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Cleber Olivo
04-08-2010, 09:10 AM
Hi all!

I am new in the meadmaking and need some help to troubleshot 2 mead recipes.

1st Recipe (August 2009):
- Wild flower honey and water enough to 25 BRIX (sweet mead).
- Fleischmann yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) from market.
- I didn't used any energizer or yeast nutrient.
- My fermentation finished after 3 months :mad:
- Racking done without any clarifier
- Resulted in a cloudy mead with a strong taste (I guess it was yeast taste). This taste disappeared with time.

2nd Recipe (December 2009)
- Same honey, same BRIX
- Lalvin 71B yeast
- Used fermaid K and DAP
- Fermentation ended after 2 weeks ;D
- Racking with sparkolloid
- Resulted in a beautiful and a very clear mead

Both of the two recipes are aging in glass bottles.

What my friends said:
- On december we drank the 1st mead and we liked it (since then I use to bring a small bottle every months and everyone who drinks it approves my mead).
- On march we drank the 2st recipe. It was good, but not enough like the 1st recipe. Some friends said that the 1st one had more consistency than de 2nd.

So here is my question: why the mead with bad fermentation resulted in a tastier mead???

Medsen Fey
04-08-2010, 10:02 AM
Welcome to GotMead Cleber!

That's very interesting. Let me ask you what was the fermentation temperature in both cases? I ask because bread yeast often do better at warmer temps than do wine yeast like 71B.

Were you tasting these meads side by side? If not, it is really hard to judge. Oskaar suggests doing triangular blind tasting (pouring 2 glasses of one batch and 1 glass of another). If you can identify the one that is different, you know you are picking up a real difference.

Is the final gravity of both meads the same, or is the bread yeast batch sweeter? A sweeter batch will taste better early on in a meads life (and later too if you ask my wife :) ).

These meads are also both very young, and their flavors have not fully matured. The mead made with bread yeast is essentially 4 months older, and in mead aging that is plenty of time for a lot of change to occur. In fact, for traditional meads, it is quite common for them to continue improving for at least 2 years, so that when tasted later on, the perceptions may be quite different.

Having the bread yeast in the batch for 3 months would give plenty of time for yeast autolysis (which can be good or bad from a flavor standpoint). This process can release substances from the cell wall of the dead yeast that increase the perception of body and sweetness while also giving a very "yeasty" flavor (as you mentioned).

Fining agent such as sparkolloid can have an impact on aroma and flavor. Sparkolloid is generally not too bad about it, but it can occur, and a batch that was not fined might have a little more flavor.

So those are a few factors that might account for a difference. It is also possible that with your honey, the bread yeast just produces a better result. There's certainly nothing wrong with that. When you find a good combination of yeast and honey, it's a day to celebrate.

There is also a school of thought in white wine making that a long slow fermentation produces a better result (perhaps by scrubbing off less aromatic elements). I've not seen convincing evidence of this in my meadmaking thus far, but I haven't tested for it specifically.

You have a really neat test here that you can compare over the next couple of years to see how they differ over time. I hope you'll add more updates on them as you go.

Good meading!

Medsen

Sasper
04-08-2010, 10:23 AM
Perhaps the 71b took it dryer resulting in a harsher/hotter taste?

dr9
04-08-2010, 10:42 AM
All other things being equal that have been noted above, consider that your friends said #1 was more "consistent" makes sense because it was, for all intents and purposes, bulk aged for 3 months while fermentation was slowly finishing. Mead #2 was bottled quickly, therefore aged individually. That could definately contribute to your friends' comments about consistency.

Cleber Olivo
04-08-2010, 12:19 PM
Thank you all for replying!


Let me ask you what was the fermentation temperature in both cases?
I suppose that it was between 20 and 30 Celsius (spring) for the 1st recipe and between 25 and 35 Celsius for the 2nd (I'm in south of Brazil). So probably I have done both in wrong periods ;D


Were you tasting these meads side by side?
Yup! It wasn't the triangular blind tasting, but there is a difference between them.

About the 1st one, I put 5L in a little barrel and I will probably bottle it when it completes 1 year of aging. Unfortunately I didn't have another barrel to age the 2nd recipe and compare both after a full year aging.

I will take a look at the residual sugar, pH and acidity of both recipes soon and will post here ;)


Fining agent such as sparkolloid can have an impact on aroma and flavor. Sparkolloid is generally not too bad about it, but it can occur, and a batch that was not fined might have a little more flavor.
I will try another recipe on June (winter here). Basically equal to the 2nd but with orange blossom honey. So I expect a clearest mead regardless of using sparkolloid or not. So, is the clarifier really necessary? Anyway I thing I should test both to see if there is some difference in flavor.

I don't know if this question can be answered, but is the 2nd recipe supposed to be better than the 1st one after aging with oak? (it's only an assumption)

Medsen Fey
04-08-2010, 12:38 PM
I suppose that it was between 20 and 30 Celsius (spring) for the 1st recipe and between 25 and 35 Celsius for the 2nd (I'm in south of Brazil).

Yes, 25-35 C is too high for 71B to give the best results. Keeping it below 21C will give you much better flavors and aromas.


I don't know if this question can be answered, but is the 2nd recipe supposed to be better than the 1st one after aging with oak? (it's only an assumption)

We sometimes make the mistake of automatically assuming that wine yeast will give better results. Many times that may not be the case. Joe's Ancient orange makes a perfectly delicious mead using bread yeast, and many others have used them successfully as well. Oaking any traditional mead has the potential to improve it (if you don't use too much), but if you have a bad tasting mead and oak it, you are likely to wind up with a bad tasting oaked mead. The good news as that aging time really does work miracles with mead.

Medsen

Edit - Also, let me encourage you to post yourself on the GotMead Member map. We need more international mead makers.

Cleber Olivo
04-08-2010, 06:46 PM
I've just measured the BRIX of the recipes but the results are strange:
1st - bread yeast) 3 BRIX
2nd - wine yeast) Below 1

Is these levels correct for a sweet mead (I am sure they are sweet and not medium or dry)?


Is the final gravity of both meads the same, or is the bread yeast batch sweeter? A sweeter batch will taste better early on in a meads life
I don't know if 2 BRIX is a good diference, but it makes sense.

And just complementing, I made a 3rd recipe in the same day and almost equal to the 2nd, except that I used bread yeast like in the 1st one. BRIX is below 1 too, but the recipe with 71B tastes slightly better :)

Probably I will receive a PHmeter until saturday so I can post more results.

Medsen Fey
04-08-2010, 07:12 PM
Yes 2 Brix is enough to move from dry/semi-dry up to semi-sweet and I would expect the slightly sweeter mead to be better in the first few months after fermentation. That may change over time....or not; half the fun is waiting to see how it changes.

Cleber Olivo
04-08-2010, 07:43 PM
Well that's a funny job!

Thank you very much for now. I will post more information soon.

Cleber Olivo
04-11-2010, 05:23 PM
Now I have the pH measures:
1st recipe) 3,62
2nd recipe) 3,45
3rd recipe) 3,45

The accuracy of the pHmeter is +/- 0,1

akueck
04-11-2010, 07:40 PM
Those pH are all in the normal range, nothing to worry about there. Nicely consistent too, wish mine were that well-behaved.

ken_schramm
04-12-2010, 06:31 AM
Two reasons come quickly to mind:

1) The first mead is older.
2) Due to the lack of nutrient, it appears the first mead is also sweeter.

Both of these are logical reasons for the tasting panel to have a preference.

As Medsen mentioned, the different fermentation temps mean that all things are not, in fact, equal.

KDS

Cleber Olivo
04-12-2010, 08:20 AM
Two reasons come quickly to mind:

1) The first mead is older.
2) Due to the lack of nutrient, it appears the first mead is also sweeter.

Both of these are logical reasons for the tasting panel to have a preference.

As Medsen mentioned, the different fermentation temps mean that all things are not, in fact, equal.

KDS

One more observation: 1st recipe was done before I read your book ;D
That's why I felt sad once everything led to believe that the 2nd and 3rd recipes should be tastier. On the other hand, there is always an explanation and I see that the best decision now is to let time does its job.

Currently I'm trying to find the best combinations of honey and yeasts. So I am still looking for some ingredients and equipments in order to improve my traditional mead recipes. It's hard to conclude that it's good enough to reach a commercial level once there isn't comercial meads in Brazil, and home meadmakers are rare.