View Full Version : Tasting Between Fermentations

06-08-2012, 10:40 AM

After primary fermentation of the Mead is complete, when racking it to the carboy for secondary fermentation, is it generally acceptable and/or expected to taste the Mead? Obviously I'd have to be sanitary about it. But that aside, is there a reason not to?


06-08-2012, 11:40 AM
*shrug* If you want to. Sometimes I'll thief a sample out into a small glass for a taste, but as I'm making more and more mead, I'll usually wait until it's 4-6 months old before the first taste. That first rack out of primary (2-4 weeks old) just does NOT give you any idea of what the mead will taste like. It usually tastes like butt then, and will make a young meadmaker panic and try to do all sorts of crazy things to 'save the mead!' (see my mocha madness thread if you want an example of mead panic)

You can sample your product whenever you want, but take any young sample as just that. YOUNG. It will probably be bitter, or sour, or taste like it has so much alcohol it turns your stomach, or a whole host of other flavors that are a result of fermentation that smooth out with aging.

06-08-2012, 11:42 AM
There is absolutely no reason not to. In fact, I encourage you to taste your meads as they come out of the primary fermenter, so you can get some feeling for what a very young mead tastes like. However, don't expect great things. The beverage will still be very young, not at all integrated, and it may taste like a combination of paint thinner and floor cleaning compound. Not to worry - most of the harsher flavors will mellow significantly with age.

So definitely taste your young mead. Then as soon as you've tasted it, write down your impressions in a logbook that you can refer back to after you've aged it for several months. You'll very likely be pleasantly surprised at how things have changed....

06-08-2012, 12:38 PM
The above replies pretty much cover it. I usually taste at each stage out of curiosity though it isn't usually a good indicator.

06-08-2012, 01:59 PM
Thanks guys. Appreciate it.
I'm new to this, so I would have tasted it and probably panicked. Now I am expecting it to taste horrible right out the primary, so I'm not going to panic.

06-08-2012, 03:09 PM
The thing you should really look for in a young mead is does it SMELL bad. A young mead can smell funny (yeasty, a tad sour, something just SLIGHTLY off) but if it smells sulphurry or rotten or majorly nasty, then it might have an infection. At a young stage a really bad smell is a much scarier thing than a really weird taste. :D I'm actually taking a few of my "I tasted these really young then hid them in the corner of the basement for year" meads to a camping event tomorrow, so it will be fun for me to see what a year of neglect does!

06-08-2012, 03:51 PM
Every so often I will pull a sample to see how things are progressing. I like to do it as a learning experience- that way I know what “normal” off flavors are that just need to age out, and “bad” off flavors are that may be signs of larger problems. But- as Soyala pointed out- don’t try to fix what probably isn’t broke. I strongly suggest that if you are going to sample young mead, that you just take good notes and let things run their course until you have a good idea of what is normal and what is bad.

I had a Cyser that I made when I first started that was awful- I mean it tasted like turpentine (or what I imagine that turpentine would taste like) and I thought something was seriously wrong. I intended to “fix” it but then had some things come up, and forgot about it 9 months. When I rediscovered it and opened it, it was amazing! This turned out to be the best mead that I made in the first 2 years that I was making mead. It turned out that the only thing needed to “fix” that batch was time. I probably would have destroyed the best thing I made by trying to fix it…

06-09-2012, 02:32 PM
I take a taste whenever I take an SG reading. I thief a SG sample into my sanitized tube, take my reading, dump most of it back into the carboy, and drink the rest.

Chevette Girl
06-10-2012, 07:24 PM
I take a taste whenever I take an SG reading. I thief a SG sample into my sanitized tube, take my reading, dump most of it back into the carboy, and drink the rest.

That's pretty much how I do it... or if I plunk my sanitized hydrometer right into my thief, I let out the last few drops onto my hand for a taste after emptying most of it back to the fermenter.

I've had a couple interesting experiences with tasting things, I discovered a couple of things that have a vomit-like smell and taste while they're fermenting but it seems to go away afterwards (not sure if it was the yeast or the fruit because I'd used the fruit with a different yeast with no problems and I'd use that yeast with other fruits with no problems... also I discovered I often like my young creations best when they've still got a little residual sugar left (which makes sense given that I don't really like dry wines) and sometimes I'm disappointed with how they taste once all of the sugars are gone.

06-11-2012, 09:31 PM
I think that it is best to taste all along the process. Get a good idea of how things change with the fermentation. :)

06-12-2012, 04:37 PM
When I opened it up yesterday ( 1 week into primary ferm ) to stir in some more honey and dump in some fruit, it smelled like beer. Didn't smell like honey at all anymore. Just beer. Weird. I tried a sip, and it didn't have much flavor yet.

06-12-2012, 04:40 PM
The "beer smell" is from yeast. Give it time for fermentation to complete and the yeast to fall out of suspension and the beery aroma will diminish. After even more aging, much of the honey aromatics will return.