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tejallen

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Hello, I am making my first batch of wine. I started in 5 gallon bucket for primary. I used approx 4 1/2 gallon of blackberries, a splash of lemon juice and 10lbs of sugar dissolved in enough water to bring up to 5 gallons, and pectin enzyme. Then added 5 campden tablets, covered with a light towel and let sit for 24-30 hours. initial SG of 1.090. Re-hydrated yeast LALVIN 71B-1122 at 90 deg. and pitched it along with proper amount of nutrient. covered wit towel and left for 8 days, forgetting to stir but every other day. today is day 8, and i strained and transferred into secondary (5 gallon carboy). after transfer i checked SG and it is 1.090. How is this even possible? there was action during the 8 days in primary. after a couple days it smelled yeasty and had foamed over, and today it was fizzy like carbonated and smelled less like yeast and more like wine. My question is, can I now repitch yeast and sort of start over? how can I fix this? Urgently yours, Tej.
 

JDesCotes

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I would double check the sg. Are you sure it's 1.090 and not 1.009?
 

JDesCotes

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Also, taste it. If it's super sweet then fermentation never took place. You should be able to clearly taste alcohol if it has indeed fermented.
 

bkisel

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Welcome to the forum!

Ditto the two above posts.
 

tejallen

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yes and yes. it is sweet and im sure its 1.090. I dont understand it. It had a cap I had to punch down every time i stirred it, and today it was sparkling like carbonated soda. It tastes very sweet though, so im sure little to no fermentation took place. So my question now is can i save it? is it too late to restart? Thanks for responding so quickly BTW.
 

Arne

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Did I read this right? you only added 1/2 gal. or so of water?? Maybe even 2 gal. of water to fit between the berries and bring it up to 5 gal. Think you might have had a higher s.g. to start with than you thought. If so, might have to have a bit more liquid to help get the s.g. down. Arne.
 

tejallen

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That is possible. So did I shock the yeast ? Can it be saved by adding another packet now since it is definitely at the 1.090 Mark?
 

tejallen

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It's also possible that it was closer to 4 gallons of fruit. They were frozen and there was some airspace. Then added enough sugar water (with 10 lbs sugar dissolved into it) to almost fill bucket, then added a tiny bit more plain water to completely fill.
 

Stressbaby

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I agree with Arne, I think you overshot on sugar. Also I suspect you have a pH problem.

I just pressed 4 gallons of blackberry and moved it into secondary - 42# of fruit, straight juice. That's within shooting distance of your fruit volume. My sugar addition was under 4#. So I suspect your SG was a lot higher than 1.090.

I also had to add 2.5t of calcium carbonate to get to preferment pH of 3.28; my post ferment pH was still only 3.03. Subtract the calcium carbonate from the equation and add lemon juice and your pH has got to be well under 3.00. The blackberry wines I have done have all had unadjusted pH between 2.78 and 2.98.

I'd first find a way to check the pH. Get that adjusted down then maybe try some EC 1118.
 

Scooter68

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Also along with the pH issue potential - how much crushing of the blackberries was done? As they break down more sugar is released from them so a low level of fermentation, due to pH issues could be offset by more sugar being released and the fruit breaks down - again this would only be a possibility IF you did little or nothing to crush the fruit along the way.
 

tejallen

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Thanks to all who responded so quickly to my post yesterday. I believe there were several things working against me, over-abundance of additional sugar, not squeezing/ crushing up the berries well enough, and a lower than optimal ambient temperature. The pH may have played a role as well, but as of now fermentation has slowly begun again and the airlock on my carboy is going off every 30 secs or so. All I did was add 2 more tsp of nutrient and of course yesterday when we strained and squeezed the berry pulp solids out and put in secondary all the activity must have given a sluggish ferment a good kick in the pants. I can't say that it's going crazy like a mount saint Helens eruption, but a slow fizz and enough gas to escape the airlock every so often seems like a pretty good deal when I thought it was dead less than 12 hours ago. I will look in the pH potential problem, but for now I'm just happy I didn't kill it!
 

Scooter68

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Sounds like a successful start. Yeah, with frozen uncrushed berries the yeast found life in the container less than exciting enough to reproduce. BUT you are fermenting now. Do yourself a favor and keep tabs on the pH it saves headaches later on and helps your yeast stay happy and working.
 

tejallen

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A big thanks to all who responded to my urgent post. I believe I had a few things working against me. An overabundance of added sugar, as well as not crushing berries in the beginning and a lower than optimal ambient temperature. I added a couple tsp more of nutrient and wrapped carboy in a heating pad and fermentation got kickstarted again. My airlock is going off every 30 secs to a minute and it seems happy. I am still going to check into the potential pH issue, but for now I am glad I didn't kill it. Thanks all!
 

drainsurgeon

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Sounds like a successful start. Yeah, with frozen uncrushed berries the yeast found life in the container less than exciting enough to reproduce. BUT you are fermenting now. Do yourself a favor and keep tabs on the pH it saves headaches later on and helps your yeast stay happy and working.
Scooter, in the "understanding pH" thread a few weeks ago, someone stated that pH readings can be WAY off during ferment. Is it a good idea to take readings or try to change the pH during this period? I was encouraged to make pH adjustments PRE-ferment or POST-ferment, but not during. Thoughts?
 

Scooter68

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In this case measurements are needed to see if the pH is way out there and causing problems. Yes pre- and post- are the best times but even then (This case is a prime example) if the must isn't really ready for fermentation your readings can be off because the fruit hasn't broken down enough for all elements of it to be at 'full strength' sugar and acids not all released and measurable.
You are right - also if you just added K-Meta or campden tabs you will get an off reading from the temporary increase from that. Immediately after any additions your readings could be swayed by that addition.
 

tejallen

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Still going well. Lots of action in carboy. And when I checked the SG last night it has gone down to 1.055. Since it is in carboy now instead of bucket but I'm pretty sure I should b treating it like it's still in primary, I have been taking airlock off once or twice a day and giving it a couple good swirls to get some oxygen in there then replacing airlock, and I still have the carboy wrapped in a heating pad. When should I stop both of these? I was assuming when SG is way down, like 1.010 or so...
 

Scooter68

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Yup! The actual point varies from one expert source to another but 1.010 is a good point.

Some folks have such rapid fermentations that they find their batch has dropped from 1.050 to .996 almost overnight :sh but it all works. Primarily you wait until the speed of activity (if visible) drops from a racehorse speed to a turtle's pace. Sometimes the racehorse is in the paddock ready for cooling down (.996) before you even saw it near the finish line. (1.030 - 1.010)
 

tejallen

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So it has been over a week now and ferment was going well, but seems.to have stalled again. Day before yesterday SG was down to 1.042 but today it hasn't gone down much. It was 1.039. But I tasted it and it tasted delicious. VERY sweet of course. I have still been swirling and taking airlock off and have the heating pad around it. My question now is... I got some ec 1118 just in case I couldn't get it going. What would happen if I added a packet of that now to jumstart it again. Would it give an off taste to my wine? Cause right now it is delicous,I don't want to hurt the flavor, but I want to drop the SG down. Thanks so much.
 

mennyg19

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So it has been over a week now and ferment was going well, but seems.to have stalled again. Day before yesterday SG was down to 1.042 but today it hasn't gone down much. It was 1.039. But I tasted it and it tasted delicious. VERY sweet of course. I have still been swirling and taking airlock off and have the heating pad around it. My question now is... I got some ec 1118 just in case I couldn't get it going. What would happen if I added a packet of that now to jumstart it again. Would it give an off taste to my wine? Cause right now it is delicous,I don't want to hurt the flavor, but I want to drop the SG down. Thanks so much.

I would think that yeast nutrient and/or energizer would be better than re-pitching another packet of yeast. If you can't get a hold of them, throw in a very ripe banana. It doesn't add to the taste, but adds nutrients for your yeast and that just might be what you are needing...
What is the temperature of your must with the heating pad. I hope you're not heating it up too much...
 

Scooter68

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You have probably exceeded the limits of the original yeast. It's only good up to 14% and since your berries were frozen your initial SG readings were probably off quite a bit. Still 1.039 is still up there - none-the-less a different yeast would be your best bet - EC-118 or similar should be able to handle it. If your actual SG start was way way low you still may wind up with a high ABV and a sweet wine. A blackberry dessert wine is pretty nice too so you may have a wickedly good wine if you can get it down to 1.005 with a new yeast.
 

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