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Old 09-07-2011, 02:53 PM   #1
steve09
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Default 1st mead not starting

Hi,

I have successfully made 5-6 batches of kit wine 15 years ago, but this is my first batch of mead.

I started with:
~1.2kg of honey (1 bottle plus a squeeze from a second)
water to bring it up to 4L
20-30 golden raisins
1 packet of EC-1118 Yeast
no nutrients or energizer

I don't know what my starting SG was. I think it calculates to 1.07


It's in a tall plastic water bottle that the spring water came in. it's had an air lock since day 1.

So it's been a week since I put the yeast in and it's still bulbing slowly at 20 second intervals. I was away for a few days so I was thinking that it may have went hard when I was not looking. Yesterday I got a hydrometer and the SG is 1.06 at 22C (hydrometer is calibrated to 20C). The must smells good and looks fine. I'm thinking that it's not fermenting very fast....

I was going to add some nutrients and energizer tonight (should I?). How should I do that? do I transfer to a big pot and stir it before putting back in the bottle? I tried to shake the bottle the other day and it's kind of like pop it gets fizzy fast and I don't want it to overflow.

Should I add more honey? unless I dump some of the existing must I have no room and may have to split the batch in 2 bottles. My carboy for the secondary is 1 gallon (4L) so I think I will have to add more watter when I rack it to the secondary anyway so it's not big deal to have to bottles, other that the work to make it happen.

I would appreciate any help I can get.

Steve

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Old 09-07-2011, 04:37 PM   #2
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Im no wine brewer and I've only done a few batches of cysers and mead, but I don't think adding more honey would solve any problems. In beers with high gravities it is necessary to pitch more yeast with higher gravities because the thick solution is difficult for them to work in. 1.07 is plenty high for a good fermentation to occur. That's from an ale brewing aspect however.

If it was me id just let it do its thing but that's just my 2¢

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Old 09-07-2011, 05:13 PM   #3
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Probably the lack of nutrients, if its going (all be it slowely) then I would just leave it to do it's thing.

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Old 09-07-2011, 07:15 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Insomniac View Post
Probably the lack of nutrients, if its going (all be it slowly) then I would just leave it to do it's thing.
+1 on that. The raisins might help, but they're unlikely to provide enough nutrient value to get the numbers down any time soon.

Actually, what you've got there is pretty close to a "show" mead (normally just yeast, honey and water).

The OP is wrong about 1.070 being high. It might be for beer but it's pretty light for a mead....

If there is some bubbling going on, irrespective of how little the gravity has dropped, the ferment is under way. If you want to add nutrient and energiser, then before you do, open the fermenter, and give it a gentle stir, for as long as it takes for any foam that develops to stop.....

Then work out how much nutrient you want to add, remove a little bit of the must and mix the nutrient into that, and then (with the fermenter in a sink, just in case) add the nutrient/must mix back in, very gently.

Oh, and your only problem is likely to be that you are going to end up with a very dry mead. I also suspect you'll need to age it for quite a time to mellow/age.

If the start gravity was indeed 1.070, then with a bit of nutrient, it's likely to end up at about the 0.990 or even 0.980 area which would give you between 10.8 and 12.2 % ABV.

If you're happy with that, fine. I'd suggest that you get some of the original honey and use it for back sweetening when the batch is finished (EC-1118 is normally reasonably quick fermenting - and no, I don't like the stuff - it's a champagne yeast and is fine for that - I find it's results to bland by far).

If you don't want to use "proper" nutrients, then you can try either yeast hulls if you can get them or just mix a teaspoon or two of bread yeast into 100mls of water, bring it to the boil and then simmer it for 5 minutes or so. Let it cool to room temp, and then stir/aerate the batch first before adding the boiled yeast into it.
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Old 09-07-2011, 07:17 PM   #5
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If it was your intention to make a show mead (dunno if the raisins get in the way of that), then you're on the right track. I would swirl it several times a day to degass it, the fact that it foams up shows that it's working.

If you're ok with adding some nutrient/energizer, then go for it. If you swirl it a few times to degass it, then add it, it shouldn't foam up as badly. Also, you could take out a small sample, mix it in, then add it back to the main batch.

Edit: fatbloke is too fast.

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Old 09-07-2011, 09:08 PM   #6
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If you have some energizer (tan powder) adding about 4 grams (1 tsp) would probably speed things along. EC-1118 prefers more nutrient than a few raisins. Just be sure to dissolve it in some warm water and add it slowly to prevent a MEA.

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Old 09-08-2011, 12:51 PM   #7
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Thank you for the advice,

So I went back to the store that sold me the ec-1118 and got some energizer and some nutrient.

One jar just list amino acid and minerals as the ingredients. Fine white powder.
One jar has 2 things in it "diammonium phosphate" and ammonium "something" (going from memory here). Big crystals on that jar.

I stirred the must for a 30 seconds or so, there was only a small amount of foaming. One bottle indicated 1/4 tbs per gallon so I added that much. The diammonium stuff had no dosage info on the bottle, so I added 1/2 tbs of it after finding differing instructions online.

After 3 hrs there was an increase in the bulbing to about once every 10 sec.
This morning, after 16 hrs, the bubbling is every 5-6 sec, and you can hear it fizz, but minimal foam. So a big improvement . I'm planing on just leaving it alone for the rest of the month then I'll take a new SG reading.

I know so much more now than when I started. I used an "easy mead" recipe that called for bread yeast, I went to a wine making store and they sold me EC-1118 when I said I wanted to make mead. I guess I need to find a better store.

The goal is to learn from this batch before I spend money on better equipment.

I'll make sure to post my results.

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Old 09-08-2011, 01:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve09 View Post
I guess I need to find a better store.
I wouldn't be too hard on them. Very few store have people that are really knowledgeable about meads. EC-1118 is a relatively bullet-proof yeast for most wine makers and will usually finish a fermentation without much problem. However, it does need the nutrient levels that one finds in wines, and meads are very-low-nutrient musts so they usually need to be supplemented.
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Old 10-23-2011, 10:26 AM   #9
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Dissolve your nutrients in about 12 oz of strong tea. Add some acid blend. Then add this to your must. The acids, nutrients, and tannins will make your yeast very happy. OG's of up to 1.112 give you a dry mead. 3.5 to 4.5 pounds of honey per gallon is what you want for a sweet mead.

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Old 10-23-2011, 01:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rockape66 View Post
Dissolve your nutrients in about 12 oz of strong tea. Add some acid blend. Then add this to your must. The acids, nutrients, and tannins will make your yeast very happy. OG's of up to 1.112 give you a dry mead. 3.5 to 4.5 pounds of honey per gallon is what you want for a sweet mead.
hum ? well there are a lot of recipes out there that suggest similar things, but things have changed a little.

Honey is already quite acidic, but the sweetness of the sugars mask it, you just need to hit a honey/water mix with a pH test and you'll find how acidic it is.

These days, tannin and acid are added too taste after the fermentation is complete.

There is a fair amount of info about that, and of course, which acids to add. Myself, I use the recommendation in Ashton & Duncans (out of print) book "Making Mead", which is a mix of 2 parts Malic to 1 part tartaric. That does (IMO) seem to bring out the best in traditional type meads. Tannin ? well I do the acids, if necessary first, then a half teaspoon in the gallon.
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