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-   -   Chili, light agave, and cocoa. (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f30/chili-light-agave-cocoa-334970/)

ruin7734 06-12-2012 11:40 PM

SG 1.100 and EC1118 does not seem to want to start secondary fermentation. What kind of nutrients should I be using for this Aztec-inspired agave drink? I was using a "Fermaid K" nutrient rather than pectic enzymes..should I be using the latter? Any suggestions to get it started?

biochemedic 06-12-2012 11:50 PM

1.110 isn't that high of an OG, and I'd think you would ferment even without nutrient, you'll just ferment better with. Fermaid K should be fine. You may have other issues...could be temperature (both at time of pitch or current temp), could be pH, could be your yeast was manhandled at some point and wasn't viable?

Some additional details about the recipe itself, and your techniques, would be helpful to offer better suggestions. For that matter, how long has it even been since you pitched?

ruin7734 06-13-2012 12:05 AM

It's been over 48 hours and no activity, my yeast seems to have settled to the bottom.

I used about a dozen Thai chilies, 16 lbs of agave, and 2 cups of 100% pure cocoa (cocoa nibs in a magic bullet blender). I think my OG may have been higher, since it has been slowly fermenting for over a month so actively. I'm starting to get better at checking my OG, but since I'm doing it for personal consumption, it wasn't really imperative at the time.

I meant to say current SG in my original post. I used about 5g fermaid k during primary, and secondary I pitched 5g of ec1118 and fermaid k to get it started again. I have been agitating the carboy periodically, but all it seems to do is fuzz a little, settle out and not continue fermentation. I did not start my yeast when I pitched it into the must, since I have had decent results in the past without hydrating the yeast. Straight from the packet into the must.

ruin7734 06-13-2012 12:07 AM

PH is about 3.8, and I know that is good operating PH for meads, just not sure about agave. Current temp is about 67 F. Slightly warmer at time of pitch. It's been getting warmer in my area, w. current temps have been in the 70s.

OG is likely higher, since I started with 16lbs of light agave. Also added a dozen Thai chilies, and about 8 oz of 100% cocoa.

Primary fermentation was going fine until about a week ago, which lasted about four weeks. I racked and pitched more yeast and nutrient to get it started again. It just seems to settle out and not do anything...48 hours is about the time its been inactive.

biochemedic 06-13-2012 12:36 AM

So there's actually no honey? If so, it's not actually a mead, but whatever...basic principles apply. Honestly don't know much about fermenting agave syrup though...I'd assume it's largely simple sugars, but don't know for sure if it's (nearly) fully fermentable like honey is.

I'm a little confused, because from what you say, it sounds like you are actually done fermenting... Is there a reason you still think you need to go further? Were you still actively fermenting when you racked? If so, I think you racked too soon (primary is for fermentation, secondary is for clearing and aging), and you certainly may have stalled fermentation by taking away much of the yeast that had already floculated but may have still been active.

What's your current gravity? That's the only way to even hope to know if you're done, or if you stalled. If you really end up thinking you're stalled, you might hope to get it restarted by re-pitching new yeast, but sometimes it's hard to get new yeast started in a high alcohol environment like a partially fermented must.

TheBrewingMedic 06-13-2012 12:51 AM

could you give us your original recipe? OG? some of the process you used? what was the original yeast you used? anything you can think of....did you use staggered nutrients? aerate? watch temps?

ruin7734 06-13-2012 01:17 AM

Current gravity reads 1.100 which is not quite what I had in mind for a FG. I am using a relatively alcohol tolerant champagne yeast (ec1118), but now that you mention it, I can see that it would have a hard time fermenting at higher percentages of alcohol. My batch was not producing carbon dioxide, so I made the assumption that it has either stalled or is done fermenting. For some reason I associate this SG as having far more fermentables to be consumed. Is this then not the case?

ruin7734 06-13-2012 01:26 AM

Here is a breakdown of my recipe:

16 lbs light agave
12 chopped Thai chilies
8oz 100% pure cocoa (liquified)
1/8 cup Pure vanilla extract (imported from Mexico by a nice friend of mine)
5g Lalvin EC-1118
5g Fermaid K
Filtered water to fill a 6.5gal carboy
Unsure of OG. Designed to be a personal batch, so I didn't really think of testing the must until after pitching yeast.

Primary fermentation lasted about 4 weeks. Racked when there was zero activity. Tested SG 1.100

biochemedic 06-13-2012 10:20 AM

something weird is going on.

If you have a FG of 1.100 after 4 weeks of fermenting, something is amiss... Either your OG was massive, or you weren't really "fermenting" for those 4 weeks. EC1118 should tear through 100 gravity points in a fairly short time.

What does it currently taste like? 1.110 should taste extremely sweet; in point of fact, it should taste essentially unfermented! (Consider that 1.050 is the upper limit of FG for a sweet mead, per the BJCP guidelines, and to me that would taste nearly unfermented...some of my beers have an OG not much higher than that!) Not to insult your intelligence, but are you sure your gravity readings are accurate? I have no idea what the PPPG of agave syrup is, but I can't imagine 16 lbs of any fermentable in 6.5 gallons giving you an OG much higher than 1.120.

TheBrewingMedic 06-13-2012 04:27 PM

haven't been able to find too many exact numbers but found a few places that said agave is 1.5 times sweeter than honey so does that mean 16 pounds of agave is equal to 24 pounds of honey which would put the concoction around an OG of 1.133 as per gotmead, 1118 still should have eaten through that.

Also found some stats on composition that seem to trend towards agave being 92% fructose and 8% glucose, where as honey is about 40% fructose, 30% glucose and 30% spread over a bunch of other sugars.

I also found a few blog posts where people used agave either instead of honey or in conjunction with honey, it seems when combined with honey it ferments a little better and that they all have a common problem of lack of nutrients, agave apperantly has even less (yeah I know, hard to believe) than honey and they had to use heavy doses of nutrients AND energizer or a lot of a good nutrient blend to get it to ferment as well as good oxygenation and aeration.

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