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Thread: Tasting during fermentation

  1. #1

    Default Tasting during fermentation

    Hello, everybody. I figured my lurking days were over so here's my question: How critical should I be when tasting my mead while it is fermenting? I understand that the flavor is supposed to change considerably during the process but at any point is it ok to be completely unpalatable? To me it seems like the obvious answer should be a big "no", but I thought that besides the summer's heat, everything I did was per modern accepted practices. On 7/31 I started a 5 gallon batch of semi-sweet traditional mead, here is the recipe I used:

    15 Lbs of wildflower honey (the honey tasted ok)
    campden tablet treated water
    10g of 71b

    My SG was 1.120. I rehydrated per the goferm instructions and used the TOSNA addition schedule with 6g additions. I pitched at 5:38 and saw strong activity by morning. I have degassed at least twice per day since pitching.

    All was well until about day 6 when I started to taste some walnut I think and heat in the back of my mouth. I haven't sampled yet today but yesterday (day 6) the flavor was almost entirely alcohol heat and not appealing at all. Should this concern me? Any help is very appreciated by a newbee getting his feet wet (not literally, that's gross).
    Last edited by mikulak; 08-09-2018 at 04:01 PM.

  2. #2

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    Alcohol heat will most likely go away eventually, I wouldn't worry about it; also, the taste will be in constant flux during fermentation and some months after, as residual sugars react with ethanol and form ... stuff

    When you say "unpalatable" I think "smells like barf, tastes like dirty socks" or something similar - never had it happen, but I remember reading about it, and that even those were fine a year later.

  3. #3

    Default

    So you have a minute mention the thing about what temperature you're controlling your must at. I'm guessing that you're running at to warm and you making fusel alcohol is which will be very hot in displeasing. Ethanol doesn't taste batted all. Even a high concentration in a big meat it's still very palatable. I taste myself all the time and it always stays good and it just gets even better. Even with modern practices today we can make means that taste good right out of the firm enter. But it's amazing if you wait for 2 or 3 years and taste things there's just a 100 times more complexity of the develops over time.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  4. #4

    Default

    So you haven't mention a thing about what temperature you're controlling your must at. I'm guessing that you're running at to warm and you making fusel alcohol is which will be very hot and displeasing. Ethanol doesn't taste bad all. Even a high concentration in a big mead it's still very palatable. I taste myself all the time and it always stays good and it just gets even better. Even with modern practices today we can make meads that taste good right out of the fermenter. But it's amazing if you wait for 2 or 3 years and taste things there's just a 100 times more complexity that develops over time.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  5. #5

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    thats kinda what i figured you were going to say about the temperature. here are my recorded temperatures:

    8/1/2018 74
    8/2/2018 74
    8/3/2018 74
    8/4/2018 74
    8/5/2018 74
    8/6/2018 75
    8/7/2018 73
    8/8/2018 72

    I have started listening to gotmead live and realized too late that 71b is very incorrect to use during summer here in Tennessee until I get proper temp control. Knowing that it should only get better is important. I have some dv10 on order and will try again.

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by m0n5t3r View Post
    Alcohol heat will most likely go away eventually, I wouldn't worry about it; also, the taste will be in constant flux during fermentation and some months after, as residual sugars react with ethanol and form ... stuff

    When you say "unpalatable" I think "smells like barf, tastes like dirty socks" or something similar - never had it happen, but I remember reading about it, and that even those were fine a year later.
    When I say unpalatable I just mean tastes bad. I don't really have a feel for when things go bad yet and I haven't really developed a palate for detection of problems. I made some really bad mead before I discovered TOSNA and got mead so I guess when things do fall into place I'll know.

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mikulak View Post
    thats kinda what i figured you were going to say about the temperature. here are my recorded temperatures:

    8/1/2018 74
    8/2/2018 74
    8/3/2018 74
    8/4/2018 74
    8/5/2018 74
    8/6/2018 75
    8/7/2018 73
    8/8/2018 72

    I have started listening to gotmead live and realized too late that 71b is very incorrect to use during summer here in Tennessee until I get proper temp control. Knowing that it should only get better is important. I have some dv10 on order and will try again.
    Actually, those temps are good for 71B. That's the yeast I use because I don't have temp control and have to work with room temperature.

  8. #8

    Default

    There as re tons of warm blooded strains you can use in the summer.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  9. #9

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    I personally have stopped tasting during fermentation. I will smell to see if there are any bad odors (and degass the mead if there are). But the taste will change so much that I don't think I'm learning anything by tasting. Also, I'm only making 1 gallon batches so I don't want to waste any until it's good. Why taste bad mead when I can wait and taste great mead?

    In my limited experience, there are two meads that went from really bad to good. One was a cider made with K1V yeast. It smelled horrible and I thought I would have to throw it away but the smell went away and it was fine. The other was a coffee mead. It was really bitter and terrible at the 1-2 month mark. By the time it got to 4-5 months it was pretty good. So I think I've decided to not even really taste it much until after several months. My advice would be to keep learning about good practices, keep doing what you are doing, and be patient.
    Raisins are NOT nutrients for yeast... but french fries ARE!

  10. #10

    Default

    Hey, everybody, thanks for your time and your replies. From what I can take away from what you all say is that I shouldn't pass judgment until the batch has matured some. What about the temperature ranges for 71B? Is mid-70's too high? Also, what type of vessel would you use for primary fermentation of a one gallon batch? I have some 5 gallon food-safe buckets, will they work?

  11. Default

    For one gallon batches, I use a 2 gallon bucket for primary and then dump the whole thing, lees and all, into a glass jug once the risk of overflowing has passed.

  12. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mikulak View Post
    What about the temperature ranges for 71B? Is mid-70's too high? Also, what type of vessel would you use for primary fermentation of a one gallon batch? I have some 5 gallon food-safe buckets, will they work?
    71B can tolerate temps from 59 F to 86 F. Mid 70s are just fine as far as this yeast is concerned. Another thing that can piss yeast off is large temperature swings. If your mead is at mid 70s during the day but falls to high 50s during the night, that big swing is going to cause some stress and may result in off flavors/smells.

    For primary, I like to use food grade buckets the best. It makes aerating, degassing, and feeding so much easier. I use 2 gal. buckets and I make the batches a bit over a gallon so that I can still fill a gallon carboy to the neck after racking losses. I still have a couple batches going in glass carboys right now and they work just fine. But the buckets are my preference as they're just easier to work with. The place I buy my buckets from offers to drill the lids to fit an airlock stopper, and the lids themselves have a rubber grommet to make them semi-airtight and keep the ants and fruit flies out. However, some people go as low tech as fermenting in an earthenware pot with a dish towel draped over the top and it still makes good mead.
    My complete mead log can be found here.

  13. #13

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    So when I started this batch, I referred to the Scott manual for the details about 71b and figured it was ok with my ambient temperature. That is why when I began getting what I thought were off flavors I was confused and decided to ask in the forum.

  14. #14
    Join Date
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    Default

    I have a nice 1.5 gallon big mouth carboy (Northern Brewer) that I'll use for primary on 1 gallon batches. I'll start with maybe 5 quarts so that when I rack to a 1 gallon jug I can fill it without headspace.

    As for tasting during fermenting, I don't bother. It just tastes like yeast to me. Most times I don't actually taste until I'm ready to bottle. The exception being if I'm oaking or adding fruits or spices in secondary I'll keep tabs on the flavor so I don't over do something.

    I do however sniff for sulfur regularly, which is something that can be corrected during the ferment.
    Dave from New Haven County

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