View Full Version : Stuck Cyser

11-19-2007, 02:32 AM
This was my first mead attempt, although I've been brewing beer for years with great results. I had not found this site when I made this batch.

Recipe and process:

I used the AHA Mead Day recipe, "Starrlight Mulled Apple Cyser." Made this 10/14/07.

Recipe called for:

16 lbs Wildflower Honey
5 gal Apple Cider* no preservatives, sulfites
4 Tbsp Cinnamon, ground
1 Tbsp Clove, ground
2 Tbsp Allspice, ground
2 Tbsp Nutmeg, ground
2 Tbsp Orange peel, dried
1 tsp Yeast Nutrient (DAP diammonium phosphate)
10 g (2 packages) Lalvin Narbonne Yeast (71B-1122)

I warmed 1 gallon of the cider on the stove, mulled the spices, and then added it to the fermenter. I added the honey, then the cider. I used unpasteurized cider from a local cider mill, no preservatives, and "field honey" from a local farmer a couple of miles from where I live. Before checking the temp of the must, I rehydrated the yeast in water, no additives, 105 F. I then discovered that the must was way too warm to pitch to - around 100 F. By the time it occurred to me that I should use my immersion chiller to bring the temp down, and got it sanitized, and chilled it down, probably 70-90 minutes had elapsed from when I first added the yeast to the water - contrary to directions to get it into the must within 30 minutes.

I did not have the DAP. I added Wyeast Yeast Nutrient, dissolved in warm water, instead, 2 tsp, added and stirred into the must before pitching.

I used a plastic fermenter, which was new for me since I ferment beer in glass carboys. I took a regular plastic lid and cut a hole in it. (LHBS did not have any lids to go with their fermenters). So I never got a good seal, so my airlock never really bubbled, so I could never tell how well the fermentation was going.

OG was 1.136 (well above the predicted 1.120 stated in the recipe notes).

The fermentation got going fairly strongly initially, judging from the krausen (or whatever y'all call it in mead) at the top.

I added 2 tsp of ID Carlson "yeast energizer" (urea) at day 3.

After two weeks, I was so frustrated with the failure of my attempts to seal the fermenter that I decided to stir it all up and rack it to a glass carboy so I could see what was going on. At that point the gravity was 1.046.

I got one bubble every 40 sec initially after this racking. Within a couple of days, it had slowed to one per 90 sec.

After 2 more weeks, it's going at the rate of 1 bubble every 2 minutes. pH testing at this point comes out at 4.2 - 4.4.

Today, I decided to rack to secondary, figuring that it's not going anywhere, and checked the gravity again - 1.044, so down 2 points in two weeks, and getting slower every day. After racking, I decided to start doing some serious research and found this site. (Duh)

Anyway, it's a lot sweeter and viscous than I'd like. The original recipe stated 1.014 as the FG. I started 16 points higher than the recipe called for and finished 30 points higher.

I'd like to dry it out a bit more - maybe down to 1.020 to 1.030.

My questions:

- What are the relative merits/drawbacks to leaving it at this level? I'm reacting partly to the recipe goal of going down to 1.014, a drop of 106 points from start to finish. 106 from where I started would be 1.030. I'm at 1.044.

- Is it too late to add nutrient to try to get this going again? More Wine's site says that Fermaid or DAP additions at this point are not a good idea for a stuck fermentation since the yeast may not be able to metabolize the nitrogen and it may leave off tastes. They suggest yeast hulls. But I'm pretty sure it was the lack of good nutrient that caused the problem to begin with.

- I'm thinking I should do a starter (the right way, using Go-ferm) with the same yeast, when it peaks, dump it in a fermenter, add equal amount of must, and then either 1) gradually keep adding must over time, or 2) pitch the whole thing into the stuck must. Any opinions on which is a better method?

- If I do add the starter as stated above, should I also add Fermaid? Or yeast hulls? Or DAP? Or some combination?

- Have I totally screwed myself by draining the mead off the lees? I'm thinking that since I did this I better add a starter, since I've probably depopulated the yeast that might otherwise have revived from other strategies.

11-19-2007, 04:30 AM
Dont panic :alien:

The starter is a good idea.

Either way heres what you will want to think about:

If you pitch yeast into 12% your alcohol must you'll shock them. I'd suggest not just making a starter but taking a little time to feed them both with sugars (honey, cider) and with some of your already alcoholic must to acclimate them to the environment.

first rehydrate your yeast as per manufacturers instructions and use goferm.
Pitch this starter culture into a weak must or some preservative free cider (1.05 is a good kick off) and let it go to work for a day.
Feed it with a little more honey and a little must.
Repeat for a day or two, monitor your SG readings before and after each addition so you can predict how healthy your yeasts are, a good post on making a slightly more complex mega starter can be found right here. (http://www.gotmead.com/component/option,com_smf/Itemid,412/topic,2526.msg23988#msg23988) (Honey can be substituted for DME.)

This will give you a culture that is prepared for re-pitching, as for the yeast there are a couple of considerations.

71B may or may not be the best idea right now, it peaks at 14% (on average) and (on occasion) can be pushed to 16%, if you do manage to reach that 14% peak on a re-pitch you'll be at roughly 1.03. So close to it's tolerance it may have a hard time finishing the job for you.

The other option is to use a yeast like K1V which has a better tollerance to alcohol and is good for re-starting stuck batches, though there is the risk of it going to higher levels (ergo lower sugars) than your target, possibly drying out your mead entirely at 18% abv.

The 71B may be worth a shot anyway, worst case scenario you'd have to re-pitch with K1V I s'pose.

good luck!

Oh yeah:


11-19-2007, 11:01 PM
If you're going to repitch I'd recommend EC-1118 since it's a cyser. EC just seems to be pretty much unstoppable in cyser as a stuck fermenter fixer!

I posted a "Restart Stuck Fermentation" protocol a while back. Do a forum search with "restart" and Oskaar as the author and you should be able to find it.



11-20-2007, 02:18 AM
Thanks much, folks. I'll work on the starter and re-pitch. Still not sure which yeast to use; I don't want this too dry, so I'm a bit afraid of the EC-1118. I have not read up on stopping a fermentation artificially - I take it you monitor gravity and taste and add sorbate when you reach the desired level?

I hear no comment on the MoreWine statement that adding nutrient at this point is a bad idea, and use of yeast hulls instead. I see lots of comments throughout the forum about using yeast hulls to help keep yeast in suspension, but not much on this issue. Can anyone comment on this?

Oskaar, I tried the search you suggested and did not find the protocol. I found a reference to a sorbated cyser restart approach but the embedded link was bad. I've found lots of bits and pieces in other posts but nothing real developed. But that's OK - I appreciate all the bits and pieces and whatever hep I can find. Thanks again.

11-20-2007, 03:05 AM
It looks like something has happened to the thread, Richard Lambert was the thread starter, and he was making my New Year Cyser. You see the first post on the thread is from 1/29/07 and it was an RE as in a response so I'm at a loss on this one. Weird, it's like the really meaty part of the thread went away.

I'll dig a bit deeper when I have time.



11-20-2007, 03:20 AM
If I recall you may want to add sufite and sorbate to stabilize. I'd run a search on stopping fermentation, trust me theres been plenty of discussion on it. Otherwise, yes, you pretty much just monitor your SG and stop it where you like it.

If your starter runs it dry and you don't like it you can stabilize and back sweeten with honey. At 18% it may need a little more time in the bottle before it really shines though.

Oskaar--I have a question about re-pitching into high alcohol myself. I've re-pitched successfully into as high as 12% but is it possible to restart something that is sitting at 15-16%??

Yo momma
11-22-2007, 12:09 PM
When you do repitch and it does happen to go dry, you could backsweeten this to your liking that way you get the most alchohol available in your batch. If this is the way you want to do this, it is mine, then do a search on back sweetening and you will find a ton of info there. Good luck and welcome to GOT MEAD?

11-22-2007, 01:19 PM

Lallemand just updated their website with the following information.

Follow these steps before introducing the rescue yeast:

Take the necessary precautions to avoid growth of spoilage bacteria by adding SO2 (but not so much that the rescue yeast will be impaired) and/or lysozyme. Gently rack the wine off the yeast lees to help eliminate the potential of inhibitory substances attached to the lees leaching back into the wine. Filter the wine if more practical.

Adsorb the inhibitory substances with 25 g/hL yeast hulls. Avoid adding yeast hulls in excess of 25 g/hL as higher amounts can impart a yeasty character to the wine.

Gently stir the yeast hulls into the stuck wine to ensure good dispersion and contact and allow them to settle for about 48 hours.

After allowing the yeast hulls to work for 48 hours, rack (or filter if more practical). Add 25g/hL Fermaid K.
If you know or suspect the presence of lactic acid bacteria (i.e. is the VA climbing) use lysozyme.

With the alcohol level you've indicated I think that Uvaferm 43 is the way to go, and here's some additional information from Lallemand:

Uvaferm 43 plus Go-Ferm

For a traditional restart protocol using proven rescue yeast such as the Uvaferm 43 rehydrated in Go-Ferm, we recommend one method that has been successfully used in Italy for many years and is available in the article Overcoming Stuck and Sluggish Fermentations. We're constantly evaluating improved protocols and hope to post them soon so keep checking back with us!

I'll attach the PDF (http://www.lallemandwine.us/pdf/overcoming_stuck_fermentation.pdf) to this post when I'm back in my office.



11-28-2007, 11:17 AM
Thanks, Oskaar. This is extremely helpful.

I've now digested this and am ready to proceed. I need to get the Uvaferm.

Do you think, with the alcohol level I have, that I need to sulfite or lysozyme? I'm inclined to skip that step.

I've tried to scale down their alcohol-tolerant starter directions in the pdf. It looks like I would re-hydrate the yeast in 1/2 c of water with 8-10 g of goferm and 8-10 g of yeast. Doing some rounding, I would then add that to 2 oz of stuck must, 3 oz of water, 19 g of sugar and a pinch (.05g) of fermaid for the first 8 hours. Do these small ratios make sense?

Can I use honey or light DME in place of sugar? At what ratios would I replace the sugar with these?

After that, the next step is 2 cups of must, 1 cup of water, .5 g of fermaid, and 38g of sugar. Last step is to add that to 1 liter of stuck must, and then to the remainder of the stuck must, all with appropriate waits for fermentation activity. Sound right?

11-28-2007, 02:20 PM
Hi All,

I have the same problem with a straight mead I used Wyeast Dry Mead Yeast on.

Started it two weeks ago at 1.100-1.110. It's down to 1.075 and only bubbling once every twenty seconds or so. I've added yeast energizer at pitching yeast and twice since.

The article Oskaar posted says I can add more oxygen to create lipids if I am 1/3 to 1/2 of the way through fermentation. So I will do this.

Is it also not advisable for me to add DAP since I am earlier in my fermentation than this ?

Also, what yeast would you recommend to go well with the existing Wyeast Dry Mead Yeast ?


(I hope I'm not hi-jacking your thread wj !)

Yo momma
11-28-2007, 05:50 PM
If you go to the search bar up top of the forums and search stuck fermentation, you will get all the info you need :icon_study:. You could use EC-1118 whish ids used for stuck fermentaions. If you start a thread with your exact recipe you could get more help from some of the better meaders in here. The more info you put down the more help they will be. Put in everything from when you started to where it's at now. :icon_thumleft:

11-29-2007, 11:39 PM
OK, so I've done more reading and see that there are lots of bugs that could be a problem if I don't folow this advice, even in high alcohol solutions:

Take the necessary precautions to avoid growth of spoilage bacteria by adding SO2 (but not so much that the rescue yeast will be impaired) and/or lysozyme. Gently rack the wine off the yeast lees to help eliminate the potential of inhibitory substances attached to the lees leaching back into the wine. Filter the wine if more practical.

My question is, what should I use, and how much is "not so much that the rescue yeast will be impaired"? This is a 5 gallon batch. Are we talking about K-metabisulfite?

12-13-2007, 12:41 PM
This is an update to my previous posts.

My stuck must has a pH of 3.77.

I followed the stuck fermentation procedure in the Lallemand article that Oskaar posted the link to, above, scaled down to my batch size, using the uvaferm 43 strain.

I had much anxiety over this, because their instructions say to step up the starter in phases based on how much of the "reducing sugars" have been consumed by the yeast. I took this to mean the unfermented gravity, i.e., if the SG of the starter at the beginning of the step was 1.044, I should step up with the next addition at 1.022 or so.

First question: did I understand this right?

Anyway, the beginning phases of the starter are so small that I could not use my hydrometer to check gravity, and I don't have any other device for this, so I just added the next step at the estimated time they said it would likely take to get to that stage.

By the time I got to the last addition (1 liter of the stuck must being added to approx. 1 liter of starter), I was able to take a gravity reading. It was around 1.042 at the start. I checked it at 12 hours, 24 hours, and 48 hours. It never got below 1.034, and activity had pretty much slowed to a halt.

So either I misunderstood, and "reducing sugars" meant something less than the total points of gravity above 1.000, or there's something else going on that is inhibiting the fermentation.

Anyway, I finally said to hell with it, and added the starter to 3 gallons of my 5 gallon stuck batch. If it ferments down to .99, I figured I can kill off the yeast and blend it with the other 2 gallons and get close to where I wanted the ending gravity to be.

It never really took off, but there has been slow and steady activity over the last 10 days - the fastest it bubbled was 1 per 20 seconds (in a 5 gallon glass carboy). At 7 days, the total gravity (started at 3 gallons 1.044, added 2 liters of starter at 1.034) was down to 1.032. It's still bubbling in the airlock at about 1 per 45 seconds, starting to slowly get lighter in color.

Strangely (based on my beer experience), the air (or CO2) space in the carboy is filled with very large clear bubbles, 2-3 inches in diameter. There is (and has been) a white ring floating on the top of the must about 1 inch in from the sides of the carboy, about 1 inch wide. Haven't tested gravity since Dec. 9. I'll check again this weekend.

So I'm trying to be patient, but wondering if there are any tell-tale signs here or any speculation about what I've got going on. Thanks.

02-09-2008, 09:35 PM
My final update on this stuck cyser -

I just let it sit for a couple of months. It got nice and clear. Final gravity at the end of the rescue attempt is 1.024. It was stuck at 1.044 so the uvaferm knocked another 20 points off. Still pretty sweet, but much less syrupy and I like it. Thanks for all your help.