View Full Version : Carbonation failure! was it the low gravity?

07-06-2010, 01:37 PM
Months ago I tried to perfect a recipe of mine,


I wanted it to be sparkling, but it has no fizz at all.....

when I primed and bottles it I used 2/3 cup honey, but the gravity was extremely low, indicating high alcohol content, 0.988, its close to 16+%alcohol. is it possible the alcohol is so high it killed the yeasts?

I tried bringing a bottle out of the cellar and let it sit in the warmth of the pantry for a month, and there was no difference.

Is there a way to fix it? or am I stuck with flat mead?

Medsen Fey
07-06-2010, 02:28 PM
When I do the math, it looks like you started with a gravity of 1.104 and finished at 0.988 so that should be about 15-16% ABV. It is certainly possible that the relatively high level of alcohol was too much to allow the yeast to ferment more. That's one reason when making Champagne they make the base cuvee at around 11-12% ABV; the yeast are more certain to properly carbonate at that level.

If you don't want to enjoy it still, you have a couple of options:

1. Force Carbonate - open them up, pour them in a keg and carbonate. Then re-bottle.

2. Try acclimating a starter, and pitch more yeast. The odds are against it being successful, but using Uvaferm 43, or better yet, the encapsulated version Pro-Restart (http://morewinepro.com/view_product/5588/100474/Encapsulated_Wine_Yeast_-_ProRestart_Uvaferm_43_83_g_1_mesh_bag) that is "pre-acclimated" might enable you to get it going. With the Pro-Restart, you might only need to pitch a few of the beads into each bottle. However, even with this, the yeast may not be able to get it done.

07-15-2010, 10:25 PM
I think I may have to force it,
it occurred to me that if I knew how much dry ice to use per 750 ml bottle, I could just weigh out portions plop them into the bottles and reseal. but I know if I get it wrong they explode.

I will open up a bottle and put some aside with more yeast in it, and see if it will wake up, or if its toast. then if it is toast, Ill force it.
I have a bunch of Lalvin EC-1118, I could try that, I know its got a high tolerance, but im not sure it that high, Ill have to look it up.

the encapsulated version Pro-Restart says its supposed to be immersed in a mesh bag, would it be ok to leave the beads in the bottom of the individual bottles? and how far will it go, it says its designed for harsh conditions like high ABV, could the stuff just keep going and going ending in bottle bombs?

07-15-2010, 10:37 PM
found it, EC-1118 has 18% tolerance. Ill try it. Ill put a small bottle aside with a pnch in it, and if it works Ill dump em all back into the secondary, pitch in ec-1118, and once it wakes up , Ill bottle it again.

07-18-2010, 04:09 AM
found it, EC-1118 has 18% tolerance. Ill try it. Ill put a small bottle aside with a pnch in it, and if it works Ill dump em all back into the secondary, pitch in ec-1118, and once it wakes up , Ill bottle it again.
No, don't do it that way.

If your small test works, then just put a few grains in one bottle and see if that works......

If you try and dump it all out and them wait for it to "wake up" etc, you'll find that you will probably have a lot of sediment - which defeats the point of all the clearing etc

By putting a tiny amount of yeast into each bottle, if they're "champagne" bottles, the yeast will settle down into the groove around the punt (the indentation at the bottom of the glass). The way it's done "professionally" is to age the wine flat, with a crown cap on it. That's then removed and a tiny amount of yeast is put in the bottle to get the desired amount of carbonation (again using crown caps), then instead of the historic racks where the bottles are turned daily and the rack increases the angle of the bottle until they're almost upside down (and the yeast "plug" is in the cap), these days they put them in a holding frame and that's turned gradually until it's upside down - the yeast settles into the cap, they then freeze the neck of the bottle, remove the cap, remove the plug of yeast and then cork and wire the bottles.

Hence I'd say that you should try the few grains in a bottle trick, worse case scenario is that you always have to have the last glass with any of the sediment that hasn't flocculated down firmly........

Should work...... I'd think that EC-1118 is the yeast to try as it's tolerant and quite hardy, if the gravity of the liquid is indicating about 16%, then you should find that there's enough margin for the 1118 to do it's thing and provide just enough carbonation to make the liquid carbonated.....

07-18-2010, 07:25 PM
HMMM? That sounds safer, Any idea how much yeast to put in the bottle?

Chevette Girl
07-21-2010, 11:02 AM
It shouldn't take much yeast because if it works, each cell should divide into two which divide into two more and so on until they're done eating the priming sugars, and even if they don't, any viable yeast you toss in will eventually chew through the sugar, as anyone who doesn't stabilize knows, just cause you can't see it doesn't mean there are no active yeast cells!

I think if I were doing it, I'd probably make a small starter using a bit of water some of the mead and then a little extra sugar to make sure it gets properly going and won't die of shock when tossed into the high alcohol content, and then add a bit of the starter to each bottle.

Or you can try adding a small pinch of yeast to a test bottle and see what happens, although I'd probably at least rehydrate it in a couple drops of water first...

07-24-2010, 01:18 AM
ok, I just tossed a pinch of ec-1118 into 5 bottles and resealed, Ill wait a few days and see what happens. I already got a few tiny bubbles, but it may have just been trapped in the little granuies and came up as they dissolved.

wouldnt it be ironic if carbonation failed at first, then it gets overcarbed again :P