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Is my choice of yeast destroying my mead?


Registered Member
Apr 21, 2020
Hi all, newbie mead maker here.

I have been a little crazy during lock down so I've started several batches of mead. My first batch was a standard mead using items I already had in my home, i.e. 1 gallon of filtered water, 3lbs local honey, some raisins, a single packet of red star yeast (standard not bread machine). During my first racking from primary to secondary, my mead tasted a bit sharp but I figured after some aging and clarification it would taste better. Jump forward a month and although my mead is fairly clear I noticed it has THE WORST smell ever. It's akin to the inside of a hockey bag at the end of the season. The taste is worse than the smell. I am wondering if it could be the yeast because just today I made bread with the same brand and type of yeast and caught the faintest whiff of that exact odor off the rising dough.
1. Everything was properly sanitized
2. S.G. 1.084, F.G. 1.000
3. Is this something that is normal or is my brew doomed?
4. Could it be the choice of yeast and if so, are my other meads doomed to the same fate. (yes I know its not possible to foretell the future especially with limited forum information.)

Thanks for any insight!


Registered Member
Apr 18, 2020
Hi, best use a mead/wine yeast. M05 works for me but plenty of options. I'd avoid bread yeast unless for a specific recipe such as Joes Ancient Orange. Maybe give that one a go next as seems reliable with basic ingredients available during lockdown. Not really sure if you can salvage something that smells like the inside of a hockey bag!


Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Nov 3, 2014
Your problem isn't the yeast you picked, your problem is the you didn't geed it any food to run on so you starved then and when you do that they make off flavors.

Raisins are not food.


Got Mead? Patron
GotMead Patron
Sep 1, 2013
Saratoga Springs , NY
Your problem isn't the yeast you picked, your problem is the you didn't geed it any food to run on so you starved then and when you do that they make off flavors.

Raisins are not food.

Hi LeeLoo and welcome.. sorry to hear of the problems you are having but much of the information provided on the interwebs is basically garbage... As Squatchy said, "raisins are not food". Winemakers who make wine from grapes use bushels of fresh grapes to make their wine, not a handful of dried up grapes (aka raisins) but I suspect that somewhere along the line someone thought - grapes are to wine for nutrients for yeast as raisins are to mead for nutrients for yeast...But honey is a desert for yeast in terms of nutrients and so you really need to ensure that you provide the yeast with the compounds they are lacking. Sugar is a source of energy but not nutrients. You might try boiling a teaspoon of proofed yeast and adding this when cooled to room temperature. You might try adding some nutritional yeast if you have any. I assume that you don't have lab cultured nutrients since you are using bread yeast and not wine or ale yeast for this. (I don't know what a cider or a mead yeast is other than someone has grown a wine or beer yeast on apple juice or honey).
As to foretelling the future, I suspect that for many folk on this forum when you or anyone provides their processes or ingredients we have a fairly good idea about the likely outcome, after all the art of making mead or wine (pleasure of drinking something very delightful) is based on the science that under-girds fermentation. There really is no art without the science.
All that said, I really don't know what the inside of a hockey bag might smell like... but one smell that folk often experience is hydrogen sulfide (smells like sewer gas or rotten eggs) and that IS caused by stressed yeast. But you can remove that smell by whipping air into the mead; and if that does not work by dropping a sanitized copper penny into the mead; or by racking (siphoning) the mead through some copper scrubbing wool that you might use to scrub pots in the kitchen. The latter two methods work by getting the sulfur to bond with the copper (and the hydrogen with oxygen). But if the smell comes from other kinds of stress it may not be so easily resolved (mercaptans , for example, smells like burnt rubber but that is hydrogen sulfide that has undergone a transformation that makes it very hard to remove).

Medsen Fey

Fuselier since 2007
Premium Patron
It does sound like you could have a sulfur odor at work. This comes from yeast that are under-fed, over-temped, or stressed in some other fashion. You can take a glass and swirl with a copper penny to see if that will correct it - but remember pennies stopped being made of copper after 1981.

Splash racking (wherein you aerate the mead as much as possible by racking) can be useful.

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