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Thread: Krausen explosion...to clean or not to clean

  1. Default Krausen explosion...to clean or not to clean

    Hi all. I've got a 5 gallon batch of mead (using wild yeast) recently started, with a few different warming herbs and spices for winter time. After fermentation had clearly begun, about 5 days, I strained the herbs from the brew and transferred to a 5 gallon glass carboy. After about 24 hours in the carboy, there was a huge krausen (I assume this is what it is, it looks similar to beer I have brewed) explosion, with huge bubbles that carried yeast and other foamy material all the way up to the airlock. This went on for 3 days, and has now died down, but left a whole mess above the liquid. I have never seen this in mead before, and am not sure what to do. Do I rack the mead and get it into a clean carboy? Do I leave it? I have made 1 gallon batches before and they never did this, and some of my previous mead I have left to ferment for a full year without doing anything. I can't imagine leaving a mess like this for a full year, and would think it could harbor bacteria or something else unwanted. I can post a pic if needed, but I think you get the idea. Would love some insight. Thanks!

  2. #2

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    So do you have 5 gallons of must in a five-gallon carboy? If so you can't have much head space. Am I correct? Maybe a pick or an answer would better equip us to make a better decision for you. I usually won't move a batch from bucket to carboy until it's past that stag of making all kinds of foam/bubbles for this very reason. Will you be feeding this one with nutrients? What was your SG? Where did you get your yeast from? Adjuncts or just exposure to the environment?
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  3. #3

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    If it's dirty on the outside clean it. If the krausen dried on the inside of the carboy leave it since you should be shaking or stirring your carboy and splashing the sides anyway to aerate or degas depending on the stage of fermentation. Activity might have spiked since you strainedthe herbs and aerated the must which might have been oxygen deprived, resulting in the krausen explosion

  4. Default

    Thanks for the replies. I do think with the next batch like this I will let it sit in the bucket for a few days and let the foam do its thing before transferring to a carboy. Also, my mistake, I think the carboy I have is actually 6.5 gallons, as there is a bit of head room at the top. I am not planning on adding anything to it, and the yeast was all from the environment and whatever was on the herbs I stirred in.

    Stasis: I have never stirred any of my mead before, except while in the bucket and collecting wild yeast. Every other batch I have just waited for fermentation to begin, then simply poured the must into a carboy or jug with an airlock and left it alone. Is stirring recommended in the beginning stages of fermentation? I just started this batch about 3 weeks ago.

    I tried posting a pic, but the forum says I keep exceeding some limit.

    Thanks for your help.

  5. #5

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    Yes, you should be aerating (introducing air into the must) during the first days of ferment. As you can see by simply filtering off the herbs and transferring the must the yeast took up oxygen which they sorely needed and this resulted in a krausen 'explosion'. If you did other things the correct way this would be rather common.
    However, everything you're doing is against what we usually recommend. Instead of ferments taking a year and possibly tasting not-so-good (or bad.. who knows with wild yeast?) Then possibly needing another year to age and mellow out those defects, they should be ready in 2-3 weeks and aged for 6 months but tasting really good even after a month because the practices were done so well.
    If you ever want to read up more on what we usually follow on these forums I would start by reading the newbee guide found at the top of the page
    "Shouldn’t we say wine is a mead-like beverage made with grapes substituted for the honey?" - Steve Piatz

  6. Default

    Thank you...I did look through the guide and have found it very helpful. Thus far my approach has been honey + water + time, and I am absorbing all this new info. Here is some more info, and perhaps you can help with my next question.

    I did not take an OG reading, but I did go ahead and siphon the must into a bucket while I cleaned the carboy, and took a gravity reading now. It comes out to 1.090.
    I started this batch on Nov 8, and without using any other yeast but from the herbs and air, fermentation started on the 13th. What I did, mistakenly, is to put it from the open bucket and into the carboy with an airlock right away. Then came the yeast explosion, and then came my question about cleaning. I see that I should've left it open for a few days, until the 1/3 break, then to the carboy and airlock. Because I did not take an OG reading, I used the calculator and think that I got that the estimated OG would've been 1.108 (15 lbs honey and 5 gallons total volume). So, if that is true, there is been little fermentation and I should still be aerating until the gravity begins to drop. I would say the current airlock activity is pretty slow - 1 bubble per minute or less - though there are plenty of bubbles rising to the surface.

    Would you say this is correct, to open and aerate and continue taking gravity readings, to get things back on track?

  7. Default

    Thank you...the Newbee guide has been very helpful. My past approach to mead has been Honey + Water + Time, and I am enjoying absorbing all this new information. With what I read on the guide, yes I see why it is so important to allow oxygen into the must for the first few days, until the yeasts get all they need and you reach the 1/3 sugar break. I did not take a gravity reading to start, but I did use the Mead Calculator and it estimated an OG of 1.108 (15lbs of honey and target volume of 5 gallons). I just took a gravity reading yesterday, which came out to 1.090. So it appears, if the OG estimate was correct, that not much has happened. Which makes sense, as I have holding back progress by depriving the yeast of oxygen. So, if all this is true, would you say the best thing to do is to open and aerate the must and continue taking gravity readings until it gets to the 1/3 break?

  8. #8

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    You need way more than just oxygen. So far you are starving your yeast of any food to run on and haven't spoken of temp control. You better feed the little ones and tell us what your temps are.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

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