View Full Version : Can it be saved?

11-05-2007, 11:16 AM
I've got a semi-sweet that's been in secondary for a few months. It was tucked away in a back corner and I must have neglected it, because when I was moving things around this weekend, I noticed that the level in the airlock had gone too low. When I pulled it out to top it off, I noticed a white line around the carboy at the mead level, and could see something white filtering down as I disturbed it. I can only think this is some sort of infection. My plan is to try to rack out the middle, and if it doesn't taste vile, sulfite it thoroughly. Am I pretty much hosed, or is there a chance this is salvageable?

11-05-2007, 12:06 PM
Dear Faring,


This is pretty much a "taste it and see" sort of judgement that none of us can really make. Unless you want to send out a bottle to one of us to taste and offer up an opinion.

I'd carefully clean up the neck/opening of the carboy and then taste it. If it's not tasting like brewed gym socks, I'd rack it out into a clean carboy.

If it's not vile, then you have options. I would prolly sulfite it but not go over board, just the recommended amount. Then you could leave it plain or you could infuse it with some fruit/spice/nut/herb/vegetable flavors if it's not perfectly yummy.

Depending on the ABV, you could add more honey and a stronger yeast and try to overwhelm anything that might be growing.

It's pretty much going to be a judgement call on your part. If you haven't got a lot of experience with what mead should taste like, is there a local home brew store where you could ask for some help?

Let us know how the tasting goes!


11-05-2007, 01:24 PM
A sniff should give you a good starting idea...followed by a taste....

Sometimes yeast does somewhat funny stuff when it clears. It will coat the glass (and then start falling off when you move the carboy), and I've seen some stratification (vertical and horizonal) of it as well. The white line could be tiny air bubbles that rise up the side. I would think that an infection would be more widespread.

I haven't done that many batches, but those are a few of my meager observations.


11-05-2007, 07:07 PM
Sounds very much like the start of “Bloom”, an aerobic bacterium (or is it a mold) that if left uncheck will form white starburst growths on the surface of your mead. The flavor impact is low during the starting phase. If left to its own devices it will promote a stale musty flavor. There are two options; one is to sulfite it well then age out the sulfites so as not to get any impact to flavor. The other option is to bottle ASAP and cut off its O2 supply and keep it from affecting the flavor. If the flavor is unaffected now I would suggest the later as that is what I have done. I have had it happen a few times over the years and the worst thing to come of it was to have a slight white ring around the neck of the bottle and a lack of bulk aging.

Sorry Scadsobees I really do not think this is a yeast issue.

Matt Maples

11-05-2007, 07:47 PM
This just sounds like standard yeast film (yeast that's floating on the surface and was too lazy to take the big dive when it died)

I'd recommend drawing off a sample and giving it a whiff and a taste. I don't think there's a problem here. I see this on some of my meads from time to time.

Keep us posted.


11-07-2007, 08:11 PM
Thanks for the responses people! I racked it out onto some sulfite tonight, and while I certainly didn't like the look of the top half inch or so, it smelled fine. Didn't notice any off flavors, not that I have a terribly experienced palate, but at least I wasn't making odd faces after drinking it :D . Still tasted a bit young of course, but I've paid for worse mead.

So, I would like to get it into bottles as soon as possible, just in case, but it's not terribly clear yet. I'd like to hit it with some bentonite. Do I need to give the sulfite time to work/dissipate before adding the bentonite, or can they be in at the same time?

11-08-2007, 01:10 AM
You can add the bentonite right away. The sulfites released from the K-META do their thing essentially in the first hour or two after addition. The free sulfite concentration in the must will build to an equilibrium level, which partly depends on the pH of the must and partly on how fast the source of sulfite (K-META) goes into solution, but then after that equilibrium has been reached, as soon as the K_META source is depleted, free sulfite will begin to drop off in concentration. Bentonite will have little effect on either that equilibrium level or on the rate at which the free sulfites are dissipated. It may pull down some compounds that would tend to bind the sulfite, and so might act to keep the equilib level at a higher net concentration than if it were not present, but I doubt that the effect would be enough to make any difference in the ability of sulfite to kill off any microbes present in the must.

11-08-2007, 03:44 AM
OK, call it the Oskaar Mantra:

Exact recipe and process please. Include the date of origin, original gravity, treatments, when racked and current gravity, pH and must temperature.



11-08-2007, 09:07 AM
10 lbs clover honey
4 lbs wildflower honey
2 tsp nutrient
1 tsp energizer
water to 5 gal
10g D-47

Started on 6/5, OG was 1.102. Racked to secondary on 8/28, huh odd, for some reason I never took (or maybe recorded) a FG at that point. Racked onto 4 tabs k-meta lastnight, then added 1.5 tsp bentonite in 1C water. Temp has been 65-68 constant. No idea on pH. Will have to grab a FG after the bentonite settles a bit.

11-08-2007, 05:45 PM
Going forward you might consider letting it stay in bulk storage for about a year. I find that most of my meads will drop clear naturally by then. If not, then I can always filter or fine at that point. I'm sure at this point that all you had on the surface was yeast film. Your mead will get better and better with time, just like wine!