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  1. Default Fermentation stalled?

    Hi guys,

    I'm quite new to brewing mead. After successfully bottling my first batch of sweet mead a few months ago, I decided to try a dry mead. I used Lalvin EC-1118 rather than the generic wine yeast I used for the first batch, and the plan was to step feed the yeast. However after adding more honey, the fermentation seems to have greatly slowed.

    The plan was to make about 4.5 litres of mead using about 1.3kg (900ml) of honey to 3.6 litres of water. I initially started with:

    • 2.8 litres of water
    • 450g (300ml) honey
    • 5g packet of EC-1118
    • about ˝ tsp of DAP

    I sterilised everything and boiled my water, then added the first 450g of honey and the DAP when the temperature had dropped below 40°C. I started the yeast off with a little sugar water in advance, and pitched it into the must when the temperature was below 30°C. I aerated for the first two days, and I've been giving the demijohn a swirl every other day without taking the airlock off mainly to keep the yeast in suspension without getting more oxygen into the must.

    For the first week it seemed to be fermenting very fast. The airlock was bubbling every 9 seconds to begin with, and then after a week it had reduced to roughly every 20 seconds. At this point I decided to add another 450g of honey diluted with about 150ml of boiled (and cooled) water to help it dissolve into the must. Fermentation was very slow step fed it a week ago. I'm still seeing some small bubbles regularly rising to the surface, but the airlock isn't 'burping' at all now.

    Have I stalled the fermentation by adding too much honey at once? Is there any way to kickstart the fermentation? Should I just leave it fermenting for a few more weeks?

    Thanks in advance for any advice

  2. #2

    Default

    So just about everything you mentioned is either bad practice or could be improved, other things we cannot know because you did not provide enough information.
    I strongly suggest reading the newbee guide. Get to know how to better rehydrate, feed nutrients (step feed and move away from dap). All that info about bubble count is almost useless. Buying a hydrometer is your best investment when making mead and you will definitely need one if you intend to keep making mead.
    Your mead might or might not need help to finish the ferment. There might simply be a leak in the carboy cap, especially since bubbles are rising but there's no burping. So check the seal on your carboy 1st and report back getting a hydrometer reading would be a HUGE bonus
    "Shouldn’t we say wine is a mead-like beverage made with grapes substituted for the honey?" - Steve Piatz

  3. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Stasis View Post
    So just about everything you mentioned is either bad practice or could be improved, other things we cannot know because you did not provide enough information.
    Thanks for the feedback Stasis. I kind of figured that my first attempts wouldn't be best practice. Can you tell me which things I'm doing wrong? A lot of the recipes I've read suggest about 3lbs of honey to a gallon (so roughly 1.3kg to 4.5l that I've used). I've used the 'no boil' method mentioned in the newbee guide (which I did a few months ago), and although I've heard that Lalvin EC-1118 that I've used isn't brilliant for preserving the flavour of the honey, it does result in higher abv.

    As for step feeding, I've read various different posts and there doesn't seem to be a particularly agreed-upon method. I assumed that since I started with most of the water (3.2L of my final 3.6L total water content) that the honey would be diluted enough after I fed the must, and it wouldn't stress the yeast due to high osmotic pressure.

    I strongly suggest reading the newbee guide. Get to know how to better rehydrate, feed nutrients (step feed and move away from dap).
    I used DAP based on my dad's advice, I'll probably try some other nutrients in future. As for rehydrating, I essentially followed the advice on the packet with a addition of a tiny bit of sugar to the water. When I pitched it into the must the yeast was very active. I doubt that this would have had any negative impact on the fermentation. It seems that only after I step-fed the must has fermentation slowed.

    All that info about bubble count is almost useless. Buying a hydrometer is your best investment when making mead and you will definitely need one if you intend to keep making mead. There might simply be a leak in the carboy cap, especially since bubbles are rising but there's no burping. So check the seal on your carboy 1st and report back getting a hydrometer reading would be a HUGE bonus
    I did think that might be the case. I was worried because the amount of CO₂ being given off appeared to have dropped significantly, but I did think it might have been due to the dissolved CO₂ escaping when I poured the additional honey-water mixture into the must. I do have a hydrometer, but since I'm doing a small batch and step feeding it makes it quite awkward to take readings. I'm not particularly anal about charting the progress of my ferment, so I originally decided against taking SG readings and I was considering getting a refractometer at a later date to measure the alcohol content.

  4. #4

    Default

    Welcome to the community

    I wished someone else would have made the podcast I am referring to. I wouldn't fell that some might think I am self-promoting it. I could care less that it's me on there. It's just super solid info. The podcast is much more current the things in the newbie guide. Start on 9/5/17. I know this works because of all the hardware and ribbons hanging on my wall. I have guys who did the stuff I promote in the podcast. And win medals 3 months from pitch as a new mead maker. I too have had this type of success within this time frame. But I expect that from me.

    A few comments. Like Stasis said. A hydrometer reading is your only real metric here.
    Dith the DAP and buy some Fermaid-K, or better yet Fermaid-O
    You probably chewed through the added honey and are now dry. (hydrometer)
    Listen to the podcast and do what it says and you will be miles in front of 90% of the world
    Last edited by Squatchy; 03-27-2018 at 02:06 PM.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  5. #5

    Default

    I agree. Please don’t attempt another mead until you invest in a hydrometer and follow squatchys advice.
    If you don’t have the patience for the podcasts, then at least read the newbie guide and use fermaid O

  6. Default

    Thanks for the feedback Stasis. I kind of figured that my first attempts wouldn't be best practice. Can you tell me which things I'm doing wrong? A lot of the recipes I've read suggest about 3lbs of honey to a gallon (so roughly 1.3kg to 4.5l that I've used). I've used the 'no boil' method mentioned in the newbee guide (which I did a few months ago), and although I've heard that Lalvin EC-1118 that I've used isn't brilliant for preserving the flavour of the honey, it does result in higher abv.

    As for step feeding, I've read various different posts and there doesn't seem to be a particularly agreed-upon method. I assumed that since I started with most of the water (3.2L of my final 3.6L total water content) that the honey would be diluted enough after I fed the must, and it wouldn't stress the yeast due to high osmotic pressure.

    I used DAP based on my dad's advice, I'll probably try some other nutrients in future. As for rehydrating, I essentially followed the advice on the packet with a addition of a tiny bit of sugar to the water. When I pitched it into the must the yeast was very active. I doubt that this would have had any negative impact on the fermentation. It seems that only after I step-fed the must has fermentation slowed.

    I did think that might be the case. I was worried because the amount of CO₂ being given off appeared to have dropped significantly, but I did think it might have been due to the dissolved CO₂ escaping when I poured the additional honey-water mixture into the must. I do have a hydrometer, but since I'm doing a small batch and step feeding it makes it quite awkward to take readings. I'm not particularly anal about charting the progress of my ferment, so I originally decided against taking SG readings and I was considering getting a refractometer at a later date to measure the alcohol content.

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