Author Topic: Mead rescue?  (Read 2472 times)

Offline oldguy

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 2
    • View Profile
Mead rescue?
« on: January 03, 2010, 09:48:09 AM »
I am an experienced all-grain home brewer, so I am familiar with  fermentation techniques for beer, but this  mead fermenting is kicking my ass! It is my first batch of  mead, and I have been getting advice from from some award-winning  mead makers in my local area. Unfortunately, I think I am nearing drain-circling time for this  mead. It is stuck at 1.054 SG, and not moving, despite multiple pitches. I would like to know how to move it back on track, or if I should cut my losses. The stuff has had so much nutrient added that...well if I knew I wouldn't be posting!

The original intent was for a peach  melomel, adding frozen peaches to fully fermented  mead, and backsweetening as needed.

Here is the full recipe and process steps to date (Thanks in advance!):

Brew Date 11/9/09

In a sanitized bucket, I beat 20 lbs Orange Blossom honey in one  gallon of 70F spring water. Added 70F spring water to make 5 gallons; whipped to  aerate.

OG = 1.152

Yeast hydration:
3 pkgs Lalvin 71B1122 Narbonne yeast (15 grams)
200 ml boiled spring water cooled to 104F, with
20 grams GoFerm

Pitched and covered with lid/airlock on bucket.

Additions:
11/9/09 - 8 hours after pitching, whipped to degas; added ½ tsp  DAP and ¼ tsp Fermaid K

11/10/09 - whipped to degas; added ½ tsp  DAP and ¼ tsp Fermaid K
11/11/09 - whipped to degas; added ½ tsp  DAP and ¼ tsp Fermaid K
11/12/09 - whipped to degas; added ½ tsp  DAP and ¼ tsp Fermaid K

11/21/09 – (12 days after pitching)
SG = 1.100 Apparently  stuck fermentation
 pH = 3.5 (assume yeast no longer viable due to  pH)
Added 1 tbsp potassium bicarbonate to raise  pH

Repitched:
2 pkgs Lalvin 71B1122 Narbonne yeast (10 grams), rehydrated in
170 ml boiled spring water cooled to 104F, with 13 grams GoFerm

11/23/09 - whipped to degas; added ½ tsp  DAP and ¼ tsp Fermaid K
11/24/09 - whipped to degas; added ½ tsp  DAP and ¼ tsp Fermaid K

11/25/09 - SG = 27  Brix, corrected to 1.093 (7 point drop in 4 days);  pH 3.9

11/29/09 - SG = 24  Brix, corrected to 1.070;  pH 4.2; whipped to degas

12/19/09 – Slow activity;  pH 3.5; SG = 1.055 by  hydrometer; degassed and added ¾ tsp chalk to raise  pH to 3.8; calculated ABV 12.9%

12/20/09 – whipped to degas; added ½ tsp  DAP and ¼ tsp Fermaid K
12/27/09 –  pH 4.2; SG = 1.055 by  hydrometer; no SG change in 8 days.

Repitched:
2 pkgs Champagne yeast (10 grams), rehydrated in
170 ml boiled spring water cooled to 104F, with 13 grams GoFerm
Degassed and added 30 seconds 0xygen through stone prior to pitch.


12/30/09 – No visible activity, although positive pressure in bucket noted.
SG = 1.054 by  hydrometer. Added ½ tsp  DAP and ¼ tsp Fermaid K.

1/3/2010 – SG = 1.054;  pH 4.3; no indications of infection; does smell yeasty and  must is murkey khaki  color.
Fredericksburg Brewing Insiders (FBI)
------------------------------------------------------
Primary:  German Pils
Lagering: Oktoberfest
On tap:  Brown Porter; ESB; American Amber; Blonde Ale

Offline bruck

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 51
    • View Profile
Re: Mead rescue?
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2010, 10:01:11 AM »
Wish I could offer some help. I am interested to see an answer your question. If nothing else I can relate to your problem. My first mead settled out at 1.04 and that was certainly not what I was shooting for. My second finished at 1.02. They are both delicious none the less.

Offline ndcube

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 612
    • View Profile
Re: Mead rescue?
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2010, 08:06:08 AM »
http://www.lalvinyeast.com/strains.asp

Your creeping up on the alchohol tolerance for that yeast.

I'm not sure that pitching a couple packs of champagne yeast is going to help.  I think you'll need to acclimate it to the high alcohol content already present and grow a bigger colony.  You could pitch a couple packs into a starter and keep feeding it your mead little bits at a time to build up the alchohol percentage and then pitch the actively fermenting starter.

Disclaimer: I haven't tried this myself.

Offline hamiltont

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 972
  • Location: Somewhere in the Middle of Nebraska
    • View Profile
Re: Mead rescue?
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2010, 12:56:44 PM »
I don't have a whole lot of experience with mead but I'll offer some thoughts.  1) Warm it up to the low mid 70's or so. 2) Wait.  Mead takes a looooong time to ferment. 6 months to a year.  I'm thinking, as ndcube mentioned, you've maxed out the yeast.  20 lbs. of honey in 5 gallons (4:1 ratio) is definitely going to be a very sweet mead and back sweetening it will not be necessary.  Next time if you want it drier try to get to a FG of  1.000 or less using a 2:1 ratio & then back sweeten it.

Hopefully someone with more mead expertise will chip in.
If Homebrew & BBQ aren't the answer, then you're askin' the wrong questions... Cheers!!!

Offline ndcube

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 612
    • View Profile
Re: Mead rescue?
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2010, 01:05:43 PM »
Mead may take a long time to age but when I was making them I could get a 14% ABV batch to ferment dry in around 2 weeks and maybe a month for an 18% batch IIRC.

I don't have experience with the OP's yeast though.  I used D47 for 14% & EC-1118 for 18%.

Offline hamiltont

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 972
  • Location: Somewhere in the Middle of Nebraska
    • View Profile
Re: Mead rescue?
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2010, 02:04:07 PM »
Yeast probably makes a difference I guess. I made a sweet mead a couple years ago & it took almost 3 months for the yeast to drop clear.
If Homebrew & BBQ aren't the answer, then you're askin' the wrong questions... Cheers!!!

Offline ndcube

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 612
    • View Profile
Re: Mead rescue?
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2010, 06:10:41 AM »
Mine usually take longer to drop clear than that.  Most of the time I cheat and use finings.