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  1. Default Semi urgent.. 2 month old Wyeast smack pack not puffing up

    Trying my first BOMM
    Spent last 2 weeks getting every ingredient and instrument Iíd need
    Ordered Wyeast 1388 from BrewChatter. Manufacture date feb 13 2019. They were nice and sent it to me with an ice pack.
    USPS screwed up the delivery and it was a day late. Ice pack no longer cold. Ambient day temp where I live is in the low 80s.
    Put it in fridge couple days to gather more items.
    Everything ready to go and popped inner pack, shook, and put it in water which Iím keeping close to 70 degrees as possible.
    Pack isnít puffing up at all. Maybe a tiny bit at first? Honestly itís so close to the original pack size I really canít tell.

    Am I screwed? I live on an island, thereís one homebrew store here but they carry limited items. I Often have to amazon things and wait a week. I wonít be able to visit the store til tomorrow (and they wonít have wyeast 138.

    Was thinking maybe I could make a starter but I only have what I bought for the brew: Fermaid K, Fermaid O, DAP (before I found out he changed his recipe), potassium carbonate (K2CO3).

    Can I make a starter with any of this? Water, honey, any of the above plus the yeast?

    Most the starter recipes Iím reading ask for other ingredients.

    Cost me $18 (shipping is a bitch here) to get one pack of Wyeast on the island, plus waiting for days.

    Super, super bummed. Literally have everything laid out to start the mead, and the meadís prom date wonít show.

    Help me Meadi-wan-kinobis.. youíre my only hope.

  2. #2

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    I'm not the one to add advice but to clarify for those that will come next you do not have the must mixed yet right? The honey is still in its packaging and not yet added to water?

  3. #3

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    So all the instructions you see that says you should make a starter with a bunch of other things is absolutely not necessary. Although you could add a little bit of your fur made to it which would probably be a good idea
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

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    Correct, ingredients all still packaged. Spring water bottles and honey unopened and still "sterile". I activated the pack only, a couple hours before I was going to start the brew.

    Pack has puffed a little bit since last night, but looks nowhere near as puffy as the ones you see online where they are bloated and look like they'll pop. Seems I got a batch of lazy yeast? lol

    The Wyeast 1388 smack pack I got says that it is good to inoculate up to 5 gallons. However, when Bray does it he pitches everything into one gallon, presumably to get a high pitch rate.

    So even though the pack started puffing, I'm still thinking it might be a good idea to do a starter anyway to help the little guys grow before pitching them. I'm concerned if I don't, I might have a slow ferment, giving more chance to bugs to grow. I rather the yeasties out-compete them right away.

    Will be following these directions for mead starter:
    https://denardbrewing.com/blog/post/Start/

    And will replace GoFerm with what I have on hand, Fermaid O.

    I guess my one remaining question at this point is: I've read elsewhere that he yeast is suppose to be kept at 70 degrees F in a starter, but I have limited temperature control options right now -- (1) I can leave it in a "cool dark place", which for where I live is going to vary between 78-82 degrees F. (2) I can place the starter in a bucket with water and a bottle of frozen ice which will keep it cold, but it will be colder then 70 degrees F. (3) I can put the starter in the fridge but it would be kept very cold, around 44 degrees F or so. Is one of these a better option? I'm guessing 1 or 2.. neither is optimal. But which is best for the yeast?

    Thank you all!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    537

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    Bray has instructions for a mead starter: https://www.denardbrewing.com/blog/post/Start/

    My last smack pack didn't swell up either, and I still pitched it and it worked, though it took a couple days to get going and it was a small batch. I won't use them any more.
    Dave from New Haven County

  6. Default

    I used Brays starter method but replaced Goferm with Fermaid O.

    Next question whatís best method to pitch this when itís ready?

    I will be splitting the 2 liter starter among four 1-gallon spring water bottles. Seems like I might have far too much starter? Bray mentions 10% volume for batches. 10% of One gal batches would be 6.4 ounces of starter per one gallon batch, leaving me with a liter of unused starter..? Or I could pitch it all. Each gallon would get 2 cups of starter (a lot!)

    Do I just siphon out into sanitized pouring receptacle like a Pyrex measuring cup and pour in with a sanitized kitchen funnel? itís currently in a wide mouth 1 gal carboy. There is 1/8Ē - 1/4Ē yeast cake after only 36 hrs.

    Edit: it seems like Bray might be swirling and pitching everything. Liquid, yeast cake, all of it. He mentions the starter will add 2 liters of volume. This leads me to believe he is not separating the yeast cake from the liquid.

    Thanks
    Last edited by Meadinator; 04-26-2019 at 07:24 PM.

  7. #7

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    You can let it drop to the bottom and rack a good bit of liquid off it and then add it. Or if you 1 gallon is full of water and honey, just leave room for the starter and make you must the same gravity
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  8. Default

    Most of what I want will be in the bottom then? I wonít want the liquid?

    Will obtain a final gravity reading but it was 1800ml water to 6oz honey (poured too much), plus the activated snack pack. Should be a little over 2 liters.

    Thanks

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Meadinator View Post
    Most of what I want will be in the bottom then? I won’t want the liquid?

    Will obtain a final gravity reading but it was 1800ml water to 6oz honey (poured too much), plus the activated snack pack. Should be a little over 2 liters.

    Thanks
    You will see a definite separation with a heavier separation on the bottom. That will be your yeast
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  10. Default

    So day 2 of ferment, visible activity with fermentation bubbles and foam on the top.

    Tried to take hydrometer readings, the foam completely obscured most attempts to take readings. There was an inch to several inches of foam. Had to try multiple times and try to nudge the hydrometer to the side of the wine thief.

    It appears although there is visible activity after 2 days not much has changed with gravity readings. They appear so similar as if they have not changed. Also a taste test was a fizzy (diffused bubbles like carbonation) but no taste of alcohol. The yeast may not have started fermentation yet.

    I thought using a sanitized stirrer, and then stirring the must would provide a more accurate reading. But it ended up only creating huge amounts of foam and bubbles. I don't think the bubbles are from the stirring alone however. The bubbles are kinda looking like starsan bubbles if it gets shaken up. I always turn over and dump out the starsan as much as possible while leaving the surface still wet. (if it dries it's no longer sanitized)

    Is there any really good way to prevent so many bubbles that it is neigh impossible to take a gravity reading?

    Thanks

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Meadinator View Post
    So day 2 of ferment, visible activity with fermentation bubbles and foam on the top.

    Tried to take hydrometer readings, the foam completely obscured most attempts to take readings. There was an inch to several inches of foam. Had to try multiple times and try to nudge the hydrometer to the side of the wine thief.

    It appears although there is visible activity after 2 days not much has changed with gravity readings. They appear so similar as if they have not changed. Also a taste test was a fizzy (diffused bubbles like carbonation) but no taste of alcohol. The yeast may not have started fermentation yet.

    I thought using a sanitized stirrer, and then stirring the must would provide a more accurate reading. But it ended up only creating huge amounts of foam and bubbles. I don't think the bubbles are from the stirring alone however. The bubbles are kinda looking like starsan bubbles if it gets shaken up. I always turn over and dump out the starsan as much as possible while leaving the surface still wet. (if it dries it's no longer sanitized)

    Is there any really good way to prevent so many bubbles that it is neigh impossible to take a gravity reading?

    Thanks
    https://www.northernbrewer.com/produ...caAjqoEALw_wcB
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  12. Default

    Thanks Squatchy Iíll give it a shot!

    Any good ideas how to sanitize nutrients for staggered nutrient additions (SNAs)? Put the initial nutrients in but so far practicing how Iíd put them in for SNAs but itís been messy and maybe not the best methodology.

    Tried adding nutrient to spring water and boiling in a Pyrex measuring glass via microwave. But any nutrient ended up baked on the side of the Pyrex instead of staying in suspension and being sanitized (not to mention donít nutrients lose effectiveness when Boiled?)

    Then I tried boiling water in a tea kettle and pouring into sanitized Pyrex measuring cup with nutrient already in. Stirred with sanitized stirring thingy. Seemed a little bit better but I think there is greater chance of contamination because of the wide measuring cup mouth and the heat dropping from boiling temperature once it leaves the kettle.

    To this effect I bought a 250ml Corning Pyrex erlymeyer flask with stopper, and currently waiting on it. Was thinking it might be easier to boil the water and nutrient in-flask with small opening right on the stovetop.

    Just wondering if there is a better way. I was told by a reliable source that vodka wasnít adequate to kill all bugs to sanitize nutrient.

  13. #13

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    Hi,

    I'm not sure what you mean by sanitizing your nutrients.

    I have a scale to measure it out on. You can sanitize the scale surface, use a small sanitized dish and tare weight it, or even sanitize a small piece of tin foil on the scale surface. I use a small sanitized container, add a small amount of the must in the container, add the nutrients, stir, and pitch into fermenting must. If you have room in your fermenting container, you can also use distilled or bottled water instead of the must to stir the nutrients in the small container. I use this method so I don't get all the foaming when pitching the dry nutrients directly into the must.

    Hope this helps.

  14. Default

    So by sanitizing nutrients I mean if any water got in and they are clumpy at all, bugs could grow in them, thereby infecting mead when you add SNAs. And since our hands are wet and we are working in a wet area (spraying sanitizer, pouring out spring water, turning sanitized equipment over to drain, etc), a few water droplets are bound to get in to where you store nutrients eventually.

    I currently have my nutrient bags in a zip lock with a dry paper towel to absorb moisture. And I ordered desiccant packets too. But yea I would feel better sanitizing them before adding as SNA because water droplets.

    If I didnít have to sanitize, I like the using must in a sanitized container idea.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Brookline, NH
    Posts
    797

    Default

    You are over thinking it.

  16. #16

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    That's crazy. You don't sanitize nutrients. Just store them in Tupperware and weigh them on your scale with dry hands
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  17. Default

    I guess thatís the issue. I donít have a scale and was pouring out of the nutrient bag onto a sanitized measuring spoon.

  18. #18

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    Hi,
    If you're confident enough in your measurements, even using measuring spoons should be OK. It doesn't have to be wet - dry it off with a clean dry towel. There are all sorts of things just in the air we walk through - including yeasts. Yes, sanitize your equipment the best you can, but you don't need to sanitize your nutrients. It sounds like you're trying to be careful not to corrupt your nutrient supplies. In the event they do become corrupt somehow, I'd toss them.

    If you're using dry hands, in a dry work area, you should be OK for the most part. That's what I do.

    It's likely not possible to go through all of your methods and protocols on this forum, but maybe consider the space you have to use and keep one area for dry work, and another for wet.

    When you have the chance, I'd definitely get a decent scale.

  19. Default

    Appreciate the help, all.
    This is what you're helping me to accomplish.
    Edit: The forum cropped the picture but if you right click and open the image in a new tab you can see it all.


  20. Default

    Ok next conundrum. What’s the best methodology to add more honey and raise the gravity? The goal being higher ABV.

    When I made the mead initially on 4/29/19, I had some gravity reading issues but as close as I can approximate, the OG was 1.110 for 3lb honey.

    Latest gravity reading on 5/7 showed SG of 1.050. It’s got to be getting pretty close to dry now. Will be taking reading soon but just want to be ready with action plan when I open them.

    Essentially Bray says this yeast can ferment higher, maybe as high as 16%. I want to add some honey (and nutrient) to see if I can push it higher.

    What would be the best methodology to determine how much honey I should add?
    Last edited by Meadinator; 05-16-2019 at 10:24 PM.

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