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manosteel9423

Lemonade and my yeast...

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So, I need some help from the :borg:

About 12 days ago (04/18/12) I brewed a hard lemonade type drink. Here's the recipe:

3 Cans Lemonade Concentrate (Minute Maid NO PRESERVATIVES)
2 Cans Limeade Concentrate (Minute Maid NO PRESERVATIVES)
2 Cups Table Sugar
1/2 Package MRB Booster
6g (3 packets) Fromunda Dry Ale Yeast

Fill with water to 2.5G

OG: 1.060


Pretty simple, right. So, today, out of curiosity, I took a hydro reading and it had only come down to about 1.046 in roughly 12 days. I had pretty good activity the first couple of days but have largely left it alone since then.

My question is, is this normal with a lemonade type beverage? Does the acidity, or some other chemical reaction, cause the yeast to work a bit slower than in a beer? I've seen it said that most people who do these regularly never even bother to try and bottle before the 4 week mark, so my guess is that I'm not experiencing anything too different.

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I havent brewed one like this but I did do a plum wine which I left for a month before bottling. What kindof weirds me out here is that the fromunda yeast tends to be pretty fast usually.
Maybe you should add some yeast nutrients and see if that helps? I don't know if anything you have in there is specifically nutritious for the yeast so that could definitely hinder the activity.
Other than that do you still see any activity in there? at 1.04 it still should have a ways to go

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Wow. From 1.060 to 1.046 in almost 2 weeks. That does seem rather snail-like. I never made anything with lemonade and yeast before, so I don't know if this is normal or not.

I did make a lot of wine from frozen grape juice concentrate doing very much what you did with grape instead of lemonade. I did use a primary fermenter with a wide opening for air for the first week to 10 days. Then I transferred to a secondary with an airlock on it for about another month.

I always thought that it needed lots of oxygen in the beginning stage. Maybe yours is not moving along at the fastest pace, but hopefully it is moving. I'm sure you plan to take another reading in a day or two to see if there's any activity. Let us know, please.

{edit} Meant to add, I tend to agree with you that such a high acid juice could slow down the yeast activity. Don't know for a fact, but it does seem plausible.

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Well also Joe, grapes have a lot of the nutrients that yeast needs to thrive, I personally use chopped up raisins as yeast nutrients and it has worked quite well on several occasions.
Probably not as good as the commercial stuff but it seems to get the job done

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Thanks for the replies guys. I'll leave for a couple more days and take another reading. As long as I see movement, I won't get too concerned.

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Guest System Admin

Seems strange that you did not get more action, what temp has this been at?

Since you used ale yeast I would recommend 66-72*F on the Brew-O-Meter.

Lemonade is slower due to the acid in the liquid must play havic on the yeast.

I bottled one batch after 17 days, only time I had bottle bombs.

You need to let it go 30 days then test

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Ok, yeah. Really low pH can be a problem for yeast. There's also probably not a ton of nutrition there. It's really important to aerate well. In fact,f or these kinds of drinks I aerate the hell out of it after pitching and then again after a day or so of fermentation. I also add yeast energizer and nutrients in two additions. It can also help to pitch yeast at high krausen. I recently made skeeterpee (www,skeeterpee.com) and used a slurry from an apfelwein I made, fed with some juice 2 days before I pitched it. That ensured that I had a large number of healthy, active yeast doing their thang. That skeeterpee (basically it's sugar and that RealLemon juice) started fermenting vigorously within 3 hours and went completely dry from 1.066 within 6 days.

Anyway, in terms of things that would be helpful for you now: this is my opinion and I'm not an expert in yeast management. But I'd aerate again (especially if you think this might be a problem), add nutrient and energizer if you can and see what happens. If you had good activity at first, it seems to be that the yeast is pooping out some rather than having trouble getting a foothold.

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Thanks guys. It has been fermenting at about 68*, which I thought was a good spot for the fromunda.

As for adding nutrients, I don't have easy access to a LHBS, so is there something I could use that wouldn't require a trip? I have more yeast available, both fromunda and Coopers. I've heard of people boiling yeast and using it as a nutrient, or would just pitching more, healthy, yeast be a better idea?

Senor...you don't think aerating at this stage could damage the must?

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Boiling yeast might help...I don't know much of the science and I could be wrong but I think that's mostly helpful at the beginning when yeast are trying to synthesize sterols to make their cell walls...or something. The nutrient and energizer usually have DAP, Urea, and some other stuff that is kind of specific. You could try some raisins, although I really have no idea what kind of nutrition that gives. Pitching more, healthy yeast *might* help, but given that you had some vigorous fermentation early, I'd guess that reproduction/numbers isn't really the problem...

About aeration...I usually use aeration during fermentation only for higher gravity stuff and usually it's only 6-12 hours into fermentation, but the skeeterpee recipe suggests adding nutrients and some aeration at 1.050 due to how hard the environment is for yeast. It seemed counterintuitive to me to aerate at 1.050 but it tastes fine and many people have done it that way and reported success so I'm not gonna worry too much. But it doesn't make sense to me why that would be helpful if the yeast are done reproducing. So I guess on second thought I shouldn't recommend it since I don't get why it's helpful and also I have never worked with the Mr. Beer yeast. My experience was with wine yeast. Sorry to be confusing! And long winded.

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As I said before, go with raisins! They don't change the taste so no real harm in chopping up about 15. I do this for mead

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Another option for nutrient is brewers yeast from the health food store. It's basically the same thing as yeast used for brewing except that it has been killed already so you don't need to worry about whether it will start fermenting and give you flavors you don't want.

Bread yeast can also be used, but you probably want to boil it first if your intention is to use it as nutrient.

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"bpgreen" post=257382 said:

Another option for nutrient is brewers yeast from the health food store. It's basically the same thing as yeast used for brewing except that it has been killed already so you don't need to worry about whether it will start fermenting and give you flavors you don't want.

Bread yeast can also be used, but you probably want to boil it first if your intention is to use it as nutrient.

The way I understand it, you need to boil first regardless. I don't think the existing yeast feed on other live cells but use fatty acids/sterols/science? from the dead cells only. Obviously my understanding is less than complete, though :P. But as far as I know, only dead yeast hulls act as nutrition.

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"SmokeDiver3zero" post=257383 said:

If all else fails, just try a little more cowbell

Obviously, this is the way to go!


I GOTTA HAVE MORE COWBELL, BABY! :lol:

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So, two days later and the gravity reading is at about 1.042, so its moving a little bit but not very much. At this pace, I should be ready to bottle by July! Haha.

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"manosteel9423" post=257995 said:

So, two days later and the gravity reading is at about 1.042, so its moving a little bit but not very much. At this pace, I should be ready to bottle by July! Haha.

Dude stop Perving the Lemonade!

Leave it until May 18th and test, Swenocha is the Lemonade king here and he recommended 30 days then test, I believe he stated one he went 6 weeks before bottling

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Did you do anything to it or is it just slowly chugging along all on its own?

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"Trollby" post=258038 said:

"manosteel9423" post=257995 said:

So, two days later and the gravity reading is at about 1.042, so its moving a little bit but not very much. At this pace, I should be ready to bottle by July! Haha.

Dude stop Perving the Lemonade!

Leave it until May 18th and test, Swenocha is the Lemonade king here and he recommended 30 days then test, I believe he stated one he went 6 weeks before bottling

Haha! Sorry, Trollby, its my first lemonade, I can't help myself!! :blush:


@Senor...no, I just left it alone. I'll leave it now until the 18th and report back...

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Sounds good. I've got my fingers crossed for you.

I'm usually wary of just letting it go 30 days and hoping for the best. I've never had anything ferment longer than 2 weeks, from 1.100 meads to 1.090 IIPAs, to fermenting straight up lemon juice and sugar. Having to go longer than that means to me that something is not optimal. But I'm sure there are differing opinions on that and maybe I'll just be a believer once I have to deal with such an annoying ferment. In the future, vigorous aeration and stepped nutrient additions should cut a lot of time off your fermentation.

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I agree. The next time I do one of these things I'll get the immersion blender out and some nutrients for the yeast.

I thought hard about doing something to jumpstart the process, but since SmokeDiver (who I know makes alot of these) and swenocha both say that 30 days is normal, I guess I'll leave it alone.

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Well, we are 30 days in the LBK and I pulled another gravity reading. Its down to about 1.021, so things definitely moved along if very slowly.

I think I'll give it through the weekend and take another reading before I bottle, though, just to see if it goes down any further. I'd like it to get to about 1.015, but I know when its done, its done...

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I'm about 2 weeks into mine, 1 hard lemonade and 1 hard fruit punch. The lemonade had about 1/8 inch krausen for a few days and I think after a week it was down on the hydro a little. I don't remember the numbers and I'm too lazy to get up and look. I haven't took a hydro since then and probably won't until 3 or 3.5 weeks. Hopefully I can bottle at slightly over 4 weeks. I didn't plan accordingly and will be out of town on Memorial Day.

The fruit punch on the other hand has been a PITA. It didn't have much krausen, the layer didn't even cover the top. There was no trub and the hyrdro sample after 1 week was the same as it was at the start.

Since I don't have a LHBS, I only had fromunda on hand. After recommendations from here, I pitched some it (2 packages). Still no krausen, but it looks like there is a very little bit of trub. I've decided to just ride it out since I'm waiting for the temps to remain constant before I do any beer. If at 4 weeks it still has a high reading, I'll dump it.

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Did any of the fruit punch have any preservatives in it? I made that mistake with my first lemonade. The yeast can't work if there are preservatives.

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It has citric acid listed which in parenthesis, it says for tartness. But the lemonade didn't list it so I'm not sure.

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I don't think the citric acid should cause any problems. We use lemon and lime juice in brewing all the time and that is basically just citric acid.

You are looking for ingredients that don't sound natural, like potassium sorbate. If you have that in your juice mix, it'll stifle the yeast.

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Here is everything it listed:

HFCS, water, concentrated grape juice, concentrated pineapple, pear and apple juices, natural flavors, citric acid (for tartness), grape skim extract (for color).

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Alright, so it would appear that this sucker is finally ready to go into the bottles. FG of 1.012!

So, with that said, the sample seemed to have lost much of its lemon flavor and will definitely need to be sweetened. Can I get some suggestions what to use to backsweeten? I don't have an LHBS nearby, or I would use Lactose, but is there any other unfermentable sugar that I could just by at the local grocer?

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You can use any non-fermentable sugar.

I tried smaller amounts of sweetner and foundd it always needed more.

I was only making 1.5 gallons and 6-8oz were not enough for my wife.

We mix with sprite or any lemon/lime soda and is fine

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I thought about using an artificial sweetener, but most seem to have what appears to be preservatives in them so I didn't want to risk stifling the yeast. I am wanting this to be carbonated, so preservatives are bad, right?

If I'm not happy with the end result, I have no issue mixing with sprite, but I'd like to try and make this an "open/poor/drink" type of experience. I also have no issue with trying various amounts of sweeteners in various bottles and marking them for future reference so I can see how much to use in the future. I'm just hoping to get a good starting point on what to use.

Thanks for the help, Trollby! It is appreciated!

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So, I bottled this tonight...only 6 weeks in the fermenter!!

I never did get any sweetening agent. I figure I will sweeten as we drink them. That way, its easier to experiment with amounts of sugar.

Anyways...I REALLY want to thank everyone who helped me through this experience! Keeping my patience during this process was NOT easy. Fermenting something for such a long time was not really in my initial plans, but all seems to have turned out well.

THANKS TO THE BORG!!!

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