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Rookie
06-19-2014, 08:45 PM
Good evening. I am new to the board and looking for a little feedback on my first mead attempt. My recipe was as follows:

11 pounds wildflower honey
3.25 gallons of water (bottled spring water)
10 grams D47
Goferm
1.5 teaspoons yeast nutrient
1.5 teaspoons yeast energizer
Pure oxygen

I used the no heat method with an emphasis on sanitation. The must was oxygenated with pure O2 for 90 seconds (Williams Brewing O2 kit). The d47 was rehydrated per the instructions with goferm and pitched @ 70 F. 1/3 of the total energizer and nutrient was added at pitching, 24 hours after pitching, and 48 hours after pitching. The temp of the must was maintained betwee 62f and 64f for the first two weeks of fermentation. I stopped controlling the temp at 2 weeks allowing the must to rise to room temp of 70f. In my excitement, I forgot to take an original gravity reading. At 2 weeks, airlock activity had slowed with hydrometer reading of 1.009. At 3 weeks, hydrometer read 1.004.

I tasted both samples with a noticeable plastic taste up front. Is this indicative of a young mead or have I messed something up?

I appreciate your input.

Bee Serious
06-19-2014, 11:35 PM
I know 'plastic-like' flavors can come from high fermentation temperatures - but in your case, they were really low... flavors and aromas are very subjective though. It is really helpful to get friends and family to taste samples for other opinions I think.

Your process is seems very good and you either did a lot of research before you tried your first mead or you have brewed before - probably both.

This might seem obvious - but did you ferment in a plastic bucket?

I do love the Williams stainless rod O2 kit.

I have never tasted a mead at 3 weeks! Maybe let it ride? I hope you're not in a hurry...

Rookie
06-20-2014, 12:58 AM
Thanks for the feedback Bee. I did ferment in a plastic bucket due to he apparent ease of access for sna and degassing. The bucket is new as my old buckets were previously used for beer and seem to hold the smell of wort. I washed the bucket and lid with PBW and sanitized with starsan.

I realize 3 weeks is early to taste but I could not bear to dump the sample down the sink or add it back to the fermenter. I will allow the mead to age and see if the off flavor subsides. If the plastic bucket is the culprit, I'll do my next batch in glass.

My goal is to rack the mead to a carboy after 1 month from the pitch date. Aside from the slight taste of plastic, the samples were drinkable with the alcohol seeming a little hot (does not taste like mail polish remover though).

My only aggravation with the hobby is the time required for the finished product. I am reluctant to start a new batch until I figure out what was done right or wrong with my first go.

Again, I appreciate the help. I'll let it age and see if it gets better with time.

Rookie

Aragorn
06-20-2014, 07:01 AM
It sounds like your first batch was a success. Just don't get any oxygen mixed into now. The heat is because D47 likes to be below 70 for a ferment. I think you can start a new batch whenever you want. There is a recipe on this site for BOMM. It only takes one month to make so it's good for experimenting and there is JAOM that most people make as their first mead to see if they like it. That one takes two months. Give those a try while this one ages.


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Bee Serious
06-20-2014, 08:44 AM
Yeah, it sounds like you have your act together - much more than I did for my first batch!

I kind of doubt that brewing buckets would impart a plastic taste. Otherwise, no one would use them.

The only time I have run into a plastic taste was when I used spring water in those crappy milky-white plastic jugs. They sat all day in the sun while I was brewing a Belgian Golden Ale. When I tasted some of the leftover water to quench my thirst: PLASTIC. Horrible plastic taste. The beer did recover - maybe the fermentation farted off the aroma.

Now I always make a point to get the harder clear plastic and taste the water first. I also don't use plastic buckets for fermentation just because the idea of plastic fermentation freaks me out. I don't even use better bottles. Glass is a pain and dangerous, but I know there is absolutely no flavor to glass or air infiltration. Just my OCD opinion though!

Rookie
06-20-2014, 12:56 PM
I will let it age and bottle once it has cleared up. Thanks again for the feedback. I'll have to give BOMM a try.

I would like to avoid sorbate if possible. Anyone see any problem in bottling the finished mead without potassium sorbate if fermentation is completely done?

Thanks

Rookie

icedmetal
06-20-2014, 01:18 PM
If you leave the mead completely dry, there's no reason you can't skip the potassium sorbate. If you backsweeten, you're asking for bottle bombs unless you've gone to some lengths to ensure the mead is stable.

I agree with the feedback you've gotten on your mead regarding the plastic flavor. Temperature-wise, 70 is too high for D47 to ferment cleanly. I like to keep it around 60 degrees, sometimes a couple of degrees lower than that even. It's not the end of the world though, the fusels/off flavors resulting from a high temp ferment do tend to age out, and you didn't run the yeast at 70 the whole time, so you're in pretty good shape. Age and patience will make this batch into a winner!

Rookie
06-20-2014, 02:06 PM
That brings up a question. I kept the must in the low 60s while fermenting only allowing the temp to rise when I had to be gone for the weekend. I assumed that the fermentation was 90% complete when I stopped controlling the temp and allowed the must to rise to room temp (70F). Would the last 10% of the fermentation impart off flavors with the D47? I assumed that the yeast had chugged most of the way through the sugar and would have little impact for the last 10% or so (what I get for assuming I guess). With D47, should the temp be held below 68 for the entire fermentation?

Thanks again for the help!

Rookie

icedmetal
06-20-2014, 02:21 PM
Definitely. You stand more chance of getting off-flavors toward the end of the ferment than the beginning. Reason being, at the end of ferment there are more factors that will be stressing your yeast anyway. More CO2 dissolved in the must, which if you think about it, is yeast excrement. Naturally they don't like it; one reason why you should stir beyond the aeration timeframe, to aid in degassing. It also has the benefit of speeding the ferment somewhat by keeping the yeast in suspension. Another reason the end is more stressful is that the alcohol content of the must is also at its highest. Alcohol is a "good" thing to us mazers, but once again, excrement from the yeast's perspective. Only the strongest yeast will survive through a tough ferment, and those that do survive may become stressed and do the fusel thing. In an ideal ferment it's probably best to keep the amount of fermentables a couple of percentage points below what the yeast can tolerate, to cut off some of that potential fusel production. Many other wants/needs/requirements can vie with that one for priority though... and fusels seem to age out, for the most part.

Rookie
07-09-2014, 10:56 PM
I wanted to post an update on my plastic mead thread. Transferred the mead today to a carboy after 38 days in the primary fermenter. To my delight, the plastic flavor has disappeared. The mead is extremely clear and drinkable (I am assuming it will get better with age). The hydrometer showed a sg of 1.007 (estimating 11% ABV). I am pleased with the clarity and taste of the lavalin d47 strain.

1403

Unfortunately, I spilled 2 glasses or so of the final product ;)

For other folks that are new to mead making, d47 worked well for me. Control the fermentation temp with sna and good aeration, and the d47 will produce a tasty alcohol.

Thanks to all the folks that have shared their knowledge to make this a success.

Rookie

Rookie
07-10-2014, 07:31 AM
I just realized my hydrometer reading at racking (1.007) was slightly higher than the last reading of 1.004 reported in the initial post. Almost assuredly user error on my part. I feel pretty certain that the the 1.007 reading is correct.

Rookie

Chevette Girl
07-10-2014, 09:39 AM
I've almost given up on tasting during fermentation, I always end up scaring myself more than anything :p.

Glad to hear your plastic taste has gone away, I occasionally get weird odours or flavours that are transient as well, although there are one or two funky flavours that take a lot longer to age out in my experience. I've never had plastic flavour from the buckets I use but I think I have had rubber from new drilled bungs in small batches a few times so I don't use new ones on the 1-gal jugs until they pass a sniff test.

Thanks, icedmetal, for clarifying about D47 and the end of fermentation, I'll keep that in mind next time I use it, although I think I have done several fermentations at around 70F without the awfullness associated with warm D47.

Great job so far Rookie, I agree with Bee Serious, you're either well-researched for a newbee or have some brewing experience already. However, if I were you, I would either get used to the idea of stabilizing your meads or get used to leaving them in the carboy for extended periods of time if there's any sugar at all left in it (SG above 0.990). My very first batch of mead stopped around 1.015 and sat there for 4 months while I waited for it to clear, then I bottled it, and lost at least three bottles' worth to popped corks as fermentation kicked back up. Now I either stabilize it, or make sure the SG hasn't changed for at least a year before I consider it safe to bottle, or I make sure I have a couple of screw-top or flip-top bottles so I can check if a batch is building up pressure after bottling so I don't have to wait for popped corks or exploded bottles to tell me something's going wrong. Time, chemicals, test bottle or risk messses and possible injury. It's your choice, but it's still a choice you should think about. It took me a couple of years and a couple of messes to learn this myself (of course, I started before there were a lot of resources like this on the internet), and since you seem to be fast-tracking it and willing to learn, in my experience this is a good lesson to learn earlier rather than later.

Rookie
07-10-2014, 07:32 PM
Thanks for the input Chevette! I have been opposed to chemical additives to this point. That being said, I think you are right on stabilizing the finished mead in order to stop future fermentation. I will need to do a little research on what, when, and how much to add in order to stabilize the final product.

I could use some input on the best way to bottle mead. Do you use a bottling bucket with a wand similar to bottling beer or is there a different technique? I am inclined to use clear bottles and corks to show off my mead (seems romantic to have it in corked wine bottle).

Just like most of my hobbies, I think i have gone a little overboard with the mead production. When I bought Schramm's book, it made sense to go ahead and purchase bee hives at the same time. When I started racking this stuff last night I realized 2 things: 1) I have never tasted mead… I hope I like it and 2) this 4 gallons of finished product is going to run me several hundred dollars.

Thanks again for the help and input.

Rookie

Honeyhog
07-10-2014, 10:30 PM
I had never tasted mead either so, like you, I decided to make it myself and hoped I would like it. I started in one gallon jugs but added to the collection quickly with a 26.5L carboy and two 23L carboys. I like bottling my mels in clear bottles to show off the beautiful colour and clarity. I use a bottling wand and bottle out of the carboy but if you still have lees in the bottom and don't want to chance stirring them up while you're bottling many here rack into a bottling bucket and use a wand to bottle. Welcome to the addiction Rookie.

Chevette Girl
07-11-2014, 01:00 AM
I've tried an automatic (gravity-fed type) bottle filler once but I frigging hated that thing, it was annoying to use, kept losing its prime and was very wasteful... I use a bottling wand siphoning from my glass fermenter. I bottle in whatever bottles I have clean and ready to go at bottling time, I usually try to get a few clear bottles of each thing I make, I do a lot of 1-gal batches so to keep samples around longer I often bottle in dessert wine bottles (375 ml).

1 campden tablet (metabisulphites) and 1/2 tsp of potassium sorbate per gallon is the standard accepted stabilization procedure... don't use sorbate without sulphites or you risk producing geraniols which do taste as awful as they sound.

So you just need to make more batches to defray the startup costs :) Get cracking!