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Thread: First mead, unpleasant sour smell

  1. Default First mead, unpleasant sour smell

    Per instructions for the forum, my ingredients are as follows

    2lb orange blossom honey
    Water to one gallon mark
    Lalvin 71b yeast
    Maybe 2c sugar
    1tsp yeast nutrient

    OG was 1.112

    That was 3 weeks ago. I've since racked twice, added yeast nutrient twice, and just today pitched a little ec-1118 because SG won't drop below 1.012. Also been skimming off a white film that wants to persist, despite my sanitation methods.

    Today I noticed a rotten egg smell. I'm a winemaker, so I got this. Introduced oxygen to must, added cooper scrubby. Yeast are stressed, I get it.

    Now I'm left with this unpleasant sour smell. Like no way does that smell drinkable. Then again I've never had mead before so maybe that's normal?

    Is there a difinitive way to tell if the mead is ruined/contaminated? Wondering if I should just stabilize and move on to clearing, which should kill off any intrusive yeast or bacteria. Hate to throw it out, but it is only a gallon.

    Thoughts are appreciated. Thanks guys.

  2. #2

    Default

    So it's stinks because you haven't feed it enough. I would boil a little bit of water and add some bread yeast in the boiling water to kill it. Let it cool, then add it to the vessel. Stir the hell out of it to degass the bad odor. You shouldn't add copper to an active ferment.

    I wouldn't have added sugar. I would have chosen honey instead. It will add flavor and a little mouth feel. Sugar does neither. That yeast should have taken that dry so somehow the yeast are not in good shape.

    How did you rehydrate and attemperate your yeast slurry?
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  3. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatchy View Post
    So it's stinks because you haven't feed it enough. I would boil a little bit of water and add some bread yeast in the boiling water to kill it. Let it cool, then add it to the vessel. Stir the hell out of it to degass the bad odor. You shouldn't add copper to an active ferment.

    I wouldn't have added sugar. I would have chosen honey instead. It will add flavor and a little mouth feel. Sugar does neither. That yeast should have taken that dry so somehow the yeast are not in good shape.

    How did you rehydrate and attemperate your yeast slurry?

    Hi Squatchy.

    In winemaking we add copper to an active ferment at times and this drives off the sulfur odor from stressed yeast. It worked for my mead as well, the sulfur odor was gone, leaving behind only the unpleasant sour odor.

    I, too, thought the mead would ferment dry by now, but it did not. The infection had me worried so I ended fermentation at 1.012. That's down from 1.112 OG, so roughly 13%ABV.

    At this point I'm letting it sit and degas, hoping the infection (Bretts, I think) didn't ruin the mead. That's probably what stressed the yeast to begin with, the wild one competing. I'm afraid the batch might be ruined. If the taste is unpleasant then I'll dump it, unless there's a way to save it.

    I'll take your advice in the future and use honey to sweeten instead of sugar up front, it sounds like it would taste better.

    Question for you, if you don't mind. What's the science behind killing bread yeast in boiling water and adding that to the vessel?

    Thanks,
    -Zin

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Hi Zintrigue, This may not be something that everyone on this forum agrees but gentle fermentations do not necessarily blow off any hydrogen sulfide smells and allow the gas to linger. If you increase the temperature by a few degrees the fementation should become more aggressive and that aggression may help remove the hydrogen sulfide. This assumes, of course, that the cause of the production of this gas has been removed and as Squatchy suggests that means making sure that the yeast have enough nutrient. But that said, I am not certain that you want to add nutrient when the SG is as low as it is - Others with far more knowledge about feeding yeast may want to chime in...

  5. #5

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    B Smith is correct. Somehow I didn't realise your SG was where it's at.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  6. Default

    Thanks for the replies. I replied yesterday, but for some reason my post is gone.

    I ended fermentation a few days ago and I've let the mead sit in a new, sanitized vessel. A white ring is starting to form around the edges, and the mead smells quite awful. I think I'll have to dump it and try again after giving everything a thorough soak in the oxyclean hottub and a good dip in some StarSan.

    While my copper scrubby and vigorous stirring had removed the sulfur smell, the sour smell that remained was not to my liking. I'm fairly certain the mead contracted Bretts, which stressed my pampered wine yeast and soured my mead.

    Bernard - on the contrary, if I increase temps any more then the yeast will be quite angry with me. My house is at a steady 80F most of the year.

    Squatchy - I'll take your advice about adding more honey instead of sugar to heart. However, I am curious about one thing. What is the science behind boiling bread yeast until they die and then adding them to the vessel?

    Thanks, Zin

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    I agree with below but to make sweetening easier:
    Sugar adds sweetness or alcohol (if fermented) but NO FLAVOR!
    Adding more honey accomplishes sweetness/alcohol and flavor.

  8. #8

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    The dead yeast will feed the active yeast and also act as a sponge and will absorb some of the off flavors and smells.
    One thing to be aware of is that often times those scrubbies are copper coated. And therefore have a different core. I would not use a "coated" one.

    Once long ago on one of my first batches I had a stinky batch. I cleaned a 6-8" piece of copper plumbing supply line with TSP and then dangled it in my carboy off a fishing monofilament over nite. It was fine the next day. I don't remember why, but I was told from a very experienced source not to do this during an active ferment.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Birmingham, AL
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    Instead of using copper scrubbers I use bare copper ground wire (solid Cu all the way through) to leach out H2S with. For carboys I make pendulums I dangle in there with fishing line, and if I ever have a H2S problem with a bucket-sized batch I suppose I could make a spiral/coil thing (like a wort chiller) that sits in the bottom.

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