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Old 05-31-2012, 01:58 AM   #1
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Default First mead just sitting there...yeast on strike?

Hi all,

I have been brewing beer for many years and have just taken the plunge into mead.

I took a stab at the Medium Sweet Orange Blossom Mead from "The Compleat Meadmaker." I used the no-heat method and a stepped-nutrient method that Ken Schramm himself advocated on a broadcast of "The Jamil Show." That is the only alteration I made to the book recipe.

15 lbs. Orange Blossom Honey
4 gallons water (enough to get it to 5 gallons)
2 tsp. yeast nutrient (added 1/2 tsp. at a time every 24 hours)
1 tsp. yeast energizer (added 1/4 tsp. at a time every 24 hours)
2 packets Lalvin 71b-1122 (rehydrated @ 104F)

My O.G. was a whopping 1.120, and the pH is 5.4 (I was expecting both numbers to be lower). I have seen other folks posting opening gravities far lower than this for this recipe. The ambient temperature is 68-70F, and the must measured at about 69F.

It has been a little over 48 hours and I have absolutely no activity...zilch. I have one more feeding to go, so I may be jumping the gun here, but I am accustomed to beer fermentations which take off within a few hours. I know that mead is a different animal and requires patience. However, I just want to make sure I didn't jack something up and if this much lag time is common. By no activity, I mean nothing...no airlock, not even a small bubble breaking the surface of the must...it is like a calm pond!

All I can think of is that the gravity tolerance of the yeast was exceeded, but I can't imagine what I would have done to the recipe to crank the gravity up above the tolerance of the recommended yeast.

Any words of wisdom would be appreciated!

Cheers!


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Old 05-31-2012, 03:03 AM   #2
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My most recent traditional, which is still finishing off fermenting, had a starting gravity of 1.140(highest I've tried too start) took 5 days for visible fermentation to start.

The only thing I did that wasn't totally as per the instructions, was the temperature of the rehydration water - I just put hand hot water in the glass and then topped it with an equal amount of the must, added 8 grammes of GoFerm and then the yeast.

Hence it was hydrated but not quite "to the letter".

I suspect that I had the long lag phase because a combination of both the lower than is usual temperature and some osmotic shock to the yeast from the high gravity.

I'm thinking your batch will start, but you should be aerating the hell out of it, at least once a day (twice might be better).

The difference being I had a higher gravity, but smaller batch and as I have some GoFerm, didn't add any nutrient until it was fermenting. Whereas you have a larger batch, lower gravity, you've already added nutrient (not always good in the very early stages).

So I suspect the aeration should do the trick, just don't expect all the same stuff you do or get when making beer. Have a look over at Gotmead forums and their NewBee guide is linked in the left top yellow box on the forum home page. You might not need all the guidance, being a beer brewer, but it will show you the differences between current mead method and what you already know about brewing.

Finally, you've added nutrient have you added energiser ?


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Old 05-31-2012, 04:13 AM   #3
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Try taking a gravity reading.

I agree with fatbloke on doing some aeration.
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Old 05-31-2012, 05:02 PM   #4
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I took a gravity reading yesterday and it hasn't budged a point (I should have mentioned that in the original post).

I am using yeast energizer as well as nutrient in the daily additions. When I make the additions, I stir the must vigorously...however, it is possible that I am not stirring it up enough to properly aerate (the spoon I am using is pretty short...I plan to get in there with a stir device later on and whip it into submission).

It has still only been a few days, but what is my course of action if it just never starts? Should I re-pitch, or do I dump it down the drain?
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Old 05-31-2012, 05:08 PM   #5
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I'd give it a few more days to take off. If it still doesn't, try repitching. If - even after that - nothing happens, try switching from 71B to EC-1118.
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Old 05-31-2012, 09:28 PM   #6
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104 on the upper limit for rehydrating. Should be ok but who knows?. I normally just use lukewarm tap water. Knock on wood but I've never had a ferment take over 24 hrs to start actively.
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Old 05-31-2012, 09:55 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadymi View Post
104 on the upper limit for rehydrating. Should be ok but who knows?
Lalvin recommends 104*-109* on their packages for rehydration, so that should be fine, how long did you rehydrate for?

Did you use distilled water or tap water (tap being the better option)?

Did you use straight water or did you add anything like a little nutrients/energizer and honey to the rehydration?

It's rare but possible you had an old or poorly stored packet of yeast, even rarer still to have two.

With your semi high OG it's possible it's just lagging, I'd give it another week of aerating daily, possibly some more intermittant nutrient additions before unleashing the 1118 beast.
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Old 06-01-2012, 01:18 AM   #8
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I rehydrated for about 20-30 minutes using bottled spring water (our tap water is beyond terrible). I did not add any nutrient, but I did add some must to the starter...I had heard that this would help the yeast acclimate to the massive sugar load that they were about to encounter.

I just added the last of the step nutrients today (both DAP and energizer) and beat the crap out of the must to aerate. I figure I'll wait 2 more days before trying to repitch. I know it's rare to get 2 bad packets, but I did get it mail order, so who knows what conditions it encountered on its way to me.
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Old 06-01-2012, 06:18 AM   #9
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Well, even with perfect temp for rehydration, plus the bit of must, its still entirely feasible that the high sugar load, plus the possibly negative impact of the presence of inorganic nitrogen (the nutrient/DAP plus the bit that will also be in the energiser) is causing it to lag a little longer than might be usual.

I've had both, batches that started almost immediately, as well as (most recently) a batch that seemed to lag for about 5 days.

Irrespective or that, once a yeast is pitched, I'd give it at least a fortnight before thinking of the next move - and that's with at least once a day aeration (electric whisk or stick blender).

And yes, I know it must sound a little trite, but patience is probably best at the moment - and if it should be necessary to re-pitch, I'd use K1V-1116 as it'd would/should give a better outcome. EC-1118 has its uses but its not the magic bullet that some seem to think......
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Old 06-01-2012, 12:08 PM   #10
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EC-1118 has its uses but its not the magic bullet that some seem to think......
Agree with this also and like we say about medications in my profession...once you put it in there is no taking it back out.


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