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Thread: SG Issue!! What to do next?

  1. #1

    Default SG Issue!! What to do next?

    I started my first batch of mead; Dec, 21,2010. Of course it hasn't even been a month yet, but as I'm reading more and more while it ferments, I realize I really should have just gotten the hydrometer at the beginning....whoops. Well, now i could get one, but still wouldn't know my original SG. Any advice on how to proceed from here would be greatly appreciated. Recipe is as follows:

    Batch size: 5 US Gal
    Honey Type: Local Raw, Oregon, bees probably fed on blackberry, clover,wildflower, etc.
    SG Goal: low...
    %ABV Goal: at least 16%

    Ingredients:
    1 1/4 Gal Honey
    5Gal Water
    Other ingredients- 2 tsp Wormwood
    - 2 1/2 Anise Stars
    - 1" Vanilla Bean
    DAP/Energizer- None
    1 Package yeast- Lalvin EC-1118

    PROCEDURE: Warmed filtered water to honey-dissolving temp. Dissolved honey in 3 gal water. added water to bring to 5gal. Dissolved yeast in 105degF filtered water. added to the must once at about 105degF also. Added additional ingredients. YES everything was sanitized. Vigorously stirred/shook to get oxygen content up. (using 5gal plastic bucket as fermenter..im cheap)
    Everything looks fine,but im lost on ABV or reference time to rack.
    THANKS

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Evergreen, CO (west of and above the Denver smog!)
    Posts
    5,794

    Default

    Hi, Oakblood! Welcome to "Gotmead!"

    My first suggestion, as to how to approximate the starting gravity of your must, is to check out the Mead Calculator (there's a link on the left side of this page). You can enter the starting amounts of your fermentable ingredients and water and get a pretty good idea of the starting SG and the potential ABV if the batch finishes completely dry.

    That said, if you're aiming for 16% ABV or higher, even EC-1118, workhorse that it is, would do better if you had provided some nutrients in the must - you need some Yeast Assimilable Nitrogen (YAN) for best performance. How far along is the fermentation (get a current SG reading - a hydrometer will be useful for this as well as subsequent batches)? With proper nutrient management, a month is actually a pretty long time for primary fermentation. However, without nutrients it is possible for the ferment to drag on much longer.

    Finally, if you want a low final gravity (i.e. a dry or semi-dry finish) and you have both a significant ethanol content and wormwood and anise as ingredients, this metheglin may taste more like paint thinner than mead for a very long time. As bitter as wormwood is, and as phenolic as anise is, this batch might come into balance quicker if it is left to finish a little on the sweet side.
    Na zdrowie!

    Wayne B.

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks wayneb! I will get a hydrometer asap. The advice on balancing the batch out at a little sweeter then dry is good, thats what i was thinking given the wormwood,even with the small amount added. That mead calculator is so goddamn confusing to me...i've tried to calculate my original SG a couple times. guess i'll try again. heh. considering getting the YAN, but also wanted to see if the mead could do everything on its own this first time. Last thing is, from what i've read and heard, yes a month is a long time, but too fast of fermentation will produce unwanted chemicals/tastes? Hmm, I guess i'll keep at it, and hopefully it goes good from here. Thanks!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Ottawa, ON
    Posts
    8,308

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    Hiya Oakblood, welcome to the addiction!

    From what I've gathered reading around here, if it's a slow fermentation because of low temperatures, it turns out well because it doesn't blow off all the delicate flavours and aromas, and if it's a fast fermentation due to high temperatures, it will produce fusel alchols that will take a while to age out and some yeasts produce more off flavours at higher temperatures as well..

    However, a prolonged fermentation due to insufficient nutrients or too low a pH (or other deficiencies) can lead to off tastes, as can leaving a mead sitting on a lot of lees.

    Of course, your mileage may vary with that, I had a strawberry wine that bubbled away for almost five years before I finally sulphited it so I could have my carboy back, and it's one of my best wines to date. I've also got a few other batches that have done weird things, perhaps because the yeast were stressed.
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014
    "I tend to....um, er, experiment, and go outside the box. Sometimes outside the whole department store." - Ebonhawk, 2014

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Bundoora, Melbourne, Australia
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    My guesstimate on your OG is about 1.080 (I did this in my head though, not with the mead calc) so if the mead calc gives you something similar, you're using it right.
    This means you haven't a hope of getting 16%
    EC-1118 will bring this down to an FG of 0.990 giving an ABV of about 12-13% at my guess.
    Of course if you had very sweet or heavy honey, you'll have more chance. These guesses are exactly that, YMMV.

    Rack it when the bubbles are very hard to notice, less than 1 every 30 seconds, or when your SG gets low and stable.
    Then rack it again when your SG hasn't moved in days. This time you can bottle if you wish.

    I'm surprised such a must is still going (unless I made an error in my calcs) after a month. But that could be as previously noted because of the lack of yeast-fodder.
    Next time, whack some raisins in a recipe like this, they do well and feed the yeast, or else boiled yeast, DAP, gofirm, firmaid-k all these things should be investigated.
    Mae'r teithiau golau ceffyl eto

  6. #6

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    haven't been able to get on here for a while....but the batch seems to be going along well. The anise and wormwood producing phenolic-like and too-bitter flavors is definitely something i should have paid more attention to. i dipped a strainer in and got them all out. must have been just in time too, flavors are perfectly balanced as far as i can tell at this point.(couldn't help tasting a glass..) all the information you all gave was exactly what i needed in the right wording.(looking stuff up all over the internet and even this site can be a pain) thanks a lot!! I'm actually poor as sh*t right now, so i don't even have money to go to Portland to pick up more supplies. It will just have to do as is for a while. thanks all for your help!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Bundoora, Melbourne, Australia
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    No man with mead can be described as poor ;-)
    Mae'r teithiau golau ceffyl eto

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    The Fusel Shack, in the swamp west of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
    Posts
    8,641

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    Quote Originally Posted by kudapucat View Post
    No man with mead can be described as poor ;-)
    Well said, sir! Well said.
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
    (Past years are always better)

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