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tc68986
12-11-2013, 10:31 AM
Ok so here is my story. During the month of July my boyfriend and I made a double batch of mead, his recipe he's made it before and claims to have had great success. He has since been shipped out of the country with the Army and I have very little contact with him to follow up on how this process should be going. The mead (which has been racked twice once with him and once on my own) tastes god awful. It is yeasty and smells yeasty. I really have no idea how to proceed. I do know that outside of the original (very basic) recipe, honey. water, yeast and yeast energizer NOTHING has been added. I have done some research and I am seeing posts about hydrometers and stabilizers and clarifying products and wood chips, its making my head spin. Quite frankly I dont know what a hydrometer is nor would I know what to do with one once I get one. I'm not even sure why I need one! I keep reading blogs etc but I need the Mead for Dummies version because none of these blogs etc are telling me exactly what I am supposed to do. I want to make this mead very badly. I would love to have it come out well. I have two five gallon jugs of the stuff is there anyone that can please give me some simple direction? Thank-you

Marshmallow Blue
12-11-2013, 10:39 AM
Do you remember when they racked if there was a big pile of junk left behind? If so, good!

If it has already been racked off the main bulk of settled yeast, you can let it sit and it should clear on its own.

Do you know how old the batches are?

Robusto
12-11-2013, 11:04 AM
Hi there and welcome.

First things first… The fact that it smells “yeasty” and not acrid or vinegar-like is probably a good sign (ie, that it is not infected or spoiled).

As Marshmallow said, it just may need more time to clarify. A hydrometer, in simple terms, tells you the density of a liquid. In the case of making mead, wine, or beer it basically tells you how much suger is in the liquid. You take a reading before adding the yeast and it tells you your starting point. By then taking samples over the course of fermentation, you can tell how much sugar (honey) the yeast have eaten, and eventually, when fermentation is complete. If you didn’t take a reading in the beginning, then having one now may not be of much use, so don’t sweat it.

As far as clarifiers (aka fining agents) go, there are quite a few, but most are very easy to use. There is a link around here somewhere that explains them, but I can’t find it at the moment. If you are not comfortable with them, just put the mead somewhere cool (cold) for now and see if that helps.

To try to put you at ease, I have had the same meads started from the same honey, water, nutrients, and yeast, and one was crystal clear in about two months and the other took almost 8 months, but in the end they both tasted great. Sometimes the most important ingredient in mead is time… and the hardest skill to learn in patience- ha ha.

tc68986
12-11-2013, 11:18 AM
Awesome news! It is definitely not acrid or vinegar-like. It smells like yeast! So I am glad to hear it may just need some more time. Robusto, thank you for taking the time to explain everything, it was a huge help! I won't worry about the hydrometer.
Marshmallow Blue, we made the batch in late July so it is about five months old, the first time we racked it there was definitely a lot of sediment, the second time when I did it myself, there was much less and now there is hardly any, although it is a tiny bit cloudy. There is also some carbonation to it which I didn't expect.
Thank-you both so much for the advise! I will just let it go awhile longer! Patience is not my strong suit lol

Marshmallow Blue
12-11-2013, 11:43 AM
Glad we could help! Hope you stick around for more mead adventures.

Just a note that you should only use the clarifying agents as a last resort when time won't do the trick. They will work wonders, but will also strip some color and flavor right form the mead.

Matrix4b
12-11-2013, 11:52 AM
The carbonation that you mention is normal. Bascially it is just disolved CO2 that the yeast make, that's the bubbling. The process you may have read about called de-gasing is simply swirling it around and letting that disolved gas escape. You may do that or you can just leave it alone.

De-Gassing- Agitating or stiring the fermenting mead to release disolved CO2 gas created by the yeast and disolved in the mead.

I agree that if it smells yeasty or tastes it, that means that fermentation is definitely still happening and it's not done, basically there is more yeast in the mead doing it's job, eating sugar and releasing CO2 gas and alcohol. This means that your gravity or density that they hydrometer is for mesuring will still drop, as in get lower.

Don't Panic. Just let it be. Time will clear up the foggyness. Since it has been 5 months then you may want to think of using a clarifying agent to help clear it up.

Clarifying Agent- a substance used to bind the loose yeast and other elements together and make them sink to the bottom the the carboy. Sparkloid is an excelent Clarifyer. There are a number of other ones.

So here's my suggestion:
1. Stir a little bit for a few times to release gas.
2. Be patient.
3. If sediment gets pilling up over 1/4 inch then rack it. (this is more of an eyeball not an exact measurement)
4. If it doesn't seem to be clearing any over the course of a few months then look into using some sparkloid. The sparkloid will take time, probably about 2-3 months to fully work out.

And if it tastes bad now, don't panic. It's still in the making. My first mead tasted very astringent when it was bottled. I bottled it when it was nearly clear. But 8 months later (the aging process) it mellowed out to be very yummy. I would also recomend oaking it. Basically putting some lightly toasted oak chips (1 oz) in a small hops bag (for easy removal) for about 3 weeks in the mead, then removed. This is called Oaking and it does help mellow out and smooth out the rough edges of the taste of the mead. You can use other toast levels of oak but I like light toasted american oak for most of my meads.

I hope that isn't too much info for you. Good luck.

Matrix

tc68986
12-11-2013, 12:04 PM
Thanks Matrix! You guys are all really helpful! Thank-you all I will follow your instructions! YAY, I feel a lot better about this.

Chevette Girl
12-21-2013, 12:33 AM
The only additional comment I have is that a hydrometer would tell you if it's actually finished fermenting and the carbonation you're seeing is just degassing, or if it's still fermenting a little bit, in which case it'll stay cloudy till it's really done.

Also, many clarifiers won't work well until a must has been degassed, so if it's still fizzy after a few days of occasional stirring, it may be a longer wait.

By not checking with a hydrometer to make sure fermentation was done before racking it off the sediment, it's possible it could have been racked before it was finished and racking before it's finished the initial fermentation can really really slow things down.

Don't worry though, eventually it WILL finish, it should also eventually clear, and then it'll taste like it should!

GntlKnigt1
12-21-2013, 04:02 AM
The description doesn't mention mead, but it works for mead as well. Figured you might want a pic of one.

http://www.homebrewstuff.com/hydrometer.html

WVMJack
12-21-2013, 07:43 AM
How long is your boyfriend deployed? Thinking about you and his mead, or maybe his mead and you, will give him something to do when he is off duty! Mead is not something you need to keep doing something to all the time. Depending on how long he is deployed your job may be only to make sure the airlock on top doesnt run out of water and maybe take a picture of you beside his carboy every month so he can see you both are doing fine :) WVMJ

danr
12-21-2013, 02:05 PM
By not checking with a hydrometer to make sure fermentation was done before racking it off the sediment, it's possible it could have been racked before it was finished and racking before it's finished the initial fermentation can really really slow things down.

I agree with previous posts that you do not need to use a hydrometer, but as CG says you are really working in the dark without one. A hydrometer is one of the most basic tools for mead, beer and winemaking and is easy to use. If you buy a wine thief (or turkey baster), you can sterilize this, a hydrometer and a test jar. You draw some liquid from your jugs ("carboys"), put this mead in the test jar and float the hydrometer in the mead. If the specific gravity reading is 1.000 or less, your fermentation is essentially done and your mead has fermented dry. If the specific gravity is higher, but does not change over a period of several weeks, your fermentation is also done (or stalled). It sounds like your fermentation went well, so I would not worry too much, but I disagree that it would not be helpful to take a reading now even though you do not know the original specific gravity. It would be a good skill to learn, and will tell you if your mead has fermented dry or the level of "sweetness" remaining.

If you decide to try out a hydrometer at some point, report back with the readings and we can help you understand what they mean. If you know how much honey was used for each batch, we can also estimate you original specific gravity. With the original specific gravity and the final specific gravity it is an easy calculation to determine the amount of alcohol in the mead.

Good luck, you are doing just fine! Also, thanks to your boyfriend for his service to our country!

[edit] p.s. Here is a picture of a hydrometer in use: LINK (http://www.annapolishomebrew.com/en/hydrometer-jar-black)
You can buy a hydrometer and test jar at any homebrew shop. Probably about $10 for both.