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Thread: New brewer with a question

  1. #1

    Default New brewer with a question

    Before I post my questions, here is my recipe:

    4 gallons of spring water
    2 packets of Lalvin 71 B-1122 yeast
    15 lbs. of dutch gold orange blossom honey
    1/2 teaspon each of yeast energizer and yeast nutrient

    I'm making a 6 gallon batch. Well...it was 6 gallons. I heated the honey and water for the must, and had a slight mishap with this...where I overheated the mixture a bit and lost some b/c it spilled over a bit, but all seems well with that. It's about 5 and 1/4 gallon or so now, after it's first racking from the bucket to the carboy.

    I'll get to the point. From what I've seen and been reading, it seems that a sort of tangy/sour smell is pretty normal for mead in it's early stages, I just wanted to confirm this I guess? I think I'm worrying a bit lol. But after two weeks I racked it to the carboy and noticed that it has a bit of a sour/acidic smell to it. This being my first batch, I got kind of worried. Also I noticed that the sediment in the bottom--it looks like it's almost climbing up the sides ever so slightly. Strange or normal? I saw pictures and this seems normal. Should I have a beer and relax and let it be? Thoughts?

    Thanks in advance!

    Ed

  2. #2

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    Ha. I was about to say "relax, don't worry... etc, etc."

    Fermentation makes lots of smells. Sometimes I still get concerned about how something might smell in primary or secondary fermentation but it always works out ok. I wouldn't sweat it.
    BJCP Certified Beer Judge since 2003. Owner of Mt. Si Mead Supply.

  3. #3

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    Bet you're good to go, Ed.
    I'll let the pros share their valuable advice.
    Cheers and good luck.

  4. #4

    Smile

    Yes, I like low hanging fruit (easy questions). My guess is you're fine. Early smells are not that uncommon. Do you own a hydrometer?
    - They say hard work never hurts anybody, but why take the chance.

  5. #5

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    Thanks so much, you guys are awesome! I think what also made me worry a bit was in the bottom, where the sediment has started to collect, it almost appeared as if some of the sediment was like...creeping up the side just a tiny bit or something. Haha--or maybe it's just an illusion from the glass? I don't know. But I saw so many pictures of that afterwards that I thought "okay, it should be fine."

    Airlock is bubbling still too, ever so slowly, so I take that as a good sign too.

    @Whatshisface: I do own a hydrometer. I tested before sealing and I think it was 1.1 or something? The number I got was more or less the standard. I tried testing it in a test tube that I have while it was racking, but when I dropped the Hydrometer in it just appeared to sink even though the thing had a good amount of liquid in it. Is that odd? I tasted it and you could definitely taste (and smell) alcohol, so I figured what the hell, just seal the carboy and see what happens.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Default

    yo WELCOME TO GOTMEAD!

    As for the rest, its common to be a little iffy when you dont know whats happenin in there. You'll get used to all the signs in time. One note about that hydrometer--just appeared to sink?

    If the hydrometer sinks all the way to the bottom and you get a reading of 1.000 or less you are done man, time to rack. hows it taste?
    Go On, Take The Honey and Run

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfie View Post
    yo WELCOME TO GOTMEAD!

    As for the rest, its common to be a little iffy when you dont know whats happenin in there. You'll get used to all the signs in time. One note about that hydrometer--just appeared to sink?

    If the hydrometer sinks all the way to the bottom and you get a reading of 1.000 or less you are done man, time to rack. hows it taste?
    Done? Haha--you sure about that? It's only 3 weeks in. :P And it's still very cloudy. As to the taste--I could taste the alcohol, but it didn't seem much of the flavor or sweetness had developed yet. Plus the airlock is still going a bit, so I think I'm gonna just let it sit.

    And thanks for the welcome!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    UK - South Coast.
    Posts
    3,454

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by EFBacon View Post
    Done? Haha--you sure about that? It's only 3 weeks in. :P And it's still very cloudy. As to the taste--I could taste the alcohol, but it didn't seem much of the flavor or sweetness had developed yet. Plus the airlock is still going a bit, so I think I'm gonna just let it sit.

    And thanks for the welcome!
    Done, as in finished fermenting is what I suspect that Wolfie was alluding too. Well balanced musts can finish fermenting in a week or so, though often it can take longer - and no, there's too many variables to say why it might be done quickly (or not).

    Of course, if it has finished fermenting (check the gravity every couple of days and you want to see 3 identical gravity readings across about a week), then rack it off the gross lees.

    While 71B is good for making a brew that's nicer tasting, sooner than a lot of other yeasts, it still will need clearing - which depending on your chosen method, can take time. Plus it will almost definitely need ageing, probably 6 months minimum.

    The majority of young meads aren't very good, but the occasional taste can help you learn how amazing meads are when it comes to developing into something that's very palatable.

    Before that, you'll have no real idea about what it's likely to be like when completely finished i.e. how much of the honey characteristic will return as it mellows or whether there will be much, if any, "perceived" sweetness - or whether it'll need a bit of back sweetening and possibly some acid.........
    here's me home brewing blog (if anyones interested....)
    and don't forget
    What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away! Tom Waits.....

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by EFBacon View Post
    Thanks so much, you guys are awesome! I think what also made me worry a bit was in the bottom, where the sediment has started to collect, it almost appeared as if some of the sediment was like...creeping up the side just a tiny bit or something. Haha--or maybe it's just an illusion from the glass? I don't know. But I saw so many pictures of that afterwards that I thought "okay, it should be fine."
    That could well be yeast collecting on the sides of the glass where it starts to taper in to the bottom, I've had that happen. If you give it a gentle swirl it should start settling down to the rest of the lees.
    "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

  10. #10

    Default

    Alright cool, yea I didn't think it seemed to weird but this being my first brew, the yeast creeping up the side in there definitely made me wonder lol.

    As to the mead being done: I was under the impression that if your airlock is still going at all, that the ferment is not quite done. Is this correct? Because mine is still going, though it is much slower at this point.

    In any case, I will wait a few more days and then try to sample it and see how it's developing. Again, thanks so much for everyone's input and knowledge--I really appreciate it!

  11. #11

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by EFBacon View Post
    Alright cool, yea I didn't think it seemed to weird but this being my first brew, the yeast creeping up the side in there definitely made me wonder lol.

    As to the mead being done: I was under the impression that if your airlock is still going at all, that the ferment is not quite done. Is this correct? Because mine is still going, though it is much slower at this point.

    In any case, I will wait a few more days and then try to sample it and see how it's developing. Again, thanks so much for everyone's input and knowledge--I really appreciate it!
    Airlock activity does indicate there probably is still fermentation going on but checking SG every few days with your hydrometer until it stops changing is your best/most accurate way of knowing when it's done. Cheers.

  12. #12

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by EFBacon View Post
    @Whatshisface: I do own a hydrometer. I tested before sealing and I think it was 1.1 or something? The number I got was more or less the standard. I tried testing it in a test tube that I have while it was racking, but when I dropped the Hydrometer in it just appeared to sink even though the thing had a good amount of liquid in it. Is that odd? I tasted it and you could definitely taste (and smell) alcohol, so I figured what the hell, just seal the carboy and see what happens.
    How big was this tube? Usually a hydrometer needs a 10"-12" tube in order to get an accurate test. If it's hitting the bottom, you aren't getting a reading. It has to be free floating (and not stuck to the sides either) in order to get a valid reading.
    BJCP Certified Beer Judge since 2003. Owner of Mt. Si Mead Supply.

  13. #13

    Post

    Quote Originally Posted by EFBacon View Post
    As to the mead being done: I was under the impression that if your airlock is still going at all, that the ferment is not quite done. Is this correct? Because mine is still going, though it is much slower at this point.
    The fermentation could be done, but there may still be CO2 in suspension that is slowly rising and causing an occasional airlock bubble.
    That's just one of the many reasons why you don't want to rely on the airlock to determine how the fermentation is progressing.
    All the world's a nail to a child with a hammer.

  14. #14

    Smile

    By the way welcome to the board.

    I guess there is no need to rehash everything everyone has already said about the hydrometer readings. Two things to take away from this thread is that the Hydrometer is one of your best friends and your mead is going to be fine.
    - They say hard work never hurts anybody, but why take the chance.

  15. #15

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Nathan K View Post
    How big was this tube? Usually a hydrometer needs a 10"-12" tube in order to get an accurate test. If it's hitting the bottom, you aren't getting a reading. It has to be free floating (and not stuck to the sides either) in order to get a valid reading.
    It's a 12" tube. It seemed like there was enough in there, more than halfway for sure. Does it need to be topped off? So many questions! Haha--but you guys have all been so helpful, I'm glad I stumbled across this forum! I just want to make sure that when I test it again with my hydrometer that I'm going to get a proper reading.

    @Whatshisface: Thanks again, and after a few days it certainly does look fine, so..on to the hydrometer test!

  16. #16

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    I often cheat by sanitizing the hydrometer and putting it in the tube before I add the must I want to measure (stop adding must when it floats), but what you can do is see what level you need with water: take hydrometer, put in tube, go to tap, fill with water until hydrometer's at least half an inch off the bottom of the tube, remove hydrometer, mark the outside of the tube with a marker or something and call this your minimum required level...
    Last edited by Chevette Girl; 05-08-2012 at 12:07 AM.
    "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

  17. #17

    Default

    Thanks Chevette, that's a great idea. Simple and effective! I will try it. I've also been doing some reading on here about headspace, and seen several ideas.

    My mead sits just above the top shoulder of the carboy. I'm wondering...if I add some kind of juice or just water, can I do that now or is it too late? I racked into the carboy on the 1st of this month. And also, if I add juice, or just water, or whatever, does it need to be boiled first or can I just add it in? And can it just be poured in gently or no?

  18. #18

    Default

    Bottled juice shouldn't need boiling, but I usually use cooled water from the kettle if I top off with water.
    "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

  19. #19

    Default

    Sounds good. Also I haven't seen on here or read anywhere else if there's a window of time in which you can top off your batch if you decide to do so--does it really matter or can I top it off whenever?

  20. #20

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    There's a specific time suggested for JAO, but if it's anything but, you want to do it as soon as possible to avoid oxygen exposure. I prefer to do it within an hour of racking, myself. Unless I've got a good reason not to (ie, it's still bubbling furiously and producing CO2 to displace any oxygen in the headspace, or I need to go buy more juice).
    "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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