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Thread: help with honey mead

  1. Default help with honey mead

    i am at day 11 with my all honey mead, no fruit added, starting sg was 1.130 and now it is 1.070 and fermentation is stopped dead, i added lalvin D47 X 3 yeast, and thinking of hydrating lalvin 1118 to restart. can someone tell me what i am doing wrong?

  2. #2

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    A couple questions come to mind.

    What temp is this at? If it is below the lower 60's you could try to warm it up a little.

    What is the pH (shoot for 3.4 roughly)?

    Have you used any nutrients to help your fermentation at all? You are now pretty much at the 1/2 sugar break, so adding them now wont help much. You could go with some yeast hulls though.

    Did you aerate your must for the first 1/3 sugar break?

    How long has the mead been at 1.070?
    The Key of Joy is disobedience

  3. #3

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    Can you give us more details?

    Exact recipe
    Rehydration procedures & temps
    Observation history (SG, temp, pH, etc)

    It's tough to troubleshoot without more info.

    Also, how long has it been at 1.070? Are you certain it stuck and not just fermenting slowly?

    EDIT: Looks like triarchy beat me to it.

  4. #4
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    Hi, ron! Welcome to the "Gotmead" community! Several others have beat me to it, and asked all the usual questions that we like to have answered before we troubleshoot problematic fermentations, but if you use the Gotmead search tool (the link is one of several in a bar immediately below the thread title box) and search on the term 'stuck fermentation' (without the quotes), you'll find that this is a commonly discussed topic here in the forum. You'll find lots of useful information already posted in those earlier threads.

    Finally, let me also suggest that you have a look at the NewBee Guide to Meadmaking (you'll find a link over on the left side of this page) in case you have more questions. You may find your answer already discussed there.
    Na zdrowie!

    Wayne B.

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by triarchy View Post
    A couple questions come to mind.

    What temp is this at? If it is below the lower 60's you could try to warm it up a little.

    What is the pH (shoot for 3.4 roughly)?

    Have you used any nutrients to help your fermentation at all? You are now pretty much at the 1/2 sugar break, so adding them now wont help much. You could go with some yeast hulls though.

    Did you aerate your must for the first 1/3 sugar break?

    How long has the mead been at 1.070?
    thanks for the reply much appreciated, my whole shop stays at 72-73 deg f, i didn't do a ph, i got the recipe off this site, this is my 3rd batch, first one was no problem, second one fermented in primary for about a month and at the end it did not go dry, what is yeast hulls? i am a kit wine maker mostly and just playing around with mead. i used nurients one campton and 17 lbs of honey, i did hydrate lalvin 1118 just now,
    Last edited by ron keast; 03-19-2012 at 06:57 PM. Reason: the must has been at 1.070 for 4 days

  6. #6
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    Were your other attempts also traditional (i.e. only honey, water, yeast, nutrients - and no fruit or other adjuncts) meads? I ask because honey-only musts can often be more difficult to ferment to dryness than those also containing fruit or fruit juices. The various compounds that exist in fruit juice often provide lots of pH buffering capacity, so although they are typically acidic, the pH of the fruit must doesn't change much during the course of fermentation. Since there is very little in the way of buffering capacity in honey, oftentimes during primary fermentation the pH of the must will drop significantly - sometimes going low enough that the yeast are really stressed. That can cause a fermentation to slow way down, or even to stall out. If you have a way to measure the pH of the must, I'd suggest doing that first - even before pitching the 1118.

    And yeast hulls, sometimes called "yeast ghosts," are the cell walls of dead yeast that have been processed so most of the internal guts of the yeast have been removed. They are useful sometimes to get a stuck fermentation re-started because the cell walls provide binding sites for chemicals that are yeast toxic, and those dead cell walls attract and hold toxins that could otherwise interfere with the active yeast. Additionally, they can supply slight amounts of amino (aka organic) nitrogen compounds which living yeast can utilize late into fermentation - unlike the non-amino nitrogen that is supplied by chemicals such as DAP.
    Na zdrowie!

    Wayne B.

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by wayneb View Post
    Were your other attempts also traditional (i.e. only honey, water, yeast, nutrients - and no fruit or other adjuncts) meads? I ask because honey-only musts can often be more difficult to ferment to dryness than those also containing fruit or fruit juices. The various compounds that exist in fruit juice often provide lots of pH buffering capacity, so although they are typically acidic, the pH of the fruit must doesn't change much during the course of fermentation. Since there is very little in the way of buffering capacity in honey, oftentimes during primary fermentation the pH of the must will drop significantly - sometimes going low enough that the yeast are really stressed. That can cause a fermentation to slow way down, or even to stall out. If you have a way to measure the pH of the must, I'd suggest doing that first - even before pitching the 1118.

    And yeast hulls, sometimes called "yeast ghosts," are the cell walls of dead yeast that have been processed so most of the internal guts of the yeast have been removed. They are useful sometimes to get a stuck fermentation re-started because the cell walls provide binding sites for chemicals that are yeast toxic, and those dead cell walls attract and hold toxins that could otherwise interfere with the active yeast. Additionally, they can supply slight amounts of amino (aka organic) nitrogen compounds which living yeast can utilize late into fermentation - unlike the non-amino nitrogen that is supplied by chemicals such as DAP.
    my first attempt was great, got the recipe from here of course, first one i added 5 x d 47, 17lbs honey, raspberries and blueberry's, i entered a bottle in winemakers international wine making competition and took a silver medal, second one i tried to do the same but it is sweet and didn't ferment well at all, thanks for the reply, i am reading other threads to try and figure this out, i don't know how to do a ph level, i make wine that comes out of a box, wine for dummies, lol

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by ron keast View Post
    my first attempt was great, got the recipe from here of course, first one i added 5 x d 47, 17lbs honey, raspberries and blueberry's, i entered a bottle in winemakers international wine making competition and took a silver medal, second one i tried to do the same but it is sweet and didn't ferment well at all, thanks for the reply, i am reading other threads to try and figure this out, i don't know how to do a ph level, i make wine that comes out of a box, wine for dummies, lol
    You local home brew shop probably has pH test strips or you can get them online. The usually in the $5 - $10 range for a jar of strips. They're not very accurate, but you can get a general idea of what the pH is and determine if you have a pH problem.

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by brian92fs View Post
    You local home brew shop probably has pH test strips or you can get them online. The usually in the $5 - $10 range for a jar of strips. They're not very accurate, but you can get a general idea of what the pH is and determine if you have a pH problem.
    you think i can add acid blend to the must now, day 11, i have some in my shop, thanks for the input

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by ron keast View Post
    you think i can add acid blend to the must now, day 11, i have some in my shop, thanks for the input
    Generally speaking, mead doesn't need acid additions. Most recipes you find that call for acid are older outdated recipes. Also, let it age for 3 - 6 months after its completed before deciding to add acid.

    If your case, it sounds like you might have a stuck fermentation. If there is a pH issue, its most likely too low (too acidic). Adding acid would make this worse.

    How long has it been with no SG movement? I ask because stuck and slow are different situations. I've had slow fermentations that have taken nearly 2 months to complete.

  11. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by brian92fs View Post
    Generally speaking, mead doesn't need acid additions. Most recipes you find that call for acid are older outdated recipes. Also, let it age for 3 - 6 months after its completed before deciding to add acid.

    If your case, it sounds like you might have a stuck fermentation. If there is a pH issue, its most likely too low (too acidic). Adding acid would make this worse.

    How long has it been with no SG movement? I ask because stuck and slow are different situations. I've had slow fermentations that have taken nearly 2 months to complete.
    it has been at 1.070 for 5 days, today i hydrated 1118 yeast to get it to go, the must smells like honey, not gone bad, thanks for any input

  12. #12

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    Hopefully that will do it, if not, you might need to make an acclimated starter to give the yeast a chance to get used to the alcohol.
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "Good grief! If someone wanted to murder you, all they would have to do is ship you a 55 gallon barrel of honey and watch you document working yourself to death!" - Vance G
    "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

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by ron keast View Post
    it has been at 1.070 for 5 days, today i hydrated 1118 yeast to get it to go, the must smells like honey, not gone bad, thanks for any input
    If the PH is low even the 1118 won't get it going as it isn't a healthy environment for yeast.

    Since you are past the 1/2 Sugar break given the original D47 yeast if you are going to pitch the 1118 I would do an acclimated starter first to get the yeast used to the environment it will be going into.

    *hate when someone posts while I'm typing lol

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ron keast View Post
    you think i can add acid blend to the must now, day 11, i have some in my shop, thanks for the input
    Actually the problem is likely the other way around. More acidic means lower in pH, and less acidic means higher. So, if you have a stalled ferment that is the result of a pH that is too low, you need to raise it. The two best ingredients for raising pH are either potassium carbonate or potassium bicarbonate. You will find either of them at your local homebrew supply store. Some places carry calcium carbonate (aka chalk) instead, and although it also raises pH, it tends to work more slowly and if you add too much, you can end up with a chalky tasting mead.

    As others have suggested, get some pH test strips (ones for use in the wine range of 2.8-4.0, rather than those used for beer which are outside the range of most meads and wines), and pick up some potassium carbonate while you're at it, and if you have a pH issue you'll be able to tell, and correct it, right on the spot.
    Na zdrowie!

    Wayne B.

  15. #15

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    a common cause is poor nutrients.
    how much was added and when was it added?

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