Fermentation smells of sulphur, optimal temperature for beer yeast in wine?

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Ring Many

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Hi everyone,

I've been attempting to make some plum wine by following this recipe:

https://andhereweare.net/quick-easy-plum-wine/

Normally fruit wines seem to take 6 months, but this wine only takes around 6 weeks with the aid of 'Danstar Nottingham Ale Dry Beer Yeast'

I combined the above recipe with another few ones together to try and get the best result.

Cut in half 5lbs (2.3kg) of plums, remove seed, place in bucket
Mash with potato masher, then add 4.5 litres of boiling water and 2.3kg of sugar.
Add pectolase 8pm. Stir and wait 4 hours for juices to get moving. Then added 1 campden tablet. Stir, then seal lid and wait 3 days, stirring every day.
Added 2 spoons of yeast and 2 spoons of yeast nutrient into bucket.

After around 1 hour in my room at 16 degrees, it started to bubble. Then stopped after an hour. The next day, nothing. I added more yeast and nutrient, again, bubbling for an hour, then nothing. When I removed the lid the next day, it smelt horrific. Essentially hydrogen sulphide (The smell of eggs) filling the air. Researching online shows this means the yeast is under stress.

My room gets to around 18 degrees and around 25 with a heat belt, which I added. As all my wine, beer and cider brews need 20-26 degrees Celsius. I found that this particular yeast brews around 12-18 degrees according to forums. I added another campden tablet, some sodium metabisulphite and waited a day in colder temperatures, again nothing, and still a bad smell.

I think it's best to scrap my current batch and start again. My question now is, what is the optimal temperature for my yeast to grow? I'm in a bit of a hurry to get this wine batch done, which is why I was using the beer yeast recommended in the recipe to speed up the process. Did I simply heat up the yeast too much (26 degrees) and it killed it off? Should I start the process again but this time keep it around 16 degrees?
 

dmtaylor

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The yeast is angry at all the Campden you keep adding. Leave it alone now. It needs time... a long time. The sulfur should dissipate in time. I would ferment at 16 C and leave it alone for at least 6 weeks, but I'm thinking it might take more like 8-10 weeks personally. Don't rush it. Don't heat it. Don't add anything to it. Stop messing around with it and just leave it alone and give it time to work.
 

Northern_Brewer

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'Danstar Nottingham Ale Dry Beer Yeast'...hydrogen sulphide (The smell of eggs) filling the air. ...I added another campden tablet, some sodium metabisulphite
It's not surprising that it smells of sulphide when you keep feeding it sulphur in the form of Camden....

Most beer yeasts, particularly lager yeasts, tend to produce a bit of sulphide as part of their normal working, and it typically clears within a couple of weeks. The Nottingham blend is supposedly 70% "lager" yeasts, so it's not surprising that it kicks out a bit of sulphur, particularly in a weird environment like plum juice. Yeast nutrient will help keep it happy, and try to avoid big lurches in temperature. But typical room temperature of 16-18C is just fine. No, you won't have killed the yeast - in fact most yeast grow best at 30C and can tolerate up to 37-40C or so (imagine them having to survive in the wild in vineyards etc), we only ferment at lower temperatures to reduce off-flavours.

In other words, another vote for just leave it alone without the brewbelt and let it do its thing....
 
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Ring Many

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Hi,

Thanks for the suggestions.

The yeast is angry at all the Campden you keep adding. Leave it alone now. It needs time... a long time. The sulfur should dissipate in time. I would ferment at 16 C and leave it alone for at least 6 weeks, but I'm thinking it might take more like 8-10 weeks personally. Don't rush it. Don't heat it. Don't add anything to it. Stop messing around with it and just leave it alone and give it time to work.
It's not surprising that it smells of sulphide when you keep feeding it sulphur in the form of Camden....

Most beer yeasts, particularly lager yeasts, tend to produce a bit of sulphide as part of their normal working, and it typically clears within a couple of weeks. The Nottingham blend is supposedly 70% "lager" yeasts, so it's not surprising that it kicks out a bit of sulphur, particularly in a weird environment like plum juice. Yeast nutrient will help keep it happy, and try to avoid big lurches in temperature. But typical room temperature of 16-18C is just fine. No, you won't have killed the yeast - in fact most yeast grow best at 30C and can tolerate up to 37-40C or so (imagine them having to survive in the wild in vineyards etc), we only ferment at lower temperatures to reduce off-flavours.

In other words, another vote for just leave it alone without the brewbelt and let it do its thing....
Unfortunately, I decided to remove this batch and start from scratch. I believe I could have eventually saved it, but with the mixture of campden tablets, extra yeast, and the plums slowly liquefying, I thought it would be better to start again.

I'm going to purchase more plums tomorrow. The new plan is to potentially use either Cider yeast or continue using the beer yeast but ferment at lower temperatures. The process I'm planning on is for 2 gallon:

Freeze the plums for 24 hours.
Cut the plums in half, remove seed. Place inside the bucket.
Add 4.5 pints of water and 2.3 kg of sugar.
Add 2tsp of pectolase, add 1 campden tablet. Wait 24 hours.
Crush the plums with a potato masher, then add 2tsp of yeast and 2tsp of yeast nutrient. Leave inside a room at 16-18 degrees for several days to ferment.

Does anyone see any issues with the above? I'd love to avoid having this problem again. Hopefully the reaction was all caused by the temperature being too high, causing stress for the yeast.
 

Northern_Brewer

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I'd love to avoid having this problem again. Hopefully the reaction was all caused by the temperature being too high, causing stress for the yeast.
I'll say it again - you didn't have a problem, this is kinda normal in the early stages of fermentation, particularly for lager yeast and doubly so when you're adding Camden. What matters is the end result, not what it smells like on the way.

If you've not seen it, you should probably look at this thread on the cider forum, which suggests some yeasts for ciders. Nottingham ranks highly on that list and it's so well known that it's a good one to start with rather than something more obscure.
 

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I've used ale yeast for cider, but never for wine. Wine is simple sugars, and usually in the 12% range, and I'm not sure how ale yeast (designed for maltose fermentation) would work in it.

What size batch is that? That seems to be a LOT of sugar and little plums.
 

Northern_Brewer

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I've used ale yeast for cider, but never for wine. Wine is simple sugars, and usually in the 12% range, and I'm not sure how ale yeast (designed for maltose fermentation) would work in it.
Are you suggesting that apples and plums are not, somehow, mostly simple sugars? One would assume that this is not much different to fermenting cider. The recipe suggests Nottingham, which implies someone with experience of fermenting plums has had success with that particular ale yeast. I'd just follow the recipe, not least because there may be few people around with experience of fermenting plums but there's a lot of people with experience of how Notty behaves, so troubleshooting over the internet is likely to be easier than if a less well known yeast is used.

I'd have thought failing to ferment out all the sugar because the yeast has poisoned itself would probably be a feature not a bug, usually the challenge is to stop the yeast fermenting to bone dryness. Also, most ale yeasts are POF- whereas wine yeasts tend to be POF+, so you should get a cleaner ferment with ale yeasts if you can keep them happy.
 

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No, apples and plums ARE simple sugars (primarily fructose), and wine yeast is perfectly designed for simple sugars.

I know ale yeast can ferment simple sugars but it’s not ideal for a high OG simple sugar solution (wine) vs wort with maltose and maltotriose along with sucrose, fructose, and glucose. Dextrines and trisaccharides like maltotriose are not as easily (if at all) fermented by wine yeast.

I’ve definitely used ale yeast for cider, in the 8% ABV area at most. But with a very high OG with simple sugars, a wine yeast would not be as likely to stall or to be stressed by the high sugar level. While it’s true that the high sugar level would mean a higher residual sugar level in the finished wine, the yeast would be highly stressed which causes off-flavors.
 
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Hi everyone,

I restarted the brew. I followed all the steps I mentioned in my previous response. I added the pectolase, sugar, campden tablet on Wed evening. Waited 24 hours. Then I added my yeast around 11pm on Thur. This time, I kept the bucket in my room at 16 degrees.

After about an hour, it started to bubble. Woke up this morning, nothing. It's now been around 23 hours, opened the lid and again, a strong smell of sulphur (eggs) and it hasn't bubbled since.

I'm debating whether to take a gravity reading, but it appears that I've run into the same issue again. I added my 2 tsp of yeast, I also hydrated in warm water, then added my 2 tsp of nutrient, kept for 23 hours at 16 degrees, but no further progress.

Any suggestions as to why the yeast appears to be doing this? If it fails again, I'll try using regular wine yeast, but every forum highly recommends this yeast, especially due to how fast it can brew and in lower temperatures.
 

Yooper

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Hi everyone,

I restarted the brew. I followed all the steps I mentioned in my previous response. I added the pectolase, sugar, campden tablet on Wed evening. Waited 24 hours. Then I added my yeast around 11pm on Thur. This time, I kept the bucket in my room at 16 degrees.

After about an hour, it started to bubble. Woke up this morning, nothing. It's now been around 23 hours, opened the lid and again, a strong smell of sulphur (eggs) and it hasn't bubbled since.

I'm debating whether to take a gravity reading, but it appears that I've run into the same issue again. I added my 2 tsp of yeast, I also hydrated in warm water, then added my 2 tsp of nutrient, kept for 23 hours at 16 degrees, but no further progress.

Any suggestions as to why the yeast appears to be doing this? If it fails again, I'll try using regular wine yeast, but every forum highly recommends this yeast, especially due to how fast it can brew and in lower temperatures.
In my experience, sulfur in wine is a sign of stressed yeast. If it was me, and I insisted on using an ale yeast in a higher ABV fermentation, I would pamper my yeast. The first thing I’d do is to sanitize a long spoon or plastic rod or dowel, and then stir that must like it owed me money. And repeat about twice per day for 3 days or so. That would go a long way to degassing the must, getting some oxygen in there, and dispelling the sulfur. If sulfur gets bad enough, you can get a ruined wine by the H2S.
 

Comfort_Zone

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Patience! Ale yeast will work perfectly fine. If you want something neutral use chico if not go with Windsor or Nottingham. DON'T add any campden after fermentation has started. Just be patient. Plenty of beers smell miserable during fermentation only to yield a delicious product. Also, any decent ale yeast should be able to handle at least 10 or 12% abv without too much trouble. Simple sugars make it easier to get there.
 
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