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View Full Version : raspberry mead tastes pretty bad



Joshnir
10-12-2009, 09:53 PM
So 3 months ago I did my first 2 one gallon batches. The first one was a standard JAO that seems to be okay besides tasting a bit yeasty still and having some alcohol burn/acidity. The second one is a black raspberry and I pretty much made it the same way I did the JAO except instead of oranges and cinnamon I used one peeled lemon, 1 pound of red raspberries, half pound of black raspberries, one teaspoon of earl grey tea and a whole vanilla bean. Fermentation stopped at about 5 weeks just like the JAO, I let it sit another 3 weeks then racked it and let it age another month. I just tasted it and it would be pretty good besides the weird after taste I'm getting from it. The best way I can describe it is it tastes like if you lick the rubber stopper the air lock goes into. Is there any way the rubber stopper could of made it taste that way? I wouldn't think so but that's the best way I can describe it. Thanks for any insight on this guys.

akueck
10-12-2009, 10:56 PM
Rubber-flavored phenols can be a sign of stressed out yeast and/or too high of a fermentation temperature. What temperature did you ferment at?

Joshnir
10-13-2009, 12:06 AM
Right around 68-70 degrees, I have all of my one gallon batches sitting in my closet with the door closed. Maybe I should pay more attention to the temp while my stuff is fermenting, didn't give that aspect too much thought to be honest. I thought it would be fine as long as it wasn't way too hot or too cold. What do you mean by the yeast being stressed out? What causes that to occur? Thanks for the reply.

akueck
10-13-2009, 12:16 AM
Yeast get stressed when their environment is not "just right". They are picky little guys. Extremes in temperature, pH, and sugar content; too little nitrogen and other nutrients; too little oxygen during the first phase of fermentation; lots of things can stress yeast out. Often you'll get a signal that they are cranky--sulfur smells are a classic one.

Best way to troubleshoot is if you can give us a rundown of exactly everything you did. Include any SG readings, all ingredients, and all process details.

Joshnir
10-13-2009, 01:20 AM
Okay well pretty much I just followed the JAO directions. Cleaned/sanitized everything really well w/ one step. Mixed about 3lbs of slightly warmed clover honey with half a gallon of water in a 1 gallon glass jug. Cleaned and sliced a lemon in 1/4's, peeled it and put it in with a Vanilla bean, 25 raisins and 1 teaspoon of earl grey tea. Smashed up the raspberries while they were thawing out from the freezer, threw them in. Filled with water til about 6-7 inches from the top of the jug, added 1 gram of fermaid k and shook the hell out of the jug for about 5 minutes. Then I added the teaspoon of Fleismanns, swirled it around a little bit, put on the stopper/air lock and let it sit untouched for about 5-6 weeks. Then I racked it and let it sit another 5-6 weeks. I didn't take a SG because I didn't have a hydrometer at the time. Temp stayed at about 68-70 the whole time in a dark closet. I let the raspberries float on top the whole time because the JAO recipe said not to touch it, I realize now that I should of pushed them down into the jug after a lot more research. I wish I woould of researched stuff a little more because I really like raspberry mead and it would be very good if it wasnt for the rubber taste.

Medsen Fey
10-13-2009, 10:38 AM
Did the honey itself have any of that "rubber stopper" taste? Sometimes if it was not handled and stored properly by the producers and packers, honey can have some aroma and flavor that is "off."

When you do have something with an "off" phenolic flavor, there are some things you can try. Number 1 is time - a lot of them will change over time as the various compounds mix and mingle and polymerize and precipitate. This is a very young mead. In 6 months that flavor may be completely gone.

If not, there are some things that can bind phenol compounds including PVPP (a fining agent), and even yeast ("yeast fining" there's a thread in the Patron's section on this). These may be options to consider if the magic of time does not cure the problem.

I hope it turns out well.

And Welcome to GotMead!!


Medsen

wayneb
10-13-2009, 11:06 AM
One question - did you notice any hydrogen sulfide odors (like rotten eggs, "scented" propane gas, or similar) coming out of the fermenter while it was fermenting?

Often a "rubbery" aroma and flavor comes from diethyl sulfide, which is one of a number of disulfide compounds that can be created when H2S (created by some yeasts when they are fermenting in a nutrient poor environment) reacts with ethyl alcohol.

The bad news is if that is what is in your mead, unlike most phenolics that will chemically break down with age, diethyl sulfide is a chemically stable compound and will be there essentially forever unless you are willing to take some chances and chemically treat the batch with things that are potentially toxic if not handled properly.

UPDATE: Diethyl sulfide is really a "mercaptan." It is diethyl disulfide that is the disulfide compound. Neither one is good in a mead. The diethyl disulfide smells more like burnt rubber; the sulfide is more the "rubber stopper" smell.

akueck
10-13-2009, 11:51 AM
Oh, that is very interesting. I didn't know there were sulfides that were rubbery too. I guess that makes good sense, the thing that makes rubber rubbery is sulfur. ;)

Medsen Fey
10-13-2009, 12:02 PM
Joshnir, you should probably take a glass of your mead and try a little test. First add a pinch of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and dissolve it in well, then add a copper penny (pre 1982) and swirl. If the rubber stopper character goes away then wayneb is correct and you have a mercaptan causing the problem. If so, you'll need to takes steps to remove it from the rest of the batch sooner rather than later.

afdoty
10-13-2009, 12:08 PM
Fermentation stopped at about 5 weeks just like the JAO, I let it sit another 3 weeks then racked it and let it age another month.

A couple years ago I did a melomel from juice made from apple, pear and passion fruit. This fermented through and was allowed to sit on the gross lees for several weeks. Guess what.... it stinks... Like a burnt rubber tire...yuck.

While mine was an intentional "experiment", it does show that proper fermentation management and proper nutrition are important.

And after 2 years, it still stinks. This is something that didn't age out (one more bottle left. See what it's like next year).

wildoates
10-13-2009, 12:25 PM
And still he drinks it. :)

Angelic Alchemist
10-13-2009, 12:28 PM
And still he drinks it. :)

Back in India, he could just distill it. Here in the states, I gift my epic fails to broke friends who are tired of drinking malt liquor.

afdoty
10-13-2009, 05:21 PM
And still he drinks it. :)

Ya just got to keep trying.......:p

wildoates
10-13-2009, 05:24 PM
If you drink enough of it you won't notice that it tastes bad.

Joshnir
10-13-2009, 07:16 PM
Medsen Fey- As I recall the honey tasted just fine. It was just clover honey from Safeway.
wayneb- nope smelled fine while it was fermenting.

Joshnir
10-13-2009, 07:27 PM
Joshnir, you should probably take a glass of your mead and try a little test. First add a pinch of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and dissolve it in well, then add a copper penny (pre 1982) and swirl. If the rubber stopper character goes away then wayneb is correct and you have a mercaptan causing the problem. If so, you'll need to takes steps to remove it from the rest of the batch sooner rather than later.

I'll give this a shot tonight. I have an acid blend, would that work? I got my Compleat Meadmaker book today and have already read about 90% of it so I have a much better grasp of fermentation management and meadmaking in general now. This batch was kind of an experiment to see if I could make a decent melomel using the JAO recipe. Thanks for all the help guys.

Medsen Fey
10-13-2009, 08:29 PM
I'll give this a shot tonight. I have an acid blend, would that work?

No, you need ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to convert the mercaptans to sulfide that can then be bound by copper. You local health food store should have some in crystalline form.

wayneb
10-13-2009, 09:40 PM
Actually the ascorbic acid converts disulfides to mono-sulfides (including mercaptans) which then react with the copper to form insoluble precipitates. If you only have mercaptan contamination the copper will work by itself, and it will do so almost instantly. If disulfides are your problem, then you need the ascorbic acid and adding it plus a penny to a sample won't be enough to tell if it is going to work. The ascorbic acid actually disassociates the disulfides relatively slowly (could take several days to several weeks, depending on the level of contamination).

Medsen Fey
10-14-2009, 10:00 AM
Thanks, Wayne (there's nothing like writing it backwards :confused3: ).

And yes, it can take several days for treatment with ascorbic acid and copper to produce clearing of the sulfur smells in a batch. But the testing can be done in few minutes per the BCAWA (http://www.bcawa.ca/winemaking/h2s.htm).

The H2S, sulfides and mercaptan will all be removed very quickly by copper, but if you use a penny it needs to be clean and shiny to have a reactive surface. Reducing the disulfides can take time, but you apparently see improvement in the time it takes to do the test.

wildoates
10-14-2009, 12:03 PM
Thanks, Wayne (there's nothing like writing it backwards :confused3: ).

And yes, it can take several days for treatment with ascorbic acid and copper to produce clearing of the sulfur smells in a batch. But the testing can be done in few minutes per the BCAWA (http://www.bcawa.ca/winemaking/h2s.htm).

The H2S, sulfides and mercaptan will all be removed very quickly by copper, but if you use a penny it needs to be clean and shiny to have a reactive surface. Reducing the disulfides can take time, but you apparently see improvement in the time it takes to do the test.

Jenn is thinking about all the elemental copper in the chemical supply room... :)

Oldonehundredth
10-14-2009, 03:34 PM
I have had the rubber smell thing; it ages out: may take a year; maybe two.

Your temperature was fine; so was your honey.

On your recipe, here's my 2 cents' worth:

Your tea concentration might have been on the high side: did you brew this tea up in boiling hot water first, getting all those harsh black tea tannins to release into a 1 gallon batch? Anyway, too late now.

Probably the vector to check out most was your yeast choice. Besides the fact that your choice, Fleischmann's, is optimally bred for a fast-acting fermentation job (i.e. bread), not really the best choice for fermented beverages, there is the issue of the raisins. Raisins provide nutrients, but also have their own yeast colonies, with you don't know what characteristics.

So that's where your rubber smell comes from. Anyway, Joshnir, give it some time. 3 months is nothing.

Medsen Fey
10-14-2009, 03:47 PM
If left to age, H2S will form mercaptans quickly and over a couple of months mercaptans will start forming disulfides. Most of the disulfides have a higher threshold for perception so they may not be as stinky as mercaptans. However, if you have enough disulfides to to be above the sensory threshold, it will be stinky and you will have a much harder time getting rid of it.

Whats more, once you bottle it, there is a tendency for some of disulfides to revert back to mercaptan form possibly raising the level of "stinkyness".

When I have batches with sulfur odors, I believe in taking steps to eliminate those odors ASAP. Time is not on you side in this case, though in some batches you may be fortunate enough that the conversion to disulfides takes away the stench. You then have to hope that it doesn't come back later.

wayneb
10-14-2009, 10:20 PM
Thanks, Wayne (there's nothing like writing it backwards :confused3: ).



Yeah - sorry, Medsen, for the abruptness of my response. I was attempting to type while dealing with three other unrelated things in parallel last night, so I was in a bit of a hurry.

I can't tell you how many times I've gotten sulfides, mercaptans and disulfides mixed up in my mind! Bottom line is as you have said in your last post -- if H2S is in the process of converting to mercaptans, even though their aromatic effects may be reduced in the further reduction to disulfides as the mead ages, if any of those break down back into mercaptans later (and they can in the presence of a little oxygen, which all meads will see during extended aging unless they're in hermetically sealed bottles) - the result is a stinky mess. MUCH better to get rid of the problem as early in the process as possible! ;)

Oskaar
10-15-2009, 02:58 AM
...snip... I can't tell you how many times I've gotten sulfides, mercaptans and disulfides mixed up in my mind! ...snip...

Ditto dude!

Joshnir
10-15-2009, 04:01 AM
Ok I ordered some ascorbic acid yesterday so it should be here in a day or two. I also ordered some DAP because the stuff I got from my home brew shop has Urea in it and I've seen some stuff on here stating that it's not so good for mead.