View Full Version : What can I do to prevent my Mead from turning into VINEGAR??

11-18-2005, 02:38 PM
I stumbled upon this great site today, and have more questions than before I started my search :D. I have bought my first Mead kit from Northern Brew Co. Orange Blossom Honey Mead. From what I have seen on the site, mead seems straightforward. I have a 6.5-gallon carboy to use as my primary fermentor, and a 6 or 5 gallon secondary. I plan to make half and half sparkling and still Mead. My fear and question is…. what can I do to prevent my mead from turning into vinegar after I bottle, if that is even possible? I may not drink all of the bottled mead in one year. I don't want to make my beer jealous! One other question, when should I put fruit in my Mead? I would like to use Mango, and figure about a pound or two. Should I put the fruit in the last 10 minutes of my wort preperation at 150-160 and keep in my primary, or place in secondary?Your thoughts are appreciated. Thanks. Rob

Dan McFeeley
11-18-2005, 03:15 PM
Hello and welcome!

Relax, don't worry. A well mead will keep for years. That's
assuming you can leave it alone for that long! ;D

11-18-2005, 03:17 PM
Welcome to the Forum r_frick!

A quick and healthy fermentation will usually overwhelm any naturally occurring nasties. Some tips to help insure your batch turns out good.

1. Make sure you have enough sugars in your must to hit the Alcohol tolerance of your yeast.

2. If using Lalvin Yeasts... rehydrate with GoFerm as per directions

3. Honey is nutrient deficient, the use of Fermaid K and DAP is highly recommended!!!

4. It is vital that your yeast get enough Oxygen for a healthy growth phase during the 1st three days, Stir like mad to introduce as much Oxygen as possible!
Better still get a air pump with stone like this.... http://www.morebeer.com/product.html?product_id=16607

5. Make sure all of your equipment is properly sanitized, Buckets, Carboys, Spoons, Racking canes, tubing, Etc...

6. Keep the exposure to air at a bare minimum during bottling and rackings and you should be fine.


11-18-2005, 04:32 PM

Welcome to the Forums!

I'll second the good advice given already, and add this about the fruit: if you are heating your must (in wines and meads it's called must, in beer it's wort), don't add any fruit until the entire batch has cooled down to roughly yeast-pitching temps. Heat will "set" the pectins in the fruit, very possibly lending a troublesome pectin haze to the finished mead which will be very hard, if not impossible, to remove. If you plan to use pectinase, then the temperature issue isn't as important. Many people boil or heat their musts, often with very fine results; keep in mind though that it is not a necessity to do this with mead the way it is with beer -- in fact many people (myself included) feel it tends to be detrimental to the final bouquet and overall profile of the mead. There is no reason, from an infection standpoint, to ever heat a mead must. Honey has natural antibiotic qualities, making it a very safe addition from the start. Healthy fermentations will overrun and outcompete native or airborne microbiota, and the higher alcohol and relatively high acid content of the mead/must adds up to a very hostile environment for all but a few unwanted critters -- and these are rare indeed. If you practice good, basic sanitation techniques, you won't have problems in this regard.

Mead turning into (bad) vinegar can and does happen occasionally, though it's actually rare. I've been doing this for a lot of years, and openly admit my sanitation techniques could use improvement (laziness), yet I've never lost a batch to acetobactor. I've done OTHER bad things to some of them, but we won't go there. The point is, as in beer making, and probably most other things in life -- difficult as it can be sometimes -- the key here is not to worry.

Can you post your exact recipe, just for S & G's? Mango sounds yummy (though I'd go heavier on the fruit -- say five to ten pounds -- and add 2/3's in primary, and the rest in secondary, which will give you a nice ratio of fermented vs. more of a fresh fruit flavor -- but that's just me).

Again, welcome, and keep us posted!


11-18-2005, 05:05 PM
I really can't add to advice already given, it's sound and should help aviod any trouble. What I can say, I make vinegar in the same kitchen I make mead, at any given time there's 2 - 3 gallons of vinegar fermenting. So long as you keep things clean and sanitized, your fermentors covered there should be little trouble with your mead. If you've been brewing beer and have not had it turn to vinegar, I don't see any reason to worry (malt vinegar is nothing more then beer or braggot that has turned).

Happy mazing,


11-19-2005, 04:48 AM
As the others have told you, no worries as long as you pay attention to the sanitizing step.
Welcome to the forums.


11-20-2005, 12:02 AM
Sanitize sanitize...and did i mention sanitizing?

If you've never had a batch of beer turn to vinegar, its unlikely that you're mead will. And definately don't worry about drinking it in under a year, most meads dont reach their greatest potential until they reach a year and beyond. I dont open any of my meads untill they are at least 12-18 months old.

P.S. It was mentioned earlier in this thread that you should make sure that you're yeasts alcohol tolerance is met. While this is good advice in terms of ensuring the shelf life of your mead, you will not be able to produce a sparkling by priming if you do this.

11-21-2005, 12:36 PM
Wow, thank you all for the response, I feel at ease now ;D.

This is my first attempt at making mead. I used Iodophor for all my sanitization, and have my Mead in a 6.5-gallon carboy. I decided to wait and not add the mango until the 2ed racking. Sorry lostnbronx, I did not read the post until the night after I started my mead, otherwise I would have added the Mango. (Do you think it is too late to add the Mango?) The recipe I used called for 15lb of Orange Blossom honey, and Vinters Choice #3783 Rudsheimer yeast.

My starting SG 1.072. I obtained this number from a Brix refractometer and converted the Brix of 19 to SG, so the SG may be off by a few ???. I have read that the SG should be higher, what are everyone’s thoughts?

Anyway, I started on Sunday and checked for fermentation this morning and no bubbles, yet. Soon ;D Thank you all for the info and pleasant experience. I'll keep you all posted on my endeavors.


11-21-2005, 12:46 PM
At SG = 1.072, regardless of what yeast you use, your mead will end up dry. You may want to supplement the must with some additional honey if you would prefer something a little sweeter. Store bought honey will work fine for this if you do not have specialty honey readily available. You are just looking to get the SG up a bit.

Generally speaking, starting SG's (often referred to as OG's - original gravities) are somewhere between 1.100 and 1.150 depending on the yeast you use and whether you desire a dry, semi-sweet, or sweet final result.

11-21-2005, 05:15 PM
lostnbronx, I did not read the post until the night after I started my mead, otherwise I would have added the Mango. (Do you think it is too late to add the Mango?


No, you can add the mango in at any time. Adding it in secondary only is perfectly fine, though. It's just a matter of taste, and since you haven't done this before, you might want to stick with what you started and see how it turns out. This way, you'll have something to compare with the next batch.

The question about Primary or Secondary for fruit additions is one that each mazer (one who makes mead) needs to decide for him/herself. Primary additions tend to produce a feremented fruit flavor (grape wine, for instance, rarely tastes like grapes); Secondary tends to retain more of the original flavor, since the fermentation at this stage is less vigorous. Either one or both is just fine. You'll find out which one you prefer early on, and you can experiment from there.

Keep us updated!


11-22-2005, 02:50 AM
What was your exact recipe, the amount of ingredients, procedure, final volume, yeast used..... We would need the details to better understand and also help you. Your starting gravity is kinda' low, I get 1.079, which any respectable wine yeast will chew in a hurry and leave your mead dry as a bone. You are still at the starting gate so adding more honey and mixing well will actually be beneficial to the yeasties.
Typically, I mix and airate the mead the first 3 days, I add 2 teaspoons DAP(diammonium phosphate) in the must, then 1 teaspoon DAP dissolved in 50 ml water for the next 2 days and mix, mix, mix.
As for fruit, I add in both the primary and secondary in order to get a more complex fruit character. I'd go with lostnbronx's idea, add in secondary and see how you like it. Some fruit with delicate flavors tend to get lost in the primary fermentation and adding more fruit in secondary helps to bring back the fruit notes and flavors.

Hope that helps,

11-23-2005, 09:46 PM
Well, I have sweet honey water thus far. Today I aerated like some have suggested, and well, I now have a large mess. I aerated like hell, and within seconds the must erupted out of the glass carboy. I must say it was a funny experience, and tasty. I suppose I should not aerate as vigorously tomorrow.

As far as the recipe from my vendor, it is the following:

15lb of Orange Blossom honey
Vinters Choice #3783 Rudsheimer yeast
(My choice to add 10lb of fresh Mango)
Yeast Nutrient.
The directions call to boil one gallon of water, settle to temperature of 160F and add Honey, and Yeast nutrient. Allow the must to stand at 150-160 for 10-20 minutes. Chill must to 100F. Add must to primary with 3 gallons of water. Pitch yeast when must is below 80F, seal and wait for fermentation.

I have moved my fermentor upstairs and out of the basement. I had a difficult time keeping the temp above 65. The must now is at a constant 68-70F. I have some bubble's in the airlock, about 1 every 20 or so seconds. I have just added 5lb of Mango tonight to the must.

The previous numbers for O.G I believe may be wrong. My refractometer shows 19 Brix. If I use the formula of Brix X .0004 I get what Brewbear obtained 1.079. However, when these numbers are placed in a program like Pro-Mash, the O.G=1.170, Etoh of 15.89% by weight and 20.49 by volume. Does this seem odd to anyone? Which is correct? If the O.G is lower I agree and should add more honey, but at 1.170, I could let it be.

I just wanted to say thank you to all those who have offered advice. I would say that Beer is easier, but I like this Mead, more thinking is involved.

:D :D :D :D

11-24-2005, 02:27 AM
So you had your first mead geyser ;D
I use a plastic bucket for primary fermentation. No gushers but still messy unless you put the whole shabang in a large garbage bag to contain the mess.
Try using the mead calculator http://www.gotmead.com/making-mead/mead-calculator.shtml It will make your life easier. Is this a 4 gal. batch?
In a 4 gal batch, i get 31.96 BRIX ! I hope your yeast will go to 18% ABV or else it is gonna be SWEEEEETTTT!!!