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Welshie
01-27-2014, 10:34 PM
Hello, the name's Mike and I recently decided to become a meadmaker. I researched it, bought all the books, read up on it, and then bought all the kits/supplies I needed to make my first batch. Used the semi-sweet mead recipe in The Compleat Meadmaker by Ken Schramm. Wanted to start off easy with a "show mead." I assembled the gear, sanitized like crazy, and then set off to make my must. Followed the recipe as it read and sealed it all up in my primary fermenter. Fermentation was rapid for the first 11 days, slowed just a touch on days 12-13, and then pretty much stopped on the 15th day. Opened the fermenter and was met with an odd smell. Not the sulfur, "rhino farts" that others suggested on this site, but something different. It almost struck me as a super concentrated citrus-like smell. Like smelling an orange that burned your nose a bit. Transferred it all to the secondary fermenter(glass carboy) and sealed it up with an airlock. Now, not only is there a "citrus" smell about it, but the carboy looks like I have 5 gallons of orange juice in it. OG was 1.110 and gravity at racking was 1.035(10%?). Now, I am a bit of a rookie to all of this, but spend any amount of time looking for answers on the Web and you'll get 400 different answers. I've heard that this is normal and I've also seen that this is a ruined batch and should be thrown out. I guess what I'm fishing for here is some guidance from the seasoned vets around here. Is this normal for a must to smell and look like that? Will this smell mellow in the bottle? Will this clear up or should I used fining agents? I guess what I need is someone to calm me down, tell me to be patient, and trust the process. Should I bide my time and be patient or resort to chemistry to help this process along? Any way, thanks for listening and for allowing me to be a member of this fine site.

joemirando
01-27-2014, 11:18 PM
Let me guess; it both looks and smells like cheap cafeteria orange juice... valencia orange, to be exact, right? I have also had it smell (and look, coincidentally) like weak grapefruit juice.

I don't know if its normal or not, but I have had it happen to me several times. I am guessing that the color is caused by the suspended yeast. Once the yeast starts dropping, you'll notice the mead getting both a little clearer and a little darker.

The smell? I don't know for sure what causes it, but none of the batches I've noticed this with ended up retaining that smell. So rest easy. Unless you smell something musty or like dirt, you're doing okay.

Joe


Hello, the name's Mike and I recently decided to become a meadmaker. I researched it, bought all the books, read up on it, and then bought all the kits/supplies I needed to make my first batch. Used the semi-sweet mead recipe in The Compleat Meadmaker by Ken Schramm. Wanted to start off easy with a "show mead." I assembled the gear, sanitized like crazy, and then set off to make my must. Followed the recipe as it read and sealed it all up in my primary fermenter. Fermentation was rapid for the first 11 days, slowed just a touch on days 12-13, and then pretty much stopped on the 15th day. Opened the fermenter and was met with an odd smell. Not the sulfur, "rhino farts" that others suggested on this site, but something different. It almost struck me as a super concentrated citrus-like smell. Like smelling an orange that burned your nose a bit. Transferred it all to the secondary fermenter(glass carboy) and sealed it up with an airlock. Now, not only is there a "citrus" smell about it, but the carboy looks like I have 5 gallons of orange juice in it. OG was 1.110 and gravity at racking was 1.035(10%?). Now, I am a bit of a rookie to all of this, but spend any amount of time looking for answers on the Web and you'll get 400 different answers. I've heard that this is normal and I've also seen that this is a ruined batch and should be thrown out. I guess what I'm fishing for here is some guidance from the seasoned vets around here. Is this normal for a must to smell and look like that? Will this smell mellow in the bottle? Will this clear up or should I used fining agents? I guess what I need is someone to calm me down, tell me to be patient, and trust the process. Should I bide my time and be patient or resort to chemistry to help this process along? Any way, thanks for listening and for allowing me to be a member of this fine site.

mannye
01-27-2014, 11:28 PM
Relax. It's a young mead. Heck, at the moment it's still really "must." I'm wondering if you racked a little early. I have the book, so I will go see what Mr. Schramm recommends. Even if you did rack early, relax. Everything will be fine. Did you take readings for several days to make sure the yeast was done? Either way it will pick back up in the secondary if it wasn't. Unless I missed it, we are talking about less than a month here right?

Welshie
01-27-2014, 11:29 PM
Thanks Joe! Didn't know if I needed to simply be patient or use some Bentonite to help with the clearing. Sounds as if I just need to relax and trust the process. Thanks. You have no idea how much better I feel.:)

Mannye, yes it is only two weeks old. According to his book, he simply says, "About two weeks after you first notice the bubbling in your fermentation lock, it will begin to slow down pretty substantially. At this point, your yeast has done the yeoman's share of its work, and it will be time to rack your mead into a new vessel for additional aging."

Thanks to both of you. Feel a lot better about this.

mannye
01-27-2014, 11:41 PM
Thanks Joe! Didn't know if I needed to simply be patient or use some Bentonite to help with the clearing. Sounds as if I just need to relax and trust the process. Thanks. You have no idea how much better I feel.:)

Mannye, yes it is only two weeks old. According to his book, he simply says, "About two weeks after you first notice the bubbling in your fermentation lock, it will begin to slow down pretty substantially. At this point, your yeast has done the yeoman's share of its work, and it will be time to rack your mead into a new vessel for additional aging."

Thanks to both of you. Feel a lot better about this.

Yeah, you're fine. I guess he wants you to rack off the lees right away to avoid off flavors. Clearing should not really be in your vocabulary until at least a month or more has gone by. If you still have a couple of points to go, you're going to get more lees in the secondary. I guess at that point you will be racking into a third carboy where you can add finings and stabilize, etc. THEN after whatever bulk aging you can bottle what will be cleared mead.

So relax and make a gallon of BOMM while you wait...lol.

Welshie
01-27-2014, 11:50 PM
Well, while I have you on the line, rack to another carboy after about 3-4 weeks or after it has cleared significantly? Don't use the Bentonite until the third container to clear up just prior to bottling. I think I got it. Thanks.

PS-now I need to search what BOMM is! Thanks!;D

mannye
01-28-2014, 12:48 AM
Usually it goes like this:

Primary until the yeast is done.... that leaves a semi clear to cloudy product.

Rack to secondary (with or without stabilizing) where you let it settle and age for weeks months or more. The longer it remains in the secondary, the clearer it will get.

Many folks will add finings to the secondary after a time and bottle straight from there.

Others (like me) will rack again and then add finings then either bulk age (which means, you got it, one more racking) or bottle. Still others have different racking/aging/bottling routines, but into secondary/stabilize/wait/clarify/bottle is the usual process.

Of course, you have SO long to go yet, you will have plenty of time to read, research and make a JAOM or BOMM that by the time this batch is finally ready, you'll be handing out advice to the new batch of newbies.

Honeyhog
01-28-2014, 09:56 AM
Not to mention many folks don't use any finings at all and just let it sit in a carboy until it's clear which is anything from a few weeks to many months.

mannye
01-28-2014, 10:39 AM
Not to mention many folks don't use any finings at all and just let it sit in a carboy until it's clear which is anything from a few weeks to many months.

I might try that one day, but I've been spoiled. :D My recent experience with Super Kleer made it even worse!

Matrix4b
01-28-2014, 05:23 PM
Well, while I have you on the line, rack to another carboy after about 3-4 weeks or after it has cleared significantly? Don't use the Bentonite until the third container to clear up just prior to bottling. I think I got it. Thanks.

PS-now I need to search what BOMM is! Thanks!;D

Don't be suprised if you taste it when it's ready to bottle and it tastes atringent. That's normal. My first mead was that way. About your same recipie, used 18 pounds of honey on the primary in about 3 1/5 gal of water. But that "Hot" taste smoothed out in the aging process. So don't sweat it.

BOMM is Bram's One Month Mead. Personally, I don't buy it. Sounds like it's a mead that is super sweet and that covers the fact that it isn't aged. ALL mead should be aged at least 6-8 months if not a full year of aging. Keep that in mind. I think the JOAM style using bread yeast takes a bit less aging because it's a sweet mead, lower ABV%, the spices help cover the "Hot" taste, and the orange helps clear it up fast. So it's all about the style of mead. The JAOM style's primary is usually only a couple of days to a week. The orange juice and zest (orange oils) help the bread yeast drop faster. I am not sure about the BOMM style. Personally, I would rather do a mead up right rather than trying to find a short cut. And to do it right in my opion takes time to age it. I have read that the lower the ABV% the shorter the aging time needed and the higher the oil content, such as using the ingredients of bannanas, coffee, or chocolate does increase the aging time out to 2 years for the oils to be broken down enough and the flavors to integrate enough for it to be good. So, it really depends on what you want out of mead.

Welcome to the club of being a Mazer.

Matrix

Welshie
01-31-2014, 08:48 PM
What should the temp. range be for secondary fermentation? I know temp is crucial to not stress the yeast during primary fermentation. My hobby slash obsession is starting to take up some space in my kitchen and I was wondering if I could move it to the basement for secondary ferm. My basement is in the 60s right now. Don't want to destroy it with a move to a colder clime, but I must(no pun intended!) make some room. Thanks!

mannye
02-01-2014, 10:56 PM
60s is perfect for aging. It will be fine in a secondary for years at that temp.


Sent from my galafreyan transdimensional communicator 100 years from now. G

Welshie
02-04-2014, 01:22 PM
Well, after the racking to the carboy, I have seen an uptake(bubbles every 3-4 seconds!) in fermentation again. I'm not going to shock the yeast with some lower temps right now. I think I am going to let them do their thing for a while. The hard smell does have me worried. I really don't want to devote a year or more to this batch only to find it undrinkable. I hope it fades, but who knows? I just can't figure out where I may have gone wrong and allowed it to screw up. I was careful and by the book. Oh well, I guess time will tell.:(

bernardsmith
02-04-2014, 05:47 PM
Well, after the racking to the carboy, I have seen an uptake(bubbles every 3-4 seconds!) in fermentation again. I'm not going to shock the yeast with some lower temps right now. I think I am going to let them do their thing for a while. The hard smell does have me worried. I really don't want to devote a year or more to this batch only to find it undrinkable. I hope it fades, but who knows? I just can't figure out where I may have gone wrong and allowed it to screw up. I was careful and by the book. Oh well, I guess time will tell.:(

I may have missed this but one thing you have not mentioned is the gravity of the mead at any of the points in its production. In my opinion, using the number of burps that form in the airlock is a bit like counting the number of visitors in your town to determine when its time to plant tomatoes. You really want to get hold of a hydrometer and measure the specific gravity of the mead. I am not familiar with the recipe to know whether the target gravity is 1.000 or some reading much higher (because the yeast cannot tolerate more than a certain alcoholic content of the mead and give up the ghost before all fermentable sugars have been converted into alcohol and CO2), but if you know the starting gravity and you know the current gravity then you can calculate the current ABV (alcohol by volume) and if you know the yeast you used and its tolerance for alcohol you can guestimate the final gravity and so the final ABV. You can then predict whether your mead will be sweet or semi sweet or dry.

fatbloke
02-05-2014, 12:30 AM
Good analogy for bubbles per minute Bernard :D

Using bubble rate, is IMO, as much use as a chocolate fire guard.......

Welshie
02-05-2014, 11:46 AM
My apologies. OG was 1.110 and gravity at 1st racking was 1.035. That puts it at around 10% ABV. The fermentation had stopped producing any bubbles in the airlock of the primary fermentor. I was suprised to see it had a renewed life in the secondary after first racking. Should I have waited to rack based off of a hydrometer reading that indicated I had hit the yeast's specific ABV range? I racked it two weeks after it started and I saw no more bubbles in the airlock as per Ken Schramms book recipe/process. Like I said before, I am new to this and I am learning more as I go. I will have to pay more attention to my numbers and make my moves from there. Sounds like I have a bit to learn and I look forward to learning it. This isn't so much about the product, but the process. The learning and finding out about the science behind it. That's one of the reasons why I got into this in the first place.;D Thanks to all of you so far for being so open with all of your insight/knowledge and, most importantly, for being patient with this mead rookie.:) I appreciate the words.

mmclean
02-05-2014, 03:59 PM
Ah, but when the product turns out truly great, the learning pays off in spades. ;D

Welshie
02-11-2014, 12:06 AM
Update: did a quick check of my batch tonight. Yeast was chugging away in there raising the ABV from 10 to 15%!:o Now I just need to let it age and clear and we'll be in good shape. Hopefully, that smell will mellow out with time.

mandrw72
03-24-2014, 08:00 AM
Mike, I have read The Complete Meadmaker. However, it has been a while since I have turned those pages. If I remember correctly, does the book recommend using orange juice in the yeast starter? If so, this might be the source of your orange or citrus smell. I would recommend using the must as part of the yeast starter. I also use Fermaid K as a yeast nutrient that I add in 3 doses throughout the first 1/3 part of the fermentation and aerate the mead daily until the fermentation is almost complete. I have had good results with this if you shoot for a 10% ABV. I have found that anymore alcohol than that takes away from the honey flavor.
Good Luck and keep fermenting!