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Old 06-25-2012, 04:58 AM   #1
zipmont
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Default Basic mead fermentation question

I have been starting meads and metheglins at around 14% alcohol. I feed them only raisins and bee pollen. They start quickly (on 71b, cote des blanc, or d47) and go down to around 2% within a couple of weeks at around 60 degrees, but then slow down to a crawl that can go on for several months. They turn out very nice indeed, but I am just wondering if I can get similar results without the massive slowdown? Increase nutrients? Increase temp from 6o ish to 70 towards during the slowdown?

I know some slowdown is normal, even desirable. But to this degree? Can I do better? Or is this just the nature of honey and meads?

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Old 06-25-2012, 06:21 AM   #2
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the big long crawl is a nutrient problem. the type of nutrients used and how they are added make a big difference.

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Old 06-25-2012, 07:49 AM   #3
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As already mentioned, proper nutrition is the key.

Work out the dosage required, of fermaidk or fermaidO (depending on batch size), rehydrate the yeast with GoFerm, take a gravity reading to work out where the 1/3rd sugar break is, pitch the rehydrated yeast mix, then once there's visible signs of fermentation, pitch half the nutrient. Aerate at least once daily, taking a reading after each aeration. Once it hits the 1/3rd break, aerate a final time then pitch the second half of the nutrient, mix in well, then air lock off and let it finish.

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Old 06-25-2012, 03:25 PM   #4
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Nutrition AND aeration at the start.

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Old 06-25-2012, 03:35 PM   #5
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What Fatbloke and huesmann said....extreme oxygenation at the start, staggered nutrients and daily aeration through the first third of ferment, the raisins alone are good nutrition but fast nutrition, that's why you get the fast and furious start but that is burned off quick. Using good rehydration practices, early and consitant aeration and incremental nutrient additions will still get you going with minimal lag time but it will also help keep a steady even ferment going, upping the temp isnt the best of ideas, yeast like consistancy and if you go even a few degrees too warm some yeast (esp. D47) will load you up with fusel rocket fuel alcohol.

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Old 06-25-2012, 07:30 PM   #6
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I guess it's unanimous then. It will require more work, but no doubt it will be well worth it. Thanks all for the good advice.

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Old 06-25-2012, 07:36 PM   #7
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One other thing; I guess time in primary is pretty important here, and premature transfers to secondary could also contribute to the slowdown towards the end. I guess the longer in primary the better. But at what point does oxidation become a threat, necessitating the transfer to secondary under airlock?

Thanks -

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Old 06-25-2012, 09:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zipmont View Post
One other thing; I guess time in primary is pretty important here, and premature transfers to secondary could also contribute to the slowdown towards the end. I guess the longer in primary the better. But at what point does oxidation become a threat, necessitating the transfer to secondary under airlock?

Thanks -
oxidation in primary shouldnt ever be a concern, if it's still in there then it's likely still fermenting and still keeping any headspace filled with carbon dioxide.

Transfering it too early will definitely mess with your ferment, basically stalling it, transfering it with a small colony that needs to try to rebuild. You should always use a hydrometer to determin if your ferment is done before going into a secondary. I keep everything airlocked from primary through bulk aging.
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Old 06-26-2012, 12:11 AM   #9
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So ferment completely out in primary then. Awesome. Can't wait to try it.

Does the head space of c02 only remain intact if your primary is under airlock? (I have heard a lot of folks just use a towel over their primary, or a loose lid, or something else like that. It seems the c02 cap might dissipate more readily under those conditions, but maybe not.)

Do you lay off the aeration/stirring towards the end, or continue doing it?

Thanks again for the pointers.

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Old 06-26-2012, 01:40 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBrewingMedic View Post
....., the raisins alone are good nutrition but fast nutrition, ....
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBrewingMedic View Post
....
Transfering it too early will definitely mess with your ferment, basically stalling it, transfering it with a small colony that needs to try to rebuild. You should always use a hydrometer to determin if your ferment is done before going into a secondary. ....
right time to step on a few toes....

raisins are dried grapes. wine is only grapes and wine makers still add nutrients. so the nutrients your going to get out of just a few raisins is sweet stuff all.
as honey has practically no nutrition you need way more nutrients for mead than wine, not less. you could fill the carboy full of raisins and its not going to be anywhere near enough nutrient.

transferring early is fine, it won't slow down.
by the time you have degassed it (otherwise it will foam like crazy when you transfer) you have stirred all the yeast back into suspension. so your transferring all the yeast over anyway. also the aeration of stirring and transferring helps for that final stage.

its commonly done when you do open top fermenting. i recommend transferring after last nutrient addition ie at 1/3 to 1/2 mark. then its closed under airlock for the rest of the time and does not get touched.

also some beer brewing is done with a transfer half way through. this is done without stirring as its done to reduce the amount of yeast. it still ferments out on schedule.
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