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Old 07-09-2012, 07:45 PM   #1
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Default Added Oxygen at 50% sugar break

Hey all-

I'm making a version of one of Curt Stock's huge melomels. It's got ~20lbs of cherries/blackberries and 22 lbs of honey in a 5 gallon batch. Anyway, I was trying to do everything right: SNA, adding O2 every day/degassing during primary. Anyway, yesterday was about 48 hours after fermentation had begun (~18 hr lag time) and gravity had been dropping at a fairly regular and moderate rate. Having a routine for this sort of thing, I degassed, added my nutrients, and then hit the must with some pure O2. I pulled a sample for gravity, and to my dismay, the gravity was at 1.100 (down from 1.170)!

With a target FG of 1.030, that put me at 50% sugar break! In the previous days, it had not fermented nearly that fast and nothing had indicated an increase in activity (blowoff or airlock activity). This is a very expensive batch of mead. I'm hoping that I'll be alright just because there is SO MUCH MORE sugar to chew through, and the mead is still fermenting quite vigorously and offgassing hard.

TL;DR: I oxygenated at 50% sugar break- do you have any experience that can tell you what this may do? Nothing I can do but wait, obviously, but if there's anything that may reduce the ill effects, let me know.

Cheers, and thanks!

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Old 07-09-2012, 08:31 PM   #2
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Considering how big this melomel is, I wouldn't worry about it. The thing that jumps out at me is the 70 point drop in gravity in 48 hours. That is really fast. How high is your ferment temp? I'm gonna guess it's pretty high.

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Old 07-09-2012, 08:39 PM   #3
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It's pretty warm, but right in the middle of 71B's supposed range at 74F (which to me as a brewer seems ridiculously huge, but what do I know). I have between 30 and 40 gallons of various beverages fermenting in my 580 sqft condo in so. cal, so my temperature control abilities are stretched to their breaking point. I was surprised how much it dropped in the second day too, as temperature did not increase, fermentation didn't seem to be any more vigorous (though it has been going crazy since it started), and it only dropped about 15 points in the first 24 hours. Doing my best not to worry, but as you can tell, it's not working.

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Old 07-10-2012, 12:19 AM   #4
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You said 22 lbs of sugar......was that extrapolated from the amount of honey you used?

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Old 07-10-2012, 12:30 AM   #5
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Oh, that was just a typo/brainfart. It's 22lbs of honey. 12 of wildflower and 10 of orange blossom. Post is now edited.

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Old 10-08-2012, 07:58 PM   #6
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Just a quick update to this story: The melomel is about 3 months old now and has been racked once to get it off the lees (71B-1122) and is now 100% drinkable and crystal clear. SNA + temp control + frequent degassing made this incredibly huge melomel awesome and ready to drink at 3 months. I'm getting ready to rack it one more time onto some finings once I have another open secondary and then it should be ready to bottle in another month or so.

Not a hint of oxidation or any other problems, just one incredible mead. The high gravity probably helped me out here because the yeast still had 72 points of gravity to chew through after 50% sugar break, so the oxygen probably just gave them a little encouragement. This big guy finished out at 1.028 down from 1.17 for an awesome 19% ABV. This is going to be a slow sipper for sure.

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Old 10-08-2012, 08:18 PM   #7
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Thanks for the update!!

I made a big blackberry melomel with 71b and had a similar experience: aeration, SNA, and temp control = quick meads.

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