Originally Posted by STLExpat
Aging wont be an issue, once I start it I don't plan on bottling until late next spring or summer. I'm still gaining knowledge, could you explain the techniques you mentioned above further please? Nobody laugh please, I have an idea of what FB is saying but I want to be sure I understand.
Well, using a traditional as an example, if you just did some calculation to work out the sugars for, say 18%, then just used an 18% yeast, mixed it all together, maybe a little nutrient, would you get 18% ?
In theory yes, in practice probably not.
Early stage aeration is a technique for yeast health and developing a good healthy colony. Its bee found that yeast need air/O2 to develop in the early stages of ferment, so the recommendation is to stir a.k.a. aerate well for the first 1/3rd of the ferment - some people go further, but generally it's 1/3rd. ...
Staggered nutrient additions, is where you work out how much nutrient you want to use for that 18% example above but don't just add it all up front. There's an academic paper kicking around the net somewhere that explains why you can add up to 85% of the total requirement up front but add the rest later on. Yet people often work out the total, split it into X amount dosages, then add it in day 1 after the lag has finished, then day 3 and 5 or day 1, 2 and 3 or any combination, as long as its all in once youve reached the 1/3rd sugar break (as calculated from hydrometer readings).
Stir plate fermentation, is literally that. You get a stir plate and bar of sufficient ability, mix the ferment as you intend and then put the fermenter on the stir plate, switch it on and drop the stirrer bar in. Which should then start spinning at the speed of the stir plate. Its reasonably experimental, but the brew logs I've read from those who've tried it, say that it does work and batches ferment faster or can help reduce problems with the likes of "show" meads.....
In the top example of the 18% traditional, there's other issues no mentioned so far. Like why its not so much a good idea to put all the sugars in the batch up front, as you might do when making beer.
Like the gravity difference between a beer wort thats gonna make a 6% beer and a honey must for 18% mead is huge. 18% mead equates to a must thats got to drop 133 points and if you want some residual sugars for sweetness too, then that's the kind of area thats just asking to stress the yeast. So you end up having to google search for "step feeding"......
Also, particularly with traditionals, the issue of acidity and pH can become an issue. Yeast like acid environment, yet people still try and use acid up front (discredited technique). If you mixed say 3lb of honey up to a gallon with water, then measured pH with a meter, you'd likely get a pH in the mid 3.x area. Various things can affect that including just a normal fermentation, and if it swings below 3.0 pH as it easily can, it can cause a stuck ferment. Hence dont add more acid up front as you can add some later if needed, plus its handy to make sure you either have litmus strips for the 2.8 to 4.6 pH range so its easy to test and a small stock of potassium carbonate if the brew does drop too low.
The early stage aeration mentioned above can help a bit because a side effect of aeration is that it mixes the particulates and creates nucleation points for the natural build up of carbonic acid to attach to and come out as gaseous CO2.
Dunno if that lot makes it any clearer or whether its just easier to go to the front page of the gotmead forums and read the NewBee guide linked in the left side yellow box......