PDA

View Full Version : Medicinal Tasting Mead



smertz001
01-28-2013, 10:22 PM
Hi All.

I just tasted my very first batch, and it seems to have turned medicinal on me.

I started it on 2012-11-02, and racked from primary to secondary on 2012-11-09. Then I racked it again into another carboy on 2012-12-09 as per the directions. Well, then life got involved and instead of racking again in a month, I racked it today. When I gave it a taste back in December, it tasted good I noted. And it was definitely better than what it is now.

This was a kit from the LHBS, and here is the ingredients:
3 lbs Walker's Pure Natural Honey (Wild flower I think, not labeled but tastes like it)
1/2 pkg lalvin D47
3ish quarts of Ozarka water
Package #1: Nutrients, bentonite, tannin, pectic enzyme
Package #2: Fruit acids.
Package #3: "Fermentation inhibitors" (Which I did not use, and figured I would not use them anyways after this long of neglect.)

Starting Gravity: 1.127 (don't know the temp)
Gravity on Dec 09: 1.042 (don't know the temp)
Current Gravity: 1.040@76F

And here is my notes:


After reading the instructions three times I still managed to foul things up. Normally following directions works, but these ones have various items you need to flip back and forther between.

I didn't really measure out the water, it said to boil two quarts, so I dumped in about half the gallon jug.

I then got the water boiling, turned the heat off and poured the honey in like suggested. But in trying to get all the honey out, I dunked the jar into the water, without thinking about what nasties are on it.

Next up, putting it back on the heat and bringing to just a simmer and cutting the heat and letting it pasteurize like that, I didn't. I never got it to a full simmer I don't think, and then I immediately dunked into the cold ice water to cool.

After that, I dumped in the nutrients without mixing them into some water first to make them more mixable.

I didn't bloom the yeast fully, only about 5 minutes instead of 20, and it was kind of quick and dirty how I did it since I forgot about that part.

When using the hydrometer I couldn't think of a clean way to do that either, so I did some rigging of that with a measuring up. Everything I did sterilize first, but quickly.

After that though, things were OK and it's now sitting in it's bucket waiting to ferment hopefully.


Anyone have any thoughts on why it went from tasting good to medicinal? I've no problem letting it sit out there for a while, just curious so that I can learn. Also, after the racking on Dec 9, there was quite a bit of head space, so maybe it's oxidized?

Thanks!

Medsen Fey
01-28-2013, 10:54 PM
There are a few possibilities:

1. Spoilage- some spoilage organisms will cause a medicinal, phenolic odor and bitterness. Brettanomyces is known to do this, though its classic presentation is a mousy/barnyard odor. I don't know if you have used brett in any fermentations but that would certainly increase the risk. Leaving a relatively-low-ABV sweet mead without stabilizers creates a great environment for spoilage organisms, and when you leave a lot of oxygen in the headspace you might as well open the door and invite them in.

2. Honey character- sometimes a honey has some of this character that just comes through. I've seen it in mangrove honey as an example. Where does your honey come from?

3. Fusel alcohols- if you fermented D47 at 76°F the higher alcohols produced may cause medicinal odors that develop over a few months. Sometimes they age out, but I have a batch I've been aging 5 years and they still haven't cleared out.

At this point, I'd plan on aging it for a year and see if it becomes fit to bottle. A little sulfite to keep the nasty critters away, and protection from oxygen exposure would be wise.

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

Riverat
01-28-2013, 10:55 PM
Well the starting grav was a bit high, the tempretures are a bit high and I imagine that first racking may have been premature. D47 should take that to around 1.015 so this may have stalled on you, the temp may have created some off flavours / fusels that will likey age out but watch the gravity to see if it is still dropping and try to keep it under 70, it will ferment a good bit warmer (59 to 82) but that tends to take longer to age. try to keep your temp on the low side of mid range of any yeast in general

smertz001
01-29-2013, 07:49 AM
Thanks for the replies!


There are a few possibilities:

1. Spoilage- some spoilage organisms will cause a medicinal, phenolic odor and bitterness. Brettanomyces is known to do this, though its classic presentation is a mousy/barnyard odor. I don't know if you have used brett in any fermentations but that would certainly increase the risk. Leaving a relatively-low-ABV sweet mead without stabilizers creates a great environment for spoilage organisms, and when you leave a lot of oxygen in the headspace you might as well open the door and invite them in.


I've not used Brett, didn't even know what it was until your mention here made me Google it. I had seen it's name around the forums before, but never went looking. The only thing around where this batch has been, was some home made sour kraut and sour dough starters. I'm pretty good at keeping things clean and sanitized when working with the mead stuff though, so not sure that would be a cause.



2. Honey character- sometimes a honey has some of this character that just comes through. I've seen it in mangrove honey as an example. Where does your honey come from?


This honey came from a store, but the company is local to the area. It wasn't labeled as to the specifics of it, so I assume that it's either a blend or wildflower. It did taste like wildflower when I checked it before using it. Nothing too medicinal there.



3. Fusel alcohols- if you fermented D47 at 76°F the higher alcohols produced may cause medicinal odors that develop over a few months. Sometimes they age out, but I have a batch I've been aging 5 years and they still haven't cleared out.


It wasn't always at 76F. Until recently it was in the 60s. But, this is Houston, TX and it seems Summer is upon us as we are hitting high 70s low 80s already. Guess, this means I may need to figure out some way to try and keep everything cool. :confused:



At this point, I'd plan on aging it for a year and see if it becomes fit to bottle. A little sulfite to keep the nasty critters away, and protection from oxygen exposure would be wise.


Would tossing it in a fridge (running at normal temperatures) be a good place to let it sit and age out? As, I expect over the summer these things will be feeling the heat just like the rest of us, and we can't afford to run the AC at sub-70 all day long.

smertz001
01-29-2013, 07:52 AM
Thanks for your reply Riverat!


Well the starting grav was a bit high, the tempretures are a bit high and I imagine that first racking may have been premature. D47 should take that to around 1.015 so this may have stalled on you, the temp may have created some off flavours / fusels that will likey age out but watch the gravity to see if it is still dropping and try to keep it under 70, it will ferment a good bit warmer (59 to 82) but that tends to take longer to age. try to keep your temp on the low side of mid range of any yeast in general

Yeah, this will be a challenge come next month through November! I'm hoping to have something figured out so I can keep these guys cool during this time. Didn't really think of that when I started this process.

I do have a fridge in the garage that I can put stuff in. But, it does run cold (like a fridge should.) I'm wondering if maybe I should get a temp control device on it and try to make it run more appropriate for these, and try to find someplace else for the stuff in there currently.

Ah the joys of a new hobby!

PitBull
01-29-2013, 08:30 AM
Fusel alcohols- if you fermented D47 at 76°F the higher alcohols produced may cause medicinal odors that develop over a few months. Sometimes they age out, but I have a batch I've been aging 5 years and they still haven't cleared out.

At this point, I'd plan on aging it for a year and see if it becomes fit to bottle. A little sulfite to keep the nasty critters away, and protection from oxygen exposure would be wise.
I made a 6 gallon batch of cherry melomel ended up tasting like cherry cough syrup, literally. The yeast got over zealous and went all the way to 16.5% ABV, with lots of fusels, instead of being a sweet melomel at the yeast’s “upper limit” of 14%. You’ll find out that the yeast have a collective mind of their own, and will often break your heart. The melomel is sitting at 27 months and is finally drinkable, not good mind you, but “barely okay”. Lesson learned.

Still, I’m encouraged that in another year or two it may actually turn out to be good. I’d recommend bottling your mead in beer bottles and waiting at least the year that Medsen recommend. The 12 oz. bottles allow occasional sampling without using such a large percentage of your product. This is especially desirable for small batches.

Right now, one of the best ingredients that you can add is patience. You’ll also find it’s much easier to patient when you have 200+ bottles of mead/wine in your basement.

smertz001
01-29-2013, 09:38 AM
I have been bottling in 375ml bottles. Since they are one gallon batches, I wanted them to last as long as possible. But I've been using mushroom corks (cork with plastic top that doesn't require a corker to put in) so I should probably think about getting some real corks now and a corker so that it lasts longer than the 1 year or so they say these things are rated.

What about topping up the carboy with some honey water and just letting it age out in that for now? Put it away for a year in the fridge and come back to it?

Right now on hand, I have clover, orange blossom, buckwheat, huajilla and maybe some wildflower. I'm thinking the strength of the buckwheat might help cover the medicinal flavour?

PitBull
01-29-2013, 10:23 AM
What about topping up the carboy with some honey water and just letting it age out in that for now? Put it away for a year in the fridge and come back to it?
Adding honey and water, especially in the same proportions as the original mixture, is a good way to eliminate head space. However, I would age at room temperature. According to the mead calculator, your mead is 11.4% ABV. D47 is supposed to top out at 12 to 14% ABV. However, I've had it crap out at 11% and had it go all the way to 16%. If you add honey and water, your yeast may still have some capacity to continue fermentation. So an air lock is better than a stopper in your carboy in preventing a bottle bomb.

Sweetness also covers some sins. You could also stabilize and then add honey and water, but at your current S.G. of 1.042, you're likely sweet enough.

Buckwheat will likely change the flavor, maybe even more to your liking. But a small amount really won't cover something really medicinal tasting. Time is your best bet for doing that. But when sarting to make mead, try not to change too many things at once, otherwise you'll not really be sure of what worked and what had little/none/negative effect.

Pewter_of_Deodar
01-29-2013, 12:30 PM
The cough syrup comment causes lights to go on for me. Exposure to air, resulting in oxidation, has caused this to happen to a couple of things I have been making.

Was the medicinal taste like cough syrup or like hospital sanitizer?

smertz001
01-29-2013, 01:18 PM
The taste was definitely not like cough syrup. So, I guess hospital sanitizer... Although I've never tasted that so wouldn't be sure about it (=

Medsen Fey
01-29-2013, 01:42 PM
The only thing around where this batch has been, was some home made sour kraut and sour dough starters.

The lactobacilli and other organisms (which could easily include Brett) in sourkraut and sourdough could easily contaminate a batch. I'd recommend really good sanitation and I'd probably use sulfites routinely in addition to being careful about headspace.




It wasn't always at 76F. Until recently it was in the 60s. ... I may need to figure out some way to try and keep everything cool. :confused:



Would tossing it in a fridge (running at normal temperatures) be a good place to let it sit and age out?

Most Fusels are produced during the early part of fermentation. If the fermentation was cool, the storage temp is not critical for traditional meads. I keep mine stored at 75° and traditional meads tolerate this well for years so I wouldn't recommend putting it in a fridge- that might slow down the chemical reactions needed to clear the medicinal substances.








I have been bottling in 375ml bottles.

What about topping up the carboy with some honey water and just letting it age out in that for now? Put it away for a year in the fridge and come back to it?



I don't bottle things until I'm confident they will be OK. I don't want to waste extra time on something that may get tossed. But if you do bottle either get beer bottles and some crown caps or use proper corks or Zorks so the mead will be protected.

I don't like to to top-up with more honey water. That is especially true with dry meads. If you search "topping up" or "marbles" you'll find some threads that discuss options.

In the case if this mead, if the problem us due to oxidation, if you get it protected, meads often can recover if you age it. I wouldn't add any more honey. It may benefit from time, but patience is always the toughest ingredient to find.

Pewter_of_Deodar
01-30-2013, 01:45 PM
When I have used gentle heat pasteurization on my musts in the past, the first few minutes of skimming have gathered foam that tastes like what you are describing. I have no idea what causes the taste. I have always thought that maybe it was sanitizers or chemicals that the honey processor used to sterilize their equipment. And I doubt that the little bit I have gathered would taint an entire batch, though I suppose it could...

Another comment is that if you believe that it is fusels, if you bottle, use corks since the tiny amount of breathing a bottle can do through a cork can help fusels to continue to age out.

smertz001
01-30-2013, 01:57 PM
Thanks for all the tips and info. I think I will go about getting some marbles and then topping it up with them, and just putting it away for a ... looooooong while. Come back to it in a year or so, and see what's happened!

smertz001
02-01-2013, 09:08 PM
Tonight I sorbated, sulfited and marbleized it. I will find a nice dark place for it and let it sit around gathering dust for a nice long while.

Thanks for all the help gang! Greatly appreciated!