View Full Version : Medicinal and Yeastie Off Flavors

08-11-2005, 06:59 PM
Awile back I bottled a mead that had a distinctive medicinal, grassy taste to it. I've been reading alot about the medicinal taste lately and was curious what caused it. Does anybody know from experiences what causes it?

On another forum Ken Shramm was recently asked this but he didn't know. Patty Vargas, in her book Making Wild Wines & Meads at one point mentiones this and then says that mead needs acid and this is brought on by a lack of acid. I don't care for her mead making methods though, which are quite in contradiction to everything I've read (she adds everything but the kitchen sink to everything), so I question her knowledge.

Does anybody know what brings on this medicinal, grassy taste in a mead? Schramm mentioned that it occurs often in some of his meads when he uses D-47 and then settles out later.

Another off flavor I've had was a strange biscuit-like, yeastie flavor in a blackberry melomel I've recently made. This was in contrast to another plum mel I made with the same ingredients at the same time. This mead is clear and has been racked and aged enough so there is no sediment left. Did the heat get to it? This is strange because both meads were kept in the same place. Maybe some of the blackberries I used were a little too old? I've heard there is something about the seeds in blackberries that could cause problems but I never heard details. Anybody have this problem before?

What causes these off flavors? These seem to occur often but are discussed very little.

08-12-2005, 02:22 PM
Can you describe the medicinal flavors a little more? Are they like plasticy, band-aidy, spicey clovey kind of flavors? Those would be phenols, and most yeasts produce phenols in varying degrees.

Yeasty backflavors can be a lot of things from wild yeast, to brett, to sur-lie aging so it depends on if it is a pleasant or unpleasant flavor.



08-12-2005, 02:39 PM
As for the medicinal taste, I've always described it as "grassy". Like there is grass or flower stems in it. That's all I can say about it.

The yeastie taste may in fact be yeast after all. I went to look in the blackberry carboy today and there was a whole inch of sediment. The plum mead was done. I guess the dark color of the blackberry mel made it harder to see the yeast.

I was inspired to post this after seeing this thread. http://www.gotmead.com/smf/index.php/topic,1541.0.html. Maybe his mead is too dark to see the yeast too.

08-12-2005, 02:42 PM
Do you use bleach as a sanitizer? If you do and your rinsing isn't sufficient you can leave behind chloride ions which will form chlorophenols. Chlorophenols have a very distinctive "medicine" smell (think mouthwash or chloroseptic). I had off-and-on problems with residual chlorine for years. It was never a consistent problem and I would only occasionally lose a batch. I finally switched to One Step and iodine as sanitizers. Since switching I have never had the problem.


08-12-2005, 03:07 PM
Yeah I do actually. Maybe I didn't rinse the bottles good enough that time. Although I wouldn't describe it as tasting like mouthwash.

Very interesting. Thanks for the info!

08-12-2005, 03:21 PM
Another thought that came to mind is DMS. However, this shouldn't be as much of a problem in meads as it is with beers. In beers, there are high levels of DMS that are normally liberated during your wort boil, but they can reappear in solution due to an improperly vented boiling kettle, or a too-slow cool down of the wort. The taste and smell of DMS is very veggie-like. To me, it smells/ tastes like green olives. Mead musts should be low in DMS, however some wild yeasts are very good producers of the compound. So, a contamination of your must with wild yeasts from fresh fruit may be a source...Kind of a long shot, but worth considering.

Randy Mosher's Radical Brewing book has recipes for recreating problem smells in brewing. The idea is that you mix up small shot glasses (or equivalent) of the faux smells in order to identify the contributing factor. Once you identify for certain what is causing the smell, it is a lot easier to fix the problem. I will try to post the recipes when I am get home


09-14-2005, 11:25 PM
one: I am weary of sulfite, or really anything. Sometimes I dont even use neutriant.

two: how old are these meads? My first one (and second and third) all tasted seriously funky when I finished them.
Give it a year.

just my humble opinion of course...

09-15-2005, 09:49 AM
Hey Norskersword,

There's a list of off taste and the likely causes here - http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/problems.asp -