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  1. Default First Batch Quandary

    Hello everyone,

    I was wondering if you could give me some advice please ?

    My wife bought me a book on making mead last Christmas and Iíve been mooching around your forums since and decided to take the plunge. I created my first batch on Sunday afternoon and itís now Wednesday and I havenít seen hide nor hair of a bubble in my airlock. Am I being too anxious or have I killed it ?

    Mixed 3.5 lbs honey in a plastic bucket with ĺ gallon spring water. Added 1 teaspoon of Fermaid K and 1 teaspoon Tronozymol. Gave it a good stir. SG was 1.094. Warmed up 2 fl oz spring water and let it cool to just over 40 deg C and added a 5 gram packet of Lalvin D47. Waited 15 mins then added it to the must and stirred continuously for approx. 5 mins. Topped up to just over a gallon and popped the lid on. Batch is sitting in my study with a sheep wool wrap around the outside because itís quite a cool room (popped a thermometer between wrap and bucket and itís 20 deg C). Needless to say every piece of equipment was sterilized before use.

    Should I leave it be, try and resuscitate, stir it every day or start again ?

    Any advice/comments/ribbing would be gratefully received

  2. #2

    Default

    I don't think that gravity reading is correct. Probably the honey hadn't completely dissolved.

    According to the got mead calculator your sg should have been around 1.126.

    Take another sg reading now and let us know the value. Only real way to check if fermentation is happening... A drop in sg = fermenting

    Sent from my SM-G925F using Tapatalk

  3. #3
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    Default

    One procedural change you might consider in the future: it sounds like your rehydrated yeast was at 40 deg C and you pitched it into must that may have been at 20 deg C. That's a difference of 20 degrees C between the two. On the D47 data sheet, the manufacturer (Lallemand) says the temperature difference should never exceed 10 deg C.

    Here's what I do: rehydrate the yeast as per the directions on the package, using a large glass measuring cup. After the 15 minutes of rehydration, I add a few spoonfuls of must to the measuring cup. Let it sit for 5 or 10 minutes, then add a few more spoonfuls. Do this as many times as necessary (usually two to four times), until the rehydrated yeast in the measuring cup is close to the temperature of the must. Then pitch the contents of the measuring cup into the must.

  4. #4

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    You should have seen activity within hours. Bubbles don't really tell you much. By a hydrometer. I would suggest a crushed Camden tablet for a couple days and repitch. That is after buying a hydrometer and checking the gravity.

    It's hard to tell from your info but I'm guessing your temps were to far apart and you killed the yeas when you pitched. Rehydrate like you did. After 20 minutes or so add a small portion of must to your yeast slurry every 10 minutes until the temp of your must and the slurry are within 10 c of each other before you pitch.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  5. #5

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    Exactly what Squatchy said, but within 10įF, not C!

  6. #6
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    Lallemand actually says 10 degrees C, not degrees F:

    http://catalogapp.lallemandwine.com/...949d1cbcc0.pdf

    I agree that that seems like a big difference and when I'm pitching I try to keep it much closer than that.

  7. #7

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    You are correct pdh. I actually make it the same temp every time. That's not hard at all
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  8. Default

    Ah, thank you gentlemen. Looks like my mistake was to just "chuck" the yeast mixture straight into the must after 15 mins instead of gradually bringing it to the same temp. Duly noted. Do I need to re-add another lot of Fermaid and Tronozymol too ?

  9. #9
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    No, don't add any more nutrients -- the stuff you added originally is still there -- you don't need any more at this point.

    Once you're past this pitching-temperature problem, you might want to look into "staggered nutrient addition" which is the practice of adding nutrients gradually, rather than all at once in the beginning. But you've already added nutrients to this batch, so that's an issue for next time.

  10. #10

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    Sean, you'll be happiest with the results of D47 if you can keep it at or below 18 deg C. After you get it going of course, using the helpful suggestions already posted here.

    Jeff

  11. Default

    Thanks Jeff,

    Took the lid off and gave it a stir. Although there were no bubbles in the airlock the must was effervescent. Rehydrated a yeast mixture again and stabilised the temp so they near as damn matched before pitching. It's been two days and I can see droplets forming on the top of the lid but still no airlock bubbles. Am I being too paranoid ? Maybe there is an air leak in the lid ? I did have to drill the hole for the rubber bung airlock insert.

    If I get no bubbles in the airlock at all how long do you think I should leave it before racking to a glass demi john ?

  12. #12

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    Sean, the only way to reliably tell if there is active fermentation is by monitoring for changes in specific gravity measurements. Have you been doing this?

    As djsxxx mentioned, your initial gravity reading was likely off so you can't compare to that. Try two, cosecutive days.

    Jeff

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by SeanD View Post
    Thanks Jeff,

    Took the lid off and gave it a stir. Although there were no bubbles in the airlock the must was effervescent. Rehydrated a yeast mixture again and stabilised the temp so they near as damn matched before pitching. It's been two days and I can see droplets forming on the top of the lid but still no airlock bubbles. Am I being too paranoid ? Maybe there is an air leak in the lid ? I did have to drill the hole for the rubber bung airlock insert.

    If I get no bubbles in the airlock at all how long do you think I should leave it before racking to a glass demi john ?
    What you see means nothing compared to changes in specific gravity. If you have not been doing readings the whole time, then do it now. I generally check the readings at least every 2 days and stir 2x/daily or more.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeanD View Post
    Thanks Jeff,

    Took the lid off and gave it a stir. Although there were no bubbles in the airlock the must was effervescent. Rehydrated a yeast mixture again and stabilised the temp so they near as damn matched before pitching. It's been two days and I can see droplets forming on the top of the lid but still no airlock bubbles. Am I being too paranoid ? Maybe there is an air leak in the lid ? I did have to drill the hole for the rubber bung airlock insert.

    If I get no bubbles in the airlock at all how long do you think I should leave it before racking to a glass demi john ?
    Did you ever get a hydrometer?

    If the must is cloudy and effervescent, fermentation has probably started and you should be ok.
    Don't worry too much about the airlock-- those things don't always work properly on fermentation pails, especially after the gasket gets old or if there's a poor fit. Just set the lid on there loose and you'll be fine. You don't need a tight seal until secondary. Also, take off that sheepskin wrap if you haven't already done so. D47 needs to be kept cold (mid 60s is great) for best results.

  15. #15
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    Default

    Hi SeanD - and a belated welcome. Unless you are certain that there is a perfect seal in your plastic bucket the CO2 produced by the yeast will find those gaps and exit there rather than through the airlock - They need to use more pressure to escape through the water seal than they would through imperfect seals between the lid and the bucket. As everyone has said, the only effective way to know what is going on is to take hydrometer readings. Bubbles tell you very little, if anything.

  16. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by pwizard View Post
    Did you ever get a hydrometer?
    Yes, I had one from the start. My initial ready was skewed as it only showed 1.094. However, I dipped it yesterday and it was 1.034 and today it's in the red scale 1.010.

  17. #17

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    Signs are pretty clear that your mead is fermenting. Hydrometer readings are key. But that one day drop of 24 points is surprising at the end of fermentation, so I'm a little suspicious of the accuracy of you readings. Regardless, you're well on your way to your first mead. Congrats!

  18. #18
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    Sean: have you tasted it yet? If not then you may want to do that the next time you take a hydrometer reading -- just drink the sample from your hydrometer bottle instead of pouring it back into the must or throwing it out.

    At this point it will almost definitely taste "hot" and sharp and edgy -- you'll see what I mean when you taste it. That's generally what we expect at this stage; I'm just suggesting that you taste it now (if you haven't already done so) so you can start learning how the taste changes as your mead ages, and also so you have something to compare to if you make more mead in the future with different procedures or ingredients.

    Do *not* be alarmed if it doesn't taste very good yet!

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by pdh View Post
    Sean: have you tasted it yet? If not then you may want to do that the next time you take a hydrometer reading -- just drink the sample from your hydrometer bottle instead of pouring it back into the must or throwing it out.

    At this point it will almost definitely taste "hot" and sharp and edgy -- you'll see what I mean when you taste it. That's generally what we expect at this stage; I'm just suggesting that you taste it now (if you haven't already done so) so you can start learning how the taste changes as your mead ages, and also so you have something to compare to if you make more mead in the future with different procedures or ingredients.

    Do *not* be alarmed if it doesn't taste very good yet!
    If that what you expect it to taste like you're not doing things right. Mine is always very drinkable in 2-3 months. Even at 16%ABV.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  20. #20
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    > If that what you expect it to taste like you're not doing things right. Mine is always very drinkable in 2-3 months. Even at 16%ABV.

    Understood. But this is his first batch -- his recipe and procedure probably differ from yours in a bunch of small ways that as you know can make a big difference.

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