View Full Version : Blowing through my airlock...

02-16-2009, 12:30 AM
... is this a normal thing? I've just started a 5 gallon batch of mead and less than 5 hours later I have no more water in my airlock, but it looks like it's fileed with mead instead and it's gurgling like crazy.

02-16-2009, 01:11 AM
... It looks like I panicked I took some time and was able to find some existing posts on the same topic.

Thanks Y'all!

02-16-2009, 07:33 AM
Hello T-Bone,

Welcome to Got Mead?

If you're fermenting in a carboy it's generally good practice to cover the mouth with a well sanitized cotton cloth and change it 1x/day. This allows the must to take on oxygen which is required during the early aerobic fermentation in order for the yeast cells to develop fully and form strong and elastic cell walls. Oxygen should be considered an essential yeast nutrient. Slight aeration during yeast stationary and growth phases increases the production of lipids (principally oleanoloic acid) and sterols (ergosterol and zymosterol) which are important cell membrane constituents. This is important for the fermentation when it goes into heavy alcohol production (most of the alcohol is produced in the early 1/3 of the fermentation according to Dr. Clayton Cone of Lallemand) it is also a key in the yeasts ability to withstand the toxic effects of the EtOH level as it rises during fermentation.

During early fermentation Fermaid-K is recommended for nutrient dosing.

It's also important to dose with nutrient as mead/honey must is deficient in yeast assimilable nitrogen content (YAN or YANC) and later in the ferment up to the midway point to supplement the free amino nitrogen. Fermaid 2133 or yeast hulls provide that extra YAN for the fermentation as it progresses past the 1/3 sugar depletion (sugar break).

If you post up your recipe we can take a look and give you some recommendations on process and methodology.

Cheers, Oskaar

02-18-2009, 12:27 AM
Thanks for Replying, OsKaar!

Here's the recipe:

6 quarts raw local honey
3 1/2 gallons water
4 packets Lavlin ICV D-47
8 teaspoons yeast nutrient
8 teaspoons acid blend

I used the non cook method, sanitizing all parts and my area. Aerated during mixing with my cordless drill.

I used 4 packets of yeast because I saw a recipe for 1 gallon, and it called for 1 packet.

It's been 2 days and it's bubbling at about 3 bubbles a second.

I have a 5 gallon glass carboy sitting ina 15 gallon #2 washtub filled with water and an aquarium thermometer in it to keep the mixture at around 75 degrees. Also, since the water had been blown from the airlock initially, Iremoved the airlock and immediately and carefully sanitized the area and inserted a clean airlock with water in it and it hasn't blown out, but it is bubling at about 3 bubbles per second.

Do you think everything's okay or am I wasting time hoping for the best?


02-18-2009, 01:53 AM
My main concern is the acid addition. Going forward save that for the end of aging. Acid is not needed most of the time in meadmaking, and, it can in fact cause your fermentation to stall.

My advice would be to get a pH meter or failing that to get some pH strips at your local LHBS or online LHBS. If your reading comes out lower than 3.3 you'll want to buffer with some K-Bicarbonate and bring it up to a happy yeast pH of about 3.6 or higher.

I think the recipe looks good. I'm including the comments below for your consideration in future batches.

I did not see articulated in your recipe. Rehydration of active dry yeast in warm water at the temperature called out in the spec on the package is critical for maximum viability. A large percentage of cells die if rehydration is done at cooler or warmer temperatures, resulting in a significant loss of activity. After rehydration, the yeast should be added to the must within 20-30 minutes, failing that a sugar source should be added to the culture. Without the sugar source cells will devolve into a premature decline phase, resulting in an inoculum of low cell concentration.

Temperature shock is to be avoided at all costs (no more than 5 - 7C differential between culture and must temperature). Temperature shock will kill-off large numbers of cells. For example, adding a yeast culture at 104F/40C to a must at 60F/15C kills about half the cell population

I'm not a big fan of large nutrient additions up front that have a lot of DAP (Diammonium Phospate) like the generic yeast nutrient you used. This can actually cause your yeast to stall out and then you're in a world of hurt.

Ammonia is consumed preferentially by yeast to FAN (Free Amino Nitrogen) amino acids. So it's important to bear in mind the timing of nutrient additions is. It's been my experience speaking with both wine and meadmakers that a large addition of DAP at the beginning of fermentation may delay or inhibit the uptake of amino acids. Multiple additions of multiple sources are preferred. My very basic addition schedule is dosage at the end of the lag phase, again at the 1/3 sugar break and again at the 2/3 sugar break. But, I seldom follow this course exactly and I let the ferment and the type of mead I'm making dictate the additions. This is something that I've learned from experience rather than out of a book so it will be different for virtually every batch I make.

First addition should be a nutrient mix (my preference is for Fermaid K, followed by DAP in a 7:3 ratio) Adding nutrient supplements all at once can lead to a fermentation that is too rapid, and an imbalance in uptake and usage of nitrogen compounds.

Supplements added too late (after mid-fermentation) may not be used by the yeasts, in part because the alcohol prevents their update. For the same reason, adding nutrients to a stuck fermentation seldom does any good at all.

Anyhow, I think I would take your recipe and "Oskaarize" it as follows:

Sweet Traditional Mead:
6 quarts raw local honey (Mesquite, Sage or Orange Blossom)
3 1/2 gallons water (bottled from the store)
16-20g Lavlin ICV D-47 (Rehydrated as per manufacturer's spec in Go-FERM)

Mix the honey must to a starting gravity of 1.130 (if you don't have a hydrometer, get one, it is one of the single most important tools you'll need in your arsenal)

Exclude the 8 teaspoons yeast nutrient (get out of the habit of using teaspoons to measure where grams should be used)
Exclude the 8 teaspoons acid blend (see above)

Add your first dose of nutrient (a mixture of 3.5g Fermaid-K and 2.5 g DAP) to the must at the end of the lag phase. Stir slowly so as not to release the gas in the liquid too rapidly and cause a geyser of mead.

The end of the lag phase is when you see visible foaming at the top of the fermentation vessel.

Aerate twice daily through the first 4 days of the fermentation.

At the 1/3 sugar break, dose the must with 5 grams of Fermaid-K, seal the fermenter with an airlock and then swirl the fermenter daily to keep the yeast in suspention.

02-20-2009, 12:14 AM

Thank you for responding to my situation here.

I'll make sure to follow that recipe for my next batch. I wanted to stick t=with the main 3 ingredients, but I swayed when i got some extra stuff in my mail order for yeast along with a recipe.

It's still bubbling at about 3 bubbles/second but it's pretty light colored and opaque.

so... I had been looking at gotmead.com's newbeeguide to making mead page and decided to do the non cook version after a friend had done it first. His turned out really good so I decided to follow suit. Sort of.

Anyhow, I look forward to spring when my honey contact has a fresh batch and my mead should be gettign ready to test.

Thank you for the advice. I'm currently seeking a hydrometer as I didn;t realize one would be so important to the process.

Cheers Oskaar!


02-20-2009, 03:21 AM
Glad to help. Don't worry about cooking it. I've made some fantastic mead by pasteurizing and boiling in my time. I feel that the real character of the honey comes through even more when it isn't heated, and this lends to greater complexity, character and structure as it ages. It really boils (pun intended) down to clearing honestly. Some people don't want to wait a couple of years for their mead to clear completely so they boil or heat. Many people claim that their mead tastes better. I haven't met anyone yet who's subjected that to empirical blind tasting regimens and documented it well.

Erroll did a nice taste test on boiled vs non-boiled but the people who were tasting knew that they were trying to determine which one was better so there was influence from the start of that tasting. If it would have been a tasting where they said:

"Hey dudes, here's two glasses of mead each. Taste them and describe the aroma, flavor, character and overall impression of each, but don't compare them"
It would have been a much more valuable test for analysis purposes in my opinion. When you give someone two choices and ask them to tell you which one is better, guess what, they will. Many times if you give them the same stuff in each glass they will (based on group influence) pick one over the other in very certain terms, even though they're both the same thing.

Anyhow, bottom line is make what you like and you'll be happy with your product.

Cheers, Oskaar