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View Full Version : Can a batch be saved from infection?



Tharkis
02-16-2013, 09:17 PM
So I made my first big batch of mead after quite a few successful smaller batches. This was just a straight sweet mead, 15lbs honey, distilled water to 5 gallons, and Lavlin D47 yeast. I made 2 batches at the same time with the same honey and water. After racking it off the lees for the 2nd time, I've let it sit for 6 months or so now, but one batch appears to be infected. There's a non-yest ring around the neck of the carboy, kind of tan in color, and the mead isnt clear it's cloudy. If i swirl it a little, the ring makes a hazy cloud in the carboy and then clings to the side again.

The local brew supply place said that it's a pretty sure sign of it being infected. My other batch done at the same time, is perfectly clear and no ring around the neck. The fellow at the brew supply place said that because mead is higher alcohol content, that my batch might still be salvageable, but he didnt have any real suggestions since he's primarily a beer guy, but thought that running it through a filter, and then adding campden tablets might do the trick. It doesnt smell bad, smelling like alcohol and honey, doesnt smell 'great' either though. I tasted it, and it doesn't taste 'bad' but it doesnt taste 'good' yet either (but it's young)
I dont want to end up making something that might make someone sick.

Is there any way to save an infected batch of mead? I was wondering if chilling it to get anything that can to settle out, re-racking it to a new carboy (extra sanitized!) and tossing in some campden tabblets (which I picked up after my discussion with the brew supply house) might save this batch?

Thanks for any help !

WVMJack
02-16-2013, 09:37 PM
If it does not smell funny or taste funny then you probably dont have an infection. Hit it with another does of camden at the regular rate of 1 tablet/gallon and wait for it to clear or add a fining agent like Sparkaloid to clear it. WVMJ

Tharkis
02-16-2013, 09:44 PM
If it does not smell funny or taste funny then you probably dont have an infection. Hit it with another does of camden at the regular rate of 1 tablet/gallon and wait for it to clear or add a fining agent like Sparkaloid to clear it. WVMJ


Thanks, I'll try that, and cross my fingers =)

akueck
02-16-2013, 10:31 PM
It doesn't sound classically infected. If you are worried, dose it with sulfites to kill anything that might be in there, as WVMJ suggested.

Medsen Fey
02-19-2013, 03:07 PM
Before you go a'sulfiting, what was the starting gravity and current gravity? A cloudy mead is sometimes an unfinished mead.

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Marshmallow Blue
02-19-2013, 05:13 PM
I don't know if I understood right, but you split the larger batch into two smaller secondaries? If so all the cleared mead likely went into the first one and the second fermenter got the cloudiness to finish settling, which would explain why one is clear and the other isn't yet.

wayneb
02-19-2013, 06:40 PM
Relax, don't worry, have a glass of mead, and let's explore this further. First of all, take whatever anyone at a LHBS says about mead with a grain of salt. Many brew store employees have never made a mead in their lives, so they fall back on "what's good for beer must be..." kinds of reasoning. The microorganisms that can lead to mead spoilage are a small subset of what can infect beer, since both the ethanol content and pH of finished meads tend to keep many organisms in check. I strongly suggest that you follow Medsen Fey's suggestion, and check to see what the current specific gravity of the mead is. You may still have unfermented sugars in the mix, and your yeast may be continuing to ferment at a very slow rate. This is not unheard of in traditional meads, especially if the fermentation was yeast nutrient-poor.

Let's look for the more common symptoms of the most likely spoilage organisms next. Pull the airlock off of your carboy and take a sniff of your mead again. A very good rule of thumb is if it doesn't smell "off" or bad, it isn't infected. If you smell any signs of acetic acid (vinegar), other organic acids (vomit-like), or mildew (musty, fecal or dead leaf-like), then you may have a problem. Your description of the smell and taste suggest to me that you don't have an infection in progress. Many meads can keep residual gunk (aka yeast proteins) in suspension or floating on top of the surface for months before the mead fully clears. The activity in one batch does not predict what you will observe in an apparently identical recipe in another batch, because there are a lot of variables not entirely within your control during the course of fermentation.

Now let's take a closer look at the surface gunk that you are observing. You say it is tan in color and tends to stick in a ring around the surface of the carboy. That sounds like yeast protein residue to me. Is there any evidence of an oily surface residue along with the ring? Are there any localized spots where anything greyish-white or black are floating on the surface, or is there any evidence of tendrils extending down into the liquid from the mead surface? Is there any evidence of a mottled whitish film across the surface? If the answer to all of these questions is no, and if the smell and taste do not suggest anything that you might immediately want to upchuck, then I believe your mead is fine. It is just one of those batches that will take a bit longer than average to clear. Traditional meads can be that way. A traditional mesquite batch that I've had in secondary for about a year and a half has just now fallen mostly clear, within the past few weeks.

You are always free to sulphite whenever you want, and if you are still concerned after doing all these checks, then I'd recommend you rack the liquid into another sanitized carboy (leaving behind as much of that ring as you can), and then sulphite, but I stongly suspect that you have nothing to worry about at all.