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Gespacho
02-02-2011, 01:26 PM
I just started my first batch of mead on January 24th, and I'm started to get a little worried about the smell coming from the carboy. Its like a stale alcohol smell, kind of like the smell of a red wine left open too long, and nothing I've read tells me if its good or bad. I used a guide I download, and it went like this:

13 pounds generic honey (not a good choice I know)
The juice from 1 lemon (rind was discarded)
Spring water

Yeast starter:
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon generic nutrient (the white crystals)
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
Lavlin EC1118 yeast

After sterilizing I mixed the mixed the honey and added water until I had an SG of 1.095. I then added the lemon juice and aerated the must with a spoon for a few minutes. After letting the yeast starter grow for a couple of hours I pitched the yeast and put the lid on my mixing bucket. I siphoned into the carboy on Jan 31, and watched it bubble away. I measured the SG this morning at 1.050, but noticed the smell when I had the airlock off. Am I good now, or should I be taking steps to correct this before it ruins the batch?

wayneb
02-02-2011, 01:34 PM
Hi, Gespacho! Welcome to the "Gotmead?" community!!

"Stale Red Wine" isn't a smell that I typically associate with fermenting mead, but if I had to venture a guess, I'd say that you might be smelling the very beginnings of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) production in your must. Given your recipe, you don't mention adding any yeast nutrients to the main batch - only some "white crystals" (probably DiAmmonium Phosphate - DAP) to the starter. Your must is likely deficient in yeast assimilable nitrogen (YAN), which can cause yeast stress resulting in H2S production.

This late in your fermentation you'll need to make sure that any nitrogen additions come from amino nitrogen sources, rather than inorganic sources like DAP. Try to find some Fermaid-O or Fermaid 2133, or in a real pinch you can use boiled baking yeast as a nutrient for your fermenting yeast. There are lots of posts already here on the forum discussing various aspects of yeast nutrient additions; try searching on the terms "nutrient addition" or "assimilable nitrogen" and see what you come up with. If you still have questions after some poking around, let us know.

Gespacho
02-02-2011, 01:43 PM
I was starting to suspect H2S was the culprit. I'll stop by the LHBS on the way home and get some Fermaid nutrients. I'll make sure this doesn't happen with my second batch of show mead. I used good clover honey from the farmer's market in that one, and that stuff isn't cheap!

Thanks for the quick reply, Wayneb. I'll update my results later.

Gespacho
03-30-2011, 07:09 PM
It has been a while since the last update, but the batch has turned out nicely since then. I'm going to drop in a few oak chips and let it sit for a week, but other than that it is quite drinkable now!

I found that the "White Crystals" were DAP, after going back to the HBS and getting a little friendly advice from the owner. That man is definitely getting a bottle. I've since changed my process and my ingredients a little. I've adapted my recipe to the following and the fermentation takes off like crazy within 24 hours.

15 lbs Clover honey
2 tsp DAP
2 tsp Wyeast beer nutrient (as suggested by the LHBS owner)
1/4 tsp K-sulfite
Added water to 5 gallons
10 grams Lalvin EC-1118

Mixed the must and added the nutrients, energizer, and sulfites together. O.G. was 1.096. After I let the must sit for 24 hours; I re-hydrated the yeast, and after letting it sit for 20 minutes pitched it into the must. Within 24 hours fermentation was going strong and I added nutrients according to Hightest's nutrient addition schedule. A day and a half later the gravity has dropped to 1.082. I'll add nutrients again just before the mid-point, but I'm confident the fermentation will complete within the next 2 weeks.

To any other newbies out there, never forget to feed your yeast!

Thanks again for the help, Wayne!

moonie
03-31-2011, 12:32 PM
Glad things have turned out well for you, I would highly recommend reading the NewBee Guide, I read it after my first two 1 gallon batches (found this place then) and it has helped me understand the entire process. My second and third batches completed fermenting to completely dry in less than 2 weeks after learning the care and feeding of young musts up to the 1/3 sugar break.

First two batches finished at higher alcohol but also much higher FG, 1.028 and 1.013. I also understood better than the lower the alcohol the shorter it takes for it to be drinkable.

Gespacho
04-05-2011, 03:21 PM
Thanks Moonie.

I've actually been through the newbie guide, and I picked up a copy of Compleat Meadmaker for good measure. I can't wait to get started on a Cyser, but I'm going to be moving in the near future and I have to get those carboys empty as soon as I can.

I had a bit of a scare when this latest batch slowed fermentation to a crawl, but I added some bicarbonate for the acidity and the fermentation roared back to life within a few hours. I'd love to rack this onto some raspberries or blackberries in the secondary, but the farmer's markets don't open up in Calgary until mid-late may. The growing season up here is pretty short...

Chevette Girl
04-06-2011, 01:23 AM
The growing season up here is pretty short...

<groan> I hear you... there's still snow on the ground here.

Tiwas
04-06-2011, 07:10 AM
The growing season up here is pretty short...

Surely, you mean *down there*. Right? ;)

Gespacho
04-06-2011, 08:50 AM
Lol

How much snow is left in Oslo? Have you switched to your summer tires yet? I'd make the switch here, but it keeps snowing at night and melting during the day.

Tiwas
04-06-2011, 09:07 AM
Not too much, but same problem here. But the worst thing isn't the snow (as my dog likes to roll in it, which means I don't have to wash him after every walk) but the ice in the mornings. That stuff is dangerous :S

Chevette Girl
04-06-2011, 09:13 AM
Surely, you mean *down there*. Right? ;)

I think you're one of the few folks who ISN'T below us... so we're "up here" to everyone else. You're just special, Tiwas. ;D

Tiwas
04-06-2011, 09:27 AM
I think you're one of the few folks who ISN'T below us... so we're "up here" to everyone else. You're just special, Tiwas. ;D

hehe...should I say thanks, or should I enrol in the special olympics? Or...how about starting a "special mazer"? :-P

Gespacho
04-06-2011, 01:53 PM
You could always just design a "special northern metheglin" to warm people up in the winter. ;D

wildoates
04-07-2011, 12:09 AM
Been wearing shorts and flip flops the last week or so, sorry. Most of the trees are in full leaf and we've already had several days in the 80s F. Summer is long, winter short.

When I first started brewing I moderately freaked out at the smells coming from the buckets, but I got over that fairly quickly...experience is the best teacher when it comes to that. :)

Gespacho
04-07-2011, 11:13 AM
I'm just starting to get used to the smells. My fiance can't figure out how I can tell them apart, she says all she smells is the yeast. Just had my first actual SO2 issue (the one I started this thread for was a false alarm. Just added some nutrient and degassed it, and the fermentation fired back up. Good thing it was a 1 gallon batch. Much easier to handle.

As for the weather here, things are looking up. The snow is more than half melted, and as of this weekend it is supposed to stay above freezing even over night. Score! :headbang:

TheAlchemist
04-07-2011, 05:20 PM
Been wearing shorts and flip flops the last week or so, sorry.... :)

Chicagoans are such strippers...
After this interminable winter, give us one day with sun and temps above freezing and we're out in our shirtsleeves with no socks...at least some of us are...not me! I'm still freezing.

wildoates
04-07-2011, 07:33 PM
Chicagoans are such strippers...
After this interminable winter, give us one day with sun and temps above freezing and we're out in our shirtsleeves with no socks...at least some of us are...not me! I'm still freezing.

Well, in the interests of full disclosure, it will be in the high 30s F the next two nights, rather chilly for April.

:)