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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Otsego County, MI
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    62

    Default Need reassurance or advice

    Hi all,
    I started my first batch of mead last Sunday (1-13). OG=1.100, 6.5 gal batch, added 4 g yeast (was given to me, so I don't know what kind of yeast), and 2 tsp nutrient. It started sending CO2 through the airlock on Thursday (1-17), and by yesterday it was going at about a bubble every 2-3 seconds.

    So here's what I did yesterday. I popped the lid, took hydrometer reading; SG=1.071. Since it was before the 1/3 sugar break, I stirred it up real good and added 6 tsp of DAP... 6 tsp because the label said 1 tsp/gal of must. Then I aerated it a whole bunch more. Sanitized the lid & air lock and put it back together.

    Was that the right thing to do? I don't know how much nutrient/DAP is optimal at this stage. Anyone care to comment on it?

    Also, is there anything I should watch out for or be aware of coming up soon? Should I be aerating it daily during primary fermentation, or just leave it be? Thanks in advance.

    -Erik

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
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    3,881

    Default Re: Need reassurance or advice

    Sounds like you are in the ballpark. The two big question marks are (1) the variety of yeast. If its alcohol tolerance is say 11% you are going to end up with a very sweet mead and lots of left over nutrient not metabolized. When the hydrometer readings stabilize, you will have to decide if it the sweetness level is tolerable to you and your guests. If it is, you will need to sorbate and sulfite it to end all microbial activity. If you don't there are organisms that make funky tasting things out of excess nutrient. If it is a yeast that will take the alcohol level up to 18% more of the nutrient will be gone. I would still sorbate and sulfite it though to be on the safe side. That will allow you to add more honey if the mead is not sweet enough for your tastes. With those caveats, you have done just fine. I did not work out the amount of nutrient you used, they just seem awful high to me. Hopefully the brewcat will come thru and fix any of my advice that was off the mark.

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

    Default Re: Need reassurance or advice



    Vance is right on about the yeast and alcohol content. I personally don't usually add energizer as directed; it seems to be like shampoo (rinse, repeat, and who shampoos twice) to get you to use more. However you will certainly have a vigorous fermentation and, if your strain's alcohol tolerance is robust like a champagne strain, you'll very likely get full attentuation if the nutrients are adequate. I would definitely stop aerating... once the yeast are winding down from reproductive phase you'll oxidize rather than oxygenate which you don't want. I'd say you're at the stage where you start trying to forget you're waiting for a mead to age .
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Otsego County, MI
    Posts
    62

    Default Re: Need reassurance or advice

    Thanks for the replies. I guess I don't necessarily need to know what kind of yeast it is, since it'll do what it'll do and the hydrometer will tell me when it's done, right? But more info is nearly always better than less... I suspect I probably added too much DAP, too. It seemed like an awful lot, but oh well.

    I'll see if I can track down the yeast strain just for my notes. I guess from here I'll just let it do its thing and start taking hydro readings when the bubbles through the air lock all but quit. Once the readings stabilize, I'll add the sulphite & sorbate. I was reading up online and saw this pretty comprehensive summation of it, in case anyone likes chemistry and how it relates to what we're interested in. http://www.brsquared.org/wine/Articles/SO2/SO2.htm Thanks again for the replies.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Lyons, CO
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    Default Re: Need reassurance or advice

    Just for a data point, when the fermentation is truly finished there's no need to sulfite or sorbate, certainly not both, unless you're adding more fermentables and don't want it to re-awaken.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,881

    Default Re: Need reassurance or advice

    I have read several places that if excess nutrients are available in the finished mead, the sorbates and sulfites can prevent the metabolism of those nutrients by critters that leave a bad tasting byproducts behind. The killing of the culture and bottling precludes that from happening. Since it looks like a nutrient overdose is present, it seems a fair precaution. It might be an abundance of caution but I thought you should know.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Otsego County, MI
    Posts
    62

    Default Re: Need reassurance or advice

    Howdy again,
    Here's an update... Bubbles have slowed to about 1 bubble/5 seconds. I took a reading last night; SG=1.005. So it looks like it'll probably finish about 14% or so.

    I'd like to make a blueberry melomel out of it, so to be prudent, I think I'll probably add both the sulfite & sorbate. Do I just add per the manufacturer's recommendations, or is there another method to figure out how much to add based on the amount this particular situation calls for?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Lyons, CO
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    Default Re: Need reassurance or advice

    Well if you definitely don't want any more alcohol, then that's the way to go. Alternately, you could add the bloobs and just let them ferment and when it's done you'll know it is OK to bottle. If the yeast is a 14%er (and many are), you'll still end up with a mead with some residual sweetness likely. Good job using the hydrometer, it's the only way to really know what the yeasties are up to.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Otsego County, MI
    Posts
    62

    Default Re: Need reassurance or advice

    Well, I think I've changed my mind here. I took another reading last night, it was still 1.005 with a bubble every 10 seconds or so. If it's that again tonight, I'll probably rack it to a carboy and forgo the blueberries. I looked through all my stuff and don't have any sulfite/campden tablets, and the nearest home brew store is 1.5 hr drive. I've read/been told that it's important to get it off the lees ASAP to avoid off flavors.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    ... you will need to sorbate and sulfite it to end all microbial activity. If you don't there are organisms that make funky tasting things out of excess nutrient...
    Would being on the lees in the primary for several extra days be better or worse for it than leaving the excessive DAP for those other organisms?

    I figure I can rack it into a secondary now, for straight mead, with no sulfite or sorbate addition. I also figure that I can rack it again onto blueberries later on, adding some sulfite to be safe from the wild yeasts, if I want a melomel. It'll just be bulk aging for a really long time.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Otsego County, MI
    Posts
    62

    Default Update

    Sooo..... I decided last night that since the SG hadn't changed for three days (& possibly more before that), I should probably go ahead & rack it into a secondary. I didn't add any sulfite or sorbate. I figure this can be a learning experience in nutrient addition quantity. That 6 tsp. of DAP at the 1/3 sugar break may or may not affect the outcome, but I'll definitely be doing more research on it before my next batch.

    I may end up racking 1/2 of it onto bluberries after it sits for a while (probably 6 months, since that's when they'll be fresh again). Then I'll just keep my other half straight mead. Or if it clears in three months, I may opt for that time frame and use the ones in the freezer.

    One thing I found interesting was that I started with about 6.5 gallons of volume (5 gal water + about 6 quarts honey), but when I racked it, it filled a 5 gal carboy and about 80% of a gallon jug with very little left in the primary. How does that happen? I know there is some loss of mass in the CO2 escaping through the airlock, but that amount of volume change surprised me. Considering the hydrometer sits lower in the end product than in the original honey/water mixture, the latter solution must be less dense.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    IG, Slovenia
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    21

    Default Re: Update

    Is that with the lees?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
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    Default Re: Update

    Lees is the cake of spent and/or dying yeast at the bottom of the secondary. Some character from on-lees aging can be beneficial for some meads, while for others the character can be objectionable.

    <edit> sorry, mis-read last post; don't mean to imply that anyone doesn't grog lees . But will keep the definition up for those reading who may not.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

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