Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: First time newbee question about citric acid

  1. Default First time newbee question about citric acid

    Hi everyone

    As with many people, my first post here is also one with a question about mead (possibly) gone wrong. I have two batches which I started brewing on 27/04. At that time I did not know this site and I had followed instructions from a book I bought. In that book there was the following recipe:

    7 liters water
    6 kg of honey
    20 gram of citric acid
    4 gram of yeast nutrient
    3 gram of yeast

    Because these first few tries are mainly for me to learn and to experiment, I split up the amounts in two batches. In on I added the citric acid. In the other I didn't.
    What is my problem? We're now 2 and a half week further. The one without the acid is still bubbling although now slowly coming to every 20 sec). For the past week bubbles come once every 8 to 10 seconds (in the beginning they both were at 3 seconds) (I count every day). The other one (with acid) stopped completely about 10 days ago.
    When I take a closer look, I can still see small bubbles coming up the side of the base but much less then in the one without acid.

    Further info: the temperature of the room where the mead is, is usually between 20 and 22įC (can't get it lower).

    My questions:
    - is this normal behavior? Is this because of the acid? If yes, what is the process behind it?
    If not, what else could be wrong?
    - how should I proceed? According to the recipe I should stir after three weeks (about now) and then leave it again for 2 weeks.

  2. Default

    Edit:
    gravity for the batch without citric acid: 1007
    gravity for the batch with citric acid: 96

    I stirred both containers.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Spain, Europe
    Posts
    718

    Default

    Hey there
    So the first thing for the next time is measuring the initial gravity (OG or SG)
    Apart from that, when posting and asking for info about a recipe, give us the most details you have (type of honey, did you boil honey or not, did you rehidrate the yeast, what yeast strain it was, etc. It is very important)

    To tackle your problem, it seems to me that there are a number of things wrong with the recipe. The acid definetely does not help
    Also the gravity (abreviated SG) is posted as 1.XXX (density of water is 1.000 kg/liter, your hydrometer should be in the 1.000 mark if you put it in water). look somewhere how to actually read a hydrometer and interpret the results because im not sure what you are posting exactly.

    The acid lowers the pH and nobody uses it anymore because it can result is stalled ferments.
    Also we dont usually add all the nutrients upfront, and what nutrient did you use? because you probably fell short.
    3 grams of yeast is lower than recommeneded for that volume (Squatchy is going to murder me ), specially for begginers
    And i think you used way too much honey.

    So:
    normal behaviour? depends on the SG, please take an accurate reading. Its normal for a ferment that is finishing. If its finishing before what it is supposed or not, i cant know without the SG
    how to proceed? post most details. You might have to repitch yeast and add more nutrients and some potassium carbonate (raises the pH, to counter the acid)
    Also if you have some pH strips around, take a reading. If you dont, its useful in meadmaking to have some, or a pH meter (exactly for this cases). You dont necesarily have to buy them but if you want to keep making mead, its useful. i think you have a stalled batch (ferment ending prematurely) because of many factors, including acid addition

    Edit: and read this site's newbee guide. It will teach you a lot

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Saratoga Springs , NY
    Posts
    1,065

    Default

    Hi tom.schoutteet - and welcome. Most published recipes simply contain the key ingredients (OK) and the protocol or method used by the person publishing the recipe. In my opinion, most published protocols leave a huge amount to be desired, often offer poor instructions and worse, offer techniques and procedures that are fundamentally flawed. A recipe that refers to a time schedule rather than one that uses the actual changes in gravity is in my view written by someone whose knowledge of brewing beer may be rather greater than their knowledge of making mead and wine. Beer is largely akin to engineering whereas mead making is more organic and more like raising children or growing a vegetable garden.
    If the two gravities you provide in the second post are the most recent gravities then the one that is "96" (I assume you mean that it is .096 (ie below 1.000) has virtually no more fermentable sugar in it. The fermentation has finished and that mead can be siphoned ("racked" is the term used by wine makers) into a sanitized container for aging.
    The batch that is at 1.007 is almost finished and you could rack this one too if the container you used to ferment that batch has some head room. You see, you want to rack (transfer) the mead to an airtight container with no head room to restrict the alcohol in the mead (or wine) from coming into contact with air. In the first instance air can and will (over time) oxidize the mead and so spoil its taste. Worse, alcohol in the presence of air when in contact with what are called acetobacter can transform the mead into vinegar.
    But all that said, adding any acidity to honey before the fermentation has ended is a risky business because unlike many other sources of fermentable sugar, honey has no chemical buffers to control its pH in the presence of yeast- so the pH can drop so precipitously that it stalls the fermentation. Honey itself is quite acidic. And yeast cannot deal with any sugar solution where the pH is much below 3.2. So, if a recipe calls for the addition of acidity you want to check to make sure that that addition is for the purposes of flavor and if it is then a) taste the mead and see if it needs that added kick and b) if it really does need it, then add the acidity minutes before you are going to bottle the mead, and not before you pitch (another technical term that means "add") the yeast.
    Counting bubbles is a pleasant way to pass the time. It does not really tell you very much given the number of conditions that can affect the rate at which bubbles come up through an airlock including how tightly sealed the carboy is. The most useful indicator of how well (or not) a fermentation is going is to use an hydrometer.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Spain, Europe
    Posts
    718

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by bernardsmith View Post
    Hi tom.schoutteet - and welcome. Most published recipes simply contain the key ingredients (OK) and the protocol or method used by the person publishing the recipe. In my opinion, most published protocols leave a huge amount to be desired, often offer poor instructions and worse, offer techniques and procedures that are fundamentally flawed. A recipe that refers to a time schedule rather than one that uses the actual changes in gravity is in my view written by someone whose knowledge of brewing beer may be rather greater than their knowledge of making mead and wine. Beer is largely akin to engineering whereas mead making is more organic and more like raising children or growing a vegetable garden.
    If the two gravities you provide in the second post are the most recent gravities then the one that is "96" (I assume you mean that it is .096 (ie below 1.000) has virtually no more fermentable sugar in it. The fermentation has finished and that mead can be siphoned ("racked" is the term used by wine makers) into a sanitized container for aging.
    The batch that is at 1.007 is almost finished and you could rack this one too if the container you used to ferment that batch has some head room. You see, you want to rack (transfer) the mead to an airtight container with no head room to restrict the alcohol in the mead (or wine) from coming into contact with air. In the first instance air can and will (over time) oxidize the mead and so spoil its taste. Worse, alcohol in the presence of air when in contact with what are called acetobacter can transform the mead into vinegar.
    But all that said, adding any acidity to honey before the fermentation has ended is a risky business because unlike many other sources of fermentable sugar, honey has no chemical buffers to control its pH in the presence of yeast- so the pH can drop so precipitously that it stalls the fermentation. Honey itself is quite acidic. And yeast cannot deal with any sugar solution where the pH is much below 3.2. So, if a recipe calls for the addition of acidity you want to check to make sure that that addition is for the purposes of flavor and if it is then a) taste the mead and see if it needs that added kick and b) if it really does need it, then add the acidity minutes before you are going to bottle the mead, and not before you pitch (another technical term that means "add") the yeast.
    Counting bubbles is a pleasant way to pass the time. It does not really tell you very much given the number of conditions that can affect the rate at which bubbles come up through an airlock including how tightly sealed the carboy is. The most useful indicator of how well (or not) a fermentation is going is to use an hydrometer.
    I thought the SG was that but i think he means 1.107 and 1.096, because look at the ammount of honey...The gotmead calc gives you an SG of 1.162 for that. there is no way that fermented to 0.960

  6. Default

    Thanks both for the answer!

    I am very much aware that I did a lot of mistakes already. Like I said, I followed a book and had no notion of this website. Now Iíve read the newbee guide, I will tackle my second try much differently. But this try was really to explore and learn things. It is no disaster if it fails.
    Here is in detail what exactly I did:

    The following is did twice creating two batches. In one of them I did not add citric acid. I have no temperature readings of water or honey as my thermometer has not arrived yet.
    I cleaned all instruments
    I heated up the honey in hot water (in the pots).
    The honey was Marlene flowerhoney (low quality honey, but like I said, this batch was to learn from)
    https://www.lidl.de/de/marlene-bluet...cremig/p216948
    I solved 1.5 kg of the preheated honey in 0.5 liter water in the carboy
    I added 3 liter of cold tapwater
    I took three small (cleaned) pots and put a little of the honeywater in.
    In one I added 10 gram of citric acid
    In a second I added 2 gram of yeast nutrient
    Nutrient: Vierka
    https://www.vierka.de/artikeldetails...A4hrsalz+100+g
    In a third I added 1.5 gram of yeast
    Yeast: Vierka
    https://www.vierka.de/artikeldetails...itung%2C+100+g
    The three bowls I added with the honeywater (I didnít add acid in one carboy)
    I made sure everything was mingled, I put a waterlock on it and did not touch it anymore.


    Today I took a reading and the SG for the one with acid was 996. For the one without it was 1.007
    I took it again and this is what I read on the meter. I am pretty sure I did it right. I do not have a ph strip. I will buy that for my next try.
    All the above is exactly what I did. No rehydration, no boiling, etc. I followed the recipe I had to the letter (except for storage temperature). The yeast and yeast nutrition are pretty much nameless. I canít find more info about it online. I hope this provides some more info.

    I tried to add pics but I can't get it to upload.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Saratoga Springs , NY
    Posts
    1,065

    Default

    Dadux , you could be right and so what I say about being ready to rack is nonsense. But the fermentation began almost a month ago 4/27 (today being 5/22) so if the citric acid did not create an acid bath for the yeast both batches could have fermented out... and not knowing what yeast was used it could have been capable of chomping its way through 3 kg of honey in about 3.5 L of water... (or as you suggest, more likely not... ). Most recipes are close to ridiculous in my book. Protocol and technique is everything: Mead is honey, water, yeast and nutrient. A starting gravity can be anywhere from about 1.050 to about 1.100 (that's about 1.25 lbs of honey dissolved in enough water to make 1 US gallon - to about 2.5 lbs. One kg = 2.2 lbs). Water should be spring water but at any rate not distilled and not chlorinated. I use more nutrient than recommended but follow directions. It's too easy to under-pitch yeast so use a pack for a gallon and follow directions. Honey, water, yeast and nutrient - that's the recipe. Everything else is just editorial comment.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Spain, Europe
    Posts
    718

    Default

    Totally agree. As i said, initially i thought like you. Lets just wait until we have the SG cleared. If its been a month, rushing now its not necessary.

  9. Default

    Thank you both for he quick answers!
    I know now the recipe was not ok. Like I said, I bought the book with the intention to learn from it and only afterwards learned about this site and read the Newbee guide. My next attempt will definitely be aimed at this and the book will be thrown aside 
    Iíll write here in detail how I went about. I took no temperature while my thermometer is still on the way. I only got my hydrometer when the batch was made and so for the first time only did a reading yesterday. The recipe here I did twice. Once with and once without citric acid. These two batches were a test for me. I did it to learn and experiment. And Iím definitely learning now 

    -I cleaned all equipment
    -I heated up the pots of 1.5 kg honey in hot water.
    -Honey used: Marlene flowerhoney (a quite cheap honey but as this first time was, I didnít want to get an expensive kind)
    https://www.lidl.de/de/marlene-bluet...cremig/p216948
    -Prepare 0.50l of hot water in the carboy and dissolve the honey in it
    -I added 3 liters of cold water and mixed
    -I prepared 3 separate pots with a little honeywater
    -In one pot I dissolved 10 gram of citric acid
    -In a second pot I dissolved 2 gram yeast nutrient
    Yeast nutrient: vierka
    https://www.vierka.de/artikeldetails...A4hrsalz+100+g
    I canít find more info about this nutrient. Maybe I better take a better described kind next time.
    -In a third pot I dissolved 1.5 gram of yeast
    Yeast: Vierka
    https://www.vierka.de/artikeldetails...itung%2C+100+g
    I canít find more info about this yeast. Maybe I better take a better described kind next time.
    All this I added to the carboy, put a waterlock on it and didnít touch it anymore.

    Then yesterday I took the SG which was 1007 (without acid) and 996 (with acid). Iím pretty sure Iím doing that right. I canít get my picture uploaded with this post but the meter is very deep in the mead, close to the end of the scale. I hope this helps you guys!

  10. #10

    Default

    So it sounds like your have arrived at the end of your journey and one yeast is bone dry and the other is close. You can rack them off the sediment (lee's) and allow them to age. In the future you will want to rouse (stir) the lees a couple times a day for a few weeks and then every other day or so. It's important not to let the lees pile up in the bottom of your vessel, as this can cause off flavors.

    If your going to want to add other sugars to what you now have you will need to stabilize first so it doesn't restart the fermentation process. If not adding any more sugar you can forgo that. I personallt stabilize everything I make. Including traditionals and things that are bone dry. It's good insurance that bad things won't happen as you mature (age) your mead along the way.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Brookline, NH
    Posts
    386

    Default

    Please learn how to read a hydrometer and report the number correctly. We are all "assuming" that you mean 1.007 and 0.996.

    Lots of YouTube videos out there. Here's one of them.

    https://youtu.be/GTvmYaQq6Mc

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Spain, Europe
    Posts
    718

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tom.schoutteet View Post
    Thank you both for he quick answers!
    I know now the recipe was not ok. Like I said, I bought the book with the intention to learn from it and only afterwards learned about this site and read the Newbee guide. My next attempt will definitely be aimed at this and the book will be thrown aside 
    I’ll write here in detail how I went about. I took no temperature while my thermometer is still on the way. I only got my hydrometer when the batch was made and so for the first time only did a reading yesterday. The recipe here I did twice. Once with and once without citric acid. These two batches were a test for me. I did it to learn and experiment. And I’m definitely learning now 

    -I cleaned all equipment
    -I heated up the pots of 1.5 kg honey in hot water.
    -Honey used: Marlene flowerhoney (a quite cheap honey but as this first time was, I didn’t want to get an expensive kind)
    https://www.lidl.de/de/marlene-bluet...cremig/p216948
    -Prepare 0.50l of hot water in the carboy and dissolve the honey in it
    -I added 3 liters of cold water and mixed
    -I prepared 3 separate pots with a little honeywater
    -In one pot I dissolved 10 gram of citric acid
    -In a second pot I dissolved 2 gram yeast nutrient
    Yeast nutrient: vierka
    https://www.vierka.de/artikeldetails...A4hrsalz+100+g
    I can’t find more info about this nutrient. Maybe I better take a better described kind next time.
    -In a third pot I dissolved 1.5 gram of yeast
    Yeast: Vierka
    https://www.vierka.de/artikeldetails...itung%2C+100+g
    I can’t find more info about this yeast. Maybe I better take a better described kind next time.
    All this I added to the carboy, put a waterlock on it and didn’t touch it anymore.

    Then yesterday I took the SG which was 1007 (without acid) and 996 (with acid). I’m pretty sure I’m doing that right. I can’t get my picture uploaded with this post but the meter is very deep in the mead, close to the end of the scale. I hope this helps you guys!
    According to that the ferment went actually well (it did not stall). Something a bit unexpected if you really used 3 kg of honey per batch... but oh well. Next time its very important to measure the initial gravity.
    You have many things to learn before you try again but dont worry. What squatchy says is very accurate. Before another try you might want to post the recipe and ask for info. You should also read on the topics of nutrients (Staggered Nutrient Additions or SNA, how to read a hydrometer, how to and when to rack, aereation and degassing and some other stuff)

  13. Default

    It was actually 1.5 kg honey per 4.5 liter. Sorry if I didnít explain well.

    -I have some more questions: what are the minimum and maximum amount of SG to indicate it is ready for racking?
    -The taste now: no sweetness and gassy. Shall this change, or should I add some honey when I rack it?
    -The next step, racking is not completely clear yet: do I move the mead over to bottles which I completely close and put aside to age, or do I put it in another carboy with airlock?
    -Another problem: I only have 5 liter carboys, this means I can not rack it without the addition of oxygen in the carboy. What is the most damaging for the mead: waiting three more weeks to rack until new and smaller carboys arrive? Or racking it in 5l carboys and have a fifth of the carboy filled with air?
    -The topic stabilization: I have searched and read up on the website. However, itís all very technical and chemical to me. As I have no knowledge of many chemical substances and it is my first time, can you advise me to a newbie way of stabilizing?
    -For next time: is there a more well documented yeast and yeast nutrient you can advise me?

    Apologies for my ignorance. But all this has taught me a lot.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Spain, Europe
    Posts
    718

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tom.schoutteet View Post
    It was actually 1.5 kg honey per 4.5 liter. Sorry if I didnít explain well.

    -I have some more questions: what are the minimum and maximum amount of SG to indicate it is ready for racking?
    -The taste now: no sweetness and gassy. Shall this change, or should I add some honey when I rack it?
    -The next step, racking is not completely clear yet: do I move the mead over to bottles which I completely close and put aside to age, or do I put it in another carboy with airlock?
    -Another problem: I only have 5 liter carboys, this means I can not rack it without the addition of oxygen in the carboy. What is the most damaging for the mead: waiting three more weeks to rack until new and smaller carboys arrive? Or racking it in 5l carboys and have a fifth of the carboy filled with air?
    -The topic stabilization: I have searched and read up on the website. However, itís all very technical and chemical to me. As I have no knowledge of many chemical substances and it is my first time, can you advise me to a newbie way of stabilizing?
    -For next time: is there a more well documented yeast and yeast nutrient you can advise me?

    Apologies for my ignorance. But all this has taught me a lot.
    - the sg is the gravity. There is no minimum or maximum. If the sg stays stable for two or three weeks, it means thr ferment is over. In a normal ferment that is supposed to end dry, the sg wont be lower than 0.990 and usually is 1.000.
    -the taste will change. For starters the gas will go. The sweetness wont change, but if you add more honey without stabilizing first, it will get fermented.
    -you need to wait until all the yeast is at the bottom to rack. Then you put it in new carboys to age at least a few months until the mead is cristal clear. many times we dont rack right away, but stir the yeast daily for a month. Thid helps mead age and clear better. Also you should not rack until the ferment is over (see point 1)
    -having some headspace is not the end of the world. Mead is harder to oxidize than beer or wine. It oxidizes too, just slower, so dont have the mead with a lot of headspace for more than 1-3 months. Using sulphites helps with oxidation too. So if i were you, i would start stirring daily until the new carboys arrive.
    -there is no easy way of stabilizing. Just with k-meta and sorbates. That is the only safe way. However you dont need to stabilize, only if you want sweet mead or you are worried about contamination, as a precaution. Before stabilizong doing a pH reading is necessary, so invest on some pH strips or a pH meter
    -people actually use vierka yeast but the most common wine ones are lalvin yeasts. There are many of them. Other brands are lallemand (for beer yeast), wyeast, white labs (liquid yeast), and if you cant find those where you live, in europe there are also vintners harvest and gervin i think, which have similar yeasts to lalvin (dry, wine). The most common nutrient brand is Fermaid. Best nutrient is Fermaid O, then fermaid K. There are others since getting fermaid in europe is hard, such as wyeast, tronozymol...

  15. Default

    Thank you all for the advice! I know what to do now with this attempt. The next one will be much better prepared and indeed will be posted here to check with you guys.

Similar Threads

  1. Citric Acid & Gypsum in a grocery store?
    By BellaSarah in forum Archives
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 12-05-2004, 11:14 PM
  2. Citric Acid & Gypsum in a grocery store?
    By BellaSarah in forum Archives
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 12-05-2004, 11:14 AM
  3. Citric Acid Questions
    By CosmicCharlie in forum Archives
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 11-28-2004, 09:17 PM
  4. Time.. Oak... Acid... and Mead
    By Jmattioli in forum Archives
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 09-07-2004, 09:22 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •