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Thread: Sunflower Traditional with 71B

  1. #1

    Default Sunflower Traditional with 71B

    This past Saturday I started a traditional mead with some lovely sunflower honey. I checked the temperature yesterday and my basement is cooler than I thought -- the must is sitting at 14.3 C (57.8 F).

    9 kilograms (19.85 pounds) monofloral sunflower honey
    spring water to 5.5 gallons -- OG 1.125
    3 packets Lalvin 71B, rehydrated with Goferm
    13.6 grams of Fermaid K* (calculated with TiOSNA) in 4 additions

    Pitched Saturday afternoon, fermentation was already visible by Sunday morning. I have made three nutrient additions so far but the 1/3 sugar break is still a long way to go -- last night a gravity reading showed 1.106.

    My main question is what I can expect with 71B and this temperature that is slightly under its ideal range. How important is it to move it somewhere warmer?
    My ancillary question is to garner some tales about results with sunflower honey in mead, since I could hardly find any even with deep googleship.


    *I know this is not considered cutting edge, but I'm still trying to sweet talk my favourite brew shop into bringing in Fermaid O.

  2. #2

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    Are you stirring this vigorously every day? I would strongly suggest that. I don't very often use that strain. But I would expect to eat a little faster than that. I might suggest warming it up a little and then once it gets going better place it back in that temp.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    Are you stirring this vigorously every day? I would strongly suggest that. I don't very often use that strain. But I would expect to eat a little faster than that. I might suggest warming it up a little and then once it gets going better place it back in that temp.
    Yes, several times a day. I haven't let it warm up yet: the fermentation continues to move slowly but steadily, having reached 1.088 yesterday. I don't mind it going slow -- in fact I prefer a clean, cool fermentation to emphasize the sunflower honey character -- but I am concerned about eventual stalling, or seeming to finish and starting back up in the bottle if they warm up.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by budgies View Post
    Yes, several times a day. I haven't let it warm up yet: the fermentation continues to move slowly but steadily, having reached 1.088 yesterday. I don't mind it going slow -- in fact I prefer a clean, cool fermentation to emphasize the sunflower honey character -- but I am concerned about eventual stalling, or seeming to finish and starting back up in the bottle if they warm up.
    Ok, so a couple things. Most of your flavor and off flavors as well are made during the growth phase. So with this in mind. You can safely warm your mead up a few points or more towards the end of the fermentation. If you are using the methods we promote around here. You shouldn't ever have a stall. ANd it looks like you are. I would never bottle unless it's below 1.000, or you have stabilized it. Most people don't really like a bone-dry mead. And backsweeten. So this definitely needs to be stabilized. Unless you tapped out your yeast. And that high of an abv is usually not preferred either.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    Ok, so a couple things. Most of your flavor and off flavors as well are made during the growth phase. So with this in mind. You can safely warm your mead up a few points or more towards the end of the fermentation. If you are using the methods we promote around here. You shouldn't ever have a stall. ANd it looks like you are. I would never bottle unless it's below 1.000, or you have stabilized it. Most people don't really like a bone-dry mead. And backsweeten. So this definitely needs to be stabilized. Unless you tapped out your yeast. And that high of an abv is usually not preferred either.
    Alrighty, thank you. My hope was that the yeast wouldn't creep past its supposed alcohol tolerance of 14% too much, leaving some residual sweetness. I will see how it goes. It was also recommended elsewhere to let it warm up towards the end of fermentation. I am prepared to stabilize and backsweeten if it comes to that.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by budgies View Post
    Alrighty, thank you. My hope was that the yeast wouldn't creep past its supposed alcohol tolerance of 14% too much, leaving some residual sweetness. I will see how it goes. It was also recommended elsewhere to let it warm up towards the end of fermentation. I am prepared to stabilize and backsweeten if it comes to that.
    We do such a good job with modern science. We end up supermaning the heck out of the yeast so I don't see it stopping at the listed levels.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  7. #7

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    Everything is a learning experience. In the chill, this came to a complete halt at 1.086. I added the final nutrient addition, gave it a very vigorous splash-stir, and found the perfect corner for the fermenter where it warmed up to 16 C (61 F). It is now back on track.

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    We do such a good job with modern science. We end up supermaning the heck out of the yeast so I don't see it stopping at the listed levels.
    Lousy damn overachieving yeast! My parents gave me everything and I turned out mediocre. Why can't the yeast do the same?

  8. #8

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    I am a touch concerned about this mead. The must has been 17-18C since I moved it to a warmer place on February 22nd. On the 5th, the gravity read 1.052, and today, it reads 1.050. That seems awfully slow to me, and I wonder if I should simply stay patient or if intervention is necessary. Appreciate any advice.

  9. #9

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    I think you are probably stuck with that one how it is. Perhaps you can make another batch and run it bone dry. Then blend this and the dry one. I have bone dry mead and super sweet mead just for this very reason. To top off barrels, blend with too dry or too wet. And to manage head space in carboys and kegs. Although kegs don't present much of an issue with the sealed compartment and under pressure with CO2.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    I think you are probably stuck with that one how it is. Perhaps you can make another batch and run it bone dry. Then blend this and the dry one. I have bone dry mead and super sweet mead just for this very reason. To top off barrels, blend with too dry or too wet. And to manage head space in carboys and kegs. Although kegs don't present much of an issue with the sealed compartment and under pressure with CO2.
    That is a bitter possibility to face. I had high hopes for this mead and the honey was not cheap, almost prohibitively so in terms of making it again to blend together. If it is indeed finished, then I have learned a tough lesson about temperature control.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by budgies View Post
    That is a bitter possibility to face. I had high hopes for this mead and the honey was not cheap, almost prohibitively so in terms of making it again to blend together. If it is indeed finished, then I have learned a tough lesson about temperature control.
    So you will want to add some oak to it. It won't change the gravity. But it will change the perception. I do this all the time. Look up "oak management" or wood management. Can't remember what I called it. You will learn a ton about oak. Then you can choose what species and toast level you want to add. Hungarian med toast would give you some astringency and structure. That will make it seem drier and you won't have to have a big does of percieved oak in it. If that's what you want.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    So you will want to add some oak to it. It won't change the gravity. But it will change the perception. I do this all the time. Look up "oak management" or wood management. Can't remember what I called it. You will learn a ton about oak. Then you can choose what species and toast level you want to add. Hungarian med toast would give you some astringency and structure. That will make it seem drier and you won't have to have a big does of percieved oak in it. If that's what you want.
    I have glutted myself to surfeit on the incorruptible wisdom of both that thread and your podcast on oaking. Unspeakably informative. And yet I feel as if trying to balance this cloying abortion with oak would be woefully insufficient.

    No, my next resort will be to draw an eldritch seal on the basement floor in goat's blood with the fermenter in the middle and begin my gibbering ululations. Something's going to rouse that yeast.

  13. #13

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    This thread is cracking me up. I searched the forums for goat's blood but nothing came up. Not sure if that's part of modern mead making protocols...
    Raisins are NOT nutrients for yeast... but french fries ARE!

  14. #14
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    Squatchy's suggestion of making another (bone dry) batch and then blending them, is a great idea. Been there, done that! I think I read somewhere that Squatchy blends a lot of his meads, to get the right balance.

    An alternative, would be to make a 1/2 gallon starter (EC-1118 or K1-V1116) and, once it gets rolling, start feeding your mead to it. The advantage being you'd end up with 6 gallons of mead rather than 11 gallons.

    That being said, the more sure way would be batch blending.

  15. #15
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    Default

    Before giving up though, you could move the must even warmer. It's not unheard of for some fermentations to start up years after they were thought to be "done", when conditions changed. In my pleb opinion you have nothing to lose - place the fermenter in your house in a warm place (closer to 72C) and see what happens. Maybe it'll keep going. If it doesn't, you don't lose anything. If it does, well, then you have what you have now.

  16. #16

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    Loathe to risk its monofloral delicacies to a rapacious yeast (with parsimony overruling the expense of a second batch for blending), I have opted for patience with this mead. I moved it to the warmest area in the house which raised it to 20 C. It continues to drop a point or two every day, so who knows: maybe it will finish at a decent dryness after all.


    Meanwhile, the bloody wax-spattered sigils on the basement floor have dried a dull cold brown. Perhaps I need not kneel there again to say those unsayable words -- I cannot afford to pay a second time the price of the helpfulness of the things that answer. There is no mead on earth sweet or strong enough to wash away the memory of the last time I dared to call upon them in need... nor to inure my frayed mind against the horror of another unraveling.
    Last edited by budgies; 03-12-2018 at 10:35 AM.

  17. #17

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    So this must continues to drag its hobbled limbs towards the finish line, one or two points at a time. It hasn't stalled completely yet, but obviously it isn't happy. And yet I have not given up on it.

    Through casting a wide net of research, and through unspeakable communion with creatures beyond the stars whom I cannot name, I have come to believe that this was actually a pH problem all along and never a temperature problem. I intend to pick up a pH meter and verify my suspicion this evening. I sort of needed one anyways to figure out sulphite additions.

    Hopefully with this I will be able to get the fermentation back on track.

  18. #18

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    I have never had a phone drop to a place that it stalls. It might be your problem. But I would guess it was probably in your rehydration protocol. Don't raise your pH above 3.2 Or 3.3 if you have to raise it at all. I wouldn't stabilize that either at that gravity. What would you ever do with it after that?
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  19. #19

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    This mead has been a problem child, but I think I have worked through its troublesome adolescence, much like myself. Stuck dead at 1.034 and tasting like a drag queen bee threw up in a bucket behind the club. The pH wasn't a problem at all, it was 3.45. Next I added some boiled yeast to see if it was just deficient. Gravity didn't budge. Finally (although this was always meant to be my last resort), I made a strong starter with Mangrove Jack's Dry Mead 05, gradually incorporated increasing doses of the must, and finally pitched the vigorously fermenting yeast back in. Now the fermentation is back on track, virtually on fire I should say. Disaster averted!

  20. #20

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    I made one traditional-ish 5l batch at the beginning of February with supposedly sunflower honey (got it from a local seller - I may be defective, but I don't think I can distinguish it from a wildflower honey, and I can't bring myself to buy fancy honeys yet; it does taste good, though) and it's already mostly gone, I have 1l left (pitched Jan 31, bottled March 15, tasted on March 8 and it was already drinkable); I also tested it on some guests and they loved it

    This was my 4th batch ever and my note taking abilities are still developing, and my hydrometer is graduated in something called BABO and I don't know what I'm doing, but just in case it helps others, it looked like this:
    * 2 jars of honey, ~ 1.8-1.9 kg
    * filtered tap water up to 4.5l (pollen tends to foam), brought to a simmer and left to cool to 40-ish degrees C; SG was around 1.13, if I am to trust the online calculator I found
    * 5g yeast, re-hidrated in warm water with a bit of the must above; I used a Hungarian wine yeast called Vinartis Top Ferm - I live in Romania, this was the cheapest one I found at a local online seller; it supposedly goes up to 16% and it's Saccharomyces Bayanus (so maybe EC 1118 equivalent?)
    * 150g of pollen for nutrients (I found some paper online where they reached the conclusion that 30g/l yields best results, but I'll be trying with less pollen in the future, because it's probably a function of the yeast they used)
    * 50-ish grams of jasmine black tea for tannin and other stuff (one large tea bag, full; I don't remember if I boiled it, I think not; there is no trace of it in the final thing anyway)
    * room temperature, which is around 20 deg. C in my house during winters - the yeast is supposed to be fine between 10 and 30 degrees

    I racked after 2 weeks when fermentation slowed, added water to fill the carboy, let it bubble slowly for the next ~ 1 month, then racked again in 2.5l PET bottles (no room for carboy in the fridge), cold crashed and added bentonite to clear it up, then bottled in flip-top glass bottles; I also dropped a few dried juniper berries the one bottle I have left, but I'm not sure it was a good idea (it sure smells like juniper, but I'm not sure it will fit the pollen and honey taste of the mead). It feels semi-sweet, but the hydrometer reads almost zero (1.01, according to the same online calculator).

    (OHAI, first post here, btw)

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