Troublesome ferment with costco honey
Alright, so let me start off by saying that this is my second attempt with costco clover honey; the first attempt was an abysmal failure that had hardly fermented at all after a few months and eventually went sour. I ended up dumping that batch. Because of the ill results of my first batch I set out to ensure my current batch has a strong, fast ferment - which unfortunately is not the case.
I started this batch on 12/12 using 10 pounds of costco clover honey, 5 gallons of arrowhead spring water, 2 tsp of yeast energizer, 2 tsp of yeast nutrient, and a packet of Lalvin 71B-1122. I prepared a small starter for the yeast a few hours in advance, I mixed all the ingredients, I aerated the must heavily using a power drill with a mixer attachment, and then I pitched the yeast. The starting gravity was 1.06, which is exactly what I was going for, my goal for this batch is to get a nice light mead which I'm going to backsweeten after.
Signs of fermentation were noticeable within 24 hours, but by the second day I was distraught by how sluggish the yeast seemed to be going. I decided to go to the homebrew store to get some PH strips to ensure there wasn't a PH problem, which it shouldn't be, as the PH is above 4.4. After another day I aerated again, pitched another packet of Lalvin 71B-1122 and moved the carboy into my room where it's warmer (between 65-75f). By 12/16 since the fermentation still seemed to be going quite slow and the gravity had hardly changed I started to wonder if maybe the yeast just didn't have enough nutrients, so I added another 2tsp nutrients and energizer. And finally on 12/17 I aerated the must again and tried pitching a packet of Lalvin K1V-1116 to see if that would help out at all.
Now it's 12/19, it's been a week and the must has almost gone down to 1.05, which to me just seems abysmally slow. So, anyone have any suggestions for me or criticisms on my procedure?
How about get some real honey from a beekeeper? You dont mention how warm you are keeping this? WVMJ
I wish I had that option, but I don't know any beekeepers personally, and I've called around to all the local apiaries but none of them are selling bulk honey, and all of their prices are exorbitant. The temperature's between 65-75f as I mentioned in the original post.
I use annas honey, a quick search brings up the site. If you want GOOD honey you will have to pay for it. Unless you know somebody local or have friend in the business. Just like good wine starts on the vine, so good Meade starts from the honey. I guess that applies to anything of quality, if you want it to taste good only the best ingredients should be used. Poor quality will only get you second rate results in anything you want to make.
Hey Dl, I say don't listen to these people.... yet...... You already got the costco honey and are under way so lets get this mead going and complete and you can see for yourself the quality. I just say do not judge all meads off of this one. You will learn a lot here and will get an idea to how meads are. When you feel ready & more comfortable I am sure you will want to get some nice orange blossom, wild flower, buckwheat or whatever nice raw honeys to experiment with.
Honey is famous for being really low in nutrients. And that is for Raw honeys, not the highly processed, heated & filtered honey you get from costco; it is even worse for that. So nutrients are important. I usually go with 1tsp per gallon yeast nutrient and 1/2 tsp per gallon yeast energizer. I actually put in like 1tsp of yeast energizer up front and step feed the rest 1/2tsp at a time over a period of the first few days.
If you have experience in Beer or wine making and are used to the yeast schedules with them then throw out that rule book. Meads are a test of paitience. I have a ginger mead with very little ginger in it and K1-V1116 yeast pitched and it is nearly 3 months in and still bubbling slowly. Fermentation may not finish on it for another month or so. De-Gas this puppy well and check gravity readings over the next week and see if it is dropping. If it is at all then leave it alone. You are in for a long trip. Dont be surprised if it takes 4 - 6 months to finish out. Since you started with 71B and it was the main active yeast it probably killed the 1116 yeast you added. As long as there is some fermentation here in about a month and half to two months if you notice 1/4 - 1/2 inch of lees then rack into a new container. Just keep the must off of lees that build up over 1/4 - 1/2 inch because 71b has issues with the must sitting on setled yeast for too long.
Let us know how it goes over the next week. If the gravity does not change at all then there are other things that can be done to properly re-start this puppy.
I'm sorry, Arpolis, you are right. The ferment that is going is always the important one...and your right.it would probabably be the nutrient issue. Feed the yeasties and watch, wait. Check...patience. it doesn't seem to matter whether its beer or wine, they don't run a schedule, they are done when they wanna be despite our efforts. Often you can get an average with each recipe but the final drinkable product can take weeks(even months) with some beers to years with some wines or meades.
Just a note, and I'm not sure of exact numbers, but you probably won't get much O2 from a lees stirrer in a 5gal batch. Even using a sanitized spoon vigorously would probably put in more ppm. In the future, think about at the very least using an aquarium bubbler (available as a rather cheap kit from many homebrew websites).
Thanks for the great advice Arpolis, I guess for now I'll just have to be patient and see how it goes.
DI Pfc and Arpolis, not trying to be negative but you did ask for opinions. How close are you to this place? If I lived close to this place I would go get some Meadowfoam honey and use that before even thinking about costco honey. The honey prices in Sacramento are not outrageous, 4$ pound for real honey is what they charge retail here in the midatlantic also. Of course you can always find someone with cheaper and much more expensive honey.
MIXED FLOWER HONEYS
(honey from a particular area or a mix of floral sources)
SACRAMENTO AREA LOCAL WILDFLOWER (often used for allergies) DARK AMBER MIX (strong flavor)
$4.00 PER LB., PLUS PRICE OF CONTAINER OR IN YOUR CONTAINER
SINGLE FLOWER HONEYS
1 lb. $5.95 2 lb. $10.95 3 lb. $15.95 4 lb. $23..95
FOR LARGER SIZES - $5.00 PER LB., PLUS PRICE OF CONTAINER
AVAILABLE HONEY FLAVORS (SUBJECT TO CHANGE)
Orange Blossom (not a blend, definite orange taste),
Clover (sweet, smooth, familiar),
Blackberry (light color, slight berry taste),
Buckwheat (dark amber, flavorfull),
Alfalfa (dark variety)
Raspberry (light, smooth, unusual),
Star Thistle (light-only good thing about this weed!),
Sage (light, mild, does not crystalize),
Avocado/Orange mix (dark amber, deep flavor)
Meadowfoam (marshmellow/vanilla taste)
Honey in the comb: $19.00 / lb. Creamed honey, 3/4 lb: $5.95, 1 1/2 lbs: $10.95
Shipping will be added to the honey order.
We ship UPS and take all Credit Cards
SACRAMENTO BEEKEEPING SUPPLIES
2110 X Street
Sacramento CA, 95818
Phone (916) 451-2337 Fax (916) 451-7008
10 AM - 5:30 PM, Tuesday through Saturday
Closed: Sunday and Monday
Wow y'all pay a lot. 2.72 a # here in Ok. 12 lbs aka 1 gallon 36-38$
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