View Full Version : Circular milky-like patterns on top of mead

03-13-2012, 04:46 AM

4,5 weeks ago I started with my first batch of what is supposed to become 10 liters of mead.

The ingredients I used (its in SI metrics, hopefully thats not a problem...):
- 3kg of honey (linden)
- 5L water
- 8 tsp citric acid
- 4 tsp tartaric acid
- 2/3 tsp tannin
- 4 1/2 tsp yeast energizer
- 1 package of Wyeast sweet mead

I stirred the honey in the cold water and heated it a little (still below 50 degrees Celsius, to make it easier for the tannin to dissolve) and added all the additives.
I let it cool down for one night till it was at room temperature, then I racked it into a 10L bottle. I poured the liquid yeast into the must after the yeast energizer and before the package (smackpack) swelled up. From then on I put a clean towel on top of the bottle and shaked it a couple of times a day to aerate it. After 4 days bubbles became visible and I kept (I know, my mistake) shaking for 1 day.
From then on I put an airlock on the bottle and it kept bubbling.

In the meantime I racked a couple of times and added a mix of calcium carbonate, potassium bicarbonate and potassium tartrate a couple of times (to increase the pH from 2.7 to 3.5, because I added too much acid in the beginning). I also topped the mead up with water to approximately 10L.
The SG half a week ago was 1.012 (which seems like a good SG for sweet mead), so I racked it again. After this the mead kept fermenting and dropped another layer of sediment.

But now the weird stuff: Yesterday evening I discovered weird, circular patterns floating on top of the mead. It is not very clearly visible, only when I have light from underneath the botle. It has a milky-like structure. I fear it is some kind of fungi, but I am a newbie so I don't know if that's possible...
It also seems like the mead is only bubbling within these circles and outide these circular lines I don't see any bubbles come to the surface.


Can someone explain to me what this is? And whether my mead is infected or not..?

Thanks in advance.


Sadie Lady
03-13-2012, 07:10 AM
Be interested to see what someone says. I had the something that looked just like your picture in some strawberry wine I made. Kind of looks like egg whites?

03-13-2012, 07:17 AM
It looks something like that indeed. But it is not much, it is a thin layer on top of the mead. So it is hard to say.

I really hope it is not fungi, because last week (when I racked it for the latest time) I saw some kind of stuff stuck against the glass about 5 centimeters above the surface of the mead. I couldn't see what it was exactly, because it was so small. But I thought that it maybe was a fungi or maybe some calcareous leftover from the de-acidifier. But I racked it just to be sure.

03-13-2012, 07:34 AM
That looks like it is just yeast residue, I get the same thing on almost all of mine. While I am not 100% sure of anything in my life, I am pretty certain that is not an infection. The mead calculator puts your SG at around 1.09, so your mead has about 10% alcohol content. That would make it harder for nasty stuff to grow as well. Maybe others will chime in, but I think you are ok.

Also, aerating until the 1/3 sugar break is ok, so you might not have made a mistake by shaking it for 5 days. It would have depended on your gravity readings. I doubt this will have any negative impact on your mead either though. Good luck, I hope the batch tastes great!

03-13-2012, 07:39 AM
Thank you triarchy! That's comforting news :)

I hope it tastes great as well. I'm surprised I even got to this point with my first batch!

03-13-2012, 02:49 PM
Like triarchy said, it looks like yeast residue...in which case, your "fears" were right; it is a fungus! ;)

Edit: Just to clarify, I mean that yeast is a fungus and probably what caused the weird patterns. No need to worry unless it starts to smell or taste really bad.

03-13-2012, 02:56 PM
Typically, most infections that show up at the surface of a must will either appear to grow tendrils down into the liquid, will form a slimy layer across the entire surface, or will coalesce into small spheres. In almost every case, if you smell the aroma coming off of the must it will smell "foul" (as in vinegary, spoiled, or otherwise "off"). What you have in yours is almost certainly just some byproducts of fermentation - either spent yeast cells that have floated to the top rather than falling, or some residual proteins that can come either from the yeast or from stuff in the honey. It doesn't look like anything to worry about - if it smells like mead, then it certainly is nothing of concern.

03-13-2012, 06:52 PM
Allright, thank you guys. If the smell keeps being good then I wont worry anymore!

03-22-2012, 05:53 AM
Could any of you tell me what will happen to the yeast residue on top of the mead? It is still floating on top of it, the surface gets more and more covered with the residue & the circular spheres get smaller (and only inside these circles bubbles are forming). I suspect that in a few days the entire surface will be covered, with no circular spheres inside of it anymore (and therefore also no bubbles coming to the surface).
So it seems logical to conclude that fermentation is slowly seizing. But the residue isn't dropping down to the bottom, but more and more starts to float on the surface.

Will this residue eventually drop to the bottom? Otherwise I don't know how to rack it without racking the residue too, after fermentation has stopped.

Thanks again!

03-22-2012, 07:38 AM
Mine has always dropped eventually, but I keep mine in the carboy for about a year. From time to time I will very gently swirl the mead so that film on the top will sink to the bottom. I do this mostly out of impatience though, Im pretty sure it would drop on its own as well.

03-22-2012, 09:34 AM
Allright thank you. I'll think about letting it age in the carboy as well (this wasn't my intend at first, but I understand its pros).

03-22-2012, 02:28 PM
Do you think you could post a picture of what it looks like now?

03-22-2012, 03:03 PM
here you go! :)


03-22-2012, 03:04 PM
it is not very well visible, but the layer of residue is spread over the entire surface, except in the small circles. When you look at it from the side, you see a thin white line on the surface behind the glass of the carboy.

03-22-2012, 03:55 PM
Still no off aroma's right? Just yeasty, mead-y goodness?

03-22-2012, 04:18 PM
Well, I have no idea about the yeast residue/infection/whatever........ I havent experienced it.

I was just thinking that it was remarkable that the OP has managed this with that PITA yeast.....

Sure, a few issues like the recipe etc but nothing a good read of the NewBee guide wouldn't sort out, and a bit of a search to understand that particular yeast can be problematic, so for a first batch.....top marks !

03-22-2012, 04:36 PM
Yeah, I just checked it & it still smells very well :)

And thanks for the compliment!

Chevette Girl
03-23-2012, 12:18 AM
Is the SG still moving or is it stable? I'd suspect that once it stabilizes, that should start to drop out. And I'd be all for swirling it around too.

03-23-2012, 07:11 AM
The mead is still fermenting a little bit, but you can see it getting slower every couple of days. So it shouldn't be long until the SG is stable.

Yesterday evening I swirled it a little bit and today the circular spheres are back, but the amount of residue is certainly less. So thanks a lot for the tip!

03-23-2012, 07:20 AM
Weird. It doesn't look like a normal beer infection, but I don't know how it would differ in a mead.

03-23-2012, 07:22 AM
Weird. It doesn't look like a normal beer infection, but I don't know how it would differ in a mead.

Well, hopefully it isn't an infection... So that would probably explain why it looks so different ;)

03-23-2012, 07:25 AM
yeah, they normally look quite... obvious...

like my last one! hahaha

Dont look at these (http://i.imgur.com/vMcSL.jpg)

if you are eating :P (http://i.imgur.com/2hOIa.jpg)

03-23-2012, 07:30 AM
Haha, that's really quite obvious! ^^

Don't want to know how that smelled... :p

03-23-2012, 01:22 PM
That doesn't look bad at all... provided you're doing a Brett fermentation, that is! ;)

Chevette Girl
03-23-2012, 01:45 PM
Is THAT what that is? or are there other less pleasant things it could be...?

03-23-2012, 03:15 PM
It looks very much like a Brettanomyces pellicle to me. Of course there are other things it could be, but generally the white, dry-ish looking, cap-style layer on top is classic Brett.

Chevette Girl
03-23-2012, 03:58 PM
Huh, I think that's what I describe as the "flaky" layer I sometimes have at the surface of a carboy. Is there a particular smell associated with something like that? Mine's usually odourless, doesn't seem to affect the taste that I can tell, and a campden tablet usually gets rid of it...

03-23-2012, 04:11 PM
Uhm, I suppose you're talking about the batch of machalel or not?

03-23-2012, 05:01 PM
Huh, I think that's what I describe as the "flaky" layer I sometimes have at the surface of a carboy. Is there a particular smell associated with something like that? Mine's usually odourless, doesn't seem to affect the taste that I can tell, and a campden tablet usually gets rid of it...

First, yes I am talking about macalel's pictures, not yours! ;)

And Brett shares this pellicle trait with several other "wild" yeasts. Some of them are so closely related to our favorite strains of s. cerevisiae that they contribute nothing strange to aroma or taste, but many will instill a certain "farmyard" aspect to the brew. Brettanomyces is well known for aromatic elements that remind one of a horse stall that has only been recently mucked out or a smell reminiscent of something between Limburger cheese and baby vomit, and it tends to throw noticeable amounts of VA (acetic acid). These elements, in low enough concentrations, can add complexity to a beer -- but in higher concentrations, or when found in many meads at any concentration, they simply add sour flavors and/or smells.

03-23-2012, 06:36 PM
Yeah, I found that on the top of my apple/pear/plum cider *after* about 2 weeks in the secondary (ie finished fermentation). It was definitely not deliberate. I ended up racking from below this layer into another container, and it hasn't come back.

03-23-2012, 09:26 PM
So I don't think that yours is infected. Maybe it's just some sort of "separation" going on? Or your yeast has mutated slightly?

OT: can we not edit our posts after an hour or two from posting them?

03-25-2012, 12:40 AM
OT: can we not edit our posts after an hour or two from posting them?

There is indeed a time limit - mostly to keep folks from revising posts days later, which typically adds confusion rather than clarification. So you have about an hour to make changes; after that, the edit feature is disabled.