View Full Version : ACK! Vomit! Help!

Chevette Girl
08-24-2010, 09:38 AM
My crabapple mel smells OK but I tasted it last night and there was a definite note of vomit (or bile) to it. Anyone got anything? I did read up on it but the threads I found were more for smell than taste and ultimately no solutions or partucular suggestions given... I think the only source of contamination might have been my husband's hand contacting the fruit bag when he was helping me pour the apples into it, but it was the overflow fermenter that exhibited it first, not the main bucket with the fruit bag. There's starting to be a bit of an off smell now, moreso in the overflow but now a little bit in the main bucket with the fruit bag but I did cross-contaminate them last night...

Oh, the overflow bucket is brand new, I've never used it before but I did wash it with the pink cleanser and sanitize it with sulphites...

http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16479 is the brewlog...

Should I be sulphiting the ever-lovin' heck out of this ASAP and re-pitching? I spent at least six hours on those damn apples and don't want to lose the time investment if I can help it...

08-24-2010, 12:48 PM
That can definitely be from an infection. Never tasted anything with that type of flavor except for a beer off flavor sensory testing.

Could be from :

Cheesy, Rancid, baby vomit, putrid : Formed by anaerobic spore-forming bacteria : Clostridium

08-24-2010, 01:49 PM
Hmm, I wonder which strain of Clostridium is supposed to be the culprit. Sounds like these bugs could be tetanus, botulism, or diarrhea. Not so good. On the other hand, I can't figure out where you'd get these things to put into your mead. The low pH and alcohol should kill them.

Does the husband work in a hospital?

08-24-2010, 08:49 PM
Clostridium is a common enough environmental genus with several species present in soil but it should not be able to grow in a well aerated primary fermentation. Lots of other things could though. If its infected it will probably get worse, not better. You could watch it for a few days and see how it changes but I'd advise against tasting it until it clearly goes one way or the other.

Chevette Girl
08-25-2010, 02:54 AM
Medsen saw my post on the brewlog and suggested that I feed the RC212 yeast more in the hopes that it was just complaining about being hungry so I gave each bucket 1/4 tsp of energizer this morning and again this evening, tasted both and I think it's going away... it was a smelling a little sulphury this morning too and that's gone away.

No intestinal upsets from what I tasted yesterday so if it's anything harmful, I didn't get enough into me, it'll have to try harder... the SG has dropped another .030 in 24 hours so it's steadily doing its thing...

The bucket receiving better aeration is actually the one where I first noticed this...

No, my husband is only in contact with our standard household germs, nothing more exciting than whatever's living on his keyboard, ick... (mental note, Lysol-wipe all keyboards again)

Thanks for the info, guys. I'm hoping it was just ticked off yeast, I don't remember RC212 being THAT much of a nutrient hog when I used it before but then again, I probably didn't aerate enough last time to notice if it went through a barfy-smelling stage...

08-25-2010, 09:50 AM
It appears that you were the victim of a double whammy - RC212 really does throw off lots of reduced sulphur compounds when not fed enough nitrogen, and apple musts can smell pretty funky at different stages through primary fermentation even when the yeast are fully satisfied. In my experience, apple stuff may smell like cat puke early on, but as long as there are no foul smells going into secondary, your batch should turn out fine.

Sorry I didn't get a chance to chime in earlier.

Chevette Girl
08-25-2010, 10:08 AM
Thanks, I'm just feeding the crap outta this must and hoping for the best :) Maybe it's just that I've never paid so much attention to an apple must... :p

08-28-2010, 06:47 PM
Looks to me like your recipe formulation is the culprit.

You added acid and tannin (in the form of tea) into your must, along with cooked juice and a lot of energizer and nutrient so you have a lot of different competing flavors there in a relatively small batch.

You also mentioned that you let your cooked juice sit overnight. Did you sulfite it to keep any beasties from contaminating the juice as it cooled? Also, I see that you tossed the tea bags into your must, not something I would do as the bags (and tea for that matter) could potentially host contaminants.

I agree with Fatbloke about cooking your apples as well, you lose a lot of flavor that way, and it's not necessary.

I think you should keep the must moving now that you're past the early fermentation and out of aerobic fermentation, by swirling gently daily. The "barfy" aroma doesn't really jump out at me with the acid blend, and sharpness of the acid from the crab-apples.

It should fade once primary has completed and you've racked to secondary. Follow Medsen's advise and get some yeast hulls into the mix, go with about .5 gram/gallon and that should do the trick.



Chevette Girl
08-29-2010, 12:12 AM
Thanks for the advice, Oskaar.

I didn't sulphite the hot stuff because I'd read you're supposed to cool must before adding sulphites, plus, the stock pots I heated the appels in were covered so there shouldn't have been much of any kind of contaminant getting in there and it was hot enough to kill anything.

But you're right, I either should have boiled or sulphited the tea bags.

I've made this recipe four times now, always used nutrient and acid (used less acid this time, actually) and tea, never used sulphites, and varied the fruit treatment : sometimes cooked, sometimes raw, sometimes frozen; and this is the first time it has tasted barfy, it's also the first time I used this yeast and the energizer with this recipe...

I did nuke up some bread yeast (two tablespoons in a half a cup of water divided between the two fermenters) and feed it today, it doesn't taste bad. I will continue poking the fruit bag under once a day (swirling does nothing, too much bag!) and swirling the overflow until I recombine them and remove the fruit bag.

Hopefully next year it won't take me two days to get through all the crabapples so I won't have to worry about them spoiling in the meantime... but when they're the size of cherries it take a LONG time to prep 22 lbs of the little suckers.