Love the results of the liquid yeast culture, but hate the couple of days you have to wait for the smack-pack to be ready...These ready-to-pitch liquid yeasts come in 150ml tubes, chilled for viability. Add $1 for PolarPack shipping. We strive to keep our pitchable liquid yeast as fresh and viable as possible. Please allow additional days for shipping.
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10/20/2008 -- I made a batch of beer using Muntons American Style Light Beer. I put the packet of yeast on top, let it sit for ten
minutes and stired it in.It has been 17hrs later and no bubbles or fermentation has started.What to do now?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: When you have yeast that doesn't start within 24 hours of pitching, it could be any of several problems. The yeast may have been too old. The temperature of the wort may have been too hot. There may not have been sufficient nutrients or sugars for the yeast to start. The best fix is to get a fresh yeast packet, and start it in a pint of sugar water at a temperature between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Add a teaspoon of yeast nutrient, and let the mixture sit in a covered jar overnight. You should see foam on top the next morning, indicating active yeast. At this point you can add it to the wort and be relatively sure it will show activity in the wort within 12 to 24 hours. If after 24 hours there is not activity, then you may have an unintentional ingredient (such as cleanser or disinfectant) in the wort that is killing the yeast.
5/28/2007 -- my main problem is with the yeast,sometimes it works really fast other times it seems really slow.how can i be sure that it works.
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Yeast works differently based on a number of factors - the temperature of the brew, the age of the yeast, whether starter is used, what type of brew it is, etc.
The best way to ensure a quick start and a healthy ferment cycle is to build a yeast starter the day prior to brewing. Sterilize a quart jar. Make up a pint of solution using boiled water, sugar or honey (about 2 Tbsp), yeast nutrient and yeast energizer (about a 1/4 tsp of each). Dissolve everything in the water and wait for it to cool to room temperature. Add the yeast, and cover the jar with a piece of plastic food wrap - don't seal the jar, as you will want the gasses to escape. You should see fermentation within an hour or so, with foaming lasting about 4 to 6 hours. When the foaming subsides, add a touch more sugar/honey. Keep doing this until you are ready to pitch the yeast into your brew. Just prior to pitching, stir the starter vigorously to get the yeast bed swirled up into solution. This will give you a faster start.
To ensure a steady fermentation, constant temperature around 70-75 degrees is best (except for lagers). I recommend the Homebrew Heatpad, winter or summer, for a constant temperature.
8/6/2006 -- Hi. Thanks for having a great website, lots of good info. I'm about to do my first batch of mead. I'm a wine maker, so I have all the equipment. My carboys are the 6 gallon variety, so I'd like to make 6 gallons of higher octane mead. Can you recommend a good recipe for 6 gallons? Finally getting to my question...should I use a different santizing solution for mead? Wine uses sulphite, should I use a bleach solution?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Last question first - for sanitizing the equipment, I recommend a no-rinse cleanser rather than bleach. Bleach is great for killing stuff, but it's difficult to rinse completely and can negatively affect the yeast viability and/or the flavor of the finished mead.
First question last - I recommend shorting the volume on your carboy by 2 to 3 quarts to allow for the foaming that comes during primary fermentation. You could start with a 5-gallon recipe, and plus up the honey by a pound to bring it to 5-1/2 gallons. Once you are past primary ferment, you can then rack it into a secondary fermenter, and top it up to 6-gallons with a quart of honey-water.
If you send a follow-up email directly to me at email@example.com with the types of mead you are interested in, I can share a few recipes there.
8/1/2006 -- The melomels I am making are blueberry and raspberry. I just racked off fruit. Should I add the clarify after sweetening to taste? And what would be the best clarifier to use for a berry melomel? We plan on adding quite a bit more honey as well for taste, as it seems fermentation has ceased. And if we wanted to make one of these a sparkling mead, do we just wait until fermentation has ceased, cleared and all, then rack onto a small amount of honey just before bottling? Will we need special bottles for this? Thanks.
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: One of the better clarifiers for lighter wines and meads is isinglas. It works well for whites, and doesn't strip nearly as much body as others. For the raspberry, I would recommend gelatin, although you will lose some body with that. Clarifier should be added in the last rack prior to bottling. If you are planning to sweeten the mead, you will need to stabilize after clarifying or risk "exploding cork" syndrome.
This makes it difficult to do the sparkling mead. Both sweetening and clarifying are detrimental to the carbonation process. The "sparkle" depends on residual yeast cells in the mead reacting with fresh sugar to produce carbon dioxide. The mead must be bottled for pressure to force the CO2 back into solution. This requires champagne or beer bottles, and bottle caps or champagne corks/wires. The problem is that while stabilizer will allow you to sweeten your mead, it will prevent carbonation. If you allow your mead to ferment to alcohol tolerance prior to sweetening, your yeast will die and you will not get carbonation. It is a very very fine line between adding enough new sugar to carbonate AND sweeten without getting exploding bottles. This is why most champagnes are dry.
My recommendation for creating a sparkling mead is to bottle a few bottles for carbonation prior to clearing, stabilizing, and sweetening the remainder of the batch. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need more details, and I will be glad to help you out.
7/14/2006 -- I started a batch of mead for the first time today and I realized I have no idea how to bottle anything! Do I just need wine bottles, cork, and a corker?
I see you have a few different corkers. Do they all do the job the same, or do I need a particular one for this?
I wanted to add that I was very suprised when I got my kit from you today. I think that's the fastest I've ever recived something by mail! Many thanks!
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: First, thanks for the feedback. We like to hear when we do things right, and we love hearing that we've made a customer happy.
Bottling mead is actually a simple prospect. Since you specified that you want the mead to age, you will need to use corks. Both natural corks and Neocorks will allow the aging process to take place (Neocorks are nominally porous).
The cheapest option is to reuse commercial wine bottles with natural corks (I recommend #8 if the bottle is European and #9 if it's American) using the plastic plunger hand corker. As long as the commerical bottles have been washed and sanitized, you can continue to reuse them until they break. The only trouble with commercial bottles is that they hold nearly 26 ounces of liquid, so if you are a sipper rather than a drinker, and you aren't taking bottles to a party, they're a little inconvenient. If you can find the half-sized bottles (splits), they can also be used with the #7 natural cork.
Of course, new bottles are available through home brew shops like us, however they come in full cases and are expensive to ship; so if you are only brewing a gallon at a time, they're a little inconvenient.
As for other equipment, I would recommend the following:
1. Racking cane - this is a hard plastic tube that makes siphong from the fermenter a lot easier. It includes a hard plastic tip to limit the amount of sediment that gets sucked up
2. Siphon hose - about 4 feet
3. Bottle filler (also called a bottling wand) - this allows you to fill the bottles to exactly the right depth for proper aging and corking, and will also help hold the siphon when moving from one bottle to the other without having to use a clamp
If you start doing mead batches in larger amounts, you may also want to invest in a bottling bucket. You can bottle directly from the fermenter, but your last bottle will get more sediment that way. If you start working with 3-gallon or 5-gallon batches, a bottling bucket allows you to transfer the mead off the yeast sediment and allow it to settle again before transferring to the bottle.
7/5/2006 -- We have a recipe for making orange wine. It calls for wine yeast, grape tannin, and yeast nutrient. Which of your products do you suggest? And what quantities?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: For the grape tannin, we only have one choice: Stock number 7390 is powdered tannin from actual grape skins.
For the yeast nutrient, we have two options. Our basic nutrient (stock number 7357) is a compound called diammonium phosphate. It's a lab-produced clone of the chemical compound in dead yeast cells and works very well. We also have a product called servomyces (stock number WLN3200). This is produced by Dr. Chris White of White Labs - the largest producer of liquid brewing yeasts in the USA. Either of these products works very well, although I would probably recommend the first one if you are running a test batch.
For yeast, I highly recommend the Lalvin 71B-1122 strain (stock number 4919). This yeast works very well with fresh fruits and fruit juices, and is excellent for lighter colored fruits such as peaches, pears, apples, and citrus.
As for quantities of each ingredient, that depends on the batch size. Grape tannin is only used in very small amounts (roughly 1/8 tsp per gallon) so the smallest sized package would be plenty. The yeast nutrient requires between 1/2 and 1 tsp per gallon. There are about 2 tablespoons in a 2oz bag. One packet of yeast is sufficient for anywhere from 1 to 6 gallons.
7/3/2006 -- Are there any mead yeasts that can bring it up past 18 percent ABV? If so, are there any you would recommend?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Yeasts cultured specifically for mead generally have a tolerance between 12 and 16 percent. White Labs has both a sweet and a dry liquid mead yeast. Lalvin labs cultured their D-47 strain for meads.
For higher alcohol, I have used the Lalvin 1118 yeast, which is a champagne strain. The tolerance is about 18%. For higher alcohol, I would recommend the Red Star Flor Sherry dry yeast. When using sherry yeast, I recommend starting the primary fermentation with a lower tolerance yeast such as the D-47 or Red Star's Montrachet strain. After 10-15 days, rack the mead into a fresh carboy and pitch the sherry yeast. The sherry will do a much more efficient job this way. My partner and his wife claim to have gotten as high as 21% this way.
If you're planning to do some distilling, you can use the same two-step process, but finish with turbo yeast in the secondary. This will drive your alcohol up to 25%, but has some off-flavors. The off-flavors will distill out, but stay in if you're drinking the mead as brewed.
3/19/2006 -- I have started a wine from a commercial concentrate, and I am in the secondary fermentation stage (8 days in out of 10). I've noticed that the water in the air lock is "disappearing" and I added a little more; but I don't see bubbles coming out like I did originally. Could I have done something wrong?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Actually, it's a very common concern, but normally nothing to worry about. The violent activity in the airlock is due to the yeast processing sugar at a very high rate, and reproducing to meet the demand. This violent period generally runs less than a week, even in wines and meads which have a longer fermentation cycle. Since you said that you were already in the secondary stage of fermentation, a much slower fermentation is normal.
The water in the airlock is simply evaporating, so refilling it is the right thing to do. I would suspect that if you watched the airlock closely for several minutes, you would see a bubble or two come through. If not, give the fermentor a quick swirl to stir up the yeast bed a little. If it settles out again with no activity in the airlock, you're simply done and can rack the wine to start the clearing process.
2/24/2006 -- I think I might have made a mistake and added the wrong yeast packet into a 5 gallon batch of prickly pear mead I am making that might result in a much higher alcohol content than what I intended (16-18% instead of 12-14%) and was wondering what I could do to stop fermentation early to get the desired alcohol level. I have potassium sorbate but am not sure how much to add or if it will stop the fermentation after I rack it, if you have any suggestions I would very much appreciate it.
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Unfortunately there is nothing on the market that will stop an active fermentation. Your best bet is in the lag period between primary and secondary fermentation. When the bubbling in the airlock slows to an almost imperceptible level (two to three weeks usually), immediately rack the mead into a clean and sterile fermenter and add the potassium sorbate. A good rule of thumb is to dissolve a half-teaspoon of crystals per gallon of mead in about a pint of boiling water and add it to the carboy before siphoning the mead in on top of it. Let it sit 24 hours. If it starts bubbling again, there's nothing to do except let it run its course.
If you cannot succeed in stopping the active ferment, the alternative is to blend. Allow the mead to finish completely - take it all the way to alcohol tolerance for the yeast so the yeast will die. Add the potassium sorbate as stated above. Then mix up a gallon of unfermented mead with the same ingredients, and blend it into the finished mead. This will dilute the alcohol without diluting the flavor.
1/24/2006 -- How much of your yeast nutrient, by weight, should be added to 5 gallons of yeast and sugar solution to obtain optimum results?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: I measure it out by volume using 1/2-tsp per gallon for wines and 1-tsp per gallon for meads. Since basic sugar water is easier to digest than honey, I would go with the lower of the two. Figuring that 2-oz (about 55-gm) of nutrient makes up between 9 and 10 teaspoons, 2-1/2 teaspoons for a 5-gal batch would weigh out at about 14 grams, or about 6/10-oz.
1/20/2006 -- I need a recipe for making a 6 gal carboy of Blueberry Mead.
How much Honey to Blueberries & does that stay the same if we use Raspberries, Blackberries, or Pears?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: When using fresh berries, I usually use a ratio of three to one. In other words, I would use three pounds of fresh berries to one gallon of finished mead. The amount of honey would depend on whether you prefer a light, dry, or sweet mead. With berries, some of the fermentable comes from the natural sugars in the fruit. Therefore, I would start with 2 pounds of honey per gallon of mead, and add honey as needed in the secondary fermentation. If you prefer a sweet mead, you would want to start with 2-1/2 to 3 pounds honey per gallon. The same would be true with any berry.
With pears, your pectin content is high. I would start with about 10 pounds of pears, possibly as high as 12 if they are small or hard, since you will get less juice. Definitely start pears with 2-1/2 pounds of honey per gallon. Also, use pectic enzyme to keep haze from forming in the finished mead.
In any melomel, I prefer to chop/mash my fruit and let the pre-boiled water sit on it for 5 to 7 days. Then siphon the juice off of the dregs, and add the honey water to bring the volume up to your batch size. You will also get a better product if you freeze and thaw the fruit twice before mashing.
1/16/2006 -- The type of mead I would like to make is a "dessert mead" and I wanted to know after having put my mead into the carboy to start fermenting how/when I would go about sweetening it to taste.
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: It's easy to tell when the fermentation has stopped. You will have no more bubbles coming through the airlock, and the liquid inside the airlock will be level. This doesn't mean the yeast is dead. It could mean the yeast is just out of sugar.
For a dessert wine, the alcohol content would be slightly higher than for a dinner wine. So, one option is to continue to add liquefied honey until the yeast dies from alcohol poisoning. With most mead yeasts, this will occur between 15% and 18% alcohol. Any leftover honey will serve to sweeten the brew.
If you prefer a lower alcohol content, when the initial fermentation is done, you can siphon the mead into a clean and sterile carboy, then add some potassium sorbate to stabilize the mead. Let it sit for about 24 to 48 hours, then use liquefied honey or a sugar syrup to sweeten to taste.
1/12/2006 -- I am making mead and am considering a filtering device to give it a more finished look and wanted to know how fine the filter is on the Vinbrite Mk III filter and if it would remove all the sediment from the mead.
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: The Vinbrite filter pads are a mid-grade filter, equivalent to a #2 weave (between 1 and 2 microns).
With mead, alot of the success of filtering comes from the ingredients in the mead itself. For instance, cinnamon will not filter out very well at all, even with something as small as a half-micron. Also, I always recommend racking the mead every 3 to 4 weeks until it stops leaving a sediment on the bottom of the carboy. This ensures that the biggest sediment pieces are out of the liquid, and the filter pad doesn't clog as fast. Finally, if you prefer a sweet mead, I always recommend using a stabilizer such as potassium sorbate (I stay away from sulphites of any kind), and filtering the mead before sweetening it. Adding more honey or sugar makes the liquid denser, and it has trouble passing through the filter pad.
That being said, I've had good luck with the Mk III in both my wines and my meads. I had one mead that still carried sediment into the bottle, but I believe it was because it had started to referment after it was corked. Other than that, it has worked very well.
As a side note, I graduated to the motorized Buon Vino pump filter about 2 years ago. I still limit my meads to a #2 filter there - same size as the Mk III.
12/30/2005 -- I know that Sauternes yeast is used for making sweet Mead, but does it have a different name? I can't find it, or can I use a different kind?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: We can get the Sauternes yeast in liquid form from White Labs. The dry yeast equivalent would be the Lalvin D-47 strain, which works extremely well in both light meads and white wines.
10/19/2005 -- Last Fall I made some zinfandel whose OG was 30 brix. After fermentation (which I think finished), the wine is still WAY sweet. Can I add water and re-ferment?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: The most likely problem is that you have a stuck fermentation. You don't mention your FG, so I can't tell for sure. Your OG is a little high (21-ish is more normal.)
Take a specific gravity reading, and if the current gravity is out of tolerance, you can restart fermentation by building a yeast slurry and re-pitching it in a day or two. If you do not see any activity after pitching the yeast slurry, you can try again with a higher tolerance yeast. It's possible that the yeast you were using has reached its alcohol tolerance.
I wouldn't add water, as this will reduce both the body and flavor of the finished wine.
9/20/2005 -- I made some watermelon wine, and it smells like bad or rotten watermelon. Is it still any good? It's time to bottle it on Sep 24th, or should I just throw it away?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Sometimes with wine, it is hard to say if it has gone bad or is merely stuck at some stage of fermentation. During both primary and secondary fermentation, the yeast puts off some rather pungent by-products that can cause the fermenter to smell like the fruit or vegetable base is rotting. You didn't say how long ago you started the wine, but you mentioned bottling it this week, so I assume it was several months ago.
Check the thickness of the yeast that has settled out in the bottom of the jug. If the yeast layer is very thin, it may be because it did not yet reproduce enough to complete fermentation. Check the color and clarity of the wine. Watermelon should be a pale pink - almost white, and completely clear. If it is still dark pink/red and hazy, then the yeast is still in solution and hasn't done much work. If this is the case, try adding a bit more sugar and another packet of yeast to see if it starts up again.
If the wine has cleared, and the yeast layer is settled out and fairly thick, take a sample of the wine and taste it. If it tastes okay, but still smells funky, it may just need to age a bit to allow the trapped gases out. If it tastes as nasty as it smells, then it was most likely contaminated with bacteria at some point in the fermentation process. If that is the case, you are probably better off throwing it away and starting over. Make sure that you use a good sanitizing agent on everything that comes into contact with your liquid, and use a closed fermentation with an airlock if you're not already doing so.
8/2/2005 -- Can I bottle my mead in flip-top Grolsch-style bottles? Will this have any negative effects?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Yes, you can. In fact, the partners are both historical brewers, and like using the flip-top bottles to enhance presentation. There is no negative effect, although we recommend using fresh rubber grommets to ensure a tight seal. Also, if you use the clear flip-tops, you will want to keep the mead out of direct sunlight.
7/21/2005 -- Does the type of yeast have anything to do with how long it takes mead to clear?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: It can. Clarity of the finished mead is based on several factors: high protein content, residual wax compounds in the honey, pectin levels in any fruit that was used, acid levels, and (of course) particulate matter in the mead. Residual yeast particles can remain in solution for months after the mead has finished fermenting. Part of the delay in settling out can be the density (specific gravity) of the finished mead - higher density makes it harder for the particles to fall out. The type of yeast can also be a factor - different yeast particles may have different weights, or some yeasts have particles that are more likely to stick to each other (flocculate) than others.
Some tricks to aid clarity:
1. Use a yeast with a high flocculation rating. Good flocculation means the yeast will clump up and fall out sooner, and also resist being swirled back into solution when you move your carboy.
2. When you rack your mead for clarity, try to keep it in a cooler location. Chilled mead will clear faster than warm mead.
3. Place the carboy on top of your refrigerator. When the condenser motor kicks on, the fridge will vibrate the liquid gently, helping the yeast particles to fall out.
4. Use a filter. For sweeter meads, start with a course filter first, and finish with a medium filter. For dry meads start with medium and finish with fine.
4/26/2005 -- Are the grains already ground up when I get them? How is the yeast packaged so it will be fresh on arrival?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: We do offer cracking of the grains as a free service. When you check out, there is a "customer comments" section that you can add any special requests to. Just write in that you want your grains cracked, and we will do so before sealing the bag.
The dry yeasts are all factory packaged, and we maintain them in a refrigerator until shipping. The liquid yeasts are ordered directly from the manufacturer on a "just in time" basis and rotated to ensure that we maintain only those tubes that are within the manufacturer's "viable" window. When we ship the liquid yeast, they are packed with disposable freezer packs.
3/24/2005 -- How come when I started my liquid yeast, it didn't take off for 3 or 4 days?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: There are any number of reasons. First, check the date on the side of the tube. The closer you are to the expiration date, the older and slower the yeast cells have become. Older yeast will take longer to multiply.
If you are using dry yeast from a packet, you can speed up the start by creating a yeast slurry prior to pitching. In a sterile jar, add warm water, a teaspoon of nutrient, a tablespoon of sugar or yeast starter, and the yeast. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for a couple hours while you brew. This will get the yeast started multiplying, and build up a small yeast colony for a faster start.
Another reason could be temperature. Different yeasts have different preferred fermentation temperatures. Also, as a rule, the warmer the wort or must, the faster the ferment. If you are getting a slow start, try moving your fermenter to a warmer room or placing it on a heatpad.
Also, it could be the makeup of the wort or must itself. Did you rinse thoroughly after sanitizing the equipment? Residual sanitizer will slow yeast production. Did you use honey instead of sugar? Honey is a more difficult sugar for the yeast to digest. These are examples of factors inside the fermenter that may be at fault.
You can treat all of these after-the-fact by adding a yeast nutrient, yeast energizer, or both. Yeast nutrient is like a "vitamin pill" for the yeast, plussing it up with nutrients essential to healthy growth and reproduction. Yeast energizer is used to absorb impurities that may negatively affect yeast, thus allowing it free reign in your fermenter.
Finally, even "ready to pitch" cultures can benefit from using a yeast starter. By pitching the liquid yeast into a quart jar filled with a sugar solution or some of the wort from your batch, the yeast is given a "head start" and allowed to build up a large number of cells prior to going into the full carboy. This results in a faster start and a healthier overall fermentation cycle.
2/13/2005 -- I have been involved in home brewing beer for several months now and I would like to try making some mead as well. In your experience, what significant differences exist between the making of mead and the making of beer? Also, when first starting mead-making, do you recommend small batches or larger batches?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: There are several small differences between mead and beer, but the basics are very much the same. Some things that I have found in my experience:
- I prefer to heat my honey (pasteurize it) to 160-170 degrees and skim off the trub that rises to the surface. My business partner prefers not to. The advantages are that heating it helps rid the honey of impurities, wax residue, pollen, bee parts, etc, and helps kill off any wild yeasts that the honey may have. The disadvantages are that it reduces the body and eliminates some of the floral character of the honey. In the end, that comes down to personal choice.
- Honey is basically a complex of glucose and fructose (vs. malt which is dextrose and maltose), which must be broken down before it can be fermented, so yeast nutrient and yeast energizer are almost a necessity for a good start and a better overall ferment.
- Mead takes time... lots of time. Beer has a primary measured in days, and only some stronger beers really benefit from a secondary. Mead has a primary measured in weeks, and a secondary of a month or two is not out of line for some styles. Also, mead clears like wine, so racking it several times after the secondary helps quite a bit.
- With the exception of braggot (beer-mead), mead works better with a wine yeast or a liquid yeast made specifically for mead.
- If you use a plastic fermenter normally, do not use the same one for both beer and mead. It will transfer flavors. Also, limit the use of a plastic fermenter to the primary.
As for the batch size, I make my mead in either 5 or 15 gallon batches... but I know what I like. If you have never tried brewing mead, or would like to experiment with different types/flavors, I recommend using a one-gallon batch as your "experimental" size. When you find a recipe you like, redacting it up to 5 or 6 gallons is very easy.
1/20/2005 -- How long does mead stay drinkable after bottling? Is there a drink by time frame or does it behave like grape wines in this respect?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Meads tend to behave with similar characteristics to other beverages made with similar ingredients. In other words, braggots act like beers, melomels (including cyser and pyment) act like wines, etc. However, the length of time a mead is "good" is also dependent on other factors: was it stored in bottles or kegs? Corked or capped? What temperature? How varied were any temperature changes? Dark, light, or direct light? All these factors affect the aging process.
I can truthfully say that I have had a traditional mead 9 years after it was bottled, and it was as smooth and rich as old brandy. I've also tasted a strawberry melomel less than a year after it was bottled that had definitely turned. As a rule, though, any mead should hit its peak in a corked bottle after about 2 to 3 years. Braggots and other hopped meads will last just a little bit longer, fruit meads will last about twice that long, and traditional and spiced meads will last for years afterwards.
I recommend corked bottles over capped, since it allows for the exchange of gasses (the "aging" process). If you keep the mead in kegs, I recommend nitrogen rather than carbon dioxide. Keep the mead stored out of direct light, and somewhere where the temperature can be maintained at a constant level - the temperature range is not as important as the consistency.
10/12/2004 -- How does light affect mead fermentation?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Light affects mead fermentation the same as any other beverage. When hops are present, ultra-violet light (sunlight, flourescent light, tanning bulbs, etc.) causes a chemical reaction to take place that results in an off-flavor referred to as "vegetable" or "skunky".
If hops are not present, the UV light may still affect the finished flavor, but not to the same extent. UV light will accelerate the effects of oxidation, so the problems are much more prevalent in the early stages of fermentation before the oxygen in the fermenter is replaced by carbon dioxide.
Depending on the type of mead, other ingredients (spices, etc.) might help to mask the off-flavor, but won't get rid of it completely. Your best bet is to keep the fermenter covered with a dark cloth (I use old military t-shirts) in a spot out of direct light.
10/9/2004 -- Dear sir. I am using now, over 2 years, Lalvin dry yeast EC-1118. The problem is that I live in an arabic country and it is illegal to have alcohol. So the kit I have has everything except the grape juice.
What I am doing is mixing fresh juice in a 17 ltr bottle with 1 kg of sugar boiled in 1 ltr of water added to the mix, then add the yeast after 15 min and let stand as directed on the sachet. I have the hydrometer to test the mix before and after. I already have tried so many different kinds of juice, and have all the notes. At the end, some have better taste and different color depending on the juice that I started with. All taste very dry and strong with alcohol varying between 11.5 and 13.5. Is it possible to bring any kind of grape and squeeze it and make the wine? Please suggest - I need your help.
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: It sounds to me as if you are doing everything correctly. Yes, it is possible to squeeze any type of grape and be able to ferment it into wine, although some grape varieties will do better than others. Concord, Niagara, Pinot, Zinfandel, Riesling, and some others are best.
If you want to have a sweeter wine, then after the first ferment is done, you can add sugar in small amounts until you get exactly the taste you want. Each time you add the sugar, the wine will start to ferment again, and the alcohol will rise a little bit. Eventually, the yeast will die, and the wine will get sweeter.
If you have specific questions, you can email us directly at email@example.com
8/2/2004 -- I am trying to make some muscadine/scuppernong wine. I am also interested in making some blackberry wine since I am limited on my frozen muscadines at this point. What type of yeast do I need for these types wine to give me the best taste and alcohol content?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: For any of these, the Red Star Montrachet strain will work well. It provides about an 11-12% alcohol content while balancing the high acid content of both blackberry and scuppernong.
If you use a Lalvin strain instead, I recommend the RC-212 strain for the muscadine/scuppernong and the 71-B strain for blackberries.
7/29/2004 -- At what temperature should I store my wine yeast?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Refrigerated, the yeast should last for 6 months to a year. I've had yeast still viable more than 2 years with refrigeration. I recommend a temperature range between 35 and 45 degress Fahrenheit.
7/29/2004 -- Can the yeast work alone with the grape juice? Without adding chemicals and tablets?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Yes, yeast will work fine when introduced to sugars present in fruit juice. Campden tablets are used to kill off wild yeasts in fruit prior to introducing the cultured yeast. Other chemicals (such as nutrients or energizers) are generally added to accelerate cultured yeast activity, and may be required by specific recipes or added at the whim of the brewer.
7/29/2004 -- Besides Montrachet, can you recommend yeasts for red and white wine?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Both Pasteur Red Star and Lalvin are fine yeasts for wines. Details of which yeasts work for which wines are in the descriptions of those stock items.
7/28/2004 -- Hey, it's been 3 days since I mixed up my batch of wine and the only thing I have done different from the instructions on the package was when I rehydrated the yeast I put a little bit of sugar in the warm water and left it in there for about 20 minutes instead of 15... but it's not fermenting and it's actually sucking water back up the hose... should I pour it out and start over????
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Never pour out a batch of homebrew until all options for fixing a problem have been exhausted. Many times, it's a simple fix. In this case, there are a couple of problems that may be the cause.
The first possibility is that the fruit juice you are using may have preservatives. You didn't specify if you used fresh fruit, juice from a homebrew store, or other commercial juice. Whenever you use commercial juice (from somewhere other than a homebrew shop), check the label for the words "potassium", "sulphite", "sorbate", or "to preserve freshness". Any of these indicate that a preservative has been added. Overcoming preservative is a long and arduous process, and if you write back and tell me that's the problem, I'll send a complete answer.
Another likely problem is that the yeast was no longer viable. Dry yeasts usually last about 3 to 6 months in room temperatures, up to a year or more when refrigerated. However, yeast is tricky and these timeframes are just estimates. Humidity, changes in temp, and other factors can shorten yeast life. If you have a slow start or a stuck ferment, always try a new yeast starter with a fresh packet of yeast.
A third factor could be residual cleanser or sanitizer on the equipment. In this case, thoroughly sterilize and rinse a new fermenter. Siphon the liquid into the new fermenter, being sure to oxygenate it thoroughly. Then start over with a fresh yeast starter.
5/24/2004 -- I just finished bottling a 1 gallon batch of mead. It took 6 weeks to finish bubbling and I shared a bottle after 1 week with a friend. It was carbonated like a half frozen beer. Is there a way to keep this from happening? Should I have waited longer to bottle?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Yes, if the bottle has carbonation, then it was not finished fermenting. There are two ways to prevent this. First, you could rack the mead into a clean/sterile fermenter and let it continue to ferment out to completion. This could take a while, as honey is slow to ferment. The alternative is, you could rack it into a clean/sterile fermenter and add a stabilizer (we recommend potassium sorbate, as it has the least effect on flavor), wait 24 hours, then bottle. If you rack it and add the sorbate, you will have a higher level of residual sweetness. Letting it ferment out to completion will take longer but make it a dryer product.
12/19/2003 -- How long do the meads take to make? How temperature tolerant during fermenting?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Meads typically will ferment out in three to four weeks, and require an additional couple of weeks for the yeast sediment to settle out. The more honey used and/or the larger the volume of mead, the longer the ferment time. Typically, I will rack mead once a month until sediment stops settling out before stabilizing and bottling. Once bottled, they can be drunk right away, but taste better with age.
Meads ferment best at a temperature range of between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They ferment out fine at temps as high as 90 or as low as 55 - faster at warmer temps, and slower at cooler temps. Much above 90 degrees, and the yeast will throw off some off-flavors.
As far as temperature tolerance, the key is this: whatever temperature you start your mead at, you want to deviate no more than 2 to 3 degrees either side during the ferment.
10/14/2003 -- I am making scuppernong wine and it has a vinegary taste to it. Any suggestions as to why this happened and what I can do to eliminate the vinegary taste?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: There are a number of different reasons for why it would have a vinegary taste. First of all, do you have any sort of milky or egg-whitish film floating on top of the wine? If so, this is called a "mother of vinegar", and it indicates that the wine has actually turned. It's easy to identify because it's a little different from the meringue-like foam or carbonation-like foam layer that forms during fermentation, and it never goes away. The best thing to do in that case is to cultivate the vinegar, bottle it, and use it for cooking or as gifts. Homemade vinegar is very good.
If there is no "mother" floating on top, then the taste can be for a number of other reasons. The most common is that some sort of bacteria escaped the sanitation process and has soured the wine. Another could be that a wild yeast strain got in before your cultured yeast got active (in some cases, people prefer to use the natural yeasts that reside on the grape skins... which is sort of a crap-shoot for flavor.) Wild yeasts tend to have a more vinegary or cidery flavor. Another cause could be that all the sugar was eaten up in the fermentation process. Scuppernong is a sourish grape to begin with, so it doesn't make a good dry wine.
In any of these cases, you can use a combination of refermentation, resweetening, and aging to mellow the flavor. Start by checking the viability of the current yeast. If your wine is still in the fermenter, dissolve a few tablespoons of sugar in warm water and add it to the fermenter. If you notice refermentation, then your yeast simply used up all the original sugar. At this point, you can continue to add sugar in small amounts until the yeast dies, or you can rack your wine into a new container and add a stabilizer (such as potassium sorbate) to prevent refermentation. Once you have done one of those things, then you can sweeten the wine to taste. Adding a touch of ascorbic acid (an anti-oxidant) can help.
Finally, after complete fermentation and sweetening, age is your friend. Let the wine age in the bottle (on its side) for at least 6 months before tasting again. You should notice the flavor mellowing a bit. I usually put 1/4 of my batch in a dark, cool place and leave it for two to three years, and those wind up being my best bottles.
If after 6 months to a year in the bottle, the vinegary taste is still strong, don't throw the wine away. Scuppernong grapes add an interesting flavor to foods, and the wine can be used in place of wine or cooking sherry in food recipes.
7/16/2003 -- How much yeast energizer do you add to 5 gallons of Rhubarb-Strawberry juice to start fermentation?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: First of all, remember that yeast energizer is not necessarily required to start a fermentation. The purpose of yeast energizer is both to help isolate toxins in the must that would otherwise slow down fermentation, and to help get fermentation started more quickly in order to overcome the ability of any wild yeasts or bacteria that may otherwise have a chance to settle in. This second reason is particularly important when working with fresh fruit rather than canned juices. Normally with juices, I won't use any. Rhubarb is a little different, since it's a vegetable (high fiber, low sugar.) The characteristics of a vegetable will serve to slow fermentation. If the recipe you're using doesn't specify, I usually recommend starting out with about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per gallon... so, about 2 teaspoons for a 5 gallon batch - maybe 2-1/2 depending on the percentage of rhubarb to strawberry.
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