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Old 02-27-2012, 11:23 PM   #1
InVinoVeritas
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Default Mead Mystery

One week ago I set out to make my first batch of mead. After a long discussion with the clerk at my local homebrew store, I decided to split a 5 gallon batch into 3 and use different yeasts and fruits for each. My base was 15 lbs of California Orange Blossom Honey. The OG for the whole 5 gallons was about 1.12, and I used 2tsp yeast nutrients and 1tsp yeast energizer. Here's how I split it up after mixing and aerating it in the bucket:

Batch 1
3 gal, no fruit additions, 1 pack Lalvin 71b-1122

Batch 2
1 gal, 3 lbs frozen cherries, 1 pack RC 212

Batch 3
1 gal, 3 lbs frozen mixed berries, 1 pack D47

Fast forward to today and I took a gravity reading to see how they were doing. Here's where the mystery comes in. Batch 2 and 3 with the fruit had dropped to about 1.020. Batch 1 with no fruit was still at 1.095! I figured the fruit would change the fermentation slightly, but should there be that big of a discrepancy in my gravity readings? Thanks for your help!

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Old 02-28-2012, 05:13 AM   #2
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I would think the viability of the Lalvin 71 would be my first concern. Did you proof it in water before adding to fermenter? If so was there any activity? I'd say pitch another pack of Lalvin. You probably could have started with 2 anyway.

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Old 02-28-2012, 05:13 AM   #3
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I just googled "Lalvin 71b-1122"

seems people were having trouble with slow fermentation at lower pH levels.

Every yeast has its desired temp,ph,etc. Might just take that batch longer.

Also, that batch was 3gal not 1 gal.

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Old 02-28-2012, 01:24 PM   #4
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Ok, I'll pick up another packet of Lalvin after work today. I proofed it before pitching it, and it looked ok, but the original recipe called for 2 packets for the full 5 gallons, so I probably should have done 2 right from the start. I've been keeping it at about 66 degrees. Would I need to re-aerate the must before adding the new yeast?

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Old 02-28-2012, 03:09 PM   #5
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You might give your existing pitch another day before pitching more yeast. I pitched a re-hydrated Lalvin 71B-1122, past its expiration date, into a 1.168 Chocolate-Cherry mead and was able to get very solid fermentation after it acclimated to the must. I will admit that I too wondered if it was alive until I started poking the must with measuring instruments. It took a 1.168 must to 1.057 in 10.7 days and seems to still be chugging along despite some of my unintentional decisions that certainly didn't help (aka dropping the thermostat while heading out of town).

As for aeration, I would check the SG of the must first. If there is much drop in SG, I would stir with a wire whisk to de-gas some but don't whisk to a froth as O2 may not help as much as you want.

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Old 02-28-2012, 03:21 PM   #6
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Problems with the actual yeast are unlikely. Hell, if there was any doubt, you just make the starter - that's what I do with out of code yeast (the date code usually being applied because of the legal status as a food product.......dry yeast is usually good for years after the date).

The pH level is more likely to be slowing it down. Just rehydrating isn't enough sometimes, I also use go ferm.....

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Old 02-28-2012, 03:53 PM   #7
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Ok, I'll check it when I get home before adding another packet. I do have some yeast energizer from LD Carlson, that says it helps with slow or stopped fermentations. Maybe I'll try that before adding more yeast.

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Old 02-28-2012, 05:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InVinoVeritas View Post
Ok, I'll check it when I get home before adding another packet. I do have some yeast energizer from LD Carlson, that says it helps with slow or stopped fermentations. Maybe I'll try that before adding more yeast.
A much better plan. I'd also aerate the hell out of it too (sanitise a liquidiser and blitz a pint or so then add it back).
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