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Thread: Airlock stopped bubbling after 4 days in primary?

  1. Default Airlock stopped bubbling after 4 days in primary?

    Hi,

    So I'm trying my first attempt at mead with 15 lbs honey, 5 gallons water, and 2 packets lalvin ec-1118 yeast. Also added nutrient and energizer over 3 days with gentle stirring.

    Around 3rd day the airlock had pretty steady/generous activity, but on the 8th day it looks to have stopped altogether - and today is the 10th day.

    On the one hand I see several posts saying that airlock activity means nothing, but I'm still curious about such a big difference in activity in such short a time. I also don't want to rush or mess with it too much, as mead seems all about patience and I don't want to rack too early..

    Is this normal? I do have a hydrometer and OG reading of 1.1, but I haven't cracked open the bucket yet to check the SG - mostly out of fear and wanting to be patient and leave it be..

    Any tips or advice on why it might change so quickly? Do I want to wait for SG to be at a stable level for a few days before racking if the airlock isn't going to be a good indicator?

    Thank you!

  2. Default

    Huh. I took an SG reading and it looks like it's down to an even 1.000. That seems like a large drop after just 10 days total..

    Did I screw something up?

    I did notice that it actually smells quite pleasant - almost like apple cider despite it being only honey, yeast, and water..

  3. #3
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    You haven't done anything wrong. I'm not familiar with that yeast, but 10 days to go all the way to 1.000 doesn't seem unreasonable. You've been patient about not tasting it! Hurry up and taste it already!

  4. #4

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    EC-1118 is a very robust Champagne yeast but it's vigour also tends to blow some of the subtler aromas and flavours straight out of the airlock. I have had meads ferment to dry in a week or slightly more with EC-1118. I mostly stick to K1V-1116 and 71B-1122 now.

  5. #5
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    Also keep in mind that you're probably looking at a one year timeline for this to be mature enough to judge. But if you're already at 1.000 you might want to rack off the lees under an airlock and let it finish in the secondary.

    I think I might have used that EC-1118 a looong time ago to make cider (in the USA, cider has alcohol, apple juice isn't cider). My LHBS back in 1989 recommended champagne yeast for making cider. Made really good cider! But I honestly don't remember if it was that one exactly.

    In any case, you're good. Rack it, taste it and forget about it for a while.

  6. #6
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    Just that Liekos's batch will likely taste a bit hideous for a while yet. Depending on the honey used, it will likely have quite "wine-like" notes but not taste quite so good as a young wine yet.

    Once it's cleared, bulk age for 6 months minimum and it'll likely be quite acceptable as a dry mead, if that's what was required/aimed for etc.....
    here's me home brewing blog (if anyones interested....)
    and don't forget
    What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away! Tom Waits.....

  7. #7

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    Just cos it was the only bloody thing I could get hold of over Christmas, I started several batches - pyment, trad, cyser -with EC1118. It's nuts! On one of the batches it didn't even seem to be foaming much, but when I checked the SG after a few days it was down to 1.020 from 1.130 or something. Whether it's the best tool for the job is another thing, but it defo chews up the sugar. I think they use it in alot of the 3 week wine kits.

  8. #8

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    I'm kinda glad you posted this question as I have been wondering the same thing about my last batch of Strawberry. Started at 1.114 (sans fruit) and fermented to 1.002 in 9 days using D47.

    So based upon the comments that I've seen re. yours, I'm thinking mine must be good also.
    "There are 10 kinds of people in this world. Those that understand binary and those that do not." - paraphrase from a tee shirt.

  9. Default

    Thanks everyone for the great feedback! I chose ec-1118 because it had a bit wider temp range, and it's been fairly cold in Washington state. From reading around beforehand 71B-1122 seemed well recommended, but slightly more narrow range.

    Looking again now though 71B I'm sure would have been fine..so I must have been over thinking it or reading the stats incorrectly.

    In any event, I'd planned to leave this alone at least until 1/1/15 so I'm happy to wait. Sounds like I'll rack it off tomorrow, and maybe even start a new batch to experiment. Any yeast recommendations for trying to hit 15-18% with an ambient temp of ~65-68 degrees during primary? I don't need to rush it, so it can take as long as it needs to ��.

    Thanks you!

    Edit: still surprised it only took 7-10 days, I'd expected to wait a month..but good to know that timeframe can still be ok!

  10. #10
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    If your brewing area is chilly, D-47 is a pretty decent yeast if you're not going for really high-test (I think it's rated to 14%), just don't let it get too warm.

    I have heard of fermentations going from start to complete in 24-48 hours,so if yours did finish in 4 days it's not out of the realm of possibility, and if any yeast is gonna do that, EC-1118 would be my first choice. And then sometimes it DOES take a month or two to do its thing. And usually, cooler temperatures do mean you'll have a slower fermentation, but not always. Yeast don't know how to read so they don't always follow the rules

    I think pretty much every single wine kit I've ever used came with EC-1118 yeast. It's pretty much idiot-proof, so they use it in all the wine kits and it's also the first yeast most brew places will recommend to newbies for mead because they always seem to assume that we need a powerful yeast to get through all the sugar we're going to be tossing at it... but a lot of us have found that using something a little more gentle like K1V-1116 can ferment just as well.
    "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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  11. Default

    I'll try k1v-1116 next time since there's a couple votes of it (and I think I've read it mentioned previously also).

    We're out of the cold snap that we had when I was planning in December, so it should be fine.

    Thanks again!

  12. #12
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    Lalvin DV10
    Lalvin ICV-D21
    Lalvin ICV-D80
    Lalvin V1116 (K1)

    These are all common, low temp, high alcohol tolerance rated yeast.
    “Give a man a beer, waste an hour. Teach a man to brew, and waste a lifetime!”

    slàinte mhath

  13. Default

    Just for closure..racked it into carboy today. Definitely tastes dry, can't detect much honey - but then my palate is about as sophisticated as a pallet. Wife says it smells a little like hefeweizen. Will try again maybe with 16 lb honey and some 1116 yeast..

    Very interested to try other additions, but curious to sample the differences and get the basics down first.

    Thanks!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liekos View Post
    Just for closure..racked it into carboy today. Definitely tastes dry, can't detect much honey - but then my palate is about as sophisticated as a pallet. Wife says it smells a little like hefeweizen. Will try again maybe with 16 lb honey and some 1116 yeast..

    Very interested to try other additions, but curious to sample the differences and get the basics down first.

    Thanks!
    Making a 5 gallon batch with 16 lbs of honey and 1116 yeast will go just as dry and give you a little more alcohol. This yeast will ferment up to 18%, so I would recommend you shoot for the alcohol percentage you want, let it ferment dry, stabilize and backsweeten to taste.

    That, in itself, can be tricky (it is for me) because a lot (A LOT) of the tastes and aromas might not emerge until it has aged some. I try to shoot for the sweetness I desire when backsweetening and sometimes I over or under-shoot it because the taste of it changes as it ages.

    1118 is a monster of a yeast. It's fast, hearty and tolerant. 1116 is almost as voracious, but it is a bit more gentle to the taste and aroma. There are lots of yeasts to choose from (ordering online is a good choice if you order in batches to cut shipping costs), and experimentation is fun. And unless you try something really strange (avocado and onion mead, anyone? <grin>), you'll be able to drink your mistakes.

    Ain't this just the best hobby ever?

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

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by joemirando View Post
    And unless you try something really strange (avocado and onion mead, anyone? <grin>), you'll be able to drink your mistakes.

    Ain't this just the best hobby ever?

    Joe
    Right on, Joe !!!

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