Activity in tertiary after weeks of inactivity

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


New Member
Feb 5, 2018
Reaction score
Hi There,

My buddies and I decided to try our hand at this purple mead.
We made 3 gallons of straight mead. After about 4 weeks, the gravity was down to ~1.002 from 1.070. We racked to 3 separate 1 gallon carboys:
  • 1G with 5g of pea blossoms (for color) and a pound of blueberries
  • 1G with 5g of pea blossoms and 2 chocolate habanero peppers
  • 1G with just 5g of pea blossoms

After about 3 weeks, I racked them again to separate containers, removing the blueberries/pea blossoms/peppers. They have been sitting for almost 3 weeks now in tertiary containers with no discernible activity in any of them.

Until yesterday! When I noticed the habanero airlock release a bubble when I went to check on it. Upon closer inspection, I noticed a slow rise of tiny bubbles collecting at the top of the liquid. I can't imagine why, after weeks of inactivity, there would suddenly be fermentation or CO2 release. Anyone have a clue?
A temperature increase can do that. Even 5 degrees worth if the mead hasn't been stabilized. I had that happen with a cider that had totally cleared at 62° and when I moved it from the basement to the kitchen it started fermenting again and dropped another 4 points.
A temperature increase can do that.

Thanks for the input. I'll let you know how it turns out! I already tasted it weeks ago and it is nigh undrinkable due to the heat, so the worst that could happen is that it stays that way. Hoping it will mellow out.

Do fully fermented meads ever go sour? Hard to imagine that.
Hi ScheissSchiesser - and welcome. By "sour" do you mean , does mead ever become vinegar? I think they can in the presence of acetobacter and oxygen but absent both of these then a mead can age for a fairly long time. But if by "sour" you mean can mead be attacked by lacto or brett? Certainly, but I suspect that they need to be introduced before you pitch the yeast. At this point I think the environment the yeast have created for themselves is not very hospitable to other cultures.
Last point: Water has a gravity of 1.000. Alcohol is less dense than water but your final gravity you say was 1.002. That suggests that while the yeast may have for all kinds of reasons taken a break there is still another 6 or 8 points of sugar that could be fermented, so while I don't disagree with Maylar's post I think it is POSSIBLE that what you witnessed was not simply the CO2 that was present being degassed because of a change in temperature, in air pressure or even because of particles (tannins and the like) dropping out of suspension and causing the gas to nucleate but a refermentation of the mead.
I will say that I've had many lacto and or bret infections due to they are present in alot of grains so the intro may or may not be intended but is definitely a possibility.

I've found that if I ferment close to where I mill my grains the chances are way higher, a lacto is not the end of the world and can contribute very well to a ferment and will be a pleasant surprise in the end, if its funky and smells of baby vomit then it may be a form of butyric acid that has a smell of pineapple once added or blended to a higher alcohol.

Take rum for instance, they use dunder and is a slow ferment or esterification of the left over stillage that produces a prominent smell of baby vomit, once added to the low wines it will change into a nice smell of pineapple, it can come from unsanitary utensils, airborne dust, an infection in other ferments, international or not it's there and will begin sour and change with the ph values that drop below 4.4 give or take.

Damn thats alot but it definitely one option of way soooo many what could be going wrong, or right depending on what you're looking for.

It could be as simple as stressed yeast and being so young, could also be the beginning of a beautiful relationship with bacteria to form and create special esters to enhance your product.

I for one love the properties that a controlled infection can create, and sometimes an unwanted one can do quite the same.

I still after years can't tell the difference between bret and a lacto by appearance but I know what I've had has been amazing and interesting to say the least.
Last edited: