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JarlHammer

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Good afternoon! I am looking for some advice on how to proceed with my BOMM batch. I started this batch on 07/16/21, and I noticed yesterday that my airlock no longer has any activity whatsoever. Unless you count it's stellar performance keeping out a fruit fly! Anyway, I am conflicted on how I should proceed, and have a few questions below, along with my brew log information and attached photos.


Brew
Bray’s One Month Mead [BOMM]​
OG
1.110​
Pitch Date
07/16/21​
Yeast
Wyeast 1388 – Belgian Strong Ale​
Size
1 Gal​
Ingredients
Sweet Squeeze Orange Blossom Honey​
Fermaid K – ½ tsp​
DAP – ¼ tsp​
Potassium Carbonate – 1/6 tsp​
Tap Water​
Notes
Reading 07/19/21 – 1.074
Added ½ tsp Fermaid K 07/19/21​
Added ¼ tsp DAP 07/19/21​
Reading 07/23/21 – 1.034
Added ½ tsp Fermaid K 07/23/21​
Added ¼ tsp DAP 07/23/21​

My questions are as follows:

1. Should I take a reading to determine whether fermentation has completed or stalled?
2. If I do remove the airlock and take a reading, with fermentation and off-gassing apparently complete, do I need to immediately rack to reduce headspace?
3. In the case that I do happen to have a stalled fermentation, how would I re-start the yeast?

Thank you in advance for your assistance!
 

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jtratcliff

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A bubbling airlock is not a reliable gauge of fermentation activity...
Looks like you have plenty of yeast still in suspension... No build up of lees on the bottom. Why do you suspect a stuck fermentation? Just lack of bubbles?

Edit to add:

I would top up to reduce head space, though...
 
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JarlHammer

JarlHammer

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A bubbling airlock is not a reliable gauge of fermentation activity...
Looks like you have plenty of yeast still in suspension... No build up of lees on the bottom. Why do you suspect a stuck fermentation? Just lack of bubbles?
The angle of the photo doesnt show it too well, but there is a decent yeast cake/lees bed at the bottom of the vessel. Honestly, the stalling theory is a worst case scenario that I'm not too worried about, mostly just beginner's paranoia.
As far as the rest of it goes, if I take a reading, do I need to rack due to the headspace? I'm curious to see whether this has hit 1.000 yet or not.
 

Dan O

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The angle of the photo doesnt show it too well, but there is a decent yeast cake/lees bed at the bottom of the vessel. Honestly, the stalling theory is a worst case scenario that I'm not too worried about, mostly just beginner's paranoia.
As far as the rest of it goes, if I take a reading, do I need to rack due to the headspace? I'm curious to see whether this has hit 1.000 yet or not.
The only way you're going to know for sure is to take a reading. Just make sure everything that will touch your must has been sanitized thoroughly beforehand. For your current headspace, if it were me, I would top it off with water. BOMM'S usually finish around 16%. The difference when you add a little water shouldn't make a noticeable difference in the finished product. Also, when you top it off, GENTLY stir it to resuspend the yeast. NO sloshing or splashing. 🤨It should clear pretty quick after that.
 
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JarlHammer

JarlHammer

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The only way you're going to know for sure is to take a reading. Just make sure everything that will touch your must has been sanitized thoroughly beforehand.
For sure, I have been religious with sanitization. My main concern at this point with taking a reading is that by removing my bung and airlock, I will be letting the CO2 out, and without an active fermentation, there will he oxygen present in the carboy from there.

I don't know if I'm just being paranoid about oxidation, or if I should rack after the reading.
 

Dan O

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For sure, I have been religious with sanitization. My main concern at this point with taking a reading is that by removing my bung and airlock, I will be letting the CO2 out, and without an active fermentation, there will he oxygen present in the carboy from there.

I don't know if I'm just being paranoid about oxidation, or if I should rack after the reading.
CO2 is heavier than air. If you have any remaining CO2 in your must, it will blanket the exposed part of your must.
 

jtratcliff

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I'm no mead expert... Only 1 BOMM and handful of JAOMs under my belt. I've done some 1gal country wines as well.
So take my advice for what it's worth 😁 ...

You're past the risk of any blow off and the yeast are slowing down. I personally would just top up with water... I wouldn't rack.
You often see that advice with fruit wines: top up with water or similar wine. You could also add sanitized marbles to raise the
level of the liquid up to the neck.

For my 1 g batches, I tend to trust the yeast and not take excessive gravity measurements. I do rack my fruit wines off the lees when
it gets too thick and bottle only after it stays clear. But with my 1 BOMM and my JAOMs, I bottle right from primary after things drop clear.
The "OM" in the middle of BOMM is "One Month"... not long enough for the lees to be problem.

So measure, if you need to know... Rack, if sitting on the lees bugs you... But definitely reduce headspace in whatever way works for you.

My advice, top up. Leave it 'til it clears. Bottle from primary.
 

jtratcliff

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CO2 is heavier than air. If you have any remaining CO2 in your must, it will blanket the exposed part of your must.
The CO2 blanket is a bit of a myth... You can have short term stratification, but in any real-world situation, air currents from opening fermenters and gas diffusion will mix gasses in the headspace pretty thoroughly in pretty short order..

 

Dan O

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The CO2 blanket is a bit of a myth... You can have short term stratification, but in any real-world situation, air currents from opening fermenters and gas diffusion will mix gasses in the headspace pretty thoroughly in pretty short order..

Noted & thank you for the correction 👍
Still, it's my understanding that your chances of oxidation are far less once the ABV is over 10%, which BOMMS consistently are.
 
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JarlHammer

JarlHammer

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CO2 is heavier than air. If you have any remaining CO2 in your must, it will blanket the exposed part of your must.
Fair enough, I appreciate it! Thanks for the help.
 

jtratcliff

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Noted & thank you for the correction 👍
The C02 blanket seemed to make sense to me when I 1st heard about it, too. It didn't occur to me to think about the diffusion times scales. This is the video that someone here on HBT showed me that made the lightbulb light up in the ol' think box.
 

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If you top of with water and there is still sugar left, the yeast will restart fermenting till the sugar is gone or till the abv is high enough to force the yeast to go dormant again.
 
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JarlHammer

JarlHammer

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Just came back to this, and that is an awesome video. I've learned something new today!

So, I believe I'm going to leave it alone for now, give it another week or so, and then take a reading. At that point, my 3L racking vessel will be emptied from the cider that is in it right now, and I can go ahead and rack as well. Thank you all for the great advice and knowledge!
 
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JarlHammer

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As an update, I changed my mind about leaving it alone, and took the advice to top it off to the neck of the fermenter with water to reduce headspace, as I do not have any glass marbles lying about. Gave it a good stir, without sloshing, and we will see how it turns out in a few more weeks.

Thank you again for all of the help!
 

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Miraculix

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As an update, I changed my mind about leaving it alone, and took the advice to top it off to the neck of the fermenter with water to reduce headspace, as I do not have any glass marbles lying about. Gave it a good stir, without sloshing, and we will see how it turns out in a few more weeks.

Thank you again for all of the help!
So you want to dry it out?
 

Miraculix

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Well, the reading before the water addition came through at 1.000, so it's already dry at this point.
Ahh ok, I missed that. Yes, then water shouldn't be a problem. But I would either boil it thoroughly, to remove as much oxygen as possible and/or add a little bit of honey, just to give the yeast some food to scavenge the oxygen from the transfer etc. I would probably do both.
 

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As an update, I changed my mind about leaving it alone, and took the advice to top it off to the neck of the fermenter with water to reduce headspace,
Too late now, but I would have racked it to another container instead of adding water. Waiting for a week or a month for another container to become available wouldn't hurt anything. For small batches, 1.5 L wine bottles come in handy when racking from one gallon jugs.
 

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Too late now, but I would have racked it to another container instead of adding water.
I totally agree. Diluting a mead at this stage is silly, unless you have way too high SG that needs to be addressed for the yeast's sake.

Folks around here are far too paranoid about headspace. It takes months to oxidize a mead. I don't worry about it until I've racked off the gross lees and the mead is going to sit in secondary for a while before bottling.
 
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JarlHammer

JarlHammer

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I totally agree. Diluting a mead at this stage is silly, unless you have way too high SG that needs to be addressed for the yeast's sake.

Folks around here are far too paranoid about headspace. It takes months to oxidize a mead. I don't worry about it until I've racked off the gross lees and the mead is going to sit in secondary for a while before bottling.
I probably shouldn't have jumped the gun on this, then, but beginner's worry definitely played a part here. Now I know for the next batch!
 

JP_BeerFan

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The CO2 blanket is a bit of a myth... You can have short term stratification, but in any real-world situation, air currents from opening fermenters and gas diffusion will mix gasses in the headspace pretty thoroughly in pretty short order..
That's a better illustrator... too bad we can't see CO2... I was going to say, avoiding or creating any kind of draft, or not having the AC blowing when you open the container would be a good idea to not make things worse than diffusion. A 1gal jug with the small neck hole would be somewhat more protected than a bucket for a draft to mix or blow away the layer. OTOH, not as much volume in the 1gal than in the bucket. Main thing would be minimize the disturbances and open time. I think I read that Bray is a fan of just leaving the hydrometer in a 1gal jug... headspace/krausen permitting, that sounds like an idea!
 
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