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CityBear

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Hey Everyone,

I am a two days into my first batch of mead, and I am a bit worried already.

I started with 13lbs of honey from a local producer in Marin County, and 4 gallons spring water. I used the AIH mead kit for my additives, and added the .25 tsp. Potassium Metabisulfite, six tsp. Acid blend/2.5 tsp. Pectic Enzyme/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient, to the must the day before pitching the yeast. I started two packs of Redstar Cote des Blanc yeast with 1c of the honey and 1800ml of the spring water on a stir plate and let it go for 48 hours before adding it to the brew bucket. When combined the OG was 1.11.

The yeast went to town right away, and before long the airlock was bubbling. As the morning wore on my apartment started to heat up, and it became difficult to keep StarSan in the airlock as the bubbling was so intense. I must have refilled the airlock and off-gassed three times on day one. I checked the temp on the bucket, and it was 76-78F, so I moved the fermenter to the coolest part of my apartment and switched to a blowoff tube, which also bubbled precipitously.

After a few hours, I started to notice a sulfuric smell from the blow off. I read here that sulfuric odors are indicative of stressed out yeast, which I assume is due to me letting the temp get too high and the yeast not getting enough air. The temp was already dropping so I aerated the must with 5 min of stirring with a sanitized long whisk and closed the fermentor up for the night.

As of this morning, the fermentor temp is showing 68-70F, but there is zero activity in the blow-off tube/jar of StarSan. I opened up my brew bucket and aerated again this morning and got a decent little bit of foaming but a few hours later there are still no bubbles in the blow-off, and the smell though much reduced is still faintly present. I read on another post that I could try adding a round of bread yeast and keep aerating 2x daily, but does it seem like my yeast is toast or just that they were way too active earlier and occasional bubbling will return? Should I pitch bread yeast or more Cote des Blanc? What's a normal rate of bubbling during the primary? Did I already ruin the first attempt?

Thanks for any and all advice!
 

Bostrows128

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Hey Everyone,

I am a two days into my first batch of mead, and I am a bit worried already.

I started with 13lbs of honey from a local producer in Marin County, and 4 gallons spring water. I used the AIH mead kit for my additives, and added the .25 tsp. Potassium Metabisulfite, six tsp. Acid blend/2.5 tsp. Pectic Enzyme/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient, to the must the day before pitching the yeast. I started two packs of Redstar Cote des Blanc yeast with 1c of the honey and 1800ml of the spring water on a stir plate and let it go for 48 hours before adding it to the brew bucket. When combined the OG was 1.11.

The yeast went to town right away, and before long the airlock was bubbling. As the morning wore on my apartment started to heat up, and it became difficult to keep StarSan in the airlock as the bubbling was so intense. I must have refilled the airlock and off-gassed three times on day one. I checked the temp on the bucket, and it was 76-78F, so I moved the fermenter to the coolest part of my apartment and switched to a blowoff tube, which also bubbled precipitously.

After a few hours, I started to notice a sulfuric smell from the blow off. I read here that sulfuric odors are indicative of stressed out yeast, which I assume is due to me letting the temp get too high and the yeast not getting enough air. The temp was already dropping so I aerated the must with 5 min of stirring with a sanitized long whisk and closed the fermentor up for the night.

As of this morning, the fermentor temp is showing 68-70F, but there is zero activity in the blow-off tube/jar of StarSan. I opened up my brew bucket and aerated again this morning and got a decent little bit of foaming but a few hours later there are still no bubbles in the blow-off, and the smell though much reduced is still faintly present. I read on another post that I could try adding a round of bread yeast and keep aerating 2x daily, but does it seem like my yeast is toast or just that they were way too active earlier and occasional bubbling will return? Should I pitch bread yeast or more Cote des Blanc? What's a normal rate of bubbling during the primary? Did I already ruin the first attempt?

Thanks for any and all advice!
Did you record an OG or did you just let it go, the reason I ask this is that you could test the specific gravity and add the OG and the number you just recorded into brewers friend ABV calculator and see if you're in the ABV rang you want. Then you can figure out where you want to go from there.
 
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CityBear

CityBear

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Did you record an OG or did you just let it go, the reason I ask this is that you could test the specific gravity and add the OG and the number you just recorded into brewers friend ABV calculator and see if you're in the ABV rang you want. Then you can figure out where you want to go from there.

Hey Fatter,

I just completed the second aeration of day two, and my SG is at 1.06 down from the OG of 1.11.
 

Bostrows128

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Hey Fatter,

I just completed the second aeration of day two, and my SG is at 1.06 down from the OG of 1.11.
well, that puts you at 6.5% now I don't know anything about mead so this is kind of tough to pinpoint so let me search around...
 

bernardsmith

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Not clear what reason there was to douse the yeast in acids. That would surely stress any organism. Honey has no chemical buffers to control pH so adding acids to the primary can allow the pH to drop like a ton of bricks and while bacteria hate acidity acids are not particularly yeast friendly either..
 

Hoppy2bmerry

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Stop "aerating" your must once it has been fermenting, unless you like oxidized wine flavor. You can give it a swirl to release CO2, many maizers give nutrients a few days apart during fermentation or if it stalls. Also, welcome to the forum.
 
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CityBear

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Not clear what reason there was to douse the yeast in acids. That would surely stress any organism. Honey has no chemical buffers to control pH so adding acids to the primary can allow the pH to drop like a ton of bricks and while bacteria hate acidity acids are not particularly yeast friendly either.
Hey Bernard,

I am not sure either; I am so new to mead that I just went with the mead kit from adventures in homebrewing and added the additions as per their instructions. Do you think I should add something basic to raise the pH level? Any suggestions?

Thanks for the advice!
 
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CityBear

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Stop "aerating" your must... You can give it a swirl to release CO2, many maizers give nutrients a few days apart during fermentation or if it stalls.
Hey Hoppy,

So I should not aerate anymore? I was under the assumption that it was very important to get more oxygen into the mix to help the yeast. I was going off of this post as it has a ton of detail: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/detailed-melomel-recipe.587928/
I am between 1/3 and 2/3 sugar break, any suggestions for the right nutrients to add? Also, that post indicated that it would take a month or so for the 2/3 sugar break whereas I am looking at more like a week. Any sense of what is a normal timeline for a mead primary?
 

Hoppy2bmerry

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@CityBear I pursued the instructions and aeration is recommended while preparing the must. Releasing gas from the must is not adding gas. Quite the opposite, perhaps you are doing one and calling it the other? Meads can get stuck, which is why you'd add nutrient - could be raisins or DAP. The most important ingredient is patience. The yeast will do their job they need some time and good conditions. We influence the conditions to help the yeast and get a product that hopefully is to our liking.
 

bernardsmith

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Right, degassing is not the same as aerating BUT if you stir too vigorously to remove the CO2 you can also introduce O2 (air). Providing air to yeast at pitching is very helpful. Providing air when you have the bio-mass of yeast you want can create off flavors and problems as you may encourage budding (reproduction) and the new daughter cells will demand nitrogen and other compounds that at this stage may be very depleted.
 
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CityBear

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Thanks @Hoppy2bmerry and @bernardsmith I was stirring vigorously and thus adding air but will stop that nonsense immediately! Thank you so much for the advice and the welcome, hopefully with patience and a bit of DAP this first attempt may turn out alright.

Moving forward I plan to just crack the lid of my fermentor and give it a little slosh twice a day an keep checking the gravity for a 1.035 (2/3 sugar break), then I'll transfer to the secondary and add the fruit.
 
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CityBear

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Took a gravity reading over the weekend and I was already down to 1.02, so racked to the secondary fermentor and added my fruit. During secondary do most folks still gentle stir daily to release gasses? How often do you typically take a gravity reading? I am using a blood orange puree so I am assuming it should be on fruit for a few weeks (again referencing this guide https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/detailed-melomel-recipe.587928/ citrus 24-30 days) but with how fast my gravity has dropped I worry I am way ahead of schedule and will need to put it to tertiary soon.
 

bernardsmith

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I don't degas in the secondary and now that you have added fruit and fruit is more susceptible to oxidation I would simply let nature take it's course.
 

Yemany

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Hi Citybear I only take 2 readings to check the gravity. Before I pitch the yeast and when is see that the airlock bubles once a minute. That usaly a sign that the mead is fermented out. Duri g fermitation it is important to decas the mead once a day the first 3 days. This way the yeast won't stress out and it minimizes the risk of ofvlavors. Before adding the fruit make sure the mead is fermented out. If you use a fruit puree a week is enough and for herbs no longer than 3 days. Make sure you ad campden to the mead. This will stop any wild yeast cells from the fruit and prevents oxidation.

Hope this helps
 
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