View Full Version : Smells From The Airlock

06-20-2006, 08:41 PM
My first 3 meads are in various stages of fermentation. I imagine my wife thinks I'm crazy as I stick my nose over each airlock and take a good sniff. Two of the meads have a yeasty or bread like smell. These two are the youngest and both were produced with the 'no heat' method. The third 5 gallon batch has a strong astringent taste and smell. This third batch had a troubled beginning. It started with a stuck fermentation, probably because I didn't know what I was doing and used a liquid yeast for a high gravity mead without a starter. After repitching with Cote de Blanc fermentation proceeded slowly then after racking and adding energizer fermentation picked up considerably.

My question is, what can you learn from the odors that waft out of the airlock? Does the seriously different smell of my third batch indicate a problem or is it somehow related to the heating of the must? Does the yeasty/bready smell mean anything?

06-21-2006, 03:40 AM

Welcome to the Forums!

I use airlock scents as a running gauge of fermentation action, but doing so is far from accurate or, really, indicative of what I'll end up with. The fact of the matter is many recipes and honey types can throw out various odors at various points throughout the fermentation. After some experience, you can sometimes use the scent being expelled to warn you of problems (such as sulfur or ascetic acid odors -- both of which can nonetheless arise to some extent in healthy fermentations). Many strange scents can come out of the airlock -- especially during primary -- and it's probably best not to obsess overmuch about them.

For myself, I've found that the best thing about smelling the airlocks is that it gives me something to do while I wait. ;D