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I brewed a mead with OG ~1.12 and it stopped bubbling at an FG ~1.05. It is undrinkably sweet. I used champagne yeast, and was expecting a much lower FG. Should I re-inoculate the batch? Alternatively, what does overly sweet mead mix well with?

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Has your fermentation location gone through any temperature changes lately? –  baka Oct 12 '11 at 22:11
    
Yes. During fermentation, it probably varied between 60 and 75 degrees f –  keflavich Oct 12 '11 at 23:08
    
the FG you state should allow champagne yeast to continue (I usually start at this spec grav and I use cote des blancs or premier cuvee and end at 1.009) –  drj Oct 12 '11 at 23:49
    
@drj - Right, that's why I was surprised when it stopped –  keflavich Oct 12 '11 at 23:52

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I've had stuck meads before. Sometimes they can be tricky.. here's a couple tips

  1. Got a pH meter? If so, check the pH. A pH that is too low can stop a fermentation in it's tracks.
  2. What is the tempiture of the must? Ideal fermentation temp is around 60 degrees F.
  3. What was your starting gravity? Did the yeast meet it's alcohol thresehold?
  4. Repitch. This time.. do it with a yeast starter. Slowly add some of the must to it before you toss the entire starter in.

Lastly, here's a link on mead made complicated about stuck fermentation. There is lots of good information on on gotmead.com about stuck fermentations too (including a few of my own posts)

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good suggestion about the pH. Sometimes this factor is forgotten when trying to figure out why fermentation stops early. Flynn Scientific makes a cheap (most cost over $100) and accurate handheld pH meter that I use. See ( flinnsci.com/store/scripts/prodView.asp?idproduct=17142 ). Or an aquarium meter can work but is less reliable for brewing IMHO (see ebay.com/itm/… ) –  drj Oct 13 '11 at 0:00
    
I own a Hanna Instruments HI 98103B Beer pH Tester with Replaceable Electrode. $39 on Amazon now. This works pretty well. –  Adam Kalnas Oct 13 '11 at 12:50
    
Thanks for the link, Atom. Since I teach chemistry, I'm always looking for cheaper sources of equipment. –  drj Oct 13 '11 at 15:50

Usually the antidote to a stalled fermentation is to re-pitch yeast. If you're using dry yeast, make sure to re-hydrate the yeast properly. (Sugar is usually not necessary for reconstituting dry yeast, but the temperature of the water is very important.)

Also, how long was it stuck at 1.050? Is it possible that the yeast is still working on it, albeit slowly?

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It's certainly possible... I now have some bottles sitting around, and I'm hoping they still contain live yeast. I'll try again in a couple weeks. Thanks for the advice. –  keflavich Oct 12 '11 at 23:09

I've had sweet mead mixed with raspberry or chocolate before that was pretty tasty in both cases. This was done by adding the unsweetened raspberries or bitter chocolate to take the edge off the sweetness in the original mead. I could imagine tart cherries working as well. Oregon Fruit is a good source for both unsweetened fruits in cans and is found in many grocery stores and wine brewing supply shops. Trader Joe's has the best prices for bittersweet/high % cacao bars that have low or no preservatives.

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How do you mix in the chocolate? Melt it? Or crumbles? I'm having a hard time visualizing this drink, but am very intrigued –  keflavich Oct 13 '11 at 3:09
    
chocolate is soluble in alcohol to some extent (you've probably seen chocowine before). The choco mead that I had was warmed and blended while warm with melted choco (start the mead in the blender at high speed, then very slowly add the liquid chocolate as a thin stream to insure mixing, until the mixture is at the desired balance of sweetness and choco flavor, doesn't take much using high cacao choco). The other method uses choco nibs (These are bitter with intense choco flavor) in a secondary and letting the mead age over the nibs for several weeks (was on a tour of a meadery in CO). –  drj Oct 13 '11 at 4:19
    
Or another potential method (based on what I know as a chemist and a decent chef) would be to melt the chocolate and slowly add everclear or good vodka until "soupy" at room temp, then add this to your mead. Two advantages: choco won't settle out and you up the ABV in the process :-). But I haven't tried this one yet in mead :-) (have used it to make a bittersweet spiked choco eggnog). –  drj Oct 13 '11 at 4:21
    
I'd like to call this an answer too... I shouldn't have asked two questions at once. I'm waiting for my reputation to exceed 15 to +1 your answer / comments –  keflavich Oct 14 '11 at 23:22

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