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Thread: how to get a higher alcohol content

  1. Question how to get a higher alcohol content

    I made a show mead with just water and honey and Lalvin ICV D-47 yeast. Initial fermentation Air lock stopped bubbling after about 1 month. I went to rack today and my SG is 1.033, which equates to (i think) a potential alcohol content of 5%. how do I continue the process and get more alcohol along the way?

    Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by chefjoe250 View Post
    I made a show mead with just water and honey and Lalvin ICV D-47 yeast. Initial fermentation Air lock stopped bubbling after about 1 month. I went to rack today and my SG is 1.033, which equates to (i think) a potential alcohol content of 5%. how do I continue the process and get more alcohol along the way?

    Thanks
    In order to answer, we'll need to know what your original specific gravity was, or how much honey you used in how big a batch. That will play a part in determining whether you've maxed out the yeast's alcohol tolerance, or if its stuck or something else.

    Once we have that information, we can get to work. 1.033 is sweet, so yes you COULD possibly gain another 5+ percent alcohol, leaving it bone dry.


    Joe
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    Wisdom Is Knowing Not To Put It In A Fruit Salad

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    Quote Originally Posted by joemirando View Post
    In order to answer, we'll need to know what your original specific gravity was, or how much honey you used in how big a batch. That will play a part in determining whether you've maxed out the yeast's alcohol tolerance, or if its stuck or something else.

    Once we have that information, we can get to work. 1.033 is sweet, so yes you COULD possibly gain another 5+ percent alcohol, leaving it bone dry.


    Joe

    I used 14 lb of honey in a 5 gal batch. I'm concerned that my yeast have stalled because the bubbling in the air lock completely stopped. The Lavin yeast is supposed to be able to take about 14% ABV so I'm not sure how it could have died. Thanks for any help you can give

    Chef Joe

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    It sounds like your fermentation stalled too soon. Can you tell us more about what you put in? Have you tested the pH? It is possible that it got too acidic for the yeast and that stalled it. I don't know if you are allowed to add potassium carbonate or bicarbonate to a show mead.

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    Ok, so if your total was 5 gallons and you used 12 lbs of honey and you now have a gravity of 1.033, then that's about 9% alcohol by volume with another 5% possible. Was your original SG around 1.100?

    Am I correct in assuming that you didn't add any nutrient? In the absence of store-bought nutrient, you could use raisins (I would guess somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 cup). Cut 'em in half, and boil them for about 10 minutes in a cup or so of water, let them cool and add the whole thing to your must. Shake the heck out of it so that any yeast left in there can get at the new addition. I would also proof a packet of bread yeast, boil it for a couple of minutes to make sure all the yeast is dead, let it cool and add that to your must too.

    If your original yeast has perished, you may have to pitch more. But you've got a 5% swing there to work with, and some of them may be hanging around an hanging on, just waiting for nutrition.

    I haven't had to deal with something like this personally, and I may be way off base here (I'm pretty much a newbee), but I've overheard the folks here who KNOW what they're talking about and if I'm wrong, they won't hesitate to correct it.

    Hope I haven't hurt more than helped,

    Joe

    ps: Oops. I forgot about the restrictions for a show mead. I DID know that raisins were out, but I dont know if the killed yeast is permissible. Dammit. Failing that, I don't know what else you could do. Perhaps repitching some yeast and aerating the heck out of it would help. I may not have hurt, but I guess I didn't help as much as I'd hoped. -jm
    Last edited by joemirando; 09-01-2013 at 09:09 PM.
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    Also it is a show mead so it will be much slower than one that has been fed, don't rack it of the yeast, keep an eye on the PH, swirl the yeast up into suspension often, yeast hulls or boiled bread yeast is good. it may not be all that stalled, the process is different. Don't give up on it, this is one of those studies in patience most of us lack.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riverat View Post
    Also it is a show mead so it will be much slower than one that has been fed, don't rack it of the yeast, keep an eye on the PH, swirl the yeast up into suspension often, yeast hulls or boiled bread yeast is good. it may not be all that stalled, the process is different. Don't give up on it, this is one of those studies in patience most of us lack.
    Thanks for the advice. it is a "show" mead but I'm not using it in a contest or anything. I think the place I had it stored in was to hot as the mead temped at about 89*F. I didn't rack it yet, I added more honey of the same variety I started the mead with and shook it up. I re-installed the air lock and I'm waiting to see if anything happens. if not I'll pitch some more yeasties and add them to the batch.

    Thanks again!!

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    This is the problem with depriving your yeast of the nutrition they need, your kids won't grow up big and strong if you only feed them sugar (or honey) either That 14% quoted on the packet of the D47 is the lab results they got under ideal conditions (ie, properly-fed grape must), and a show mead is definitely not ideal for any yeast.

    Show meads are slow, I think mine took a year to get the last .010 done, were both slower than anything else I've done in primary, and they both stopped doing anything visible in the airlock from the time they were around 1.030 till they were done at 1.010, just a gradual creep of the SG, slow enough that I probably wouldn't have noticed if I'd been checking the SG every week...

    If you're going to keep it as a show mead, I'd recommend you stir it gently (actually, personally, I'd aerate the heck out of it if you didn't aerate it for the first half of the fermentation) and then just leave it alone for a couple months and then check the SG again, it may well have dropped by then. If you're not insistent that it remain a show mead, check and adjust the pH as needed (it often ends up too acidic when you have no fruit to act as a buffer), add a handful of raisins or some microwaved bread yeast and aerate the heck out of it, then wait and see what it does...
    "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
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chevette Girl View Post
    This is the problem with depriving your yeast of the nutrition they need, your kids won't grow up big and strong if you only feed them sugar (or honey) either That 14% quoted on the packet of the D47 is the lab results they got under ideal conditions (ie, properly-fed grape must), and a show mead is definitely not ideal for any yeast.

    Show meads are slow, I think mine took a year to get the last .010 done, were both slower than anything else I've done in primary, and they both stopped doing anything visible in the airlock from the time they were around 1.030 till they were done at 1.010, just a gradual creep of the SG, slow enough that I probably wouldn't have noticed if I'd been checking the SG every week...

    If you're going to keep it as a show mead, I'd recommend you stir it gently (actually, personally, I'd aerate the heck out of it if you didn't aerate it for the first half of the fermentation) and then just leave it alone for a couple months and then check the SG again, it may well have dropped by then. If you're not insistent that it remain a show mead, check and adjust the pH as needed (it often ends up too acidic when you have no fruit to act as a buffer), add a handful of raisins or some microwaved bread yeast and aerate the heck out of it, then wait and see what it does...
    CG, is it possible to get more than the stated % alcohol tolerance on the yeast? I have used a 71 B on a peach melomel, and took it from 1.115 to .998, which is 15.3% ABV, above the recognized tolerance of 14%. Is this possible, or do you think I just got a bad OG reading?

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    My arguments about how we calculate alcohol content aside (the amount of alcohol in your finished product will cause it to read at drier than it might actually be and thus artificially boost what you think your alcohol content is), yes, it is quite possible for yeast to exceed their listed tolerances, especially when you step-feed. Sometimes the conditions are just right for it, or you treated them just the way they like. Or the planets aligned correctly, take your pick
    "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

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