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View Full Version : I need help! Don't want to dump 6 gallons of mead!!



kew8721
02-06-2012, 11:03 AM
So last Feb., about a year ago I started this batch of traditional mead.

I have let it bulk age up until now. I have sampled it throughout the process and never has it really tasted "good". Currently, it does not have a harsh aftertaste or burn going down like it used to, however still not pleasant to drink in my opinion. It looks pretty clear.

On day 17 I racked to the 6 gallon glass carboy with an SG of 1.002. Is it possible that it has sat on the lees too long? Could I have messed something up with the yeast nutrient in the beginning? I added 6 Tsp. to initial must. On day 3 I added 6 more tsp. and the SG was 1.090. I added the last 6tsp of nutrient on day 4 with an SG of 1.070. The room temp. was anywhere from 63-70F during fermentation. What are my options now? Is there any hope of possible re-racking now and continuing to let it sit?

Any suggestions are welcome!!



So I started my first 6 gallon batch of a traditional mead last night using the following;

12 lbs summer blossom honey (Lighter in color)
6 lbs orange blossom honey (Darker in color)
5.5 gallons distilled water
6tsp yeast nutrient (Fermax)
2 packs lalvin 71B-1122 yeast

S.G. = 1.090

Day 2: S.G. still at 1.090 but a bit of foam has started to form before airation.

I am using a plastic bucket as my primary and will rack to a 6 gallon glass carboy in a few weeks.

I will also add more nutrient when the S.G. reaches 1.060 and again at 1.030.

Lawpaw
02-06-2012, 12:23 PM
In the future I wouldn't use distiller water. You need some of the salts and minerals in regular water. If you don't trust your water you are better off with "spring" water. I mix about 20% distiller with my tap since my water is so hard.

Can you be more specific about the taste? If its flabby or dull you could add acid blend and/or tannin. This can really bring some bland wines to life. You could also oak for a while to add tannins and general complexity.

Back sweetening may also bring out the honey flavor. Some people just don't like dry mead.

If all else fails you can rack on some fruit or spice.

triarchy
02-06-2012, 12:40 PM
71B cant sit on lees too long, but I think that 17 days from the start of fermentation shouldnt be the problem. It might be the 18 teaspoons of nutrient you added (did I read that right?). Can you describe the taste, is it salty, or chemical-like? Can you try to sweeten a sample with some honey and see if that makes things better? Its hard to say if it is just a young mead issue or if you really have some off tastes from too much nutrient or some other problem until we get a little more description of the off taste. And how does it smell?

brian92fs
02-06-2012, 01:29 PM
triarchy might be on the right path. You said you racked it at 17 days. Did you do any additional rackings? Did any more lees drop out after the inital racking? If they did, that could be part of the problem. 71 shouldn't sit on its lees for more that 5 or 6 weeks.

Also, as other have said, what do you mean by "not pleasant to drink". Flabby and flat, or is there a off flavor/aroma?

kew8721
02-06-2012, 03:09 PM
Thanks for the replies.

It's hard to describe the taste as this is the first batch I've done so I don't know what to compare it to. It does not smell nor taste sweet at all. Mild honey flavors. Not sure if it's the overpowering alcohol I taste because it is a dry mead, but there is definitely some off flavoring as well. Not a burning, but almost bitter and maybe a little chemically. My Fiance says it is yeasty, "ferment-y", and strong.

I racked it from the primary to the glass carboy on day 17 where more lees did drop out over the course of the year. I have not racked it off of that which it sounds like I really should have.

The yeast nutrient I used was Crosby and Baker brand Fermax Yeast Nutrient from my LHBS. The directions on the bottle say 1tsp per gallon. I think that is why I used 6 tsp. at each sugar phase. Looking back on it, this seems like way to much though.

I sweetened a sample with a bit of honey and it helped a little, maybe masking some of the flavors, but still not right in my opinion. The smell is still off too. I think the best way to describe it with out truly knowing is chemically I suppose. Not a pleasant aftertaste. Maybe yeasty too, but not exactly sure what that tastes like. Sorry it's kind of vague!

Any suggestions on what my next step should be? Can I save this??

Val
02-06-2012, 04:22 PM
It sounds like you left it on the lees too long.

You can let that age out (it'll take a good while) or add something to mask it.

My usual choice is artificial vanilla flavoring from Sam's. It's cheap and I've found it'll make most any mead "gone wrong" very tasty.

mmclean
02-06-2012, 04:50 PM
The yeast nutrient I used was Crosby and Baker brand Fermax Yeast Nutrient from my LHBS. The directions on the bottle say 1tsp per gallon. I think that is why I used 6 tsp. at each sugar phase. Looking back on it, this seems like way to much though.



O.K., so here is my take on where things went wrong.

First, starting with a traditional as your first mead may have been overly ambitious. A dry traditional will show each and every flaw. Sweetness, fruit, and/ spices can cover a lot of off-ness.

Next, letting 71B sit on it's lees may have given some off flavor. I've never used it myself, but that seems to be the consensus.

Then there is the nutrients. As you have probably figured out, 1 tsp per gallon is for the total ferment. The 6 tsp then should/can be split into stages.

So, what to do now?

You could just wait it out. Maybe another year would help.

Or,

Add some acid blend, honey, spices, and/or fruit or fruit juice.

If it was me, I would try to make something drinkable out of it and move on to the next batch. Maybe a JAO or a melomel.

Learn to perfect your technique. Find the protocal that works best for you. Then try the traditional again.

But, don't toss a mead. It's really hard to mess up that bad.

schlapppy
02-06-2012, 07:32 PM
are you able to test the pH?

My guess is it's either the Ph, or lees aging didn't do you any favors.

pH you can fix.. the lees aging problem you'd have to blend it with other flavors to make it more palatable.

triarchy
02-06-2012, 07:39 PM
Thanks for the replies.

It's hard to describe the taste as this is the first batch I've done so I don't know what to compare it to. It does not smell nor taste sweet at all. Mild honey flavors. Not sure if it's the overpowering alcohol I taste because it is a dry mead, but there is definitely some off flavoring as well. Not a burning, but almost bitter and maybe a little chemically. My Fiance says it is yeasty, "ferment-y", and strong.

The smell is still off too. I think the best way to describe it with out truly knowing is chemically I suppose. Not a pleasant aftertaste. Maybe yeasty too, but not exactly sure what that tastes like. Sorry it's kind of vague!

Any suggestions on what my next step should be? Can I save this??

Well, the "ferment-y" and "yeasty" parts will most likely age out. I wouldnt worry about those aspects too much. The "chemical" aspect seems like it is related to the 2x nutrient amount added. I dont have any experience with that, so no idea if that ages out. Assuming it wont, you can try to mask it with sweet/fruit/spice (+1 mmclean) or you can blend it with some new batches. Say 2 more 6 gallon batches made with the same ingredients but with less nutrient. My only fear in this suggestion would be if the "bad" batch contaminated the other two. Its easy to taste "bad" things in a trad, there is nothing to hide behind. That would then be a huge waste. Sorry I cant really help out, maybe a more experienced member can add their two cents.

One possible way to identify the off smell would be to mix a little of your nutrient in water and give that a smell. Is that similar to what your mead smells like?

skunkboy
02-06-2012, 07:46 PM
Try downloading the following : http://www.bjcp.org/mead/Mead_Study.doc and then compare what your are tasting to section 14 "Common Mead Faults".

If it is indeed too much unprocessed nutrient I'm not aware of any solution other than watering it down adding more honey and restarting fermentation to use up the extra.

brian92fs
02-06-2012, 11:59 PM
If there are lees on the bottom, I'd suggest racking it off those soon. At least you can stop any more damage from developing.

fong song
02-07-2012, 12:13 AM
Ok, I'll have a stab at it

The reason could be any of those reasons stated before (+1 various ppl).

What to do?
Maybe give up on it being a dry trad (not sure if you were aiming for dry) and look at damage limitation
You have a fair sized batch so you can consider splitting it and doing different things, this will also give you some experience of adding other ingredients.
What SG is it now?
Firstly, I would pull out say 1l and then add honey in small amounts up to where it is too sweet so you can learn how much is acceptable, where the optimal is and how much is too much. As you said, adding a small amount of honey makes a world of difference. I have 14month old meads (various), that where stabilised a year ago but not backsweetened. I think a number of these batches I fermented a little too warm and with ec-1118 so most likely there are fusels (?) and/or other byproducts in there. When it is completely dry, there is nothing for it to hide behind. Adding just a small amount of honey has dramatically improved them. Percieved sweetness is a balance, therefore other things that you add (oak, acids) can reduce the percieved sweetness. Maybe you can sweeten a little and it will be ok. If not maybe you can sweeten more and then and things that make it taste more dry to balance the sugar.

Maybe you want to split it into 3 batches, add loads of fruit to one, acid and oak to another and some spices to the last (or any combination of whatever you can think of)

Does the bad smell lesson if you leave it out breathing for a while? Pull off a glass, swirl it lots and leave it for a couple of hours. Is this any better?

akueck
02-07-2012, 04:07 AM
I'd second most of the above. Rack it off what lees it has now, whatever else you decide to do with it. Some leesy-ness will fade with time, but probably not all of it.

I would personally find something you want to add that will make this mead more fun to drink. Fruit or spice are probably the best options, and some sugar will cover a lot of sins. If you use fruit and you stabilize the mead, the fruit sugars might be enough. Otherwise I'd stabilize and add honey.

Oregon fruit purees are easy to work with and come in cans (pre-sterilized!). You can usually find small cans as well as big ones, so you might get a small can and mix it with a little bit of the mead and see what you get. This option is faster than trying to infuse whole fruit or spices into the mead. Be sure to stabilize the mead though! Even after a year there can still be viable yeast in there. I might go with blackberry or raspberry, you can add a big dose of those without it getting overly fruity and they are strong flavors to cover up some of the off-bits.

For your next batches I would stay away from dry traditionals for now. They are the hardest meads to do well, so you set the bar pretty high for your first one. I'd suggest a cyser, they ferment well and are easy to whip up and very tasty.

jkane
02-07-2012, 02:23 PM
It's all been covered already. The nutrient times 3 is a most of the problem. Sorry, been there myself. Not nutrient, but sulfate. Read the directions wrong the first time! :(

Fruit is the way to go! Use it like a mixed drink. Pour 3/4 of a glass of the mead and top off with various juices and drink it. It'll be a good chance to see what fruit meads you like, and by mixing at serving time, you don't have to deal with aging of fruit questions right now.

kew8721
02-07-2012, 03:12 PM
Thanks for all the responses! So far I have racked into a clean carboy, added about a gallon of sweet mead from a previous 2 gallon batch, added some honey and water and plan to get some sort of fruit juice or frozen puree as suggested. I also stabilized with potassium sorbate prior to adding the honey and water. I was a little worried because the airlock water is not level and it bubbled once. Not sure if this it due to everything being mixed around temporarily or if the potassium sorbate didn't quite stop all the left over yeast. I'm hoping something will work though!

brian92fs
02-07-2012, 06:08 PM
It's probably just degassing. But checking the gravity is a good idea to make sure it doesn't start dropping.

huesmann
02-11-2012, 11:18 AM
In the future I wouldn't use distiller water. You need some of the salts and minerals in regular water. If you don't trust your water you are better off with "spring" water. I mix about 20% distiller with my tap since my water is so hard.
I used distilled water in my very first mead and it turned out great...

akueck
02-11-2012, 06:00 PM
Using distilled/RO/DI water isn't necessarily evil, it depends on what else you are putting in there. Honey by itself has basically no buffering power (to resist changes in pH), so if you are doing a show mead (honey, water, yeast only) you need the minerals in the water to help buffer. Traditionals with nutrient additions are less sensitive, since the nutrients will contribute some buffering capacity, but still should benefit from the water salts (assuming the water tastes ok). If you are doing a melomel, you could probably use distilled water and see/taste no difference since the fruit contributes what you took out of the water, and then some. Etc, etc. Here I'm mostly talking about fermentation behavior re: pH changes, but there are separate flavor impacts folks are still working out as well.