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Mold?

Cozy

NewBee
Registered Member
Jul 17, 2018
3
0
0
Maryland
New to mead and new to the site -- hoping I can get some advice! I'm currently fermenting two batches of mead, both in one-gallon jugs. I've seen a lot of posts about mysterious floaties in mead, and most of the response is that they're most likely yeast or something harmless. I'm hoping mine is just as innocuous! However, my floaties seem to have a turned a bit black...Here's the steps I followed:

Batch 1:
1) Sanitized all equipment using Star San
2) Poured local honey (about three lbs) into jug
3) Added some water (Deer Park) to the honey and swished
4) Followed directions on yeast packet (Pasteur Champagne Yeast): warmed water, poured in yeast, let sit for 20 min
5) Pitched prepared yeast into honey/water
6) Filled jug with water (Deer Park), leaving about three inches of space on the neck
7) Capped with rubber stopper and airlock

Batch 2:
1) Sanitized all equipment using Star San
2) Poured local honey (about three lbs) into jug
3) Added some water (Deer Park) to the honey and swished
4) Followed directions on yeast packet (Pasteur Champagne Yeast): warmed water, poured in yeast, let sit for 20 min
5) Pitched prepared yeast into honey/water
6) Brewed white tea
6) Filled jug with white tea and water (Deer Park), leaving about three inches of space on the neck
7) Capped with rubber stopper and airlock

Both batches sat for about a week and a half before they started bubbling. A few patches, white with a bluish-green top, formed on top. A day or two after Batch 1 started to bubble and then 4 or 5 days after that Batch 2 started to bubble. Now the floaties have turned black!

Do I have a mold problem? If so, what's the best way to address it?

Thanks!

https://i.imgur.com/8hh7ncf.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/MDNJz9t.jpg
 
Last edited:

dingurth

NewBee
Registered Member
May 23, 2012
489
3
0
Brooklyn , NY
Yep, sounds and looks like mold. To be safe, I would dump it.

Your first sign of trouble was that it took a week and a half before you saw activity. This allowed time for the mold to grow and take hold. After you pitch your yeast, you should see activity within 24 hours. I've even had them start in as little as 3-6 hours.

A couple points of advice.
1) checkout the newbee guide at the top, this will have a lot of good information for you to get familiar with.
2) Did you clean your equipment before you used starsan to sanitize? As they say, you can't sanitize dirt. :p
3) How did you sanitize with starsan? Spray bottle? Dunked in a bucket? Starsan is only effective if it's ph is below 3.
4) Is it possible you used expired yeast?
5) Is it possible that you water was too warm when rehydrating (above 104F)? Or that when you pitched, was there more than a 10 degree difference between the yeast slurry and the must?
6) your measurements sound fine, but its best to get a hydrometer to measure your gravity (amount of sugar in the must), to detect problems and see if its not fermenting.
 

Stasis

Honey Master
Registered Member
Jan 10, 2014
1,123
9
38
Malta
You might be able to salvage this by boiling the must to eliminate all mold, bacteria and yeast and starting again with fresh yeast. Unless a lot of honey has already been fermented, and also unless the must already tastes bad. I personally wouldn't be confident adding campden because the wild yeast/mold colony could be too large to stop mid-ferment. As a bonus, boiling might drive off any fusels. The downside is that boiling musts could result in a mead with some muted flavor, although I'm not entirely convinced boiling is always wrong even with non-problematic batches.
Worst comes to worst you might ferment these from scratch again and end up with bad tasting mead. You'll be down a few packets of yeast, which are relatively cheap. I think chances that the mead will make you ill are slim but still use caution.
 

bernardsmith

Got Mead? Patron
GotMead Patron
Sep 1, 2013
1,610
18
38
Saratoga Springs , NY
Hi Cozy - and welcome. Sorry your first experiences might be around mold. I wonder if your method of sanitation was adequate. Not certain what the contact time with Star San should be but my guess is that it won't be less than 60 seconds. Now, I generally prefer to SOAK my carboys and equipment in K-meta rather than do what many brewers do which is to SPRAY their equipment with Star San. When you spray you need to miss only an inch or two and if that inch or so was covered with mold or microbes then in solution you provide those microscopic cells with all the nutrition they need to proliferate. Soaking rather than spraying means that every millimeter is awash in the sanitizer (assuming my cleaning protocol is good). But note, I said that I prefer to use K-meta rather than the brewers' favorite Star San. That's because at one concentration K-meta is a powerful sanitizer. At a lower concentration it is a great destroyer of wild yeast and bacteria sitting on fruit, herbs and spices. And at this same concentration it can act as an anti oxidant when I rack from one carboy to another. In other words, with K-meta you get a three-fer. Star San is Star San but it ain't a three -fer.
 

Cozy

NewBee
Registered Member
Jul 17, 2018
3
0
0
Maryland
Hi, all! Thanks very much for your feedback. I think you have identified the crucial misstep: I did not clean with soap, water, and a brush before sanitizing. I also pitched the yeast from the warm hydrating water into room-temp water, which might explain the time it took for the ferment to set in. I've read several posts on how to recover infected mead, and I may very well attempt those methods, but I just as likely will simply restart the process. I will chalk up these batches as learning batches. Thanks for the support!