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White mead?

The Only Mead Competition Judged by Real Buyers

TresK3

NewBee
Registered Member
Feb 5, 2012
15
0
1
Cincinnati, OH
I've brewed beer off and on for 15+ years and made a few batches of mead along the way. On Thanksgiving I started a batch with the following:

3 lbs local wildflower honey​
2 pkg. Red Star Premier Blanc yeast​
2 tsp. LD Carlson Yeast Nutrient​
2 gal. distilled water (Kroger)​

The night before: I made a yeast starter by dissolving about 2 Tbs. of honey into 16 oz boiled & cooled water, in a sanitized 1 qt. mason jar (shook well before adding yeast to aerate this mix). The yeast was a bit past its date, but had been stored in the freezer. Before pitching the yeast into the starter, I let it slowly warm to room temp and sanitized the outside of the packets. After adding yeast, I let it rest for about 20 min, then shook gently to dissolve/distribute yeast and loosened the lid to let pressure escape. I've done this before, for beer, with good results. This seemed to take off quickly, with evidence of fermenting (small bubbles and foam on top). By the next day there was a layer of white yeast on the bottom of the jar and the foam had subsided.

Mead day: Warmed honey in sink with hot water. Sanitized a 3 gal carboy and triple rinsed with boiled water. Poured one gallon of store-bought water into carboy. Poured honey through a sanitized/rinsed funnel into carboy, capped with a sanitized/rinsed stopper and shook well to mix. Rinsed honey jar with second gallon of water and added to carboy. Capped as above and shook well. Pitched yeast started. Added 1 tsp yeast nutrient and mixed. Fitted a wide blow-off tube onto carboy, with open end in a plastic container with water. Set in kitchen and wrapped in a towel. Kitchen temp was about 65-68F. OG was 1.042.

Next day: Evidence of fermentation (big bubbles coming from large blow-off tube). In the evening I added another tsp of yeast nutrient and mixed.

Day three: Fewer bubbles. Swapped blow off tube for standard air lock (sanitized and rinsed) and moved carboy to basement.

Day four (yesterday): not a lot of bubbles from airlock but mead looks distinctly white (!). Smells ok, but I'm worried about bacterial infection.

Today: Still looks white. I've attached a picture; the flash makes it look a bit whiter than just ambient light. There is a layer of yeast in the bottom (maybe 1/4 - 1/2 inch). Still smells ok (a bit yeasty). Broke the hydrometer, so I haven't measured SG. I moved the carboy back up to the kitchen and set it next to the radiant heater. Tomorrow I'm going to get a new hydrometer and maybe some oak chips.

Question #1: What about the white? Looks like a bacterial infection from my days in a lab. But... everything smells ok; or at least, not bad. I plan to sample and check the gravity tomorrow (after I get a new hydrometer... and maybe a thermometer and a few other toys).

Question #2: I'm heading out of town late this week, so I was planning on racking to the secondary, and adding oak before I go. Probably Wednesday night, or maybe Thursday night. Too soon? Otherwise it will have to stay in the primary until after Christmas. I'm used to thinking in a beer time scale.

Question #3: Suggestions on oak? I'd like to add a nice touch... more than a hint, but less than a slap.

Sorry if this has already been addressed. I tried searching the forum for "white" and "mead" and "bacteria" but didn't come up with much.

TIA!


TresK3 Mead Flash.JPG
 

EricHartman

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Mar 4, 2019
335
27
28
Indiana
This is the normal appearance for a traditional in my opinion. Most of my meads have looked just like this unless I have an additive (fruit, spice, etc) forcing a different color. You can safely leave it in the primary vessel for a month without any significant risk. Once your SG stops changing for a few days throw it in the fridge for a couple weeks to help clear it prior to transferring into the secondary (cold crash). French medium vs medium+ or American light -> medium would likely be what you're after.

My understanding is that beer oxidizes quite easily. Thankfully mead is much more forgiving on that front. So long as you keep headspace to a minimum, and use an airlock during the months spent in the secondary fermentation you'll be good.
 

TresK3

NewBee
Registered Member
Feb 5, 2012
15
0
1
Cincinnati, OH
Thanks. I was convinced it had bacteria.
I'll move it back to the basement and let it sit for a few weeks. I could also move it the attached garage. Temperatures will likely range from 35 - 50F in there. What do people think?

I was concerned about oxidizing. I can't do much about the head space, but I'll avoid opening it up any more, to (hopefully) keep more CO2 in. I will also keep it protected from light. Will my baby need anything else?
 

EricHartman

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Mar 4, 2019
335
27
28
Indiana
Yeah has the color of the bacterial lab broth for sure but bacterial contamination generally will smell different/foul. KMBS will help protect from oxygen as well; though this is typically added during the secondary. Adding sanitized glass marbles can help fill up a container but it takes quite a few of them.
 

EricHartman

Lifetime GotMead Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Mar 4, 2019
335
27
28
Indiana
Potassium MetaBiSulfite its one of the sulfite products commonly used to prevent oxidation and restart of fermentation once the mead is backsweetened. Take a look at the blog in my signature for a wealth of information to help fill in the blanks :)
 

TresK3

NewBee
Registered Member
Feb 5, 2012
15
0
1
Cincinnati, OH
So the baby has been cold-crashing in the garage for about 6 weeks now. It has cleared quite nicely. Haven't smell, tasted, or measure gravity because I don't want to break the airlock seal or disturb it. However... I'm finally going to get some oak tomorrow and I have a new refractometer for the gravity (technically brix, I guess) measurement.

Current plan is to rack to another 3 gallon carboy, mix very gently, measure gravity and distribute between two, 1 gallon jugs. One jug will get oak, the other won't. I'll check the taste periodically and bottle when I decide "oops... I liked it better before."

Any thoughts or advice at this point?
 
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