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KJoppy
05-31-2011, 03:44 AM
Hello,

I have a batch in the works with a strange sort of white skin on the top. This first showed up almost immediately after the initial combination of honey, water, and sulfite, before the yeast was added. The skin/bubbles disappeared for a short time after transfer to the carboy, and then re-formed inside as seen in the photographs below. I have read several forum posts on various sites, but as most of them did not have photographs I can draw little useful information from them.

Does anyone know what this is? Is this an infection, and if so is there anything I can do about it?

PHOTO:
[http://www.flickr.com/photos/63505085@N05/5780283822/in/photostream]

tweak'e
05-31-2011, 04:31 AM
its just yeast with a bit of co2 caught under it.

mccann51
05-31-2011, 10:32 AM
Yeah, looks fine.

Btw, have you aerated your must? Getting oxygen to your yeast early in the ferment is essential, and by the looks of that pic you haven't swirled it in awhile.

YogiBearMead726
05-31-2011, 11:42 AM
Ditto the first two comments.

If it was infected, the white bubbles should be more continuous, like an unbroken film floating on the surface. What you have looks like "krausen" from the yeasties.

Good luck, and welcome to "GotMead?"! :D

mmclean
05-31-2011, 12:18 PM
Hello,

I have a batch in the works with a strange sort of white skin on the top. This first showed up almost immediately after the initial combination of honey, water, and sulfite, before the yeast was added.

Could you post your recipe and procedures? If it started before you added the yeast and you added sulfite before you piched the yeast...well seems odd.

A time line of events would help.

How much time lapse between adding sulfite and pitching yeast?

Did you stir the must into a froth?

KJoppy
05-31-2011, 12:57 PM
@tweak'e: Ok, thanks for the information.

@mccann51 and YogiBearMead726: I have not aerated or stirred since I put the liquid in the carboy. Are you suggesting that I just swirl it in the carboy without removing the airlock?

@mmclean: I used a the "Basic Mead" recipe from EC Krause's website
http://www.eckraus.com/wine-making-mead-honey.html

with the following deviations/details
- I did not heat and skim the honey, despite the fact that it is raw. One of my thoughts about the scum on my mead is that it was some kind of solids from the honey.
- If I remember correctly, the scum had already showed up 24 hours after adding sulfite, and before pitching the yeast. I realize this is an important detail, but unfortunately I didn't write anything down so I can't be absolutely sure.
- Yeast was pitched 24 hours after adding sulfite as specified by the recipe.
- When I started I didn't have a hydrometer. After 5 days in primary I checked the density and got 1.07. Since this was higher than specified by the recipe I let it sit for another day and measured again, and got 1.06. Then I broke my hydrometer, so the next day I racked it because I figured it was probably close enough (I keep reminding myself that people have been doing this for thousands of years). After racking the scum was gone. Probably dissolved.
- After about two days the scum was back as you see it now.

AToE
05-31-2011, 01:07 PM
I also believe that this kind of scum is largely wax particles, based on how it behaves and looks, probably combined with yeast. I get this in all my batches, it generally takes at least until the 3rd racking to get rid of most of it.

mmclean
05-31-2011, 03:20 PM
I agree that it's just "junk" floating to the top from the raw honey.

Mead needs to be aerated often during the first 1/3 part of the active fermentation. Two or three times to get much needed oxygen to the yeast. Be careful at the start until the mead is degased.

KJoppy
05-31-2011, 03:30 PM
@mmclean:

I realize that I should have aerated the mead before I put it in the carboy with the airlock. Now that it's been in the carboy for about two weeks, do you think it's still worth aerating? The fermentation seems to be going well, in the sense that there's a lot of bubbling coming out of the airlock. Roughly one 2cc bubble every thirty seconds.

Loadnabox
05-31-2011, 03:35 PM
@mmclean: I used a the "Basic Mead" recipe from EC Krause's website
http://www.eckraus.com/wine-making-mead-honey.html
.

Wow... there's SOOOO many things wrong with this.

#1 Campden before primary is by no means necessary. It won't hurt, but it's obvious from the addition to this recipe that the creator simply adapted a wine recipe to mead. Most people won't start with campden tabs unless there's fruit to worry about since honey is naturally anti-biotic and anti-fungal (don't have to worry about wild strains too much)

#2 It adds acid up front, another sign the maker simply adapted wine recipes to mead

#3 It uses powdered tannin up front instead of something like oaking, or even adding powder later in the process; another sign it's adapted recipe

#4 It makes no mention of nutrient additions or aeration which is incredibly important in low-nutrient wine musts such as mead (guess what I say here)

-CAVEAT- This isn't me saying go dump the batch or that it will come out bad. This is me just saying that it's another site providing what is very outdated and bad information about mead making from someone who is probably a good wine maker, but doesn't understand how different mead is.

Keep your current batch going, it won't hurt anything and will be a good learning experience, but do a LOT of reading on the forums here. You'll learn tons of stuff particular to mead making. Be sure to check out the JAO thread as well since it's MUCH easier to brew than a traditional show mead, which is probably the hardest kind of mead to make (what you're making right now)

mmclean
05-31-2011, 03:36 PM
Hard call without a SG reading. After 5 days, I think I'd leave it be as long as it has a strong ferment with no off smells.

Loadnabox
05-31-2011, 03:39 PM
@mmclean:

I realize that I should have aerated the mead before I put it in the carboy with the airlock. Now that it's been in the carboy for about two weeks, do you think it's still worth aerating? The fermentation seems to be going well, in the sense that there's a lot of bubbling coming out of the airlock. Roughly one 2cc bubble every thirty seconds.

Bubbling is a poor way of judging fermentation, a hydrometer reading is best.

If you aren't past the 1/3 or even 1/2 sugar break, then daily aeration is not just OK, it would be recommended.

If you're past the 1/2 sugar break then don't aerate.

It's possible that either of the two could be your situation depending on the temp of the must and how well the yeast have propagated, though it's more likely right now that you're past the 1/2 break.

If you don't have an OG reading then the best we can guess, based on 13# honey in 5 gallons, is a SG of 1.091 where the 1/2 break would be 1.045 1/3 break 1.061 (approximately)

AToE
05-31-2011, 03:56 PM
#3 It uses powdered tannin up front instead of something like oaking, or even adding powder later in the process; another sign it's adapted recipe


I agree with your thoughts about the recipe (it'll probably still make a totally fine mead) except this one. There's nothing dated about this, nor adapted from wine making, in a bad way at least. Lots of people use a tannin extract powder such as tannin galalcool upfront in a mead, including myself and Oskaar. (This may or may not be in addition to oaking, it's not a substitute for oaking, it's a just a more specialized tool/ingredient).

tweak'e
06-01-2011, 02:56 AM
@mmclean: I used a the "Basic Mead" recipe from EC Krause's website
http://www.eckraus.com/wine-making-mead-honey.html

with the following deviations/details
- I did not heat and skim the honey, despite the fact that it is raw. One of my thoughts about the scum on my mead is that it was some kind of solids from the honey........

- After about two days the scum was back as you see it now.

if you added the " 6 Tablespoons Acid Blend" as per recipe, congrats on having it ferment at all. a few have been on here before with failed ferments due to the acid content.
also its a massive amount of tannin.

unless you filtered the raw honey, i doubt its scum from raw honey. its way to fine to be wax. also wax will have stayed on the top all the time. (the must in the pic is very clean for raw honey)
the pic looks like yeast.
its possible the stuff on top early on was something else.
acid-tannin reaction? or even tannin caught by gas bubbles.

AToE
06-01-2011, 06:31 PM
I'd call that much tannin more of a medium-high than a high dose, unless with a kind of tannin much more concentrated than galalcool. Should be ok, but will probably take a good year to mellow out.

That acid amount is off the charts though, like seriously crazy. Not only am I amazed it would ferment, I'm amazed someone would create that recipe, taste it, and then post it on the internet for others!

This one might need some serious backsweetening to balance out all that acidity.

Chevette Girl
06-01-2011, 06:44 PM
That acid amount is off the charts though, like seriously crazy. Not only am I amazed it would ferment, I'm amazed someone would create that recipe, taste it, and then post it on the internet for others!

This one might need some serious backsweetening to balance out all that acidity.

I agree, that amount of acidity does seem a little extreme even to a winemaker who's used to adding some up front (the theory being to try to mimic the initial pH of grape juice with all musts, no matter the composition, before we realized that honey adds its own acidity), but I did twice make traditionals with only DAP and a hefty dose of lemon juice and both batches made it down to around 1.015, so it's possible the theory is that the acidity will stop the fermentation a little early so you don't have to backsweeten. I'll drag my log book upstairs later and confirm how much I added...

And yeah, if some of the scummy stuff appeared before you pitched, I suspect it is possible there was some interesting reaction between the acidity and some impurities in your honey, but what's pictured looks an awful lot like the scunge I get on top of most batches of JAO and variants, I just swirl a little to mix it back in and eventually it stays off the top.

wildoates
06-01-2011, 11:32 PM
All my meads have been plenty acidic, I'd hate to think how puckery they'd be if I'd added that much acid blend!