View Full Version : New and Confused...

01-25-2012, 12:38 PM
I started to make mead in mid-October 2011. I started with 1ga of dry and 1ga of sweet mead using a bread yeast recipe I found online. This worked out great so I next made 2.5g of each in mid-November. This worked out great.

Although curiosity got the best of me and I drank the two gallons from my first batch when it was only about two months old, I haven't touched any more since.

In December I decided to try making a Peach/Wild Flower honey with the equipment I had just purchased right after Christmas. This batch marked my first time using Yeast Nutrients (was using shredded raisins) and I used Premier Cuvee yeast (Red Star) instead of Bread Yeast. This batch is 5g. It bubbled until a few days ago and I believe this to be a complete fermentation ready for my next step, cold shock.

The next batch I started has left me confused. This batch isn't mead, I suppose it is more rum or something. I was curious and decided to make a batch using only brown sugar (17lb) and just shy of 2lb molasses with about 5.5g water. Again I used (4tbs) yeast nutrient and Primier Cuvee yeast. It started off wonderfully, bubbling away, for several days. After about 2 weeks (about 4days ago) the bubbling dropped off to about 1 per 26sec.

I decided to test the SG and came up with 1.043 and again last night at 1.041. The yeast is rated to 18% and I put in enough sugar to achieve 18 or very close. My calculations yield a ABV of about 13.9% and waaay to much sugar left over for my taste.

After taking the first SG reading (of 1.043) I put a second packet of yeast and another 4tbs nutrients into the bucket, aerated, and put it back in it's warm spot. Since then the bubbling has dropped off to nil. I check the temp daily (twice on colder days) and verify that the temp has always been between 73 and 83.

Any idea what went wrong? Why won't this continue/finish? What should I be looking for? and the inevitable, what information did I leave out?

01-25-2012, 02:42 PM
I have no intention of distilling and I know to do so is illegal in most location without proper license. I thought it could be interesting and cheaper way to build a little experience.

01-25-2012, 03:36 PM
I would be interested in knowing what the starting gravity was

At 13.9% you're at the point where restarting a stuck fermentation is going to be really hard. Just tossing another packet of yeast in won't do it. The alcohol level in there is enough to kill any yeast that haven't been slowly acclimated to the environment.

I don't have too much experience with the premeir cuvee yeast, perhaps others can comment. I would be interested in knowing what kind of yeast nutrients you used as well as the steps taken when rehydrating the yeast. Both of these things could affect the ferment...

Improper rehydration could have created mutant yeast with lower alcohol tolerance or stressed the cell wall lining reducing the tolerance.

Most commercially sold nutrients are mostly DAP with is an artificial nitrogen source (Inorganic) DAP in the second half of fermentation can actually attack and stress the yeast. Organic nitrogen is preferred later in formentation (boiled yeast hulls)

Mars Colonist
01-25-2012, 04:04 PM
Do you know the current pH?

01-25-2012, 04:06 PM
It was 1.147 (SG), I believe. I followed the instructions on the yeast:

The rehydration time should be between 20 to 25 minutes.
This strain should be rehydrated in ten times its weight of sugared water or in a mixture of one-third of must
and two-thirds of water. The mixture temperature should be 38/40C (100/104F). Stir during 20 minutes.
Slowly sprinkle the culture media into 3 times the weight of the must in order for the yeasts to adapt to their
new fermentation media (temperature difference, osmotic pressure, SO2), then wait for 10 minutes.
This mixture can be added directly into the fermentation tank with uniform mixing. The difference of
temperature between the rehydrated yeast and the tank should not exceed 10C, optimum being 5C.

The nutrient used is Fermax

Chevette Girl
01-26-2012, 04:07 AM
I suspect you're at the point where you need an acclimated starter to get the yeast to finish the job... I've never used premier cuvee and I don't know if it'll take well to restarting a stuck ferment. If you can get your hands on a packet of Lalvin EC-1118, well, if that one can't do it, probably no yeast can. I think there's a Uvaferm one that's good for restarts too but you'll have to try the forum search tool...

General layout of acclimated starter - rehydrate yeast as directed (in this case, 1/4 cup of 104 degree water for 15 min), then double the volume by adding 1/4 cup of must, stir it and wait until you see activity, then add 1/2 cup of must, wait till it kicks up again... Repeat this until you've got a volume equal to about a quarter of the total volume then dump it on in and that should get it started again. Oh, and aerate the heck out of the starter and the must...

I think if you apply that doubling idea to your yeast's rehydration directions it might work, but make sure you can see activity before you add it.

What this does is it selects the yeast cells that can adapt to increasing amounts of alcohol already being present and encourages them to reproduce, so in theory you get a nice strong colony with a good headstart, instead of shocking newly-awakened yeasties... and 1.147 is a bit on the high side for a starting gravity, I like to use an acclimated starter with anything over 1.125.

Good luck, and if it remains too sweet you can always either use it for cooking, cut it with something that works well with brown sugar (fermented apple juice comes to mind), or start experimenting with spices, maybe a cinnamon stick per gallon or some orange zest will give you something else to taste aside from the sweet?

01-26-2012, 03:36 PM
I realized just now one mistake I had made. I misread the directions on the Fermax. It says 1 teaspoon (tsp) per gallon, I read it as 1 tablespoon (tbsp). In all I added 5.5 tbsp at the beginning and another 3 when I added the restarter. I am tempted to try one last time restarting using Chevette's method.

Note: I'm glad I made this mess with cheap sugar and not expensive honey. Not a bad way to train if you ask me. The brown sugar was about a buck a pound vs. 3-4 for honey. In the end I should still have something that is drinkable...or I can use it like syrup on my oatmeal at work :)

01-27-2012, 12:09 PM
So far so good using Chevette's acclimation rule. I am up to about half a gallon of starter that is fermenting along nicely. I hope to have it ready to pitch by bedtime. Hopefully I will see some activity by morning from the (post? pseudo? SG confused?) must.

BTW...I haven't added any more nutrients :D

02-01-2012, 01:03 PM
Fermentation is moving along quite slowly. Going to add more nutrients, energizer, and aerate after work. SG is down to 1.03, however, it isn't strictly due to fermentation as I added some water along the way.

02-01-2012, 07:12 PM
I aerated and added nutrients and for the first time in about 12days there are bubbles coming out of the airlock. YAY!

02-01-2012, 10:50 PM
I wouldn't add any more nutrients. Just my opinion.
I think you'll smell more B12 than a fresh box of Alphabits.

Chevette Girl
02-01-2012, 10:52 PM
In general, you don't want to be adding nutrients and oxygen this late in the game, presuming that 1.03 is accurate.

02-05-2012, 06:42 PM
It's moving again and I am not messing with it any further. In a couple of days I will take a SG reading and see what's going on.

Once it stops I will rack it off, again, and cold crash it.