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Thread: Another sour mead

  1. #1

    Default Another sour mead

    I noticed that Joemirando recently had a post about a sour mead. I read through the replies, and it appeared that the consensus was to continue bulk aging, or bottle and let age for quite some time. Well, I have a similar occurrence, and was looking for any other "professional" advice. My recipe was as follows:

    Started on 4 June 2013

    10 lbs clover honey
    6 oz semi sweet Hershey cocoa powder
    6 oz regular Hershey cocoa powder
    Handful of raisins (maybe 20 or so)
    Package of Flieschman's active dry yeast
    Enough spring water to make 5 gallons total volume

    OG = 1.084

    Initial fementation took off like a rocket.

    We left over the 4th of July holiday, content that the air conditioner was going in the "meadery". Come to find out when we returned that it had only been set on "fan" ... and our area had gone through a massive heat wave (outside definitely got above 100 F) ... I think that inside the "meadery" it never got above 85 F.

    Anyway, I racked to secondary carboy on 11 July 2013.
    Basically looked like muddy water (I have since learned that using nibs or chunks of chocolate would be a better way to go).
    The taste was very sour, like a crazy apple cider sour.
    The SG was 0.992 ... abv in the neighborhood of 12% ... and very dry.
    I realize that the honey volume was a little light to begin with, and I believe that the bread yeast had gone pretty much to it's tolerance level as well.

    On 15 July 2013 I added 3 cups of honey and mixed it in well.
    Also added 1/2 a stick of vanilla, sliced in half lengthwise to open it up.
    SG came up to 1.012.
    It was a bit sweeter, but still way sour.

    I let her sit.

    On 31 August 2013 I racked it to a new carboy (quite a bit of stuff had dropped out, and I wanted to get it off of it).
    SG was still sitting squarely at 1.012 (47 days after addition of new honey).
    Definitely beginning to clear.
    The taste is still sour, still not like vinegar, but better than it was before ... I would actually drink it in small doses ... but my girlfriend thinks it's horrible.
    There's a slight hint of chocolate aroma, but not really any taste of chocolate ... pretty much still tastes like a sour apple cider, or maybe something like a sour fruit beer (a lambic?).

    I'm wondering if the potential high heat during early fermentation may have irrevocably wrecked this mead, or if this is just the character of a very young, very dry wine (as some folks mentioned on Joemirando's thread) ... and should I expect the sourness to age out? I'm planning on letting it bulk age until at least early next year (February maybe) before bottling and aging even longer (like another year).

    Any advice, or just plain consolation that it will get better, would be appreciated - thanks!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    The Fusel Shack, in the swamp west of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida


    While heat can create some very unpleasant characteristics, it usually takes the form of burning higher alcohols, medicinal phenolics, or sulfur odors. Typically it doesn't make things sour. What you are tasting is young mead with chocolate and lots of yeastiness.

    If you take a glass, you can probably sweeten it to a level where it becomes palatable, and then you can measure what the gravity is to know how much you have to raise the gravity to get it where you like it best. However, it is much better to do this after it has aged and cleared for at least several months. Then you are more likely to get it right.

    The sour taste is normal. Dry meads taste sour like dry wine. That is what you get when all the sugars are gone. It will become more palatable with time, and if you aren't partial to dry wines, sweetening later can really make a difference.
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
    (Past years are always better)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Northeast Southweston, CT, USA


    Quote Originally Posted by ambloplites View Post
    I noticed that Joemirando recently had a post about a sour mead. I read through the replies, and it appeared that the consensus was to continue bulk aging, or bottle and let age for quite some time. Well, I have a similar occurrence, and was looking for any other "professional" advice...

    I think that in my case the sourness was do to a huge amount of dissolved CO2. That was another odd one, since the sour taste was indeed what you would expect of a very dry Italian table wine, but the FG was 1.030. I degassed and degassed it and degassed it, but the sourness never went away, so I ended up blending it with a traditional mead. They were better together than either was on its own, and I noticed that as I siphoned the heavy, sour one into the lighter traditional, you could see how much denser I could see how much denser it was. I doubt that's helpful, but it was kind of cool to see deep, dark purple at the bottom and, after a clear division, an almost luminescent gold at the top.


    In hindsight, I should have checked the pH at several points in the fermentation, but I didn't.
    Intelligence Is Knowing That A Tomato Is A Fruit
    Wisdom Is Knowing Not To Put It In A Fruit Salad

  4. #4


    Thanks folks, very much. I'm going to keep the faith, and just let her bulk age for another 4 or 5 months, then likely I will back sweeten a bit more. The 3 cups of honey that I added certainly helped, but I think for my tastes it will take a bit more (not much!). After bulk aging , back sweetening, and bottling, I'll likely let the bottles sit another 8 to 12 months before breaking them out for consumption!

    Again, thanks for the comfort!

    Joe - no gas troubles with this baby ... she's about as still as can be!


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