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View Full Version : First batch ever, did I screw this up??



Lippa100
08-07-2016, 09:57 AM
Its my first batch of honey mead ever, ive made some traditional finnish mead a couple of times (water, brown sugar,lemons and yeast) which obviously tastes nothing like this but the honey mead so far tastes quite horrid to be honest and I dont know what I did wrong or maybe it should taste like this and I just dont like it.

The recipe:
-6.6 gal of tapwater, boiled
-6.6 pounds of honey, three different kinds from the local supermarket
-2 pounds of strawberries
-Baking yeast according to instructions on the bag for mead

I obviously didnt use the greatest ingredients because this is my first batch ever and I just wanted to test it. Its been fermenting for two weeks now and i took the chopped strawberries out a couple of days ago and had a taste and it tastes somewhat of a combination of beer and white wine and I definetly dont like it (should mead taste anything like this??).
The taste sample couldnt have had any lees on it so thats not it. I also didnt really sanitise the fermenting bucket according to instructions, i didnt have any bleach at the time so I scrubbed it with water and dish soap and thoroughly rinsed it after.

For what I know there are two reasons for this:
-I dont know where I pulled the amount of honey at the time but after researching common recipes a bit my recipe seems to make like SUPER DUPER DRY mead, so maybe thats it, could back sweetening still save the batch?
-Not sanitising correctly and the mead is now contaminated

Id like to hear some opinions from some more experienced brewers and also should I even continue the current batch since I dont like the taste or if it really is contaminated...

zpeckler
08-07-2016, 10:22 AM
Hi Lippa, and welcome to the forums!

Sorry your first batch didn't come out as expected. Looking over your process there are multiple areas where you could improve. I think what will get you most of the way there would be to read one of the good mead books or other resources out there. That would get you started off with a good fund of basic meadmaking knowledge to go forward.

"The Compleat Meadmaker," (https://www.amazon.com/Compleat-Meadmaker-Production-Award-winning-Variations/dp/0937381802/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1470578849&sr=8-1&keywords=the+compleat+meadmaker) by Ken Schramm
"The Complete Guide to Making Mead," (https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Guide-Making-Mead-Ingredients/dp/0760345643/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1470578868&sr=8-3&keywords=the+compleat+meadmaker) by Steve Piatz
GotMead Newbee Guide (http://gotmead.com/blog/making-mead/mead-newbee-guide/the-newbee-guide-to-making-mead/)

Pitaz's book is probably the most up to date in terms of nutrient schedules and stuff. Schramm's book is getting a little dated with regards to current meadmaking best-practices, but it's widely considered the meadmaking "bible."

That being said, it's a little difficult to completely diagnose what's wrong with your mead without more details and data points. Yes, there is a possibility of "infection" considering you didn't sanitize. You can use bleach, but what's way better is a commercial homebrew sanitizing product like StarSan or Iodophor. It's good that you cleaned with soap and water, but that really doesn't kill microbes to any appreciable degree.

Other reasons for why your mead could be less than tasty include fermenting at too high a temp, stressed yeast due to lack of nutrients, too acidic a pH, chloramines in the tap water, and many other causes.

After doing some background reading, I'd suggest a second try with one of the easier "newbee" recipes. "Joe's Ancient Orange" (http://gotmead.com/blog/making-mead/mead-newbee-guide/the-newbee-guide-to-making-mead-chapter-6-the-basic-recipe/) or "Bray's One Month Mead" (https://www.denardbrewing.com/blog/category/mead/) are very easy, and reliable.

Before you start your second batch, it is highly, highly, highly recommended that you get a hydrometer. This tool can be gotten for about $10 at a homebrew store or on Amazon, and will allow you to calculate ABV, plan your recipe to get a desired level of sweetness, and monitor the progress of your fermentation to ensure it goes as planned. A hydrometer is so essential a piece of equipment that I would consider it mandatory for anyone doing any kind of homebrew. There's pretty much no excuse for not getting one and learning how to use it.

Hope this gets you on the right course! Let us know if you have any other specific questions. Now get started on your homework. ;)
ZP

bmwr75
08-07-2016, 10:42 AM
Another issue might be that your recipe is pretty light on honey, only about 1 lb. of honey per gallon of water. I typically use at least 2.85 lb. of honey per gallon of water.

bernardsmith
08-07-2016, 01:04 PM
Going to agree with bmwr75. At about 1lb of honey per gallon you are not going to have very much flavor, since if you think about it, almost all the flavor is going to come from the honey. So basically, you have radically diluted the flavor - and so your mead is just weak alcohol (about 4% ABV ) dissolved in water. To get any flavor from strawberries you will need about 3-5 lbs per gallon.
Last point: while there are good arguments to be made for making large volumes of any wine or beer rather than small volumes (say 6 gallons rather than 1) until you have a good handle on process you are likely to be making wines that don't necessarily knock your socks off, so you may want to make single gallons - Me? I would have made about 2 gallons of mead with the 6 lbs of honey (and may have used only 3 lbs and 1 gallon of water if I really wanted to add the 2 lbs of fruit).

Lippa100
08-07-2016, 01:32 PM
Thanks for the help everyone, I did leave out one point from my original post tho which is that im from unemployed and from Finland.
I know about the books, and the hydrometer but I cant get those in Finland with the money I got. Theres no homebrewing shops, there is one homebrewing finnish website tho, but theres no books or nutrients and even the hydrometer sells for 35eur + shipping... I even got the fermenting bucket for free from my brother.

I guess the next step is that I will start a new batch with the correct amount of honey and sanitising everything correctly, maybe I should try a smaller batch this time so I can save some money on the honey. BUT can I make say a 1 gallong batch in the 6 gallon bucket I have or do I need a smaller fermenter for that??

Squatchy
08-07-2016, 05:18 PM
You can use the bigger Bucket and move the mead over to a smaller vessel once out slows down some.

bernardsmith
08-07-2016, 09:26 PM
Sorry to hear that you are unemployed, Lippa100. That is always a real bummer.
Does Finland have public libraries? I would think that mead making and wine making books are held by local libraries. An hydrometer is not expensive and is really pretty much an essential tool if only to tell you when the fermentation is actually finished or when you may need to transfer (rack) your mead from the bucket to a smaller secondary container. Do you have any friends who brew beer or who make mead that you could make your mead with and so borrow their hydrometer for the minutes that it takes to use?
That said, you can estimate the potential alcohol by volume (ABV) by assuming that 1 lb of honey will result in a specific gravity of about 1.035 when dissolved to make 1 US gallon of must and when fully fermented that amount of sugar will result in a mead with an ABV of about 4 %. The more flavor rich the honey, the more flavor-rich the mead and the more honey in the mead , the more flavor will be in the drink... but the more honey you start with (per gallon) the stronger the mead will be. So a mead with about 3 lbs of honey will have far more flavor than a mead with 1 lb of honey (per gallon) and a mead with 3 lbs of honey per gallon will have an ABV of about 13 or 14% (compared to 1 lb making a mead with 4% ABV).

Swordnut
08-08-2016, 11:51 AM
Its my first batch of honey mead ever, ive made some traditional finnish mead a couple of times (water, brown sugar,lemons and yeast) which obviously tastes nothing like this but the honey mead so far tastes quite horrid to be honest and I dont know what I did wrong or maybe it should taste like this and I just dont like it.

The recipe:
-6.6 gal of tapwater, boiled
-6.6 pounds of honey, three different kinds from the local supermarket
-2 pounds of strawberries
-Baking yeast according to instructions on the bag for mead

I obviously didnt use the greatest ingredients because this is my first batch ever and I just wanted to test it. Its been fermenting for two weeks now and i took the chopped strawberries out a couple of days ago and had a taste and it tastes somewhat of a combination of beer and white wine and I definetly dont like it (should mead taste anything like this??).
The taste sample couldnt have had any lees on it so thats not it. I also didnt really sanitise the fermenting bucket according to instructions, i didnt have any bleach at the time so I scrubbed it with water and dish soap and thoroughly rinsed it after.

For what I know there are two reasons for this:
-I dont know where I pulled the amount of honey at the time but after researching common recipes a bit my recipe seems to make like SUPER DUPER DRY mead, so maybe thats it, could back sweetening still save the batch?
-Not sanitising correctly and the mead is now contaminated

Id like to hear some opinions from some more experienced brewers and also should I even continue the current batch since I dont like the taste or if it really is contaminated...

Mead in/from primary fermentation usually tastes horrid. What you should be looking for is if it tastes 'clean' or not. Nothing funky going on and generally tasting like a very cheap white wine. If it tastes like that you're still on track. You added very little honey and apart from the strawberries nothing else to ferment. So yes, it is dry which a lot of people do not like. You can add more honey which I would do in small steps (e.g. 500gr at a time, let ferment, taste and repeat if needed) or just age it and drink it along side a nice piece of steak or some other good meat.