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Rurouni85Samurai
03-13-2004, 02:54 PM
Its been about 4weeks now since I started and in the past few days the fermentation has stopped completely. I decided to rack it. The mead looks almost as dark as it did when I first mixed the honey. There was some sediment but not an extreme ammount. It has a funny smell that I can't place. Dosn't smell like rotten eggs though.

Should I add more yeast, or perhaps more nutrient? Anyone else ever experienced this? (This is my 1st time so I don't know what it should smell like.)

ThistyViking
03-13-2004, 05:39 PM
Not enough information,
A smell you can't place, Dark color

How does it taste?

What was the O.G. what is the S.G. now?

What was your recipe?

4 weeks could be a complete fermentation.

Rurouni85Samurai
03-13-2004, 08:46 PM
I don't remember what the gravity was at when i started it, I forgot to write it down, and I am unable to find my hydrometer thing.

It looks like diarrhea water.

My recipe was 18lbs of honey, 5 gallons of water. I added nutrient, and sulphited 24 hours in advanced. I didn't taste it though.

ThistyViking
03-13-2004, 11:08 PM
You said you used dark honey,
darker honey = darker mead.

That being said Darker honeys sometime are nutrient sources... certainly buckwheat is... you may possibly have over nutriented your mead and it will require more aging than it otherwise might have. Not saying this is definately the case... but this is one of the NMC (Natural Meadmaker Cult) theories on source of off flavors.

Taste your mead tomarrow and let us know. It is not unheard of for a must with decent-high nutrient levels to ferment out in 3 weeks from pitching.

Rurouni85Samurai
03-14-2004, 05:52 AM
I used Clover light clover honey I think.

http://img25.photobucket.com/albums/v75/Rurouni85Samurai@bellsouth.net/100_02611.jpg

This is what it looks like as of this morning. I found the hyrdrometer, still can't find the test jar (plastic container that came with it).

Rurouni85Samurai
03-14-2004, 08:14 AM
Thinking my Hydrometer isn't set right. Specific gravity is showing up as about 1.015ish.

I tasted it as well. Not something I want to do again at this point.

Edit, now that I have some light coming in from behind (the window) it looks like the mead is Extrmeley dark then 4/5 the way up it lightens drastically. Guess that would be the reason for the wierd reading. This normal?

ThistyViking
03-14-2004, 11:29 AM
Ok a few things ....

Color is withing the expected range, you did indicate that your Clover honey from BJ's was darker than at other places. What other ingredients if any did you use?

I'd top off the carboy so the top of the liquid is about 1.5-2 inches below the stopper. This is a good general rule, you can add honey, water, even sterilized marbles to raise the water level.

I'm concerned about how you have charachterized your airlock in your messages I've just reviewed after looking at the PIC... You have water in the airlock right? should be an inch of water there... the Escaping CO2 then causes bubbles that can be seen if not heard. The water serves as a oneway valve preventing infection and O2 from getting into your must.
In the picture it is hard to tell if you have the inch of water or so in the airlock. When outgassing occurs with your style of airlock the inner piece is raise and canted at an angle... it appears to be resting flat on the bottom in the pic.

Other than that I guess you need to geve it a few months...

Oh yeah and the top of your mead often lookes lighter than the lower layers because light penetrates from the top and gets difused in the upper layers. Tryy covering the top of the carboy with an Opaqe blanket and I think you'll see the upper layers are the same color.

While it is possible to have a striated must... that would be most unusally after a month of fermentation. Typically this is only seen at the very begining when honey is resting on the bottom because it hasn't been diluted.

You started at close to 3 pounds per gallon with your honey .... 18 lbs/6.5 gallons
Assuming a normal wine yease... 1.015 is a reasonable F.G.
with perhaps 15% ABV +/- 1%

ThistyViking
03-14-2004, 11:42 AM
On the taste being not something you'd do again at this point... that isn't very helpful... ;D

Did it taste so bad you ran to the sink and spit it out?
Did you swallow your taste?
Did you make a face :-X :-/ :'( :P :( ???

Not somethig you'd do again could just mean you thought it was bland... Could indicate the pressence of slight off tastes that will age out in the next couple months to a year. Many people talk about how much mead requires aging, on 2 of my 12 batchs this has been the case... 1 improved remarkable from the end of the first month (when i hid it in shame) till the end of month 3. That batch isn't Great, but it is decent now after 5 months.

Did it taste like cardboard or sherry? that is a sign of over exposure to oxygen.

Assuming you have Racked it, I think it is time to put it in a closet and forget about it for a month (after topping off and making sure the Airlock has water).

Rurouni85Samurai
03-14-2004, 12:02 PM
Ok, I'll top it off with Honey and water. Going shopping later tonight so I'll grab some water. I have some extrmely dark honey in the cabinet but its a small jar. Porbably won't use more than half of it to top off. No name however.

Under careful inspection (which means I used my reading glasses ::) ) I noticed the water lvl was lower than when I had first put water in it. Guess that would be a reason of oxygen getting in.

After I add to it I'll clean my closet out so I can fit it in. Going ot be hard to forget about it, I go in it everyday. Maybe toss a blanket around it.


Did it taste like cardboard or sherry? that is a sign of over exposure to oxygen
I just can't place the taste. Its something I've never encountered before. If I was to say it smelled like something, the smell of alcohol with the smell of an acelerant (think what pyromaniacs would know the smell).

Rurouni85Samurai
03-14-2004, 12:31 PM
Was getting mighty scared for a bit. Thanks Viking.

BTW in your avatar. The Berserker is that by anychance from a game? Looks like a Dwarf character from Everquest.

ThistyViking
03-14-2004, 01:18 PM
Well when i say forget about it, i mean leave it alone... as long as water seals your airlock and it is in a cool dark place you should be fine. in 4-6 weeks you should have some sediment to rack the away from. Most likely your tasting some high alchohols that will break down...

Then leave it alone for another 2 months. Along about mid June Taste it again.

The avatar is wallpaper available on www.gotmead.com :-)
it is on the homepage under cool downloads in the lower left corner (scroll down)

Rurouni85Samurai
03-14-2004, 01:48 PM
Ok with me timing the thing by doing 1 mississippi so on and so on I counted about 40ish seconds on the average of 3 counts per bubble. In my next batch of the grape one or the maple one I will remember to check the water amount in the airlock more carefully.

JoeM
03-14-2004, 06:22 PM
Your mead is still very young. Trust me when i say that some of the most beautiful meads I've made have started out as being some of the most vial substances around. Many people, including myself, experience what is generally called the “Honey Gasoline” taste...which sounds like what you are describing. These astringent flavors come from esters and long chain alcohols, which as thirsty viking mentioned, will be reabsorbed/breakdown with time. The key is TIME! In my experience mead (as well as beer but on a different time line) goes through sequential changes in characteristics. The first happening after about 6 months, and the second happening after a year. I tend to age my meads for at least 10 months if not a year before even considering going into them. I have aged meads as long as four years but i feel that after about 12-18 months there is no significant change. If what you are describing is in fact this astringent quality it should dissipate. I would wait at least another 4-5 months before trying it again. Just put it in the back of your closet and forget about it. After another couple of months that flavor probably wont be completely gone, but it should be reduced significantly and at least you will know its heading in the right direction.

ThistyViking
03-15-2004, 08:13 AM
Well you have more experience than I do. This being his first batch, I assume he's going to want a taste of it. If at three months there is little change, but he notices the change when he tries it at 6 months.. he learns something First hand about the aging of mead that is far stronger than what he reads here.

My post carefully didn't promise any changes at three months, though in the one batch that had noteable harshness, it was improved at that time (though still not great)

JoeM
03-15-2004, 10:18 AM
Thirsty Viking is absolutely right on a number of points. I neglect the fact that the way i myself initially learned about the benefits of aging was by TASTING at every step along the way and eventually realizing the changes that were happening. I definitely agree that he should taste his mead at regular intervals just to experience what its doing and see how its progressing. The only reason i usually tell people to wait as long as they can is that I'm always afraid that new comers will get frustrated with a young product and give up after 2-3 months, hence i usually suggest 5-6. Another thing i should point out is that i cant guarantee that ANYTHING will happen even after a year. From what you describe i suspect that you may be experiencing the same astringency that many of us do, but i do not know that for sure. For all i know it could be a lactic or acetic infection that will only get worse (i certainly hope not!).

Thirsty Viking
I've been meaning to ask this for awhile. I know that the astringent, gasoline like harshness that dissipates with aging that i describe is a well documented phenomenon. You say that you don't have this problem and that your meads are excellent right out of primary. Now please don't get me wrong, i don't doubt for one second that your meads are awesome, i just want to know how. The way i see it there are two possibilities, either you like the flavor that us agers are trying to avoid, or you really are doing something different. Either one is plausible. When i first started brewing i treated my meads like beer and started drinking them after 6 weeks, usually it was gone by 6 months. Until one day i stumbled across some bottles of mine that had been sitting around for over a year. Man what a difference, it changed my entire outlook and got my fire rekindled. A lot of people say that needing aging is a problem of technique, that if you need to wait that long that you are doing something wrong. But upon doing some reading i found that most professional meaderies age for a significant amount of time, some as long as 5-7 years! But of course who likes waiting!? Are you doing something significantly different or is it just a matter of taste?
Joe

ThistyViking
03-15-2004, 11:30 AM
Thirsty Viking
I've been meaning to ask this for awhile. I know that the astringent, gasoline like harshness that dissipates with aging that i describe is a well documented phenomenon. You say that you don't have this problem and that your meads are excellent right out of primary. Now please don't get me wrong, i don't doubt for one second that your meads are awesome, i just want to know how. The way i see it there are two possibilities, either you like the flavor that us agers are trying to avoid, or you really are doing something different. Either one is plausible. When i first started brewing i treated my meads like beer and started drinking them after 6 weeks, usually it was gone by 6 months. Until one day i stumbled across some bottles of mine that had been sitting around for over a year. Man what a difference, it changed my entire outlook and got my fire rekindled. A lot of people say that needing aging is a problem of technique, that if you need to wait that long that you are doing something wrong. But upon doing some reading i found that most professional meaderies age for a significant amount of time, some as long as 5-7 years! But of course who likes waiting!? Are you doing something significantly different or is it just a matter of taste?
Joe

Hmmm ... yes... and no

I've made about 12 batches or so over the last ... just under 2 years. But I didn't make a traditional/varietal mead til batch 11 on Jan 2nd 2004. This batch is in secondary and I haven't really tasted it.

My peach (canned peaches in heavy syrup) melomel had very little flavor and was the first batch I used Yeast Nutrient in. I used the Recomended amount and it was a fast ferment and Very Harsh at 2-3 months. It had dropped clear and I needed a Carboy for a new batch so I bottled it. Had a partial bottle (the last split i couldn't fill all the way) about 6? weeks later and it was considerably improved... low quality white whine was my impression in late December. I haven't had another bottle yet.

Cocoa powder chocholate mead needs aging as well... i think i've mentioned that before... all websites agree... 10 months and counting.

All my other batches have been melomels and Cysers, and one mapple mead (new years day 2004). So they have all had other strong tastes mixed in. They are/were quite drinkable when tried, but are showing improvement in their aging process. The oldest bottled batch surviving is a 10 month old batch of Orange melomel made with NO water ... all O.J. Zest, and honey .. and of course yeast. It had more bite when it was Younger... Vicky Rowe can attest to that. Think she has a bottle of it still unless she drank it.

As For my process,
I don't Boil or pasturize
I minimize chemicals ... when i use them i use 25%-50% Recomended nutrients (Fermax)
I keep fermentation temperature low ... about 65 deg F

So I'm not sure what to answer you... The Peach melomel was done durring the hottest time of the summer with full recomended nutrients, and was finished in 7-10 days befre it went into the basement. I've heard that high temp ferments produce more high alchohols (and Fuesels, same thing?).
I've heard that yeast stressed in a Very low nutrient must also produce similar end products. And among some NMC folks there is concern that some of the nutrients found in yeast nutrients may have an off taste effect if they are used in to large an amount thus requiring ageing.

At the mead Tasting I hosted in January, we had some of my 5 month old Blueberry Cyser (the concoction born of nessisty to salvage a stuck cyser). Everyone liked it, The old hand (making cysers for over a decade) who tried it told me, "This is good.. You need to hide it away because in a year it is going to be incredible". He then proceeded to compare with a fabled batch of his that had won all sorts of competitions including what IIRC was the only time a mead had won best of show at BJCP competiton with a beer category. Needless to say I was quite flattered ... all the more so given the incredible samples he brought to our tasting.

Part of my success with early meads is the fact that they are cysers and melomels... more flavors. Also I haven't been adding things like grape Tannin that also need/improve with aging. The last part is that fruit also juices carry nutrients and coupled with Low temp ferments I believe I am avoiding much of the yeast stress that produces esters.

My meads may not have that Balance of tannin and acid and whatnot that is sought in fine wines... but those who have tried them find them good... (with the exception of the cocoa ... which was WEIRD at 8 months, and the peach which is still in hiding at 7 months and perhaps should be sampled. :-)

Rurouni85Samurai
03-15-2004, 01:33 PM
I can wait quite a bit. I have a great deal more patience than the normal person. I used to put together puzzle after puzzle, I didn't care if it was flat or 3d, I could do it.

Going to start the grape mead mentioned inanother thread. Since that is a quick one, I'll have something to drink. Going to post a question in there in a minute or so.

kace069
03-21-2004, 05:48 PM
well i have only made one mead with that amount of honey and it had stopped fermenting. i ended up racking about a gallon off and replacing with about 3/4 of a gallon of water, my usual recipies are 15lbs of honey. i took that gallon and luckily i got it to start fermenting again and added this to the carboy to referment the whole batch. well after about a year i finally got it to about 1030 and bottled in 1 gallon jugs. and i still get sediment i also used bentonite 1 month before bottling. it tastes fine even cleared but leaves sediment in the bottles. i probably won't try that amount of honey for a long time. as for the funny smell i don't know i had no funny smells in this batch. but i think in a batch with this much honey has trouble fermenting for 2 reasons. osomatic pressure is still to high, and the natrual perservitives in the honey maybe inhibiting your fermentation

ThistyViking
03-21-2004, 10:33 PM
IMO the biggest natural preservative in honey is the low water content. Most microoganisms have a very hard time when the water gets sucked out of them. Those that cans survive that usually can't handle the level of dilution found in mead musts for exactly the opposite reason, too much water flows in and the cell walls rupture.

Most yeasts I've ever used have little to no trouble with 3 pounds per gallon.

I use lalvin yeasts almost exclusively Since I've had n problems with them.
d-47
ec-1118
k1-v1116

I'm of the opinion the stuck and really slow ferments are nutrient problems usually. Though sorbate in the must is a sure cause as well (speaking from experience here :-)

That however is not the case with a high gravity must that has a F.G. of 1.01... IMO that is most likely a completed ferment with residual sweetness.

Jmattioli
03-22-2004, 07:51 AM
Just to add my 2 cents. I have made 20 batches so far and my meads also exhibit no listerine or extreme harshness when finished fermenting and clearing. They do get better with age but they are by no means undrinkable to start. Heres what I do or don't do.
#1 I don't boil or pasteurize. (Just a little heat to dissolve honey)
#2 I pay close attention to sanitation (like in Ken's Book)
#3 I keep my starting SG to 1.10 or less
#4 I use 1/2 the recommended nutrients or none at all if I use buckwheat honey as one of my honeys or if I have fruit or juice in my recipe that supplies the nutrients naturally (melomels).
#5 I have never used clarifying agents unless you count grape tannin as I use 1/4-1/2t per gallon for astringeny in all my batches.
#6 I do not add acid to my must. ( I only add it to taste after the mead is done fermenting.)
#7 with the exception of Cotes de blancs yeast (eprnay2) all my fermentations are done in 3 to 6 weeks. I primarily use EC-1118, K1v-1116 and 71B-1122.
#8 I do use Potassium Sorbate and Potassium Metabisuffite to prevent renewed fermentation when I sweeten.
#9 I found it is no longer necessary to rack as often as I used to. As as beginner I never let it sit on the lees over 15- 30 days. I find that is way to often and now rack only when the mead tells me to. (Fermentation done, Mead Clear, Bottling time, time for fruit or sweetening, etc.
#10 My fermentation temperature is almost always a consistant 68 degrees and in a dark basement.

Hope this helps somebody. You may find alot in common with the posts above this.
Joe

ThistyViking
03-22-2004, 08:30 AM
I'm in almost complete compliance with points 1-10 in my meads with the following exceptions.

#3 My S.G. have at times been higher. 1.12 is not an uncommon starting point for a dry higher 16% ABV with ec-1118 (18%-21% capacity on this yeast), but then I usually don't sweeten at the end (so far), I'll pick a OG and yeast for a desired finish.
Ex) k1-v1116 in a 1.12 OG -> ~12%-14% abv and F.G ~ 1.015-1.030...
My experience (4 batches) suggests 12% ABV and 1.03 to be most common result.

#5 I haven't experimented with grape tannin yet. My meads (mostly melomels/cysers to date) have all done fine without it... I can't answer the question if they would have been better with tannin added. As for clarifiers, I'm experimenting with bentonite in 1 current batch. Previously i hadn't used them... then i made blueberry melomel.


One other note:

#7 I have used 71b-1122 sucessfully should have lised it ... i prefer D-47 in my experience, but can't exactly define why, eventually I'll make 4 identical musts and vary the yeasts.