April 23, 2013: Ugh

I got up this morning to find no activity in the airlock of my newly pitched sweet mead. And nothing visible on the surface once the fermenter was opened. I didn’t expect raging bubbles, but I expected something.

We had turned off the thermostat yesterday as my wife went in and out of the house doing yard work – planting trees, shrubs, etc. The doors had been kept wide open, and it had been such a nice day. But the evening did have quite a chill, and the thermostat read near 62°F this morning. I flipped the switch back to heat, and adjusted to a reasonable level for the mead and our budget. I stirred to force more oxygen into the must, to support yeast reproduction.

I didn’t want to obsess over the mead, and I do have to work. So I didn’t check again until a late lunch. And I saw a little bit of activity, but not much. I did consider putting together a starter at a lower sugar level, to see if getting a good yeast colony in working order prior to adding to the high-sugar must might be worthwhile. But I didn’t have time to get that under way over lunch.

I did, however, have time to look at the other batches in secondary ferment. The still-somewhat-cloudy traditional mead had been on my mind, as ever since racking there has been no activity. No bubbling, certainly no movement in the airlock. So I took off a sample and checked the SG, finding it at 1.004. And the taste matches, fairly dry (with a slight, short-lived, bitter aftertaste). That is a bit of a sigh of relief. It’s hard to be concerned about a stopped ferment with an SG that low.

But, it still isn’t cleared. Being rather new to this, I have assumed clearing is completely part of “fermentation” itself. I’m not so certain of that, upon further reflection. Maybe someone with more experience would care to chime in. It may just be that fermentation “proper” is complete, but now I need to wait for the clearing to finish out. I’ll have to do a little bit more research. In any case, no hurry. I’ll leave it be in the carboy a while longer.

As for the strawberry melomel, it is quite clear. There has been little to no activity in days. Checking its SG I found a simple 1.000, dead on. Tasting, it is definitely quite dry. I’m imagining it will need to be sweetened for bottling. Well, most of it anyway. This time I think I’ll sweeten after using both potassium metabisulfite and potassium sorbate, not just the sorbate. Similar to the mead, it has a slight bitter aftertaste. Other than that it is quite noticeably strawberry. And while the melomel in the carboy is a striking reddish-yellow, in bottle-size quantities it takes on a rather stunning light-orange shade, quite fitting for its Clemson environs!

I think I’ll give it a little bit longer in the carboy, as there is no rush to bottle. Then I’ll check the SG again before bottling.

Then it was back to work.

Coming back to the sweet mead in the evening, I found no greater activity in the air-lock. With a shrug of bewilderment I went to get my large spoon to stir, maybe incorporate some more oxygen. Stirring, I was overjoyed to watch as copious amounts of bubbly foam surfaced. The yeast are alive! Took them a while to get going, it seems. And apparently they aren’t active enough to force a stream of bubbles through the air lock. But they’re not dead! I was beginning to think that some of my honey had been sorbated or something. Guess between the poor seal on the primary fermenter lid and the chill of the night before, the yeast just weren’t feeling extrovert-y.

So, “ugh.” But I have hopes that things will get better from here.


About George

I'm interested in theology, languages, translation and various sorts of fermentation.
This entry was posted in Fermentation Log and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to April 23, 2013: Ugh

  1. Mike Aubrey says:

    As I understand it clearing can sometimes take weeks as it ages. I wouldn’t be too worried.

  2. George says:

    Thanks. Yeah, I need to be a little more patient here.

    Good news is that the sweet mead was pushing quite a nice heartbeat of bubbles out the airlock when I checked it this morning. That’s very encouraging!

  3. Pingback: April 24, 2013: Relieved, and Cheese | Akahige Wines, Meads and Sundry

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