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Thread: Want Guidance on the Front End...

  1. Default Want Guidance on the Front End...

    Hi all,
    here is my recipe and process thus far. Please feel free to give me advice on the front end so I can avoid mistakes. I want to stay in front of this. this is my first batch....
    12lbs Swarmbustin Honey "Golden Nectar"
    3lbs Swarbustin Bluberry flavored (natural flavoring no chemicals)
    http://www.swarmbustinhoney.com/purehoney.htm
    5 galons natural spring water
    6 tsp nutrient
    ec-1118

    I pasteurized 12lbs honey @ 170 for 5-10 minutes with spring water (totaled volume of mixture was about 2 gal)
    added the nutrient
    Added must to 2.5 gallons in the fermentor
    I pastureized 3lbs blueberry flavored honey @180 for 5 mins
    Added this must to the fermentor.
    I added the remaining spring water to the fermentor
    Added EC-1118
    OG= approx 1.085
    14 hours later the airlock has bubbling every second or so.

    Was planning to add some blueberry and vanilla bean in secondary... Would assume that I would wind up with around 10% ABV when done.
    Any thoughts?



  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Want Guidance on the Front End...

    With the EC-1118, this batch will end up bone dry and will also ferment anything else you add after the primary fermentation unless you do something to kill or remove the yeast.

  3. Default Re: Want Guidance on the Front End...

    you might consider replacing "nutrient" with the stuff made by lalvin for their yeast, fermaid-k, DAP, and fermaid-2133. and you might consider skipping the pasturizing.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Want Guidance on the Front End...

    Hi, ender! Welcome to "GotMead?"!!

    I guess it is already too late to offer any "front-end" advice, if you've already mixed your must and pitched your yeast. From the quantities of honey that you indicate in your recipe and from your OG, it looks like you'll end up more like 11% ABV. Pewter is right -- you'll ferment to total dryness with EC-1118 as your yeast. It can tolerate alcohol levels up to 18% by volume, so anything you add in secondary, if it contains fermentable sugars, will re-start fermentation.

    While you haven't done anything fundamentally wrong up to this point, there are some things that you could have done to make the fermentation go even more smoothly. The best advice that I can offer at this point is to read all the existing postings in the NewBees section here, since most of the advice we would have given you prior to pitching yeast (including tips on proper rehydration of the yeast, staggering the nutrient additions, etc.) are already documented elsewhere on the site. The tips you'll pick up there will make your next batch, and all subsequent batches, ferment far more quickly.

    Since you're off and running, all you can do at this point is to regularly track SG (sample daily) and take periodic measurements of pH if you have the equipment to do that. When fermentation falls off (and/or you get at or below SG 1.000), then rack the must to a secondary carboy taking care to leave as much of the lees behind as possible, airlock it, and allow it to age gracefully! Dry meads benefit greatly from prolonged bulk aging -- your mead at 6 months will taste far better than 1 month after fermentation (generally speaking), and will taste even better after a year. BTW - the reason I recommend monitoring pH -- if the pH of the must falls below about 3.2, your yeast will become stressed and fermentation will slow radically. It's better to keep your yeast healthy and happy, by keeping the pH in the range of 3.4-4.0. You can adjust pH upward by adding some potassium carbonate or bicarbonate... how to do that is documented in other posts already on this site.

    Enjoy the experience, but if you are used to brewing beers and are new to meads and/or wines, then expect to learn patience from this experience!
    Na zdrowie!

    Wayne B.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Want Guidance on the Front End...

    Hello Ender,

    Pewter is right, the EC-1118 yeast has very high alcohol tolerance (and is often used in stuck fermentations) and will ferment very dry. If your Sp. Gr. is 1.085, you will probably get mead with about 11.5% ABV, and if you add more sugars in the secondary (without taking action to stop the EC-111, it will like go up even further.

    By the way, are you sure about the reading of 1.085? What is the total volume of your must? I'm not sure exactly how large the batch is, but if the total is 5 gallons, I would expect the 15 lbs of honey to have given you a starting gravity of around 1.120. If you used 5 gallons of water and this is a 6 gallon batch, I would still expect it to be around 1.100. If you are at 6.5 gallons, I would expect around 1.092. Even at 1.092, you would be looking at an expected ABV of around 12.5%. With EC-1118, you could easily wind up with much higher alcohol content than you were planning (which may still be just great)!

    Good luck with your mead,

    Medsen
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
    (Past years are always better)

  6. Default Re: Want Guidance on the Front End...

    Yes, I suppose I jumped right in relying mostly on the guy at the home-brew store. He was very helpful and suggested making the first one with this yeast and then adjust for my next. Seemed safe at the time. Anyway, at about 20 hours the SG reading is somewhere between 1.086 and 1.092. there was so much fermenting going on that it kept the hydrometer bouncing!! So I must have misread my must.
    Anyway, if I put something in to stop the fermentation early and rack to a carboy with say lots of blueberries, will that help my process or am I better off just letting ferment out and then racking like I originally planned? Obviously, either way, this may be the batch that sits in that carboy for quite some time.
    For the next time, am I correct in saying that I should choose a different yeast with a similar recipe? I just chose EC-1118 as the store recommended it. He said he would have to order the sweet mead yeast. Are there wine or champagne yeasts that people prefer that have a lower % tolerance??

  7. Default Re: Want Guidance on the Front End...

    Quote Originally Posted by Medsen Fey
    Hello Ender,

    Pewter is right, the EC-1118 yeast has very high alcohol tolerance (and is often used in stuck fermentations) and will ferment very dry. If your Sp. Gr. is 1.085, you will probably get mead with about 11.5% ABV, and if you add more sugars in the secondary (without taking action to stop the EC-111, it will like go up even further.

    By the way, are you sure about the reading of 1.085? I guess I was a bit off.

    What is the total volume of your must? 6+ gals

    I'm not sure exactly how large the batch is, but if the total is 5 gallons, I would expect the 15 lbs of honey to have given you a starting gravity of around 1.120. If you used 5 gallons of water and this is a 6 gallon batch, I would still expect it to be around 1.100. If you are at 6.5 gallons, I would expect around 1.092. Even at 1.092, you would be looking at an expected ABV of around 12.5%. With EC-1118, you could easily wind up with much higher alcohol content than you were planning (which may still be just great)! Right, no problem with high alcohol contents.

    Good luck with your mead,

    Medsen

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Want Guidance on the Front End...

    There are many different yeasts that people here use. Lalvin ICV-D47 is quite popular and has ABV tolerance of about 14% (I like it). Lalvin 71B also has about 14% tolerance. You can review the Lalvin/Lallemand yeast chart HERE. For lower alcohol content, some people prefer some of the ale yeasts, and you can see wyeast strains HERE, and White Labs yeast THERE.

    For your current batch, letting it go to completion is probably the way to go. If you want it dry, you can rack into onto the fruit, and the EC-1118 may continue fermenting the sugars in the fruit until dry. If you want it sweeter, you may want to "stabilize" and "backsweeten" after that. If you do a search in the forums here, you will find several posts on these topics which can help to guide you.

    Enjoy!
    Medsen
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
    (Past years are always better)

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Want Guidance on the Front End...

    Actually, ender, according to my calculations you are right on in your OG measurement -- provided you added a full 5 gallons of water to the honey, resulting in slightly over 6 gallons total must volume (which is what you did, based on your numbers). By my reckoning that would give you a starting gravity of 1.085 or thereabouts -- pretty close to your 1.082 measurement, and with the little difference possibly explainable by some extra water volume in that "blueberry" honey adjunct. Their fruit flavored honeys are all honey plus some kind of fruit syrup, which might have less fermentable sugars than the honey itself. So, us determining whether you got your OG right or wrong depends on how we read your recipe!

    In order to get more sweetness in the final mead for this batch, since the 1118 will definitely take it dry, I would recommend letting it ferment totally dry, waiting for the bulk of the yeast to precipitate out. Then rack off lees, stabilize with some potassium metabisulfate and potassium sorbate, then backsweeten with honey added in small increments, so you can taste the results in-between each addition and stop exactly where you want the residual sweetness to end up.

    Na zdrowie!

    Wayne B.

  10. Default Re: Want Guidance on the Front End...

    Wow,
    Thanks guys. Any recommendations on where to find posts on how to "backsweeten" best? I will do a search but thought you might have a known resource on this.
    OK, as I am writing this, the dogs are freaking out. My german Shepherd and mix breed are barking incessantly, so I go in the other room to see what army is invading and they are teeth bared, hair up on the neck barking at the fermenter. Something evil must be brewing in there. Strange things are afoot at the Circle K......

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Want Guidance on the Front End...

    I'll just tell you what I do to backsweeten... it's quicker that way, and everyone who has done it has their preferred method. This is what works for me:

    Make up a solution of one part by volume of honey and 3-1/2 parts by volume of water. So, that could be 1 cup of honey mixed into 3-1/2 cups water. This will yield a liquid that has roughly 1.092 SG. Adding exactly one cup of this solution to a 5 gallon batch of mead will raise it's specific gravity by approximately 0.001 (commonly called 1 gravity point). Thus a dry mead at 1.000 SG will be 1.001 SG after the addition of one cup of this solution. I just add this liquid, one cup at a time, to the bulk of my batch until I get to the sweetness that I desire.

    NOTE: you are slightly changing the overall volume of must with the addition of each cup, so the cups that you add after the first will each make progressively less than 0.001 change in net gravity, but that difference doesn't amount to much until you exceed, say, 8 cups or so. If you are after a sweet mead to begin with, I'd suggest changing the ratio of honey to water in your addition liquid to get to your final gravity quicker. For example, a ratio of 1 cup honey to 1.75 cups of water will yield a gravity change of 0.002 per cup when added to 5 gallons of bulk must.

    Na zdrowie!

    Wayne B.

  12. Default Re: Want Guidance on the Front End...

    For an update:
    hour 66: Aerated with sanitized spoon and SG measured 1.070. Bubbles occur every other second.
    Am I still on track?

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Want Guidance on the Front End...

    Yup. Sounds like a good fermentation so far! I've found that with staggered additions of the nutrient you can get the fermentation to go even quicker (a 10 point drop in SG per day isn't unusual for a mead done with staggered nutrients), but for adding everything all at once, you're perfectly within the norms as of now.
    Na zdrowie!

    Wayne B.

  14. Default Re: Want Guidance on the Front End...

    Because of the dry yeast EC-1118 can I add more nutrient later? Or would more hurt even this yeast? Also, I had some concern that stirring would be bad at this point. The bubbles slowed a bit after I stirred, but I assumed that was because of the amount of action during the stir.
    Thanks.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Want Guidance on the Front End...

    Well, ideally you want to give the yeast exactly what it needs, when it needs it. Too much nutrient up front will actually be somewhat toxic to the yeast. A large dose up front, even if it isn't to toxic levels, will encourage growth and reproduction at too fast a rate, and the cells ability to metabolize sugars into alcohol will be compromised. The answer to your question of whether more nutrient later will help or hurt your ongoing fermentation, is difficult since you pretty much dosed it with almost a full blast of nutrients up front. In your current situation I would not add any more nutrient unless you detect other signs of a stressed fermentation, such as the production of hydrogen sulfide gas. As long as you get no rotten egg smell from the must, I'd let it be.

    You're right -- when you stir the must to re-suspend yeast or to aerate it, you will free a lot of trapped CO2 from solution and the rate of bubbles through your airlock will fall off for a while until the yeast make enough new CO2 to re-establish that equilibrium in solution again.
    Na zdrowie!

    Wayne B.

  16. Default Re: Want Guidance on the Front End...

    Guys what is the consequence of "restarting" fermentation during secondary? I was thinking of splitting my 6 gallons into two secondaries of 6.5 each and the filling the remaining with two different fruits (peaches and cherries). However given my yeast I am aware that this will restart the fermentation. Is this ok if I am going to bulk store them until spring or summer?

  17. Default Re: Want Guidance on the Front End...

    alot of people do that, no biggie. Its possible that your yeast will be a little stressed out, but with fruit thats not usually the case as the sugars leech out slowly and dont change the gravity very quickly which is really what stresses out yeast on a "secondary" fermentation.

  18. Default Re: Want Guidance on the Front End...

    Hi all,
    Day nine (216 hours) and it is still bubbling. The SG is at 1.020.
    Can someone please point me to a chart that explains SG readings and how its changes affect the ABV of the mead? I would like to have a better understanding what starting at 1.085 and the SG dropping down to 1.00 does.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Want Guidance on the Front End...

    Check out the NewBee guide (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?opt...=108&Itemid=14)

    and specifically at the bottom of

    http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?opt...=424&Itemid=14


    The Starting Gravity is the IMPORTANT figure. Without that you don't know the amount of honey (sugars) and hence the POTENTIAL amount of Alcohol that the yeast can produce.

    The final gravity reading tells you what sugars are left in your mead (and it can go below 1.000 - down to say 0.992 sometimes)

    The DIFFERENCE (original - final) tells you what alcohol is ACTUALLY in your mead (see the initial reading IS important - so don't forget to take a reading at the start).

  20. Default Re: Want Guidance on the Front End...

    I did find this:
    (SG - FG) * 125 = % ABV
    1.160 - 1.045 = 0.115 x 125 = 14.375% ABV.
    I have also seen this:

    (SG - FG)/0.00738 = % ABV
    1.160 - 1.045 = 0.115 / 0.00738 = 15.582% ABV

    This comes from Grungyape.com:
    http://www.grungyape.com/mead/info.php

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