View Full Version : Strawberry Mel ruined?

08-03-2012, 01:27 AM
First I would like to say sorry I have not been to the site in over a year. Having been through a divorce and just recently moved into a new house my mazing and brewing has been put on the back burner so to speak. Anyway my question. Back in early may of 2011 My now ex wife and I started a 5 gal batch of what was supposed to be a traditional mead. I dont have the details of the batch as that log book soon moved out of my house (along with several appliances) but I got custody of the mead. I do remember it was made with 20 LBS of a dark honey we got from a market in the Las Cruces / El Paso area. This was the kind of honey thats so dark its almost black and has a strong taste that almost chokes you with sweetness. After 6 months it had stalled out at about half fermented (sorry I dont have the numbers as I said the log book is no longer in my hands) I had tried adding nutritents, energizer, yeast hulls and everything else I could think of Including repitching the yeast at least 3 times. I finally decided to split the batch and put two gal. in a small bucket with 6 LBS of frest strawberries. Low and behold fermentation took of and it fermented to dry in a couple of weeks. I placed those two gal in carboys and kept trying to get the remaing 3 gal to ferment. In may of this year I gave up and racked that three gal onto 9 LBS of strawberries, and fermented it to dry then racked it into a 3 gal carboy to age. Then in June I wanted my 3 gal carboy for a test batch and all three of the meads had a lot of sediment in the bottom, so I racked all five gal back togther in a new carboy to let them bulk age. Placed in a dark closet and left it alone. Fast forward to today, the carboy made the move safely and has been sitting undisturbed for a month now. My boss is getting married next week, and I would like to give her a bottle as a gift. Even knowing that its no where near ready I was hopefull and pulled a sample today. Color is a wonderfull light amber color, and it smells like fresh berries dipped in honey. Then a taste.............. Well I was expecting it to be a little hot, being young and all and it was smother than I thought it would be. However it does not taste like berries and honey, it tastes like burnt coffee..... Is this normal, or did I ruin it? Is there anyway to save it? Sorry for the longwinded post but I could really use some help.

08-03-2012, 01:34 AM
I'm a newb myself but are you sure it was only half fermented after 6 months? Obviously the strawberries just added more sugars but it seems weird that some how it stopped and then went to dry unless the strawberries gave the yeast some nutrients. Which I suppose could be the case. In any case, from what I have read on here and from what I gather it should be fine adding the berries and the hot taste should go away with a good aging.

08-03-2012, 01:35 AM
Oh I just noticed the burnt coffee thing... this is not for me ; ) hopefully someone else can give you an idea. Perhaps it is still just an aging thing.

08-03-2012, 01:46 AM
Lol, its all good thanks for the reply. Ya im pretty sure it was only half done, Gravity was I belive around 1.19 +/- for months without moving. Best I can figure is the berries just gave the yeast whatever it was that they wanted. Hopefully the bitter goes away would hate to waste that much honey, but considering It was a joint project with the ex getting rid of it may not be a bad idea.

08-03-2012, 02:03 AM
Yeah, that's what I would think. The berries gave them nutrients they wanted which probably would have helped because of the high gravity I'm assuming from the beginning. From what little I know I guess you just had a stuck fermentation and the berries started it back up. As far as the coffee thing I dunno. I also dunno if your fermentation was far enough along at 1.19 to avoid any baddies. I guess someone else will let you know pretty soon. Good luck man.

Deacon Aegis
08-03-2012, 04:33 AM
Lol, its all good thanks for the reply. Ya im pretty sure it was only half done, Gravity was I belive around 1.19 +/- for months without moving. Best I can figure is the berries just gave the yeast whatever it was that they wanted. Hopefully the bitter goes away would hate to waste that much honey, but considering It was a joint project with the ex getting rid of it may not be a bad idea.

Well a couple of things I'd be curious about in assessing this batch is what type of yeast were you using and are you meaning that your specific gravity was 1.019 or was it actually reading 1.19? If you actually had a gravity of 1.190 then you probably were trying to overcome osmotic shock issues with the yeast. I typically run my strongest batches at 1.145 to 1.150 at the top end. 1.190 would pretty much assure the yeast would die. By adding the berries to the mix, you might have actually brought the specific gravity down enough to keep the osmotic pressures from rupturing the yeast's cell walls. That is if the gravity was at 1.19. If you mean 1.019, then that is more of a sweet mead, but not beyond the scope of drinkable. Now as for the off flavor, leaving the mead aging on the fruit for overly long can cause off flavors. Aging the mead on something the Lalvin 71B yeast strain can cause off flavors. One of those might be the culprit. As for getting the flavor to age out of the mead, the first thing I would recommend is racking it off the sur lees and giving it some time to see if it ages out. You might also want to try hitting it with a dose of sulfate (camden tablets). Barring that, microfiltering the mead may salvage it.

I'm sure some others may have some other ideas or insight, but this is about the best I can come up with for now. Hope that helps a bit. Good luck on this.

08-03-2012, 05:09 AM
Your post has kick started my brain and I belive you may be correct that I mistyped my SG when it stalled, 1.019 does sound more reasonable, and with this honey it was way to sweet to drink. Sadly without my log I cant verify but im fairly certain I used K1V-1116 as that is my to to yeast for wild honey with bits of cactus and bee in it. There is minimal sediment in the carboy now as it was all racked out of two 1 gal and one 3 gal carboy's into the five to blend and bulk age. The bitter taste was not there when I last tasted it around two or three months ago. But it was hot enough to take the wind out of you. Im worried that it may be to warm in the room I have it in now, or that I managed to oxidize it. Im leary to rack it now as I only have the one 5 gal carboy at the moment. Perhaps I will get another next paydayand see if I can find some way to fill the head space with CO2. One thing I have learned from reading this site is not to panic, most things get better with age. I dont have the equipment to filter it but if it saves the batch it may be worth it. I have never tasted oxidized mead before is there a tell tale taste I should look out for? Thanks again for the info.

Chevette Girl
08-03-2012, 01:28 PM
Well, sorry about the divorce but congrats on getting custody of the mead.

I agree with the idea that the strawberries gave the yeast something they needed to finish the job, I had a stuck mead once restart a year or two after initial pitching, when I gave it some boiled bread yeast in an attempt to soak up an odour it had developed... the odour's still there so I'll have to try something else for that, but at least the mead's finished now.

Oxidation to me has always tasted like sherry, that sort of sweet smell it has to it is indicative of the oxidation that's part of the process of how sherry is made. Other oxidation tastes I have heard about but never experienced include wet cardboard. Since you're reporting bitter burnt coffee, I don't suspect that oxidation is the problem.

The good news is that bitter can often age out. The bad news is, we don't know where your batch's bitterness came from, so it might not be best to give away a bottle of this without knowing how it's going to age.

K1V is supposed to be OK for lees aging, but if it's been sitting on a lot of bee and fruit guck in the two or three months since you last tasted it, that may have been the cause. But if there's minimal sediment, that's probably not the source.

Did you ever stabilize it?

08-03-2012, 02:43 PM
No I did not stabilize this batch as I was not planing on sweetening it, perhaps I will try that and see if it clears it up any.

08-19-2012, 04:38 AM
Ok, if I was smart enough to search my own posts from the begining I would have noticed that I already asked questions on this batch. Well kinda it was a traditonal at the time and has been converted into a melomel.... anyway I found the recipe for the original batch its as follows.

5 gal batch
20# southern gold wildflower honey from SW Texas
2 tsp acid blend
1 tsp tannin
5tsp yeast nutritent (post lag)
Water to 5 gal us
Yeast K1-V1116
No boil
O.G 1.155
p.h. 3.8

pitch date 5-5-11

I decided to stabilize it just to err on the side of caution and its now on the counter settling out for a racking into a smaller carboy.
It may be ok but im not comftorable with this much headspace so will put it back into the 3 gal carboy and what I can into a 1 gal.
I just took another whiff and it has an almost molasses note to it. Im begining to wonder if this is just the honey I used. Sadly I dont have anymore of this to check it against and have no idea where my ex picked it up other than some market in the Las Cruces area.... I was able to track down that Sothern Gold Honey is in Vidor TX but they dont have a website so I cant really get any description of what their honey tastes like. Live and Learn I guess, unless this ages to be awesome I dont think im going to use a dark strong honey for a mead again lol.

Oh link to the original thread

looking at the map of where Vidor is I highly doubt she picked it up in the Las Cruces area..... anyone from south east Texas ever use this before?

08-19-2012, 07:26 AM
Ack!!!!! that looks like motor oil!.... LOL take a better picture with light or something because that is scarey..... unless it is some super dark honey.

Sun BEHIND you when taking the pic....

08-19-2012, 08:55 AM
So as Deacon A pointed out, you may have misread your 1.190 SG based on the OG of only 1.150. And 4# honey/gallon of must will most likely finish pretty sweet. And not sure but the acid blend and tannins added to your recipe may account for the burnt coffee flavor you're getting.
But I like the super dark color! As you pointed out, aging will probably cure all. Good luck with it.

08-19-2012, 04:12 PM
Lol it was a super dark almost black honey, in a glass its a wonderfull golden golor. Was the best light I could get on it at 3AM. OG was 1.155 and it went pretty dry will get a new reading when I rack it, and will try to get a better pic.

Mars Colonist
08-19-2012, 06:30 PM
Was it buckwheat or avocado honey???

08-19-2012, 08:29 PM
Ok should have checked it before I stabilized it, I knew better but was not thinnking. Pulled a sample and its at 1.02..... guess there is nothing I can do about it now. I may call the apiary tomorrow and see if they can tell me anything about what kind of flowers may have been in this, with the molasses taste im thinking that the bees may have gotten into some sorghum blossoms. I went ahead and racked it just so I did not have to worry about the headspace, its still very dark.

Is it to late to make a starter and try to repitch or am I stuck with a super sweet mead? Its back in the closet resting till I figure out what to do lol. Live and learn.

Chevette Girl
08-19-2012, 10:42 PM
There is a post around here where someone was fermenting a batch of apple juice/cider that they later determined to contain sorbate, I think he had to restart it multiple times, so it's possible that a starter MIGHT get it to go a little further. Just don't make it an acclimated starter with that batch, you'll need to avoid the sorbate until you've got a nice big colony.