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Thread: did i mess up my yeast production?

  1. Default did i mess up my yeast production?

    Hi all,

    I started a 3 gal batch of guava mead last night. I rehydrated my yeast according to the directions on the package, and I pitched it into the must. When I went to put the bucket lid on, a piece of it fell into the bucket (an O ring). I used a sanitized strainer tool to get the O ring out, and I rinsed the strainer off into the bucket so any sediment that it caught was put back into the bucket.

    This morning I checked my airlock, and it was bubbling at 1 bubble every 19 seconds. I feel like usually I get more activity at this point.

    My question is, did I screw up the yeast production by fishing around the must for the O ring?

    On another note, I am doing a 3 gal batch in a 5 gal bucket. Is the bubble production slower because of the headspace?

    If I do not see improvement in my bubble rate, should I pitch another packet?

    Here is my recipe

    9 lbs clover honey
    1 packet Lalvin ec-1118
    100 oz guava juice
    filtered water to 3 gal

  2. #2

    Default

    Bubbles don't mean anything. But a hydrometer and learn to use it. You should be fine about the I ring. Even in a 100 gallon bucket. Once the space fills up and gasses start to exit through the airlock. The air lock doesn't know if it's a one cup bell or a thousand gallon vessel.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  3. #3
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    Default

    Hi jgriffice - and welcome. Bubble production is great for bubble baths but in mead making a far more reliable metric is the change in density of the must (AKA - specific gravity) and to measure specific gravity you use a simple tool called an hydrometer. They cost about $10 and they are amazingly reliable. (as for bubble production I can think of about a dozen factors that can influence the rate of bubbles that bubble through your airlock - including poor seals between fermenter and bung and between bung and airlock... and including the density of the guava juice through which the CO2 has travel.

    What exactly is "filtered water"? Is that water from which all minerals have been removed? Doesn't a strong fermentation need many of the minerals found in unfiltered water?

  4. Default

    Hi bernardsmith

    What i mean by filtered water is the water that I ran through my brita pitcher. The water where I live tasted like chlorine, so I wanted to try to use the water through the Brita. Was this a poor choice?

    So do you think I should buy a hydrometer and measure the SG over the course of a couple days and see if its changing? Or should I just measure the initial SG and that will tell me if the density is at a rate in which I can ferment?

    Thank you everybody for the replies

  5. #5
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    First some back story: There's a significant difference between the practices of brewers brewing beer and mead makers fermenting honey. Beer is incredibly susceptible to spoilage - souring and bacterial infection so brewers are neurotic about sanitation. Mead makers treat sanitation very seriously but we know that any sample we draw to measure the specific gravity of our meads (or wines) we can return to the fermenter without any concern (the acidity of mead is higher than beer, the alcohol level is often far higher, honey does not seem to oxidize as easily as beer, we can age mead for years without the need for hops, (though IMO, a mead made with hops can be delicious) etc etc).. OK - So all this is to say that good practice (I am a social scientist and we tend to talk about good practice and not "best practice") suggests that you frequently measure the specific gravity of any batch during active fermentation - because such measurement will alert you to problems, will confirm the lack of problems and if you are following various protocols for adding nutrition you want to know when the next addition is due. In my opinion, an hydrometer is the one tool that is essential in mead making.

    If the problem with your water is chlorine then yes, you do want to remove that. But one effective way to remove chlorine - Chlorine - not chloramine which is what I think many municipalities are now using is to allow the water to stand for about 24 hours. The chlorine should evaporate off (boiling the water should produce the same result). I am not certain but I have heard that if the problem is chloramine (chloramine does not evaporate off which is why this is now preferred by municipalities) you can add K-meta (Campden tablets) and these bind with the chlorine and neutralize it BUT IMO, far better than either approach is to look for spring water (store bought, if need be). In my own locale we have a state park where we can obtain from wells spring water (free) under state seal (just collected 8 gallons this morning before I went into the office ). The thing is that you don't want to filter out minerals from the water. Yeast need those minerals.

  6. #6

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    Bubble rate depends on:
    - Design of airlock
    - volume of water in airlock
    - Seal of carboy
    - Volume of must
    - General activity of must
    - headspace, especially if the headspace is not full of co2 yet
    - phase of ferment
    - your last addition type
    - your last addition timing (adding something usually degasses your must and bubble production slows for a time)
    - whether you touched the carboy since any movement degasses
    .... probably even more factors

    From those you're trying to isolate general activity of must. To an experienced brewer I say I do get a general feel of how things are going but only because I have done the exact same thing dozens of times. There are many, many factors which can make a ferment different such as:
    - Yeast type
    - temperature
    - ph
    - nutrients
    - Sg

    Once I try something different there's no telling how many bubbles will be produced. Sometimes I try the exact same thing and I get fewer bubbles and it turns out the seal on the carboy is not perfect or some such nonsense.

    So it's impossible for us to know anything about your ferment unless we know the exact method and recipe and ferment conditions, alongside those 10 (or so) factors listed earlier. Then it might be something silly like a seal after all that.

    This is why we tend to tell new mazers that bubble count does not mean anything. Plus even if it somehow meant something, you still need to buy a hydrometer sooner rather than later, so you might as well buy and use a hydrometer now
    Last edited by Stasis; 11-07-2017 at 01:25 PM.
    "Shouldn’t we say wine is a mead-like beverage made with grapes substituted for the honey?" - Steve Piatz

  7. #7
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    Not to hijack the thread, Stasis but i would imagine that ambient temperature, temperature of the must and ambient air pressure, size of particulates in must and their contours and surface smoothness also impact how quickly or slowly the CO2 collects in the liquid to form bubbles of gas (itself a particular phenomenon) and so has enough energy to overcome gravity and the friction of the liquid to be ejected from the fermenter. As you say, just too many critical variables to treat bubble activity as something other than random noise.

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