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Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Mead Forum > White labs sweet mead gave up early, ? About lalvin narbonne repitch
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Old 01-02-2012, 03:37 AM   #1
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Default White labs sweet mead gave up early, ? About lalvin narbonne repitch

More than a month ago I started an orange blossom honey mead. I mixed approximately 13.5# honey and topped up to a little over the 5 gallon mark. I regret that I took the RDWAHAHB too far and forgot to take a SG reading. I pitched 1 vial white labs sweet mead before realizing how much of an underpitch it could be. I degassed every 12 hours and followed a SNA schedule for the first 4 days of fermentation. Not having my SG I took a reading somewhere in the 36-48 hours after pitching and read a 1.096-ish gravity. I'm fermenting at the cold end of the yeasts tolerance, 63-64F ambient. For 4 days prior to transfer to secondary I moved it to a warmer area of the house, around 68F was the best I could do. I plan on taking a pH reading later tonight.

A week ago I transferred from the primary bucket to a carboy and measured it at 1.040. Too sweet indeed! It's still slowly making its way downward but I'm wanting to give it a little help. I have a packet of lalvin narbonne I'd like to pitch but am not sure what the best way to introduce it will be. Since the mead is theoretically at the 2/3 sugar break I don't want to aerate. I also see most people saying to pitch dry yeast direct and to skip a starter.

Assuming a yeast problem and not ph:

With the mead so far along would a starter be a good idea to wake the yeast with a starter, just hydrate/add nutrient, or directly pitch?

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Old 01-02-2012, 03:48 AM   #2
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Depending on how much sugar was in the honey, you have the potential to go to about 13% with that solution. An actual OG would have been very helpful though (always take an OG, especially with mead).

Personally, I've not used White Labs mead yeast, or any other 'mead' yeast before. I've used Lalvin yeast strains for my meads so far, plus one packet of Wyeast Eau de Vie for a special batch.

Since you've already started fermenting, and the batch has gone to about 9% ABV, you probably want to give the new yeast a leg up on things before pitching. I would make at least a small starter for the yeast, with energizer and nutrient and wait until it's in high krausen before pitching it into the batch. There's plenty of info on doing this on the Got Mead? forums.

That being said, 71B isn't a normal choice to restart stuck fermentations. Typically people will go with EC-1118 or K1V-1116 there. They have a higher tolerance which is what you're looking for. If it goes dry and you want it a bit sweet, then you'll need to stabilize before back sweetening the batch. But, I'd wait at least 6-9 months from now before you do through all that. Otherwise, you might end up with something too sweet again.

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Old 01-02-2012, 03:59 AM   #3
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I appreciate the quick and helpful response! So you believe that a mead slowing down now at 1.040 has potential to get in the 1.015 range I'm targeting? I'm ok with waiting but would hate to wait only to find it cloyingly sweet. What about a gentle degas and another nutrient addition?

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Old 01-02-2012, 04:18 AM   #4
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At this point, you just need to ride it out. I don't know how White Labs mead yeast works for speed, so you could still be in it's "normal" process. Since they list about 15% as it's tolerance, you should be good to ferment further. It could even go to dry with how you mixed the batch. At just one month old, it's impossible to say. Really, one month old is barely out of the womb for a mead. If it hasn't gotten closer to your target in another couple of months, I'd then consider pitching more/stronger yeast. But, that's a tricky item since you don't want the batch to go too far.

Right now I have three meads in process (planning on starting another one or two tomorrow). Both are set to get to about 14%. I started both with OG's that would go to dry (beyond dry) at that ABV, and then added more sugars to them as they were fermenting. One batch is just hone. The other batch is using grade B maple syrup instead of honey. Both are due to be racked tomorrow, before I make any more batches. I also have one that I hope will go to 21%, which I'm leaving in primary for more time (it's only a month old now). It's still burping, so I'm not going to F with it.

With all three batches, I gave them nutrient and energizer per the volume fermenting (4 gallons each). I also used pure O2 to oxygenate them. The bigger batch (21% target) I also degassed for the first few days, since it needed more help to get going.

A good rule to go by is to target a lower ABV with your must solution, keeping some volume out, and add more honey/sugars to it as it ferments so that the yeast produce more alcohol to get to your goal. Such as holding back 3# of honey from the final amount, and keeping it a quart low in volume. That way, as you add the additional honey, you'll reach the original target volume, and concentration, but in a way the yeast can better handle things. Of course, that can be different depending on the yeast you're using, conditions where you're fermenting, and other things.

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Old 01-02-2012, 04:22 AM   #5
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Thanks again. I knew it'd be a little slower with my low temps. I just wasn't ready for how slow apparently. It's slowly popping away in the brew closet so I'll check on it in another month

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Old 01-02-2012, 04:28 AM   #6
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It might be done if it was within the optimum range from the start. If you hadn't racked it before moving it to the warmer area, it could be done sooner too. Now, you'll just have to wait and see. IMO, when a yeast manufacturer lists a temperature range, you're best off keeping it within that range (the temperature of what you're fermenting, not the ambient). It's why they make things like fermometers and thermowells...

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On Tap: Caramel Ale, Mocha Porter II, MO SMaSH IPA
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Fermenting
K1:
K2: Epic mead
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