View Full Version : Some acid questions

08-18-2005, 07:31 PM
My first batch of mead just got done fermenting, but has some time to age. I've tasted it and it's too acidic for my taste.
Here is the ingredients list for five gallons of must:
15 pounds wildflower honey
juice of two lemons
5 T very strong tea (for tannins)
5 t yeast nutrient
pinch of epsom salts

Could my problems be solved just by adding less lemon juice next time? What purpose does the lemon juice actually serve?

As far as saving this batch is concerned the guy at the brew shop told me to add some sugar or honey. Does this actually change the ph or does it just mask the acid flavour? If it does change the ph does it do it through dilution or is sugar actually a base?

David Baldwin
08-19-2005, 09:47 AM
The addes sugar content would help to balance the acid on the palate.

I don't generally add acids up front to my fermentation.

Joe's Ancient Orange has citric acid from the oranges, and I'll add tannins from either strong tea or powdered grape tannin. Other than that, I prefer to wait it out to see how and if the finished mead needs to be balanced.

I'm not the micro-bio expert that Oskaar is, but as I understand it the yeast will metabolize at least some of the citric acid. Sorry, I can't further expound on how else it aids the yeast in fermentation. (The last course in Micro-Bio I took was a genetics course about 17 years ago.)

Hope this helps.


08-19-2005, 04:34 PM
Your problem could most probably be solved by adding less (or even no) lemon juice next time around. Some people add lemon or other citrus juices to mead as a source of acid to help balance out the sweet flavor of the honey, but this is by no means mandatory. Adding sugar or honey will not actually neutralize the acid or change the pH; it will only help to balance the flavor as David had mentioned.

08-20-2005, 12:51 AM
"I prefer to wait it out to see how and if the finished mead needs to be balanced."

Does it change the flavour at all to wait until the end to add the lemon juice?

08-20-2005, 12:56 AM
Adding acid at the end is really the way I prefer to do any balancing if at all necessary. I don't use lemon juice, but rather an acid blend or individual acid types like citric, malic, tartaric or ascorbic depending on what needs to be balanced. I don't generally add acid to my meads though. But, by using the acid blends, or individual acids you have better control over the amount you're adding, and the flavor effect it has on your mead.

Hope that helps,


08-20-2005, 01:07 AM
Thanks Oskaar, that makes sense. I take it, then, that the different acid blends will balance out different flavours? I guess I have a lot to learn.

Dan McFeeley
08-20-2005, 04:47 AM
To add a little more here, although mead is a beverage fermented by use of methods similar to winemaking, mead and wine are not quite the same thing. Particularly in use of acid -- mead requires an entirely different approach.

The standard acid testing kits widely used in home winemaking don't work in mead making. The results you get will be skewed, primarily because of the complex properties of the primary acid in honey, gluconic acid along with its lactone, gluconolactone. For this reason, you can't measure TA in mead and make reasonably accurate guesstimates on how much acid to add.

The organoleptic properties of gluconic acid are also strikingly different from the organic acids, primarily tartaric, found in wine. Acid measurement/adjustment in winemaking can have a vital impact on balance and flavor, but in meadmaking, acid seems to play the same role as adding spices for a methaglyn. If anything, it piques the flavor of the mead. Using acid adjustments in mead, following the same procedures used in winemaking, often has the result of an acidic mead needing a long time to age out. In meadmaking, it's best to finish the mead out without acid, taste it and then, based on personal experience with acids, decide whether or not it might need something.

Again, in meadmaking, acids play the role of adding to the flavor profile, but do not work on balance in the way they do in winemaking. Taste the mead, go with the contribution of the varietal honey, and keep in mind that adding acid will more likely effect the flavor profile in similar fashion to adding spices to make a metheglyn. In spite of the variences in acid content in different varietal honeys, mead seems to remain balanced, without acid additions.

08-21-2005, 08:01 PM
Citric acid is easily converted to acetic acid (vinegar), so if you aren't careful with your sanitising, adding lemon juice as acid adjustment can increase the risk of your mead going off if you are planning on a long-lived mead.

However, some acid blends include citric acid - so its not something to be paranoid about.

Having said that, I have a lemon metheglin thats a couple of years old (16 %Alc) - I'm waiting till it's 5 yrs old before ending whats left :)

08-22-2005, 10:25 AM
Citric acid is easily converted to acetic acid (vinegar),

That is not necessarily true. Acetic acid is one of the products created by the action of acetobacter, a type of bacteria which consumes alcohol. Citric acid is not converted into acetic acid.

A rigorous sanitation routine is helps prevent the vinegar-making bacteria from taking up residence in anything that you brew.

Brian K

Dan McFeeley
08-22-2005, 10:46 AM
Not meaning to sound too dissenting, but JamesP is on the right track. Take a look here, under the section for citric acid.


08-22-2005, 10:06 PM
I'm having trouble sorting out who's right re: how vinegar arises. I take it, however, that everyone agrees proper sterilization will preclude it?

I read the section in the link on citric acid and that explanation made sense. I thought, however, that when wine changes to vinegar it also gets rid of the alcohol. Brian's account seems to better explain how vinegar production is associated with alcohol loss. So am I missing something from Dan and James' explanation? Is alcohol loss a totally different chemical reaction not associated with vinegar production?