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First batch-very sweet is it stuck?

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Jezter

NewBee
Registered Member
HI guys awesome site and forums I've been reading lots already.

I also have a couple books I"ve read over and over and followed their directions making my first batch.

I followed the instructions from the book i received in my kit.

3lb/1 gallon
10 teaspoons yeast nutrient
10 teaspoons acid blend
1-1/4 teaspoons tannins
5 campden tablets

recipe called for mead yeast I used 1118

let must sit 24 hours.

S.G was 1.1 after primary fermentation slowed down lots
13 days later s.g was 1.04. I racked it into a carboy
14 days since then mead cleared really nicely so I racked it again and took another sample. S.G is still 1.04 and tastes pretty sweet.
I also added another 5 campden tables as per my instructions.

So my guess is somehow fermentation stopped and there is alot of sugar left. I want to fix it before somethings funky begins to happen lol.

One thing I'll admit that I did I wasn't thinking clearly it was late at night and I was very tired from a long day of harvesting honey (yes I"m a beekeeper), I mixed my yeast with a cup of warm tap water (chlorinated duh i know) and added it into the must.
 

joemirando

Got Mead? Patron
GotMead Patron
HI guys awesome site and forums I've been reading lots already.

I also have a couple books I"ve read over and over and followed their directions making my first batch.

I followed the instructions from the book i received in my kit.

3lb/1 gallon
10 teaspoons yeast nutrient
10 teaspoons acid blend
1-1/4 teaspoons tannins
5 campden tablets

recipe called for mead yeast I used 1118

let must sit 24 hours.

S.G was 1.1 after primary fermentation slowed down lots
13 days later s.g was 1.04. I racked it into a carboy
14 days since then mead cleared really nicely so I racked it again and took another sample. S.G is still 1.04 and tastes pretty sweet.
I also added another 5 campden tables as per my instructions.

So my guess is somehow fermentation stopped and there is alot of sugar left. I want to fix it before somethings funky begins to happen lol.

One thing I'll admit that I did I wasn't thinking clearly it was late at night and I was very tired from a long day of harvesting honey (yes I"m a beekeeper), I mixed my yeast with a cup of warm tap water (chlorinated duh i know) and added it into the must.
Well let's see...

This was a 'Mead Kit'?

I am assuming that this is a 5 gallon batch. That's a lot of nutrient and a lot of acid in a mead. Honey tends toward the acidic anyway. I would recommend getting some pH test strips and checking the acidity before proceeding.

Did you aerate the must at all?

1118 is a champagne yeast. Its good to around 18%, and your batch fermented dry would be a little over 14%. At 1.040, you're at around 9.25% so, yes, you do have to worry more about something funky going on. I've been told that 10-11% is about the minimum for making sure nothing gross grows in our nectar of the gods. While 1118 would surely eat through all your sugar if everything was optimum, it would also probably leave your mead with very little taste. Imagine a flat (still) brute champagne. There are better choices. I learned this the hard way, and am still learning.

I'm sure others will come along and offer more help, but right offhand I would say to aerate and try to get the yeast happy. Checking the pH is the first thing I would do, adding potassium or calcium carbonate to bring it up (assuming it is quite acidic) to 3.2 to 3.8 (I think) if needed, and wait a couple of days to see if fermentation restarts.

If not, I think I would probably pitch new yeast. Maybe 71b or Cote Des Blancs, which will both ferment it dry or close to it. Get some potassium sorbate and, after its all settled and fairly clear, rack onto the sorbate and crushed campden tabs. Let it sit for a couple of days and then backsweeten to where you want it.

Fatbloke drummed this into me, and it really IS the most efficient way to do it. Well, at least for me.

As I said, I'm a newb, so I would wait for what more experienced, smarter mead makers have to say, but I thought I'd give it a shot.

Oh, and while chlorinated tap water isn't the best, I doubt it had too much of an effect. I wouldn't worry about that part right now.

Maze on,

Joe
 

Jezter

NewBee
Registered Member
Well let's see...

This was a 'Mead Kit'?

I am assuming that this is a 5 gallon batch. That's a lot of nutrient and a lot of acid in a mead. Honey tends toward the acidic anyway. I would recommend getting some pH test strips and checking the acidity before proceeding.

Did you aerate the must at all?

1118 is a champagne yeast. Its good to around 18%, and your batch fermented dry would be a little over 14%. At 1.040, you're at around 9.25% so, yes, you do have to worry more about something funky going on. I've been told that 10-11% is about the minimum for making sure nothing gross grows in our nectar of the gods. While 1118 would surely eat through all your sugar if everything was optimum, it would also probably leave your mead with very little taste. Imagine a flat (still) brute champagne. There are better choices. I learned this the hard way, and am still learning.

I'm sure others will come along and offer more help, but right offhand I would say to aerate and try to get the yeast happy. Checking the pH is the first thing I would do, adding potassium or calcium carbonate to bring it up (assuming it is quite acidic) to 3.2 to 3.8 (I think) if needed, and wait a couple of days to see if fermentation restarts.

If not, I think I would probably pitch new yeast. Maybe 71b or Cote Des Blancs, which will both ferment it dry or close to it. Get some potassium sorbate and, after its all settled and fairly clear, rack onto the sorbate and crushed campden tabs. Let it sit for a couple of days and then backsweeten to where you want it.

Fatbloke drummed this into me, and it really IS the most efficient way to do it. Well, at least for me.

As I said, I'm a newb, so I would wait for what more experienced, smarter mead makers have to say, but I thought I'd give it a shot.

Oh, and while chlorinated tap water isn't the best, I doubt it had too much of an effect. I wouldn't worry about that part right now.

Maze on,

Joe
Hi Joe, thanks for the response.

Its not a mead kit, I meant my wine kit that I bought. This recipe I've decided to use for the first try was in the instructions that came with my wine kit.

Never did "aerate" the must at all just two rackings so far. I'll have to read up on that. I did give it a little stir last time to mix in the crushed campden tablets. I guess mead is different from wine as the instruction booklet is always advising against splashing and air to avoid oxygen.

I will check the ph, i guess its possible it got too high for the yeast to thrive.

Yeah I have another package of 1118 maybe I will re pitch with that just to use it up after I do everything else. I don't have the convenience of running into a wine store, I live too far from the city hehe. As long as the batch fully ferments or near full I'll be happy.

Again thanks very much Joe I know where to begin now.
 

kchaystack

NewBee
Registered Member
Jul 26, 2013
174
0
0
Lansing, MI
Hello Jezter,

You should read the new bee guide linked to the left side of the page. It sounds like you followed the directions for making wine, but used honey instead of grape juice?

I am betting the pH got really low. When you get your pH strips also get some potassium bicarbonate.

As far as O2 goes, in the first stage of fermentation the yeast need the oxygen to reproduce. After that, then you want to limit exposure to O2, but need to make sure there is as little CO2 in solution as possible.

As I said, the guide is really helpful.

Welcome aboard.

James
 

joemirando

Got Mead? Patron
GotMead Patron
Hi Joe, thanks for the response.

Its not a mead kit, I meant my wine kit that I bought. This recipe I've decided to use for the first try was in the instructions that came with my wine kit.
Thought so. Yeah, mead is a little different than grape wine. The pH of honey must tends to be lower (more acidic)

Never did "aerate" the must at all just two rackings so far. I'll have to read up on that. I did give it a little stir last time to mix in the crushed campden tablets. I guess mead is different from wine as the instruction booklet is always advising against splashing and air to avoid oxygen.
Aeration can really help during the first 1/3 or 1/2 of the fermentation.

I will check the ph, i guess its possible it got too high for the yeast to thrive.
Too low. The lower the pH, the higher the acidity. But I knew what you meant.

Yeah I have another package of 1118 maybe I will re pitch with that just to use it up after I do everything else. I don't have the convenience of running into a wine store, I live too far from the city hehe. As long as the batch fully ferments or near full I'll be happy.
I don't know where you're located, but I know what you mean about not having a brew store nearby. I THOUGHT that was the case with me, so I ended up without resources (or so I thought). It was a while before I found out there are two semi-well-stocked shops within 15 minutes of me. Live and learn. Not saying that there are hidden shops in your area, just that I know the isolation feeling.

If you are in the US, you might want to check out online resources. You could order the potassium carb, sorbate, pH strips and a couple different kinds of yeast all at the same time. Granted, for just a couple of packets of yeast the shipping is more than the purchase price, but it IS a way to go, especially if you bundle stuff.

I would recommend against re-pitching with 1118. Its a strong fermenter, yes, but its brutal on the subtle things in your must that give it aroma and taste. I would save the 1118 for a batch that you want bone dry to have on hand for blending or for backsweetening to showcase a 'special' honey. Its up to you, and you can repitch with the 1118, but you've gotten a sort of 'second chance' here.

And I'm not saying there's no place in mazing for 1118. I'm using it right now in 2 batches: A gallon batch that I want to go bone dry at about 14% and leave little trace of the original store brand clover honey so that I can stabilize it and backsweeten with a wildflower honey my brother in law gave me. I'll give it back to him with an alcohol kick. The other one is a strong, sweet sack mead. In this one, there's so much honey that not all of the flavor and aroma will get blown out the airlock (I hope). 20% alcohol and sweet... of course, its going to take years to mellow.

For now, how about trying a JAO? (Search "Joe's Ancient Orange")? It can be done cheaply and quickly, yields good results and will give you something to enjoy as you watch your other batch(es) do their thing.

For me, every penny is an issue, and I have to work hard to justify spending anything on 'extras', but these really aren't extras; they're tools to making the best mead you can.


Again thanks very much Joe I know where to begin now.
Anytime. I'm a rank newbee myself. It feels good to be able to impart what I've learned here to someone else. And as Confucius said, the longest journey still begins with a single step. You took the step. You're making mead!


Maze on,

Joe
 

Jezter

NewBee
Registered Member
Well tomorrow I will have a chance to buy some supplies, ph strips and potassium bicarbonate.

I have no issues re-pitching with 1118, I'd like it to be dry and ready for christmas time. It shouldn't be too dry being bottled up that quick? I don't think my supplier has a large selection of yeasts without being specially ordered.

If i manage to get the ph fixed and fermenting again do I have to rack it back into a primary? Its currently in a carboy with less than an inch of headspace and an airlock in place. I do realize the s.g is 1.04 so there shouldn't be much of a violent fermentation because most of the sugar is gone already?


IS there a ph tolerance chart of yeasts simliar to the alchohol tolerance chart I found? I did look around and did a google search and didn't find much. Or it least what low ph can most yeasts handle so I can decide if that was the case for me. I do know the newbee guide said optimum is around 3.7

Just to clarify, the recipe I used was actually for mead that was in the instruction booklet that came with my equipment. In case we weren't on the same page there hehe.
 

joemirando

Got Mead? Patron
GotMead Patron
If I remember correctly, you want to keep your must between 3.2 and 3.8 ph. That's from an admittedly faulty memory, so if I'm wrong, I hope someone will chime in.

I would shoot for right down the middle and check every couple, two, three days, make adjustments as necessary and wait till the next pH check to make another adjustment.

Unfortunately I dont know of a chart that shows the pH tolerance of specific yeasts. Lalvin may provide such information in their data sheets, but I dont recall for sure.

I would leave it right where it is if you re-pitch. No need to move it, really.

I don't understand what you mean by "It shouldn't be too dry being bottled up that quick?"

Let me take a shot. Do you mean "will it finish dry in time to be bottled and ready for Christmas?"?

Hard to say, but it could be. 1118 is probably going to leave lots of harshness what will need to mellow out though. THAT takes time.

(Is that right, people? The 1118 will probably leave a rough finish with lots of fusils that will take time to mellow even if not fermenting up to 18%?)


Maze on,

Joe
 

Chevette Girl

All around BAD EXAMPLE
Moderator
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Apr 27, 2010
8,398
18
0
Ottawa, ON
If you're going to repitch wiht EC-1118, I'd suggest you do a little reading up on acclimated starters, just dropping another packet in there might not do the trick, you'll want to get them acclimatized to the amount of alcohol that's in there already.

And I'm guessing the pH will be too low, that is a lot of acid blend. Fine idea for wines, not so much for meads. Try to correct this before you repitch or you'll just piss your yeasties off. You'll be aiming for 3.7 (I think Ken Schramm's book says 3.8 ) but I've found that anything over 3.5 is a definite improvement over anything lower than that... mine usually get stinky around 3.2 but I'm not sure exactly at what pH they completely give up, it might have something to do with how well they were treated earlier on in the fermentation. I don't think the type of yeast has all that much to do with what pH they're comfortable with.

I often have problems where if the pH is too low and I raise it with chemicals and leave it, it'll drop back down too low again... so you do kind of have to keep an eye on it, you can't assume that one dose will correct everything.
 
Last edited:

Jezter

NewBee
Registered Member
I don't understand what you mean by "It shouldn't be too dry being bottled up that quick?"

Let me take a shot. Do you mean "will it finish dry in time to be bottled and ready for Christmas?"?

Hard to say, but it could be. 1118 is probably going to leave lots of harshness what will need to mellow out though. THAT takes time.

(Is that right, people? The 1118 will probably leave a rough finish with lots of fusils that will take time to mellow even if not fermenting up to 18%?)


Maze on,

Joe
Yeah Joe I just didn't really know what I meant and was confusing dryness with aging(harshness). YOu recommend the other two yeasts you posted earlier to have a dry wine early to bottle that wouldn't be so harsh? If thats the case perhaps I'll look into the availability tomorrow.

If you're going to repitch wiht EC-1118, I'd suggest you do a little reading up on acclimated starters, just dropping another packet in there might not do the trick, you'll want to get them acclimatized to the amount of alcohol that's in there already.

And I'm guessing the pH will be too low, that is a lot of acid blend. Fine idea for wines, not so much for meads. Try to correct this before you repitch or you'll just piss your yeasties off. You'll be aiming for 3.7 (I think Ken Schramm's book says 3.8 ) but I've found that anything over 3.5 is a definite improvement over anything lower than that... mine usually get stinky around 3.2 but I'm not sure exactly at what pH they completely give up, it might have something to do with how well they were treated earlier on in the fermentation. I don't think the type of yeast has all that much to do with what pH they're comfortable with.

I often have problems where if the pH is too low and I raise it with chemicals and leave it, it'll drop back down too low again... so you do kind of have to keep an eye on it, you can't assume that one dose will correct everything.
Thanks for the advice chevettegirl. I have been doing some reading on stuck fermentation and apparently 1118 is supposed to be one of the best to do it with.

If you're interested. http://www.grapestompers.com/articles/stuck_fermentation.htm
 

joemirando

Got Mead? Patron
GotMead Patron
Yeah Joe I just didn't really know what I meant and was confusing dryness with aging(harshness). YOu recommend the other two yeasts you posted earlier to have a dry wine early to bottle that wouldn't be so harsh? If thats the case perhaps I'll look into the availability tomorrow.
In my limited experience, yes, something like 71B leaves less 'rocket fuel' fusils. I can't swear to it as a matter of natural law, but that has been my experience with the two batches I have made using it.

Cote Des Blancs gave me a very nice finish pretty quickly. The problem was getting it to that point... its a very slow fermenter, in my experience.

ICV D-47 works well, but its got a low temperature tolerance. If you don't have a place where it stays below 68 F, (this is listed incorrectly in the yeast table) leave this one for the winter. I've got a packet in the fridge just waiting for the leaves to start changing color, and a spot in the basement all picked out. ;)

1116 is also a strong fermenter, but is, from what I gather, more kindly to flavor and aroma (alch tolerance 16%).

So I'd recommend either 1116 or 71B based on your current status and time constraints.

I'm a newbee too, so hopefully someone with a broader yeast experience will be able to provide more info or correct me if I'm wrong before you head out for the big city.


Good luck, mazer,

Joe
 

joemirando

Got Mead? Patron
GotMead Patron
Joe does potassium or calcium bicarbonate have any household name? None of the supply stores have anything to raise ph.
Not that I know of. I don't know what you could use in place of them. Its time for the heavy guns here to jump in with their superior knowledge.

Oh, one thing I forgot to mention. De-gas your mead before you test pH. You want to get all the CO2/Carbolic (or is Carbonic) acid you can out of there so it doesn't give you a false low reading. We're guessing your pH is going to be low; no need to make it lower than necessary. ;)


Joe
 

Medsen Fey

Fuselier since 2007
Premium Patron
A few tidbits to clear up:

1) Yes this is likely a pH problem. 10 tsp of acid blend may have driven the pH too low.

2) Different yeast do have different pH tolerance. EC-1118 and other Champagne strains tend to tolerate low pH fairly well. I don't know of a chart anywhere that describes the details for different strains. Some manufacturers (like Vintner's Harvest) do make specific recommendations for some of their strains.
Below 2.8, hardly any yeast (or spoilage organism for that matter) will operate.
Below 3.0 it becomes very iffy.
Below 3.2 it is quite stressful for yeast.
Below 3.4 it starts to become a challenge for some strains.
If you do find you need to adjust pH, you typically only need to get it up to 3.3-3.5 to have the yeast functioning well.

3) Calcium carbonate is precipiated chalk, and you can sometimes find this as an antacid in the pharmacy. In a pinch, you can use crushed egg-shell which is about 95% calcium carbonate. Potassium bicarbonate is a better option however.

4) Fusel alcohols are higher alcohols that weigh more than ethanol (methanol weighs less) Isoamyl, Isobutyl, and numerous others can create nice aromas, but can also create nasty odors and a "burn like whiskey" sensation in the back of the throat. High temperature is the main culprit in their production.

5) Degassing the mead won't typicall move the pH much - maybe 0.1 at most so you don't really need to do that before adjusting pH.

6) Your yeast may be undernourished. If you didn't give them a balanced nutrient. Was your nutrient DAP (white crystals), or balanced energizer (tan powder)? If you added DAP, you are likely missing essential vitamins and micronutrients. You can add some Fermaid O, Yeast Hull, or Boiled Bread yeast and that may help get things movings. If what you added was tan powder, you haven't added enough of it for this batch (it is 5-gallons right?)

7) If you don't have a homebrew store close, order it online. Midwest supply has everything you need, and Morewine is great also. There are others and they deliver it right to your doorstep with good prices to boot.


8 ) If you need to restart, you need to make sure the pH is OK and you need to acclimate the starter. If you take fresh yeast and just pitch them in, the 9% alcohol and harsh environment (that has alread caused one of the toughest yeast there is to stall) will stun them into submission.

9) Alternatively, sometimes a large biomass pitch can get a stressful batch finished, but this mean a pitch of about 5 g/L (a lot of yeast).

Endeavor to Persevere!
Medsen
 

Jezter

NewBee
Registered Member
A few tidbits to clear up:

1) Yes this is likely a pH problem. 10 tsp of acid blend may have driven the pH too low.

2) Different yeast do have different pH tolerance. EC-1118 and other Champagne strains tend to tolerate low pH fairly well. I don't know of a chart anywhere that describes the details for different strains. Some manufacturers (like Vintner's Harvest) do make specific recommendations for some of their strains.
Below 2.8, hardly any yeast (or spoilage organism for that matter) will operate.
Below 3.0 it becomes very iffy.
Below 3.2 it is quite stressful for yeast.
Below 3.4 it starts to become a challenge for some strains.
If you do find you need to adjust pH, you typically only need to get it up to 3.3-3.5 to have the yeast functioning well.
Well I was able to get a ph tester for free today from an old timer who had no use for it, I brought it home, calibrated it and its testing 2.45.
3) Calcium carbonate is precipiated chalk, and you can sometimes find this as an antacid in the pharmacy. In a pinch, you can use crushed egg-shell which is about 95% calcium carbonate. Potassium bicarbonate is a better option however.
I did manage to find calcium carbonate today, one store in all of Edmonton.

6) Your yeast may be undernourished. If you didn't give them a balanced nutrient. Was your nutrient DAP (white crystals), or balanced energizer (tan powder)? If you added DAP, you are likely missing essential vitamins and micronutrients. You can add some Fermaid O, Yeast Hull, or Boiled Bread yeast and that may help get things movings. If what you added was tan powder, you haven't added enough of it for this batch (it is 5-gallons right?)
Yes the nutrient was a white powder, I was educated today by a guy about super nutrient (tan powder)

Thank you so much for your info I now have to get the p.h up.

Today however I looked at a recipe at a wine store for dry mead, I couldn't believe it even called for more acid than I used, although it was a combination of malic and tartaric but the total tsp was probably 5tsp more than my batch.

Perhaps they way these recipe are to work is the acid should be added after fermentation?
 

Jezter

NewBee
Registered Member
The instructions say add 2.5 grams per gallon will roughly lower acidity by .1%

Is this a safe assumption of the calculation? ph2.45*1.1=ph2.695?

So therefore, to get the ph to roughly 3.3-3.5 then ph2.45*1.4=ph3.43
So then 2.5 grams/gallon *4=10 grams/gallon.

I just don't know if % acidity can be applied to ph I'm not much of a chemist, more of an amateur mechanical engineer.
 

Medsen Fey

Fuselier since 2007
Premium Patron
The %acidity and pH do not track together. I'd approach this by adding 1g/Gal and then waiting for it to equilibrate for a couple of hours and rechecking pH. Repeat this until you get the pH up to about 3.2, then add it gram by gram up to 3.4 to prevent large overshoot. There is no urgency to do it all at once and if you adjust the pH over a couple of days that's fine.

And it is better to add acid to taste after the yeast are done.

Sent from my THINGAMAJIG with WHATCHAMACALLIT
 

rmccask

NewBee
Registered Member
May 3, 2013
96
1
0
VA
2) Different yeast do have different pH tolerance. EC-1118 and other Champagne strains tend to tolerate low pH fairly well. I don't know of a chart anywhere that describes the details for different strains. Some manufacturers (like Vintner's Harvest) do make specific recommendations for some of their strains.
Below 2.8, hardly any yeast (or spoilage organism for that matter) will operate.
Below 3.0 it becomes very iffy.
Below 3.2 it is quite stressful for yeast.
Below 3.4 it starts to become a challenge for some strains.
If you do find you need to adjust pH, you typically only need to get it up to 3.3-3.5 to have the yeast functioning well.

Endeavor to Persevere!
Medsen
fatbloke did a review of some commericial mead, Moniack, in another thread. It had a pH of 2.6. It seems you could almost stabilize a mead by adding enough acid to prevent further fermentation and then backsweeten if needed. Has anyone ever tried this? It might be an alternative for people who don't like sulfites.
 
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