View Full Version : First Mead Sour Smell on Fifth Day

03-18-2015, 02:11 PM
Hello gentlemen,

I have been reading threads on this site for a couple of weeks now and about a week ago, i was inspired to start a batch of my very first mead. I did quite some research before starting my first batch, however, i soon realized that mead-making is not an exact science. Therefore i did not follow a specific recipe i found online but rather, i did what i thought was best given my experience levels. I tried to keep things simple for this fist batch. Here is the recipe i followed:

6lbs Clover Honey
2 Gallons Bottled Spring Water,
3lbs Frozed Welch Four Berry Mix,
1 cup of 100% Orange juice (no preservatives, not from concentrate)
1 pack of Lalvin D47 White Wine Yeast
8g FermaidK

Day 1
I warmed up the honey bottles in warm (not hot) water to make the honey easier to pour. I then poured all my honey in a sanitized (sanstar) 3 gallon glass Carboy. I added the water and used a sanitized solid stopper to seal the carboy and mixed the solution thoroughly (at least 15 minutes). I then pitched the yeast (following the instructions) and added all of my FermaidK. I then added my frozen berries through a sanitized funnel, installed the airlock (S-shaped) and swirled the Carboy to mix it one last time. There was a thick cap (1 inch) on the top that consisted of my fruit. This might become important later.

Day 2
In the morning, my airlock was bubbling nicely but there was a color divide between the top and the bottom half of the carboy (dark red purplish color). I assumed that this was caused by a density difference so i swirled the carboy on the table and the divide was gone. At night, i smelled the top of the airlock and it smelled like sweet berries (duh!) and i was quite pleased with myself. I swirled the Carboy one more time to get some of the berries sitting on the top of the cap to go into the rest of the liquid.

Day 3
In the morning I smelled the top of the airlock again and it smelled less like berries and more like honey. Swirled it one more time and left it be. Fermentation was still going strong. I noticed the same smell at night and swirled it once more. I guess most of the volatile chemicals that make the berry smell were gone by then, so i could only really smell the honey.

Day 4
I did the same thing in the morning, smell was the same and swirled the carboy. At night however, the smell was just a little sour. I didn't think too much about it, swirled it and left it be.

Day 5
Now the smell has become more sour. It smells like berries left outside the refrigerator for too long and started going sour. What i suspect is happening, is that the fruit cap is starting to turn sour and i am afraid that it might have a strong impact on the flavor or might increase the time it needs to mature. I am now considering to rack the mead in a new carboy just to get the fruit out the solution. I am fairly certain that i have not contaminated my mead and that it's just the fruit layer on top that gives out that smell.

I would like to know if this is normal or not and if i should rack the mead into a new carboy? Would this affect my fermentation process? Maybe I'm just over thinking this but i do feel like racking in the new carboy is the way to go.

Please forgive me for not taking gravity readings as i did not have a hydrometer at the time and i was eager to get started. I will use one for my future batches. I also did not use a fermentation bucket (for whatever reason) and i might use one in the future. Also i did not know about staggered nutrient additions to keep my yeast happy. I may have rushed into this due to my young age and made hasty decisions.

I'm sorry for the long post but i'm concerned that my first mead might not be successful and i wanted to give you enough information for you to help me out. I can also provide pictures of my mead in the carboy.

Thanks in advance for your help, it will be greately appreciated.

03-18-2015, 03:19 PM
Primary fermentation can chuck out some funky smells. If the ferment is going OK, then you're likely fine. When fruit goes off and starts to degrade, it's usually because of oxidative damage before wild yeast/mold sets in. There will be no oxygen in any airspace if you haven't cracked the airlock, because the CO2 (heavier than air/O2) will have been forced out soon after the ferment began.

What you will find is that it's generally not a good idea to do fruit based batches in a carboy. If you get an eruption it goes everywhere, plus it can be a total pig to rack as the fruit debris keeps blocking the racking cane........

Worst case scenario, is that you take a tiny taste (a sanitised turkey baster is useful - or even a "wine thief" if you have one). If it doesn't taste like vinegar, you should be fine......

03-18-2015, 03:32 PM
Thank you for your quick reply. I will keep in mind to not do fruit batches in a carboy. I've been thinking about how difficult racking may turn out to be however i will do my best with what i started. Also I will keep the carboy in the sink when i am ready to rack, just in case i have an eruption. I will keep the mead as it is for now, but if the sour smell gets worse in the next few days, i might bite the bullet and rack the mead sooner than expected.

Medsen Fey
03-18-2015, 10:16 PM
Sour smells may be OK. It is sulfur, rotten-egg type odors that need fast action. However if you are using D47 and aren't keeping the temp below 70F, you may be detecting the development of fusel alcohols that will have it tasting of paint thinner.


03-19-2015, 10:54 AM
Thanks for your inputs! No rotten egg or sulfur smells that i can detect. The temperature in my house is set at 20C and the area where i store it does not change too much so i am not to worried about temp. Will keep it in primary for now, check out my fermentation process during next week and i might consider adding more nutrient to my yeast even though i believe the amount of nutrient i added and the fruit should be enough. Here is a picture of my first batch. http://tapatalk.imageshack.com/v2/15/03/19/322f51b2ef716236f52a2ce647f338c0.jpg

03-19-2015, 02:12 PM
Make sure you stir that a couple of times a day. That will keep the yeast in suspension so they can work better than being buried in the bottom.

03-19-2015, 04:33 PM
Yup, don't crack the airliock but i swirl the carboy until everything is resuspended at least twice a day.