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Old 01-19-2012, 06:56 AM   #1
HeruRaHa
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Default Is my fermentation slowing too fast?

I'm a total newbie, this is my first attempt at fermentation of anything, so please be gentle :P

I'm working with a mead kit from LHBS, 2 gallon primary fermenter (food grade plastic bucket with 3-piece airlock), will rack to a 1 gallon glass carboy in secondary when the time comes....

My process was as follows:

1. Heat equal parts honey (3 pounds) and spring water (approx 32 oz) on stove in stainless steel pot to 170F, hold for 20 minutes to pasteurize. Skimmed off some of the white stuff that was forming on the top, but found this to be difficult to get all of it.

2. Add spring water to 1 gallon

3. hydrometer reading -- 1.105 OG (with temperature correction I believe it is actually closer to 1.109)

4. add 2 tsp yeast nutrient, add 3/4 tsp tartaric acid and 1 1/4 tsp malic acid, add 1/4 tsp grape tannin (all according to pre-measured additive packs and recipe that came with kit)

5. rehydrate Lalvin D47 yeast as per packet instructions. check temperature of must and pitch yeast.

6. immediately put lid and 3-piece airlock onto fermenter, stick in dark closet where temperature is consistent 70-72F

----

I completed step six around 3:46am on Saturday night/Sunday morning (I underestimated how long my first batch would take!). When I checked on it the next morning, the airlock was happily bubbling away. My closet smells a bit like wine-breath and sourdough bread. Monday and Tuesday, I was timing the bubbles in the airlock at about 3-4 second intervals. So I assume everything is going great.

Today, I notice the bubbling rate is slowing already, and it's been less than 100 hours in primary fermentation. I'm timing the bubbles at around 6-7 second intervals now.

Should I be concerned? While my recipe that came with the kit says I can rack into secondary fermentation after 5-7 days, other recipes and instructions I've read online have suggested that primary fermentation can take much longer (weeks or even months), and the key is to watch for bubbling in 30 second intervals, roughly... I'm afraid at this rate, it might be bubbling that slowly in just another day or two.

I don't know if my yeast are just making great time, or if I'm looking at a stuck fermentation in my near future. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I'm honestly loathe to open it up to take another hydrometer reading or even peek at the state of the must, as I'm being super paranoid about anything contaminating my batch with this first attempt. Also, I'm only making a gallon, and I'd hate to lose a significant portion of this first batch to repeated thievings for tests and tastings.... I was kind of hoping if I just followed the instructions and left it the hell alone, I'd get a decent final product. But if I have to tinker with it to keep it viable, I'd rather know now...

thanks!!!!



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Old 01-19-2012, 01:00 PM   #2
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Sounds fine to me.



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Old 01-19-2012, 03:49 PM   #3
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Maybe it's just my little bit of mead experience, but D-47 seems to be a little sluggish in starting and staying up to speed as compared to yeasts like 71b-1122 or ec-1118. You should be fine if you stagger feedings with the nutrients.

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Old 01-19-2012, 04:09 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by huesmann View Post
Sounds fine to me.
+1 on that.

Plus the OP is falling into the old trap with bubble rate/speed. As we know, its a poor indicator of fermentation progress......
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Old 01-19-2012, 07:51 PM   #5
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Thanks for setting my mind at ease. Like I said, I'm a total newbie so I'm prone to falling into old traps (they're all new traps to me!)

This is probably a really stupid question, but is there any compelling reason not to just toss the thieved sample back into the fermenter after taking a hydrometer reading on said sample (assuming all equipment is properly sanitized first, of course)? I would just sanitize my hydrometer and toss it into the bucket, but with a 1 gallon batch it's just not deep enough

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Old 01-19-2012, 08:49 PM   #6
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-----%<-----

This is probably a really stupid question, but is there any compelling reason not to just toss the thieved sample back into the fermenter after taking a hydrometer reading on said sample (assuming all equipment is properly sanitized first, of course)? I would just sanitize my hydrometer and toss it into the bucket, but with a 1 gallon batch it's just not deep enough
No particular reason at all. Some here (specifically) wouldn't, but that seems to be because they've made beer first.

Beer worts are much easier to mess up as I understand it, whereas, with mead musts, you will never ferment pure honey, because it's very anti-septic and anti-fungal. Part of what happens when you add the water to the honey, is not only to prep it to produce a certain level of alcohol, but also to prep it so that it will succumb to the action of the yeast.

At the same time, just yeast, water and honey makes for quite long, slow fermentation i.e. the yeast will munch it, but not like they do when they've got the yeast, water and other nutrient (and some O2 in the earlier stages).

Personally, I usually put most of the sample back in, but keep maybe 20 or 30 mls too taste. There's nothing like a taste test to see how it's progressing (along with a hydrometer reading of course).
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Old 01-19-2012, 09:31 PM   #7
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Thanks fatbloke!

So seeing as how I added yeast nutrient during the initial prep, and I stirred the hell out of it and poured into primary fermenter (both things that as I understand should have helped aerate the must), how long do you think I should give it in primary fermentation before it's worth opening up to get a reading?

As mentioned, the recipe that came with the kit said I could rack to secondary after 5-7 days, but this seems like a very short primary fermentation based on everything else I've read. I was just going to wait until bubbling was around every 30 seconds, but I won't be falling into that trap twice....

I seem to recall reading elsewhere that a reading of 1.020 is a good time to rack into secondary. Could it really go from 1.109 to 1.020 in as little as 5-7 days?

Sorry for so many questions... I'm as fascinated by the science and process of this as I am with ending up with booze to get drunk on, so I'm pestering everyone with dumb questions right now...

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Old 01-20-2012, 12:31 PM   #8
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I would wait 2 weeks or so.

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Old 01-20-2012, 08:27 PM   #9
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I started the same way, I wanted to get my feet wet with fermentation so I went for 1 gallon of Mead. My first batch bubbled very slowly for a day or two then pretty much nothing.
Sooo.. I made a second batch this time I added Clementines which gave the Yeast something to work with.
That batch turned out pretty good, I just bottled them a few weeks ago and finally tried one - nice sparkling Mead!



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