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S.Gecko
01-26-2009, 10:09 PM
Hi all,

I was wondering if any of you could give me some clues as to what might cause a skunky mid taste? The mead didn't ferment very long (a total of about 9 days) and I bottled it tonight.

The first taste was sweet and good, the mid was skunky and the after was harsh (ABV of 9%). Ideas?

I'm going to let it stew in the bottles for a while, but am hoping to keep skunkiness out of my next batch.

Thanks,
- sG

Kee
01-26-2009, 10:16 PM
SG, please provide your complete brewlog with all processes and procedures. It's the only way to pin down what's going on in your batch.

S.Gecko
01-26-2009, 10:38 PM
Sure thing. Sorry about that.

2 lbs Clover Honey
3 qts water
1 long orange peel
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole cloves
1/4 tsp ginger

Wrapped the orange, ginger, cinnamon and cloves in cheesecloth and boiled for 15 minutes. Removed the spices and poured the honey into the simmering water, stirring it until it dissolved. Simmered the mixture at about 165 - 170 deg. F, skimming the white scum from the top for about 30 minutes. Covered it and let it stand over night.

The next morning, I took an SG reading and ended up with 1.103 (accounting for 82 deg. F water). I pitched the dry yeast (red star champagne) and stirred vigorously. Covered and let sit for 2 days, fermenting. It started foamy and then slowed.

On 1/20 I siphoned into a 1 gallon plastic water jug and covered with an airlock. It burbled and guggled kind of slowly. I checked the SG on 1/22 and ended up with a reading of 1.073 (accounting for temp).

I bottled today with an SG of 1.040 (accounting for temp).

My feeling is that the whole fermentation was going too slow for not long enough, just based on observing it work.

Let me know if you need more info, and thanks for the help.

- sG

Oskaar
01-26-2009, 10:39 PM
As Kee mentioned we'll need your exact recipe and process a 9 day ferment is fine, but we'll need to know what happened before that, how you made it, how long it sat after you bottled it, what you did to stabilize, etc. in order to do anything but guess. So please fill in the blanks for us.

Cheers, Oskaar

akueck
01-27-2009, 01:40 AM
So this mead is 2 weeks old? That's really young; all newly-minted alcoholic beverages are going to taste a little odd.

Also it looks like you didn't let fermentation finish. A FG of 1.040 is far from dry and well below the alcohol tolerance of the yeast. Unless you stabilized it somehow you've got potential bottle bombs on your hands. Was the mead clear or cloudy when you bottled it?

S.Gecko
01-27-2009, 08:18 AM
Crumbs. It was cloudy and I didn't stabilize.

Edit: I checked this morning, and there was a lot of pressure in the bottles. I transferred the mead back into the fermenting jug. I'm going to leave this batch alone and let it cook -- if it wants to -- some more.

dogglebe
01-27-2009, 12:25 PM
I just want to go into a little rant about the word 'skunky.'

A lot of people throw this word around when their mead or beer has an undesirable flavor, particularly new people when they can't figure out what went wrong.

Skunkiness (or lightstruck) occurs when ultra-violet lighting interacts with hop acids, creating that very distinct skunk flavor and aroma. I think I read somewhere that the two are virtually the same, chemically. Unless you hopped your mead--drown Pepe lePew in it--it will not be skunked.

What you're picking up as skunk may be the sulphur smells generated by the fermentation process.

Enjoy the rest of your day.


Phil

osluder
01-27-2009, 01:02 PM
What you're picking up as skunk may be the sulphur smells generated by the fermentation process.

Sulfur, often in the form of hydrogen sulfide H2S, will normally have more the smell of rotten egg or rancid flatulence. ;D -- Olen

dogglebe
01-27-2009, 01:05 PM
Sulfur, often in the form of hydrogen sulfide H2S, will normally have more the smell of rotten egg or rancid flatulence. ;D -- Olen

Either way, it ain't skunked.

Now you damn kids get outta my yard!


Phil

osluder
01-27-2009, 01:15 PM
Either way, it ain't skunked.l

In SG's defense, the main noxious chemicals in a skunk's spray are sulfur-containing methyl and butyl thiols (mercapatans). To me, it smells more like burnt rubber, but some people do pick out rotten egg and even garlic in the odor. -- Olen

akueck
01-27-2009, 01:26 PM
Crumbs. It was cloudy and I didn't stabilize.

Edit: I checked this morning, and there was a lot of pressure in the bottles. I transferred the mead back into the fermenting jug. I'm going to leave this batch alone and let it cook -- if it wants to -- some more.

Phew! Glad nothing blew up on you, that's a sharp and sticky mess.

S.Gecko
01-27-2009, 01:53 PM
Phew! Glad nothing blew up on you, that's a sharp and sticky mess.

Yeah, I feel lucky. I had the whole set up away from family and pets and covered with a felt blanket, but the mess would have been horrific.



In SG's defense, the main noxious chemicals in a skunk's spray are sulfur-containing methyl and butyl thiols (mercapatans). To me, it smells more like burnt rubber, but some people do pick out rotten egg and even garlic in the odor. -- Olen

"Skunky" is probably a holdover from my college days and memories of cheap keg beer. It's the adjective I and my friends always used to describe Natural Light, Catamount Ale, etc. And this definitely had a midtaste reminiscent of those. Yuck.

S.Gecko
01-28-2009, 08:26 PM
Okay, so here's where I am on this one. There is more flocculation, and the mead seems to be clearing up somewhat and darkening a little bit. There is a thin layer of white foam on top of the mead that is slowly bubbling, but there appears to be no CO2 movement.

Thoughts? I'm assuming I can(should) let this sit for at least another week.

- sG

osluder
01-28-2009, 10:03 PM
Thoughts? I'm assuming I can(should) let this sit for at least another week.

What's your specific gravity? That should be your guide for a complete fermentation rather than bubbling, airlock activity, etc. -- Olen

Kee
01-29-2009, 01:52 AM
...I'm assuming I can(should) let this sit for at least another week.

Let this sit for months if not years. This is mead, not the cheap swill we all drank pre-21. It needs to age out the higher alcohols.

If you'd like something quicker, try a batch of Joe's Ancient Orange. It's done in 3-4 months. I think Yo Mamma might also have a quick finish recipe. A lot of folks also brew beer so they'll have something to drink while their mead is aging.

osluder
01-29-2009, 03:36 AM
If you have not done so, you may want to check out the NewBee Guide (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=108&Itemid=14).


[I]t looks like you didn't let fermentation finish. A FG of 1.040 is far from dry and well below the alcohol tolerance of the yeast.

As akueck mentions, you aren't even through fermenting. If you started at 1.103, 1.003 or even dryer is not out of the question. Let it complete fermentation if it isn't stuck. Check the gravity regularly to monitor it. Playing with the Mead Calculator (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=745&Itemid=16), your potential alcohol is almost 14% ABV, but you're only at 8.5% ABV now and in the range of a very sweet dessert mead as far as residual sugar. Your recipe doesn't mention a target final gravity.


Let this sit for months if not years.

Once you complete fermentation as Kee points out, you will still have many months of aging to go. The single most important virtue with mead is patience. -- Olen

S.Gecko
01-29-2009, 08:06 AM
Thanks for all the advice on this one. I knew getting into this that patience would be the most tricky thing for me to accomplish. I will let it sit and stew and focus on the next batch (I just got some apple blossom honey in from Western Mass. I'm dying to try out).

- sG