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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Yup, messed up again...

    After our trial batch of hard cider I thought we were set for our first batch of mead. Well we messed up twice.

    The recipe called for 4.5 gal of water to be brought to a boil and then mix in the honey. In the haste of things (we got to prepare for Thanks Giving) we didn't measure. No problem we will measure before we put the honey in. Ooh, it boiling, put the honey in ... we forgot to measure. You see how things go... Well, too late now we will just wing it. Somebody likes to do that way anyway.

    OK next problem. The directions said to wake up the yeast while the honey water was cooling down to 80 degrees and then pitch it in. Directions said it would take 30 mins. After an hour in a half somebody was ready to pitch it in. Nooooo, it too hot. I got a kitchen thermometer and it was 130 degrees. No choice, have to do water bath to cool it down. So many gallons of water later and a half hour of stirring it is down to 85 degrees. Ok, bail it in to the carboy, who know how much it is. Then we add the yeast after sitting over 2 hours which the package said not to do.

    This morning nothing so we prepared another packet and threw it in. Super! starts burping right away.

    If this ends up drinkable it will be a miracle.

    I forgot to mention, I did take a SG at the start = 1.102
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Martin, Tn
    Posts
    75

    Default Re: Yup, messed up again...

    Maybe its just me but sg of 1.102 seems a little high, Its been a while since i have made any wine and ive never made mead but from what i remember the yeast has a hard time getting started w/ that much sugar. Maybe mead yeast is more tolerant than the yeast i used to use. Either way, if that air lock is a bubblin' i guess all is well. Keep the temp stable and be sure the yeast has plenty of nutrients, happy yeast makes good alcohol

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    24,455

    Default Re: Yup, messed up again...

    And probably not to bad a vinegar either.

    I don't see how anything drinkable can come of this. I'm surprised an engineer would try something like this w/out measuring anything and varying so much from the directions. Good luck.
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Corvallis, OR
    Posts
    223

    Default Re: Yup, messed up again...

    1.102 is perfectly reasonable for wine yeasts - depending on what yeast you used it may even ferment too dry. You can use any ratio of water to honey from about 6:1 (very weak) to 2.5:1 (very strong) and get a drinkable product. For myself, I usually use 4 gallons of water and 1.5 gallons (18 lbs) of honey, which yields a SG a bit above 1.130 and a very strong (~15% alcohol) mead. If you don't out-sugar the yeast by starting with a high SG you may need to either stop fermentation early (sulfite) or sulfite and backsweeten when fermentation is complete to get a desirable level of sweetness. What type of yeast are you using?

    For fermentation it is helpful (maybe even essential) to add yeast nutrients, especially if the SG is high, since honey is not a complete nutrition source for yeast. My protocol, adapted from the experts at GotMead.com, is to add 1 tsp each diammonium phosphate and Fermaid K right when the airlock starts to bubble, then another 1 tsp each 1-2 days later (around 1.090) and another 1/2 tsp each 2-4 days after that (around 1.050).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
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    3,030

    Default Re: Yup, messed up again...

    You are at serious risk if you drink this mead! The only way to safely move forward from here if to ferment to completeness, bulk age for 18 months, bottle and send me the entire batch. I will safely dispose if it . Really I don't see any problems there... if you tell us what your exact final volume is, subtract the honey volume and you know how much water you used if you're worried about it. But as noted, a little gravity either way will change things but not ruin at all. Double-pitched yeast is a pretty strong pitch with dry yeast, but shouldn't hurt anything. Maybe a little yeast bite... rack it when primary activity slows and watch your process from here out .
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    8,402

    Default Re: Yup, messed up again...

    http://i697.photobucket.com/albums/v...ad/Mead002.jpg
    The yeast is Lalvin D-47 and the recipe called for 4.5 gal of water with 12 to 18 pounds of honey. We used 15 pounds of honey and this is a six gallon carboy so we can’t be too far off from the 5 gals it should yield. Take a look at the photo.

    The bottle of cider is looking real good right now. It cleared up a lot in just a couple of days.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Corvallis, OR
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    223

    Default Re: Yup, messed up again...

    D-47 is a good one, and I've used it successfully with an SG as high as 1.132.
    Last edited by Luterra; 11-23-2011 at 11:43 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: Yup, messed up again...

    Are you missing a "1" 1.032 isn,t very high? 1.132 would be high.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Yup, messed up again...

    Gonna bring a bottle of this stuff to the Summer Picnic Ace?
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: Yup, messed up again...

    Nothing is happening after 7 days. There didn't seem to be a real fermentation going like there was with the cider and nothing is coming from the air lock. I am up for suggestions or reassurance that nothing needs to be done but at this point doing nothing doesn't make sense.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Camas, WA
    Posts
    1,861

    Default Re: Yup, messed up again...

    What is your SG right now? That will tell you how far along you are and if you need nutrient. I have never made mead myself although I make wine every year. A SG that is very high (1.132) should be fine to start out, but the yeast might have a problem when the alcohol level gets too high. For wine, a starting SG of 1.132 would make wine with an alcohol level of above 17%. Most yeasts wouldn't make it. For mead it might be just fine though since you want some sweetness left, I think.

    My son has made mead with my honey and it turned out great after waiting a couple of years. I know that he had an issue with the fermentation wanting to stop and needing to add nutrient. A starting SG of 1.102 should be just about right I would think. At least for wine it would (13.75% alcohol).

  12. #12
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    Mar 2011
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    Default Re: Yup, messed up again...

    From what you are telling me it is not possible to make mead without nutrients. That wasn't the impression I got from what I had read. So can these nutrients be added now or do I have to pitch some more yeast again? Are there any organic nutrients that can be used?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Lyons, CO
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    Default Re: Yup, messed up again...

    Wait, wait, hold up the train! Before we go throwing "fixes" in, there are some other things to explore. First, the gravity readings are a good start. Many times, especially with caps like that orange one, or plastic fermenters, or other reasons, the CO2 can escape without bubbling the airlock through a small alternate opening somewhere. Since cider lacks the proteins of a mead or beer, here won't be foam on the top from devolving CO2. Try a shake-and-swirl of the carboy: it'll cause CO2 to bust out of solution and maybe bubble the airlock. If you get a vigorous bubbling, you're on the right track. I've had a good few students say that their beverage never started, when it's actually finished! It just never bubbled the airlock.

    What's the temperature? If it's too cool, the yeast won't get cranking. Make sure it's between 68 and 75 or so.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Yup, messed up again...

    What the heck! I thought we had to keep it below 68. Here I am trying to keep it from getting warm and you say warm it up. You may have the answer. I will get back to you.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
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    3,589

    Default Re: Yup, messed up again...

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    You see how things go...
    Yes!

    From what you are telling me it is not possible to make mead without nutrients. That wasn't the impression I got from what I had read. So can these nutrients be added now or do I have to pitch some more yeast again? Are there any organic nutrients that can be used?
    The manufacturer of your yeast says "however be sure to supplement with yeast nutrients, especially usable nitrogen."

    Read it here: http://www.lalvinyeast.com/D47.asp

    That wasn't the impression I got from what I had read.
    Where did your info come from?

    Acebird
    Re: Yup, messed up again...
    What the heck! I thought we had to keep it below 68. Here I am trying to keep it from getting warm and you say warm it up. You may have the answer. I will get back to you.
    Lalvin suggests:
    Moderate fermentation rate
    Optimal fermentation temperature: 15
    to 20C


    For the cider I'm making 60F is already warm. 46F to 53F would be ideal... but I'm doing a slow ferment with wild yeast.
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Lyons, CO
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    Default Re: Yup, messed up again...

    Many musts will ferment just fine without supplemental noots. High-stress musts (pH, gravity, etc) can require increased pitching rates and/or nutrient additions, but not always. Properly rehydrated dry yeast will take care of business most of the time.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  17. #17
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    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: Yup, messed up again...

    Yeah 59-68 degrees F. Thanks for the link.

    Here are the results:

    Just a little swish got the air lock blurping but I took a sample anyway because I had the tube sanitized. SG did not change much @1.081 and near as I can tell the temperature is 67 degrees. Taste was superb which was a pleasant surprise. Nothing like I expected. Of course very sweet honey flavor with just a trace of champagne tingle. If it stayed where it is right now it would be very drinkable but I would like it to have more kick. So I guess as long as there is evidence of CO2 I should set back and let it do its thing. Right?

    I could move the carboy to another spot that is warmer but it would also have more fluctuation. How much fluctuation can it handle or which is better?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
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    Default Re: Yup, messed up again...

    While fluctuation isn't ideal, a carboy can actually handle a fair bit. The thermal mass of 5 gallons means that the must will fluctuate a great deal less than the surrounding air. Get one of those cheap adhesive LCD thermometers and put in on the carboy. I apply them so that they are also volumetric measurements: place it on so the top of the sticker is the 5-gallon mark on the carboy. This is because the glass conducts temperature well enough that you'll be reading the temp of the liquid contents as long as there's liquid behind the thermometer.

    Now you know not only what temp your beverage is (which is what really matters), but also the average temperature of your fermenting area.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Langley, WA, USA
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Yup, messed up again...

    If it's not the temperature, it might be the pH. Fermentation will lower your pH and you might need to add some base (calcium carbonate) to up the pH. Mead can be low-pH in general. You can pick up some test strips at your local homebrew store. You want it in the 3.7 to 4.6 range, but even 3.0 should be enough. Take a small sample of the mead and test it, add in some carbonate, test again, etc... then scale up to the proper amount. (Honestly, I've had luck just putting in 1 or 2 tsp into the carboy without testing too)

    Also, O2 is very important in the beginning, especially for high gravity musts - yeast needs O2 in it's first phase to reproduce, then it will. I use a small O2 tank and a diffusion stone for about 2 minutes.

    If you are still a no- or slow-go on this, try mixing in a half teaspoon of nurtient and another of yeast enigizer. Add in those each day for 3-4 days after it has started bubbling, too. If you can do the O2, now would be the time (not later).

    My guess, though, is that your low pH is slowing your fermentation. Add in a little bit of calcium carbonate and some yeast nutrient, rock the carboy around to get the yeast back up. You should notice some activity in a day or two.

    You could also think about making a new yeast starter with 1 cup honey, 3 cups water and properly de-hydrated yeast (use nutrient!). Let that start bubbling (24-48 hours), then when it is very active add it into your batch, swirl around and let it go.

    Cheers,
    Joshua

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: Yup, messed up again...

    I should do another test now that it has been a month. We are not inclined to use nutrients or chemicals unless it is something like raisins.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

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