View Full Version : Doubts about my first batch

10-07-2012, 01:41 AM

-First of all i would like to mention that i have no prior brewing experience. In March 2012, i delved into the intimidating world of mead making and started a batch of my very own. Here it is 7 months later, and i have two major concerns with my mead.

-My first and most pressing concern is the color: All literature and internet sources i have referred to for my first attempt have mentioned the "clarification" of the mead as being a sign for being ready to bottle. Whenever i first started the batch, the must had an expected golden amber color. However, my batch has yet to clarify and has indeed become much darker than its original state. The following are pictures comparing the color of the mead from month 1 to month 7.

Month 1: http://tinyurl.com/8duz4l7
Month 7: http://tinyurl.com/99tmmmk
**please excuse the use of the image posting website, i could not manage to get the images attached to my post. I apologize.**

I'm not entirely sure how literal to take the term "clarify." I do know, however, know what commercially available mead looks like. I fear the worst for my first batch... Does anyone have any solutions/recommendations to my problem?

-Not only am i familiar with what commercially available mead looks like, but i am also very familiar with the taste :D. At around 5 months and now at 7 months, i have taken a sample to taste. At 5 months, the taste was... meh. It wasn't good and wasn't bad, with a slight bitter taste. Also, it only slightly tasted of mead. Today at 7 months, the taste is quite awful. In fact, i had to brush my teeth to get rid of the taste. With this said, i was not expecting a tasty mead. I was more or less tasting out of curiosity.

so here is my question: What should the mead taste like before bottling? is this bad taste a bad sign? And more importantly, is the bad taste combined with dark color a product of a spoiled batch? If this is the case, what possibly could have resulting in this spoiled batch?

Here is some information about the recipe i used for my batch other information:

15 lbs. clover honey
4 gal water
2 tsp yeast nutrient
1 tsp yeast energizer
2 packets Lalvin 71b-1122 yeast
**i do not have any additional information on the nutrient nor the energizer. The plastic bag for both of the items do not have any brand information or anything similar.**

Must SG: 1.102
Rack SG: 1.08

-If anyone could offer some advice or guidance with my problems, i would really appreciate it. i truly enjoy this new hobby of mine and want to learn from my mistakes so i can continue to develope my brewing skills.

10-07-2012, 05:02 AM
Here's your first tip (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=108&Itemid=14) i.e. reading matter.....

Also, in your post, you show the second gravity as 1.08 ? is that a typo or did you mean 1.008 ? Because there's a world of difference and it's usual to quote gravity measurements with 3 decimal places (makes it easier to see whether there is a problem or not).

So, the second picture is quite dark, which might be just the resulting colour of the honey, if it's dark, but I've not seen clover honey that dark.

If the gravity was correct and you meant 1.080, then from the starting gravity, it would suggest a stuck ferment. There can be a couple of reasons for that. Plus, your use of 71B, which while a very good yeast, has one caveat, which is it isn't good for "sur lie"/"batonage" ageing (which both mean ageing on the lees/sediment, because it's one of the yeasts that can cause autolysis or breaking down over time, possibly causing off flavours). It's normal to rack off a 71B sediment within about 2 months or so of the ferment finishing.

Even with all that doom and gloom, it's worth the effort of getting it finished as it may be fine and will help your learning curve for mead making.

So, presuming the gravity was exactly as you posted, I'd suggest that you added a bit more nutrient or energiser (nutrient is often pure DAP/di-ammonium phosphate and looks like sugar crystals, whereas whats termed energiser is stuff like FermaidK or similar and looks like a tan coloured powder - this is the one that I'd suggest you add more of - at this stage). Then give it a damn good stir, even sanitising a jug and taking some out and hitting it with a sanitised stick blender or sanitising a liquidiser and blitzing some in that.

Then leave it for a day or two to see if it fires back up.

If the gravity posted was a typo and it's 1.008, then rack it off the sediment and let it clear down on it's own. You want to have as little air space as possible at that point. Plus if possible, bulk age it in a slightly smaller carboy.

A further thing to consider, would be to get some wine grade litmus papers (or even better, a pocket pH meter). Test with those as the pH of a mead can swing quite wildly during ferment and if it drops below about 3.0pH, it can cause stuck fermentation. The answer, if that was the case is to get some of the chem's (there's a couple of different ones that would work, Potassium carbonate, calcium carbonate, etc. I understand that potassium carbonate is probably the better one to try, but you'd have to search the forums for "low pH" or high acidity to confirm) that increase the pH level - though if you read through the NewBee guide I linked above (or it's also in the left hand side yellow dialogue box), one of the things that early stage aeration does, is add air/O2 to help the yeast development, but a side effect of stirring etc, is to bring the sediment into solution, creating "nucleation points" that the dissolved carbonic acid can attach too, making the bubbles of CO2 that come out of a mead (the dissolved carbonic acid changes to gaseous CO2, which also increases the pH a little bit, often enough to prevent the swings in pH a bit).

That lot sounds a bit daunting, I'm sure. Yet most of the actions I've detailed are quite normal to help with a smooth progress of the ferment.

10-07-2012, 11:35 AM
Wow! I wasn't expecting an answer over night.. this place is great!!

So i want to clarify i few things on the method i followed. First of all, 1.080 is the correct measurement at the time when i racked my mead. Second, the original fermentation was done in a fermentation bucket for 2-3 weeks and then transferred over into the glass carboy. In doing so, the yeast sediment was left behind in the fermentation bucket. If i were to restart the fermentation, would i need to add additional yeast as well?

10-07-2012, 01:33 PM
Has the SG moved at all since you moved it into the carboy?

If it's still sitting at 1.080 or nearby, then you definitely need more yeast. If it's moving along slowly, you might be able to coax the yeast you have into finishing.

If you add more yeast, investigate an "acclimated" second pitch, aka "restart protocol". There are several very good threads here with all the details you could want. If you just dump more yeast in without acclimating, chances are good they will not survive.

The color is quite dark. What color was the original honey? Has the airlock been kept full?

What kind of "awful" is the flavor? If you could describe it, we could maybe tell you why it tastes like it does. Plastic/vinyl? Butterscotch? Gym socks? Burnt matches?

10-11-2012, 06:10 PM
The color of the honey was darker than some other honeys that i have tried, but i have not had much experience with different types of honey.

For the air lock, there was an amount of time that it as not full. my mead is at my home 2.5 hours away while i am at college (I'm of a legal age btw, not to worry :) )

Awful taste i mentioned could best be described as something stale... something similar to a very bad bread. There was a slight alcohol taste, and not much honey flavor.

10-11-2012, 06:27 PM
I'd be less concerned about the color difference than about the taste and what the current gravity is.

Mead, once it is clear, can appear much darker than during fermentation. The simple reason is that more light is reflected by all the yeast/protein in suspension during fermentation. Once all of that falls out of suspension, light passes much further without much reflection. As a result, the carboy appears to be much darker than originally observed. Is it still super dark in a glass? If yes, then you do indeed have something odd going on with the color.

Have you racked since the first transfer into the carboy? As fatbloke points out in his post, 71B is not a good yeast for allowing mead/wine to sit for extended periods on the lees/sediment. This could be the cause for your stale bread taste if it has indeed remained in the carboy the whole time, and it will only get worse the longer it sits there. So my advice would be to rack it off the sediment, if there is any.

As for how to deal with fixing the off flavor...I am drawing a blank. Perhaps a more experienced member can chime in with some sage advice.

Chevette Girl
10-11-2012, 10:51 PM
Sometimes adding yeast hulls or microwaved bread yeast can soak up off flavours, but although it's a pretty inexpensive solution, it's pretty hit and miss when it comes to effectiveness.