View Full Version : Smelly mead,

07-24-2011, 12:08 AM

I put together a strawberry rhubarb mead from this recipe that I found on another message board:
4 cup Strawberries
4 cups Rhubarb
3 lbs honey
1 gallon water
2 packets of mead yeast
Chop and stuff strawberries and rhubarb into 1 gallon jug
Boil honey and half water skimming off foam
Pour honey into jug and wait till cools to yeast temp
Add yeast and top off with water

Well, first off I learned two packets of yeast was way to much as I was fighting with it for a while to not fizz everywhere out of the airlock and such. Finally resorted to a balloon with a couple holes in it. The balloon seems to be doing a good job keeping the foam from escaping.

So, anyways, I started this on Monday, it still fuzzing like crazy, and had to pour some off on Tuesday when the balloon burst over night from to much liquid and pressure in it. After pouring some off there is bubbles in the fruit that's floating at the top, the liquid level in kinda low but the fruit is up in the neck of my gallon jug, and this morning we have noticed an odd scent coming from it. I would place it as a yeasty old fruit smell.

Would this batch perhaps be best suited for the drain?
Is there someway to save it?
Or is this even what I should expect, smell wise, when doing a fruity type mead?

My only experience with mead so far is the JAO I just bottled the other say.

07-24-2011, 01:30 AM
Don't dump it !

First off, I'd suggest that you get hold of a 2 gallon bucket (food grade, with lid and even possibly hole/grommet to take an airlock) and transfer it to that.

The physical amount of fruit is likely to be a big PITA in a gallon jug. The yeast thing? probably too much but that's not the issue. You'd probably have the same issue with 1 pack.

It's more that the must is well balanced enough that its either the type of yeast or the honey, is one that foams a lot and the fruit pulp has nowhere to go except up/out.

A 1 gallon batch in a 2 gallon bucket has expansion room. Plus if the fruit is added to a gallon of liquid then there's still a gallon of liquid and space enough.

If the batch is then stirred once or twice daily, that's usually enough to prevent gas build up and excess foaming and eruptions.

Only then would I think of racking the liquid off the fruit once its not foaming so much. Though its usually better to have a hydrometer so you know the start gravity and where its got to, and the right time to rack it across.

The yeasty old fruit smell isn't a surprise either, you do get some quite funky smells with fruit based meads, it's usually only a problem during ferment if it's H2S/hydrogen sulphide/rotten eggs - that generally means it's lacking nutrients.

If your only mead experience is JAO, then I'd suggest that you read the "New Bee" guide (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=108&Itemid=14), as it won't answer all your questions, but does contain invaluable advice.

If you've got the readings, they you can rack the liquid off to the carboy/jug when it's 1/3rd down (worked out by taking the start gravity number, then presuming finished as 1.000 i.e. same as water, dividing by 3), then when it hits the 1/3rd number, rack it over to the carboy/jug and airlock that off to finish. Any left over liquid - there's likely to be some - is strained out of the fruit pulp and the liquid is put in a bottle in the fridge, and saved for topping up later on, put a balloon/airlock/something on the bottle as there's likely to be gas escaping while it's cooling down.

Hopefully that lot makes sense



p.s. if you took readings at the start, you can even just cover the bucket with a piece of muslin/cheese cloth while it's doing the first, most vigorous part of the ferment.

07-24-2011, 11:12 AM
What kind of "mead yeast" did you use?

What temperature is this fermenting at?

Any way of checking the pH?

Did you aerate this after throwing it together?

My initial thought/reaction is that you probably should dose with some nutrients. As fatbloke says, it's important to be able to tell where the mead is in the fermentation process, and taking a gravity reading with a hydrometer is probably the easiest way to do so. If the mead is still above the 2/3 sugar break, you could still add some nutrients like Fermaid K or Fermaid O (if you can manage to get some).

Off smells are typically from stressed yeast, so I'd be looking to treat them better in the future.

And as for dumping this batch...don't do it! Unless you have the experience to know something really isn't going to become better with age, then you should never dump a "problem batch". Age does wonderful things to mead.

07-24-2011, 04:45 PM
Never dump before a year of aging is my rule, and even then, think to yourself, does it really take up that much space? At the very least you will learn good lessons from it over the coming years, and more likely than not it will actually turn into something good.:)

Chevette Girl
07-24-2011, 07:48 PM
I would place it as a yeasty old fruit smell.

Or is this even what I should expect, smell wise, when doing a fruity type mead?

If you're still new at fermenting, I can see how the normal fermentation smells might make you go "UGH! It's RUINED!", but relax, it's probably not, yeasty old fruit is probably about what it should smell like. As already said, you don't have a problem unless it smells like sulphur, and even if it does, that can be fixed too, you've come to the right place!

And you can see for yourself why I agree with fatbloke about using a bucket for fruit ferements other than JAO, the fruit takes up a LOT of room and things can get really messy really fast :) Plus, if you have a bucket, you can put fruit for later batches into a bag so you don't get bits stuck in your racking equipment! :)

07-24-2011, 07:58 PM
I'm embarrassed to say that my note's were left on the counter next to the bottle and became quite saturated with leak overs. I felt it best to leave it out over night to make sure it was OK before putting it to the basement for fermentation. And that also being trash night my packet with the yeast info went off to the dump... So lots of lessons learned with this batch...

It's been between 95 and 105 F all week, so that's pretty much the temp it's been at since I can't put it to the basement for fear of it making a mess. I am disabled so up and down the stairs everyday is not something within my means. I've been doing my best to keep it cooler places, but...

I aerated it the JAO way of shaking it up and again today when I poured it over into another jug after dropping my mixing rod, that is a scosh to short it seems, into the jug.

How would I go about checking the ph level? Do I do it like you do for a pool? Not using pool stuff, but is it the same principal?

I'm planning to pick up a hydrometer on Tuesday when my brewing shop opens. Also going to pick up a couple yeasts and some nutrients as well. The mention of the stressed yeast may very well be something that happened. Packing two yeasts into one gallon, not enough room for everyone and such.

I'm glad I don't have to dump it or anything, I was just worried that the off smell might have meant something bad and I don't want to poison anyone who drinks this stuff. I've already converted a bunch of people who turned their nose at first, now they are asking when I am making more. :)

Chevette Girl
07-24-2011, 09:14 PM
Yes, checking the pH can be done with strips, my brew shop doesn't always have them in stock and the beer ones won't help much either. You can also get a pH meter. Be careful about getting sold a titration kit for wines, apparently they won't work properly when honey's involved. I've been making wines and meads for going on eight years now and still don't check pH, it usually doesn't matter. Except when it does :)

Plastic-bound notebook, kept in another room :)

If you're worried about the temp, put the carboy in a bucket or tray and put a wet t-shirt over it...

07-26-2012, 04:29 PM
Mead not good... Very not good. We are turning the rest of the first bottle into vinagar. The other bottle is going to sit in the basement for longer...

07-26-2012, 08:20 PM
Mead not good... Very not good. We are turning the rest of the first bottle into vinagar. The other bottle is going to sit in the basement for longer...

Thanks for that update. Some questions/comments for you:

1) I noticed you said fermentation happened at about 100 degrees. That is hot. I'm willing to bet that ongoing fermentation at that temperature would definitely do some funky things to the smell and flavors.

2) What was secondary like? Did you have it in a topped-off carboy to minimize air contact? How long did you leave it before bottling?

3) How did you bottle it? Were you careful to minimize oxygen/air contact in the process? Did you use any Campden/potassium metabisulfite in it? (I'm thinking of hitting mine with sorbate and meta before bottling)

07-26-2012, 08:36 PM
1) Quite possibly.
2) Secondary was the bottles it was aged in, in other words, no secondary, just bottled.
3) I bottled with an auto-syphon and no I did not hit it with anything.

If I had to do it all over again, which wifey is strongly sugesting, I think I would make a strawberry mead. Then put it over to some mushy rhubarb and straberries for secondary... Or something... I dunno, not really thinking about it untill I try the other bottle next year and go from there.

07-30-2012, 01:43 AM
It may not have been the yeast that caused it to fight. I brewed a strawberry mead that had tons of kreusen (the foam- technically the term is used in reference to beers, but I have heard of it used in reference to meads before) and my blog post about it was titled "A-splodey" so you had better luck than I did. From what I have heard, most fresh berry meads have a kreusen issue. It drove me -Expletive Deleted- mad. I only got 3 bottles from a gallon (I normally get 4 and a small bit left over for tasting) and feathery lees from the strawberries made it into the bottles. Anyway, I also meant to say that most meads (at least mine, and no one else seems to brew like me) smell vomit-inducing while brewing. Sorry, drank mead then typed, need to reverse that.