View Full Version : lots of matter in must

11-19-2011, 08:00 PM
I'm new here... been brewing for years, and active at homebrewtalk, but I just started brewing mead and thought I'd like to check out this forum as well. Thanks in advance for any help/advice you can offer...

I might just be freaking out because $70+ and 6+ gallons of mead are on the line... Sorry to anyone seeing this at homebrewtalk as well...

I just racked my first big batch of mead. I have a slight issue I wanted to check on. I decided not to boil my big batch as that seems to be the consensus among people who seem to go into lots of detail about procedure... I decided to get the wort up to 178Fish in hopes that would sterilize the honey without destroying the character (I know the hightest directions say 115, but I was scared I might get an infection).

Anyway, now that it's racked I see lots of stuff (whitish matter) floating around in there (I shake the hell out of the 6.5gallon carboy when I rack brews)... Is this the stuff that would have been skimmed if it was simmered/boiled??? Should I be concerned??? The matter is settling out of it, but I wanted to know if it was something the yeast might react with and ruin my batch/give killer hangovers, like waxes... I skimmed my 1 gallon test batch (not much came out, but it was not brewed with the same ingredients); I also simmered it because I had not yet read sources that said otherwise.

The honey I used was 12lb raw orange blossom from William's... it had gone to sugar a little (had it since april) and when I got it you could see a lot of matter (bee parts and other stuff I assume), but dissolved nicely and looked clear in the brew kettle... I also used 5.5lb local clover honey (clear typical filtered?)...

more complete recipe:

2 brew pots:

brew pot 1:
1.5gallon h20 brought to a boil with 2oz heather tips, turn off heat
12lbs william's orange blossom honey (described above)
brought back to 178F (read that was temp of inoculation somewhere...) then let cool some
racked into 6.5gallon carboy with 2 gallons h20, heather tips filtered out (also noticed some white scum on funnel filter...)

brew pot 2
1gallon h20 brought to a boil and added 3tsp fermax (DAP) & 3tsp yeast energizer (w/DAP,yeast hulls,MgSO4,vit.B complex)
5.5lb local clover honey added after heat turned down
brought back to 178F and then let cool some
racked into carboy

yeild ~6 gallons... comes up maybe half an inch shy of where the carboy tapers, hoping that is enough head space for adding stepped nutrients and mixing..

Haven't take OG yet... guessing b/t 1.113 and 1.120

planning to use Lavlin 71B and expect a semi-dry result... (I wish I would have bought 2 packs, but only have 5g... says it is good for 6 gallons, but... I plan on re-hydrating only in water)

11-19-2011, 08:01 PM
here are some pics: 2hrs after racking, yeast not yet added.

w/ flash... you can see the junk floating down after I slid it across the counter to take pics... the below "cloud" was already present... more started to fall when I moved the carboy


these two are with the flash off... the initial stuff that settled out left a big "cloud" in the middle bottom of the carboy, with a layer across the entire bottom... when I moved it it caused more to start falling... as you can see in pic 1


side issue:

I like supporting my local home brew store, so my "DAP" is Fermax... and I don't have superfood or fermaid, but rather "yeast energizer" (ingredients above) ... both are from "Crosby and Baker"... I hope I didn't use too much... I know hightest says at innoc. you should use a little less than 1 tsp DAP, and ~2tsp superfood or 1 tsp fermaid...

Does anyone know how what I have compares, or how much I should use??? I still plan on adding more at the recommended intervals down to 2/3 OG

I am not sure how those compare to my stuff, so I erred on the side of adding a little extra... I put 3tsp Fermax (label calls for 1tsp/gallon, so I cut that in half) and 3tsp yeast energizer (label calls for 1/2tsp gallon, so I used the recommended amount)...

11-19-2011, 08:39 PM
Welcome to GotMead and the addiction that is mead making! ;D

I've noticed that brewers who start making mead tend to be a little paranoid about infection. The thing is, compared to beer, mead is pretty resistant to infection provided you use good sanitizing techniques (which I'm assuming you already do, being a brewer ;)). The combination of so much sugar in solution, low pH, and rapidly rising alcohol content of actively fermenting must ward off all but the most resilient microorganisms. Plus, it's a very cozy place for the wine yeast we typically use for mead making (namely wine yeast, selected for performance in these otherwise harsh environment). If you're really worried about things like bee parts or wax infecting you must, you can always use some campden tablets 24hrs before pitching to knock out any bad bugs.

As you've already said, heating honey up can and probably will drive off a lot of the more delicate aromas in the honey. Once you've made a few batches, I think you'll see boiling or heating your must is not really necessary.

As for the white stuff, it's probably proteins and wax particles that coagulated when you heated up the must. You really don't have anything to worry about (from the sound/look of things). It could also be particulate matter from the heather. Personally, I'd dose with campden tablets, then after 24hrs pitch yeast, then rack off everything after primary is done. Most all of the "stuff" should settle out with the flocculating yeast.

On a side note, I don't know if you were aware, but some great mead can be made from the wild yeast naturally present on heather flowers. It might be something to try out in the future.

On the yeast, 5g is plenty for a 6 gallon batch with a ~12-14% potential ABV, more can be used for higher gravity situations.

As for nutrients, hold off on adding them until the lag phase after pitching ends. DAP can be extremely toxic to yeast during this part of life, and they've already got their hands full in such a harsh environment. You might want to use more "energizer" than DAP, since the yeast need the micronutrients more than DAP.

Oh, and if you haven't already, you might want to read through the NewBee Guide on the lefthand side of the page. It is a great resource. The search function can also help you find a whole plethora of knowledge. It takes some practice to use, but once you've toyed around with it, it gets easier to zero in on specific info.

Best of luck in your new endeavor! And as Papazian says, "Relax, don't worry, and have a homebrew.". :)

11-19-2011, 09:21 PM
Thanks for the warm welcome and advice Yogi.

As it cleared a little more I did think it looked like some of the stuff (on the bottom) was residue from the heather (you think I am paranoid now... wait until I try to utilize the natural yeast from the heather!)... but there is also some coagulated matter that I think you explained well and now I feel better :)

I'll have to hope for the best on the nutrient thing since it's already in there... I should still keep adding some for the first third of fermentation, right??? I will use more of the energizer as you said.

Forgive my confusion, but when you say to add nutrients at the lag phase "at the end of pitching," you just mean to wait until the yeast starts to get active (usually 6ish hrs after pitching yeast for my beers), right??? I always used pitching to refer to just the physical act of adding yeast.

I will be sure to use the search feature... I was in a hurry to get some info this go round.

Thanks for the Papazian advice. I try to follow his Tao, but I also get scared sometimes, esp. when I am doing something new.

I guess I will go sit my carboy in a cool bath to get some cooling going on... I'd like to pitch as soon as possible.

11-19-2011, 10:34 PM
Yeah, sorry for the confusion. I meant to say, it's best to add nutrients at the end of the lag phase/the start of active fermentation. Since they're already in, it'll just be something to keep in mind for your next batch. ;)

As for adding more nutrients, you might not have to. I'd say, keep an eye on the fermentation, and judge from there whether it needs some more. If it starts getting sluggish after the 1/2 sugar break, you might consider boiling some yeast to add instead of the nutrients you have.

I also didn't mean to chastise you for asking your question. It's a specific problem, and it's always best to ask in times of doubt. :) I just meant for future general questions, the search tool is very helpful. Chances are, if you've had an idea/thought/recipe, someone on here has asked or tried it out. But then again, mead, like beer, is full of unexplored possibilities.

11-19-2011, 10:49 PM
I actually ran across the newbee pdf and was perusing it earlier today. I appreciate you directing me to the newbee guide... looks like a lot of good info there and elsewhere on the site.

I will let you know how this batch proceeds... my first batch (started in august) is proceeding nicely. It's just a gallon of wildflower/sourwood, a touch of palisade hops, cote de blancs (which I used a touch too warm), 11%... OG was only 1.080

I had to boil some bread yeast and add it when I started getting some sulfur smells during primary back in august (as per the advice of the guys at homebrewtalk)... either I was overreacting then as well or it helped, and when I racked it to secondary a couple months later it was tasting quite good. I think I will bottle before too long... been inactive and super clear for a while.

Thanks again!

11-29-2011, 03:24 PM
It has been fermenting 10 days; I am still getting one bubble in my S-airlock every 7 seconds or so. It fermented really strongly for a number of days before slowing. I aerated for 4 days, but did not add anything. Tastes pretty decent, though it is (obviously) still very sweet. No funky odors (i.e. the sulphur odor I got with my 1 gallon test batch with cote de blancs at 74-76F... I added some boiled bread yeast and splash racked that one and now it's doing good).

OG 1112
SG 1060

Should it have dropped more by now? Should I add any additional nutrients/energizer/boiled yeast? I have not added any more since inoculation (3tsp nutrient, 3tsp energizer).


11-29-2011, 06:22 PM
I have a couple of thoughts on your situation. First off, what temperature is this fermenting at? If it's cold, like under 65F, that could be causing it to crawl along. If it needs to be warmer, just wrap a blanket or two around the carboy, and stick it somewhere warmer or maybe even wrap an electric blanket around it on a lower setting. From the few times I've used 71B I've had greater success at temperatures around 70F.

Secondly, if you'd like to add more nutrients, I'd shy away from what you've already added. At this point, the yeast won't be able to properly metabolize inorganic nitrogen (ie DAP which is present in both commercial nutrients and energizer). You'll want to add either organic nitrogen like Fermaid O (not Fermaid K which contains roughly 30% DAP by weight) or if you don't have access to that, boil some bread yeast and add that for some more nutrients.

I'd also suggest swirling some of the yeast up into suspension. Mind you, you don't want to aerate it like before, so leave the airlock on and swirl the carboy until the yeast gets put back into suspension. This will get the active yeast back up into the must where they can ferment the remaining sugars easier and have the added benefit of utilizing the dead yeast cells as a crude fining agent. Do this once every other day or three, and fermentation may well finish all on it's own without additional nutrients.

Feel free to PM me if you have any other concerns. I might not be at the "mentor" level of mead making yet, but I'm more than happy to share any info I have.

Good luck, and keep everyone posted on the progress of the batch! :)

Thanks. It has been fermenting between 68-72F (swing of night vs. day). I might try the bread yeast thing again. When I did my 1 gallon batch I added 2 tsp boiled yeast. Should I keep the ratio the same (that would be almost 12 tsp... seems like too much), or should it be reduced say to just a few tsp?

I'd just use a few tsp worth. It's easier to add more later than it is to backtrack after adding too much. If you did add 12 tsp, you might risk a bread-like yeasty flavor in the finished product that might not be very appealing.

Before you add the boiled yeast, I'd try swirling the carboy and see if that doesn't help things get going.

As for reposting, go for it. Always good to share info.

Sounds good. I will give it a good swirl this evening and if I don't see some increased activity in few days I will add the yeast (I just don't want to wait too long as I have read most nutrient should be added before the halfway point...). I'm not exactly sure how to judge these things since this is my first big batch... the small batch with OG of 1.080 was more down the alley of a long time homebrewer, like myself... this higher OG stuff is new to me.

This is certainly true for inorganic sources of nitrogen like DAP. But boiled yeast and Fermaid O can be added safetly at any point in fermentation.

It has more to do with the life cycle of yeast than anything. During aerobic fermentation, the yeast need lots of oxygen and are able to process DAP very easily. However, at around the 1/3-1/2 way point, the yeast switch gears into anaerobic fermentation. At that point, oxygen and inorganic nitrogen is a hinderance to fermentation. Buy organic nitrogen like boiled yeast will still be easily assimilated by the fermenting yeast even after the halfway point.

It still might be a good option to swirl for a couple of days before taking action with additional nutrients from the boiled yeast.

Will do. Thanks again.

Medsen Fey
11-29-2011, 09:55 PM
Another thing to consider here is the pH. One common reason for a slow fermentation in a traditional mead is a pH that drops too low (below about 3.2). If you can check the pH here, that may point to a problem that can be easily corrected.

Your nutrient additions were a little light here, and adding a bit more Fermax wouldn't be a bad idea (another 1.5 tsp to pick a number).

I didn't see if you aerated this batch after pitching. That's a common issue with brewers who try meads - the concern about oxygen exposure cause folks to give the yeast too little and results in less yeast growth and inadequate biomass to complete fermentation. If you haven't aerated this batch, give it one good aeration (but carefully or you'll be mopping the ceiling :) )

11-30-2011, 07:41 AM
Thanks. I aerated the heck out of it before pitching, after pitching, and a couple times a day for the first 4 days. It's in a carboy, so I took the top off hoping some O2 would make it's way in before and during aeration.

I think maybe activity is up slightly since I swirled the yeast back in (though much settled back out quickly). Maybe I will add a little boiled fermax/bread yeast this evening and give it a good shake... for now it's off to work.

No way currently to check the PH... I'll have to research how to remedy such a problem.

Thanks again.

11-30-2011, 10:11 PM
I boiled 1.5 tsp fermax, .5 tsp energizer, and a few tsp bread yeast for 5 minutes, let it cool for a little bit, added to the carboy, aerated and mixed very well, bringing all the yeast back into (at least temporary) suspension. 2 hours later the bubbling in the S-airlock has doubled from every 6 to 3 seconds... maybe the mead just needed this little kick. I had intended to do stepped nutrients, but since I was not sure of what I had and how it compared to other products I shied away from it...

I'll post progress and results.... but expect a few more questions, esp. while I get my bearings... I need to anticipate more questions/problems so I can address them more appropriately and timely.

As always, thanks for the help.

01-25-2012, 07:59 PM
12/29/11 racked to secondary... still got that rocket fuel edge, but time, patience, and time should make this nice... 15% w/ SG of .998... but still a little sweetness.