View Full Version : Am I Fermenting?

02-20-2005, 03:14 AM
I just started my first one gallon batch, and after 24 hours, I'm not sure if I am fermenting yet. Here is the recipie:

3 lbs. Orange Blossom Honey
1 teaspoon Yeast energizer
1 teaspoon Fermax Yeast Nutrient
1/2 Teaspoon Tannin
3 Drops Pectin
Lalvin K1-V1116 Yeast

After sanitizing everything very thoroughly, I heated 2 parts bottled spring water to 1 part honey just enough to dissolve the honey. I added the mixture to a 1.5 gallon plastic bucket and topped off with enough spring water to make just over 1 gallon total.

I got a little anxious and pitched the yeast into 1/4 cup of warm water, then read that I shouldn't leave it for more than 15 minutes when I add it to the must. I tried to cool the must down quickly. Bottom line, I added the yeast when the must was just over 80 degrees F, but not as high as 85.

Before adding the yeast, I took a small sample and attempted to test the PH with some paper strips. They didn't come with directions, and I wasn't certain how to get an accurate reading. For that reason, I did not add any Calcium carbonate prior to pitching my yeast into the must. I have no idea if the PH was high enough.

With everything added to the must, I stirred it vigorously for about 5 minutes trying to add oxygen. I sealed the lid and inserted the fermentation lock.

Presently, the lock is not displaced at all. If I press lightly on the lid of the bucket, the lock will rise, but I'm certainly not seeing it without helping. I did remove the lock briefly and peek into the small hole. There is a layer of white film on the surface of the must, which makes me somewhat hopeful.

I am reasonably sure I have a good seal around the lid and at the lock. I'm just not positive that fermentation is taking place. Is there a way to make sure? Is the white film proof positive? Are there some evasive actions I should take if I don't see a more aggressive reaction in the next couple of days? Am I being impatient?

Thanks for any help.

02-20-2005, 01:30 PM
First, of all, I would not do anything for at least 2 days. :)

After fermentation begins, enough pressure has to build up before gas will bubble through the airlock. Give it some time!!! Lalvin K1-V1116 is a very aggressive yeast and should survive the 85 degree sauna! According to Lalvinís website, this strain of yeast can ferment in an environment of up to 86 degrees, although I am not sure I would want to test that. Their website also suggests to rehydrate for between 15 and 30 minutes.

Couple of suggestions for the next time, though:
Let your must cool more, but you already figured that one out! ;)
Stir your must to add air before you pitch the yeast. Then gently swirl your must after the yeast has been added.
Donít open the lid or pull out the airlock for at least 2-3 days. I am not too worried about wild yeasts, at that point, but each time you open the lid you are releasing any pressure that has built up and it will be that much longer before you see your airlock bubbling.

Just remember, at first, the yeasties are using the oxygen youíve stirred into the must. After the oxygen is gone is when the fermentation takes place. The pressure thru the airlock you are looking for only takes place AFTER the fermentation begins and the CO2 is created as a byproduct!

Good luck and have fun!!! ;D

02-20-2005, 08:44 PM
Thanks for the tips GntlKnight. For my first mead, I've already learned a few valuable lessons.

I read some previous posts and decided to shake the must lightly. That seemed to do the trick. I've had some pretty steady bubbling going for a few hours now. I'm a happy camper.

Next batch, I think I will do the primary ferment in a 1 gallon glass jug. That way, I can shake the must well before I add the yeast, I can see what's happening thru the glass, and I may get more action in the airlock with less headroom. I got the 1.5 gallon bucket to leave extra room for fruit if I decide to add any. Since I now won't be adding fruit until the secondary ferment, I'll just save it until then.

That leads to another question, but I should probably post it separate. Would I add pectin in the primary ferment if I know I'll be adding fruit to the secondary, or would I wait and add it with the fruit?

02-21-2005, 12:28 AM
Hey davarm,

Unless you put your fruit in the primary and boiled it I don't think you'll be needing pectinase. Generally it's the heat that causes the fruits natural pectin to set up. With the K1V you'll get a pretty dry mead with a might alcohol kick to it that will need some time to age out. Be aware of this aggresive yeast when you add the fruit to your secondary and watch it carefully. If it kicks off really strong you may need to rig a blowoff tube in place of the airlock. K1V is a real ass-kicker yeast; it's great, but it can really get going strong, so just be aware.

Hope it all turns out well,



03-09-2005, 08:48 AM

I just racked this batch last night, and you were right on both counts. It is dry, and it has an alcohol kick.

I'm not going to add fruit to this batch, but I was wondering about the dryness. The sample did not taste too bad, and I don't think I will try to sweeten this batch. For future reference and all things being equal, what could I do to make a sweeter mead (my preference)? I had assumed it would require more honey, but 3 lbs of Orange Blossom per gallon should be enough. Would Clover honey offer more sweetness?

From your post, it appears the yeast is the leading factor. Does the K1V typically produce a dry mead? Are there other yeasts which would make it sweeter?

What if I did want to add fruit to a future batch and get some sweetness. Would I rely on the fruit alone, or does the yeast still come into play as the major influence?

Thanks. What a great hobby!

03-09-2005, 12:29 PM
K1V has an advertised alcohol tolerance of 18% by it's manufacturer Lalvin (Lallemand) in Canada. But, many people on this board and other places have found that you can actually feed the K1V (and EC-1118) up to 20 - 24 % ABV, which is just this side of rocket fuel; and, may draw some attention from the local revenu-ers. LOL

Basically if you want to have a sweet mead (say 1.020 to 1.030 Final Gravity) you'll need to start with a must that has a sufficiently high gravity to allow the yeast to reach it's alcohol tolerance before it ferments to complete dryness (1.000 and below)

For Example in the yeast test section you'll see my yeast test thread here:


You'll see that the starting gravity for the must was 1.120 for each of the yeasts. If you read the comments about each of the yeasts you'll be able to see the level of change in the specific gravity as the yeast converts the sugar to alcohol and nears it's alcohol tolerance limit. Take a look at each one of the yeasts and note how far down they have taken the SG from the Original Gravity, and that will give you an idea for each yeast what the OG should be to end in around the 1.020 - 1.030 range.

In my opinion you need to use enough of whatever kind of honey you're using (all honeys and not created equal when it comes to sugar) to bring your must's original gravity to a sufficient state for the yeasties to eat to their hearts content, reach the alcohol tolerance limit, die off and leave your Final Gravity in the 1.020 to 1.030 range (or whatever range you feel is in the "sweet" spectrum for you)

For K1V I've used high gravity musts in the 1.150 - 1.160 range and had some moderately sweet meads that I really like. YMMV