View Full Version : Yeast smell and taste.

11-22-2004, 09:01 PM
Hello to all in the forum.

Short intro, I have been making beer and wine now for about 2 years, so I "think" I have the basics down. ;)

I'm still reading, but I have been unable to find this subject on the forum. I hope I am doing this right.

I have a still mead that is now 1 year old. After sitting for this long I didn't expect it to taste like ambrosia yet, but I did not expect it to taste and smill like yeast. My question is, will this age out or has something gone wrong with this batch. This is the first batch of mead I have made. Since making this batch I have learned a lot more about mead and have made a pyment and cyser both of which show much more promise than my first still mead.

I hopes that some of the experienced amoung you might be able to see what possibly went wrong, here is the log I kept.

Started 11-8-03
12 lbs Star Thistle Honey
2 1/4 tsp grape seed tannin
8 1/2 tsp acid blend
2 3/4 tsp DAP
5 Campden tablets (crushed)
Wyeast Sweet Mead Yeast

Boiled 2 gallons of water, removed from heat and added honey to desolve. Added enough water to bring total vol. to 5 gallons. Added tannin, acid blend, DAP, and Campden.
O.G. 1.090
Acid = 35%

Before adding Campden removed 1/2 cup of must and diluted this with 1 1/2 cups of clean boiled water and added Yeast to make a starter. After a few hours starter was bubbling away very nicely. After allowing the must to sit for 24 hours, added the yeast starter to must.

Fermentation did not start. Waited 5 days - nothing.

After talking with a technician at Wyeast, he recommended I use Wyeast 3242 Chablis.

11-15-03: Pitched Wyeast 3242 Chablis yeast. Fermenation active in 24 hours.

SG = 1.060 Racked to carboy and put on fermenation lock.

Fermentation took place in a plastic 6 gallon food grade container in a room at a temperature of between 70 and 80 degrees F.

SG = 1.016 Racked. Carboy moved to a room where temperatures range from 58 to 65 degrees F.

Racked. Starting to clear but still very cloudy. Tastes and smells yeasty.

SG = 1.004 Racked. Almost no lees.

Racked. Still not clearing, no lees. Still strong yeast smell/taste.

Stirred in Bentonite slurry to clear.

Mead is sparkling clear. Racked. Still smells strong of yeast.

Taste/smell is still of yeast. Would like to stablize and add sweetness, but will wait until/if yeast smell is gone.

OK, that is it. I have never used the Chablis yeast before and have not used it since in any of my wine making. Does this yeast have a problem, or did I create a problem for this yeast?


11-22-2004, 10:29 PM
Nothing really wrong with the yeast. Others have had great success with it. The only thing I don't like about it is the narrow fermentation temperature range and its sensitivity. If you follow specs and instructions closely and do everything right on, the yeast seems to be reported to preform well.

But if temperature and PH conditions are not just right, it is reported that people get a lot of stuck fermentations with Sweet Wyeast. Your starter was doing well until it entered the your must. Before it entered it was diluted with 1 1/2 cups water which was obviously okay with your yeast. The must was not. It died and was in the must 7 days plus when you pitched the new Wyeast it was still there if I read correctly. Your primary temperature was reported as 70-80 degrees. To hot for the first yeast and I believe autolysis took place and gave you the yeast flavor. I believe you should have done your first yeast in primary fermentation in the 58-65 room. Seems like temperature could have had a major role in your problem. Also I did not see where you aerated must well before pitching the starter after it had been sitting 24 hours with Campden tablets. Wyeast is most sensitive and needs good aeration to get started as recommended by the manufacturer. That could have also played a role in the failure of your first yeast.

Here is another reason your first yeast probably failed:
Instructions from a Northern brewer mead kit using Wyeast Sweet Mead yeast -----
" If you are making a sweet mead, add acid blend after the mead is done fermenting. Acid blend will balance thecloying sweetness of honey. Add 3-5 teaspoons to taste. (The average pH of honey is around 3.9, and adding the acid blend before fermentation will inhibit fermentation.)"

Hope this helps,

11-23-2004, 03:41 AM
Don't wait to sweeten.

Sweetening should also bring some of the honey aspects out of hiding, and help tone down the yeast aroma/taste.

11-28-2004, 07:23 PM

Thanks for all your input. I did aerate the must twice a day giving it a vigorous stirring with a long plastic spoon. Sorry I forgot to mention this.

Your advice on the correct temperature range in which fermentation should take place runs contra to the recommendations I had received from the people at the brew shop where I bought the supplies. Going by memory, I believe I started the fermentation in a room where the temperature ranged from 65 to 70 degree F. But when nothing happened, and after calling the brew shop, I was advice the raise the temperature of the room. So I brought in an electric heater, sealed of the room and continually monitored the temperature until it came up to 75 degrees. Over the following 5 days the temperature ranged from 72 to 80 degrees. It appears the advice given was in error.

I have learned quite a bit about makeing mead since this initial try and will be trying again very soon. One thing I've learned it not to add acid blend until fermenation in complete. The pyment and cyser I have made since this first try of a still mead were done with no addition of acid and both fermented very well, cleared withing 1 month and even at their young age taste great!

Thanks for your advice. I will put it to use when I try making mead again in the near future. She who must be obeyed still wants her sweet mead. :D


11-28-2004, 07:42 PM
Thanks for the advice that I have been given so far. This will go far towards my next attempt at making mead.

Joe has made a very good point which I agree with completely. Most likely the sweet mead yeast went through autolysis given the high temperature of the must along with the high PH. These dead yeast cells were left in the must for about 2 weeks which would impart the yeast taste and smell now prominent in this mead.

I wish that I could quantitative value to the extent of yeast taste imparted in the mead. It may be that some of you may have a remedy by simply adding something to the mead that will mask the taste as long and the flavor of yeast is not above a certain threshold. But the extent of yeast taste on my part would only be a subjective guess. Some people like a little yeast taste in their wine while others find the taste of yeast strongly repulsive.

However, the underlying question still stands. Can/will the yeast taste age out or is there something else besides aging that will diminish this flavor?

11-29-2004, 02:50 AM
After hearing your rsponse, it does appears adding the acid up front to the first Wyeast was the problem in not starting since everything else was explained. And yes, the heat then contributed to the yeast aroma on the dead yeast. Now for your final question. I don't know if and how much the yeast taste will age out but I agree with JamesP that if you sweeten it, it will help mask it out some. I have always noticed a mellowing of harshness and flavors with aging but can't say for sure with the yeast flavor since I haven't had it before. I would be optomistic that with both sweetening and some aging it will improve but I, as you do, await a response from anyone who might have had a similar experience and results to share.

11-29-2004, 08:29 PM
Thanks Joe for your words of encouragement. It is my intention to sweeten this mead (to dry for my wife). I just didn't want to go through the extra time/expense of sweetening and bottling it if all that I would end up with is sweet tasting yeasty mead that would never be servered. I will try sweetening a small amount and have my wife taste it to see if it will pass as drinkable.

11-29-2004, 09:11 PM
As you are aware from reading posts here and making beer yourself . Mead and beer are very different. Beer of course, is usually 6% or less alcohol and is drinkable usually without any aging. Mead being 12% or higher in alcohol is usually very harsh when fermented to dry. Even after sweetening, your wife may not care for it at all. Unless you make one of the quick meads or stop them while they are still on the sweet side it would not be fair to judge a mead started on Nov 8th of this year. It should be aged at least 6 months. So, if she doesn't like the glass you sweeten, let it bulk age and try again in 6 months. It may not get much better but I have heard too many first-hand stories about how a year or two turned a repulsive or harsh tasteing mead into an enjoyable mead to believe that it is a myth. My first was an English mead made with so much acid (I misread Imp gallon for US GAL), it was undrinkable. I sweetened it, put the gallon jug aside for a year with an oak chip and vanilla bean in and it did wonders. IT TURNED INTO A COMPLEX MEAD. The acid mellowed and the mead had both a sweetness and tartness at the same time with an oak overtone that was enjoyable to drink. And to think, I was ready to toss it til I read similar stories about this aging magic. :D

12-06-2004, 08:22 PM
Hello Joe,

I agree with your point about beer vs mead. I also have made several batches of fruit wines and only now after a year of waiting are some of these wines becoming something worth drinking.

This mead was not started Nov. 8 of this year. This was started Nov. 8 of 2003. It's a year old now. That's why I posted in the first place. I figured after a year of aging (in the carboy) that it shouldn't have this much yeast smell/taste.

I have sweetened it. It now has a F.G. of 1.025 I'll bottle next week and wait another 6 months before trying it again.

Thanks again for the help.