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  1. #61
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    Dec 2017
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    SG can't go up. Either you measured the gravity wrong, or you didn't properly dissolve the honey in your mead after adding it.

    Anyway, by looking at the amounts of honey you added, you're going to end up with a super high gravity final product. If you used 1118, you'll probably end in the "too sweet" range with a very hot alcoholic finish. Think dessert wine with added sugar. You saw activity from adding more yeast probably because the yeast was still in aerobic stage when adding, so it just did what it could and stopped at the alcohol tolerance. That yeast is stressed and producing bad off flavours (jet fuel, for one), and I don't really see this ending too well. Step feeding is a "thing", but not in such large amounts. You also didn't seem to feed the yeast going in, so it went through the first 1/3rd of the sugar unfed, weak and unhappy. Not a good start.

    You dump on Squatchy and say he didn't read the thread. I did, just now, and he recommends never adding honey to the mead to increase gravity again to over 1.120. You did that. Twice. Yeast is suffering from osmotic shock, probably.

    How much honey have you added to the mead in total, and what's the total volume of your batch?

  2. #62

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    I'm using the White Star 099, not the 1118. And I did use nutrient per the procedure I outlined earlier in the thread. I've added about 4 1/2 lbs of honey altogether to 1/2gal water, and I still have a 1 1/2 pounds left.

  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ambaryerno View Post
    I'm using the White Star 099, not the 1118. And I did use nutrient per the procedure I outlined earlier in the thread. I've added about 4 1/2 lbs of honey altogether to 1/2gal water, and I still have a 1 1/2 pounds left.
    4.5lb honey to 0.5gal water gives me a gravity of 1.184 and a potential ABV of 22.5%. That's very, very high. I don't know what the yeast's alcohol tolerance is - do you have those numbers?

  4. #64

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    Quote Originally Posted by Toxxyc View Post
    4.5lb honey to 0.5gal water gives me a gravity of 1.184 and a potential ABV of 22.5%. That's very, very high. I don't know what the yeast's alcohol tolerance is - do you have those numbers?
    Off hand, I believe the 099 can get up to 26% ABV. I'd like to try getting it to about 25% with an FG of 1.030. According to my notes, 6lbs with that FG should yield 24.86%.

  5. #65

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    I've never heard of a yeast that can go that high. If it could I still wouldn't use it. Because it would be for distilling. Why and the hell would you want something that strong anyway? It will never taste good. Especially if you are only going to leave it at 1030.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  6. #66
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    Pretoria, South Africa
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    OK so you mean White Labs, not White Star. I understand. According to their product page, you need to:

    Most fermentations will stop between 12-16% ABV unless these high gravity tips are performed:

    Aerate very heavily, 4 times as much as with a normal gravity beer. Less oxygen dissolves into solution at high gravity.

    Pitch 3-4 times as much yeast as normal.

    Consider aerating intermittently during the first 5 days of fermentation. This will help yeast cells during a very difficult fermentation. Aerate with oxygen for 30 seconds or air for 5-10 minutes.

    Higher nutrient levels can allow yeast to tolerate higher alcohol levels. Use 2 times the normal nutrient level. This is especially important when using WLP099 to make wine and mead, which have almost no nutrient level, to begin with. Do not start with the entire wort sugar at once.

    Begin fermentation with a wort that would produce a 6-8% beer, and add wort (it can be concentrated) each day during the first 5 days. This can be done together with aeration. This is mandatory if the reported 25% ABV is to be achieved.

    Keep in mind also this yeast is known for increase phenolic production in fermentations over 16%. In something as "subtle" to drink like a mead, I'm guessing it'll taste like an alcoholic spice explosion. You also needed to make a massive starter according to everyone who's used it.

  7. #67

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    Quote Originally Posted by Toxxyc View Post
    OK so you mean White Labs, not White Star. I understand. According to their product page, you need to:

    Most fermentations will stop between 12-16% ABV unless these high gravity tips are performed:

    Aerate very heavily, 4 times as much as with a normal gravity beer. Less oxygen dissolves into solution at high gravity.

    Pitch 3-4 times as much yeast as normal.

    Consider aerating intermittently during the first 5 days of fermentation. This will help yeast cells during a very difficult fermentation. Aerate with oxygen for 30 seconds or air for 5-10 minutes.

    Higher nutrient levels can allow yeast to tolerate higher alcohol levels. Use 2 times the normal nutrient level. This is especially important when using WLP099 to make wine and mead, which have almost no nutrient level, to begin with. Do not start with the entire wort sugar at once.

    Begin fermentation with a wort that would produce a 6-8% beer, and add wort (it can be concentrated) each day during the first 5 days. This can be done together with aeration. This is mandatory if the reported 25% ABV is to be achieved.

    Keep in mind also this yeast is known for increase phenolic production in fermentations over 16%. In something as "subtle" to drink like a mead, I'm guessing it'll taste like an alcoholic spice explosion. You also needed to make a massive starter according to everyone who's used it.
    Yeah, I meant White Labs.

    Ok, so:

    Aeration - If I was aerating 5 minutes per day through the 1/3 break, then for this high gravity I need to aerate for 20 minutes.
    Yeast - If I was using 1 vial/gal, then I should use 3 or 4.
    Nutrient - If I used 1g/gal (I believe that was the Fermaid-K instructions) then I should be using 2g/gal.
    Honey - Rather than adding on the feed breaks, I should add the honey daily over five days until it's all there. Say, for 6lb in a gallon batch about 1 1/4lb for the first four days, and 1lb on the fifth.
    Taste - I'm already planning an extended aging process. It's also why I'm looking to make this a sweet mead.

    The main question I have then is the starter, as I get a lot of conflicting information on how to set that up.

  8. #68
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    Pretoria, South Africa
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    Look I'm no expert, so I'm talking from the little knowledge I have here, so keep that in mind. In my opinion, you should stop adding honey now. You didn't do a starter to get a massive yeast colony up, so I do believe the damage is done. The mead will probably take a few years to be drinkable anyway, so adding more honey and doing more damage to it will just add years to the aging process. You have one of the best mead makers I've heard of right here (Squatchy) also telling you to stop, so going on doesn't seem smart to me.

    As a quick question: Why did you decide to try and ferment a mead to almost impossible levels, and why didn't you rather decide to make a milder sweet mead and fortify it to your required ABV with a neutral alcohol like vodka or moonshine?

  9. #69

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    Because I don't want to use another source of alcohol.

    And if this batch is frelled and the process I created was built on bad advice, then fine. I'll revise, refine, and start again. But I need guidance on what and where to actually change it. So forget the current batch. I'm starting from scratch.

  10. #70
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    Dec 2017
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    Pretoria, South Africa
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    I would follow the instructions white White Labs to a T, for starters. Like, precisely. I would also get a fermentation chamber to ensure the yeast is as absolutely happy as possible to ensure it goes as far as possible. I would also step feed significantly slower and in smaller amounts. If it does tap out earlier (which it very easily could), you don't end up with a stupid sweet half-fermented gloop you can't drink.

  11. #71

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    So if I were to set a fermentation process based on White Labs' website:

    1) Create the starter with 2 cups of water + nutrient. Use double the nutrient recommendation (so if it's 1g/gal use 2g) and 3 or 4 times the recommended amount of yeast (according to White Labs, 1 40mL vial is good for 5 gallons, so would 1 vial in a gallon be sufficient, or would I still want 3-4 vials?). Let starter stand at room temperature 12-18 hours, aerating or shaking periodically.
    2) Create the must in 1/2gal water minus the starter. Use enough honey for an alcohol content of 6-8%
    3) Aerate must for 20 minutes
    4) Pitch starter into must. Aerate 5-10 minutes over the first five days
    6) Add remaining honey over the first 5 days

    However you're also giving me some contradictory advice. On the one hand you're saying to follow White Labs, and they say add the remaining sugars over 5 days (thus my process above). But then you're saying add the honey in smaller amounts and more slowly than that, and I wouldn't call five days slow (and unless I start with a higher gravity I can't feed the whole 6lbs in five days in small amounts).

  12. #72
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    Yeah one vial should be enough. On liquid yeast - starters are generally recommended anyway, since the colony size is generally less than with dry yeast, or something like that.

    I would recommend not shaking the starter too much, and not letting it stand too much. If you can, get an Erlenmeyer flask with a stir plate. I would recommend a 2l (60~70 oz) Erlenmeyer flask so you can make a big-ass starter. I would then introduce the honey to the starter, because of the size of your batch. Ideally you'd be making a big batch, 5 or 6 gallons, and then just subtract the starter volume from the liquid, but if you do this in a 1 gallon batch you're going to end up with a way too high gravity, and again submit your yeast to osmotic shock.

    If I were you, I'd do this, and hope for the best:

    1. Make a starter, large starter. Calculate how much water needs to go into it to make a 1gal batch like you want to. Let the starter run for 24 hours, with the required (double) nutrients, at the perfect temperatures and so on.
    2. Once the starter is well under way, mix honey and water to a very high gravity, so it can be poured. Match the must temperature to your yeast sludge temperature (to reduce temp shock).
    3. Add the honey water to your yeast, stirring to dissolve it completely.
    4. Step-feed with small additions of honey on a daily basis after the first 5 days or so, keeping the fermenting mead at the optimum yeast temperature in a fermentation chamber.
    5. Your gravity should never exceed 1.12, but ideally I'd try to keep it under 1.1 just to keep the yeast as happy as possible.
    6. Feed nutrients as often as required.

    You want to do as absolutely little as possible to upset the yeast. That means perfect water (read up on water profiles), perfect pH (get some pH buffering salts made for brewing, like K2CO3), perfect temperatures and low gravities for the yeast to work with. That also means a pure O2 source with an aeration stone, if you can get it. Some places will rent out a CO2 cylinder to you for surprisingly low amounts, so consider that as well.

  13. #73

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    I'm still not clear on what you're saying regarding the starter. So since I'm doing this in a 1 gallon batch, I should just make the water volume the starter, and add the honey directly, rather than mixing the must separately?

    Also, so I should NOT add the honey during the first five days (this contradicts White Labs' directions) but instead let it have 5 days to start, then begin the daily additions?

  14. #74
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    Pretoria, South Africa
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    I would make half the final volume the starter and then add honey-water to it to make up gravity. I dunno. That's what I would try. You're trying something difficult, made much more difficult because your batch is so small.

  15. #75

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    Ok, so:

    1) Make a starter of 1/4 gallon water + 2x recommended nutrient and add one vial of yeast. Let sit 24 hours to start
    2) Mix honey water made from 1/4 gallon water + enough honey for a max SG of 1.120 when added to the starter
    3) After the 24 hours is up, add the honey water to the starter
    4) Let run for 5 days
    5) Begin adding honey in small amounts daily until all has been added. SG should never exceed 1.120
    6) Once all honey is added, let it do its thing

    What about aeration? I have a pump and airstone, but not a pure O2 system right now. WLP recommends daily aeration for the first five days.

  16. #76

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    There's no need to jump through these hops. Especially for a single gallon and at the gravity, you are using. Just make your must let the must and yeast set in room temp until it's the same and pitch. Add O2 for 2-3 days and feed it. It's not that hard.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  17. #77

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    There's no need to jump through these hops. Especially for a single gallon and at the gravity, you are using. Just make your must let the must and yeast set in room temp until it's the same and pitch. Add O2 for 2-3 days and feed it. It's not that hard.
    There's no need to be so condescending. Clearly it IS that hard since the first process I set up failed. I'm doing the gallon batch because I'm ultimately planning to use heather honey for this, and that's going to be expensive even at that volume. So before I drop a ton of cash, I want to make sure I've got a process that works at a small size and with cheaper honey.

  18. #78
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Brookline, NH
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    Actually, I don't think Squatchy was being condescending and was only voicing what needed to be said. You should be fine using one package of liquid yeast in one gallon of mead. It's only when you start upping the size (3+ gallons) that you need to start thinking about starters.

    Have you looked at Bray Denard's website? I've used his mead starter recipe (for both beer and mead) and never had any issues:

    https://denardbrewing.com/blog/post/Start/

  19. #79

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ambaryerno View Post
    There's no need to be so condescending. Clearly it IS that hard since the first process I set up failed. I'm doing the gallon batch because I'm ultimately planning to use heather honey for this, and that's going to be expensive even at that volume. So before I drop a ton of cash, I want to make sure I've got a process that works at a small size and with cheaper honey.
    Yea. I'm not being condescending at all. I'm just telling you the correct information. I'm sure Toxxyc means well but he doesn't have much experience at all and he's not telling you the correct information. So I will also tell you some other things and then you won't hear from me anymore. Any mead that high of an ABV will taste like absolute crap. And you will be wasting all of your honey on garbage. And I seriously doubt ( I would bet big money) it's not going to get that high no matter what you do. Most traditionals are way to alcoholic no matter how much you back sweeten once they go beyond 10% ABV.

    I'm not proud or condescending here. I'm just telling you like it is. Because you're very new here I realize you don't know who I am. And that's fine. But I'm pretty sure you would listen to what I am saying if you did.

    I truly hope your batch works out and you do manage to get that much ABV. Because then you will know what I'm trying to teach you first hand.

    Keep us posted.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  20. #80

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    Maybe that's not what you intended, but it's how you came across to me with the "Why the hell" and "It's not that hard."

    Also, it's not going to be a traditional. I do have a spice blend planned (already taste-tested with straight honey water at the target SG). My plan is to ferment to my target gravity and ABV, rack it off to the secondary and stop the ferment, then steep the spices while it's aging on oak. As I said before, I'm just trying to get the ferment process itself.

    But now I frankly have no idea, because first I'm told the process I developed using feedback here won't work. Then to use the WLP process for SHG brews. But that won't work and to do this instead. And now that THAT'S wrong.

    So yeah, I'm starting to get just a little bit frustrated here.

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