The following was my recipe:
5.75 gallons water
11# fireweed honey
5# pure agave syrup
1 WYEAST DRY MEAD YEAST
So my mead fermentation slowed down to one airlock bubble every 15 seconds after about 8-9 days. I raised the temperature from 72 F to 77 F and added copious amount of yeast energizer (DAP+B12). Not seeing results immediately, I went and bought an EC-1118. I started this starter yesterday afternoon and now, about 6-8 hours before I am ready to pitch the healthy yeast into the must, the airlock has increased in speed to 1 bubble every 4 seconds !
sidenote: It is possible that a minute amount of EC-1118 yeast starter may have gotten into the main must when dipping the emptied starter container into the mainbucket to attain more must to add to the starter solution.
Currently, the must is at 1.070
To add or not to add the EC-1118 is my question ?
I need to evaluate the following:
1. Has the Wyeast yeast now consumed all the additional nutrients and oxygen and become the dominant yeast that EC-1118 will not have an affect, or become yeast stressed and produce off flavors. Moreover, are there any ill effects of introducing the EC-1118 to an active must with Wyeast yeast ?
2. Since I may not need it, how would the EC-1118 affect my mead character ? From what I understand, the EC-1118 is neutral in character and the Wyeast has taken it down to 1.070 from 1.110 and still going, so it will have the Wyeast character. But will the EC-1118 really dry the mead to an undesirable extent compared to the wyeast. I like just a wee bit of sweet, and the EC-1118 seems to have a reputation of being very dry.
3. Should I add more nutrient ? Should I assume that since I added a full 2.5 oz before that there is a bunch left for the new yeast ? Is there a danger in having too much nutrient at the stage in fermentation this is at ?
I'm back to 1 bubble every 13 seconds. Not sure why it temporarily sped up. Maybe it was the way I snapped the lid back on the bucket - there was a slow volumetric contraction perhaps.
Anyway, I am adding the EC-1118 now, as I believe I am still stuck. I also think that EC-1118 and Wyeast Dry may be very comparable in dryness anyway.
But I am still at a loss over whether or not I have an overabundance of nutrient or not enough. I've added a bunch, but has it been consumed
Do a forum search on 'leaky bucket' it might help Suffice to say that airlock activity is not a reliable way to followup the mead fermentation.
When the yeasties are short on nutrients, you'll get a sulfur smell. If you have no weird smells, a gentle sizzle/sparkle on the surface on the mead, and a regularly decreasing SG you're good.
I had a leaky bucket for a while, too. Just pop the lid of and listen for the hiss of the yeast doing there job. If you hear the fermentation still going,try this, take some tap water and wet the rubber ring inside your top and snapping it back into place. This will create a temporary seal so you can tell if the lid seal is bad. ie. if it starts bubbling then the seal is bad, if not then you may have a potential problem.
If I was a mead what flavor would I be?
So the fermentation is just sputtering along. By sputtering along, I mean a drop in gravity from 1070 to 1058 in about ten days. This was using a starter solution made of EC-1118. Now, to be honest, I made this starter hastily - namely I ramped it up too fast, so I don't think it was as healthy as it could have been.
So now I am preparing another starter using EC-1118/
1. Am I over-doing it ? Is it better to live with a fermentation proceeding at a snail's pace ? Or is it better to try and jump start it again ?
2. Am I screwing myself by using the same yeast for my second starter as my first ?
Yo momma, you say patience is rewarding. But inaction can be devastating too, no ?
Cheers everyone !
What is the temp of the mead now during fermentation?
Process -- Process -- Process.
As Oskaar is fond of saying, we need the process details. Not just a partially complete recipe, but the whole shebang. For example, "copious amounts" of yeast nutrient isn't quantitative enough for us to determine if you need more, especially since we don't even know the ratio of DAP to B12 in this nutrient. BTW - Generic nutrients often don't supply all the things that yeast need to work well in a pure honey must. That's true for honey/agave mixtures as well. Sure, ammonia salts nitrogen is needed, but so is amino nitrogen later in the fermentation, and there's nothing in your generic nutrient to provide that. When not provided with all the nutrients essential for a healthy fermentation, mead musts will ferment at a glacial pace.
From my quick assessment of your recipe (and assuming you actually meant 5.75 gallons of water were added, not that you added water to a net 5.75 gallon volume), your starting gravity was somewhere around 1.080. That's pretty light for a mead must, and should have fermented fully dry in on the order of a week or so if all other things were done right.
So, I suspect there is something fundamental in your process that severely compromises your yeast. We can only speculate at this point, until we know more about exactly what you did.
Temperature is roughly 22 C (68 F)
5.75 gal was the TOTAL volume once water was added.
Yes, yes I suspected this about the nutrient. Thing is - I made this same mead before with a different nutrient that caused an EXPLOSIVE fermentation.
When I ask the guy at the LHBS, he says "Yea, it's got the phosphates and the B-12, yada, yada, yada). Thing is, he's a beer guy, not a mead guy.
Copious amounts of nutrient equals a 2 oz bag, or perhaps close to 10 tbsp !!!
Well I think I'm stuck with what I have. I'm going to pitch the second yeast starter and live with the results. If there are no side effects of TOO MUCH nutrient I will add some as well.
But the moral of the story is I'm no longer going to brew mead like its beer. Although it's exponentially harder to get specific products up here in Canada such as Fermaid (Both homebrew shop guys say the never heard of such a product), I'm just going to have to mail order the EXACT products I need.
I think I'll buy the Meadmaker book too.
Alrighty then. Thanks for the input.
You might point out to your LHBS buddies that Lallemand makes Fermaid-K and Go-Ferm specifically to support their wine yeast strains. You might also point out to them where Lallemand's corporate headquarters are located: ici!
Now that you told me how much nutrient you used, I suspect the yeast are succumbing to ammonia poisoning. Typical initial doses, to be added right after fermentation commences, are closer to 3-5 g!! The total DAP in a 6 gallon batch of mead typically need not be more than about 9-10 g.
Good luck with your next batch! You'll enjoy Ken's book, when you get it.
So your comments "succumbing to ammonia poisoning" and "good luck on your next batch"...
...do I take this to mean that this batch is a goner !?!?
Like it's gonna be mediocre ? Or dump that stuff down the drain ?
More scientifically, does this mean my yeast is substantially impaired ? Or totally devastated ? Or is it something else entirely ?
Please excuse all the questions. I've ordered the book and it's arriving on Monday. So I'll be able to answer the majority of my questions myself after that I hope.
In the meantime, thanks again !
got my answer.
On to the next batch it is !
yah that was a bit too much nute!