View Full Version : Stuck fermentation on first batch?

07-14-2013, 09:03 PM
Alright GotMead,

I'm a fledgling to the world of brewing. I currently have 5 gallons of metheglin in a fermentor as my first batch of anything alcohol. Being unfamiliar with the usual signs of a healthy fermentation, I thought the yeast was going at it in full force! There's crazy bubbling and carbonation going on in there, but, my SG readings are disconcerting. Here's the recipe that I used for my must:

11 pounds of raw, organic honey
zest of 3 limes + 1 navel orange
2 cups ginger
2 tbsp juniper berries
1 tbsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp aniseed
7 dried cloves
5 tbsp golden pu'erh (black tea)
2 tbsp yabukita sens (green tea)
~5 gallons of water

OG - 1.060

The yeast I used was a single rehydrated packet of lalvin EC-1118. Everything has been at room temperature, so that most likely isn't the cause of my dilemma. I feel that it's also worth mentioning that I do in fact sanitize everything that touches my mead.

So, I took a hydrometer reading this past Friday on its 1-week anniversary after having barely touched my mead in its 10-gallon fermenting bucket, and was dismayed to find that it's only at 1.038. I took a hydrometer reading tonight aswell, 2 days later, and it's at around the same point, if not 1.034-1.036. I'm at a total loss at to what I should do next. Currently getting some pH test strips to rule out acidity. If that yields no important information, does anyone have any ideas as to what I should do? It would be such a same to abort this batch entirely. If I have to, though, it would be nice to know exactly why it didn't work out.

Thanks in advance, guys.

B. Goldwater
07-15-2013, 03:11 PM
I am not very familiar with metheglin's, so I could be speaking out of turn here, but most mead must I have encountered are nutrient deficient to begin with.

You are past your 1/3 sugar break so I am not sure if nutrients would be helpful at this point. But I would consider some or all of the below possible suspects to the sluggish/stalled ferment:

Inadequate nutrients added at the beginning or step fed before 1/3 break (Fermaid K, DAP, boiled yeast, etc...)

I didnt see you mention aerating at all during the early stages of fermentation, you could have a bunch of CO2 trapped in the must inhibiting the yeast...

Your PH could be below 3.0 making it a hostile environment for your yeasties...

My .02 cents

One of the more veteran forum members might be able to troubleshoot it better for you, but that is where I would start looking for your root cause...

07-15-2013, 06:49 PM
Thanks for the response, B. I appreciate the input.

Yes, I did aerate somewhat during the earlier stages, including before I pitched the yeast, but perhaps not enough. I didn't add any nutrients to the must which may very well have been my downfall as well. I still have yet to find pH strips and check the acidity.

Is it too late for nutrients and aeration?

I'd also like to add that that my yeast is very well still alive from what I can tell. Lots of bubbling and a bold yet pleasant aroma of honey and yeastly glory. Maybe they're just not doing what i want them to, i.e converting my sugars into booze.

B. Goldwater
07-15-2013, 07:23 PM
IF it was me:

Since you are still showing signs of fermentation oxygen isnt necessarily your enemy just yet. I would definately degas your must by stirring it slowly to get some of the trapped CO2 to disipate out, I wouldnt shake it or stir wildly at this point. I would also consider adding a handful of raisins instead of powdered nutrients at this point. The rasins will give you, a bit of sugar, some tannin structure, as well as some nutrients that if the yeast can use them great, if not you can leave them behind at racking time. In my experience if you use the powdered nutrients too late and the yeast cant metabolize them, there can be some off flavors they create. Not sure if others agree, but that is my take...

Also, definately check the PH when you can, that could very well be your culprit, and an easy enough fixed.

As for your last comment, if there is sugar in your must, EC-1118 will find it and consume it. ;D With you starting at a low OG of 1.060 and EC-1118 used, i would be very surprised if those little buggers dont take your metheglin bone dry...

Side note:

As I said before i dont have much experience with Metheglins, but from what I read, some spices can impart flavor very quickly and can become very harsh. They may or may not mellow with age either. I would suggest researching the spices used, if you havent already, and definitely monitoring the flavor imparted regularly.

07-15-2013, 07:31 PM
I will concur with what B said and get those PH strips and see where you are at. And as far as cloves go a little will go a long way I usually use 1 per gallon. I've done a batch with two per gallon and while I did enjoy it. It was kind of off setting to the people I shared it with. They along with cinnamon are pallet killers so bear that in mind as well.

07-15-2013, 07:51 PM
The flavours added by my relative boatload of spices seem to be coming through rather nuanced so far. My mead tastes quite light and floral at this point.

As suggested, I added raisins. About a cup full of them. Here's to hoping that my yeast enjoys them. I'll report back in a day or two with an SG reading, and hopefully a pH level.