View Full Version : Late stage feeding/ stuck fermentation

08-23-2008, 06:07 AM
I made a batch of mead to this (http://www.gotmead.com/Recipes/mead-eg.html.html) recipe, excluding the lemon, that I starting on 1st of August. I fed it with killed yeast and raisins for 1/3 suger break (approximately) and a second feeding of killed yeast and ~70 grams of frozen, boiled and pureed rowan berries at 2/3 sugar break. Again, approximately - I only got hydrometer on 12th so I had to calculate the OG, but close enough.
12th: 1,056, alcohol 8%. Fed the batch, yeast really seemed to like the rowan as fermentation picked up like crazy.
14th: 1,050, alcohol 8% (figured this or the previous one was just a measurement error). The mead had a noticeable, pleasant rowan taste.
18th: 1,040, alcohol 9%. Well, can't expect the initial frenzy to go on forever...
20th: 1,038, alcohol 9%. Was sort of miffed, but not alarmed.
23rd: 1,036, alcohol 10%. This is where I start to get worried with the slowness, and the mead has a strange, sort of thin and hot, mildly unpleasant taste, as well as acid taste which I figure comes partly from the rowan - was probably too heavy-handed with it. If I get this mead to secondary and aging it will probably mellow out, but I'm worried IF the mead will come along. The fermentation seems to have slowed down way too early and quickly, and I'm worried I may have fusels or other crap in there. I brew in room temperature at about 20-22C, which would be around 70F. What can I do to get the fermentation going strong again? Is additional feeding this late into primary beneficial or not?

I used the same yeast as for my JAO, which is currently still burping occasionally and shows no signs of clearing out yet, at 15%, so the alcohol content can't be the problem for the yeast strain. I don't know the pH as the store I bough my hydro- and alcometer from were out of pH strips. The initial addition of very acidic berries seemed to increase the fermentation, but I don't know about the behaviour in long term... my JAO is certainly more lemony now than on 12th, so can the acidity increase in the mead?

08-24-2008, 02:10 AM
At first I missed your link under "this" and was really confused.

What was your OG? pH seems an unlikely candidate, but you should take a reading.
I am not an expert when it comes to natural brewing, but my initial thought is that it needs a stir or swirl. You dont need to open it and expose it to oxygen to do this, just swirl the carboy and look for signs of life. If you do open it, simply swirl slowly to get everything into suspension.

Is it possible that the fruit you added has sulfites on them? If they did they might have killed your yeast.

Thats all I can think of now, but it's a few leads. Perhaps some of the more experienced will chime in.

Good luck


08-24-2008, 06:46 AM
My OG was somewhere around 1.150-1.155, by the mead calculator. I picked the berries myself, so there's no chance they'd have any sulphitic additives. Swirling the carboy gives no reaction, there is pressure on the airlock but that's it - no bubbling at all. There seems to be a centimeter or so thick layer of lees in the bottom, so it seems like the majority if not all yeast is already dead.

Is there any benefit of trying to restart with wine yeast (used bread yeast originally) or should I just rack her into secondary and see how it turns out. I don't mind the lower alcohol content, but the taste is sort of disappointing. Was much better a day or two after adding the rowan berries... backsweetening is of course an option, but the hotness is a bit meh.

08-25-2008, 11:31 AM
Rakka, you've given us the most likely answer to your "stalled" fermentation. When using bread yeast in a recipe with such a high starting gravity, the yeast will most likely never be able to take the must anywhere near dryness. Most bread yeast based recipes (including JAO) expect to finish out at 7 to 10% ABV. You have actually achieved a rather good result from the yeast that you used. If you want it to go drier, then you will need to re-pitch with a wine yeast. Be careful to read all that you can on "stuck fermentations" here on the forum, and proceed only after you know how to approach acclimating your new starter to the existing must.

And Oskaar -- is there any way that we can mark some of these "pseudo-historical" recipes as "to be used at your own risk" or something like that? Euell Gibbons may have been a great environmentalist (the jury's still out on that), but he definitely "warn't no darned meadmaker!" ;)

08-25-2008, 01:29 PM
OK, thanks. I guess I'll just rack then - I don't want particularly dry mead, sweetness balances out the rowan nicely. I was just worried that there was some irregularity with the fermentation.

Mweh, should have been more careful to look at the dates when picking out the recipe, but ah well. Turned out drinkable enough, and I'll be wiser next time.Thanks for your help. :)