View Full Version : Possible problems with 1st batch

07-12-2007, 07:02 PM
All has been going well except for one really bad thing... I think. 10 days into the first fermentation a powdery residue appeared on the surface of my mead. Another brewer told me to ignor it and it will go away. I think it was probably bad advice. I have now moved to the second fermentor and the powdery substance has reappeared. The thing is, it doesn't seem to grow and it's not hairy or furry looking. Any ideas?

07-12-2007, 07:40 PM
Just keep an eye on it and pull a sample to give it a smell. If it smells like ass, pull a sample from deeper down and see if it smells and tastes OK. If it does, rack from under the surface to a new carboy, and leave a couple of inches worth below the surface.

This is most likely just a pretty common surface "dust" that forms on mead that is kind of powdery, whitish looking with maybe a couple of bubbles on the top. Looks gnarley, but is mostly just a yeast/fermentation by product.

Post up a photo dude and we can take a look.


07-12-2007, 07:54 PM
You just perfectly described my problem. The smell is fine and the flavor of the mead is fine for its age. I've had a feeling this wasn't a problem but the people I've asked have seemed clueless. What should I do with it? Does it go away eventually?

07-12-2007, 08:04 PM
Yup - if it is the white, wispy, dusty stuff that Oskaar thinks it is, it will go away of its own accord as the mead clears. No Worries! But if you can, post a pic and then we can determine without doubt.

07-12-2007, 08:24 PM
Any idea how to post a pic here. I thought I knew but I guess I'm a bit dumb today.

07-12-2007, 08:33 PM
http://<a href="http://www.friendster.com/photos/1973470/0/118250626"><img src="http://photos.friendster.com/photos/07/43/1973470/118250626m.jpg" border="0"/></a>

How this? I used a flash so the dust reflected a lot of light. If it doesn't work, click this link and if you can fix it, have at it...

07-17-2007, 05:39 AM
dude, I dont see any link.

07-17-2007, 06:25 AM
dude, I dont see any link.

guess the link was posted with invalid image tag.. quoted the post to retrieve the image



07-17-2007, 11:33 AM
Yup - based on the pic this is nothing to worry about. This is just some residual protein glop that is a byproduct of the fermentation, and it will disappear as the mead clears. You only need to worry if it starts to smell bad, or vinegar-y. Doesn't look to me like a classic "vinegar mother" bacterial cap, though.

07-17-2007, 08:27 PM
Hey, I came for mead instruction and got a little IT training to boot...what a site!
Sorry about the picture problems and thanks for fixing it for me. I was just getting back to it now.

Glad to know the stuff is ok. Here are my measurements in case anyone is curious or has some feedback.

No heat method started on 5-20-07. Forgot to test it until the next day when I added a first batch of activator. Readings were: specific gravity 1.116, percent sugar 27.5%, potential alcohol 15.5%.
Fermentation really began after the second batch of activator was added. It has stayed around 65 degrees F.
Moved to second fermentor on 6-25-07 with about 1 bubble per minute (maybe too soon but I had only one night for the next three weeks when I could do the work). Specific gravity 1.010, percent sugar 2.5%, Potential Alcohol 1.5%.
How does that sound? Everything in order? Does this mean alc. content will be in the range of 14%? How long do you think I should keep it in the second before bottling?

07-17-2007, 09:44 PM
Sounds like everything is going quite well for you so far! I'd recommend leaving it in the secondary until all fermentation has stopped and the mead has cleared. Then, if it were me, I'd rack it into another carboy that had been purged with CO2, or lacking the CO2 I'd dose it with potassium metabisulfite which will scavenge any oxygen that had been dissolved in the mead during the racking, and then leave it for another couple of months minimum before bottling. You want to make sure that all suspended yeast and other proteins have precipitated out before you bottle, in order to ensure the clearest possible result when you some day pour a serving from one of those bottles! Time spent bulk aging in a carboy is the best guarantee of that.

And yes, you are at about 14% ABV right now. That's certainly strong enough for a mead, unless you are really trying to make rocket fuel! If you are going for much higher ABV, then be prepared to wait years until the result mellows enough to be drinkable!

07-18-2007, 09:51 PM
The way I drink mead 14% may be a bit high! ;D

I'll check in the CO2 deal, can't be to difficult. I'm guessing my local brew store will have something for that. If I use a CO2 blanket, do you suppose it would be ok to put it back in the 6 gallon carboy? (it's in a 5 now with a bit of room to spare) Otherwise I have 2 3 gallon carboys. I could fill one of those to store for a longer period and then fill a few smaller bottles for the ocasional tester?

07-18-2007, 11:17 PM
You could use the 6 gal carboy as long as it is purged with CO2 to minimize the exposure to O2 after the transfer, or you could just pick up another 5 gal, since you'll eventually need another one anyway! ;)

Yes, your LHBS will probably have a CO2 rig of some sort. BTW, unless you are known to be allergic to sulfites (or you want to share the brew with someone who is), using K-META to introduce some sulfites to the mead isn't a bad thing. Of course if you are opposed to use of sulfites on general principles, then the CO2 rig would be a worthwhile investment. Some folks will both add a little sulfite as an antioxidant and still run a CO2 purge into their carboys and bottles. It all depends on how seriously you want to get into it, and to a certain extent, how deep your pockets are!

07-19-2007, 09:50 PM
Honestly I don't know enough about K-META and what it does to mead to have an opinion. CO2 is easy and totally understandable. I am obviously open to suggestion.

07-19-2007, 11:19 PM
Gotcha! The metabisulfites are a source of sulfur dioxide, a rather "sharp" smelling gas that does a job on spoilage organisms, as well as binding up free oxygen. SO2 can also scrub out hydrogen sulfide from the must before it has a chance to react with any alcohol present to form nasty, foul smelling mercaptans, or worse, disulfides. Too much SO2 in a mead will lend an off odor to it, but get just enough free SO2 in the mead and you will not be able to detect it, yet it will help to preserve your mead. The formulas that relate the amount of free SO2 made available by a given concentration of K-META in solution are dependent on the pH of the mead, as well as the amounts of other constituents, and frankly I can never remember the relationships without looking it up. Still, as a good rule of thumb, 50ppm of free SO2 is a good level to provide antioxidant as well as anti-infective properties, and is not something that you can readily taste or smell.

That said, CO2 purging is simpler to figure out -- albeit a more expensive proposition until you get the setup in place. Campden tablets, or powdered potassium metabisulfite, are cheap! ;D

07-20-2007, 06:38 AM
As a precaution to just relying on CO2 to prevent oxidative effects on aroma and flavor, be aware that sulfites also provide the following benefits which just using CO2 does not.

1. Prevents oxidative browning of your meads
2. Maintains freshness of flavor
3. Provides anti-mibrobial protection (CO2 will prevent aerobic spoilage organisms for the most part)
4. When used in conjunction with K-Sorbate will help to prevent unwanted secondary fermentation (whether MLF or post back-sweetening)
5. In pyments will inhibit PPO (Polyphenol Oxidase which competes with yeast for Free O2 during the early stages of fermentation) and prevent sluggish/stalled fermentations when added to grape or honey-grape musts.

Hope that helps,


07-20-2007, 10:29 AM
Geeze, Oskaar! It always takes me 40 words to say what you can summarize in just 10! Wish I could do that....

07-20-2007, 11:44 AM
Get a dude that's lazy by nature to explain something, find a quick way to do it! LOL