First batch: has promise, but needs help...
Hello all. *I have just recently gotten into mead making. *In fact this is my first experience with any sort of homebrewing. *As of this weekend, I've started about 10 batches of varying sizes (64oz up through 5 gallon). *With all but the first batch, I've had vigorous fermentation.
My first batch was started about 2 months ago. *At the time I had done very little research and just decided to wing it. *I used about 10 lbs of a summer blend honey with enough water to make 3 gallons total. *In retrospect, I should have used less honey I think, but from what I've found in my research, this mixture should still be acceptable for fermentation. *I then added liquid Wyeast English Ale yeast (again...winging it). *It took one week for fermentation to start and it has stayed very slow. *I'm averaging about one bubble from my cylindrical bubbler every 20 seconds or so. *This last weekend, I uncorked it and took a smell test and taste test. *Surprisingly, it smells and tastes pretty good, although the alcohol content seems higher than I would have liked. *Unfortunately, I did not have a hydrometer when I first made this batch, so I don't know the OG. *The current SG measured out as 1.019. *The pH is 3.6. *So it seems that SG and pH are both within limits for fermentation.
Concerned that the fermentation would never really get under way (or finish), I added Red Star Pasteur Champagne yeast (which should be tolerant of high SG and ABV) to the must and made sure to add some additional yeast nutrient and oxygenate the mixture well. *48 hours later, the bubbling rate hasn't really changed....I was hoping it would speed up significantly.
Please let me know if you can think of something obvious that I'm missing. *I know I made some mistakes when planning this first batch, but I don't want to completely ruin 3 gallons of mead that smell and taste like they have some promise.
Thank you in advance for your help.
With that honey to water ratio you are looking at an OG at around 1.12. So the English Ale bringning that down to 1.019 gives you just over 13%ABV. I must say that is darn good for the Ale yeast because their tollerance is about 11%. But then again that is just measured on beer brews and not meads. So then first let me say I think you did an awsome job so far. If you could taste your mead this soon and not vomit or spit it out because you are on fire then you have won IMO. Your PH is low but not too low to start a ferment so I think the alcohol content is keeping your new yeast from starting. If you want this to run dry then get some more RedStar Pasteur Champagne yeast and make a good starter.
2 cups warm water
1/2 cup honey
1/4tsp of yeast nutrients
10 fine chopped raisins
Mix all together well and sprinkle the yeast on top. Do not stir in the yeast. cover with a rubberband and leave it for 2 hours. Mix in 1/2 cup of you must and wait another 2 hours. Repeat that step 3 more times. After the 10 hour ordeal pitch the yeast starter. This will acclimate the yeast to your must and keep them from going into shock and dying out.
Nothing is ruind here it seems. Mead is actually pretty hard to ruin compaired to beers and Wines IMO so rock on and keep at it. :rockin:
Thank you so much for the detailed reply! That's exactly the type of reply I was hoping to get. Actually, I do like the taste of the mead as it is and the alcohol content is close to what I wanted, so I've decided I might be better of just sticking with what I've got now.
I posted my original question because while reading The Compleat Meadmaker, Mr. Schramm mentions that if your fermentation is slowly plodding along for months, you're bound to get a very bad tasting result. I'm sure there's truth to this, but my current results seem OK. Why did the mead start so slowly? Maybe the SG was too high for the ale yeast? Either way, I think I'll just be happy with where I am now. I'm not entirely sure what the next steps are to prevent further (slow) fermentation without using sulfites or potassium sorbate....so I need to do some more research on that.
The next time I have a need to pitch additional yeast, I'll use your instructions for creating a good starter!
If you don't want to use chemicals and want to kill off the yeast for sure. You can try bottling and pasteurizing with hot water. I have no experience with this but there is a nice sticky thread over on the cider forum here at home brew talk that details the pasteurization process.
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