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Thread: Apricot(ish) Mead Help Requested!

  1. #1

    Question Apricot(ish) Mead Help Requested!

    Hi All,

    Today I commemorated the racking of my second batch of mead (my Orange Mead) by doing an early tasting preview of my Apricot Mead. The results were far less than what I was hoping for.

    Here are my notes from this Apricot Mead:
    __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

    Apricot Mead
    9 lbs. Desert Mesquite Honey (3 @ 3lb cans from Trader Joes)
    1 gallon Apricot Nectar (4 @ 1qt bottles of Looza Apricot Nectar
    -- Ingredients: Water, 40% juice, sugar)
    Lavin 71B-1122 Yeast
    5 tsp Yeast Nutrient (all added at pitching)
    Water to 5 gallons (largely from rinsing out honey containers and nectar jars)

    Placed in fermenter: 07/08/11
    Fermentation lasted for about a week.
    Racked to glass carboy: 07/26/11

    Bottled: 01/15/12 (First smell after airlock was taken off was very yeasty. Mead is watery in appearance. Very little apricot taste (if any); odd "sparkly" taste.
    Shelved until the summer for re-tasting.
    __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

    Two important notes:

    • I didn't degass this mead at all. I brewed it as if I was brewing beer, not mead. (I've since learned better!)
    • There were no fresh/dried apricots added to this mead at all. All apricot flavor/aroma was dependent upon the bottled Looza Apricot Nectar.


    When I tasted this mead tonight it still had an oddly sparkly quality and had a pronounced yeasty taste. (It was bottled without any additional sugar/honey to make it a sparkling mead.) My wife took a sip and pronounced it as "bitter", which I don't taste/smell, but my sense of smell - and therefore taste - is, sadly, less than reliable.)

    I have no problem being patient with these bottles of Apricot-ish Mead. After all, it might have enough alcohol to be noticable, but otherwise I would certainly not consider sharing it with anyone at this point!)

    My questions oh, Great Hive Mind, are:

    -- What might be contributing to the sparkly taste? (and what can I do to prevent this in the future?)

    -- How long would you suggest I wait before tasting this mead again? (And why?)


    A great many thanks, one and all!

    ...
    "I said it was good eats, not fast eats."
    -- Alton Brown

  2. #2

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    To avoid the 'sparkling' taste (which I'm interpreting off of how I would use the word) degas. It sounds like too much CO2 in your bottles, which can also make it taste slightly bitter if you don't have strong flavors to overcome it.

    Second, if you're going to use juice instead of fruit, check your ingredients and try to avoid anything with added sugar. Sugar has no flavor, just ABV, and is keeping you from having as much flavor as you can. It's one of the issues I'm attributing a a lemonade I did a while back that turned ugly and bitter, pure fermented sugar which doesn't taste well with honey. You need a stronger flavor to cover it (grapes, blueberries, brighter fruits)

    As for when to try it again, if it's not important, try it next year. I have an experimental (another one I put sugar in that has that nasty off flavor) that I bottled and hid away from myself and will eventually taste...someday. When I find it again. I'm in no rush. If a couple of years doesn't save it, not much will, but I can't figure that out if I drink it all by 'testing' it every couple of months.
    Angry Viking Hedgehog say "Give me mead or I poke ya!"

  3. #3
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    My hubby always reports anything acidic as tasting "bitter", it could be from dissolved CO2 as well.

    My recommendation is next time you "test" it, pour a glass and let it sit at room temperature for a while. See if lots of bubbles form on the sides of the glass. If so, then you'll know degassing is your problem... and perhaps agitating a glassful (or bottleful if you're careful!) might "flatten" it by releasing some of the CO2 that might be causing it to taste acidic and sparkling.

    And hey, if that doesn't help, you could always cut it with some more nectar when you drink it, then at least you'd have the flavour...
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "Good grief! If someone wanted to murder you, all they would have to do is ship you a 55 gallon barrel of honey and watch you document working yourself to death!" - Vance G
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014

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    Was this clear when you bottled it? The yeasty flavor/smell would indicate no. Also it does sound like you've got some residual CO2 in there.

    The CO2 problem won't go anywhere since the bottles are sealed. If there is enough yeast still in there, you'll notice sediment forming and it might also contribute a lasting yeasty flavor in the mead itself.

    You might consider taking this out of the bottles to let the mead degas and the yeast to fully drop out. PITA, yes, but in theory leads to better tasting mead.
    Want to see something added to the GotMead Glossary? PM me! Didn't know we had a glossary? Check the top row of links.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by akueck View Post
    Was this clear when you bottled it? The yeasty flavor/smell would indicate no. Also it does sound like you've got some residual CO2 in there.
    No, it wasn't clear. I had hoped that six months in a carboy would have been sufficient for all necessary settling. (Again, thinking from a beer brewing perspective.)

    Quote Originally Posted by akueck View Post
    The CO2 problem won't go anywhere since the bottles are sealed. If there is enough yeast still in there, you'll notice sediment forming and it might also contribute a lasting yeasty flavor in the mead itself.

    You might consider taking this out of the bottles to let the mead degas and the yeast to fully drop out. PITA, yes, but in theory leads to better tasting mead.
    I've had to wait a few hours before replying to this part because I've needed to let the suggestion sink in. You're suggesting I empty out all of my bottles back into a carboy, right? ("Nah, I was just pulling your leg" would be an acceptable answer.)

    If so, how would I degass this mead? (Or can I, post-fermentation?)
    "I said it was good eats, not fast eats."
    -- Alton Brown

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by fivecats View Post
    I've had to wait a few hours before replying to this part because I've needed to let the suggestion sink in. You're suggesting I empty out all of my bottles back into a carboy, right? ("Nah, I was just pulling your leg" would be an acceptable answer.)

    If so, how would I degass this mead? (Or can I, post-fermentation?)
    Yes he is suggesting that you empty them all back into a carboy at which time you would degas just as you would at any time, stirring the CO2 out of suspension. You could then hit it with a fining agent let it sit for a week, rack off of everything that falls and bottle again.
    " ...no sense hauling empty carboys around when full ones take up just as much space. " -TheFlyingBeer (on HomeBrewTalk)

  7. #7
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    Yep. It's a pain in the butt to have to do, but every now and then a batch just doesn't behave... like the blackberry JAO that decided it wasn't finished, had to pour it back into the carboy to continue fermenting for a few weeks (it'd been still for three months)... or the maple mead that was clear when I bottled it and then dropped sediment the next day...
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "Good grief! If someone wanted to murder you, all they would have to do is ship you a 55 gallon barrel of honey and watch you document working yourself to death!" - Vance G
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by TAKeyser View Post
    Yes he is suggesting that you empty them all back into a carboy at which time you would degas just as you would at any time, stirring the CO2 out of suspension. You could then hit it with a fining agent let it sit for a week, rack off of everything that falls and bottle again.
    I was afraid of that.

    Would the act of pouring the mead from a bottle to the carboy (through a sieve) do enough to degass the mead? Or would I expect to need to degass through through several days thereafter?

    What would your fining agent of choice be in this instance?


    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


    I'm also guessing that leaving them to sit in the bottles, even for another year, isn't going to make that much of a difference.

    What if, before drinking, I poured the mead from the bottle into another container, then poured it again into a third container? And then pour back and forth from the third to the second to the third to the second...?
    "I said it was good eats, not fast eats."
    -- Alton Brown

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by fivecats View Post
    I was afraid of that.

    Would the act of pouring the mead from a bottle to the carboy (through a sieve) do enough to degass the mead? Or would I expect to need to degass through through several days thereafter?
    I would not pour through a sieve, I would attempt to pour it out as smoothly as possible to reduce the introduction of oxygen. The sieve is going to separate the liquid giving it more contact with oxygen.

    Quote Originally Posted by fivecats View Post
    What would your fining agent of choice be in this instance?
    I would probably go with Sparkleoid or SuperKleer as those are the two that I like

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


    Quote Originally Posted by fivecats View Post
    I'm also guessing that leaving them to sit in the bottles, even for another year, isn't going to make that much of a difference.
    It won't degas in the bottle as the CO2 has nowhere to go

    Quote Originally Posted by fivecats View Post
    What if, before drinking, I poured the mead from the bottle into another container, then poured it again into a third container? And then pour back and forth from the third to the second to the third to the second...?
    It would more than likely degas the Mead but also suspend anything in the mead making it cloudy. Think of how a Hefeweizen beer looks (though it is what you want in a Hefeweizen)
    " ...no sense hauling empty carboys around when full ones take up just as much space. " -TheFlyingBeer (on HomeBrewTalk)

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by TAKeyser View Post
    It would more than likely degas the Mead but also suspend anything in the mead making it cloudy. Think of how a Hefeweizen beer looks (though it is what you want in a Hefeweizen)
    If it's a question of decanting vs pouring all of the mead into a carboy and then back into bottles (eventually), I'm willing do give the decanting a try. (Clarity then becomes a next step to hope to attain.)


    How would I degass if I did pour it all back into a carboy?
    "I said it was good eats, not fast eats."
    -- Alton Brown

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by fivecats View Post
    How would I degass if I did pour it all back into a carboy?
    You could use one of the degassing tools that hooks up to an electric drill if you have one, or just gently stir (I use the handle end of a long plastic spoon) the mead in the carboy trying to avoid splashing it around.

    The advantage of pouring all the bottles into the carboy over decanting each bottle individually when you serve it is that you can take care of the degassing and clarity issue at the same time. It might be a bit of a pain but you only need to do it once compared with each individual bottle and you solve both problems in one shot.
    " ...no sense hauling empty carboys around when full ones take up just as much space. " -TheFlyingBeer (on HomeBrewTalk)

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by fivecats View Post
    How would I degass if I did pour it all back into a carboy?
    Same way you'd degas any other mead - either give it a year under airlock to think about it and it'll degas naturally, or stir it gently several times a day for a couple of days. No splashing, you don't want to introduce oxygen, you just want to agitate it enough that the carbon dioxide comes out of solution. Then you add your fining agent (I've been using bentonite cause it's cheap and easier to prepare than sparkolloid, I use the sparkolloid if hte bentonite doesn't do the trick), give it one more stir, then leave it for a week or two for everything to settle out.
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "Good grief! If someone wanted to murder you, all they would have to do is ship you a 55 gallon barrel of honey and watch you document working yourself to death!" - Vance G
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by TAKeyser View Post
    The advantage of pouring all the bottles into the carboy over decanting each bottle individually when you serve it is that you can take care of the degassing and clarity issue at the same time. It might be a bit of a pain but you only need to do it once compared with each individual bottle and you solve both problems in one shot.
    Although if the stuff settles out in the bottle, the first decanting will leave most of that behind, if you do want to do things a bottle at a time.

    Speaking from experience , if you're careful, you can empty the bottles into the carboy, rinse them with sanitizer, store them carefully, and re-use them when you re-bottle, without destroying any labels...
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "Good grief! If someone wanted to murder you, all they would have to do is ship you a 55 gallon barrel of honey and watch you document working yourself to death!" - Vance G
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chevette Girl View Post
    Although if the stuff settles out in the bottle, the first decanting will leave most of that behind, if you do want to do things a bottle at a time.
    But that also depends on the type of yeast, since some yeasts do not compact very well and if the bottle is agitated at all while moving or opening (I've seen some people move that bottle around a lot when trying to get that cork out) all that goes back into suspension. Also, with the mead sitting on all that dead yeast it could develop off flavors, especially with only six months of bulk aging it would seem that you'd want to bottle age for at least a couple more months. Depending on the strain used it could happen pretty quickly (71B). Just seems like 10 minutes to pour it all back into a carboy, degas and fine and another half an hour or so to re-bottle a week or so later solves all the problems (and prevents other issues from developing) in one quick stroke.
    " ...no sense hauling empty carboys around when full ones take up just as much space. " -TheFlyingBeer (on HomeBrewTalk)

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