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  1. Default to bubble or not

    On my first attempted batch of mead, I ran into a wierd problem and now it appears to be happening again. In my first batch of mead, I psuedo-boiled my honey, nutrient,etc and then let it cool. I tried to get as much air into the must before i pitched the yeast, by swirling and shaking it in the bottle. I pitched a batch of Lavin D-47, after letting it happily rehydrate. I put in the fermentation lock and let it murk. Several days later, nothing no bubbles, no bubbling, nothing. I checked the fermentation lock and it looked clear and ok. Getting slightly frantic I swirled it a little and got a few bubbles. I swirled it more and got Mt St Helens in my basement. Must and stuff everywhere. Huge mess. After I cleaned the fermentation lock and replaced it, the batch happily bubbled and murked to completion. Sadly, I just pitched my second batch 4 days ago and its doing the same thing. Any clues as to why the volcano and how I could prevent it??

  2. #2
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    Default Re: to bubble or not

    There are a lot of things it could be. In your post you mentioned that you swirled the must a lot before you pitched the yeast which is great, but, once you pitch your yeast is when you really need to aerate it liberally. I spend five minutes fiercly swirling, stirring, shaking and agitating my musts once I pitch the yeast.

    Also, what was the starting temperature of the must when you pitched the yeast? If it was cool (less than 70 degrees) then you may have shocked your yeast.

    Cheers,

    Oskaar
    Is it tasty . . . precious?

  3. Default Re: to bubble or not

    I am not sure if I shocked the yeast or not.(still no activity in the glass) While I did not measure the temperature of the must when I pitched it, I remember that the glass was quite pleasantly warm to hold as I carried it to its new home. I would think that the must would then be in the low 90's to maybe even low 100's. It seemed to be similar, albeit a tad lower, than the temperature that I re-hydrated the yeast in.. If I did stun the yeast, should it start fermenting soon, or should I try to re-pitch or something?
    Another question, if I may. All the books, mention aerating the must but, never clearly state if it is before or after you pitch the yeast. I personally would think that stiring/etc after the yeast was pitched would stun them. From your comments, I would take it that most people stir AFTER pitching the yeast??

  4. #4
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    Default Re: to bubble or not

    OK. Something isn't making sense.

    Can you post your exact recipe and how you prepared the must, and pitched the yeast please.

    thanks,

    Oskaar
    Is it tasty . . . precious?

  5. Default Re: to bubble or not

    okay, exact recipe:
    3lbs wild flower honey
    1.5 tsp Yeast nutrient
    ~1 gallon bottled spring water
    1 packet Lavin D-47
    from my notes, process went like this:
    I took the water heated it to a rolling boil then cooled it to 170F. Let it hang out around there for 20 mins. Then when the temperature was stable, I added in the honey and nutrient, stirring the whole time. I let it stay at 170F for 10 mins then took it off the heat, covered it, and let it cool down a bit. My thermometer only goes down to 130F, so once it was there I heated up the water to re-hydrate the yeast. I rehydrate my yeast in a small glass jar, so when the jar was cool enough to hold, but still on the warm side, I added the yeast. I let them sit undisturbed for 10 mins. While the yeast was re-hydrating, I poured the must into the glass jug, and shook, stirred, swirled, etc to aerate the must.. The must was around 100 degrees or so when it was in the jug, as I could hold the jug and not burn myself. After the yeast had rehydrated for ten minutes, i stirred them up into the water in the small jar. After that I simply poured the yeast into the jug, swirled it a bit to mix in the yeast, and moved it to where it was going to go before fitting the fermentation lock. Then I sat back to wait, hoping for happy fermentation. I sat four days with no signs of anything happening and you know the rest of the story.
    Any clues what I might have done wrong??


  6. #6
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    Default Re: to bubble or not

    You need to get another thermometer that has a wider range. One of those quick read digital thermometers you stick in a turkey or prime rib is what I generally use.

    It's really important that you don't exceed the temperature recommended by Lalvin (104) degrees F when rehydrating the yeast, and your must shouldn't be any hotter than that either.

    Okay, the only things I can think of is that maybe temperature of the must and the rehydrating water were too hot and the yeasties got a little fried so it is taking them some time to bring up their population to a point of where they can start gobbling up the ambient sugars for conversion.

    The other thing is that Lalvin recommends using energizer when you use nutrient, but I don't think that would cause the initial dehydration to be delayed.

    A couple of more questions:

    How did you measure the temperature of the water you used to rehydrate?

    Was the rehydrated yeast foaming?

    What was the expiration date on the yeast packet, and what did the yeast look like when you opened it?

    Cheers,

    Oskaar
    Is it tasty . . . precious?

  7. Default Re: to bubble or not

    oskaar, aren.t you worried about the yeasties getting dizzy when you stir so violently? i would think that they would be so dizzy that they couldn't find a lover to bred with

  8. #8
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    Default Re: to bubble or not

    Nah, it just whips them into a rabid feeding frenzy! Yeasts like that agitation and oxygenation.

    Cheers,

    Oskaar
    Is it tasty . . . precious?

  9. #9

    Default Re: to bubble or not

    Quote Originally Posted by hedgehog
    The must was around 100 degrees or so when it was in the jug, as I could hold the jug and not burn myself.
    That may not be the best way to judge the temperature of a must. I used to work fast food years ago, over a flat grill. My hands got to the point where I could slap them on the hot grill without burning them. I used to stick my hand in the pickle jar and then slap it on the grill right away, just to make a sizzling noise and scare the counter girls.

    To this day, if I pick up a hot pan it takes me a minute to realize it's hot enough to burn.

    Yep, better get a good thermometer. A lot of grocery stores carry nice cheap digital thermometers for cooking. They're perfect for meadmaking.

    <><><><><><><><><><>
    <><><><><><><><>
    Dan McFeeley

    "Meon an phobail a thogail trid an chultur"
    (The people's spirit is raised through culture)

  10. Default Re: to bubble or not

    ok.. I guess my yeast rehydrating wasn't the most "polished". But I have successfully rehydrated many batches of Doric ale yeast using the same proceedures, temperatures and timing.
    As for Oskaar's questions about the yeasts. well it had a 2007 expiration date on it, and the yeast look like little powdery-mini-pellets as usual(kinda yellowish, smell like other brewing yeasts.) When I rehydrated them, there was a little foam on there but not much, which makes me wonder a bit about them.
    and as for yeast energizer, what exactly is it? My yeast nutrient is the Super-Ferment brand with yeast hulls and all. dunno if that helps.
    any comments on if i should repitch or not??


  11. Default Re: to bubble or not

    Did you happen (or do you have the ability) to take a PH reading? Maybe it isn't a problem with your yeast but a problem with your must.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: to bubble or not

    It could be pH, but generally if fermentation hasn't started the pH won't be low enough to need to buffer with K carbonate. Most of the pH issues I've run into have been after a couple few days of strong initial fermentation and the pH drops as a result. Then the fermentation slows and stalls and I had to add the K carbonate to jumpstart it.

    Jab has a good point to check the pH. If you don't have a hand held pH meter you can get one for under thirtybucks at an aquarium supply store.


    Oskaar
    Is it tasty . . . precious?

  13. Default Re: to bubble or not

    Ok, I don't have a digital pH meter. I know that lots frown on pH paper, I do have some of the wine pH papers (3.0-4.4pH). I tested the pH of the must and got an unknown color. I played around with some of the papers testing some dilute lemon juice. By diluting to different amounts, I think I figured the color scale beyond the posted ones. Basically I think that my pH is too high in my must. But not by too much. While a pH meter(and possibly an acid mix) is on my shopping list for Sat., I am kinda wondering about the pH thing. How often do you need to adjust the pH of a basic honey and water must??
    and yes, I got a nice happy digital thermometer for testing my yeast bath.

  14. Default Re: to bubble or not

    Heh, I'm the one who mentioned pH and I Have to admit that I have never actually checked any of my meads. I have never had a problem, though if I did I would assume a pH problem because while I am lacking in my pH duties through my notes and methods on everything else it is usually pretty easy to rule them out.

    If I remember from Ken's book (don't quote me on this because this is from memory) I think you want to start out around 3 and it should be good. You of course can start higher than that but you may end up needing some adjustment later. I will check Ken's book tomorrow and make sure I have that right, I may have the numbers backwards and post and update (assuming someone doesn't correct me first!) to this thread.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: to bubble or not

    As long as you're between 3.5 and 4.2 in your must you'll be fine. If your higher than 4.2 then you'll want to add some acid, below 3.5 and add some K-carbonate.

    I don't think it's pH though because after a couple of days it's starting to go to town. Sounds to me like sluggish yeast due to either shock, or defective batch. But who the heck knows, it could be pH too. Hopefully it doesn't affect your finished product

    Cheers,

    Oskaar
    Is it tasty . . . precious?

  16. #16

    Default Re: to bubble or not

    Quote Originally Posted by jab
    If I remember from Ken's book (don't quote me on this because this is from memory) I think you want to start out around 3 and it should be good. You of course can start higher than that but you may end up needing some adjustment later. I will check Ken's book tomorrow and make sure I have that right, I may have the numbers backwards and post and update (assuming someone doesn't correct me first!) to this thread.
    I'm at work (shhh! Don't tell the boss!) and don't have immediate access to _The Complete Meadmaker_, but I can safely assume Ken was giving a figure of pH 3.7. Ken is very familiar with the research of the late Roger Morse of the University of Cornell, and that was his recommendations

    A pH of 3.0 is actually too acidic for a healthy fermentation. Yeasts release organic acids during fermentation, which will lower that pH of 3.0 even lower, stalling the fermentation. Morse recommended pH 3.7 as the best compromise between a pH high enough to assist the fermentation but still low enough to impede bacterial activity.

    <><><><><><><><><><>
    <><><><><><><><>
    Dan McFeeley

    "Meon an phobail a thogail trid an chultur"
    (The people's spirit is raised through culture)

  17. #17
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    Default Re: to bubble or not

    AHAAAAAA SLACKER!!!!!!

    3.0 is definately way to low to support healthy fermentation. Cellular lysis and the release of the yeast cell DNA and other acids into the must pretty much foul it beyond repair.

    Mr. McFeeley here was referenced in Ken's book under measuring acid by titration, and pH is related to that as well, so I'd listen to his advice!

    Cheers,

    Oskaar
    Is it tasty . . . precious?

  18. #18

    Default Re: to bubble or not

    Quote Originally Posted by Oskaar
    Mr. McFeeley here was referenced in Ken's book under measuring acid by titration, and pH is related to that as well, so I'd listen to his advice!
    *Mr.* McFeeley? I hope you're not planning on calling me that when you show up at the next meadfest!

    <><><><><><><><><><>
    <><><><><><><><>
    Dan McFeeley

    "Meon an phobail a thogail trid an chultur"
    (The people's spirit is raised through culture)

  19. Default Re: to bubble or not

    just an update for any and all....
    I had a friend take a small sample(50cc's) of must into work so he could test the pH on the fancy laboratory pH meter. He said that he tested it three times and got a consistant 3.34pH. Which might be a tad low, but definately not high as I suspected. I might add some k-carbonate later, but for now I plan on leaving it alone.
    And although I am not quite sure why, but my yeasts finally woke up last night. I haven't done anything, except for taking a quick sample with a sterilized wine theif on thursday. This morning the bottle was slowly bubbling, about 1 bubble every two minutes, and then by this evening it was happily bubbling along at 4 bubbles per minute. I guess I did somehow stun my yeasts, I hope..
    One last question, is it heresy to sacrifice a few packets of yeast and some sugar in an attempt to do some yeast rehydrating and pitching dry-runs?? to make sure that am getting it right??
    As well, I SERIOUSLY want to thank you all for the advice. While the yeasts seem to have woken up without my action, you all pointed out some things that I seriously need to take a look at. (pH, yeast rehydrate temps, pitching methods, aerating, etc..)

  20. Default Re: to bubble or not

    Glad to hear it started. I am guessing you either stunned them all and it took a while for them to recover or as you stated stunned/killed 2 of the 3 packets and it took an extra long time to get your yeast population to critical mass.

    Oh, and for the record, I have no problem with you sacrificing some yeast. Better yeast than a whole batch!

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