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Gespacho
03-07-2012, 10:19 AM
I figure I'll post this in the newbie section, since I've been at mead making for over a year but I still haven't figured it out. I have 2 batches (one of which I'll list in a separate thread) that have the rotten egg smell. Its gotten so bad that the cat no longer even tries to get into the brew room. I was hoping I might be able to get some input on what I might have done wrong, so here's my log for one of the batches:

Traditional Mead
7kg BC wild honey (alfalfa and wild flowers from British Columbia)
5 Campden tablets
2 tsp Fermaid K
2 tsp DAP
10g EC-1118 yeast
Go Ferm
Reverse osmosis water
O.G. 1.090

Day 1
Mixed Honey, k-sulfite, Fermaid and DAP and added water to make a 5 gallon batch.

Day 2
The Starter: Added 1tsp GoFerm to 1 cup of water at 100degF. After 25 minutes mixed with 1 cup of must in a starter jar. After 20 minutes added another cup of must to the stater jar. I then let it sit until fermentation was visible (about 1/2 hour), then pitched into the must.

Day 3 to Day 6
Stirred the must vigorously in the morning and in the evening. Gravity dropped steadily. On Day 6 gravity was 1.060.

Day 11
Gravity down to 1.046. I could now smell the rotten eggs. Started de-gassing again to get the H2S out.

Day 27
My new pH tester finally arrived. The pH of the batch was 2.4, so I slowly added calcium carbonate until the pH was up to 3.7.

Day 33
Gravity was at 1.024, and fermentation was very slow. The yeast is now slowly but steadily producing the rotten egg smell. Regular de-gassing helps, but the smell is always back in a couple of days.

That brings us up to date. At this point I have 2 questions. Why are the yeast so stressed that they produce the stink, and why has the fermentation slowed to a crawl?

Chevette Girl
03-07-2012, 11:05 AM
My first guess would be pH being too low... confirmed by your new tester. Have you checked the pH since you corrected it?

Now that that problem has been corrected, hopefully it's just a matter of clearing out the rhino farts that the ticked off yeast left behind... I've had it take days, and every time you blow off the stink with stirring, it comes back within days or hours, but at least mine was lessened each time.

Sometimes if you add yeast hulls (or microwaved/boiled bread yeast) that can take out sulphur smells as the compounds bind to the yeast corpses, or you might need to run it through some copper, a very clean scrubbed 1980's penny, a length of copper plumbing or a copper scrubber are all things people have used to de-stink meads.

Gespacho
03-07-2012, 11:25 AM
Thanks for the tip. I was kinda getting frustrated with the constant problems I had making Traditionals. I even went back to beer making for a while just to have a little success for a while.

On a side not, I hadn't realized that pennies were no longer made out of copper. Learned something new today.

:)

brian92fs
03-07-2012, 12:41 PM
A couple of suggestions


Did you wait 24 48 hours after adding the campden tablets? If not, that can make it tough for the yeast to get started. I personally dont sulfite the must for a traditional. I think most other member on here would also suggest that its not needed.
Your rehydration procedures could use some tweaking. GoFerm should be added at 1.25 times the weight of the yeast. With 10.0 grams of yeast, you should have used at least 12.5 grams of GoFerm. Im estimating that 1 tsp of GoFerm is probably in the 4.0 5.0 gram range. Try 2 3 tsp next time. Also, GoFerm should be rehydrated in 110F water with the yeast added once it reaches 104F. Begin adding must to this after 15 20 minutes. Instructions from Scott labs on GoFerm: http://www.scottlab.com/product-102.aspx
In my experiences, the yeast usually take a at least a few hours to end lag at the soonest. Most of my batches take 4 8 hours, though some have taken up to 2 days. Im not saying your 30 minute observation is wrong but make sure you know what to look for. For me, I wait until I see a lot of foaming (1/2 inch or more) or until I hear the sound of fermentation (like a newly opened soda) to signal that lag is over.
Your overall nutrient additions look a little low. It should get you to around 150 YANC. A little on the low side, but probably OK for that yeast and gravity. You could up it another 50% to be safe.
Dont add nutrients with DAP in them until after lag. Both Fermaid-K and DAP should not have been added to the must. This can stress the yeast. Ive recently been adding Fermaid-O (all inorganic nitrogen, no DAP) to the must and following with Fermaid-K and DAP after lag and then again at the 1/3 break. This has produced good results for me.
RO water probably isnt necessary unless your water is really bad. Regular drinking water has minerals in it that the yeast can benefit from. Generally speaking, if tastes good its probably OK to use in the must.
Did you calibrate your pH meter before using it? I have a cheapo meter, and it only holds its calibration for a few uses before straying 0.20 0.50 points on its reading.
Adjusting your pH to 3.7 is a bit high in my opinion. I probably would have stopped once I got into the 3.2 3.4 range.


That's all I can think of for now.

TAKeyser
03-07-2012, 01:20 PM
I agree with everything brian92fs had to say with the exception of his PH range. Morse recommends a range of 3.7 to 4.6 (Making Mead: History, Recipes, Methods and Equipment) and Schramm recommends keeping in above 3.5, preferably around 3.8 (The Compleat Meadmaker p.65).

Gespacho
03-07-2012, 02:12 PM
Brain,

1. Waited 24 hours before even making the starter.
2. Duly noted.
3. Like I said, it was visibly fermenting before the starting was pitched. Bubbling like an open pop.
4. I've kind of suspected the nutrient additions were a little low. The data I've collected has been pretty contradictory as far as nutrient additions go.
5. Again, duly noted.
6. The water here is fine, I just happen to like the Culligan water I use. There is still a high mineral content.
7. Nope. I need to get my hands on some pH7 solution. There are a few lab supply stores in town that can help.
8. I adjusted the pH according to the information from The Compleat Meadmaker.

Thanks for the input! I'll be making a few adjustments to my process when I start my next batch.

brian92fs
03-07-2012, 03:22 PM
7. Nope. I need to get my hands on some pH7 solution. There are a few lab supply stores in town that can help.


My meter has two adjustments and uses two reference solutions. A low (4.0) and neutral (7.0). For me, the 4.0 calibration seems to stay accurate. Its the 7.0 calibration that I have to continually adjust if its been more than a few days since my last reading. Then again, I have a low-priced meter (http://www.midwestsupplies.com/checker-1-economical-ph-tester.html). Not sure how it compares against other meters out there.

Gespacho
03-07-2012, 07:41 PM
Well low priced meter is pretty much what I'm stuck with. I just got off the phone with a local lab supply store and priced out some pH7 solution. I'm sure the pH4 will be a similar price. Just have to wait for the next paycheck. Wanna know the difference between a hobby and an interest?

skunkboy
03-07-2012, 11:51 PM
Thanks for the tip. I was kinda getting frustrated with the constant problems I had making Traditionals. I even went back to beer making for a while just to have a little success for a while.


Nothing wrong with making beer ;-)

Traditionals are the most tricky of the bunch...

Loadnabox
03-08-2012, 10:18 AM
Well low priced meter is pretty much what I'm stuck with. I just got off the phone with a local lab supply store and priced out some pH7 solution. I'm sure the pH4 will be a similar price. Just have to wait for the next paycheck. Wanna know the difference between a hobby and an interest?

This would be why I chose to stick with litmus paper. Not as accurate, but apparently the meters aren't always anyway. At $6.95 for 100 strips it's worth not dealing with the hassle.

Also, I know sudden changes in SG (why you have to be careful when step feeding and super high OG runs) as well as temp can cause yeast to get unhappy and throw off H2S, I wonder if sudden changes in Ph can do the same? It seems like it was a rather big change

Chevette Girl
03-08-2012, 11:34 AM
On a side not, I hadn't realized that pennies were no longer made out of copper. Learned something new today.

:)

Well, the American ones aren't, I don't actually know about the Canadian ones. Probably safer to get a length of copper pipe anyway :p

brian92fs
03-08-2012, 01:03 PM
On a side not, I hadn't realized that pennies were no longer made out of copper. Learned something new today.


I think they do still have copper in them. They're zinc core, but copper plated.

wayneb
03-09-2012, 11:51 AM
OK - Time for useless trivia again. US Pennies haven't been 100% copper, well, since before most of us care. Sometime in the 1830's the mint found that bronze (copper-tin-zinc) alloys lasted longer than pure copper, so from that point forward they converted from pure copper to various bronze or copper-zinc allys. Neglecting the really old ones (Indian pennies, large cents, small cents, etc.) for the time being, from 1909 (the first Lincoln cent) until 1962 they were an alloy of 95% copper, almost 5% zinc, and a small amount of tin, with the exception of 1943 where US pennies were made from steel to help alleviate the copper shortage brought about by WWII. From 1962 through 1982 they removed the tin so those pennies are all copper-zinc. In 1982, in a move to cut the cost of manufacture, they changed the percentages, to 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper. The inner core metal is that nearly white zinc alloy, and there is a copper plating applied to the outside.

I don't remember exactly when the Canadian gov't adopted a similar approach to penny manufacture, but I'm pretty sure they led the way in leaning out the amount of pure copper used in their coinage. The US took longer to change over, since they were worried about public acceptance of coins that "sounded different" when dropped onto a hard surface. Hard to believe we cared about something that insignificant when the price of copper in the 1970s and 80s was making each penny cost nearly 2.5 cents to produce....

Gespacho
03-09-2012, 01:24 PM
Up until 1996 Canadian pennies were 98% copper and the rest was a mix of zinc/tin. Between 1997 and 2005 they were 98% zinc, the rest tin, and then copper plated. After 2005 Canadian pennies are 98%, zinc/tin, and then copper plated. I'm fairly certain that no coins have ever been 100% anything. Not even the old silver dimes we used to use in Canada. I still remember dissolving those things in chemistry class. Which goes to show that if you give a bunch of 17 year olds chemicals and turn your back, they'll probably just melt stuff. :)

Back on topic for a sec: I scrubbed some pennies clean, sanitized them, then put them into the carboy. Low and behold the brew room no longer smells a rotten egg exploded back there. I'm gonna leave them in for a day or two, but I'll rack it off the pennies fairly quickly.

wayneb
03-09-2012, 04:23 PM
Just to stay relevant to the topic, were the pennies you used pre-1996, or newer? I'm interested to find out if anyone has used any of the new plated cents (from either country) to try to remove H2S, and whether the new ones work as effectively as the old ones.

They should work since the plating is copper, but I personally haven't tried the "penny trick" with any of our newer coins.

TAKeyser
03-09-2012, 05:26 PM
I would think that the penny trick would still work with the newer penny since the part of the penny that is coming into contact with the mead is still copper. But that is only my assumption, and we all know what happens when you Assume :)

Altricious
03-09-2012, 05:46 PM
I would be careful not to use any mangled pennies though. If the copper jacket is compromised, I doubt the zinc would do good things to your mead.

Chevette Girl
03-09-2012, 09:05 PM
Hey, guys. Thank you for doing the research I was too lazy to do... 1996 is the magic number for Canadian pennies, 1982 is the magic number for American pennies (I know I will remember that one, it's the same year as my car!).

Gespacho
03-12-2012, 12:04 PM
Thanks for the advice. The pennies worked, and the smell has pretty much cleared up. Took a little effort to get the gunk off the pennies, but I found a short article on cleaning coins that suggested using some salt mixed with a couple drops of vinegar. With a little running they looked brand new, and the sanitizing solution didn't take the shine away at all.

Oh, and the local beer supply store started carrying pH7 and pH4 buffer solution, too. I was talking to the owner, and it sounds like he's started making mead as well. :)

wayneb
03-12-2012, 11:30 PM
Excellent! Your success is inspiring him! :icon_thumright:

Anyway, what year coinage did you use?

Bob J
03-13-2012, 07:51 AM
The pre 1980 copper penny trick is awesome! I had some wine which I overdosed with sulphite and this fixed it..... Thankfully this problem doesn't come up very often for me but this is a simple and effective remedy.....;)

Gespacho
03-13-2012, 12:48 PM
Excellent! Your success is inspiring him! :icon_thumright:

Anyway, what year coinage did you use?

I used pennies pre '96. I shined them up nicely before sanitizing them and putting them in. Actually, the inspiration came the other way around. They guy from the brew store already competes in the Calgary mead making competitions.