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  1. Default Sluggish fermentation, possible infection?

    I'm making a five gallon version of Joe Mattoli's three week mead (http://www.gotmead.com/smf/index.php/topic,380.0.html) and I'm having some trouble with it. First off, fermentationseemed to take off pretty well, though it was always slower than it should have been (the first week it had gone from 1.100 to about 1.06 Once it hit about 1.050 fermentation slowed down dramatically, and it just now hit 1.038 after about three weeks of fermentation. I added some yeast energizer and stirred the lees up a bit, and that seems to have helped a little, but it still seems like it's going pretty slow. I checked the acid levels and it was at about .6%, which doesn't seem like it's outside the proper range. Any ideas what's causing the slow down?

    The other problem is that there's some odd discoloration on the surface. At first it was just sort of a large bubble that wouldn't pop, so I just assumed it was scum from the yeast or the honey. I didn't worry about it since it wasn't spreading. The thing is that since I've agitated the surface a couple times, the scum seems to dissapear for a day or so and then resurface. The mead doesn't taste or smell off so far, but I'm wondering if I should rack and sulfite just to be sure, even though the mead isn't at it's target SG yet. Any thoughts?

    Here's the full variation I'm using:

    10 lbs 15 oz clover honey
    2 lbs 3 oz buckwheat honey
    3 t tannin
    1/2 + 1/8 tsp fermax

  2. Default Re: Sluggish fermentation, possible infection?

    Well, it's been about week since my last post and it's still only at 1.030. I tested the PH and it's about 3.4, which doesn't seem too low. Whatever stuff was on top of the mead seems to be gone. It tastes OK, but it's developing some burning aftertastes. I'm still curious if what's going on with it if anyone is willing to venture a guess.

    Edit: After further "experimentation," it seems that chilling the mead takes care of most of the harsh flavors. So maybe there's nothing wrong besides the fact that it's taking over twice as long as it seems like it should.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    The OC
    Posts
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    Default Re: Sluggish fermentation, possible infection?

    Hey dude,

    What you're experiencing is precisely why we keep saying that if this is your first pass at a certain recipe that you shouldn't stray from it. Bottom line is that if you haven't done the recipe before, you shouldn't modify it because it is designed speficically to work within a certain framework. When you step outside of it the results are unpredictable and sometimes undesireable.

    Please post your exact recipe including your process and what yeast you used.

    Cheers,

    Oskaar
    Is it tasty . . . precious?

  4. Default Re: Sluggish fermentation, possible infection?

    Actually I did make the original one gallon recipe once before with good results. I assumed it would work as a five gallon as well. I tried to keep everything as proportional as possible.

    After washing and steralizing all equipment I weighed out the honey in 2.5 pound batches (best I could do with the equipment on hand) mixing each batch with warm tap water and adding it to a 6 gallon carboy. After the honey was added I added water to make 5 gallons. I mixed the tannin and Fermax in a couple ounces of water and added it to the must. I hydrated a packet of Lavlin K1V-1116 as per instructions, and added it to the must after 15 minutes. Everything else proceeded as I described in the first post.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    The OC
    Posts
    7,874

    Default Re: Sluggish fermentation, possible infection?

    Hey Sinfjotli,

    I'm glad you had success with a previous smaller batch, however, you still need to be aware that ingredients are there for a reason.

    Here's your variation from your post.

    10 lbs 15 oz clover honey
    2 lbs 3 oz buckwheat honey
    3 t tannin
    1/2 + 1/8 tsp fermax
    K1V-1116

    Here's the original:

    3 1/2 lbs Clover or your choice honey or blend (will finish sweet)
    1 Large orange (later cut in eights or smaller rind and all)
    1 small handful of raisins (25 if you count but more or less ok)
    1 stick of cinnamon
    1 whole clove ( or 2 if you like - these are potent critters)
    optional (a pinch of nutmeg and allspice )( very small )
    1 teaspoon of Fleishmann’s bread yeast ( now don't get holy on me--- after all this is an ancient mead and that's all we had back then)
    Balance water to one gallon

    In order to balance the flavors you need to replicate them all in a larger batch.

    Hope that helps,

    Oskaar
    Is it tasty . . . precious?

  6. Default Re: Sluggish fermentation, possible infection?

    I think that's Joe's Ancient Orange. I have a gallon of that sitting in my closet and it looks promising (it's hard not to sneak a taste or two!) Here's the original I'm working from:

    Batch #25
    CW Mead Experiment
    1 gallon recipe 68F fermentation temperature


    2 lbs 3 oz Unprocessed Clover honey (ok to substitute if you must)
    7 oz Buckwheat honey (do not substitute)
    .6t Grape Tannin (needed for taste and clearing)
    1/8t Fermax (more will not be better)
    1 5g K1V-1116 (must use this yeast)
    Balance tap water to make 1 gallon (don't use distilled)
    4 Liter Carboy if you have one otherwise use 1 gal


    Now that I look at it, it's been fermenting at a significantly higher temperature (around 75-7. Maybe that's the problem. It's close to 68 now, maybe I should throw a gallon batch together.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
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    Default Re: Sluggish fermentation, possible infection?

    Whoops,

    Sorry bout that!

    Was on the three large glass mead plan tonight!

    OK it looks like you balanced your recipe pretty well. I was looking at the wrong damn thing. Sounds like the temp may be the issue here because of the fusels and higher alcohols produced at higher fermentation temperatures.

    Man, time for some Turkish Coffee.

    Gimme a few and I'll be lucid again!

    Cheers,

    Oskaar


    Is it tasty . . . precious?

  8. Default Re: Sluggish fermentation, possible infection?

    Understood, that's what mead is for after all!

    Sounds like that might be the problem. I guess I'll just let it ferment out and then age it for awhile. Too bad, I'm currently meadless and won't have any for at least a couple more weeks. I guess this is a good lesson in how one variable can effect a fermentation.

  9. Default Re: Sluggish fermentation, possible infection?

    Sounds like the temp could be the cause of the slowdown. I must keep this in mind, I had a couple of "problem children" too and noe that you guys mention the temp. it makea sense.
    Oskaar, the turkish/armenian coffee will only get you wired for sound and maybe dillute the alcohol a bit. Go get some sleep and look at the forums in the morning

    As for meads, I try to start a 1 gal batch of Ancient Orange a month just to keep me off the other stuff. Lately I'm starting to brew beer, Stein Fillers has kits for $14.95 and up
    Cheers,
    Ted

  10. #10

    Default Re: Sluggish fermentation, possible infection?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brewbear
    Lately I'm starting to brew beer
    Brewbeer Brewbear Brewbeer!

    Wrathwilde

  11. #11
    Fedelm Dub Gotmead Visitor

    Default Re: Sluggish fermentation, possible infection?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brewbear
    Sounds like the temp could be the cause of the slowdown. I must keep this in mind, I had a couple of "problem children" too and noe that you guys mention the temp. it makea sense.
    Oskaar, the turkish/armenian coffee will only get you wired for sound and maybe dillute the alcohol a bit. Go get some sleep and look at the forums in the morning

    As for meads, I try to start a 1 gal batch of Ancient Orange a month just to keep me off the other stuff. Lately I'm starting to brew beer, Stein Fillers has kits for $14.95 and up
    Cheers,
    Ted
    My first beer was the Stein Fillers brown ale kit, and it's really good.

  12. Default Re: Sluggish fermentation, possible infection?

    Brewbear brewing beer
    Drink two glasses of mead and say that really fast

    The amber ale is all gone I have to wait for the American Wheat batch...two whole weeks!!!!

    Ted - counting days 'till beer's ready

  13. Default Re: Sluggish fermentation, possible infection?

    I know the agony of waiting for your latest batch of beer to carbonate. I bottled my blond ale last week. I am dying to try one. I might just open one tonight for a taste, even if it is under-carbonated.

    Next time you make your American Wheat Ale, consider throwing in 5 pounds of honey. That is what I did in my latest batch. It will be a couple weeks before I get a chance to bottle it.

    Brian K

  14. Default Re: Sluggish fermentation, possible infection?

    Sinfjotli,

    Slow fermentation and harsh flavors are a sign of lack of nutrient? It sounds like it was slow from the start. Are you sure you added the nutrient you mentioned in your recipe?

    In any case it doesn't seem to be enough. That much nutrient is only sufficient for a 1 gallon batch I would think. I've never used Fermax, but the Fermaid K I use is at the rate of 1 gram per gallon per the manufacturers instructions, which would be about 5 tsp for a 5 gallon batch I think.

    I think you way undershot the nutrient requirements.

  15. Default Re: Sluggish fermentation, possible infection?

    Norsker,

    Possibly. I'm pretty sure that I got the proportion from the original recipie correct. The thing is that the original recipie calls for an amount of Fermax which is far below the manufacturer's instructions (1/8 of a tsp when the bottle recommends 1 tsp/gallon). The recipie makes note that more Fermax won't be better, so I always just assumed that the buckwheat honey made up for the deficiency.

  16. Default Re: Sluggish fermentation, possible infection?

    Hey Brian,
    Please do tell about the honey in the beer. You can PM me, I would assume that the added sugar will give the beer extra "umpf" like a bit more anebriating potency?

    Ted - waiting for *hickup* more info on more potent beer

  17. Default Re: Sluggish fermentation, possible infection?

    I am just starting my second year of home meading. But I have had some interesting times.. That being said. I wouldn't worry about infection. Mead is some really anti-bacterial stuff. In fact I have had my best results NOT using sulfites. And you have more than enough honey. In fact that is probably your problem. Honey will NOT ferment with out help. It sucks the water out of just about anything microbial in nature...including yeast.. and kills it. If you don't have enough water in your must (usually 1:2 H2O(gal):Honey(Lb) MAX). The yeast will have a difficult time taking. I wouldn't rack it because it is going albeit slowly. and I certainly would not sulfite. But if you want it to speed up try diluting the must by siphoning it into a 5 gallon carboy and topping it with distilled water. Add about 5 teaspoons of yeast nutrient and place a lock on it. After a bit your yeast should bloom and your ferment will be restored.



    P.S. Unlike my attempts at fruit wine, I have never had an infection in a mead. With or without sulfite.

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