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Old 01-11-2010, 03:19 AM   #1
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Default Stuck mead not restarting

I have my first mead going right now. It started at 1.116 2 months ago, then petered out at 1.040 about a month ago, where it's been ever since. I was adding yeast nutrient for awhile before it pooped out. The yeast I used was WLP720 Sweet Mead, which may have a tendency to do this kind of thing.

So yesterday I picked up some EC-118 to try to restart it. I read the restarting FAQ, but don't have the cash to buy more honey. So I realized that my mead was at the ideal SG for a yeast starter, so I pulled out a liter from the carboy and threw it on my new stir plate with the yeast. 12 hours later, skeptical that I was actually doing anything, I took a reading, and it's still at 1.040, meaning no yeast activity whatsoever. Am I just being impatient and keep it on the stir plate, or am I trying to do something impossible?

I also took a pH reading with the little strips, and it looks like it's at 3.7, right on the low end of where a mead should be. Any advice?

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Old 01-11-2010, 11:05 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesnsw View Post
...So I realized that my mead was at the ideal SG for a yeast starter, so I pulled out a liter from the carboy and threw it on my new stir plate with the yeast. 12 hours later, .... it's still at 1.040...
Given the conditions you stated, you may need to be more patient. However, you may also be fighting a losing battle...

The whole idea behind the "restart FAQ" is to build-up a fresh, healthy, and viable new yeast population, and acclimate it to the stuck mead's environment. Beginning with the stuck must environment contradicts that process philosophy. While your must may have been "at the ideal SG for a yeast starter" SG-wise, it also contained ~10.4% ABV, which is not an ideal yeast starter environment.

Moreover, you did not mention if you properly re-hydrated the EC-1118, or if you just added it to the 1-liter of must. The latter would have been the more detrimental condition.
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Old 01-11-2010, 01:17 PM   #3
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As hightest said...just using the same f-ed up mead to try a starter would be pretty much the equivalent of tossing the yeast right into the carboy. At 10-11%, that yeast will have a seriously hard time getting started.

If you can't get more honey, maybe you can make a starter of some other sort of sugar, just to get the population up. A little bit of corn sugar or DME in a starter shouldn't affect the finished mead TOO much and can be used as a semi "last resort" if you're not going to pick up more honey any time soon.

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Old 01-11-2010, 10:41 PM   #4
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I"ve restarted a stuck fermentation similar to yours by racking on to fruit. I didn't initially set out to make a melomel, but the finished product was tastey.

I'd use some kind of berry, freeze it, then thaw it and mash it up, put it in a carboy, and rack the mead on top, siphoning a good bit of yeast cake while racking.

it may kick up and get you down a bit lower.

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Old 01-13-2010, 02:59 AM   #5
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Well the yeast on the stir plate finally started, and has been going for at least 24 hours now. I'm planning on letting it go for a little bit longer, checking the gravity tomorrow, and potentially adding in a second liter from the must and letting that go to town before pitching it all in.

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Old 01-17-2010, 05:45 AM   #6
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Just an update-
Built this up to 2 liters using more of the stuck must, and pictched it in to the mead today. 8 hours later, it's going to town! Looks like the mead has been unstuck. Is using the stuck must as a starter the best option? No. But does it work? Well, it can... your mileage may vary.

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Old 01-18-2010, 01:38 AM   #7
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good info James. Glad to hear that your mead is back!

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Old 02-04-2010, 04:15 PM   #8
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Along the same line, if I did a small batch of mead ~1 gallon could I leave it on the stirplate indefinitely? Would it ferment out quicker?

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Old 02-04-2010, 10:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
I leave it on the stirplate indefinitely? Would it ferment out quicker?
Yes
No, it would never ferment, but you would have a huge amount of yeast.
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Old 02-04-2010, 10:18 PM   #10
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David, I'm not sure why you suggest that it wouldn't ferment. If the must is fermentable, it would ferment. Being agitated helps keep yeast up in suspension and may help speed the fermentation process a little. However, if it is kept open to air, you will potentially cause excessive oxidation of the mead, and will likely have acetic acid bacteria take hold. If it is kept on a stir plate with an airlock on the container these problems would not be an issue.

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