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Thread: First batch results: mostly ok but a little bit sour

  1. #1
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    Default First batch results: mostly ok but a little bit sour

    This is my first-ever batch-- 3 gallons (ended up with about 2 2/3 gallons) made from 7lbs wildflower honey, Deer Park spring water, and D47. I fed it with some DAP/Urea mix my homebrew store sells (I'm not going to use that anymore). I started the batch on 10/17, racked to secondary on 11/1, and just racked into tertiary (3 one-gallon bottles, the last one is only 2/3 full). This was fermented at about 72-74 degrees (I know, I know, too hot) but there was nothing I could do about it at the time.

    I inadvertently got a few mouthfuls of this stuff while siphoning. It's not bad but it's definitely not ready either. The mead tastes a little bit hot (nowhere near as fusel-y as I feared) but it has a sour taste up front. I don't think it's tainted/infected because the smell is ok-- it just smells like regular mead with a bit of cidery tang to it. It fermented bone dry, so the guy at my homebrew shop thought the sourness was caused by there being practically no sugar left.

    I had to go out and get an auto-siphon today because my racking cane refused to cooperate. I just couldn't maintain good suction even when I put a small hose clamp on where my tube attached to the cane, so I would end up siphoning a little bit and then the rest would fall back into the carboy. I was able to get the first jug filled just by siphoning with just the tube this morning when the carboy was almost full but I had to use the auto siphon to force-pump the rest of it into the other jugs. I probably degassed it while doing it that way but I hope I didn't over-oxygenate it. At least I left all the dead yeast behind.

    Is everything progressing as it should be at this point in time? Now I'm going to leave it alone for a few months and I'm hoping the hot alcohol will age out and more honey character will come to the front. In the meantime, I put 2 cinnamon sticks in a hop bag and put it into one of the full jugs to start turning it into a cinnamon metheglin. I'm going to back-sweeten the other full jug and carbonate/bottle the half-filled jug first so it won't oxidize too much.
    Last edited by pwizard; 11-27-2015 at 06:06 PM.

  2. #2

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    You don't really need to worry about oxygenation. Especially if there is no fruit in it. You always have options to keep your temps lower. You can put your gallon jug in a container and add ice/water in the bottom of that. You could use a towel and drape it over the top and into the water. As the towels tries to dry out it will dissipate the heat. You don't really generate much heat in only 1 gallon of must. So the towel thing probably isn't necessary. Just the added ice would drop your temps down. After you do that a couple days you would learn how much ice ytou need to keep it at a monitored temp. Of course you need a thermomoter for that

    The Urea is what you don't want in the food you were using.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  3. #3
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    So I shouldn't worry about the partially-filled jar going bad during aging?


    I'm not going to use the DAP + Urea yeast food anymore. I still have lots of it but next time I'm going to use Fermaid K and prep my yeast with Go-Ferm (I ordered both tonight since my local store doesn't stock them for some reason).

    My primary was done in a bucket and my secondary in a 3-gal carboy. I kept the primary bucket in a laundry hamper full of water with ice packs in it. I thought temperature wasn't as big a deal after primary ferment. Isn't the whole point of keeping the must cold during primary to prevent off-flavors/fusels from forming? I'm now in the bulk aging stage on this batch so fusels aren't still being made, right?
    Last edited by pwizard; 11-27-2015 at 10:27 PM.

  4. #4
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    Sounds like you kept the primary cool. As far as fusels in the secondary, that depends on how much more fermentation occurs. Did you take gravity readings at each stage? If your gravity dropped a lot in secondary and you did not control temp then some fusels could have developed.

    The sour taste could also be a characteristic of the honey you used. Or it may be a flavor from the yeast or the nutrients. My (limited) experience with D47 is that it needs to age a little longer than yours has aged to start tasting better. Age can make a big difference with any mead, some of mine have taken 2+ years to get to where I like the flavor.
    “Every loaf of bread is a tragic story of grains that could’ve become beer, but didn’t.” ~ Walter Thornburgh

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  5. #5
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    Fermentation picked up a bit during the first week in secondary, then slowed to practically nothing (just a periodic bubble from the airlock). After that, the yeast started to drop out and the mead began to clear. I may have racked out of primary too soon since at the time my hydrometer said the must had 5% potential abv left (1.020).

  6. #6

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    When I read in your post "there was nothing I could do at the time" made me offer up the ice bath thing because you said there was nothing I could do at the time. I made a batch early on in my experience that I could never think it would become drinkable and over time it turned out amazing.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  7. #7
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    I meant there was nothing I could do at the time besides keeping it in an ice bath. I'd swap out the ice packs twice a day and it seems to have helped. A brew fridge would be nice but I just don't have the space and money.

    The fact this past October was freakishly warm complicated my ability to keep this batch cool, so I did the best I could with what I had. I'm going to wait until daily high temps are well under 70 before starting my next batch.

  8. #8

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    I hear ya. I live in Denver. So I make most of my stuff during the colder months for sure.. It started getting colder about 2 weeks ago. I have made 20 gallons since then and will make another 7 in the next few days. My woman doesn't come over to my place too much during the winter. I don't get it. What's wrong with wearing coats inside in the winter LOL
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  9. #9
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    I just took a sample of the mead I was going to backsweeten. I was going to transfer some to another jug to make some headroom so I could add some honey to sweeten this up but I liked it so much I drank what I was going to transfer! This stuff clarified and became drinkable this week, much sooner than I thought it would. It is still dry and the mouthfeel is a bit thin but it isn't bad at all. Additional aging would make it even better. It still has some tartness but I've figured out what that is--I had some ordinary wildflower honey similar to what I put in this batch for breakfast this morning with my oatmeal and the aftertaste from that was just like my mead. (you know how honey tastes a few minutes after you've eaten some and the sweetness is gone?) It's pretty strong too... i don't have an exact ABV but I'm buzzing a little bit after only half a glass.

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