Originally Posted by JohnFrum1978
Started a sack mead over the summer. I used 20 lbs of clover honey, some yeast nutrient, and a package of red star champaign yeast in a 5 gallon batch. Original gravity was 1.14. I got it fermenting and left it alone for a few months. When I racked it last month it tested at 8%. Everything I'm reading says red star champaign yeast should be good for 13-18%.
So I tried repitching, making a starter from another pound of honey, yeast nutrient, and another packet of the same yeast. Nothing much happened. The guy at the homebrew shop suggested adding hungarian oak chips. I did and it started foaming and bubbling a little. Nothing spectacular. Then I put it out on the porch when we had a few warm days a week back. Stuff was definitely happening in the carboy and the airlock was going like a madman. But I just checked the gravity again just now and it read 1.08. Seems like it's still hovering around 8%.
Any suggestions? I'd like my extra 5-8 percent.
What do "guys in homebrew shops" know of mead ? just about zero if all he could suggest was oak chips!
So, stuck ferments tend to have a couple of main issues. Either they've run out of nutrient or the pH has swung enough to stifle the yeast.
As you're more than half way through the ferment just adding more inorganic nitrogen is unlikely to help, other than have the potential of causing an after taste.
I'd suggest that you test the pH first. Below about 3.2 pH is enough to cause problems. So then it's worth giving it a good stir, because any CO2 still in solution is going to be in the form of carbonic acid, after the good stir, test the pH again, if it's still down too low, it might be time for some calcium carbonate to raise it that way.
Also, nutrient. Well as I said about it above, doesn't mean that there's nothing to be done. You can see if the home brew place keeps or can obtain FermaidO (not FermaidK, that's different), if not try yeast hulls, or if not that, then mix a couple of teaspoons of bread yeast in 100 mls of water and bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Let it cool to room temp and try some of that.
Now I don't know the yeast well, only used it once or twice (I try and stick to Lallemand/Lalvin products as they publish the best data/info of all the makers, for their products), but yes I do understand that it should be good for 18% tolerance.
When referring to the numbers, it's often best to use gravity, there's enough people who can decypher what's going on, plus as the ferment is still on going, you'll find that % ABV scales on some hydrometers aren't very accurate, yet a record of gravity readings will give you enough data to convert to % ABV once it's done......
Dunno if any of that's helpful for you.
If you're new to the mead lark, then here's a good link
for some very well written/explained guidance.