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kuri
06-11-2013, 09:49 AM
I'm enjoying the last third or so of my first mead, but I've noticed a variation in the taste from time to time. The basic taste remains the same, but sometimes it comes across as alcoholic, and at other times it doesn't. I'm wondering what that variation might come from, and in particular if it's a real difference in the taste of the different bottles or if it's only a matter of perception stemming from what I ate recently, what the weather's like or how tired I am. Anyone else notice that kind of variation? Any idea what the cause might be?

For the record, this is a traditional mead made in late July last year and bottled in early February. I racked it off the lees 3 times, the third time just before bottling. OG 1.098, FG 0.998, ABV 13.5%. 6 kg horse chestnut honey used to make 18 liters, fermented with Red Star Premier Cuvee yeast.

I'm starting to think that maybe the difference comes from a difference in yeast concentration, since I'm sure I didn't manage to leave 100% of the lees behind upon racking. All of the bottles have a very slight positive pressure to them as well by now, indicating that fermentation wasn't quite finished at bottling, but that's uniform across all of the bottles. (Live and learn.)

Robusto
06-11-2013, 01:54 PM
All of the bottles have a very slight positive pressure to them as well by now, indicating that fermentation wasn't quite finished at bottling, but that's uniform across all of the bottles. (Live and learn.)

could be... or could be a temperature difference. If you bottled at a cooler temp than the tem that you open them at you could get a little pop.

Speaking of temperature… serving temperature variations could be part of the different taste that you are experiencing.

If your bottles actually do taste different, it could be that you have some oxygenation in some of them while bottling.

Just a few thoughts

Marshmallow Blue
06-11-2013, 03:43 PM
This is also an effect of not bulk aging enough. When it gets a good long bulk age, they bottles should be more consistent.

kuri
06-11-2013, 09:48 PM
Thanks for the comments.


could be... or could be a temperature difference. If you bottled at a cooler temp than the tem that you open them at you could get a little pop.

It's actually the opposite. The mead was bottled at about 19C and is opened at about 2C. Plus as it stands a very few bubbles start to form in the glass.


Speaking of temperature… serving temperature variations could be part of the different taste that you are experiencing.

The temperature doesn't vary much -- 0C - 4C at most -- but some of the bottles come from the fridge and some have been taken from the shelf and plunged into an ice bath. I haven't been paying close enough attention to know whether that is a factor, though I rather suspect not.


If your bottles actually do taste different, it could be that you have some oxygenation in some of them while bottling.

Just a few thoughts

Very possible. All the bottles went through the same process, but some sat longer before being capped, and I'm sure that the flow of mead into the bottle differed widely from bottle to bottle. I never associated oxidation with alcoholic taste, though. Is this a common association?


This is also an effect of not bulk aging enough. When it gets a good long bulk age, they bottles should be more consistent.

That's surprising to me. My naive approach says that liquid that sits long enough in a carboy together should all come out the same, but obviously there has been some difference introduced somewhere. I guess if you accept that a mead bottled early will continue to change, then any small difference in the environment that the bottles are stored in will lead to potential differences in taste as well. I'm planning on letting the next mead sit longer before bottling, so I hope you're right. Though I also hope to end up with the non-alcoholic tasting mead in the end.

Medsen Fey
06-12-2013, 06:26 PM
All of the bottles have a very slight positive pressure to them as well by now, indicating that fermentation wasn't quite finished at bottling, but that's uniform across all of the bottles. (Live and learn.)

Happens even in the best of homes. :)

There may be some variation in the ABV between bottles depending on how much fermentation occurred in each one. If there were temp differences in the storage some bottles may have more fusel alcohols which taste "hotter".

Serving temp and environment can definitely affect perception of alcohol and flavor. One way to assess if there really is a difference between bottles is to open 2 and do triangular blind tasting.

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