5

Edits are in bold italics

This is my first mead and I know I've made more than a few mistakes up to this point in the process, but I'm hoping for a Mead Doctor to roll in and tell me what I can do from here. I brewed a 5gal batch that seemed to be going well and had lots of bubbling in the blow off bucket for 2-4 days at the beginning, but I'm currently into day 32 of primary fermentation and instead of hitting around 1.000-1.010 I seem to have stalled out much higher at 1.063.

Here's the pertinent info:


Brew:

  • Nov. 11, 2018
  • Batch size: 5 gal
  • 15lbs local raw honey
  • Lalvin D47: Two dry packs (10g)
  • OG 1.100; Taken with floating hydrometer
  • Storage temp range due to home HVAC: 62-70F; 07:00-23:00 @70F, 23:00-07:00 @62F
  • Aerated prior to pitch with pure 02 and oxygen wand w/ 0.2 micron stone
  • Fermenter: 5gal glass carboy w/ blow-off hose into bucket o' sanitizer

Nutrient additions:

  • Each mixed with ~40ml distilled water to facilitate pouring.
  • Day 2: 1/2 tsp(~2g) Fermaid K; Oxygenate with pure O2 & stone
  • Day 3: 1/4 tsp(~1g) Fermaid K; Oxygenate with pure O2 & stone
  • Day 4: 1/4 tsp(~1g) Fermaid K; no stirring or O2
  • Day 5: 1/4 tsp(~1g) Fermaid K; no stirring or O2
  • Day 31: 1/4 tsp(~1g) Fermaid K; stirred to degas, no O2

SG readings:

  • OG 1.100; Taken with floating hydrometer, temp not recorded :( (likely 69F)
  • All other readings taken with calibrated refractometer, temp @69F.
  • Day 29 SG: 1.063 - refractometer
  • Day 31 SG: 1.062 - refractometer
  • Day 33 SG: 1.059 - refractometer and 1.030 - hydrometer
  • Day 38 SG: 1.057 - refractometer and 1.024 - hydrometer

Quick note about storage temp: I know 70F is at the top end of D47. It's winter here in the South, so it's getting cold(er). We keep the house at 70F most of the day, except at night where we let the temp drop to 62F before the heat kicks back on. My storage is in the center of the house, so it is always within one degree F of what the thermostat says; I check it often with a temp gun. Exceptions being if we have a hot day; thermostat is on HEAT right now so temps above the setting are ignored. I don't remember any exceptionally warm days in the last month, but maybe one or two. Based on my research I don't think the problem is temp; it's the South so a cold snap is unlikely and supposedly the worst that could happen with temp being too high is getting extra fusels from the yeast.

What you have above are basically my notes, so there's little bits of info about how it was measured or whatever just in case it proves important. In case you were wondering, no I didn't add Go-Ferm and I was an idiot and didn't bother to re-hydrate my D47 before pitching it either; I just opened two dry packs and chucked them in. I know...shame upon me, my cow, my family.

I'm sure you've noticed that I've only added Fermaid-K up to this point; it's all I have. You may also be wondering about the amount of Fermaid-K I've added up to this point; I AM TOO. I've looked and looked and I keep finding conflicting info on how much to add, and it's not like within a 25% difference. Some say to add what I have added, and some say to add double or triple that amount. I've also seen others say that if you add too much you may get an odd flavor(it's the Fermaid) or you may end up feeding competing organisms and make life hell for you and your yeast.

So on Dec 17, I took a reading and got 1.063. This is when I became concerned something may be wrong. I started reading up, trying to find out if I've stalled or what. I've seen the other posts on here, one of which was really close to mine, but didn't get a clear answer on what my additions should have been nor on what they should be NOW to try and restart it.

I took a reading last night(Day 31) and got what I think was 1.062. You all know it can be difficult to read those tiny refractometer lines sometimes, so it could have also been willful delusion and it's just sitting at 1.063. After reading more online, I decided to try one of the suggestions and do another Fermaid-K addition to kick things off again. I added 1/4tsp(~1g) of Fermaid-K with ~30ml distilled water and gave it a good stir to degas, mix in the addition and get the yeast floating around again. No O2 was (intentionally) added.

Update 12/21:

Thanks to chthon, I took a new sample of the mead today and found that my refractometer was much more pessimistic than my hydrometer. Refractometer reading shows us at 1.059, which is good that's it's still dropping, but completely off-base because the hydrometer is showing us at 1.030. This is MUCH better than we thought, but still far above my target of 1.000-1.010 for this mead, and let me tell you, it is SWEET. I'm in cheap sugar wine territory at this point. So my questions below still stand. Also, the mead is still bubbling through the blow-off tube, though maybe once every 1.5-2.0 seconds.

Update 12/26:

Merry Christmas! SG seems to still be dropping, hooray! So either I panicked a little early, or the nutrient add on the Day 31 helped out. Either way, things are still rolling so I'll check it again next week to see if we get closer to our target. And lastly, can someone answer my questions around nutrient additions? Thanks again!

===========

Mead Doctors: mistakes were made and I want to learn from those, but what do I do about this right now? How do I kick this off again so I can hit my target of 1.000-1.010? Should I add more nutrients? Is she dead?

Second question: what is the correct addition of Fermaid-K to a basic mead like this? I've gone with ~1g/1gal, but I've seen as high as 4g/1gal mentioned on this site. Maybe I've misunderstood total additions vs amount per add with four scheduled adds? I don't know. Help?

Last request: lay it on me. Let your wisdom flow forth and sear the shame of incomplete steps and shortcuts into my memory forever so that I may never fall prey to the temptation of laziness, nor the unfounded confidence of ignorance ever again.

You guys are great, thanks for any input you can provide.

3

I currently suggest two things.

The first is to check your SG ALSO with a hydrometer. If it has the same readings as your refractometer, there is definitely something off.

Also, do you use a refractometer calculator to convert your readings? A refractometer works on the diffraction of light through a drop of fluid. There is a big difference between wort (water + sugars) and fermented fluid (wine/beer/mead). The produced alcohol changes the diffraction. Search for "refractometer calculator".

  • I had no idea about the needed calculator for conversions, I'll look into that. What i'm seeing so far is that the conversion index is specific to the instrument so I'll need to determine that through a bunch of testing. It sounds like I need to find a way to drop my hydrometer into this carboy and take a reading. That seems like it's gonna be pretty difficult, so we'll see what Google has to say about it. Last I should mention that when I tasted the samples I took, the mead was REALLY sweet, so I feel like there's no way it's done. Anyway, will post findings. – Kraden Dec 21 '18 at 20:34
  • Thanks for the tip, the refractometer is NOT showing the same as the hydrometer. Hydrometer shows us at 1.030. I took another sample with the refractometer which is showing 1.059. SO, we're still going down and we're not as bad off as we thought, but 1.030 is still way too sweet and it's only dropping by 1-2pts a day. My questions regarding nutrient additions and what to do to help things along to 1.000 or 1.010 still stand. – Kraden Dec 21 '18 at 21:47
  • @Kraden: Well that was what I was expecting. Bubbling once every two seconds is not too fast, but really not stopped either. I see on the specs for the yeast that it has a moderate fermentation rate. – chthon Dec 22 '18 at 7:34
  • @Kraden:aussiehomebrewer.com/threads/… – chthon Dec 22 '18 at 8:02
  • Checked it again today, looks like 1.024 with the hydrometer. I'll check again next week to make sure we're still on track for target of <1.010. It looks like I might have panicked early on this mead, it doesn't seem to be stalled, but my last question around nutrient adds is still unanswered. Should I post it as a separate ask on here? Thanks! – Kraden Dec 27 '18 at 0:19

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