Stalled Vanilla Mead?

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

BeardlyBrew

Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2014
Messages
5
Reaction score
0
Using the vanilla mead recipe from this site, I started this mead on March 02. This is essentially my first mead (I have a JOAM, started a week earlier,) and just learning my way around meads.

7.5 KG clover honey (approximately, +/- .25 KG)
7 vanilla beans, split and cut up
6 bags Earl Grey tea
Lavlin EC-1118 yeast
Nutrient and energizer
(I have vanilla extract, but have not yet added)
Water to bring the total up to just over 23 litres

There was a starter used for the yeast, consisting of warm water, honey, 1tsp nutrient, 1 tsp energizer.

The room where the mead is kept averages between 17-19 Celsius. (64-66F)

Starting gravity: 1.108

The mead took a week to get down to 1.072, whereupon I added another tsp each of nutrient and energizer. It's over a week since then though, and I suspect that it has stalled. Readings over the last three days have been 1.060 (Sat), 1.056 (Sun), and 1.054 (Today). It's still dropping, but is definitely slowing. I know bubbling isn't the best guide, but it's gone from every three-four seconds to every eight.

What to do? Should I warm the must up, see if I can get it closer to 21-22C? Add the 2/3 break dose of nutrient/energizer at this stage? Ignore the hell out of it for another couple weeks?
 

loveofrose

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2013
Messages
1,462
Reaction score
659
Location
Dallas, Texas
This is likely a pH problem. If you are able, check the pH. If it is 3 or lower, yeast can no longer ferment. You can raise/buffer the pH by adding 1/2 TBSP of potassium carbonate (K2CO3) and degassing. Just get a whisk or drill powered stirrer and aerate the hell out of it. Slowly at first though! The sooner the better. It hasn't completely stalled out so you have an excellent chance to get it going.

If it still doesn't start, you can take more drastic measures like acclimated starters and the Uvaferm 43 protocol.


Sent from my iPhone using Home Brew
 

IJesusChrist

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2013
Messages
590
Reaction score
41
This is likely a pH problem. If you are able, check the pH. If it is 3 or lower, yeast can no longer ferment. You can raise/buffer the pH by adding 1/2 TBSP of potassium carbonate (K2CO3) and degassing. Just get a whisk or drill powered stirrer and aerate the hell out of it. Slowly at first though! The sooner the better. It hasn't completely stalled out so you have an excellent chance to get it going.

If it still doesn't start, you can take more drastic measures like acclimated starters and the Uvaferm 43 protocol.


Sent from my iPhone using Home Brew
You keep saying this and to me your word is holy, but 1/2 tbsp of k carbonate to 5 gallons... it doesn't seem like that is going to change the pH at all! Perhaps I've been working with HCl too long...?

Wow. I just did the math, ~25g of potassium carbonate will be 10x the molar amount of [H+] at pH 3. I never liked pH chemistry so maybe I'm wrong, but seems correct.
I've been working with strong acids too long
 
OP
B

BeardlyBrew

Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2014
Messages
5
Reaction score
0
This is likely a pH problem. If you are able, check the pH. If it is 3 or lower, yeast can no longer ferment. You can raise/buffer the pH by adding 1/2 TBSP of potassium carbonate (K2CO3) and degassing. Just get a whisk or drill powered stirrer and aerate the hell out of it. Slowly at first though! The sooner the better. It hasn't completely stalled out so you have an excellent chance to get it going.

If it still doesn't start, you can take more drastic measures like acclimated starters and the Uvaferm 43 protocol.


Sent from my iPhone using Home Brew
Unfortunatley I can't really check the pH at the moment. (I tried, but all I have access to is litmus strips, and those have proved useless at telling me anything other than the mead is somewhere between 3 and 5.) As well, I was unable to source potassium carbonate locally, but did pick up some calcium carbonate. (That was all the store carried.) I can though, do my best to aerate the must, see if that will help. Today's reading was 1.048, so it is still progressing at least.

Now, given I can't verify the pH to any accuracy, what can I do?
 

IJesusChrist

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2013
Messages
590
Reaction score
41
Don't use calcium carbonate... it doesn't dissolve easy and I'm not sure what flavor calcium will impart.

Have you taken a peak at it? Does it smell pleasant? Perhaps it needs some degassing & stirring. If it were me, I would stir the hell out of it with a large, sanitized rod.

But that is me and it could backfire, who knows.
 

loveofrose

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2013
Messages
1,462
Reaction score
659
Location
Dallas, Texas
A little calcium carbonate would likely not be noticeable unless your water is high in calcium. Calcium carbonate is not preferred because it is not very soluble, doesn't buffer the pH as well, and can add a chalky taste. On top of that, potassium is a limiting nutrient in must so it doesn't help with that.

My advice is to degas the hell out of it and add a banana. Banana doesn't add any flavor, but has lots of potassium. As a bonus, it improves mouthfeel. It turns to mush in a carboy and makes racking a bit tricky which is why I prefer K2CO3.

In the future, Amazon is your friend. You can get anything and it shows up on your doorstep. Northern Brewer, MoreWine, and Midwest also have online ordering systems. (I have them in order of customer service quality)


Sent from my iPhone using Home Brew
 
Top