View Full Version : Ruined batch? Opinions needed.

07-17-2006, 04:15 PM
My first batch. Nothing special. Just wanted to see if it would turn out okay. Simple recipe I read from a 1969 British book for sweet mead:

4 lbs. honey (in my case, orange blossom)
balanced water to 1 gallon
yeast (Fleischmann's bread yeast used)
yeast nutrient + tea + citric acid (I did not use these)

So in summary, I used bread yeast, water, and honey. About a month later, the must is still cloudy and the smell changed drastically. I snagged a taste, and my stomach did a backflip. The smell is strangely familiar, but not friendly. The taste is very pungent. So is my batch ruined, or is this how mead is supposed to taste and smell? I honestly don't know. ::) Don't feel bad as it won't stop me from making more, but I'd rather start over as soon as possible.

07-17-2006, 04:54 PM
Welcome to the forum MeadFan,

While I can't say for certain that your batch is ruined, 4 pounds is a lot of honey for a bread yeast... With no information on airlock activity or hydrometer readings I am going to assume your batch stalled and turned due to a variety of factors. If you still have airlock activity let us know. Here is a list of potential problems I see with the batch as stated.

1st -
High Gravity Musts are more likely to stress the yeast. (the higher the sugar content the higher thegravity. You have enough honey for a 20% Alcohol potential... enough to stress even most wine yeasts.

2nd -
Honey is nutrient deficient as far as most yeasts are concerned. Skipping the nutrient was a mistake, especially in a must with this much honey.

3rd -
Yeast needs a fair amount of Oxygen to reproduce during the first 3 or 4 days, you didn't mention if you stirred the heck out of your batch.

4th -
After the initial 3 to 4 day aeration period the Jar/Carboy should be fitted with an airlock, exposure to air and the floating yeasts and bacteria it contains can quickly spoil a batch.

5th -
You also didn't state if you sanitized your equipment and containers before use... which could beanother source of contamination.

Please take a look at my NewBee Advice (http://www.gotmead.com/component/option,com_smf/Itemid,103/topic,3495.0) before planning your next batch, acquire a hydrometer and an airlock if you don't have them already.


07-17-2006, 05:22 PM
Thanks for welcoming me. :) I suspect your assumption of the mead being turned could be right.

Sorry for not being detailed before. I followed the website instructions on sanitizing and aeration, best possible guides I could follow. I used a three-piece airlock and didn't have a hydrometer up until a few days ago, which the reading was 1.180 yesterday. MeadFan the Clumsy broke the first hydrometer the day he made the batch, and didn't have the time to drive over an hour to a brewing supply store to obtain another for quite some time. :-\

I use the Imperial Gallon (1 pint + 1 normal gallon) instead of just the plain ol' one gallon. Would that make any difference? (Not the ruining, but the 4 lbs. of honey and yeast)

Muirghein Tarot
07-17-2006, 06:59 PM
I started a cyser the other day and it had four pounds of honey as well. When I took my hydrometer reading it had a 1.180 for it's starting gravity. Based on that, (like Wrathwilde said), your yeast never got started, . They shut down when they hit the must. You didn't describe an alcohol taste which most young meads have to my experience (which I'll tell you isn't much more than your own).

I see two. Dump the batch and start over, which isn't my favorite option but it does happen some times. I personally try not to a dump mead unless it's furry. Time can cure a lot of simple problems. Not this one though.

Hour from the home brew store huh? That sucks but your going to have to go there and get you a pack of yeast for your next batch anyway. While your there get a pack of Lavin EC-1118 or 1116 yeast. These are champagne style yeast that will handle that high of a starting honey. If your willing to take a chance on that first batch not having gone off Pitch one of those two into it.

Follow the directions on the yeast packet as far as rehydration goes and pitch it into the must, cap it and shake the hell out of it. You should see airlock activity within about 24 hours or so. Give it 2 weeks then taste again. By taste I mean put it into your mouth do not swallow. If it has gone off you will be able to tell from the taste some what. If it has you want none of it inside your stomach or you'll think back-flips.

If the taste is good? Let the fermentation run it's course. With that yeast you will end up with a dry mead so you may have to stabilise and back sweeten to get it to your taste.

Do you still have the other two packs of Fleischmann? You might want to look up Joe's Ancient Orange in the recipe section of the site it's done in two months and would give you a good taste for what Mead should taste like.

I've only been brewing since April but I have tasted and helped make a lot of mead. My opinion may not be worth much but there it is.
By the way would the familiar smell be a sour 'bread like' smell? That could be from the yeast sitting so long. You've made sour dough mead. ;D


07-17-2006, 08:02 PM
Yeah, I'll be returning to the supply store soon enough again. Left the door to the room open and the cats got to the siphon hose. Sometimes you just can't win against them. I gave the hose a proper burial. :'(

Judging from your comment and WrathWilde's, my most probable mistake was the yeast, honey, and lack of nutrient. I still have enough base ingredients and confidence left over to keep trying. I'll follow Joe's Ancient Orange recipe this time and leave nothing to chance. :D

Thanks for the helpful advice, hopefully it'll go well next time 'round!

Muirghein Tarot
07-17-2006, 08:35 PM
More than anything it was the yeast.


07-18-2006, 03:46 PM
You almost have the ancient orange mead recipe that is floating around on the 'net.

The only difference is instead of tea, acid, and nutrients the AOM uses an orange and raisins. A cinnamon stick and a clove is added for additional flavor. And, yes, it uses the same yeast. At two months the cinnamon taste was very dominant. At three months, the mead was wonderful, though a bit sweet.

Don't dump your mead yet. Without nutrients, it will take a long time to ferment. In the meantime, you will get funky smells and tastes. That's just part of the process. Yeast doesn't convert sugar directly to alcohol. There is an intermediate conversion.

Even with nutrients, it will take a few months to clear.

If you are running out of patience, cut up an orange and put it into the mead, rind and all. Add a handful of raisins. If you don't see airlock activity in a couple of days, add some more yeast. Yes, bread yeast is ok for this mead.

07-18-2006, 06:40 PM
snip...Don't dump your mead yet. Without nutrients, it will take a long time to ferment. In the meantime, you will get funky smells and tastes. That's just part of the process. Yeast doesn't convert sugar directly to alcohol. There is an intermediate conversion...snip

Hey Finburger, would you please elaborate on that?



07-19-2006, 08:14 PM
Chapter 5 of the book "The Technology of Winemaking" by Amerine, et al. describes twelve separate steps in the conversion of sugar to ethanol. First are various sugars, but also Dihydroxyacetones, gycerols, phosphoryls, pyruvates, and acetaldehydes. In a good fermentation, none (or very little) of these are left behind.

If fermentation is incomplete, enough of these may be left to cause disagreeable flavors and/or odors.

07-21-2006, 04:40 PM
I didn't dump the batch for the hope that I could save it, or see what'd happen after a prolonged time. Might add some yeast energizer, but for now I'll wait. In the meantime, I'll set that aside and make a batch of JAO (Thank you Joe). If that goes well, I'll try Gorse mead, made from Gorse flowers.

07-21-2006, 07:10 PM
Maybe try siphoning some of the must out of the container and add enough water to drop the SG down to 1.12. Then add a few rasins and repitch with a different yeast. Just an idea that might help.

07-21-2006, 08:37 PM
I'm with beeboy here if you want to try and save this mead. Except, I think I would dilute it down and then put some campden tablets to it, wait 24 hours and then repitch, the campden tabs should give you a clean slate.

I am in a similar position, I live an hour away from the closest brew supply store, so I either order online or stock up when I go to the store.
I would suggest that the next time you go to the brew store stock up on yeast, dry wine yeast is cheap, cheap, cheap.
Buy a couple of different strands so you can figure out what one you like the most. I know I dislike some of the most used yeast on the forum. Its all a matter of personal prefrence. Dry wine yeast keeps a good long time. I have some D47 that is expired but wouldn't hesitate using if it got a starter going.

Don't give up!
When I started meadmaking I made several "sack meads" at 4#/gallon and dumped everyone of them out, hate to see you go through the same thing.

07-22-2006, 07:45 AM

If you take that expired D47 and "terminate" it completely by adding to a cup of boiling water it makes the ultimate yeast nutrient. Just pour the mixture into your next batch. Nothing like feeding the yeasties other yeasties.

They're cannibals I tell ya. They'll eat their own brothers without even a word!

All the Best,
Doug White