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View Full Version : VIOLENTLY ILL-what did I do wrong.



Vitkar
01-30-2008, 09:46 PM
I posted here a short while ago regarding my first batch of mead-you can look up my old posts for the specs. I hadn't seen any bubbles in the carboy for a few days, and I had started the whole process at the autumn equinox. So, I decided it was time to bottle. I used carefully sanitized wine and liquor bottles that friends had given me, and a hand-pump auto filler. Of course, I drank as I went. Maybe that's why, when I ran out of bottles, I used some mason jars I found under the sink. A friend of mine left them there a couple of years ago. I did give them a quick rinse-out, but I was anxious to get finished. I noticed the mead in the wine bottles still had some bubbles in the top, so I popped all the containers of mead in the fridge for a couple of days.

Last night, I pulled out one of the mason jars and drank it. My alcohol tolerance is pretty low-three pints of beer and I'm blitzed. I forgot to measure the alcohol content of said mead, but a friend helping me with the bottling said he thought it was around 13-14%. It definitely has a kick to it. But I didn't drink more mead than was in the mason jar, which was 20 ounces. i felt a pretty good buzz, and I went to a local pub and drank three pints of Hefenwizen...

Okay, mixing alcohols, not smart. I was definitely, painfully hung over. However, here it is 18 hours after I stopped drinking, and I am sicker than I've been in a long time. The effects of the alcohol should be gone. But I ache all over, including a splitting headache and a rolling stomach. I throw up every few hours. I'm seriously considering going to the hospital. What I'm wondering is, what the hell happened?

Botulism in the jars? They were empty and untouched for 2 years.

Active yeast in the mead? The stuff in the jars DID come from the bottom of the pickle barrel (I racked it one last time from the carboy and ran the mead through a coffee filter, but who knows?)

I am burping a lot, which tells me that there is CO2 present-could the yeast be living in my stomach?

beninak
01-30-2008, 10:23 PM
Well honestly you were doomed from the beginning by starting this mead at the autumn equinox. :confused3: I didnt catch your original post or else I would have spoken up then, but it is common meadmaking wisdom that meads are best started, racked, and bottled on the winter or summer solstice, or on the new and full moons.

Also, you didnt do yourself any favors with those mason jars. Sounds like they might not have been clean to start with, and even if they were who knows what sort of bacteria had been growing in them over the past 2 years. A quick rinse off isnt good enough, especially for something that had been sitting around for that long. A thorough cleaning and sanitization would have likely spared you some of the pain you are in now.

Cheers :cheers:,
Ben

wayneb
01-30-2008, 10:25 PM
Dude, if you really are that violently ill, I suggest that you take whatever is left in that mason jar, and yourself, to a hospital ER right away. Especially if the symptoms continue or get any worse.

There is virtually no chance that properly made mead could produce the reactions that you are experiencing, especially if you have never had similar reactions to wine or beers.

You need the expertise and the immediate attention of medical personnel who can help to determine exactly what you drank -- or even if anything you drank is the issue. There is very little chance that active Clostridium Botulinum (the bacteria that secretes the toxin that causes botulism) could survive in a mead of 13% ABV. Something else is likely going on. Make sure that you take along the Mason jar that you drank from, even if there are only dregs left in it, unless you washed it out. BTW - if you were exhibiting the classic symptoms of botulism you'd neither be able to read this text nor to be able to have typed your original question. So, your issue is likely something else. Acute alcohol poisoning does produce the symptoms that you are describing, and they don't go away in just a few hours.

Go get checked out by somebody who can do a proper diagnosis, man.

akueck
01-30-2008, 10:39 PM
3 pints and nearly a bottle of wine is a hefty dose of alcohol. My vote is just a hangover, though it's not a bad idea to get checked out if you are unusually ill. Drink gatorade in the meantime to rehydrate yourself.

AsharaLyn
01-30-2008, 11:24 PM
I've been 'hung over' (really it's alcohol poisoning) for up to three days after drinking, and I was still nauseous for a couple more days after that. The margaritas were tasty, but I probably shouldn't have drunk most of a pitcher myself ... I vaguely remember convincing the host to make another pitcher, too :).

If you're not starting to feel better by 48 hours after you woke up, definitely go to the hospital, though.

butterlily5
01-30-2008, 11:24 PM
Being a former squid myself, and having gone thru a couple, I vote alcohol poisoning, but STRONGLY recommend the trip to the hospital. Mine came from crappy Malaysian beer with a shocking level of fermaldehyde in the brew, and I felt just like you do for, like, 3 whole days. Doc was not happy with me.

Good luck, let us know how it goes!! :angel10: :icon_thumright:

sandman
01-31-2008, 12:22 AM
Old sailor AND an old soldier myself. I agree with Wayne on this one dude. Go get checked out. Something really just doesn't sound right here. Nothing to freak out over, but common sense says get checked out just in case. (Just my .02)

Vitkar
01-31-2008, 02:38 AM
Update-

Okay, they just released me from the ER-thanks to everybody who suggested it. Diagnosis:they don't know. Some kind of viral infection. They ruled out food poisoning, and the doctor wouldn't even look at the empty jar. Apparently there are a lot of people in town with my symptoms: nausea, vomiting, headaches, etc. I definitely weakened my immune system by being very drunk, though.

I had neck pain as well, and they were concerned about meningitis. I got a spinal tap, but it came back normal.

The doc said there was a slight chance that there was some kind of weird bacteria on the inside rim or lid of the jar, but he didn't think it was the cause. On the upside, everybody in the ER who heard I was a homebrewer wanted to try the mead! (I'll give them the stuff in the bottles. The jars are going in the trash.)



Thanks again

Jandra
01-31-2008, 04:01 AM
Hope you feel much better soon! Whatever the cause, it's awful and scary to feel so sick.

Jandra

Pewter_of_Deodar
01-31-2008, 11:41 AM
I wanted to focus on a couple of things to help you going forward...



I posted here a short while ago regarding my first batch of mead-you can look up my old posts for the specs. I hadn't seen any bubbles in the carboy for a few days, and I had started the whole process at the autumn equinox. So, I decided it was time to bottle.

Not sure what you mean by "bubbles in the carboy". Visible bubbles in the must? The ring of bubbles that tends to form where the must meets the glass on the top surface? Bubbles in the trap? Visible bubbles stop long before a batch is truly ready to bottle. A batch that is producing even one bubble every few hours through the trap is still too active for you to be looking to bottle it without some sort of chemical stopper or sterile filtering. Or at least rack it, cold shock it, and wait a while longer.


I used carefully sanitized wine and liquor bottles that friends had given me, and a hand-pump auto filler. Of course, I drank as I went.

Carefully sterilized equipment/bottles are key. Anything into which you are going to place your brews for more than a few hours before consuming them needs to be completely sterilized. Even short term containers need to be cleaned, not just rinsed.


Maybe that's why, when I ran out of bottles, I used some mason jars I found under the sink. A friend of mine left them there a couple of years ago. I did give them a quick rinse-out, but I was anxious to get finished.


Botulism in the jars? They were empty and untouched for 2 years.

I get visions of all sorts of "garfage" when it comes to two year old mason jars under a sink. Rat poison. Cockroach or other bug droppings. Ick... Anyway, they should have been carefully sterilized or run through the dishwasher or both. A quick rinse in the sink may not even lift the film left by whatever sat in it for two years. If you actually did catch a "bug". this would be my guess as to where you caught it.


I noticed the mead in the wine bottles still had some bubbles in the top, so I popped all the containers of mead in the fridge for a couple of days.

If you bottle batches while they are still fermenting, you may/will need to "burp" the bottles from time to time to prevent bottle bombs. But this burping should only involve opening them long enough and far enough to allow the excess pressure to escape. An open bottle of mead, even in the refridgerator, can spoil just like any other food and will at least get oxidized (which ruins the taste).

My mentor, Baron Stephanus, likes to use the expression that "cleanliness is next to godliness". The underlying emphasis of that statement is that thorough sterilization of your equipment and containers and then keeping the containers sterile/sealed until the contents are consumed is a really smart thing to do.

Glad you are feeling better. Please be more careful next time... and delay trying more than a tiny sip until after the bottling is all done... and make sure you have more bottles ready to use than you will actually need BEFORE you start bottling...

Vitkar
01-31-2008, 12:25 PM
No, I mean there was no bubbles in the lock. Not for days. I mean, I didn't sit there and watch it all day long, but the carboy was in the closet next to my desk, and, in the past as I'd surf the net, I'd hear the occassional burble. At the 4 month mark, I realized it had been a while since I'd heard the burble.

Racking the must into the barrel one more time produced a sort of foam on the top, but I thought this was just from stirring it up. There was a thin layer of tiny bubbles on the top of each bottle after I was done, which I did try to kill by putting it in the fridge.

The under the sink thing does sound really gross, but I've seen no vermin in my 2 years here. I live in the cold north, and we don't get roaches. Under my sink is literally empty and bone-dry. Not completely sanitizing the bottles was, however, extremely stupid, and I do feel shame.

Pewter_of_Deodar
01-31-2008, 04:19 PM
No need to feel shame... just be more careful the next time...

I love your enthusiasm and I am sure it brings memories of our initial excitement to more people than just me...

I don't know about you but under our sink gets pretty gross, if only from condensation dripping during the humid times.

But clean and sterilize everything and keep the mead sealed, trapped, or under CO2 to keep it tasting good and safe to drink...

Good luck,
Pewter

vahan
02-10-2008, 10:13 PM
Glad your feeling better....

Mead can be tricky--if you make it sweet it is difficult to know when you've had too much until it's too late!

Also, did you use sulfites at any point? I find that when I used sulfite tabs I would get a headace after drinking just a little too much mead...

colbycurtis
03-13-2008, 12:05 AM
Hi everyone this is my first post and I am a complete newbie to Mead and just started my first batch a few days ago. My question is if you can mess up a batch with a unsterile tool is there any way to detect it in the final product without drinking it and waiting to see if you get sick? Or is there an additive you can add to ensure anything bad is dead before bottling?

akueck
03-13-2008, 01:01 AM
There are several cues that something nasty may be growing. Smell and taste are probably your best indicators (millions of years of evolution can't be wrong!).

Check out the <a href="http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=108&Itemid=14">NewBee Guide</a> and you'll learn lots about sanitation.

beachfrontmeadman
03-13-2008, 05:39 PM
for future referance, mead will give you one wicked hang over, hihg abv and a good portion of residual sugar make for a happy golden drunk and drink :toothy10:, but a dark and stormy day after :BangHead:

Launcelot
03-14-2008, 02:47 AM
Wow, I didn't catch this one live...

Ok, while I am no where *near* the mead maker that a lot of the guys here are, I did pre-med and ended up in bio-chem...

Your case is interesting, if you perhaps live in the southern part of Illinois the odds are you were caught in one of the "river sickness" events that crop up there. The reason is long and sordid, but to make a long story short, there are viral blooms in the drinking water that light chlorination will not kill off, I would recommend that if you live in an area where this is common, spend the best $200.00 you have ever spent and buy a reverse osmosis unit.

Purely from the perspective of those mason jars....

The *most* likely culprit is one of the 10-20 varieties of "black mold" that love to live in damp areas, you can have an infection grade spore bloom that is nearly impossible to catch with the naked eye. A heavy dose of a lot of these common mold blooms can cause permenant liver or kidney damage.

Botulism, Streptococcus etc etc etc are all living on your counters and *DEFINITELY* under your sink, at the bare minimum bleach it. Or again read up on the many sources here about sanitization.

I won't even go into the potential hazards of what lives under your fingernails (ever watched a real medical show where they show the doctors scrubbing for 20-30m before putting on glove?)

--L

Medsen Fey
03-14-2008, 04:12 PM
Hello Launcelot,
You are correct that there are countless "nasties" living under the sink, in the water, and under fingernails, but for mead making they pose more quality problems than health problems. Botulism, for example, is not a concern with meads because the acidity of the mead makes it inhospitable to the Botulism organisms, along with the alcohol. Generally, any viral or bacterial organisms that can make you seriously ill cannot survive in a 12+ ABV solution with a pH < 4

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of things that can grow in there, including acetic acid bacteria, malolactic bacteria, brettanomyces, film yeast and various other spoilage organisms, but these are not toxic to humans. They will make your mead smell or taste like crap, though, and that is why it is imperative to maintain good sanitary procedures throughout the process. If you fail in the effort, your nose and taste buds will tell you in a loud and clear way that you need to improve your technique, but it will not put you in the hospital.

I cannot say exactly what overcame Vitkar. I don't think even the treating physicians can say for sure. Could those jars have contained some toxic substance prior to being used for the mead? Did he catch some viral disease from some where else coincidentally? Did he get food poisoning from something he ate earlier in the day (not really possible to rule out)? Did he just have severe alcohol intoxication with a batch that contained a large quantity of higher alcohols? It may not be possible to say.

What I feel comfortable in saying is that, whatever is was, it almost certainly wasn't spoilage organisms in the mead. For any new meadmakers, please take heart in knowing that unless you add something toxic (herbs, plant material, chemicals, etc.) to your mead, it won't hurt you to drink it (unless you overindulge). If there are toxins in your water, it can certainly make you ill (even in mead) and I never argue against a water purification system. I just don't think anyone should have any anxiety about being poisoned by their mead.

Whatever hit Vitkar, I am glad he made a quick recovery, and I will definitely lift a glass to his continued health!

Salud!

Medsen

Launcelot
03-14-2008, 05:05 PM
Maybe my explanation was a bit off...

Let me try again.

There are countless thing that live under sinks that even though they will not express (grow up and become scary) they are already productive in their standing environ.

The nasty scary parts of black mold and/or botulotoxin will propagate across a high acid/high alcohol environment, but they will not proflagorate.

To put it simple, while a high sullphur (or bleach or etc etc) will "cleanse the surface" the benefit is in that when rinsing to clear (de-smell) the substance off the material, you will also be removing residual effects.

I was not trying to diagnose the case, in my case my skills would only be valuable in seeing what killed a person, not in medical treatment of a reaction. I have enough O-chem and I-chem to track something through a bio-system, but I wouldn't know what if anything to do diagnostically besides valuating the case that there was a foreign substance. Which is fairly medically null because the process would not be beneficial.

I was just trying to urge people to be more careful!

--Launce

Kee
04-29-2008, 05:29 PM
One more thought on hang overs/alcohol poisoning...

Take a B Complex (or a couple) when drinking/have a hang over. It will help. I have a feeling that was at least part of the issue.

Oskaar
04-30-2008, 12:10 AM
I generally hydrate heavily (with Gatorade or something similar) before I drink, and supplement with water, B complex and several herbal combinations while I drink, followed by aspirin, lots of sleep and a breakfast casarole that has been branded as a 24 hour death sentence the morning after. Let's just say that a dozen eggs, lots of pork fat, cheese, lard, masa, chorizo, sausage, bacon, ham, avocado, beans, beef, butter, cheese, sour cream and several different types of chilis are involved. Wash it all down with a chocolate malt . . . straight up!

Cheers,

Oskaar

UDV
04-30-2008, 12:15 AM
Let's just say that a dozen eggs, lots of pork fat, cheese, lard, masa, chorizo, sausage, bacon, ham, avocado, beans, beef, butter, cheese, sour cream and several different types of chilis are involved. Wash it all down with a chocolate malt . . . straight up!


Can you post the recipe for this? :) I need it on the hangover days.

Medsen Fey
04-30-2008, 05:14 PM
I think I'd rather take the hangover. Oskaar, your cure sounds worse than the disease!

wayneb
04-30-2008, 05:26 PM
Medsen, I think that all depends on whether or not you're supposed to keep it down once ingested! :laughing7:

Launcelot
04-30-2008, 06:06 PM
Oskaar...

Put me down for it... I am expecting to be in your area next month. ::grins::

--L