View Full Version : Goldenrod Honey--Does the funky smell go away?

Morning Song
12-09-2011, 09:09 AM
Hi everyone! I'm brewing my first batch of mead, and i made the (potential) mistake of using goldenrod honey, since it was one of the few local ones i could get raw in nice condition this time of year.

I've noticed, as have a lot of people on google, that it was kind of a funky smell despite the normal taste. Is this the sort of thing that will mellow and go away as it ferments and clears, or should i make haste to add whatever spices i can find to mask the smell?

My recipe:

4lb goldenrod honey, raw
bottled drinking water to 1gal
1 tsp yeast nutrient
1/2 tsp yeast energizer
Red Star Pasteur Red yeast, 1 packet

Edit: Equipment sanitized with star-san,
mixed with no-boil method (whew, that was a lot of work! I think it mixed pretty well in the end though, since i couldn't find any more chunks with my stirrer)

12-09-2011, 09:16 AM
Is it a sulphur type smell?

Morning Song
12-09-2011, 09:59 AM
I wouldn't call it sulfurish. It's a sort of... organic odor. Unwashed socks is the term everyone else uses, and i'd sort of agree with that. (To be clear, it's not just the must that smells this way--the honey itself had this odor as well.)

Morning Song
12-09-2011, 02:27 PM
Incidentally, holy schnickes! I was under the impression that the lag phase for a mead would last at least a day or so, but when i went to aerate a moment ago (~12 hours after pitching), i got foam out the wazoo. Even if it doesn't end up making the tastiest mead, the yeasties love the stuff.

It's smelling more yeasty than anything (I've never brewed before, but i bake all the time, so i know THAT smell really well), so i won't know for a while if the sock smell is here to stay.

Dan McFeeley
12-09-2011, 06:08 PM
Hard to say -- is this version of goldenrod honey fairly dark? Even if the smell seems to be in the aroma and not the taste, it might still be part of the flavor profile of the honey, and eventually the finished mead.

Some varietals of buckwheat honey are like that, very dark, earthy barnyard taste, needs lots of aging.

I'm guesstimating that this is a really high gravity mead, about 1.400 from my rough calculations. Others on the forums may have better math but it still looks like a high gravity mead. It might bear watching.

Keep us posted!


Morning Song
12-09-2011, 07:56 PM
The honey didn't look like a particularly dark one to me--When it was in its raw, gooey state, it was a pale yellow, and in the must it was a fairly stereotypical orange color.

And yeah, it is pretty high gravity--but i wanted a fairly sweet final product. 2:1 water:honey was the figure i heard from the meader who inspired me, and 3.8-4lb to a gallon was what i heard during my research.

by "might bear watching", do you mean to look out for obstacles ahead? Or "that could be really good."? If it's the former, i think there's still time to thin it out; i still have 1/3 gal of the spring water left, and worse comes to worse, i can boil some tap water.

(Random update: i'm getting bubbles out of the airlock! not very fast yet, but they're coming.)

12-10-2011, 01:40 AM
Wow, that's some high gravity! I think that what Dan is referring to (although I do not presume to speak for him, of course:D) is that high gravity fermentations usually need a fine touch and careful management as they're hard to get going and hard to keep going. Aside from knowing that, I personally have no experience with anything even close to that high, but I'm interested in seeing how yours goes!

Dan McFeeley
12-10-2011, 01:47 AM
It's the former -- I wouldn't thin it out just yet, I was just suggesting keep a close eye on the fermentation in case it struggles. Did you take a gravity reading?


Morning Song
12-10-2011, 03:08 AM
Er... one of the few supplies i didn't get was a hydrometer. Of all things, the local homebrew store didn't have them, so i thought i'd be able to get away without one the first time. Whoops!

Medsen Fey
12-11-2011, 11:17 AM
Definitely get a hydrometer. With a high gravity batch like this, you need to make certain it is truly finished (and won't restart) after bottling and a hydrometer is really helpful to confirm completion.

My experience with goldenrod (which isn't huge) is that the "arm pit" aroma mellows out with aging. It will still keep an earthy quality, but something that is pleasant.

And Welcome to GotMead!

Morning Song
12-12-2011, 02:33 AM
Alrighty! Putting in an online order for a hydrometer and a graduated cylinder (Yet another kitchen tool I haven't used since High School chem :D)

Thanks for all the help! And i'll hope your experience with the mellowing bears out here, Medsen :)

And so far, it's still chugging along! Been about 1-2 bubble bursts every 6-8 seconds. So the little guys are up to something in there, even if they're not totally rocking out.

Morning Song
12-23-2011, 01:45 PM
Just got my hydrometer in! My reading i just got is a hair over 1.014 :) Hopefully that's pretty good for a hair over two weeks in. Airlock activity has slowed way down, too, so we'll see what the numbers say over the next few days.

EDIT: I totally misread the hydrometer. hopefully nobody noticed before this edit.

12-26-2011, 08:17 PM
I think there is a tread on here somewhere that talks about the bad smell of goldenrod honey coming from the asters that bloom at the same time.

That is why some goldenrod honey has that off smell and some don't.

May be worth hunting down that tread, as I don't remember all the information the tread contained.

Morning Song
12-30-2011, 01:41 AM
Well, for what it's worth, i don't smell the goldenrod anymore. It smells and tastes a little like a dry sparkling wine right now, though still a bit yeasty. (the sG settled at 1.008 for the last several days, so i'm cold crashing it right now, before i rack to secondary)

Chevette Girl
01-01-2012, 11:42 AM
I think there is a tread on here somewhere that talks about the bad smell of goldenrod honey coming from the asters that bloom at the same time.

That is why some goldenrod honey has that off smell and some don't.

May be worth hunting down that tread, as I don't remember all the information the tread contained.

I'm going to have to look that one up... I would pay extra to get the aster flavour in my goldenrod honey :) it tastes like autumn to me... Well, I just searched for aster and goldenrod got ten hits, most of them were me... anyone with more success, please post results!