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Old 09-27-2011, 12:52 AM   #1
ashmgee
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hello all. I just looked through the faq section because I was wondering how long the average ferment was with meads, and read that you should shoot for a two week ferment.

I have two individual gallon jugs of mead fermenting right now and the first has been going for a month and is still quite active although it has been slow the entire time. the second is at about 2 weeks and is still going strong. the second was way more agressive of a ferment, but hasn't showed much sign of slowing. are you guys getting these to ferment out in 2 weeks? should I be worried about the one that has been going for a month?

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Old 09-27-2011, 01:27 AM   #2
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Welcome to mead making.

The higher your OG, the slower the ferment, generally speaking. It also doesn't help that honey is naturally antiseptic and low in certain minerals and other compounds needed for a fast fermentation.

I've had a batch of mead that fermented as long as almost 4 months and then took another month to settle out fully when using bentonite.

I've also seen batches take a week (cyser, pyment, certain melomels) but these generally were of a 'sweet' type with an ale type yeast and a low target ABV, some used yeast nutrient in the mix.

I'm personally a fan of the longer fermenting meads, less ester-y flavours and they tend to age to drinkability a little quicker.

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Old 09-27-2011, 01:37 PM   #3
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Well managed fermentations, even of high-gravity batches, can usually be accomplished in under 3 weeks.

Ashmgee, if you provide the recipe details, we may be able to identify reasons for the slow going.

Medsen

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Old 09-27-2011, 03:51 PM   #4
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Have looked through forum for same question and came here this morning to ask it.
Lotso Beers
Some Ciders
1 Cyser
This is first Mead

15 gal local raw honey (free even).
~2 gal tap water heated to really really warm (exact temp) to disolve honey.
top off with filtered tap water to 5.5 gal.
teaspoon energizer (Ld Carlson)
teaspoon nutrient (Ld Carlson)
whipped up for a few min with dewalt mounted degas wand.
pitched d-47 directly on top @ 68 deg (prob should have re-hydrated)

day 1, no real activity
day 2, little activity. Add 1/4 tsp energizer and 1/2 tsp nutrient and degas.
day 4, activity. 1.106. degas.
go to duluth
day 7 1.098. Add 1/4 tsp energizer and 1/2 tsp nutrient and degas.
day 9 1.094. Degas
day 10 (didn't check gravity) degas.
day 13 1.086. degas.

plan on another 'Add 1/4 tsp energizer and 1/2 tsp nutrient' at 1.075 and 1.050.

Degass never fast enough to whirlpool and aerate.
Temp has been 66 each time I have checked.
SG Readings have all been done with Refractometer (from Bobby_M)

Fermenting in new 'ale pail' with 3 piece lock. Lock has shown no activity at all. Maybe lid not sealing like other pails I have.

Obvious activity though. Lotso little bubbles comming to surface. Definate nose sting of CO2 in fermentor. Still smells like honey. No off smells. No foam layer like in beer, but a good 4 inches of clean 1/8" bubbles after degassing.

I don't think there is anything wrong, just wondering how slow is too slow. I can't find any info as to what is considered an acceptable rate of drop in readings. This will never finish by the 2 week mark.

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Old 09-27-2011, 04:33 PM   #5
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1st batch:
2.5 lb clover honey from co-op
.8 gallon water
lalvin 1118 champagne yeast
week later added tsp nutrient
now going for a month
tested gravity last night and it read 1.02, but still tasted slightly sweet so my calculations must have been off.

batch 2:
3 lb tropical clover honey (very dark)
1 gallon water
1tsp nutrient
lalvin 1118 champagne yeast
much more active ferment, but still no way it's done in 2-3 weeks

thanks for the insight, and I have no problem letting it run its course. I knew this was a long process, but was caught off gaurd by the faq on fermenting out in two weeks. I haven't degassed the bottles, but have swirled them (airation?)

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Old 09-27-2011, 05:37 PM   #6
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There are a couple of things that may be slowing your yeast down. Temperature is a factor and if you are fermenting in a cold place (less than 60F) it can give a long fermentation (however, slow and cool is good). If you have been keeping it cool, letting it warm up a little at the end may help it finish faster without doing harm.

Another possible problem is low pH, and if you have the ability to check pH, you should do so as this can still be corrected by adding some potassium bicarbonate.

If your nutrient is simply DAP (diammonium phosphate - white crystals that look like salt), using it alone does not give the yeast everything they need to operate at their best. A mixed nutrient (usually called an energizer) that contains autolyzed yeast and other micronutrients (and looks like tan-colored powder) is very help when feeding the yeast. Most of these energizer contain DAP as well, at at this stage of fermentation (1.020) it is too late for the yeast to be able to take up DAP so adding these mixed nutrients at this point won't be so helpful.

Adding some organic yeast nutrient, or a product without DAP like Fermaid O would be helpful. I will even use GoFerm (a rehydration nutrient that does not contain DAP) even though it is not designed for this purpose. If you have something like available add a tsp would probably be helpful. If you can't get your hands on anything like this, you can take a packet of bread yeast and boil them in a little water (I nuke them in the microwave) and pour them in. That may help to get thing to finish out a little faster.

Aeration is important, but it is most beneficial if done during the first few days of fermentation. This means that you need to swirl or stir with the container open to let the air in. This late in the fermentation you really don't want to open the container. Just swirling it will help keep active yeast suspended in the liquid and will help it finish faster. The swirling will also effectively de-gas the mead.

I hope that helps.

Endeavor to persevere!

Medsen

P.S. At 1.020, it probably will taste a little sweet.

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Old 09-27-2011, 06:46 PM   #7
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just curious if 1.02 is to soon to bottle, because it tasted real nice and if it turned sparkling with the last of the ferment that would just be a added bonus?

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Old 09-27-2011, 06:51 PM   #8
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The problem is this yeast should continue fermenting to a gravity somewhere below 1.000 and in doing so it will produce more pressure than a beer bottle can tolerate and possibly more than a Champagne bottle can stand. This can produce a bottle bomb with glass shards flying in your face if it happens to occur at the wrong moment.

You can do something like that with a keg, or you can do it with a PET plastic soda bottle, but please don't try it with glass.

Let it finish out and let the gravity become stable before you try bottling.

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Old 09-27-2011, 07:02 PM   #9
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thats what I thought, but wasn't sure. I am still not understanding how water and honey could ferment out to a lower specific gravity than water.

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Old 09-27-2011, 07:44 PM   #10
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water is as thick as water.
water + sugar is thicker than water.

alcohol is thinner than water
water + a few residual sugars and other things + alcohol can be a little thinner than water

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