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Traditional Swampwater Mead

Chevette Girl

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Retaining foam during fermentation is like head retention in beers, depends on the ingredients and the yeast. Don't sweat it, judging by foam is like counting airlock bubbles...
 

Intheswamp

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...of course when I checked it when I woke up it was a still, placid lake. I stirred it, and turned the air stone on.

Oh, just to maybe make someone smile...when the must was a little over a day old and kicking off somewhat of an alcohol aroma I decided I'd just take a little from my stirring paddle and taste it....YUCCCKKKKIIIEEEE!!!! :toothy3:

Ed
 

Intheswamp

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additional nutrients and aeration???

I read in another thread that most nutrient instructions are for grape fermentations and that for mead the nutrients can be increased, maybe doubled even. Here's the info on my current batch:

3.25 gallon traditional
3 tsp of a DAP/urea blend added after lag (instructions are for 1 tsp per gallon)
1-3/4 tsp of Crosby & Baker Ltd. Energizer added after lag (instructions were for 1/2 tsp per gallon)

Rather than doubling right now I'm thinking of feeding the must another 1.5 tsp of the DAP/urea blend and another 1 tsp of the energizer. This will be fed in the morning after taking a hydrometer reading. This should leave small amount of nutrients to add to the must at the 1/3 sugar break (if it's not already there in the morning and if the doubling of the amounts of wine nutrients when used for mead is correct).

Also, the newbee guide says to stop aeration at 3 days...correct?

Thanks (as usual :) ),
Ed
 

Intheswamp

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Ok, just checked and the gravity is at 1.070 so right around what I figure is the 1/3 sugar break. pH was still 3.6-4.0 (according to strips). After checking these points I added 1-1/4 tsp of the DAP/urea blend(?). I stirred a little and ran the air stone for about 5 minutes. I then pressed the gasketed lid down, put an "s" air lock on, and called it GOOD. Now...patience, I guess? What else should I do for now? Let it go several days and begin checking the gravity again?

Thanks,
Ed

11/28/12 Gravity 1.070
11/28/12 pH 3.6-4.0
 

Intheswamp

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I just came in and checked the Iron Bowl mead and the airlock has a long (5 seconds) stream of bubbles coming through it about every 15 seconds or so...a nice deep toned "gurgleburgalburgalgurgleburgal...". I know, don't judge a fermentation by it's bubbles...but they sure are comforting. :) It is a lot more active than the JAOM was when it had got up to speed, but as I mentioned before it is three times as large a volume. :)

Like the JAOM it is fermenting at 66-67F degrees.

Ed
 

Fyredawg

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Dec 1, 2012
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A Newbies Idea.

I was thinking that leaving the airstone inside the bucket would be more sanitary, too. I'm wondering about sealing the top of the bucket, though. Right now I have the air tubing coming out of the airlock hole in the lid and the gasketed lid simple sitting down on top of the bucket. I want to think that running the airstone for an hour twice a day would bring enough oxygen into the bucket but I'm wondering about keeping fruit-flies out. We have them from time to time and I certainly don't want them being an issue. I'm still thinking of sanitizing a towel or t-shirt and fastening it over the bucket...I'd have to figure some way to secure the air tubing through/past it.
[/QUOTE]

Absolute rank amateur here. I have seen in my research of equipment that most brewery suppliers list the bushing or plug for the airlock hole as somewhere around 50 cents.

It seems to me it would be easy to drill another hole in the bucket lid, place the new bushing in it and run the aerator tubing through that and still be able to close the lid tight. Eliminates the cloth covering and the fruit fly flavoring all at the same time!!!

Pull the airlock bushing out of the lid when done aerating and use a solid plug to restore the lid until you need the bushing for the next batch.

Just a thought....

Fyredawg
 

Intheswamp

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Fyredawg, from what all I had read I decided to aerate for the first three days which also coincided with the 1/3 sugar break, after that I stopped. The way it worked out for my traditional must the 1/3 break came at the end of three days. Twice a day I stirred the must some and then ran the regular aquarium air stone for an hour. I have read of people aerating for a longer period of time than I did.

I ran the air tubing down through the air-lock gromet in the lid and simply let the lid rest on top of the bucket without "locking" it down. I could easily lift the lid off for stirring...it definitely wasn't an airtight seal, but I had no trouble with fruit flies. To keep fruit flies or whatever from trying to enter the space around the tube where it went through the gromet I soaked a piece of cotton ball in some Star San and filled the gap around the tubing.

When I stopped aerating I pulled the air stone and tubing out, pressed the lid down tightly, installed the air lock, and now just lightly "swirl" the must once a day. Seems to be working. I will be taking a hydrometer reading tomorrow afternoon to see where the fermentation is at....today was a week since I pitched the yeast and it is putting out a small string of bubbles about every 4 seconds with a break every now and then of 10-15 seconds between the bubble strings. The second hole in the lid is interesting but for myself I don't see a need for a second hole in the lid because by time I'm ready for the air-lock the air tubing is gone.

As for being an amateur....join the crowd. :)

Oh...and welcome to the forum!!!!
Ed
 

Intheswamp

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Oct 9, 2012
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I got delayed over the weekend in checking the gravity on the traditional but here is what I came up with...

SG = 1.024 (maybe could be 1.025)
pH = 3.6

It's moving along. I figure I've got another week and then probably rack it off the lees? Depending on the gravity. Anybody got comments on that?

I only tasted a drop on the tongue and it had a *much* more pleasant taste than the first time I tasted it...no "sting". At eight days old I don't expect much from this mead. I saved the test tube mead and will sample it a bit more this evening after work. I gave the must a gentle stir and closed it back up. Some pics...

Ed

I knock 2 points off of my measurement because when I checked distilled water I had a reading of 1.002. I guess I'm doing the right thing. ???


Definitely not clearing a lot but you can vaguely see the hydrometer in there. :D
 

Chevette Girl

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I wouldn't expect it to really clear up until it's done and the SG isn't changing much anymore. While they're still busy eating, yeasties wiggle around and keep themselves in suspension... when they're done, they quit wiggling and settle out...
 

Intheswamp

NewBee
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Oct 9, 2012
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Yeah, I wasn't expecting to see it clear this early, but it was interesting to see it a bit clearer than when it started. Kinda like seeing my JAOM starting to clear, a cool process... :)

I saved the test tube mead in a soda bottle (at this stage do we call it a must or a mead?) and put it in the refrigerator. Looking at it this morning not quiet 24 hours later it has cleared up a good bit and has sediment in the nubs on the bottom of the bottle...a small experiment on cold crashing underway. ;D

Ed
 

Chevette Girl

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Well, that's how it works, you decrease the temperature, the yeasties quit wiggling and settle out...
 

Intheswamp

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Oct 9, 2012
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It is basically 11-1/2 days since I pitched the K1V, it has fermented at a range of 65F-69F. It was stirred with a paddle and an aquarium stone ran for an hour...twice a day for three days. It received DAP and a multi-nutrient at the pitch and another 1-1/4 tsp of DAP at the 1/3 sugar break.

pH has been running in the 3.6-4.0 range.

11-24-2012 OG = 1.108
11-26-2012 SG = 1.092
11-28-2012 SG = 1.070
12-03-2012 SG = 1.024
12-06-2012 SG = 1.012

The pH today (12-06-2012) seems to lean more to the 4.0 color on my strips.

(FWIW) The airlock gives a big bubble off about every two minutes now.

While I had the lid off I gave a gentle stir with my paddle, I hit the bottom and some lees stuck momentarily to the tip of the paddle, but with a little movement washed off the paddle. I hope I didn't mess the yeast cake up badly or hurt anything by stirring. Don't ask me why I did that... a case of "newbeewannamesswifthings", I guess.:rolleyes:

From what I can tell, I think it is about time to rack this over to secondary. Is that correct? Would it hurt to leave it on the lees (I think K1V is ok with that??) for a week or so and let the yeasties nibble on the remaining sugar a little longer?

Looks like I'm at the point of..."Ok, what do I do now?....HELP!!!!!!!! ;D

Thanks, as usual!!
Ed

Adjusting for the .002 calibration of the hydrometer I'm reading this as 1.012...
 

Intheswamp

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Well, I've still got the mead in the primary but I noticed yesterday that the vodka/water mix in the "s" airlock had balanced out on both sides. Prior to then the mead had been keeping positive pressure inside the fermentor and thus kept fluid only in the outer bubble and none in the fermenter side bubble. I'm seeing no activity in the airlock. I'll be taking another another gravity reading tonight or in the morning. I guess that I will start checking the SG every few days to see if it's still changing or if it's staying constant. I'll check the pH also and see if it's holding around where it has been at. Using K1V I don't think there's a problem with leaving the mead on the lees for a while. I have been swirling the mead around once or twice a day but I may stop that and let it settle good in anticipation of racking to secondary.

Ed
 

Intheswamp

NewBee
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Oct 9, 2012
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I checked the Iron Bowl 2012 mead out today. The pH is 4.0+. I'm still not sure about why it is elevated. I'm checking it with test strips and dipped a test strip in vinegar the other day and it lightened up greatly toward the low side. Dipping it in my mead sends it in the other direction toward dark. Ah well, it has gotten a lot more tasty than the previous taste tests that I did so I'm happy. ;)

I'm logging the gravity at 1.009 (considering my .002 hydrometer correction). The mead has cleared greatly since 12/06/2012 and tastes much better. I was actually surprised to see that it had cleared as much as it has.

Figuring an OG of 1.108, my current reading of 1.009 should mean 13 %ABV. K1V has a much higher alcohol tolerance than this so I'm trying to figure out if the yeast is beginning to run out of sugar or what is happening. Once again I'm wondering what to do...it has been fermenting for 21 days as of today...

Should I gently stir the must to get some of the yeast (and sugar?) back in suspension and let sit on the lees for a few more weeks occasionally stirring (batonage?)?

Should I let it sit quietly on the lees for a few more weeks without stirring?

Should rack to secondary and see if it starts back fermenting?

Should I rack to secondary, stabilize, and let it begin clearing? This question is because for such a young honey wine the taste is good to my wife and myself.

I think the most important thought right now is oxidation. Whether I stabilize or let the fermentation continue I feel that I should rack this into a carboy to cut down on headspace...it is currently in a plastic fermenting bucket. Is this correct?

It has been only three weeks and I feel like I need to let it ferment on dryer so that I can get the %ABV up anothe point or so for preservation. If I let it ferment to a dryer state I know by today's tasting about what SG to backsweeten it back to. ;)

Comments anyone...?
Thanks,
Ed
 
Last edited:

Chevette Girl

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Gah, work really gets in the way of my mead time!

If you're happy with the taste, I'd stabilize it and let it clear.

If you want to see it go a little drier, I'd keep gently stirring the lees up into suspension (you don't have to worry about the sugar, it's dissolved in the must and should be a constant concentration across your fermentation vessel due to diffusion).

If it were my brew I'd probably be racking it within the next week because I don't mind a sweeter finish.

Likely the reason it tastes good at this young age is that residual sugar. I don't always get a complete fermentation with EC-1118 or K1V, especially with a traditional so don't feel too bad about that... I wouldn't worry too much about preservation, I've had 8-10% batches stay good for years. And if it's still fermenting, even slowly, you shouldn't have to worry about oxidation either.