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hiram_abiff
01-20-2011, 02:35 PM
hi,
I have searched around on the web for a while and couldn't find a definative answer. my mead was doing fine in primary fermentation, but once the yeast have reached alcohol tolerance (15.8%) the mead smells like a meth lab. fermentation lasted about 6 days. i don't know if a high ph caused this. when i checked ph halfway through it dropped below 3.2, so i added calcium bicarbonate to raise it above 4.4 thinking it would drop again... it didn't drop again. another thing i could think of is that i used a full packet of lalvin d-47 in one gallon batch. i don't think this is it, but i figured i would mention it. and i used a bucket fermenter, which i just set the lid on. i haven't had a problem doing this with wine, but it sounds bad and could be a problem. the o.g of the must was 1.120, i don't know if this would cause it either. I am not experience at all with mead, but i am pretty sure it is not supposed to smell like this at any phase of the fermentation. the closest similar smell that i could find during web search is burnt rubber, but it smells a little different than that. if i open the lid of the bucket, it burns and stinks so bad i feel like i might die from the gasses inside. If someone can suggest the problem, a solution, or whether i should just dump it; i would be eternally greatful.

Chevette Girl
01-20-2011, 02:48 PM
There are a number of things that can cause funny odours at different times during fermentation, and sometimes they will pass and sometimes they won't. I have had two batches that smell like diesel fuel and one that smells like a rubber stopper, but the two batches that smelled and tasted alarmingly like vomit during fermentation at around a week's time are fine now.

You're correct in suspecting that the full packet of yeast shouldn't have affected anything, it shouldn't. If you have a wine theif (or sanitized turkey baster) you could always pull out a sample and let it sit in a glass and air out for a bit and see if that helps. My diesel-scented wine is actually drinkable (really tasty, actually) after a major effort to agitate the smell out of it. I haven't tried it with my rubber stopper mead yet but I'm going to...

I think the best place to start would be if you could either link to a brewlog or post your complete recipe and procedures, including timeframes and your final SG... then the experts will better be able to tell you what might have happened.

Dan McFeeley
01-20-2011, 03:16 PM
As CG pointed out, there are a lot of reason why you could be having trouble with off odors. It would be more helpful if you could post the recipe you used giving list of ingredients and amounts, procedures and steps taken. That way our mead gurus can take a closer look and target the problem areas better.

--

Medsen Fey
01-20-2011, 03:47 PM
I wouldn't dump it just yet.

16% in 6 days sounds like your fermentation temp is above 70F (what have you been maintaining for these batches)?

High pH in addition to high temp can cause more fusel alcohols which can stink.

Burnt rubber is pretty classic for sulfur odor. Try a copper penny test. Take 1/2 glass of wine and add a shiny copper penny (pre 1982) or a piece of shiny copper wire and swirl the glass around. If the aroma improves, you have a sulfur problem.

As Dan suggests, please give us the rest of the details, including nutrients used.

hiram_abiff
01-20-2011, 04:25 PM
MUGWORT KAVA MEAD

2/3 cup dried mugwort herb
1/3 cup dried kava kava herb
enough honey to bring S.G. to 1.120
1/8 tsp sodium metabisulfite
1/2 tsp yeast energizer
1 tsp yeast nutrient
1 packet lalvin d-47

i made tea out of the herbs. bumped water volume up to gallon. added warm honey till s.g. was 1.120. added everything but yeast. waited 24 hr. rehydrated yeast and pitched. the yeast was pitched on thursday the 13th. I think i checked ph via paper on sunday and it was below 3.2. added 1 tsp of calcium bicarbonate which brought ph up above 4.4. on wednesday i lifted the lid to check how things were going and the fumes about took me to my knees. checked s.g and it was 1.012. I am going to dig around for the proper penny for the test. should i add acid to lower the ph.

hiram_abiff
01-20-2011, 04:29 PM
i forgot to say that the temperature of the house is never above 72. i shut the heater vent in the room where i am fermenting, but i don't think it is much lower than that. i don't think my wife would appreciate me turning down the heat for a couple weeks to ferment. i know this is on the high end, but i read that the yeast will tolerate up to 80. any simple suggestions on how to lower temp for next time.

Medsen Fey
01-20-2011, 04:52 PM
Search the terms "swamp cooler" or "evaporative cooling" and some temperature control methods will come up.

I wouldn't add acid until you get the odor corrected, and then you can add it to taste.

You didn't give much nutrient and while D47 doesn't usually get stinky when undernourished, it certainly can, especially when the temp is higher than ideal. The manufacturer now recommends 68F as the upper limit for the temp on D47.

I'm not sure if mugwort or kava produce such odors, but you might make a tea with them and see if they get stinky by themselves.

Let us know what the copper test does.

hiram_abiff
01-20-2011, 05:06 PM
i have half a glass of the mead and i put a 1972 penny and i put a little piece of copper in there. i have been swirling it around off and on for 15 min, and it still smells like i am going to get high from sniffing it. sorry about babysitting this thread, and i think i should quit posting untill somebody shows up.

hiram_abiff
01-20-2011, 05:12 PM
i actually like mugwort kava tea, that's where i got the idea to make it into a mead. thank you for the cooling ideas, i will look into them. next time i will add more nutrient and keep it cooler. the odor doesn't seem to be getting better with copper, does this mean that it's not fusel alcohol?

triarchy
01-20-2011, 05:56 PM
I dont drink kava all the time, but when I do...it tastes like butt :p

I actually do drink kava quite a bit and the taste is very bitter. The aroma reminds me of horseradish, its not a subtle aroma at all. Maybe this is contributing to the issue?

mccann51
01-20-2011, 06:56 PM
i actually like mugwort kava tea, that's where i got the idea to make it into a mead. thank you for the cooling ideas, i will look into them. next time i will add more nutrient and keep it cooler. the odor doesn't seem to be getting better with copper, does this mean that it's not fusel alcohol?

The copper test is for sulfur emissions; fusels are higher order alcohols and should not be affected (by the copper). Can you describe the smell a little more specifically?

hiram_abiff
01-20-2011, 07:22 PM
mccann51: the more i smell it, the more it smells like burnt rubber. it burns my nose. i actually feel like i am huffing something.the copper still isn't doing anything and it is still sitting in the glass of mead.

triarchy: this doesn't smell like kava kava at all. it doesn't really smell like anything that i put in it. i like the tea, and the must tasted really good. it just changed overnight.

akueck
01-20-2011, 07:51 PM
Fusels are the things that make hangovers especially brutal. I could see them giving you the "I'm on bad drugs" kind of feeling if you were to take a giant whiff. Fusel production is common when you get to higher temperatures and high alcohol content. It will age out, but slowly.

On the other hand, I've never thought fusels smelled like burnt rubber.

If the sulfur was already turned into mercaptans and the like, would copper do anything? I admit my chemistry in this area is weak.

hiram_abiff
01-20-2011, 08:10 PM
I just made my mother in law smell the glass and she said it smells like puked up tequila...not burnt rubber. maybe the fumes just got to me and from all the reading my mind thought burnt rubber. since i did ferment at over 70 degrees and the abv is almost 16% i suppose that it probably is fusels. i guess i will just rack it to carboy and hope it goes away.

Medsen Fey
01-20-2011, 08:59 PM
If the sulfur was already turned into mercaptans and the like, would copper do anything? I admit my chemistry in this area is weak.

Copper will bind both H2S and mercaptans.
If you leave it long enough, the H2S and mercaptans oxidize forming disulfides and those won't bind to copper. They can be removed (or at least decreased) by using an anti-oxidant (like ascorbic acid) to reduce them back into the mercaptan (thiol) state and then they will bind with copper. This process of reducing the disulfides may take a few days to a few weeks so it won't clear the odor instantly.

There may also be heavier sulfur compounds that are not volatile and which will not bind with copper so copper is not a magic bullet and won't cure every stinky batch.

Chevette Girl
01-21-2011, 02:33 PM
Have you dared to taste it? I usually don't taste my musts until I rack them to secondary fermentation, it was just chance that I discovered the crabapple-vomit batch, but by the time I racked to secondary the bile flavour and odour were all gone so for all I know, all my crabapple cyser batches went through a stage like that, I just never noticed it.

I'd be tempted to aerate the absolute heck out of a small sample or leave the stuff you took out to use the copper on open to air a little and see if anything interesting happens... whether it's a smell that might offgas or whether it's a taste that may go away with time.

I have only ever pitched one batch down the drain, and that's because I left the fruit bag in the primary bucket for over a month with no aeration or nutrients and when I did open it, the smell was terrible (I don't remember exactly what the smell was and didn't write down the details) and two drops of it numbed my whole tongue. I don't know what I made, it sure wasn't wine, but my instincts said "danger" so I dumped it. Everything else that's been a bit weird has been given the time to see if it ages out, and some things have really improved after a year or two (or four in one case).

hiram_abiff
01-23-2011, 04:29 AM
I actually decided to dump it. i did taste it and it tasted exactly as it smelled. I started a new batch, just a medium/sweet traditional mead. I am keeping it in water where the temp is just above 60 degrees. I am hoping that this one turns out better. it was stated earlier that my nutrient level was low so i added 2 tsp of DAP to my one gallon of must. I am hoping that this isn't too much. I just pitched the yeast a few hours ago and i assume it is going to take longer to get going since the temp is lower. my fingers are crossed anyway. i just know that i am going to babysit the hell out of my fermentation temp this time. thank you all for the insight and input. i appreciate the help.

AToE
01-23-2011, 04:16 PM
For future batches that go south I'd recommend hanging on to them for a year or so - sometimes they really are just toast, but often they completely turn around after even just a few months of aging. Even if they stay ruined, at least you get the chance to learn more from them, and if they're small batches they don't hog too much room or equipment!

Medsen Fey
01-23-2011, 04:41 PM
I actually decided to dump it. i did taste it and it tasted exactly as it smelled.

I'm sorry to hear that.
You really can salvage a lot of batches that get stinky so I'd always encourage patience and perseverance when dealing with a difficult batch. Managing to recover a batch when things go wrong will teach you a lot more than making one and having it go right.

Chevette Girl
01-23-2011, 05:41 PM
For future batches that go south I'd recommend hanging on to them for a year or so - sometimes they really are just toast, but often they completely turn around after even just a few months of aging. Even if they stay ruined, at least you get the chance to learn more from them, and if they're small batches they don't hog too much room or equipment!

Yeah, and I don't feel the least bit bad about storing a "wait and see" batch in a plastic water bottle or something if I want my glassware back...

hiram_abiff
01-24-2011, 01:18 AM
i should have thought about a plastic jug. my thinking was that it fermented fast, which created fusels, which i have read don't go away. I only have two one gallon jugs with airlock, and one 6 gallon carboy. i really didn't want to take up the space for something that most likely will never get better. but i definately should have but it in a milk jug or something. i will remember that.

Medsen Fey
01-24-2011, 10:43 AM
i should have thought about a plastic jug. my thinking was that it fermented fast, which created fusels, which i have read don't go away...... but i definately should have but it in a milk jug or something. i will remember that.

Fusels fade with time and sulfur odors may be treated. The only thing that you can be sure won't be fixed are vinegar odors and some spoilage organisms like Brett.

A milk jug doesn't work well for storage. PET plastic soda bottles are a better choice.

Chevette Girl
01-24-2011, 04:09 PM
What kind of odour does a Brett infection give? I've heard barnyard and sour and band-aid...

And yeah, use pop bottles or go for a juice or water jug over a milk jug, it's hard to get all the milk smell out of the plastic.

Medsen Fey
01-24-2011, 04:31 PM
What kind of odour does a Brett infection give? I've heard barnyard and sour and band-aid...

That sums it up nicely. :)

Chevette Girl
01-24-2011, 07:46 PM
But barnyard and band-aid have nothing in common (to my nose, anyway), or are they separate products depending on what it was the Brettanomyces was eating?

Medsen Fey
01-25-2011, 11:05 AM
But barnyard and band-aid have nothing in common (to my nose, anyway),

But they can both come from 4-ethyl-phenol (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4-ethylphenol), one of the major products of brett depending on whose nose is sniffing, and the level of the compound. Brett produces a number of other things including 4-ethyl-guiacol, isovaleric acid and more which can create everything from aromas of clove to "stinky feet."

hiram_abiff
01-26-2011, 08:22 PM
ok, now i am starting to think it is the honey. my new batch has stayed at around 65 degrees the whole time. the og was 1.130 and it is presently at 1.090, so about halfway through. i just tested the sg and ph and i decided to taste the sample i used and it already seems to have the same taste. i am just curious whether it is possible that the honey would cause such a terrible taste. i don't know what kind of honey it is, only that it is local, unprocessed, granular, and very light. it takes close to half of a gallon to reach an og of 1.120-1.130. maybe i should have started a new thread, but i think that it is still part of the original problem. thanks for patience and time. i know i won't dump this one so early.

Medsen Fey
01-27-2011, 01:45 PM
Some honey can have some odd flavors (Eucalyptus, Basswood, and others) so not every honey makes a good traditional mead, though I still think there is a recipe for almost every honey that can make a good one.

If you've already started another batch, follow through on it and then give it a year or two to age to see what it is like.

In the meantime, you might want to do something to build confidence with a mild, light honey that will work well (Some Orange Blossom or Clover or Tupelo or something along those lines depending on where you are located). Perhaps even using it in a recipe like JAO would be a good place to start.

hiram_abiff
01-27-2011, 02:22 PM
yeah, I was thinking about picking up some clover honey and trying a traditional mead with that. I already have a batch of jao started and about a month along. the fruit looks.... questionable. the raisins and oranges have some fuzz on them that i am not sure is supposed to be there. I hope it turns out, though. I am getting a little discouraged. maybe a different honey will help.

Chevette Girl
01-27-2011, 10:06 PM
If it's sort of scummy-looking ick on the fruit you're probably fine, although if it looks and smells like mould, you might want to scoop it out... is it fruit that's floating at the surface or is it the stuff under the water level?

hiram_abiff
01-28-2011, 01:00 AM
it is all below liquid. maybe a square centimeter exposed at the top. the fuzz is white. i tried to smell it but could only smell the rubber stopper. and yes... i did take the stopper off first;D