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Bomm became sour after oaking

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DanielSank

NewBee
Registered Member
Dec 31, 2013
18
0
0
California
My recipe and entire log are included after a description of the problem.

I have a 5 gal batch of straight-up orange blossom BOMM. For the first few two weeks the mead tasted mind-blowingly fantastic. It fermented bone dry so at 40 days in I back-sweetened up to 1.01. At this point it was pretty good but somewhere between days 14 and 40 it took on a slightly sourdough flavor which I very my dislike. My partner wanted to try oaking it, so we added 12 cubes of medium+ toast Hungarian oak. Now, a week after oaking, the mead is very sourdoughy and frankly quite gross.

  1. What could have caused this sourdough flavor? I would blame the oak but it was already there (albeit faint) before adding the oak.
  2. Is there any way to save this batch? It's not undrinkable now but the sourness makes not something I really want to drink


    • I note that I had previously tried a batch of BOMM using avocado blossom honey. That batch was also really sour. I blamed this on the honey type and the fact that I left it on the gross lees for almost two months, but looking back with the information from this latest batch I'm not sure.

      Recipe

      Starter of Wyeast 1388
      Add the following to a sterilized 2 liter flask
      • 1800 ml of Ozarka spring water
      • 1/2 cup of honey (SG ~1.04)
      • 1 tsp of GoFerm
      • 1 activated smack pack of Wyeast 1388
      • 1 cross shaped stir bar
      • Place covered but not air locked on a stir plate for 3 days.

      Brew day
      • Add 1 gallon OB honey to 3.5 gallons water. (SG 1.09-1.1)
      • Used a big spoon to mix honey completely.
      • Dose the following: 1 TBSP DAP, 2 TBSP Fermaid K, 3/4 TBSP K2CO3
      • Stir again to aerate and add starter.
      • Add additional water to SG 1.09-1.1.
      • No water in airlock for 1 week.
      • Swirl daily.

      Log

      Day -4: Starter
      Made starter

      Day 0: Brew day
      Followed recipe instructions (including a test of the honey's gravity, which allowed me to nail the 1.1 SG!).

      Day 1
      Very bubbly.
      Noticed sediment on the bottom of the carboy. Gave good swirl to loosen. Swirled too hard and created so much CO2 emission that I got a lovely fountain of mead shooting out of the airlock and all over my floor.
      See sediment again at 11pm. I wonder if this is normal.

      Day 2
      Somwhat bubbly.
      Sediment on bottom. Looks like yeast, or GoFerm, or Fermaid-K. Not sure.
      SG = 1.068. Close enough to ⅔ sugar break:
      • Dosed 1 TBSP DAP
      • Dosed 2 TBSP Fermaid K
      • Swirled with some oomph, but no fountain this time :)
      Tastes really really good. Mouthfeel is already there.

      Day 3
      Still nice and bubbly.
      Gave it a good swirl.
      Lots of sediment. Not sure if this is ok or not. Probably fine.
      Smells pretty darn good.


      Day 5
      Gravity = 1.01.
      That’s a bit lower than I was hoping, since this means I missed the ⅓ sugar break. No big deal though.
      • Dosed 1 TBSP DAP
      • Dosed 2 TBSP Fermaid K
      • Swirled around real good.
      Tastes good, but is losing frothiness and becoming more like standard mead. I wonder if carbonating the final beverage would be a good idea.


      Day 14
      Tastes pretty good :)


      Day 28
      Racked. SG=1.004. Tastes reasonable. Needs oak and vanilla, and honey, but didn't add anything today.


      Day 40
      Racked. SG=1.002.
      Sweetened to 1.01.
      Siphoned some out and tasted. It’s really good, but Mike wants to add oak.
      • Soaked 12 cubes Hungarian medium+ toast in vodka for around an hour and a half.
      • Dumped off vodka. Had brown color.
      • Added 12 cubes to mead.

      Day 47
      Tasted. Gross. It got sour. Bottled three bottles for later taste comparison, racked, and put the rest back into the carboy with a vanilla bean. Interestingly, gravity = 1.01 which means no yeast activity after sweetening on Day 40.
 

Medsen Fey

Fuselier since 2007
Premium Patron
While bacterial contamination is possible, unless you kept it open to air and at least room temp, it probably hasn't had time to make that big of an impact. However if you make and bottle sweet meads without using sulfites, sooner or later they will rear their ugly heads..

You may just be picking up yeasty character. This tends to fade with age.

Sent from my THINGAMAJIG with WHATCHAMACALLIT
 

loveofrose

Got Mead? Patron
GotMead Patron
Nov 9, 2012
2,580
12
38
Texas
I've never experience this even with oaking. A few questions to help nail down the source of the problem. I suspect it is bacterial contamination.

1. Are you using a plastic fermenter? Sometimes they get scratched and sanitation cannot get all the bacteria in the crevices. Get a new fermenter.

2. Have ever made a sour, lambic, saison, or other type of bug based brew in this fermenter?

3. Is your airlock old? I once had an old rubber airlock that contaminated a batch. Look for deep scratches on the mead facing side.

4. What are you using to sanitize? How long do you allow contact?

5. What is your fermentation temperature?

6. Do you make kombucha?

7. Is it clear?


Better brewing through science!

See my brewing site at www.denardbrewing.com

See my Current Mead Making Techniques article here:
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/current-mead-making-techniques.html
 

DanielSank

NewBee
Registered Member
Dec 31, 2013
18
0
0
California
1. Are you using a plastic fermenter? Sometimes they get scratched and sanitation cannot get all the bacteria in the crevices. Get a new fermenter.
I use a plastic bucket for racking but fermentation happens in a glass carboy.

2. Have ever made a sour, lambic, saison, or other type of bug based brew in this fermenter?
No.

3. Is your airlock old? I once had an old rubber airlock that contaminated a batch. Look for deep scratches on the mead facing side.
The airlock I used this time was brand new and filled with vodka.

4. What are you using to sanitize? How long do you allow contact?
I use OneStep. My normal procedure is to fill my bucket with ~1.5 gal OneStep solution (warm) and let it sit for around ten minutes. Then I tip the bucket and roll it to get the sanitizer to touch everywhere. Then I wait another ten minutes. I see now that this could be a problem and I will fill the entire bucket in the future. For other items like hydrometer, funnel, etc. I submerge in warm/hot sanitizer for around ten minutes while I'm getting things ready.

5. What is your fermentation temperature?
Whatever the temperature is in my house. The outside temperature in my town stays between 55 and 68 consistently and I neither heat nor air-condition my house. My understanding was that 1388 doesn't really care about temperature. Have I misunderstood that?

6. Do you make kombucha?
Nope.

7. Is it clear?
No! I should have mentioned this. It's fairly clear but still a bit hazy. I don't understand this because your documentation on the BOMM says that it clears pretty quickly. My experience is consistently that it does not, despite now four rackings.

Can bacteria grow in 13% alcoholic solution? If I get a pitri dish can I check for bacteria? I may have access to such things.

P.S. How the $*^@ do you clean out your racking cane (if you use one)?
 
Last edited:

Stasis

NewBee
Registered Member
Jan 10, 2014
1,123
9
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Malta
"Can bacteria grow in 13% alcoholic solution? If I get a pitri dish can I check for bacteria? I may have access to such things."

Medsen previously wrote:

"While bacterial contamination is possible, unless you kept it open to air and at least room temp, it probably hasn't had time to make that big of an impact. However if you make and bottle sweet meads without using sulfites, sooner or later they will rear their ugly heads..
You may just be picking up yeasty character. This tends to fade with age."

So basically yes, it can grow. Acetobacter (the bacteria which turns wine to vinegar), for example, is stated to have an alcohol tolerance of 18% on many sites. I wonder if pitri dishes can make a distinction between yeast growth and bacterial growth.
I wonder if it's possible the airlock was not placed back properly or developed a leak once after a racking or tasting. This is since this is the only possible way I can imagine something like this happening to a mead after a successful fermentation and such sanitation procedures
 

DanielSank

NewBee
Registered Member
Dec 31, 2013
18
0
0
California
Medsen previously wrote:

"While bacterial contamination is possible, unless you kept it open to air and at least room temp, it probably hasn't had time to make that big of an impact. However if you make and bottle sweet meads without using sulfites, sooner or later they will rear their ugly heads..
You may just be picking up yeasty character. This tends to fade with age."
It's funny, I didn't understand what Medsen meant by that. My brain parsed that paragraph as saying that

1. Bacteria probably hasn't had time to make a big impact yet, and
2. On a completely unrelated note, sweet meads without sulfites sooner or later taste weird, but not necessarily because of bacteria.

Sometimes I think I have the reading comprehension level of a three year old.

Anyway, I'm still not sure whether this means that I should expect in every sweet batch without sulfite that bacteria eventually causes issues, or if it means that most batches are fine but eventually I am guaranteed to get an infected batch. A little clarification of the meaning here would be great.

Acetobacter (the bacteria which turns wine to vinegar), for example, is stated to have an alcohol tolerance of 18% on many sites.
Thanks for the information.

This is since this is the only possible way I can imagine something like this happening to a mead after a successful fermentation and such sanitation procedures
Is there anything else which could give a sourdoughy flavor? Medsen indicated that this could just be how it tastes, but Lovofrose's documentation also says that with 1388 this mead is supposed to _not_ taste like beer.

P.S. I very much like your username and avatar, Stasis.
 
Last edited:

Medsen Fey

Fuselier since 2007
Premium Patron
My point was that if you don't sulfite sweet meads, sooner or later you will have some batches or some bottles that develop contaminants. Lactic acid bacteria which perform malolactic fermentation in wine can operate at 14-15% ABV. Acetic acid bacteria can get to 17%+, and Brett can survive in high-ABV environments. There are other things as well. Most all of these can be prevented if the mead is protected from oxygen AND treated with sulfites.

I doubt this batch has had time for contamination to really get going, particularly if it wasn't stored in a warm place (>75°F).

1388 is like every other yeast. It can develop odd smells, and even sulfur odors during fermentation and aging. Each must is different and the yeast will perform differently as a result. A little autolysis can generate yeasty, sourdough character. That kind of yeasty character tends to fade with a little aging. I'd consider sulfiting (just in case) and letting it age. Then reassess it.

Sent from my THINGAMAJIG with WHATCHAMACALLIT
 

DanielSank

NewBee
Registered Member
Dec 31, 2013
18
0
0
California
Thank for the information and advice.

I have some extra information to contribute. As I mentioned before, I bottled some of the mead so that I could compare the taste now against the taste after some aging and with the vanilla bean. I stored the bottles in the refrigerator and opened one yesterday (three days after bottling). There was a cloud of solids near the bottom of the bottle. The mead tasted significantly less sourdoughy than it had previously, even after letting it warm up. Could it be that whatever is settling out in the cold is the source of the sourdough flavor? Yeast?
 

Chevette Girl

All around BAD EXAMPLE
Moderator
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Apr 27, 2010
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If it's not clearing on its own like a BOMM is supposed to, you might want to either cold crash the whole batch (you saw for yourself how quicky refrigerating the stuff made it settle out) or get a fining agent like bentonite or Sparkolloid or one of the other myriad fining agents that make the particles stick together and settle out. Once you rack it off whatever settles out, I'm betting it'll be like the bottles and taste way better.
 

DanielSank

NewBee
Registered Member
Dec 31, 2013
18
0
0
California
or get a fining agent like bentonite or Sparkolloid or one of the other myriad fining agents that make the particles stick together and settle out. Once you rack it off whatever settles out, I'm betting it'll be like the bottles and taste way better.
Thanks. Mail ordered some sparkolloid.

Will try actual temperature control on next batch to see if that helps clarification happen automatically.
 
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