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  1. #1

    Default Fixing an aroma issue

    "It smells like an ash tray." Well, I can count on my wife for honest feedback. I personally thought it smelled like coffee, but now that she put that image in my head, I can't not smell it.

    I don't have the exact recipe in front of me but it was my coffee mead that I ended up blending with a sack mead. I have two different gallons; one is mostly coffee mead with a little sack mead, and one is mostly sack mead with a little coffee mead. The offending aroma is stronger in the one with more coffee, so I'm pretty sure it's coming from there.

    Everyone agrees that the flavor is good, so I'm mostly looking for ideas on how to change the aroma only. I recently added oak with the intention of smoothing out the taste and adding some complexity. Also, the original coffee that was used was a "cinnamon roll" flavor so I'm thinking of using cinnamon sticks in secondary to mask the ash. I considered vanilla but I've never worked with it and I was worried that vanilla would drastically change the flavor. Anyone have any ideas?
    Raisins are NOT nutrients for yeast... but french fries ARE!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    Saratoga Springs , NY
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    1,468

    Default

    Sorry, I don't have any ideas* but if the problem is the aroma and not the flavor then perhaps trying to alter the flavor is not the most logical way to fix this. Sometimes if a fermentation is not very active then lots of off aromas are encouraged to set up home in the mead whereas if you have worked assiduously (I like that word) to degas the mead those off aromas are kept moving and they quite quickly know that they are not welcome and they tend to be purged together with the CO2.

    * I don't pretend to think that this may be the reason but in wine making a smoky ashtray smell is often associated with literal smoke caused by burning (there is a compound called Guaiacol - which is associated with smoke from fires). Is it possible that the coffee you used was badly roasted? Or that you smoke around your fermenters?

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks for the reply. No I don't smoke, and yes it's possible that the coffee had a dark roast. I'm pretty sure I handled degassing appropriately, but I was still pretty new when this fermented. I don't think it was a product of stressed yeast. I think it's the normal aroma from coffee. Maybe it's the fact that you expect that aroma from your warm mug and not your chilled wine glass. I don't want to do anything with the flavor, just the aroma. So I'm hoping for some more ideas from the community here but if not then I will give that cinnamon a try.
    Raisins are NOT nutrients for yeast... but french fries ARE!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    North Carolina and Mississippi
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    Do you want to hear a couple of theories? I see no one with experience suggesting anything, and I have none, but I have couple of theories I felt wouldn’t hurt. I would try these on some small samples:

    Gypsum, in small enough amounts that it would have no effect on flavor, followed by chilling for a day or so. Gypsum is calcium sulfate, and can bind certain organic molecules and make them precipitate to the bottom. Bentonite might also be worth trying.

    Adding acid, and in other samples a buffer, like calcium carbonate. Solubility can be effected by pH.

    Lemon juice. It can neutralize other nasty odors, why not your meads? Worth a shot.

  5. #5

    Default

    What kind of oak did you use? American can lend itself more to helping the aroma, while French is more supporting of flavor/structure.

    I've experienced mead with drastic differences between flavor and aroma. From what I know, aroma is a tough thing in a mead, and only effecting that and not flavor could be tricky to impossible. edaskew's suggestions are good ones though.

  6. #6

    Default

    Edaskew, thanks for the ideas. I had only been thinking of covering the aroma, not pulling it out with something like gypsum. I'll look into that, thanks. I'm not sure about adding acid or lemon juice. I would think that would change the flavor and I'm not looking for any tartness or acid in the coffee mead. I'll try that as a last resort.

    Dingurth, I used American medium toast. We'll see if it helps, thanks.
    Raisins are NOT nutrients for yeast... but french fries ARE!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    North Carolina and Mississippi
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    Hey you know your problem got me looking that up last night and I don't know if you are aware that the several California wineries had that same problem due to the wildfires in California. It became a big insurance issue; there are several labs that test for these compounds (phenols, one of the most important guaiacol as Bernardsmith had mentioned.) They didn't find a way to remedy the problem. Guaiacol though is from creosote, and it is part of the flavor you get from aging on charred oak. Vanilla can be synthesized from Guaiacol, and it is one of the other flavors you get from aging on oak. I wonder if your first idea might not be the best, so that if you add the cheap, synthetic vanilla extract in just the right amount it might smell like it's been aged on oak? Also I found guaiacol is less soluble the higher the pH, and the colder the must is. By the way, Brett infections are known to produce these compounds.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    The Fusel Shack, in the swamp west of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
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    8,771

    Default

    Try activated charcoal fining without silica.
    http://wine.wsu.edu/2012/10/16/smoketaintfining/

    Endeavor to persevere!
    Medsen
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
    (Past years are always better)

  9. #9

    Default

    come to think of it, the test batch of coffee mead I finished drinking recently did kinda smell like an ashtray out of the bottle ("aged" 6 months in PET bottle), then it smelled like apples after breathing for 10 minutes or so, then the apple scent subsided and then it was no more, just an aftertaste of coffee

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by m0n5t3r View Post
    come to think of it, the test batch of coffee mead I finished drinking recently did kinda smell like an ashtray out of the bottle ("aged" 6 months in PET bottle), then it smelled like apples after breathing for 10 minutes or so, then the apple scent subsided and then it was no more, just an aftertaste of coffee
    I would suggest aging in glass or stainless and not plastic.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

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