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  1. #1

    Default Newbee with a stuck fermentation?

    First, I want to say hi to everyone here. I joined GotMead over a month ago and have been prowling through the information in my free time. Iíve learned a lot, especially from Squatchy, but I have so much more to learn. I started a JAOM December 1, and it seems to be doing well. But now with my two latest meads, Iím wondering if I have a stuck fermentation. This Monday I started two meads, one with a dark, very flavorful honey I extracted from a bee colony I removed from a neighborís ceiling (mead #1), and one with a light, sweet honey from one of my hives (mead #2). I used spring water for both and split a packet of Lalvin D47, properly hydrated (but no Goferm) between them. #1 had 48 oz of honey, heated enough to pour. #2 had about 51 oz of honey, heated hotter than I wanted but I got distracted while preparing #1. Must at pitch for #1 was 78 degrees and for #2 was 86 degrees. The temperature in the house was around 70 degrees. S.G. for #1 was 1.13 and for #2 was 1.12 (but I suspect that Iím one of the 7 out of 5 that has trouble reading my hydrometer!). The recipe I was following gave the nutrient feedings by hours rather than by sugar breaks, so I fed Fermaid K at pitch, at 48 hours and at 72 hours. Reading about the low nutrients of honey-only meads, I saw a recommendation to add a bit extra Fermaid K and DAP. I didnít have DAP because when I initially ordered my supplies, Fermax appeared when I typed DAP. Thinking it was a brand of DAP, I ordered it only to discover itís basically the same thing as Fermaid K. I tried to make up for it by adding more Fermaid K. My feedings were for #1: 1 gm, 1.2 gm, and 1.4 gm, and for #2: 1 gm, 1.4 gm, and 1.6 gm (I read that lighter honeys were lower in nutrients than darker ones, thus the discrepancy). Iím on day six now and these were the gravity readings: #1 @ 1.050, giving it a current ABV of 10.64 (if I understand how to do the calculation right). #2 @ 1.076, giving it a current ABV of only 5.82. I ran into a friend this evening who makes wine and she suggested that I have a stuck fermentation and to aerate the must and add more nutrients. Mead may be a kind of wine, but Iím not sure the practices are exactly the same in every situation, and Iím hesitant to do anything without consulting the experts. This is where I ride your coattails! First, did I do anything wrong that I shouldnít do next time? Second, is there something I should have done that I should do next time? And third, is there anything I should be doing now? I appreciate any and all advice.

  2. #2

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    I realize I forgot to add a couple of details. First, these are one gallon meads. I aerated them prior to pitch and twice daily for the three days following by shaking for five minutes mornings and evenings.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Brookline, NH
    Posts
    757

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    Did you measure you honey using fluid ounces or ounces by weight?

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by darigoni View Post
    Did you measure you honey using fluid ounces or ounces by weight?
    Ounces by weight.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Brookline, NH
    Posts
    757

    Default

    Your starting gravities were probably around 1.108 and 1.114.

    It can take 10-20 days to get through a fermentation. Batch 2 seems kind of slow (or Batch #1 is fast). Why do you think it's stalled/stuck? Have you been taking daily hydrometer readings or are you looking at bubbles?

    I would not add anymore Fermaid K. I would keep the yeast in suspension, with daily stirrings, and take some more hydrometer readings. If after a couple of days you're not seeing any changes in specific gravity, then you might want to think about using a more aggressive yeast (EC-111.

    D47 has a very narrow temperature range (59 to 68F) and likes to stay in the lower part of that. It's not a very good yeast to use unless you have some sort of temperature control.

    Have you read anything about TOSNA of TiOSNA? Those are the nutrient protocols most people are using now, using Fermaid O or Fermaid K. You might want to take some time to learn about the. Part of the protocol is using Goferm to hydrate your yeast with. Feedings are at 24, 48, 72 hours and 5 days after pitch (or by 1/3 sugar break). It's not really good practice to use DAP products (Fermiad K has DAP) until you see fermentation starting.

  6. #6

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    First, I'd like to thank you for your reply. I just drove over five hours to spend Christmas with my daughter, who is expecting her 2nd child any day now. I brought Mead #2 along and considering the road, I think it got well aerated.

    I ran across references to TONSA a couple of days ago but didn't realize their importance. I'll definitely give them a thorough read. Same for Go-ferm. When I was ordering, I thought it was the same as Fermaid K. I discovered my error too late for this batch, but I'll get some for next time.

    It looks like I underfed the yeast. I'll give another feeding.

    It sounds like I might be overly worried about it. I didn't consider that Mead #1 might have fermented extra fast. I only took the gravity readings on day 1 and day 6 (it was only on Saturday that I figured out I could use the autosiphon as a wine thief). I brought my hydrometer and will take more readings this week.

    That information about D47 is new to me. I was keeping the temps between 68-74. I'll put the Mead into a cooler area of the house.

    I expected to make some mistakes as a newbee, but figured that no matter what mistakes I make, it can't be as as bad as some of the mistakes I made as a new beekeeper! So far I haven't got a single sting! 😄

  7. #7

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    Thanks, darigoni. This has been very helpful. I spent most of yesterday travelling to Alabama so I can be with my daughter as she has her second child around Christmas. Batch #2 was in the trunk, and I'm hoping it was well aerated. Judging by the road conditions along the way, I suspect it was .

    You mentioned that I shouldn't feed anymore, but according to your post, I missed two feedings (the 24 hr. and the 5 days after pitch). I went ahead and added another gram of Fermaid K to the carboy and stirred it in well. Was that bad?

    The reason I thought the fermentation was stuck was due to the fact that the only time I've seen bubbles was right after the 72 hour feeding/aeration, and then nothing (but that's the same for both batches. I think my airlocks weren't properly on and gas was leaking out, because on degassing the carboys, there was plenty of CO2). Add to that the big discrepancy in ABV between the two, I assumed something wasn't going right with #2. I hadn't considered that #1 might be fermenting extra fast. I only took gravity readings at pitch and on Day 6 (I had been wanting to pick up a turkey baster all week, but things were hectic and I never got around to it. On Saturday I finally realized I could use my autosiphon as a wine thief). I brought my supplies with me to 'Bama and will take readings while I'm here.

    Thanks for the info about D47. I'd seen it praised and thought it would be a good one for the range of ABV I wanted, 12-14. I had no idea it was so finicky. I'll see about getting some EC111. I went ahead and put the carboy in a cool, dark closet with temps in the upper 60's range.

    I ran across TOSNA for the first time last week. I didn't realize its importance until now. Thanks for the heads up. I'll be sure to go through it carefully. I'll also pick up some Goferm before next time. I only discovered its importance after I'd placed my order (there were so many "nutrient" names and brands when I was making my list, and I thought it was basically the same as Fermaid K ).

    Thanks again. I was a bit anxious about jumping in with making mead, knowing I'd make mistakes (I'm a bit of a perfectionist), but I knew that if I just did it, everything would fall in place as I gained experience, much like beekeeping. I certainly messed up when I started that, but at least if I mess up making mead, I don't end up with a bunch of bee stings!

  8. #8

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    Thanks, Darigoni! This gives me a lot to work with.

  9. #9

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    So just a small detail. But very important. DAP is indeed very bad for yeast. But only during the brief period Of time that the yeast is actually in transition from being dry to becoming wet in establishing the cell membrane. Once the cell membrane is wet and has been stablished the yeast can then regulate wood goes in-and-out of the cell. In its then save to used app after that point
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  10. #10

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    Thanks, Squatchy. Good to know!
    I just finished taking another gravity reading and fermentation is indeed still happening. It's gone to 1.050. I guess I just panicked after talking to my wine-making friend and didn't give the process the time it needed. Darigoni messaged me some links, which I'm going through now, especially TONSA/TiONSA. Good stuff, but I never realized what a science it was!

  11. #11

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    Gotmeadlive podcast. Start on 9/5/17. Best instruction on the web currently. In my opinion. Even though I taught it. I often time wish someone else did so I wouldn't seem proud. I'm not, really. But the truth is the truth.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  12. #12

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    False humility is unbecoming of the great ones anyway! Truth be told, you aren't the only one who has recommended that I listen to your podcast, so I am determined to set time aside to enjoy it.

    I appreciate the effort you make to help us newbees. The learning curve is quite steep and it's great that there are experienced mead makers like you and darigoni to help us along.

  13. #13

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    Thanks for the kind words. That's precisely why I try to help. I remember how confusing it was when I started out.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  14. #14

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    I hear you! Exactly why I'm willing to spend time with new beekeepers because I didn't have a mentor when I first started, and it was so hard weeding through the information to determine what was good practices and what wasn't.

    I've downloaded the podcast you recommended. I have a five hour trip tomorrow and plan to put it on a loop. I expect to be an expert on making mead by the time I get home (I've been visiting family in another state).

    Today's gravity reading was 1.040, so progress continues to be mead...

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Brookline, NH
    Posts
    757

    Default

    At a minium, you'll want to listen to four of the podcasts:

    9-5-2017
    9-12
    9-19
    9-26-2017

    And, if you get serious about it, you'll eventually want to check out the podcast on 8-29-2017, which is about using oak. Squatchy also has a companion post, which you can find by searching on 'wood management'.

    Hopefully you're using podcast player that allows you to play at faster speeds. :-)

  16. #16

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    There are several now podcast in the last third of 2018 that I feel are very good information that compliments the stuff we did in the last third of 2017.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  17. #17

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    Yesterday I listened to 9-5 and 9-12, and will catch up on the rest hopefully this week. It's a lot to absorb, so I'll be giving them another listen-to as time allows. My son has a degree in biology, and I doubt he knows as much about yeast as is presented in these podcasts! To be fair, his interest is ornithology, so when it comes to birds, he can't be beat. One thing that comes to mind is what to do with all the Lalvin D47 I still have. I can't control my temps enough to maximize their potential. I suppose I could boil it up and then use it as nutrients for future meads.

    However, I did something right-ish, because Batch #1's gravity reading this morning is 1.012 and Batch #2's is 1.034, so the D47 this time around appears to have risen to the challenge. I left Batch #1 (the dark honey) at home in a cool, dark pantry while Batch #2 has spent 12 or more hours the last week being aggitated in the trunks of cars going and returning across two states. I also gave it an additional feeding of 1 gram of Fermaid K last week when I was panicking.

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