boiled water for 15 min. The mix was at about 75 degrees. After 24 hours of no activity, I added another packet of D47 prepared the same way. After another 24 hours of no activity, I opened the primary and gave it a good stur with a sanitised wort spoon. I am using a two gallon plastic primary with a good tight seal and airlock. Today the Gravity reading was 1.112 (I hope I read that right) I don't have alot invested in this batch, but it would be nice to save it. Thanx



  2. #2

    Default Re: Dead Mead?

    Unclefrank1,

    First off, welcome to the Forums!

    Did you check the pH of your must? All that acid up front could cause a crash, or even a failed start. By and large, mead does not need acid adjusting in primary, and, in fact, can be prone to pH crashing because of it. I've found it better to wait until the end, after all fermentation is done, and adjust for flavor.

    -David

  3. #3

    Default Re: Dead Mead?

    The Campden Tablets are probably part of the problem as well, as I recall the correct dosage is 1 tablet per gallon, and you have double that. Also LostnBronx brings up a good point about the pH.
    Campden tablets are not needed in mead making and acid additions are more often used (to taste) at the end of fermentation. Probably the best thing to do would be to make a starter with a small bottle of 100% pure Apple juice (no additives), and let that go for a day or two before adding the starter to your mead, the yeast at that point should be more than enough to overcome your problems.
    Also, did you oxygenate your must? Lack of oxygen can be a big factor as well, especially if the must was boiled.

    Hope that helps,
    Wrathwilde

  4. Default Re: Dead Mead?

    Thank you for the advice Gents. I got the recipe from a small wine guide I got at my homebrew store. I really don't know much about the acid and Campden tablets. I will take your advise about the starter. Is the yeast I pitched already dead? I did oxygenate the must. Thanx again.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Dead Mead?

    The additions of all that acid will slow fermentation down and make it difficult for the yeast to work. Been there done that.
    After adding the campden tablets to the must it needs to be exposed to oxygen for it to dissapate.

    I would make another gallon of mead and then blend the two of these together and pitch yeast.

  6. Default Re: Dead Mead?

    Thank you for all the help. This is a great forum. I think I'm going to just pitch this batch and start over. I will still use the same recipe, but go down to one Campton tablet, and exclude the acid. Should I use any acid at all after fermentation? How will acid change the tast of the Mead? Thanx all.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    4,958

    Default Re: Dead Mead?

    If you are going to use Campden tablets again, remember to wait (usually a day) before pitching the yeast. Campden is sulfites, and sulfites are toxic to yeast and other microorganisms (hence their use to kill off any native organisms in your must). After a day, the sulfite level should be low enough for your yeast to survive.

    Unless you think you have a large native yeast population or think you have a lot of bacterial contamination (you shouldn't if you sanitized at all), using sulfites when mixing up the must should be unnecessary. The 100 billion yeast cells you add should more than overwhelm anything that's unlucky enough to be in the must. Most wine yeasts produce some amount of sulfites during fermentation to make sure they're the only thing alive in there.

    Acid will change the taste of the mead. In my experience, acid plays a counterpoint to sugar in pretty much anything you eat or drink. Think about tomato sauce: if you have really acidic tomatos, you add sugar to decrease the bite of the sauce. The converse is also true. If your sauce, mead, whatever is too sweet, you can add acid to balance the flavor. High acid content also contributes a "liveliness" to wine and mead. If there is too little acid, your mead may taste "flabby" or "dull". Acid gives it a bite. Too much acid though, and then it tastes like acid: sharp and harsh.

    If you want to add acid, wait until the mead is done fermenting (so the sugar content is stable) and add to taste. Take a measured sample and add measured amounts of acid until you like the taste. Then add a proportional amount to the whole batch.

    Good luck!
    Want to see something added to the GotMead Glossary? PM me! Didn't know we had a glossary? Check the top row of links.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Dead Mead?

    I agree not to bother doing anything to the must but mixing it up and pitching yeast. There are hundreds of people here that will agree. As long as you pratice good sanitation you will be fine.
    When I first started making mead I added all the acids to the must just like th old books said. I was never happy with the results. I didn't even really understand why I was doing it or what flavors that they imparted. So one day I dipped my finger in everyone of the acids I had on hand and gave it a taste. I then knew exactly what they were doing to my mead and had a much better idea of how they should be used. IMHO not at all. I think this is the best approach for a newbee. Taste your acids and you will have a much better idea of how they should be used to get the end product you want.

    I made lots of one gallon batches and experimented with different acids and amounts. 1 gallons are a pain to make but it is a cheap way to experiment.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Dead Mead?

    Quote Originally Posted by unclefrank1
    I will still use the same recipe, but go down to one Campden tablet, and exclude the acid.
    Any particular reason you feel the need to add the Campden tablet? It's really not needed with Mead, it would be different if you were adding a bunch of fresh fruit to the must, but since your not, my advice is to skip it. Sulfites are a common addition in Older mead recipes, mainly because the originators of the recipes were coming from a wine background, where the grapes and fruits were likely to introduce spoilage organisms, honey is not... many here, myself included, don't even boil our must as it tends to deplete a lot of the subtle flavors and aromas. Honey is a hostile environment to yeast and bacteria until it's been sufficiently diluted, and a standard pitching of yeast is enough to out compete most anything you're likely to come up against in the honey. Just make sure all of your equipment is sanitized and you'll be fine.

    Hope that helps,
    Wrathwilde

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Dead Mead?

    I'm just echoing what Wrathwilde had to say about sulfite additions up front along with acid additions. In my experience it's not necessary to add sulfites or acid up front to mead. I use the no-heat method with much of my mead and especially cysers, melomels and sack meads. I do pasteurize in some cases where I have a specific recipe that I like and I use the same process to be consistant.

    On the whole wine yeast will very easily out compete most spoilage organisms. As WW mentioned below (my settings are toggled to stack the most recent post at the top of the page) wine yeast are pretty aggressive fermenters, and there are several strains that produce a mitochondrial protien which passes out of the yeast cell and disrupts the metabolism of other yeasts. This is termed a "competitive factor" and as you cruise throughout the forums here you'll see more information posted on the subject.

    Just remember that sanitation is key and getting your process down to a routine will ensure that you are able to repeat your results when you find a mead you like.

    Cheers,

    Oskaar
    Is it tasty . . . precious?

  11. Default Re: Dead Mead?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oskaar
    I do pasteurize in some cases where I have a specific recipe that I like and I use the same process to be consistant.
    Sorry for hijacking this thread with a rider, but would you please elaborate on how pasteurizing helps to promote constancy? Also, if you believe that you produce more consistent results by pasteurizing, why do you not always pasteurize? I would almost always choose a slightly more predictable outcome to, for example, a reduction in flavoring agents.

    Cheers,
    mmi

  12. Default Re: Dead Mead?

    This place is fantastic. After a disapointing first experiment, I am fired up again. I'm glad I only messed up a gallon. I have been reading other threads where people have trashed 5 gallon first batches.

  13. #13
    Join Date
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    1,867

    Default Re: Dead Mead?

    I'd highly recommend that you do a batch of Joe's Ancient Orange to get your brewing legs under you...

    It's foolproof and will give you an idea of how decent mead can be achieved without a lot of special treatment or chemicals...

    Good luck,
    Pewter

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Dead Mead?

    Quote Originally Posted by mminuet
    Quote Originally Posted by Oskaar
    I do pasteurize in some cases where I have a specific recipe that I like and I use the same process to be consistant.
    Sorry for hijacking this thread with a rider, but would you please elaborate on how pasteurizing helps to promote constancy? Also, if you believe that you produce more consistent results by pasteurizing, why do you not always pasteurize? I would almost always choose a slightly more predictable outcome to, for example, a reduction in flavoring agents.

    Cheers,
    mmi
    Hey Mimi,

    I use pasteurization when I make a recipe that my friends like which does not have a strong honey flavor and aroma. I like it too, but they keep requesting this mead because the honey flavor and aroma are cooked down during the pasteurization process (160 degrees F for 15 minutes). It is still a very nice mead, and drinks well, but I prefer the fuller more aromatic character and flavor of no-heat meads.

    As to consistancy, this recipe is one that I started making back in the late 70's to early 80's with a white sauterne wine yeast. I started making it when I was heavily into all grain brewing and I had my 3 vessel brew system set up and in full blown operation. At that time I thought pasteurizing was the way to go because I was looking at mead from a brewers perspective, now I approach it more from a winemaker's perspective and I like what I make much better.

    Hope that helps,

    Oskaar
    Is it tasty . . . precious?

  15. Default Re: Dead Mead?

    Hopefully you haven't pitched this batch.

    I had one that gave me problems. If it were me, I would adjust the ph of Batch 1 (check the ph using ph strips or a ph meter).

    Next, I would make a larger batch (Batch 2) and get it fermenting. When it is going good and strong, then add a portion of batch 2 to Batch 1.

  16. Default Re: Dead Mead?

    I have fermentation! I went to trash the mead this morning, and found it bubbling! I cracked it open and gave it a good stir to add some oxygen. I guess it took some time for the yeast to overcome all the acid and Compton tablets. Lesson leaned. Do you'all think I should add another dose of yeast food?

  17. Default Re: Dead Mead?

    Patience Grasshopper... See how active your airlock is over a day, if it was slow to start, it may take a bit of time to get rolling.


    Tsuchi

  18. Default Re: Dead Mead?

    Congrats! I'm glad you didn't throw it out.

    Cheers!

  19. #19

    Default Re: Dead Mead?

    How active is the fermentation (bubbles per second, etc.)? The sulfites and the acid may have greatly reduced your yeast population to start, which will put a cap on how active things can get. It won't hurt to add more yeast now, I don't think, whether it turns out that it's vital or not. But yeah, watch it for a day or three, and see how vigorous things are.

    -David

  20. Default Re: Dead Mead?

    I was getting a bubble per second when I left for work this afternoon. I will check it when I get home. I have a package of Laven D-47 in reserve if needed.

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