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Old 07-18-2014, 04:10 AM   #1
irishvermin
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Default Salvage 1st mead stuck at 1.040?

My first crack at mead... 5 gallon batch, 1.094 OG, fermentation slowed to 1.050 so I let it sit in primary for few months thinking it would just take time and be slowly fermenting. Noob obviously. Never went any lower, so I tried adding different wine yeasts at recommendation of LHBS to restart. Did get down to 1.040, but that appears to be it. I'm now about 7 months from the "brew day" and it obv tastes far too sweet. What can I do at this point? Keep try to restart ferment? Mix with hard alcohol to cut sweetness? Comibine with dry cider or low gravity beer to make a braggot of sorts?

Ive brewed beer for 2 years, made plenty high gravity beers, as well as several batches of edworts apflewein, but this mead has me beat. Would love any feedback, thanks!

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Old 07-18-2014, 12:32 PM   #2
gratus fermentatio
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Did you add any yeast nutrient/energizer or DAP (diammonium phoshate) to the must?
What is the ambient temp? What's the PH? If your sg readings are correct it's only at about 7.3%, should be going like gangbusters with all that yeast in there. You might check to see if your juice had any preservatives in it.
Regards, GF.

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Old 07-18-2014, 03:24 PM   #3
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Sounds like a lack of nutrient problem. Now when you're repitching, the yeast have to deal with osmotic stress from the gravity (low as it is, it's still a factor), and Alcohol stress, makes it a lot harder for yeast to get going, than pitching into just a higher gravity must.

The difference between mead in beer is that beer wort is loaded with nutrients essential to yeast health, where mead musts are void of all that, and must be added in manually. So on your next batch remember to add nutrients. Read up on staggered nutrient additions for even better results.

Now as far as fixing this batch goes, Maybe like gratus said, it could be a PH problem, and raising it back up a bit may get the yeast up and going. It sounds like you've re-pitched twice, so a third time probably wont work. You have a few options, and you've stated a couple;

1. Blend it down with a dry mead: make a super dry batch of mead (use nutrients!) Then blending it down until you can tolerate the sweetness (probably getting around 1.020, that's still really sweet but certainly drinkable).

2. I like the cider blending idea since you have that readily available.

3. Try the PH and see if you can get it going that way.

Those are my top 3 suggestions. You could do that alcohol thing but then you could just be wasting good alcohol and semi-good mead.

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Old 07-18-2014, 07:10 PM   #4
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You could make another 3- 5 gallon of mead and add one gallon of your stuck mead to this batch. That way you will have a batch that is more drinkable than one that has a gravity of 1020.
But the other thing you could do is check the pH. Mead has no buffers and if you have not added nutrient you could find that the yeast has dropped the pH to a level that is too low for the yeast to thrive. You want the mead while you are fermenting it to have a pH of about 3.5. If it is around 3.2 I think you may want to add Calcium Carbonate. I might whip some O2 into the mead even although it is 7 months old. My thinking is that IF you can get it to restart ( see below) then the yeast is going to consume that O2 and your mead won't be oxidized and if you cannot restart it then the relatively small amount of O2 you add is going to be the least of your worries.

What I would then do is make a small new starter (using say E1118 yeast) - using a little dissolved honey in water - 2 oz (with nutrients) and make a 1 pint starter (aim for a gravity of about 1.040) and slowly double the volume from the stuck carboy every three or four hours. What that does is allow the active yeast to deal with larger and larger volumes of relatively high alcohol and high sugar must in a way that does not shock the yeast. Once you have about a gallon or so in your starter you could pour in the remainder. That technique of step fermenting your stuck must often restarts the process.

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Old 08-02-2014, 02:25 AM   #5
irishvermin
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So feedback a few weeks later... definitely added a yeast nutrient when I first pitched back in January, as I knew it wasn't the same as grain and def needed them, but I didn't know about the staggered additions, next batch will have that. I haven't measured the PH, so that might have been a problem? Also, it is a heather mead, I added a few ounces of dried heather, not sure if that has any sort of negative effect on fermentation. That all said, I am happy to report success in restarting the mead!

On a whim I racked the 1.040 mead onto a fresh cake of WL Kolsch yeast that had fermented a blonde ale that I added 5 lbs of cherries to, and at first nothing happened for a few days. I figured oh well, I'll rack it off over the weekend and try another batch of wine yeast with some more nutrients, but about Thursday last week it started bubbling, and then all Friday, Saturday, and Sunday it was going full bore. Monday the bubbling slowed, and by Tuesday it had stopped, so I took a sample and boom, down to 1.002 gravity!

So now that it is dry, my next question is how best to age and when to drink? Should I go ahead and rack to secondary (tertiary, or really quaternary at this point) and cold crash for few weeks, or let it sit on the beer yeast to clean itself up for a week or two? I'm very excited that this finally is down to where it should be, and excited to get to drinking stage! Thanks!

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Old 08-02-2014, 09:17 AM   #6
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That, by the sound of it, will be because of a yeast that has been accustomed to osmotic pressure/alcohol tolerance, but also had enough residual nutritional value to munch the last of the sugars......

Well done......

It saves me suggesting that you just hit it with a bottle of scotch and a little honey.......

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