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Old 02-02-2012, 10:16 PM   #1
discdog
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Default The speed of mead

Hi,

I'm a very beginner mead maker (two batches so far) and novice beer brewer (dozen batches incl allgrain).

My question:
I made a 5g batch recently and it is moving slowly *I think*.
16 or 18 lbs honey (I forget)
Some orange peel (left behind in primary)
Wyeast sweet mead yeast
O.g. 1.130
~4 weeks in primary in a carboy
Transferrred to secondary carboy 2 days ago
2.g. 1.110
Haven't checked ph yet.
Tasted fine (super sweet of course), some bubbles

So my question: is this a normal pace? From a beer brewing perspective, I want to reinoculate but I'm wondering if I'm just impatient?

Also my gf wants to add some sweetened cherries to secondary. I'd like to know what's happening with yeast, gravity, and ph first

Barring contrary advice,UI'm going to thief it next week and see if the gravity has dropped. If not, reinoc.

Thoughts?

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Old 02-02-2012, 10:37 PM   #2
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Next time let it stay I'm the primary for a few months longer..

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Old 02-02-2012, 11:47 PM   #3
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It's much slower than normal. Most meads would be done fermenting by now. I agree that you shouldn't rack till it's done or almost done. Yours has barely started.

Did you add nutrients? If so, what kind?
What temp is it at?
That high of an OG can be tough on the yeast. If the temp is good and you added nutrients, pitching a different yeast might help.
pH is another possibility, but I'd try the other possibilities first.

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Old 02-03-2012, 01:52 AM   #4
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The more reading you do, the more you'll find that that yeast strain can be a PITA. That aside, GinKings has it right...you're way slow, and yes, you racked too soon. 20 points in 4 weeks is, I'd say, pretty much a stuck ferment.

You hadn't mentioned much about whether you used nutrients...that could also be a culprit, especially with such a high OG.

I assume you wanted a sweeter finish, but if you need to repitch, I'd use something that will tear $h!t up (EC-1118, K1V-1116), and then if you need to, stabilize and backsweeten to where you want. You could also consider making a starter of whatever yeast you want, then start incrementally feeding the starter with your must to acclimate it, then pitch the whole mass.

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Old 02-03-2012, 04:09 AM   #5
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why do beginners keep using that yeast?

but it is fermenting so its not to bad.
the main reason its so slow is lack of nutrition. have a quick read of SNA, staggered nutrition additions and get some feed into it.

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Old 02-03-2012, 04:35 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tweake View Post
why do beginners keep using that yeast?
IMO, bad advise from LHBS is probably the cause. OR they look at the online vendors and think that they must use a 'mead yeast' to make mead. Of course, WE know that's not so.

Personally, all but one of my mead batches have been made with Lalvin yeast strains. I have one in process now that's using the Wyeast Eau de Vie strain. That one is a much higher OG, and it's finally slowing down after over two months. I've simply left it alone all this time.

Of course, I also use nutrient and energizer as well as oxygen in the must before pitching. For the higher OG batches (other two started in December were a low enough OG to not need much attention after pitching) I degas and aerate until it's time to stop.

I do think that if more people would check out the forums on the Got Mead? site for newbee's, there would be a lot more happy first time mazers (or ones that are still new to this).

I have at least two more batches of mead that I need to get started in the next couple of weeks. I have 60# of honey on hand to be used, so I need to get to it. I might save some honey to be used in other things over the coming months... Maybe...
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Old 02-07-2012, 05:43 AM   #7
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Guys,

Thanks for all the advice. Much appreciated.

Yeast choice: bad advice from LHBS.

Timing: Recipe from the Compleat Mead book said 4 weeks in primary so I did expect significant drop in gravity during this time.

Here's what I did for the curious:
1. Thiefed again. Still ~1.110. Forgot to check ph.
2. Made a starter of DME, wyeast yeast nutrient, and two dry packages of K1.
3. Reinoculated with said starter after 48 hrs.

In a week I'm going to thief and check ph, gravity, and taste. At that time, I'm thinking of adding more wyeast nutrient and the phosphate nutrient the LHBS recommended.

Thanks for advice. We'll see how it goes!

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Old 02-08-2012, 12:15 AM   #8
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discdog, I would NEVER use DME to make a starter for mead... If anything, you make a low OG must to get the yeast going. Just like you wouldn't use a must to get a beer yeast started. The types of sugars involved are very different. When you make the starter, you're getting the yeast geared up to continue feeding on that type of sugar.

As for nutrient, Fermax is a good cocktail. As is yeast energizer (you can use both in the correct amounts per gallon). Another good nutrient for mead/wine is DAP. IME, Wyeast (it's BEER nutrient after all) isn't nearly good enough for mead. You'll end up using a lot more of it to get to the same nutrient levels you would get from the others I've listed. Been there, done that, had to use additional nutrient to get the mead to finish properly.

These days I use Fermax and Yeast Energizer in the levels indicated on the labels (per gallon of must). I get good, strong, fermentations this way in my mead. I do use Wyeast [beer] nutrient in my batches of beer, but no place else.

BTW, who told you to pitch two packets of K1-V1116?? A single packet is sufficient for a 5 gallon batch. Also, EC-1118 is better for stuck fermentations than K1-V1116.

Either way, this batch of mead is going to be 'interesting' to say the least... At the very least you're learning from your mistakes (I hope) so you won't repeat them in the next batch.

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Old 02-08-2012, 12:47 AM   #9
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I have my first batch of mead going. It's only one gallon and i used white labs sweet mead yeast. I didnt make a starter because i dont have the equipment at this time nor added any yeast nutrient. It fermented fine and fermented for a few months. I didnt open the fermenter i just let it ride right along. I'm hoping to start a next batch of mead in the next few weeks. Which will be a bigger batch and i should make a starter and add nutrients

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Old 02-08-2012, 02:27 AM   #10
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Adding the juice from one lemon did speed the fermentation considerably last time i was involved with mead

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