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View Full Version : Has my melomel gone bad?



Threecats
08-16-2013, 09:07 AM
Approximately 4 weeks ago I started up an orange melomel, Yesterday I racked it since gravity had dropped to 0. I followed the recipe to the letter however when racking I also tasted the melomel and it had a somewhat strange scent and taste. I tasted like a Brut Champagne with a hint of moldy orange. It also smelled slightly moldy.

There is however no evidence of mold inside the flask, nor is there mold floating on top op the Melomel. I am now trying to find out if this is normal, if I have to correct this with chemicals or that I should throw it away and start again.

I sterilized my equipment using sulphite and added 2 sulphite tablets on startup (it is a 5 liter flask) and when racking I added 1 tablet. After a second tasting, (after racking) the taste was purely that of a brut champagne

loveofrose
08-16-2013, 09:22 AM
Please post your exact recipe. It's probably orange pith that will age out, but without your exact recipe and procedure, I can't be sure.

Threecats
08-16-2013, 10:34 AM
Well I followed the recipe ALMOST to the letter (thanks to my log I found this out)

1.1 litres of orange juice (squized it myself from bloodoranges)
1.25 kg of Acacia blossom honey
10g Malic acid
1/15th oz of Tannin (was a challenge to convert to metric)
All purpose yeast
Yeast nutrient as on label of nutrient flask.
Yeast activator (activates yeast so that it is unneccesary to make a yeast starter, though with bigger volumes it is advised to make a yeaststarter)

Dissolve honey, malic acid, tannin and nutrients in 2.25 litres of warm water and blend with orange juice (which I had filtered with a sterilized peace of cheesecloth). add 2 tablets and make volume up to 4.5 litres (1 gallon) with cold water. After 24 hours add yeaststarter/ yeast activator and yeast. Ferment until gravity drops to 5, then rack. When I checked gravity it had already dropped to 0. Rack again when gravity drops to 0 and add 1 campden tablet (sulphite tablet).

The airlock was activated within hours and it was bubbling in 24. Temperature's here in the Netherlands have been near ideal with room temperatures of between 26 and 30 degrees for the first 2 weeks and approximately 24 degrees in the last two.

My plain mead is going good and is currently clearing up. That one (2 gallons) was started 2 weeks earlier and at first racking it tasted like a chardonnay with bubbles, not surprising though since I used a chablis yeast for that batch. I

Chevette Girl
08-23-2013, 01:23 PM
For future recommendations, skip the acid additions in any mead you make, honey is sufficiently acidic to cause pH problems without added acidity, that can just make it worse...

So you're using metric units, you're obviously not American ;D you should list Netherlands in your User CP location...

I'm presuming that by "until gravity drops to 5", you mean specific gravity 1.005?

If you've hit it with a campden tablet already, then you've done as much chemically as I would do, although if you're really paranoid you could hit it with one more and not be able to taste it later. Sometimes if you add yeast hulls or microwaved bread yeast, give it a few days to settle out, then rack off the sediment, the hulls can absorb off flavours... sometimes a good splash racking can be beneficial... it's hard to say what will work for what batch.

It's really hard to pinpoint odours, even my husband and I have very different descriptions when I take the lid off an active ferment... I sniff and say, "Aah, a nice healthy ferment." He says, "Ugh, what's rotting?"

But if you don't see mold, it's probably not moldy, the only way I can think that a mold taste/odour could have ended up there was from moldy oranges, but if you juiced them yourself you would have noticed that... I've had visible mold in things and it didn't smell like it...

It's more than likely whatever it is will age out after a while so it's worth keeping around in secondary for some time before you decide if you're going to dump it, and unless there's a taste that makes you spit it out, chances are there's nothing actually dangerous to you. I had a batch (ok, two batches) that ended up with a diesel fuel aroma even though they tasted fine, I have to agitate and wine vacuum the hell out of them for a couple hours before drinking or else I have to hold my nose!

Threecats
09-13-2013, 07:09 AM
So you're using metric units, you're obviously not American ;D you should list Netherlands in your User CP location...

I'm presuming that by "until gravity drops to 5", you mean specific gravity 1.005?




It's more than likely whatever it is will age out after a while so it's worth keeping around in secondary for some time before you decide if you're going to dump it,

You are right, I am 100% dutch, so please don't mind the spelling. After reading basically the same message on the dutch meadmakers forum, I had already decided to keep on working on this orange mead. Indeed the taste was much better now. Whilst racking it I took a small taste sample and it tasted fruity, somewhat acidic (probably DUH after adding malic acid) and it actually had a pleasant taste to it. Added another campden tablet (as per recipe). The melomel has not yet cleared completly, althoug it was much more see through than before. Could this perhaps have happened because I used a Dark Brown fermentation bottle instead of a Clear one?

Sorry I am a mead newbie but my first two batches seem to be going great Yay.

Indeed I meant that gravity had dropped til 1.005

fatbloke
09-14-2013, 02:12 AM
Good to read its improving....

Dutch + orange mead ? Obviously :D

Not sure why the recipe would use malic acid either..... citric would have been my choice and as CG says, it'd just be added afterwards as the main must has the honey, but also orange juice in it......

As for it tasting a little strange, if they're not bad flavours, then just continue with the finishing off parts of the process.

Young meads often do taste strange (not sure if that's just a mental perception on how it "should" taste as its made from Honey) but most will age meads for at least 6 months, often a year.

Its like a different drink then......

GntlKnigt1
09-14-2013, 02:12 AM
So you're using metric units, you're obviously not American ;D you should list Netherlands in your User CP location...

I'm presuming that by "until gravity drops to 5", you mean specific gravity 1.005?




It's more than likely whatever it is will age out after a while so it's worth keeping around in secondary for some time before you decide if you're going to dump it,

You are right, I am 100% dutch, so please don't mind the spelling. After reading basically the same message on the dutch meadmakers forum, I had already decided to keep on working on this orange mead. Indeed the taste was much better now. Whilst racking it I took a small taste sample and it tasted fruity, somewhat acidic (probably DUH after adding malic acid) and it actually had a pleasant taste to it. Added another campden tablet (as per recipe). The melomel has not yet cleared completly, althoug it was much more see through than before. Could this perhaps have happened because I used a Dark Brown fermentation bottle instead of a Clear one?

Sorry I am a mead newbie but my first two batches seem to be going great Yay.

Indeed I meant that gravity had dropped til 1.005

Great !!! I am excited to see a Dutch person on here !!! If we stick together, maybe we can take over the mead making world !!! I am up in Flevoland, and google maps tells me you are in zuid Holland. Would love to chat with you about where you source honey...am going to Koblenz next week and hope to find some in that area. Grin

As for first batches, read my blog. Disaster....but sounds like yours might be okay. If it tastes okay, you're doing better than I did on my first batches.

Bottle color during fermentation won't matter, unless you have them in the sun.

WVMJack
09-14-2013, 05:15 AM
Moldy or really yeasty off flavors? Its young yet, relax. You guys are in such a small country you can drive over to each others house and have a little tasting and help each other out. Its a lot of fun to have some other meadmakers in your neighborhood as long as they dont buy up all the honey! WVMJ

Threecats
09-14-2013, 05:35 AM
Great !!! I am excited to see a Dutch person on here !!! If we stick together, maybe we can take over the mead making world !!! I am up in Flevoland, and google maps tells me you are in zuid Holland. Would love to chat with you about where you source honey...am going to Koblenz next week and hope to find some in that area. Grin

As for first batches, read my blog. Disaster....but sounds like yours might be okay. If it tastes okay, you're doing better than I did on my first batches.

Bottle color during fermentation won't matter, unless you have them in the sun.

Yay, someone to chat with about mead making. Where do you buy supplies. I buy most of it at www.brouwmarkt.com

My Father in Law is a Bee keeper. However last two years he had no honey at all. For my first batch I used store bought Euroshopper brand honey. It is not such great quality honey, but for a first batch I figured it wouldn't matter. Because I am a first timer, I had taken into account that there is a reasonable possibility that the first batch will fail.

Currently I am LMAO. My first batch is not yet finished but my friends and family have already reserved over 2/3 of the batch. Since I had already expected as much I made a somewhat larger batch.

The second batch was made from Langnese acia honey. (this is the orange melomel). Before starting I read a lot on both the internet and I bought this book. http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Making-Mead-Bryan-Acton/9780900841071. I am a good chef in the kitchen and I believe in using fresh ingredients rather than pre mixed ingredients.

GntlKnigt1
09-14-2013, 05:55 AM
Yay, someone to chat with about mead making. Where do you buy supplies. I buy most of it at www.brouwmarkt.com (http://www.brouwmarkt.com)

My Father in Law is a Bee keeper. However last two years he had no honey at all. For my first batch I used store bought Euroshopper brand honey. It is not such great quality honey, but for a first batch I figured it wouldn't matter. Because I am a first timer, I had taken into account that there is a reasonable possibility that the first batch will fail.

Currently I am LMAO. My first batch is not yet finished but my friends and family have already reserved over 2/3 of the batch. Since I had already expected as much I made a somewhat larger batch.

The second batch was made from Langnese acia honey. (this is the orange melomel). Before starting I read a lot on both the internet and I bought this book. http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Making-Mead-Bryan-Acton/9780900841071. I am a good chef in the kitchen and I believe in using fresh ingredients rather than pre mixed ingredients.

WVMJack, google maps says our respective communities are about an hour and 15 minutes apart.... Not bad at all!!!

Yes, I get most of my stuff at Brouwmarkt in Almere as well. Have a few other places for incidentals up north where the wife worked. http://www.vanderkooyjubbega.nl/

The first batch of honey I got from some friends of my wife that are beekeepers.

Here is where I went for my next 20 kg of honey... http://www.dedriebijen.nl/

I got my third batch of rapeseed honey from a fellow over in this area that doesn't have a web site. Next batch, as I said, I hope to pick up in Germany later this month.

fatbloke
09-14-2013, 06:02 AM
Yay, someone to chat with about mead making. Where do you buy supplies. I buy most of it at www.brouwmarkt.com (http://www.brouwmarkt.com)

My Father in Law is a Bee keeper. However last two years he had no honey at all. For my first batch I used store bought Euroshopper brand honey. It is not such great quality honey, but for a first batch I figured it wouldn't matter. Because I am a first timer, I had taken into account that there is a reasonable possibility that the first batch will fail.

Currently I am LMAO. My first batch is not yet finished but my friends and family have already reserved over 2/3 of the batch. Since I had already expected as much I made a somewhat larger batch.

The second batch was made from Langnese acia honey. (this is the orange melomel). Before starting I read a lot on both the internet and I bought this book. http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Making-Mead-Bryan-Acton/9780900841071. I am a good chef in the kitchen and I believe in using fresh ingredients rather than pre mixed ingredients.
You don't need to worry so much about the distances of other mead makers Threecats (or spelling for that matter). I'm only the other side of the north sea, but for decent home brew supplies, have to use a place slightly south/south west of you i.e. Brouwland (http://www.brouwland.com/en/)in Belgium (their website is multi-lingual, at least English and Flemish - which I understand should be fine for a native Dutch speaker - brouwmarkt is only in Dutch and google translate isn't the best).

The info in the "Making Mead" book is good, if a little dated (not been updated for a few decades AFAIK). A better option as it's more up to date ( about 2005 or so) is Ken Schramms book "The Compleat Mead Maker", yet that also has issues as it's very comprehensive but aimed at the US market (you only need to look up some of the US based online sites to understand how much better the range of honey and other materials is for them, compared to what's available here within the EU.....)

Kens book is more "sciencey", but still of help as it gives many ideas about many things that are helpful to know (again, sorry, in English).

I can give you some idea of equivalents, as it seems that Brouwmarkt sells similar range of stuff to Brouwland, plus what I can get here easily (the Tronozymol, presuming it's just in different packaging). It's helpful to understand why people like to use the Lallemand/Lalvin stuff (yeasts, nutrients etc).

It's mainly because they publish more data/info about their products than any other maker (by some considerable amount). So if you want to be very precise on how you're formulating your musts and brews etc, it's helpful to know as much as possible.

Good luck with your brews. GntlKnigt1 is only "up the road" some, and I'm just over the water a bit further, and of course, everyone else is on the end of the computer ;D we like to help if we can.

GntlKnigt1
09-14-2013, 06:30 AM
Thanks for the site, FB, although Brouwmarkt is the Dutch affiliate/distributor for Brouwland. They have a great yeast selection....I took a pic of it on one trip. http://www.gotmead.com/forum/album.php?albumid=51&pictureid=187

I would agree that Ken Schramms book is the closest thing to a 'bible' that meadmakers have.... and, if you read my blog, you can see the consequences of reading something badly outdated. http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1279&Itemid=419
I have wanted to get it as well.....maybe Santa will bring me one.

Oh... and I cook and grill a lot as well....have my own cookbook of collected recipes that I started in 1985 or so, originally on my old Commodore 64 !! LOL.

I will have to look up Langnese acia honey... see what it is.

Threecats
09-20-2013, 11:03 AM
Both the melomel and mead are going good. Though I have racked them both at least 2 times the airlock still indicates that there is actually some alcohol making in the process. The fermentations is however Erratic. Sometimes there is almost equal pressure in the airlock (water is on the same level at both sides), other times my airlock is actually bubbling.

GntlKnigt1
09-20-2013, 01:15 PM
Make sure verything is sealed so that the CO2 cant escape. Also, does the temp in that room vary a lot? My brew area is about 18 C, which is pretty close to ideal.

Threecats
09-20-2013, 03:41 PM
I keep my bottles in the supplies cabinet. Temperature there is different from our living room, but it is more constant, because it is not connected to any outer walls and has no windows, it is dark, in summer it is usually the coolest place in our house, in winter it is usually the warmest place, I guess temperature there is approximately 17 degrees, perhaps 18 in winter. Primary fermentation took place in our living room btw, at a temperature of approx 27 degrees celcius.

GntlKnigt1
09-22-2013, 03:20 AM
Okay....hard to figure the erratic fermentation....have you done hydrometer readings?

Threecats
09-28-2013, 01:28 PM
Actually, It may have something to do with the temperature fluctuations. Fermentation has stabilised now that temperature's here are somewhat more stable.

Now the outside temperatures are cooling down the inside temperature's are nearing the point that our heating is kicking in. This means that the temperature inside is fluctuating a lot less.

fatbloke
09-28-2013, 02:21 PM
Good to read all the brews are doing ok and that you've got all the necessary supplies sorted out.....

Pity there's not more detailed info about Brouwmarkts product range, maybe some on the dutch language sites ?

Top stuff......

GntlKnigt1
09-28-2013, 04:09 PM
Am glad things are settling down for you. Did you get a hydrometer? It's the best way to check the progress of your fermentation....

http://www.brouwmarkt.nl/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=hydrometer&osCsid=0ljfhsntgm06tisbhqh6fqb674&x=0&y=0

Threecats
09-29-2013, 04:18 AM
I have a hydrometer. It was in the starting kit I bought from Brouwmarkt. That is why earlier in this topic I was able to give the right gravity readings.

GntlKnigt1
09-29-2013, 05:40 AM
Okay.... I re-read the thread and saw it up there. I didn't run across bee keepers/honey in Germany, so am starting to scout around again for some. I would think there would be a lot this time of year.

Threecats
10-02-2013, 07:47 AM
I would not be so sure about this. my FIL (father in law) had no honey at all this year. He has had a lot of trouble with his hives. He made his hives ready for winter and he hopes to have a better harvest next year. It may just be coincidence thoug, according to him he is not the only one having trouble, but he likes to think he knows everyting whilt in fact he does not so... You might like to check: http://www.dewerkbij.nl/prijslijst.php

GntlKnigt1
10-02-2013, 08:29 AM
Cheesh... at prices like that, I would have to take up a different hobby !!! Am hoping to find it a lot cheaper.... and bigger quantities. I usually buy it 20 kg at a time....

I have a sister in law coming to visit tomorrow who is interested in mead and my efforts, so I have saved a lot of small tasks, like racking, a little bottling from the cask to Grolsch bottles, maybe some backsweetening and stuff, which I will be doing over the next few days.

How are YOUR batches doing?

Threecats
10-02-2013, 09:24 AM
My batches are doing great. I expect to rack again around the 14th of october. My normal mead is almost completely clear and fermentation is either stuck or it has finished. The orange melomel is still fermenting. Airlock is not bubbeling but all the water is at the proper side of the airlock.

When you find a cheaper supplier of honey please send me a message with the (web) adress. Indeed making mead can be a pricy hobby. (but oh so rewarding). A proper mead is hard to find around here, unless you go to the Elf fantasy fair or castlefest or something

GntlKnigt1
10-02-2013, 10:09 AM
A proper mead is hard to find around here, unless you go to the Elf fantasy fair or castlefest or something

What is that/those? I used to do Renfair in Chicago area at http://www.renfair.com/bristol/ . In years past, have been known to go twice even.

So what is Elf fantasy fair and castlefest?

Threecats
10-02-2013, 10:53 AM
Basically those are festivals. Here in Alphen on the 7th and 8th of december we have a midwinter festival. I have never been there so I do not know whether or not you can buy mead there.

I am hoping to go there this year, but it is very close to Sinterklaas so the family might pick this weekend to exchange presents

http://www.elfia.com/events/elfia-haarzuilens-2014/

http://www.castlefest.com/page/nl/2013/nieuws/nieuws.php

GntlKnigt1
10-02-2013, 11:06 AM
Oh man, i LOVE that stuff...LOL. cant wait.....

Threecats
10-03-2013, 02:07 PM
Me too. I will probably buy my tickets for the Elf Fantasy Fair somewhere in december. Tickets are much cheaper when you buy them well in advance.