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Old 11-03-2012, 10:53 PM   #1
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Default So how do I know that my ferment is done?

Hey folks,

First mead batch here. Started it Dec 31, 2011, OG 1.082. Lalvin EC-1118 yeast.

We're looking to bottle it for Christmas gifts and I'm looking to make sure that there's nothing I'm missing before bottling.

My last recorded SG per my brew book was a 1.022 in March of this year. It's been sitting in tertiary since then and is now nice and clear, with an SG of 1.017 as of yesterday.

I'm fairly sure that the ferment is done (having dropped 5 points in 7 months), but I know ec-1118 is supposed to be good for 18%.

I've got some campden tablets, but that's all I have locally and mail takes forever to get here so I may be hooped if I need more than that.

Would I be safe to bottle/cork as is?

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Old 11-03-2012, 11:02 PM   #2
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EC-1118 will go to 18% IF you treat it right. Without knowing what recipe you used, how you aerated/degassed it and nutrient additions/schedule used it's difficult to say. But, since it's still got plenty of room to go, I'd be concerned about bottling it up now.

Also, stabilizing is done with two chemical additions. Using just campden tablets is not going to do it fully. So you could still get bottle bombs if you only do that.

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Old 11-03-2012, 11:18 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Golddiggie
EC-1118 will go to 18% IF you treat it right. Without knowing what recipe you used, how you aerated/degassed it and nutrient additions/schedule used it's difficult to say. But, since it's still got plenty of room to go, I'd be concerned about bottling it up now.

Also, stabilizing is done with two chemical additions. Using just campden tablets is not going to do it fully. So you could still get bottle bombs if you only do that.
Well I imagine I didn't treat it right if I'm honest. I used a couple tsp "yeast nutrient" (seriously that's all it says on the container). 3/4 tsp at 3, 15, and 31 days in.

Then according to my brew book I created a 1.040 mead starter on Feb 1 of this year. Per my notes I boiled a bread yeast water mixture, cooled it, added honey to 1.040 then pitched more ec1118. Then I step fed the starter the stalled mead for 3 days before pitching it.

Then march 2nd I racked to tertiary, and it was 1.022.

I'll tell you right now I know I didn't do a fantastic job with this mead but it still tastes good I think. I've attached pics of my brew book entry for this mead. . Thanks for the advice.
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Old 11-03-2012, 11:29 PM   #4
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What size was the batch and how hot was the water you rehydrated the yeast in?? IF you went too hot there, you killed off yeast. Also, IME, a single packet of Lalvin yeast is good for at least 5 gallons of a HIGH OG must (going to 18% from the start).

For nutrient you want to use either DAP or Fermaid. Using yeast energizer is also typically done when rehydrating the yeast and sometimes in high OG musts (before pitching).

Did you aerate/degas the mead at ALL?? If not, then that's at least part of the issue.

At this point, I wouldn't use wine bottles for it. Use some beer bottles and cap/seal them up. Keep an eye on the batch so that you know if/when you get some bombs. I'd also store it in the coolest place (temperatures) you can.

Next time you want to make some mead, go over to the Got Mead? forums and look up recipes/methods there. IMO/IME, it's hard to go wrong when you follow advice posted there. There are a few members over there that REALLY know how to get the yeast to do it's job happily.

BTW, my initial batches of mead (made in 2010) used EC-1118 and D47 (the D47 was for a melomel). They went to the maximum level the yeast was capable of, dropped really clear and came out damned good. Gave a bottle of the batch I aged on oak for a time (traditional mead, 18%) to the owner of Jasper's Homebrew (here in Nashua, NH). Got top comments on it. Pretty much what I get from everyone about it. I have more in vessel that I'll be bottling some of soon (2 batches should be ready, one other needs to get flavor additions started, and another was started just a couple of weeks ago).

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Old 11-03-2012, 11:40 PM   #5
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I did use a wine degasser in and around the march time frame, but obviously didn't note it.

Is a ferment that takes more than a year then normal?

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Old 11-03-2012, 11:42 PM   #6
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I did use a wine degasser in and around the march time frame, but obviously didn't note it.

Is a ferment that takes more than a year then normal?
That was about 3 months too late to use that on the batch. You want to aerate/degas it when fermentation is active, and until you hit the 1/3 break.

It doesn't ferment for a year, it's also aging. At least mine are. The higher the ABV, the longer I give it in bulk/batch form before thinking about bottling it up. The batch I made in 2010, and aged on oak, went a full year before being bottled. Really a lot happier with that batch than the others.
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Old 11-04-2012, 01:07 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Golddiggie View Post
That was about 3 months too late to use that on the batch. You want to aerate/degas it when fermentation is active, and until you hit the 1/3 break.

It doesn't ferment for a year, it's also aging. At least mine are. The higher the ABV, the longer I give it in bulk/batch form before thinking about bottling it up. The batch I made in 2010, and aged on oak, went a full year before being bottled. Really a lot happier with that batch than the others.
Ok I'm confused though. If it doesn't ferment for a year, but it's not safe to bottle because it's still fermenting?

I tasted it and it tasted good, like a nice semi-sweet wine. Maybe I'll just bottle it and tell people to store it in the fridge? That should prevent bombs?
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Old 11-04-2012, 01:13 AM   #8
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Actual fermentation typically is done in 3-4 months, or less depending on the yeast. After that, it's bulk aging which will do the mead a world of good. Storing it that cold (food fridge temps) seriously retards the aging process, which can be a very bad thing. I have my mead aging (in bulk and bottles) in the 50-60F range. Basically, like a nice red wine.

The longer you age it, the more yeast, and other things, will settle out of the mead. Which means less junk in the bottom of the bottles.

Have you looked at what mazers are doing over on the Got Mead? forums yet??

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Old 11-04-2012, 01:20 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Golddiggie
Actual fermentation typically is done in 3-4 months, or less depending on the yeast. After that, it's bulk aging which will do the mead a world of good. Storing it that cold (food fridge temps) seriously retards the aging process, which can be a very bad thing. I have my mead aging (in bulk and bottles) in the 50-60F range. Basically, like a nice red wine.

The longer you age it, the more yeast, and other things, will settle out of the mead. Which means less junk in the bottom of the bottles.

Have you looked at what mazers are doing over on the Got Mead? forums yet??
Ok, but I don't understand then how this mead is young. It was brewed 11 months ago (dec. 2011) with a repitch in march 2012 as the ferment stalled out at 1.040.

I'm well aware that things age and progress, flavors change and mellow, etc. over time. I've seen it in my beers, and I know that bottling a beer while its still dropping points is a bad plan.

I'm just trying to figure out if this 11month old batch is safe to bottle.

Thanks for your help . I'll head over to the got mead forums now.
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Old 11-04-2012, 01:29 AM   #10
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It might be safe to bottle, but there's no way to be sure with the yeast you used. It could still kick off another round of fermentation after you bottle it. EC-1118 should have fermented to very dry in that must you made. Evidence pointing to it not doing so means there's still viable yeast in there, IMO. So, unless you chemically stabilize it, you risk bombs. Also, at just 11 months old, it IS a young mead. Very young in fact. I have some that's approaching 2 years old now and it's just getting better. I did stabilize some, since I bottled it sooner than I had really wanted to. I have more that I let go the full year. Of the two, the bottles that were in bulk for longer are better.

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On Tap: Caramel Ale, Mocha Porter II, MO SMaSH IPA
Waiting/Carbonating: 12.5% Wee Honey II, 8.9% Old Ale, English Brown Ale, Lickah ESB, Mocha Porter II
Fermenting
K1:
K2: Epic mead
K3: TripSix
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Aging:mead
Mead [bottled]:Oaked Wildflower Traditional, Mocha Madness, Blackberry Melomel, maple wine
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