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Old 08-31-2009, 07:36 PM   #1
Eye8oneu812
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Default First time mazer/mead maker

Hi all,
I have just ventured into the world of making mead. I previously have stuck to just brewing beer, with good results across the board (if I do say so myself.) I made my mead this last Saturday (it is now Monday), so it has been in the primary for 2 days and there has not been a single bubble yet from the fermenter (at least, none that I saw). I used the WYeast Sweet Mead yeast, an Activator pack which is supposed to not need a starter. I added yeast nutrient to the boil kettle (I did not boil long, I used commercial honey so I just got it to a rolling boil to make sure everything was well dissolved.)
I am making a rather simple mead here, and I suspect that the yeast that I used may not have been very vigorous. I smacked the smack pack and left it alone for a few hours at room temperature, but I did not notice any substantial swelling from it. From experience, I know this does not necessarily mean the yeast are bad, it's just that I didn't give it overnight or anything. I believe I aerated the must sufficiently, though I did not use an aquarium stone or anything, just pouring in the must to make it splash, adding some well aerated water, and shaking vigorously prior to pitching the yeast. Anybody have any experience with this yeast having a long lag time prior to active fermentation? I'm nervous that I just wasted 15 pounds of honey and my time. I know, relax, have a homebrew, but I'm sure everybody understands the anxiety of possibly messing up a batch.
Thanks for your feeback!

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Old 08-31-2009, 07:41 PM   #2
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ok. with 15 pounds of honey should of made a fairly high SG. the yeast may be bogged down in all the sugar. try adding more yeast, increasing the temp of the fermentation, stir things up. it sounds like you did everything else right.

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Old 08-31-2009, 07:42 PM   #3
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15# of honey in how big of a batch?

Most of us will say never boil your honey, but to each his own. I just use warm water (~140F) to dissolve the honey before pouring it into the fermenter. Some people don't even bother with that.

What temp did you pitch at? Could you have pitched hot and killed the yeasties? Also, with gravities in this high range, some times I think it takes a little longer for the yeasties to build up strength to tear into that much sugar. I'd give it at least a few more days, then consider pitching a wine yeast or something like D47 if the gravity hasn't moved since you pitched.

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Old 08-31-2009, 07:46 PM   #4
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Yeah, after doing more reading, I have seen that it is apparently unnecessary to boil honey, given that it is essentially sterile, and by boiling it I boil off the aromatic compounds that will flavor my finished product. I'm keeping notes of what I have done here so I can work out the kinks later, and I appreciate the suggestions. The batch itself is 5 gallons. I pitched the yeast at around 80 degrees, according to my thermometer (I thought that wasn't going to hurt them.) It is currently sitting in the basement at a comfortable 72 degrees. I'm just crossing my fingers at this point, and I do have a backup yeast, but it's the WYeast Dry Mead, and I would prefer this first batch to be a sweet mead.

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Old 08-31-2009, 07:48 PM   #5
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So it dries out? Once it's done fermenting you can always ensure the ferment is dead and the yeasties are done doing that thing they do and backsweeten to taste.

After all I read about people and problems with Wyeast Sweet Mead, I don't know why anyone still uses that junk.

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Old 08-31-2009, 09:06 PM   #6
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I've read more "what went wrong?" mead posts that involve Wyeast Sweet Mead yeast that I cringe every time I see where someone's used it. As has been stated in previous posts, Wyeast Sweet Mead yeast is very unreliable, at best. You should at least give the proven dry wine yeasts a try. I think you'll be happier with the results and the cost @ about a dollar a packet.

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Old 09-01-2009, 02:53 AM   #7
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^ Agreed! Though the two batches that are going right now are numbers 1 and 2, I read over and over that people don't seemed to be too thrilled with the Wyeast Sweet Mead. I am using the Wyeast 4021 Champagne Yeast (activator pack) and Red Star's Cote des Blancs dry yeast. Both have been moving along fairly well for about 5 days.

I am shooting for a drier/medium dry mead. Though each batch has a LOT of honey and a TON of fresh cherries. I'm taking gravities tomorrow to see if I should and a bit more yeast nutrient to each batch...

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Old 09-02-2009, 10:44 PM   #8
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Just an update-my mead is now bubbling away. I wouldn't say it is vigorous, but it is definitely fermenting, so here's hoping that everything works out.

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Old 09-03-2009, 10:31 AM   #9
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Just to help you track your Mead's progress,

15 Pounds of honey would have been 1.26 gallons, with 3.73 gallons of water to make up the 5.00 gallons of total volume into the fermenter.

The resulting starting gravity would have been 1.1073 or very close thereabouts.

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Old 09-08-2009, 04:54 AM   #10
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pdilley -

can you point in the direction of the equation for your math? I have been looking for a solid way to estimate gravities for mead and am just curious where yours comes from...

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