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Help Troubleshooting a marginal batch.

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Registered Member
Jan 4, 2004
I have two batches of mead which have an 'off' taste. The trouble is I am too new at mead making to identify it. I highly suspect it is caused by oxidation, but I don't know for sure. I would describe it as a solvent or aceotne taste. Not really an acid taste, but I would say it has a tiny 'bite' this may or may not be related to the problem I am trying to figure out (and avoid in the future).

Both batches are roughly 5 gallon batches, one made with only honey, water, and yeast, the other with 2 gallons commercial apple juice. Both made with the same champaign yeast.

When these were made, I didn't have much idea about oxidation, so both batches were racked once in the primary to get the wine off the lees and avoid off tastes caused by - the name escapes me, when the yeast starts metabolizing dead yeast cells. Since I didn't have extra carboys, both batches were racked into several one gallon jugs, then poured back into the carboy. There was probably a gallon airspace in each carboy, but they were actively fermenting, so I would assume this would push out any excess O2. They were in the primary about 5 months, then bottled and are now about 14 months old (since bottling). I primed some of both batch with a tablespoon of table sugar and bottled those in champaign bottles.

The batch with the apple juice is definately better than the other batch, but both have this taste. Sparkling or non sparkling doesn't seem to make much difference. I have tried a bottle every month or so since I made this and it did get better for the first 6 months or so, but no noticable change to my uneducated palate since then. No sulfites at all were used. I started a vigorous yeast starter so I don't think wild yeasts are the culprate, but they may be.

I am pretty sure my problem is oxidation, but I don't know how to be sure. Can anyone describe the taste of overly oxidised wine? I know wild yeasts could produce a variety of tastes, but is there something I should look for to test this possibility? I wish I could offer a better description, but I am afraid my vocabularly is utterly lacking when it comes to descriptions of tastes.

Thanks for any help anyone can offer.



Senior Member
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Hello Brian,
It might help to describe exact ingredients. What variety and how much honey. Any yeast nutrients? if so how much? Any acid? if so how much? Was it Lalvin EC1118 yeast?
5 months in the primary sounds a bit long on the lees which could pick up an off flavor but it would help to know your starting and ending Specific Gravity. Maybe your alcohol content is so high it will take even longer to age properly. I am only guessing without knowing more info such as asked above. Oxidation normally gives it a "sherry taste" and gets worse not better so I doubt that is the problem. Give some more detail and I'm sure someone will be able to help.


Registered Member
Oct 14, 2003
"Since I didn't have extra carboys, both batches were racked into several one gallon jugs, then poured back into the carboy."

I don't know if what you're tasting is oxidation, but from the above, I'm guessingh that you did oxidize the batch. 'Pouring' cider/mead/beer into a carboy will oxidize it.

I recommen that you bring it to a local homebrew shop or a homebrewing club and have people try it. That's the only way to find out what's wrong with it.
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