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Old 10-22-2013, 01:00 PM   #1
SatiricalPuma
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Default 4 batches of mead, only two bubbling

Hello all,

For my first time making mead, I made 4 1-gallon batches.

1) 4 pounds of honey, water
2) 3.2 pounds of honey
3) 2.4 pounds of honey, water
4) 3.6 pounds of honey, pasteurized but not preserved apple cider straight from source, 1.8 lbs cranberries in sanitized Muslin bags

I rehydrated the yeast in 104 degree water with GoFerm previously diluted in. So far, I have given the batches .15 teaspoons (scale to .75 teaspoons for a 5 gallon batch) of a Fermaid K/GoFerm mix.

It has been about 40 hours and only batches 2 and 3 are bubbling. Batch 1 is a bit concerning but is probably alright because when I've degassed it, there has at least been some CO2 foaming happening.

Batch 4 shows zero signs of fermentation. No bubbling airlock, no foam upon agitating. I cannot check pH right now, as I am at work, but this is what I suspect. Potentially from the cranberries.

Is this too early to be worrying at all? Am I right to suspect pH? How might I get the pH up and start from scratch?

Thank you! Let me know if you need any more info!

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Old 10-22-2013, 01:02 PM   #2
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that 2nd batch had water in it too, my bad

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Old 10-22-2013, 02:41 PM   #3
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Airlock activity is not a teller of if a batch is fermenting or not. Take hydrometer readings. BUT;

Batch 4 has a few issues from looking at it. The gravity on that is likely through the roof and is really inhibiting the yeast, as well as the PH possible being out of balance form the cranberries (which also contain things that yeast dont like if I remember). You'll want to maybe dilute it down some. There are ways to adjust PH but I dont remember what they are specifically.

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Old 10-22-2013, 05:21 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarshmallowBlue View Post
Airlock activity is not a teller of if a batch is fermenting or not. Take hydrometer readings. BUT;

Batch 4 has a few issues from looking at it. The gravity on that is likely through the roof and is really inhibiting the yeast, as well as the PH possible being out of balance form the cranberries (which also contain things that yeast dont like if I remember). You'll want to maybe dilute it down some. There are ways to adjust PH but I dont remember what they are specifically.
I called my LHBS and they said to use some Potassium Bicarbonate to up the pH....so I guess I'll try that and see if I can make the yeast happy again.

The starting gravity was actually fine at 1.160. That's about where it should be for a cyser.

Does anyone know if it's true that yeast contain something that the yeast aren't fond of? (Aside from particularly high acidity)
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Old 10-22-2013, 08:17 PM   #5
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I know Lingonberries contain something, and they are in the same family as cranberries. Your probably fine. But 1.160 is Way to high, your stressing your yeast out. Dilute it down to below 1.140 to give them a chance. You can add more honey back in later for the abv boost. Google "step feeding mead"

Edit: Found a thread on some wine site about cranberries. Its the Naturally occuring Benzoate http://www.winemakingtalk.com/forum/f45/trouble-fermenting-cranberry-must-5561/ The first few replies go into it.

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Old 10-22-2013, 08:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarshmallowBlue View Post
I know Lingonberries contain something, and they are in the same family as cranberries. Your probably fine. But 1.160 is Way to high, your stressing your yeast out. Dilute it down to below 1.140 to give them a chance. You can add more honey back in later for the abv boost. Google "step feeding mead"

Edit: Found a thread on some wine site about cranberries. Its the Naturally occuring Benzoate http://www.winemakingtalk.com/forum/f45/trouble-fermenting-cranberry-must-5561/ The first few replies go into it.
Hmm...Perhaps you're right but I'll tell you why I thought 1.160 was fine......Michael Fairbrother of Moonligh Meadery gave a recipe in a podcast I listened to calling for 18 lbs of honey and 3.5 gallons of cider, which...calculate it out...should result in about 1.155 to 1.165 depending on honey moisture.


Also, I also referenced a Meadmaker of the Year NHC forum handout, and my SG is within the sack category:

Mead by the BJCP Numbers
Original gravity ranges
Hydromel 1.035 – 1.080
Standard 1.080 – 1.120
Sack 1.120 – 1.170

I'm not sure what to think now.

Regardless, I'll have to dilute this mead because of the pH. I'm calculating that my pH is down in the low 3s and I don't think I can get that up to 3.8-4.2 that I want with sodium bicarbonate. I think using that amount of sodium bicarbonate would have to contribute off flavors. So maybe diluting is the only way.
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Old 10-22-2013, 11:33 PM   #7
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Two points I want to reinterate:

1. Use Potassium carbonate. NOT sodium bicarbonate (makes mead too salty) or calcium carbonate (makes mead chalky). Also, potassium is a limiting nutrient in honey so you get a 2 for 1 deal of adjusting ph and adding a limiting nutrient.

2. 1.16 SG is a beast of a starting gravity. It can be done, but you *must* have control of ph, nutrients, degassing daily, and temperature from the beginning. It must be dealt with and loved twice a day for the first several weeks. If anything goes wrong, it is generally beyond repair. Restart seldom works. Dilution has mixed results. I've been doing this a long time and I very seldom make a 1.16 SG sack unless I can stay on top of it from start to finish.

I absolutely am not trying to berate you. I just want to warn you what you are it for to make it successful. I screwed up a few batches in the beginning like this. I had one stick at 1.05. To "fix" it, I just mixed it with bourbon. I still love to do that with sack meads to this day. So, silver lining and all.

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Old 10-23-2013, 01:22 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loveofrose
Two points I want to reinterate: 1. Use Potassium carbonate. NOT sodium bicarbonate (makes mead too salty) or calcium carbonate (makes mead chalky). Also, potassium is a limiting nutrient in honey so you get a 2 for 1 deal of adjusting ph and adding a limiting nutrient. 2. 1.16 SG is a beast of a starting gravity. It can be done, but you *must* have control of ph, nutrients, degassing daily, and temperature from the beginning. It must be dealt with and loved twice a day for the first several weeks. If anything goes wrong, it is generally beyond repair. Restart seldom works. Dilution has mixed results. I've been doing this a long time and I very seldom make a 1.16 SG sack unless I can stay on top of it from start to finish. I absolutely am not trying to berate you. I just want to warn you what you are it for to make it successful. I screwed up a few batches in the beginning like this. I had one stick at 1.05. To "fix" it, I just mixed it with bourbon. I still love to do that with sack meads to this day. So, silver lining and all.
Thanks for the info! Much appreciated. I added a very small amount (1/4 teaspoon) of sodium carbonate before reading this and got the ph from about 3.6 to 3.9. It wasn't as bad as I thought. Hopefully the excessive gravity doesn't prove too much for the yeast. I'm degassing a couple times a day at least and doing staggered nutrients so I have at least some hope. I'll let you know how things work out from here.
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Old 10-23-2013, 02:38 PM   #9
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If you end up having to re-pitch. Be sure to use a raging starter.

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Old 10-23-2013, 04:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarshmallowBlue View Post
If you end up having to re-pitch. Be sure to use a raging starter.
Question about that...

I already rehydrated the yeast in 20g of GoFerm and have done 3 nutrient additions....so would repitching with even more GoFerm make this batch taste like vitamins? Probably. I think I may be out of luck if this thing doesn't get going today...
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