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WikdWaze
08-25-2004, 04:04 AM
Has there been any research done on adsorbing unwanted fermentation byproducts? Seems there ought to be a natural way to remove foul-tasting compounds from mead. We know activated charcoal improves the flavor of water by eliminating some compounds, is there something similar we could use? Aging doesn't always help.

David Baldwin
08-25-2004, 08:00 AM
Filtering through activated charcoal may remove some objectionable compounds, but realize too that it may also remove compounds that add to the mead itself.

The nature of the "nasties" and their chemical properties may make them readily filterable, or entirely impossible to remove through charcoal filtration.

Some time I plan to try a micro-filtration process on the finished mead. I found a model of a DME filter used by a home beer brewer in Australia. I don't have the website on hand, but might be able to find it if you are interested.

WikdWaze
08-25-2004, 05:05 PM
Yeah, there's always a catch. Remove some of the good to eliminate the bad. It would be nice if there were a book detailing all the compounds found in mead, their effect on the taste, and ways to neutralize the undesireable ones. It's times like these that I regret not becoming a chemist. ;D

ScottS
08-25-2004, 07:08 PM
I've spent a good bit of time trying to understand the chemistry of aging, as I'd like to speed up the process as well. In reality, you don't want to remove those funky tasting compounds. Those nasty compounds slowly oxidize into pleasant compounds that end up giving your mead interest and complexity. The only way to really speed up the process that I have determined is to age in an oak barrel, a semi-permeable container that very slowly allows oxygen into the mead. But because of the flavoring issues with oak, it is unwise to age in anything less than 55 gal barrels.

So in the end, I've just decided to be patient, and make more mead in the meantime. :)

ScottS
08-25-2004, 07:10 PM
As a note, activated carbon is frequently used to "scrub" nasties from raw distilled liquors. But when that is done, it is to make pure unflavored alcohol for blending into liqueurs, etc. It really does remove the good flavor along with the bad.

WikdWaze
08-26-2004, 01:59 AM
I only used activated charcoal as an example, I know it would be too effective for this purpose.

When I say "remove" the nasties, I mean to neutralize or convert them. Like you say, it's just a matter of speeding up the aging process. What I'm after is finding a way to identify the bad byproducts, determine if they can be converted to something beneficial, convert the ones that can be, eliminate those that can't be. Just like winemakers use malolactic bacteria to convert harsh malic acid to smoother lactic acid. Someone had to discover that this occured naturally during aging and determine how it happened. Now you can buy cultures of the bacteria responsible and don't have to hope they're already present in the wine. It is my firm belief that every single compund that ages out can be triggered to do so much sooner. It's just a matter of finding the right critter to metabolize it, the right conditions to decompose it, or the right compound to react with it.

It may even be possible to prevent the formation of some of the nasties in the first place. Hydroxymethylfurfural is created by the decomposition of sugar in an acidic environment. By raising the pH above 5.0, you remove the conditions that create it. Of course, whether that's practical or not is another question. You mention the slow oxidation of oak aging, could the same thing be done with a 30 second blast from an airstone? Unless somebody tries it, we'll never know.

I have a whole battery of tests I've designed to try and answer some of my questions. As far as I can tell, nobody has done much actual controlled testing. There's a lot of "it was good enough for my grand-daddy" going on. I want to try and find the root causes of the problems and find ways to prevent or correct them. There's so much contradictory information floating around it's obvious that much of it is hearsay, myth, and conjecture.

Oskaar
08-26-2004, 03:07 AM
Hey Wickd,

As a fellow empiricist I think you have a good idea. I also think in order to do a good controlled testing you'll need to have a strong basic recipe that you can replicate over and over again for testing purposes as a standard. From there you can modify it and test for expected results based on the aspects you wish to research.

I would guess that you'd want to have several control batches running at once to benchmark your standard deviations against. A good regression analysis would be very helpful in determining trends above and below your mean. Also a pareto anlysis process is great for "manufacturing" types of environments, especially when it comes to identifying problem groups and causes.

Let me know when you move forward, I'd be interested in what your research yields.

Oskaar

WikdWaze
08-26-2004, 03:27 AM
Check out the post where I outline all my tests and let me know what you think.

JamesP
08-26-2004, 08:39 AM
The wine industry has beat you to the "artificial oxgenation" that tries to match an oak barrel.

Called micro-oxygenation see http://www.winenet.com.au/articles/WineNetwork_Mox-of-wine-in-barrels_DW-MK03.pdf
and search the web, there are plenty of articles.

JoeM
08-26-2004, 10:22 AM
wikewaze

As far as I can tell, nobody has done much actual controlled testing.

The fact is that major wineries have been trying to answer the riddle of speeding up the aging process for many many years and have paid many chemists many millions of dollars to no avail. part of the problem is the fact that the chemical process of aging isnt really entirely understood, but alot of it is that the chemical reations that take place are just slow, i dont know if there is any way around it.

WikdWaze
08-26-2004, 04:03 PM
wikewaze

The fact is that major wineries have been trying to answer the riddle of speeding up the aging process for many many years and have paid many chemists many millions of dollars to no avail. part of the problem is the fact that the chemical process of aging isnt really entirely understood, but alot of it is that the chemical reations that take place are just slow, i dont know if there is any way around it.My theory is that the reactions are slow because we are relying on chance for them to happen. I don't think the actual reaction is slow, I think the time is wasted waiting for the pieces of the puzzle to come together so they can react. If you have a molecule at one end of the bottle and the molecule we want it to react with is at the other end of the bottle, it's going to take quite some time before those two molecules have a chance encounter. There's also the possibility that some of the reactions we want have multiple steps, then each stage of the process is another waiting game.

I'm sure the wine industry spends many millions trying to sort this out, that makes it even more befuddling to me. With all the technology available they should be able to detail every single chemical present in a fresh wine. If they did that on a weekly or monthly basis with a single batch and compared it with notes from a taster they should be able to quickly figure out which compounds are desirable and which aren't. They would also be able to see which compounds faded with aging and which became more common. From there it's a matter of simple deduction to figure out the reaction causing the conversion. I say simple, but I do know there is more than one reaction going on.

I honestly think most of the wine industry isn't interested in speeding anything up. They see it as a matter of pride how long their wines age. I see the aging process as proof of our ignorance.

ScottS
08-26-2004, 06:39 PM
My theory is that the reactions are slow because we are relying on chance for them to happen. I don't think the actual reaction is slow, I think the time is wasted waiting for the pieces of the puzzle to come together so they can react. If you have a molecule at one end of the bottle and the molecule we want it to react with is at the other end of the bottle, it's going to take quite some time before those two molecules have a chance encounter. There's also the possibility that some of the reactions we want have multiple steps, then each stage of the process is another waiting game.
...
I honestly think most of the wine industry isn't interested in speeding anything up. They see it as a matter of pride how long their wines age. I see the aging process as proof of our ignorance.

I don't quite agree. Oxidation effectively is the aging process, but we all know that too much oxygen either makes sherry or nasty wine. The key is to get just enough but not too much oxygen into the wine to allow this aging to proceed without spoiling the wine. This necessitates small amounts of oxygen, and a slow chemical reaction. I suppose it is possible that you could speed this up if you know the precise amount of oxygen needed in solution. You could dissolve that amount, seal up the container, and wait for the reactions to happen. But I strongly suspect that the amount of oxygen needed varies widely from batch to batch, depending on fermentation conditions.

I also don't agree that the wine industry is not interested in speeding up the aging of their wines. This is precisely why many wineries have started early filtering of their wines, to get them to market sooner. I suspect that if a reasonable way to speed up aging while preserving flavor existed, they'd be using that instead.

Just to be clear, I am not trying to discourage you from experimenting. I'm just as curious as everyone else to hear the results. ;D

Jmattioli
08-26-2004, 08:41 PM
Wikdwaze wrote
I honestly think most of the wine industry isn't interested in speeding anything up. They see it as a matter of pride how long their wines age. I see the aging process as proof of our ignorance.

Wikdwaze, Sounds like you are interested in synthetic mead from your posts. Do you really think the more powerful motivation for the average winery is pride in aging time over money?? ???
If you want to chemically create a beverage to fit your taste, become a chemist and dig in. If you are a mead lover. Just make mead, experiment to get it how you like it and enjoy it as it is. Share your recipes and results with us. Myself for one am interested. But -- Please don't try to make mead into something else by removing the romance of nature in it that has attracted many of us to it. :'(
If you keep making posts without starting your first mead I will soon have to make you a new Diploma. And --- I am fresh out of ideas on what to put on it. :)
Joe

WikdWaze
08-27-2004, 03:17 AM
Wikdwaze wrote
Wikdwaze, Sounds like you are interested in synthetic mead from your posts. Do you really think the more powerful motivation for the average winery is pride in aging time over money?? ???
If you want to chemically create a beverage to fit your taste, become a chemist and dig in. If you are a mead lover. Just make mead, experiment to get it how you like it and enjoy it as it is. Share your recipes and results with us. Myself for one am interested. But -- Please don't try to make mead into something else by removing the romance of nature in it that has attracted many of us to it. :'(
If you keep making posts without starting your first mead I will soon have to make you a new Diploma. And --- I am fresh out of ideas on what to put on it. :)
Joe
::) Don't worry, I don't want synthetic mead. I want it all-natural, made by the same natural processes that have created it for centuries. I'm just trying to figure out how to give these processes a swift kick in the arse to get them going a little quicker.

I could be wrong about the motivations of wineries. It is rare, but I can be wrong 8)

As for my first batch, it's coming. I tried to order the honey today, but all that was available was a gallon jug and I can't afford $40 plus shipping this week. Hopefully it will still be available next week.

I promise I'll quit posting as soon as I run out of questions and mead-related thoughts ;D

WikdWaze
08-27-2004, 04:26 PM
The wine industry has beat you to the "artificial oxgenation" that tries to match an oak barrel.

Called micro-oxygenation see http://www.winenet.com.au/articles/WineNetwork_Mox-of-wine-in-barrels_DW-MK03.pdf
and search the web, there are plenty of articles.
Been so busy defending my virtue I forgot to check out that article ;D Very interesting reading.

Fortuna_Wolf
11-28-2004, 05:45 AM
I read somewhere that the aging process wasn't actually caused by oxygenation, but by reduction reactions in the brew. This means that oxygen is not required. A good cork isn't oxygen permeable, and capped wine bottles age just as well as corked wine, without the possibility for fouling the wine either.

Jmattioli
11-28-2004, 06:52 AM
Yes, I believe you are right. It is not required but it does add something to the taste that is desireable to a point. I believe you will find the slow addition of oxygen does influence flavor.
Joe