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Old 09-05-2011, 12:55 AM   #1
Rasputyne
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Default Thinking first attempt has failed

Newbie here, so I may be completely incorrect, but I started my first batch on Wednesday (the 31st) with the following recipe:

3-4 pounds wildflower honey (had to estimate pouring from a 5 pound container)
1 gallon distilled water
.5 tsp yeast nutrient
.25 tp yeast energizer
1 packet Lalvin EC-1118

I followed the directions as given in The Compleat Meadmaker, but after 5 days of no obvious fermentation (no movement other than slight offsetting in the airlock), I finally broke down and opened the fermenter to take a look.

There's no bubbling, no foam, no nothing. It does smell somewhat of alcohol, but I've taken to understand that there should be some visual sign of the fermentation. Are there any tricks I can try, or is the batch likely inactive for some reason? Am I completely misunderstanding things and shouldn't be able to see any obvious signs of the yeast doing its' thing?

I know I'm likely just being a neurotic newbie, but I'd appreciate any advice people can offer.


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Old 09-05-2011, 12:59 AM   #2
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What temp did you pitch the yeast at? How old was it?


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Old 09-05-2011, 01:09 AM   #3
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I had to estimate the temperature, as I didn't have any way of measuring a temp below 100 (only have a meat thermometer and a candy thermometer), but the 3/4s gallon of water that I added the must to had been in the fridge for most of the day, and I waited 20 minutes or so while the yeast was rehydrating, as well as holding my hand against the side of the bucket where the must was sitting to make sure it wasn't still hot. I wish I could answer more precisely, but it was the one tool I was missing. The packet was about a month old, I got it at the end of July.
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Old 09-05-2011, 07:09 AM   #4
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Do you have any way of testing the SG? You could estimate the OG based on the recipe then go from there to figure out if you're actually fermenting or not. Usually you can get a floating hydrometer for <$10, though a refractometer is badass, wastes less beer, and can be procured for around $50 (or less).
You could always re-pitch the yeast, but if it is slowly fermenting, by all accounts, mead takes a while bud, let it go and see what happens.
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Old 09-05-2011, 10:00 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rasputyne View Post
I had to estimate the temperature, as I didn't have any way of measuring a temp below 100 (only have a meat thermometer and a candy thermometer), but the 3/4s gallon of water that I added the must to had been in the fridge for most of the day, and I waited 20 minutes or so while the yeast was rehydrating, as well as holding my hand against the side of the bucket where the must was sitting to make sure it wasn't still hot..
Since the water was in the fridge was the must cold then? What was the process?
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Old 09-05-2011, 02:04 PM   #6
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The process as given in the Schramm book involves heating a gallon of water on the stove and dissolving the honey in it, and then adding the cold water from the fridge. IIRC the must ends up lukewarm.
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Old 09-05-2011, 03:06 PM   #7
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That's correct, huesmann. 1 quart was used with the honey to heat, which required it to sit at 160 degrees for ten minutes or so once it was nicely mixed. I then added that mixture to the 3 quarts of cold water that were already in the fermenter. Then I waited 15 minutes while the yeast was rehydrating. I was dearly hoping that lowered the temperature enough as I had no way of actually measuring it.

As for the SG, it's currently sitting at 1.066. I don't know what the OG was, and I'm not sure how it could be estimated from the recipe. I'm thinking I just worried too much. Opened the fermenter just now to get enough to test, and it smells strongly of alcohol at this point, as well as being quite bubbly when I poured some into the test tube for the hydrometer.
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Reason: Corrected SG to account for temperature
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Old 09-05-2011, 05:10 PM   #8
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Sounds like the temp was within an acceptable pitching range. Rehydrating dried brewing yeast isn't necessary if you ask me. Mead doesn't always make krausen or foam up on top. I've had many that showed basically no activity on top. Often I use the cloudiness as an activity giveaway.

Now walk away from it for a couple months...mead loves being abandoned.

-cheers
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Old 09-05-2011, 08:53 PM   #9
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3 pounds of honey + 1 gallon of water should give a gravity around 1.085 and it you used more honey it would be even higher. It seems like the gravity in your batch is dropping. You might want to give it some more energizer - say 1/2 tsp more.

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Old 06-21-2012, 08:16 PM   #10
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Ok, so this is a bit of an old thread, but I hadn't ever gotten around to racking my mead to a carboy till now. The process definitely worked over the last 9 months or so, as I tested the SG while transferring it to the carboy, which came out to 1.002. If I understand correctly (using the estimated original SG of about 1.085), then it is now successfully a batch of mead, with an alcohol content of about 8.3%.

Seeing as it's the first time I've done it and was't initially using the equipment correctly, I stirred it up quite a bit during the transfer, so it was really cloudy by the time I finished filling the carboy. I understand that the point of the carboy is to let it finish settling so you can transfer it as clear as possible to the bottles, so I'm going to let it sit in the carboy till it seems to have finished settling, then bottle it. Please feel free to let me know if I'm understanding the remaining process incorrectly and if it sounds like everything worked OK. I know I'm likely not giving enough information, again chalk it up to me being a newbie, but I can at least attempt to answer any questions that may help people.

Thanks!


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