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wonderjosh
11-03-2010, 01:31 PM
So I made a post a few days ago regarding my must (pre-yeast) stinking something nasty. Turns out it was just the honey I guess (avocado honey).
Now that I've added yeast and spices, it's fermenting nicely, but has a rank smell. It kind of smells rotten and organic, but I'm not sure why. I've sanitized everything like I usually do (metabisulphate/water mix in a spray bottle, then rinse).

I know when I added campden tablets to the honey at first (which is what I thought to do with raw honey, but I guess you don't have to) I thought that might be where the stank came from. I should also say that looking into the primary, the top inch or so of the must, when slightly moved or shaken, showed a cloudy layer hovering over the dark must.

Anyway, this is my recipe.

3lbs. avocado honey
1 gallon spring water (with ozone, whatever that is, so maybe that was my problem?)
1 package of Red Star Cote des Blancs
Added some nutrient as well
1 vanilla bean (split)
2 3" cinnamon sticks
2 cloves
2 other spices that I can't remember, but they were buds and had a slight cinnamon spice fragrance
(I added the extra clove and spice a day after I started fermentation, just for kicks)

So I mixed the honey with heated water to dissolve it nicely then added one crushed campden tablet (oh well). I let it sit for 24 hours.

In the meantime I had a turkey stuffing cloth (since the mesh of my cheese cloth was too big) soaking in water with a crushed campden tablet to sterilize it.

After 24 hours, I put the spices in the bag, started the yeast and added them to the must.

It's been a couple days and fermentation is going well, but it smells oh so rank.

Should I aerate it or something? Or just keep going, since it's still pretty early really, and see what happens?

All opinions and help would be awesome! Learning about this stuff is what I'm here for, haha.

AToE
11-03-2010, 01:51 PM
Well you should always aerate it at this point in the ferment, never a bad idea (other than maybe specific recipes like JAO).

How much nutrient did you add? I don't know about the nutrient requirements of that yeast, but I believe that one is known for producing some sulphurous odours.

Medsen Fey
11-03-2010, 04:17 PM
Côte des blancs can get quite stinky if under-nourished. How much of what did you give it? Also what temperature are you maintaining?

wonderjosh
11-03-2010, 05:01 PM
I added nutrient when I started the yeast, so only... maybe... 1/3 of a teaspoon? I just kind of winged it. I know, probably not the best way to do it. I should probably add more nutrient now I expect.

So if I should, how much should I add for a gallon's worth of must?

I'll stir it up a bit to aerate it too, I guess, hey?

AToE
11-03-2010, 05:20 PM
I'm guessing that is just something labeled "nutrient" then, with no further explaination of what it is? Does it look like yeast powder or white crystals? (Or a mix?)

When aerating, if this is in a bucket then I'd whip the heck out of it with a metal whisk. If it's in a 1 gallon jug (hopefully not full) then you can put a cap on it and shake it for 5 minutes or so to aerating it. Be warned, any kind of aeration is liable to cause a mead gyser due to releasing CO2 very quickly, so I like to shake them a tiny bit (like one or two shakes tops) then release that CO2, then repeat over and over until it seems like not very much foaming is occuring every time I vent it, then I shake the heck out of it. This often takes over 10 minutes just to get it to calm down, depending on how vigourously it is fermenting.

wonderjosh
11-03-2010, 08:18 PM
Yeah, it's just a generic yeast energizer/nutrient package. White powder! Never looked closely enough to see if there were crystals, but it's definitely white powder. Also, I do this all in the basement. It's a little cool, but not much cooler than room temp, really. So maybe about 20C (68F)? I could be way off though. It's a comfortable temperature anyway!

I'll aerate it with the little shakes then! Would be a mess of a mead volcano otherwise, I'm sure.

Oh, and that spice I forgot the name of was "Cassia buds"! I'm sure that's what they are... They have a cinnamon-like fragrance.

Medsen Fey
11-03-2010, 08:49 PM
About 1/2 tsp of your stuff will probably help. Can you read the ingredients on the label? Then aerate it well.

wonderjosh
11-04-2010, 01:15 AM
There aren't any ingredients labeled on the package, but it does say 1/2 teaspoon to a gallon! :P

So I'll try that out and then aerate it. Thanks for the help! We'll just have to wait and see how this goes now, haha.

AToE
11-04-2010, 11:43 AM
Add that nutrient before aerating, it will help get a lot of the CO2 out of solution and make aerating easier for you. That said, be careful when adding it (maybe sprinkle a little, wait for it to fizz out then add the rest) as adding solids to a fermenting liquid can also cause a gyser.

wonderjosh
11-04-2010, 03:32 PM
Done and done!
Yep, I added the nutrient before aerating. It fizzed up for sure, but I didn't have to worry about a geyser much, thank goodness.
Made a big difference though! The funky smell is gone and it's fermenting nicely still.
Thanks for the help everyone ;)

AToE
11-04-2010, 04:48 PM
Good to hear. Did you get a gravity reading when you started this? You'll probably want to keep aerating it at least once per day until the ferment is 1/3 finished, but without a hydrometre you can't tell how fast the ferment is going.

wonderjosh
11-04-2010, 05:00 PM
I didn't get a gravity reading when I first started, but I did before I aerated it (last night) and it was at... ah shoot, I think it was about 1.045. I can't remember specifically. The abv was around the 5% mark or so. It's been fermenting since late late in the evening of Oct. 31, so really about 4-5 days so far.
First time I've used a hydrometer, too, haha.

AToE
11-04-2010, 05:52 PM
Ok, when you mixed this up did you add enough water to 3 lbs of honey to = one gallon total, or did you add one gallon of water to 3 lbs honey? I'm trying to guess how far along you are.

FYI that alcohol % reading on the hydrometre doesn't actually tell you how much alcohol is in your liquid, it tells you how much alcohol could potentially be produced by the sugar in that liquid if that was your starting number and you managed to ferment it totally dry.

At this point it sounds like you're probably at or past the 1/2 way mark, so unless it gets stinky again I wouldn't bother aerating it.

AToE
11-04-2010, 05:54 PM
Also I noticed you asking about ozone in your original post? Ozone is ozone... 3 oxygen atoms stuck together. It's used as a method of killing anything living in the water before bottling, it would have had no effect on your mead/yeast, no worries there.

wonderjosh
11-04-2010, 06:53 PM
It was literally 1 gallon of spring water + ~3lbs of honey. So I've got a bit more than a gallon all together of course, but at least when I rack into my secondary, I'll still be around the 1 gallon mark even though I'll lose some off the sediment.

Ooooh, ok, I gotcha about the alcohol reading on the hyrometer. Good to know! Yeah, I should have got a reading right away. Oh well. Next time!

Good to know about the ozone deal. I figured it should be ok, but wasn't really sure what it was all about.

So far the smelliness has stayed away! I'm getting the honey and spices smell now, so it seems to be going well!

AToE
11-04-2010, 08:40 PM
Ok then, I'm not totally sure what your starting gravity should have been roughly then, because I don't know the total volume exactly for 1 gal water plus 3lbs honey. You're definitely past the 1/2 way mark now though.

This will end up totally dry, which for my personal tastes is perfect, but you might decide it needs to have a little honey added for backsweetening later on. I wouldn't make any decisions like that until at least 6 months have passed though, as there will be bad flavours that will cloud your judgement and make you think it needs to be sweeter than it really does.

A dry mead at 1 year or more generally becomes great, but I fully understand how nearly impossible it can be to keep your hands off it for that long when you're starting out!

wonderjosh
11-04-2010, 09:21 PM
Haha yeah, I'm not too worried if it comes out dry! I backsweetended my last (or first) batch and won't open a bottle til around Christmas time, which will be about the 4 month in-the-bottle mark. I got 4 bordeaux bottles out of my gallon.

I might just leave this one dry! Or maybe I'll do a couple bottles dry and a couple bottles backsweetened.

Haha, next time I'll remember to take a gravity reading right off the bat ;)

AToE
11-05-2010, 12:23 AM
How old were those ones you backsweetened and bottled, and were they ever stabilized (chemically)? If you bottled a sweetened dry mead that was young those could blow up.

wonderjosh
11-05-2010, 01:30 AM
Oh no, they're fine. I racked a few times and clarified it. I degassed the living daylights out of the stuff (after backsweetening) before bottling, then let it sit for a while, just to be sure. Started the batch at the end of July and bottled at the beginning of September, I believe. Could have been mid to late September though... I meant to write down the dates, but I'd forget and would remember at the most inopportune times... But oh well! So far, so good! I check up on them now and then, too. The stuff seems flat like old soda.

Medsen Fey
11-05-2010, 09:08 AM
3 pounds of honey is roughly 1 quart. So your volume would be close to 1.25 gallons and your starting gravity was probably close to 1.086.

Did you use similar amounts of honey for the batch that you previously bottled? and was that using côte des blancs?

If so, be careful as you would not have enough alcohol to have exceeded the tolerance level of the yeast. Racking and clarifying reduce the yeast counts, but there is more than enough yeast left (even in a crystal clear mead) to restart a fermentation. Unless you have exceeded the yeast tolerance for alcohol, or stabilized using some method (chemicals or sterile filtration or pasteurization) your batches are at risk for starting up again especially if stored in a nice warm place.

Medsen

wonderjosh
11-05-2010, 11:17 AM
My last batch I used generic liquid white honey (as I just wanted to try out the mead making process and see how went) and EC-1118. The yeast ate up all the sugar in that honey! It was bone dry. I waited a while after backsweetening it before bottling, just in case it started up again.

Yeah, I researched up bottlebombs because I did NOT want that to happen to me, haha.

This time though, when the time comes, should I use a campden tablet or two? After backsweetening (if I backsweeten, that is)?

wayneb
11-05-2010, 11:51 AM
To be as sure as you can be that the mead is stable, a one-two punch consisting of both potassium metabisulphite (campden) and potassium sorbate is the way to go. You can find a lot of information about the process, in earlier threads on the subject, if you search on the term stabilization using the search tool (on the click down menu near the top of this page).

YogiBearMead726
11-05-2010, 11:52 AM
You'll want to treat with both campden tablets and sorbate. If you don't, you run the risk of the yeast re-budding and starting back up.

Also, treat the mead before you backsweeten, unless you want the yeast to be step-fed honey and continue to ferment. Treat the batch, wait a week or two to ensure SG is stable, then backsweeten. Hope this helps.

EDIT: What wayneb said...haha, I type too slowly.

AToE
11-05-2010, 12:09 PM
Especially with a yeast like EC1118 - that yeast is a champagne yeast with a tolerance of 18% ABV - it is specifically intended to start back up fermenting even after the wine looks clear (even a mead/wine that has been clearing for over a year will still have millions of active yeast cells in it).

You might be fine if they stay cold, but I'd drink them sooner than later and store them in the fridge.

The fact that you waited to see if it restarted was a good idea, but refermentation can kick up at any time, even years later (though that would be rarer).

wonderjosh
11-05-2010, 12:44 PM
Especially with a yeast like EC1118 - that yeast is a champagne yeast with a tolerance of 18% ABV - it is specifically intended to start back up fermenting even after the wine looks clear (even a mead/wine that has been clearing for over a year will still have millions of active yeast cells in it).

You might be fine if they stay cold, but I'd drink them sooner than later and store them in the fridge.

The fact that you waited to see if it restarted was a good idea, but refermentation can kick up at any time, even years later (though that would be rarer).

Oh man! Ok, good to know. Maybe I'll wrap the bottles in towels or something, just in case they ever do decide to go nuts. I did have half a bottle left which I didn't cork and took swigs of it here and there over the course of a week or two til it was gone. It didn't seem to restart in that time, so hopefully the bottled stuff will stay ok.


To be as sure as you can be that the mead is stable, a one-two punch consisting of both potassium metabisulphite (campden) and potassium sorbate is the way to go. You can find a lot of information about the process, in earlier threads on the subject, if you search on the term stabilization using the search tool (on the click down menu near the top of this page).


You'll want to treat with both campden tablets and sorbate. If you don't, you run the risk of the yeast re-budding and starting back up.

Also, treat the mead before you backsweeten, unless you want the yeast to be step-fed honey and continue to ferment. Treat the batch, wait a week or two to ensure SG is stable, then backsweeten. Hope this helps.

EDIT: What wayneb said...haha, I type too slowly.

Sweet deal, I'll search that up when the time comes then! Thanks!