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Dec 28, 2019
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Dear elders in mead-making,

Any suggestions where I went wrong?
I made my first pure mead, rather than melomel or metheglin. I have used 3kg of honey (various sorts), dissolved in water to make a 5 litre solution. I have added 1g of wine nutrient and 2 Campden tablets. I had an initial gravity of 1.135 anbd pH 5.8. The next day I have added the Tokay yeast. A month after the gravity was 1.105, so I added another 1g of yeast nutrient. I left it for about another month and then put it into the cool room. After a couple weeks I racked it and the gravity was still 1.105.
I have used this yeas a couple of times, and I had a descent sediment so I don't think the yeast had problems with growing. Any ideas? Thanks!
Not know what nutrients your using it’s hard to say. But for most situations using “wine” nutrients for a traditional mead, you need to use 3-4X the amount, as the honey has 0 nutrients in it vs using fruit. Gently degassing at least once a day during primary is also recommend.
1.135 is certainly do-able but without really good nutrient, aeration / CO2 release and temperature in the yeast range is really a tough way to start. Sounds to me like your yeast "stalled". I am not familiar with that yeast so cant speak to its capability to ferment this high a must. pH is a little high but shouldn't be too big an issue.

Check your yeast tolerances.
- Temp range. (Stick to the higher end)
- Alcohol tolerance. (If this goes dry 1.000 then your potential alcohol is somewhere over 17%)
- Nutrient requirements. (Search for Total Nitrogen requirements As @Seamonkey84 suggested Mead needs higher nutrients than wine to work well.)

Couple of things to try:
- Stir the dickens out of it 2X's a day to get the yeast back in suspension until SG is about 1.070.
- Raise the temp you are fermenting at 5 Deg F

- Stir it to suspend all or as much of your sediment as you can.
- Split the batch and add 1/2 to 3/4 litre water to each batch.
- Then follow the note above in 1.

If all else fails and you have split the batch. Start a Yeast starter using EC 1118 yeast. That is a Champaign yeast and should restart almost anything unless there is something inhibiting the yeast.
I wonder if the starting gravity was just too high for the yeast and the concentration of sugar to water might have been enough to result in what is known as osmotic shock - and that can result in the environment pulling moisture from inside the yeast cells and sometimes rupturing cell walls as the yeast try to create a better equilibrium between the inside of their cells and the pressures resulting from the high concentrations of sugars in the solution in which they now find themselves. Not sure if this is a good analogy in terms of biology but I think of this much like a diver who rises to the surface so quickly that nitrogen does not simply leave the body through the lungs but through the organs and muscles of the body (bends)
Thanks guys.

Tokay, to my best of knowledge, is a good yeast for meads, and I thought the ratio of water to honey would not be too radical when taking into account Polish meads, but perhaps I missed something. I used the yeast in the past to get 18% is of final product, though I did not dissolve all the honey straight away back then but let some be sedimented and then dissolve into the must throughout the brewing process - perhaps that was not a bad move. I did try to swirl the demijohn regularly, as well as had reasonably close to the radiator. I'll certainly try to take your advice on board, and perhaps stick more to melomels and methyglins.
Simply pitching a dried yeast into a very concentrated sugar solution may not be the healthiest option for any yeast (and I do not know the characteristics of the yeast you selected) but a good approach might be to step feed the mead. That is, begin with a standard sugar: water solution (say an SG of 1.100 and when the yeast have eaten the sugar add another 4 oz and let the yeast go for the added sugar. And when they have fermented that give them another 4 oz and so on until you have the ABV you are looking for and the yeast, like frogs in increasingly hot water find themselves cooked before they think about jumping from the pot...

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