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  1. #1

    Default Wild yeast fermentation slow

    Recipe/Process:

    Oct 10
    ~6gal of SG 1.060 - from washed capping
    Left for 1 week - fermentation was well started
    added 5kg of honey - SG 1.120
    2.5tsp of nutriest
    1.5 tsp of energizer

    Nov 18
    Racked to secondary - SG 1.090

    Temperature around 72 deg F

    Hadn't planned on using wild yeast, but didn't get around to starting the batch until after my cappings wash had already started to ferment. Decide to just go with it. Fermentation is/was pretty slow, but it bubbled pretty steadily and is still bubbling in the secondary. Should I be worried about it?

    Thanks

    Adam

  2. #2

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    Did you take a gravity reading before you added the additional 5kg of honey?
    “Every loaf of bread is a tragic story of grains that could’ve become beer, but didn’t.” ~ Walter Thornburgh

    "I carry two magnums: One is a gun and I keep it loaded. The other is a bottle and it keeps me loaded." ~ Tracer Bullet (Calvin & Hobbes)

  3. #3

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    Perhaps I'm missing something here. I'm new to meadmaking myself, but isn't SG 1.090 quite early to rack into secondary? My understanding is that the fermentation should be more or less finished, quite close to 1.000 before racking. Was there a lot of lees left over in your primary fermenter?

  4. #4

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    yep willowhix. racking early can slow down fermentation
    "Shouldn’t we say wine is a mead-like beverage made with grapes substituted for the honey?" - Steve Piatz

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by 58limited View Post
    Did you take a gravity reading before you added the additional 5kg of honey?
    SG was 1.060. The reading I don't have is right after I washed the cappings.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by willowhix View Post
    Perhaps I'm missing something here. I'm new to meadmaking myself, but isn't SG 1.090 quite early to rack into secondary? My understanding is that the fermentation should be more or less finished, quite close to 1.000 before racking. Was there a lot of lees left over in your primary fermenter?
    I was concerned about leaving it in plastic for longer than 5 weeks. There was a good amount of lees left in the primary. I didn't realize that racking it could slow it down. I actually thought the agitation and extra oxygen might perk things up.

  7. #7

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    I had a look at it tonight and the bubbling had definitely slowed since racking. Any thoughts on whether I should just leave it to run its slow course? I do have some 71B that I could add. Or I could stir it up and add more nutrient? I did taste it when I racked it and there were no apparent off flavours.

  8. #8

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    In regards to adding nutrient or repitching, I'll refer to Squatchy's advice on my own thread.

    http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthr...tion-with-D-47

    Also when fermentation is complete, I'd personally rack again into another container just to get it off the lees. Otherwise, I'd be worried about clarifying and off-flavours from the dead yeast (particularily if I didn't know anything about the type of yeast doing the fermenting).

  9. #9

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    Thanks. I had a chance to have a closer look at it today. Still has an SG of 1.090. PH is below 3. I think that is the problem. I am going to see if I can get some p. Bicarbonate tomorrow and try adding that and giving it a good stir to get it going again. Temps are in the 18 to 20 deg C range so I don't think that is the problem.

  10. #10

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    If you can,,, stir,shake, power drill, whatever to get some oxygen back in the must after you add the PC. Let us know what happens with this batch
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by zhiv9 View Post
    SG was 1.060. The reading I don't have is right after I washed the cappings.
    Help a noob out here. What's this process of washing the cappings? I assume this has something to do with harvesting wild yeast? Love to learn more about your process.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    "Then glory in battle to Hrothgar was given, waxing of war-fame, that willingly kinsmen obeyed his bidding, till the boys grew to manhood, a numerous band. It burned in his spirit to urge his folk to found a great building, a mead-hall grander than men of the era ever had heard of, and in it to share with young and old all of the blessings the Lord had allowed him, save life and retainers." - Beowulf

  12. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mazer828 View Post
    Help a noob out here. What's this process of washing the cappings? I assume this has something to do with harvesting wild yeast? Love to learn more about your process.
    When the honey in the comb is finished (cells are full and moisture content is low enough), the bees cap it off with a layer of wax. Before I can extract the honey out of the frames, I have to remove that layer of wax. I use a powered uncapper. You can see a little video of it here: http://tinyurl.com/ory92br. The cappings fall in to the tray below where some of the honey drains to a clarify below that. After this, I scoop the wax cappings into a cappings spinner. It is basically a spinning basket. After a couple of hours spinning in the basket, the cappings are fairly dry but still sticky. To get the last of the honey, I wash the cappings, I put these into a stainless steel wax melter that has a valve on the bottom. I fill this with warm water and stir the cappings to wash off the remaining honey. The wax floats to the top and I drain the beginnings of my must out the bottom valve, leaving the wax cappings behind to render. There are wild yeasts on the surface of the cappings that beekeepers have used for centuries to make mead - the first meads were probably made with this yeasts.
    Adam

  13. #13

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    Wow. Very interesting! Thank you. Beekeeping is an art I hope to study and learn in the next few years. Funny how the more you learn, the more your methods migrate back to the ancient ones!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    "Then glory in battle to Hrothgar was given, waxing of war-fame, that willingly kinsmen obeyed his bidding, till the boys grew to manhood, a numerous band. It burned in his spirit to urge his folk to found a great building, a mead-hall grander than men of the era ever had heard of, and in it to share with young and old all of the blessings the Lord had allowed him, save life and retainers." - Beowulf

  14. #14

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    Here's an update:

    December 3, 2015
    Added 21g of Potassium Carbonate to raise PH to 3.5
    Gave it a good stir to aerate.

    December 6, 2015
    No airlock activity
    SG 1.090
    added 21g of P. Carbonate - PH3.8
    add 1 tsp of Fermaid-K

    I had planned to wait for a couple of days and see if the wild yeast gets going again. If not, I'll try pitching a commercial yeast. Also open to other suggestions.

    Thank again,
    Adam

  15. #15

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    Might be tough sledding. Next time, it might be best to plate the yeast on agar, select and grow the cultures, then make a large starter from it to ensure healthy cell counts for a mead fermentation. In this case, depending on how many days it's been, it could be time to jump ship and pitch commercial yeast. I've gotten up to about 10-12 days before any mold started to grow in a mead must.
    Gallons O' Boos made since 2012: 69
    "It may take longer to be patient" ~Chevette Girl
    My Home Brewing Blog

  16. #16

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Marshmallow Blue View Post
    Might be tough sledding. Next time, it might be best to plate the yeast on agar, select and grow the cultures, then make a large starter from it to ensure healthy cell counts for a mead fermentation. In this case, depending on how many days it's been, it could be time to jump ship and pitch commercial yeast. I've gotten up to about 10-12 days before any mold started to grow in a mead must.
    Thanks. This was a bit of an accident. Beekeeping has its busy times and the bees come first. After I washed the cappings, the must sat in pail for about a week while dealt with more pressing matters. By the time I got back to it fermentation was well underway, so I just added more honey to bring up the gravity and nutrients to help support the existing fermentation. I was concerned about pitching a commercial yeast, when a wild strain yeast was already established. I should have checked the PH at the beginning and adjusted it then. I have some 71B-1122 at home, if there is now activity when i get home tonight, I will try pitching it.
    Adam

  17. #17

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    Another update:

    Dec 7, 2015
    Rehydrated 6g of 71B-1122 per Lalvin's instructions and pitched

    Dec 8, 2015
    Fermentation restarted - still very slow.

    Dec 9, 2015
    Air lock activity still really slow
    Stirred and added 1/2 tsp of DAP

    Fermentation hasn't really taken off. I am concerned that it still has a long way to go and will fizzle out again before completion. I figured I would take another SG reading early next week to see what kind of progress its made.

    If it is just progressing very slowly, am I best just to leave it and see where it ends up? If it is still basically stuck, what is my best bet? Should I make a starter with some of the must watered down a little and pitch again?
    Adam

  18. #18

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    Have you tried building up your yeast population with a series of progressively larger starters on a stir plate prior to pitching?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    "Then glory in battle to Hrothgar was given, waxing of war-fame, that willingly kinsmen obeyed his bidding, till the boys grew to manhood, a numerous band. It burned in his spirit to urge his folk to found a great building, a mead-hall grander than men of the era ever had heard of, and in it to share with young and old all of the blessings the Lord had allowed him, save life and retainers." - Beowulf

  19. #19

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    No. I have listed all that I have tried. I don't have a stir plate, but basically what I was asking is the next best step to create a starter with some of the must and then pitching that.
    Adam

  20. #20

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    I can't imagine how much or little a yeast population you're starting with. But if it's pretty small, like less than one billion cell count, I'd be tempted to make a 1.040 gravity culture medium using DME, pre boiled and cooled to sanitize it. Perhaps two cups to start with. Pitch your yeast into that and let it grow for 24 hours, swirling every time you think about it. Then the next day, pour off the clear liquid and pitch the slurry into another medium of the same gravity but double the size. Then the third day double it again. There's all kinds of math and factors to be considered to calculate yeast population growth rates, but I'd think after three growth phases you'd have at least 5x your initial population. I usually count conservatively a 50% population growth for each starter I make.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    "Then glory in battle to Hrothgar was given, waxing of war-fame, that willingly kinsmen obeyed his bidding, till the boys grew to manhood, a numerous band. It burned in his spirit to urge his folk to found a great building, a mead-hall grander than men of the era ever had heard of, and in it to share with young and old all of the blessings the Lord had allowed him, save life and retainers." - Beowulf

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