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Old 08-08-2011, 12:48 AM   #1
Smburnette
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Default First mead = Fail so far, please help!

I have several beers under my belt, but this has been my first mead attempt..

Recipe

12 pounds light wildflower honey
12 pounds frozen/thawed pureed strawberries
2 quarts welches 100% pure grape/peach juice
Wyeast 4184 Sweat Mead activator
Water to bring volume to 5 gallons

I left the activator pack to come to room temperature for several hours, then smacked the pack. It sat over 12 hours and never swelled.. Since I had put all the ingredients in the carboy, I HAD to pitch the yeast. When I opened it, I checked to see that the inside activator pack had busted, and it indeed had, the pack just never swelled.

Today, there is still no activity in the carboy. I aerated it very well, and swirled a couple of hours ago, but still nothing. SG is holding steady at 1.102.

I live in the middle of nowhere and there is not a HBS for HOURS. I have a shipment coming from AHS that will be sent out tomorrow evening on the UPS pickup containing a packet of Montrachet yeast for another brew.

Was the smack pack bad? Did I do something wrong?

I can call AHS in the morning and add something additional to the shipment if needed..

If I don't catch AHS before the box ships, would the Montrachet yeast work well for this mead, is the wyeast is indeed dead?

I know it seems like I am panicking here, but with close to 70 dollars invested in the ingredients, I don't want to lose this!

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Old 08-08-2011, 06:01 AM   #2
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The so called "Mead yeasts", particularly the sweet one, is notoriously finicky to use.

It would seem that you need to have everything at exactly the right levels for the yeast to thrive.

A lot will automatically make a starter, because there are many more yeast cells in a pack of dry yeast than there are (seemingly) in the liquid yeasts.

I would suggest that you go for something like Lalvins K1V-1116, as it's got a wide temperature range, low nutrient requirements and has the "killer factor" where it will become the dominant yeast in the ferment.

Once some activity is evident in the rehydration, you'd just pitch it and have little to no worry about the ingredients...

regards

fatbloke

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Old 08-08-2011, 11:33 AM   #3
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Since you live in Harlan Co, likely not a hotbed of mead and home wine making, you don't have a lot of choices for a quick fix for yeast. Like fatbloke said, the dry yeasts are the standard and, at about a dollar a packet you should keep several on hand. That doesn't solve your immediate problem, which is yeast right now. Go to the store and get a packet of Red Star or Fleischman yeast - not the rapid rise - just the standard. While not the best choice it'll work and likely turn out not too bad. This is the same yeast used in the famous Joe's Ancient Orange mead that's so popular.

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Old 08-08-2011, 11:48 AM   #4
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I would ring the guys sending stuff out tomorrow and add a load of dry yeast types so you have some on hand. Keep the packs in the fridge and they should last a good while. I'm yet to have a dry yeast fail on me and have had some opened (re-sealed with celotape), in the fridge for a months and they were still good.

If you can't get through to them or whatever, the Montrachet should work fine and if not, the bread yeast route is better than nothing!

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Old 08-08-2011, 07:42 PM   #5
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I called AHS, and will NOT be using wyeast anymore.. They could not add anything into the box, and it would not arrive until Thursday anyway.. I went to the store and got a package of Fleichman's Active Dry Yeast.. I rehydrated it and pitched it and a handful of raisins for nutrients.. Let's see how this turns out!

My next order will include a variety of dry yeast packets to keep on hand..

Thank you everyone for the help...

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Old 08-08-2011, 07:51 PM   #6
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I've had sweet mead yeasts take 3 or 4 days to finally kick off. They're probably somewhat overwhelmed by sugar since that juice likely has a load of fermentable sugar in it, and you're using 12lbs of honey already.

On the other hand, the smack pack never expanding is highly suspect. I'd guess you wound up with a bad batch of yeast.

Personally, I use exclusively WL720 sweet mead yeast with my meads, never had a problem with it, aside from the aforementioned slow start from time to time.

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Old 08-08-2011, 07:55 PM   #7
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30 minutes later, I have airlock activity... The krausen is starting right in the middle of the carboy, so I just switched to a blow off tube... It may not be good, but its gonna be something! Ill bottle and forget about it for a very very very long time...

My original plan was as follows.. My wife is pregnant with a due date of Feb 10th, 2012.. I wanted to have it ready to open a bottle when spot is born and yearly there after, saving at least a couple for when he is grown to give him... Sounds stupid, but I thought it might mean something to him when he was old enough for it..

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Old 08-08-2011, 07:58 PM   #8
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It might taste a little funky initially, but it'll certainly end up being a very sweet mead. That fleichman's will likely die off with more sugar left than the sweet mead yeast would have left you. But it'll probably make for a decent dessert wine.

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Old 08-08-2011, 09:15 PM   #9
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I've been using Fleischman yeast for several years in conjunction with the JAO recipe and I've had it ferment 3 pounds of honey in a one gallon recipe almost completely dry. It's a commonly held, but mistaken (IMO), belief that Fleischman's yeast craps out at a low alcohol percentage.

Your mead will be fine. The Lalvin and Red Star yeasts designed for wine are obviously a better choice but the Fleischman's yeast will work and I think you'll be happy with the end result. It might take a little longer than your projected February release date though.

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Old 08-08-2011, 10:06 PM   #10
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From what I've read I think the main complaint about bread yeast like Fleischman's is that it doesn't like to settle out like wine yeast.

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