View Full Version : First batch of mead fermenting slowly

06-02-2011, 11:11 PM
Hello, I started my first batch of mead about five weeks ago using 5 gallons of water, 12 pounds of clover honey, yeast nutrient and wyeast 4783 rudesheimer. I did not heat up the water to dissolve the honey because I had read on another forum that it could create off flavors so I just added the honey cold. At first a lot of the honey separated again after it was stirred so I could not get an accurate OG. According to the mead calculator, it should have been about 1.086 (if i used the calculator correctly). Right now it is reading a 1.060. Does that sound about right? I think that is only about four percent which seems low for how long it has been fermenting. What do you guys think?

06-03-2011, 12:00 AM
what temp is it brewing at?
how much nutrient was added? (and what type of nutrient)

06-03-2011, 12:46 AM
Definitely need temp and nutrient amounts (also timing when added) and also would be nice to know if you did any aeration?

This is hugely slow, it should have gotten to this point in 2 days, not 5 weeks!

06-03-2011, 08:52 PM
Thank you all for the quick reply! The yeast nutrient is LD Carlson. I got it from Midwest Brewing and added 5tsp at the beginning. I aerated it once after the first week just to mix in the honey that had separated. It has been about 70-72 degrees Fahrenheit this whole time. Since the day after I started the mead it has been bubbling about as much as the beer I brewed prior also and is still bubbling!

Medsen Fey
06-03-2011, 09:34 PM
Can you check the pH?

06-03-2011, 11:17 PM
Unfortunately I do not have anything that can check the PH :(

06-04-2011, 02:51 AM
Did you make a yeast starter? Dunno about their wine yeast, but Wyeast's beer yeast usually requires a starter.

06-04-2011, 03:36 AM
its quite possible that its just a slow yeast at those temps.

Medsen Fey
06-04-2011, 09:02 AM
The temp should be fine at 70F.

When using liquid yeast, making a starter is never a bad idea, but if aerate well and provide plenty of nutrients they should be able to grow and develop enough biomass to finish a fermentation even if you didn't make a starter.

This sounds pretty typical for a pH induced slow-down. The LD Carlson nutrient is DAP. You've added enough to provide the yeast with a reasonable amount of nitrogen. However, there are other things that may be missing including magnesium, amino nitrogen, and vitamins that may help. Also, the nutrient does not have yeast hulls that bind various yeast toxins. This is why we usually recommend using an energizer product like Fermaid K that contains autolyzed yeast with yeast hulls and vitamins.

In addition to providing nutrients, those autolyzed yeast products also tend to raise the pH (where DAP doesn't as much). This probably accounts for many cases where people see a restart of fermentation after adding energizer - the shift in pH, and perhaps the binding of toxins allows things to get going. Studies have shown that if a fermentation stalls due to lack of nutrients, by the time it occurs, adding nutrients don't really help.

The point of all this digression is there are still a couple of things you can do to get your batch going again.

1. Add some autolyzed yeast (energizer) product. Fermaid O, available at midwest supply would be my first choice. Using 1 tsp per gallon may provide enough yeast hulls and pH buffering to have the fermentation going again. After addition, aerate it well.

2. I'd get some pH strip (narrow range for winemaking - pH 3-4 or thereabouts) or a meter so you can make adjustments with the confidence of knowing you are doing the right thing. Then get some potassium bicarbonate (calcium carbonate will do if you can't get the potassium form). If you can't measure the pH but want to be bold - add 2 tsp of potassium bicarbonate (be sure to dissolve in water and add slowly or you'll be mopping the ceiling from the MEA)

3. If those things don't work, it is time to pitch another yeast. Choose one good for restarts like DV10, EC-1118, QA23 or the best Uvaferm 43, and acclimate it to the must before pitching.

Endeavor to persevere!


06-05-2011, 04:02 PM
I got some PH strips and the PH was off, I added some potassium bicarbonate mixed with water, slowly and it started to bubble quite a bit more than before. Should I be moving this thing to the bath tub and bracing for a geyser or do you think it is okay where it is?

Medsen Fey
06-05-2011, 06:08 PM
You shouldn't get a MEA. If it was going to happen, it would have done it when you poured it in. Dissolving it in water really helps cut down the problem. You typically see a lot of bubbling immediately after adding it as the carbonates are bubbled out as CO2. Once the rapid release of CO2 is finished, you should (hopefully) see it start slowly bubbling regularly. Still, don't be fooled by bubbles (or the lack thereof). Check the gravity and follow it to be sure what is happening.

06-08-2011, 07:11 PM
Thank you for all of your help! The yeast are going strong! The airlock burps every three seconds or so. Hopefully they will keep running til the end! My only concern now is the temperature here, yesterday it was 94 outside and the mead was 76, today it is 98 outside and the mead is up to 78 but it is going even harder than yesterday. I put an air conditioner in that room to try to cool it down a bit.