View Full Version : My first batch was a complete failure...

10-12-2015, 06:03 PM
I recently got interested in mead making. After a few weeks of talking about it and some research, I decided to take the plunge. After getting my equipment together, I settled on a recipe that my wife was interested in. Sweet Raspberry Mead.

I decided to only make a gallon batch since it was my first time. Also, if I messed up, I wouldn't be out much money or time.

I got started, prepped my water and honey. One thing I noticed right away, is that I had a seriously hard time managing temperatures on my electric cooktop. Ended up bouncing around quite a bit but ended up getting it taken care of.

This is where it all went downhill. I began prepping my fruit by pureeing them. They had been thawing out for about 2-3 hours and were still fairly cold after the puree. I wanted to warm them up and honestly just blanked on the right way to do it. I ended up having a mishap with my sink and lost most of the Raspberries by dumping them down the sink (Dropped the bowl hard while transferring them).

The recipe was entirely based on balancing out the Raspberries so I had to abandon it. I had already prepped my yeast and prepped my nutrient booster. Going to the store in the middle of the night was out of the picture so I improvised. I had several apples in the house so I cleaned them off, sliced them up, and added them to the must immediately after pitching the yeast.

At the time I didn't notice that I left virtually zero head room for the must because of the displacement caused by the apples. I placed the airlock, and placed the carboy in my basement in a small wine closet. I looked at it today and realized the must had expanded and filled my airlock entirely. It was also bubbling heavily out the top of the airlock.

At this point, is it game over, or is it salvageable? Should I drain it slightly in order to give it head room and refill the airlock with water, or just leave it filled to the top, and have the airlock filled with must?

10-12-2015, 07:22 PM
So you have lots of things that need to included to maybe have a success. You have to tell us these things.
How did you rehydrate you yeast?
WHat temps? What yeast? WHat SG?
How long did this take place. Current temps? Current hydrometer reading. Have you been degassing? Did you areate before pitch and for the first few days?

These are all things that you should have hopefully done.

Tell us more and we will tell you more :)

10-12-2015, 07:24 PM
Really can't see why you'd call this a failure.
I'd probably drain it slightly and keep the drained mead or fruit in the fridge or freezer. Once fermentation has subsided I'd add it back to the carboy. Your problem is probably going to be how to top off the carboy after racking losses, especially since you have fruit.
Btw, I can't figure why you'd have a problem managing the temps on the cooktop.. for rehydrating the yeast? I boil half the required amount (@100C), then add a couple of ice cubes and maybe some water (something below 0C) and this automatically brings the water down to the 40C range. Add the cool water slowly and have some extra hot water on hand just in case you overshoot and it should be fairly easy. With some practice you'll be achieving 40C in no time
Other than rehydrating yeast I can't imagine why you'd want to manage temps and you could probably do away or simplify this step
P.S I only follow this method since my thermometer has a slow response time (it needs minutes to settle on a temp). Therefore, taking readings while on an active stove would be fairly difficult. Other mazers can probably manage temps easier

10-12-2015, 08:30 PM
Were you boiling the water and honey? Or just trying to get your water to the right temperature for rehydrating the yeast?

There is lots of good info at these two links:



10-12-2015, 10:30 PM
This was a disaster, wasn't it?
Never fear though, times of trouble can be handled with defeat, or as a learning experience.

You can of course recover from this. Just remove some must like you suggested, and you'll be fine.
Clean out the airlock, resanitise the area and reseat it.
Do this ASAP, because while you have must in the airlock, you have no AIR lock. As such your must is open to the elements, and rogue yeast, bacteria and oxygen can get in.

Good luck, and even if it's a bit wonky, chances are it will age back to something drinkable.

After you've done all that, "Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew." as the great Charlie Papazian was prone to saying .

10-13-2015, 02:12 PM
Salvageable and not a failure... but if you have a bucket I would ferment your mead in that. There is no need for an airlock until the gravity drops to about 1.005 (others are more conservative and say 1.010) - but you want to be able to stir your mead to aerate AND to remove CO2 during the early stages of fermentation - Papazian did not really speak to those issues.
Me? I would prep fruit by freezing it and then thawing it. Freezing damages the cell walls an so allows the juice to be extracted far more easily. If you add pectic enzyme to the fruit about 24 hours before you add it to the must then the enzymes will further break down the cell walls holding in the juice (heating fruit helps set the pectins - great for jam, not so good for wines and meads. When you write that you pureed the fruit I am unsure whether you meant you simply allowed it to thaw or you heated the fruit.

Not for this time perhaps, but you can thaw the fruit a day or more before you add it to the fermenter - you simply add K-meta to inhibit oxidation and to inhibit the growth of bacteria and wild yeast... Now, whether you add fruit to the primary or to the secondary is an open question (or rather there are folk who hop up and down if you suggest the former and other folk who hop down and up if you suggest the latter). I don't have a good answer because I tend not to make melomels (fruit meads) but I think that each method has its benefits and each has a cost - and it may depend on how vigorous your yeast is.. I use 71B and that is a pussycat so I have no real concern about adding fruit to the primary... but if you are using a champagne yeast or a yeast known for its aggressive qualities you may want to add the fruit to the secondary to help preserve flavor and aroma