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After years trying to pick up brewing mead, What did do wrong in the past?

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arnaud

Worker Bee
Registered Member
Jun 20, 2009
40
0
6
Dear reader; for years i was brewing mead with succes using the simplest of recipe & method.( i will post below)
For some reason later, all batches went bad.. Foul and 'funky' taste. All despite very thorough sanitation.
I could not find out the cause (i did not do anything different?) and stopped this hobby. A lot of money went down the drain..

Now i am aquainted with a beekeeper and we agreed to try it from his honey.

The way i have made in the past gallons of good mead;
-Adding 2,5-3 Kg. of honey in 10 Liters water, boil it and scoop of the foam.

- Adding 2-3 cups of strong tea.

-Let it cool and add yeast(super- or champagne yeast) and yeast-nutrition.

- then.. in a big container with a sheet over it (bugs cannot get in) open fermentation (aeriation?)for 3 days, as i understood the start needs oxygen(??).

-Then in an (sanitized) glass container with a water-lock (the s-shaped blub thingy) untill fermentation is almost done, the bottle it in -sanitised- bottles so it can slowly ferment in the bottle to get bubbly.

So, for some reason 'suddenly' this method did not work anymore, and maybe i should try it totally different?
Hence my 'beginners-questions';

1 Should i boil the honey/water mixture (for sterilisation) or not?
2 Does the yeast need additional nutrition?
3 At the starting phase, is the open fermentation (aeriation) nessecary? I can remember skipping this part, but never noticed difference...

Would be gratefull for replies;
Greetings from cold & wet Holland.
 

Maylar

Got Mead? Patron
GotMead Patron
May 23, 2015
564
8
18
Connecticut
In imperial measurements that's about 6 lbs of honey in a 3 gallon batch. That would be about 1.070 starting gravity with an alcohol potential of about 10%. Seems reasonable.

1. No, don't boil it
2. What nutrient did you use and how much?
3. Oxygen is needed at the start, and you should whip it good when you pitch the yeast and again at 24 hrs. Many people leave their mead in a covered bucket for the whole time. Transferring to a closed vessel with airlock in a few days is fine.

What yeast, and what temperature do ferment at?
Foul and funky is not a typical mead flaw. I wonder if you're getting brettanomyces contamination.
 

arnaud

Worker Bee
Registered Member
Jun 20, 2009
40
0
6
Thanks for reply(i did not get an notification despite setting).

The boiling was, i think to sterilize it? I'm not sure..
If you do not boil the mix, doesn't the water contain enough oxygen?

2-I do not know the name of the yeast nutrition in English, but it is for brewing and measurements are on the label.. I also tried whithout nutritional salt, for troubleshooting (maybe the foul taste was because of this?) but did not notice effect in taste or behabiour of the yeasting itself?

The yeasting is at room temperature..
 

Maylar

Got Mead? Patron
GotMead Patron
May 23, 2015
564
8
18
Connecticut
Mead does not need to be sterilized. Boiling changes the flavors of the honey. Add oxygen by mixing the honey and water with a drill powered mixing paddle or by shaking the carboy if you can. Nutrients are required but if you use the recommended dose you should not taste them when the mead is done. Too much nutrient will definitely leave a nasty taste behind.
 

arnaud

Worker Bee
Registered Member
Jun 20, 2009
40
0
6
Thanks for the info!
I boiled also to sterilise the tap water, though it is said we have the purest tap water in the world.. XD
Won't the oxygen react with the alcohol and get sour?

I tried some batches whithout the open fermentation and did not notice any difference in behaviour of the yeasting process..
 

Maylar

Got Mead? Patron
GotMead Patron
May 23, 2015
564
8
18
Connecticut
Oxidation is a concern later in the process when fermentation is finished. We control that by limiting the space above the mead (called head space) and adding sulfites to act as an antioxidant. It's not a problem during fermentation.

I'm still confused about foul and funky. How did the mead taste out of the fermenter?
 

arnaud

Worker Bee
Registered Member
Jun 20, 2009
40
0
6
I understand about the head space.. but when yeasting, the CO2 will push out the oxygen? But first the mix needs a lot of oxygen and later not.. hmm Sulphites will also kill the yeast?
When bottling you taste it when you suck it trough the hose to pour it in the bottles.. the you taste immediately the batch has failed and forget about the bottling.
Normally it should taste good,.
Yes an oxidated taste,, i think that describes it best..

Could it be that boiling is suddenly a problem or.. the supermarket-honey?
 

Shelley

Worker Bee
Registered Member
Sep 13, 2013
338
9
18
Harford, NY
MeadMagic.com
Better defining the bad taste will help. Did it taste sour? Not sweet at all and like it was burning your mouth? Smell like rotten eggs? Acidic like vinegar? The good mead that you made from this recipe in the past -- did you also taste that as you were bottling?
 

arnaud

Worker Bee
Registered Member
Jun 20, 2009
40
0
6
Describing the taste.. eh, like the inside of a vacuüm cleaner bag? Oxidated, NOT sour..'contaminated' (proteín?)

The good batches tasted very well when bottling, and also when drinking..
 

arnaud

Worker Bee
Registered Member
Jun 20, 2009
40
0
6
Yes that sounds about right..
Can too much yeast nutrients be the cause? (6 grams is about 2 teaspoons right?)
 
Last edited:

Shelley

Worker Bee
Registered Member
Sep 13, 2013
338
9
18
Harford, NY
MeadMagic.com
I'll defer back to Maylar's thought on Brettanomyces (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brettanomyces). I haven't had an instance where someone hands me a spoiled glass and let me taste the Brett spoilage, so I don't know for sure. Of your methodology, the step where you put the sheet over the primary bucket is the most vulnerable to letting in airborne contaminants. Six grams is about 2 teaspoons, and does not seem like too much nutrient to me.
 

arnaud

Worker Bee
Registered Member
Jun 20, 2009
40
0
6
Yes, it is one of my doubts. whether or not open fermentation.
I did many batches whithout to avoid risk of contamination, but it did not give a better/different result
 

arnaud

Worker Bee
Registered Member
Jun 20, 2009
40
0
6
I am seriously confused and worried.
3 kg honey in 4 L water, warmed up, in a container with additional 7L water, makes 10L plus the honey.
leaves this much head space in a 15L. bottle?
and.. smelled that air again of fermentation going bad.. ready to give up, i really, really do not know what i have done wrong, and why it succeeded every time in the past, and now not anymore.
 

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arnaud

Worker Bee
Registered Member
Jun 20, 2009
40
0
6
My smell is okay, i use 'bleach' (natriumhypochloride, natriumhydroxide) to sanitise...
 
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