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-   -   Fermentation or infection? (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f30/fermentation-infection-130391/)

paxenon 08-01-2009 01:33 AM

Fermentation or infection?
For my first attempt at mead about a week ago, I made 3 batches - one blueberry melomel, one ginger mead, and one traditional mead. For the blueberry and ginger, I used a wyeast dry mead yeast, and for the traditional, I used the wyeast sweet mead yeast.

6 days later, the melomel and ginger are happily fermenting away. However, the traditional mead has been much more problematic.

When I pitched, the packages had swollen up, so presumably the yeast was viable in all. However, despite brewing 2.5 gal, I only used 2/3 of one pack in the traditional, mistakenly thinking that one pack was sufficient for one 5 gal batch. I pitched directly from the swollen pack and did not make a starter.

a day after pitching, all but the traditional were vigorously fermenting. however, the traditional had just a few bubbles on the top. About 3 days after pitching, the top was nearly still. 4 days after pitching, there were a few white spots on the top that looked a bit like mold.. 5 days after pitching the white spots had grown significantly, and now, 6 days after pitching, there is what almost looks like a thin layer of pristine white krausen foam on top.

I am uncertain if the yeast I added are finally beginning to work their magic, or if i have wild yeast or an infection.

The OG was 1.12 and 6 days in the hydrometer reads 1.12. I tasted it and it still tastes sweet and pleasent, definitely does not taste off or toxic. However, I am concerned about potential health problems since there is no alcohol to keep the harmful bacteria out (I spit out what I tasted).

Should I be worried about pathogenic bacteria? Do I likely have an infection or are my poor underpitched yeast finally beginning to gain control of the fermentation?

Should I toss it out out of abundance of health caution? Make another starter and repitch different yeast? (After reading further threads I am afraid that the final product will be too sweet with the wyeast sweet yeast and og of 1.12) Do nothing at all but add yeast nutrient and energizer?

Any help is greatly appreciated!

borracho_brewer 08-01-2009 04:59 AM

I don't want to say it's impossible, but it's extremely unlikely that there is anything in there that can hurt you in any way more than maybe an upset stomach.

Without a picture or experience with infections I can't say what it is, but I'd suggest re pitching. if it tastes ok, it probably is ok. 1.12 is a pretty high OG so if you didn't aerate and under pitched the yeast may be having some trouble getting started.

EvilTOJ 08-01-2009 08:03 PM

It is impossible to get toxicity, the acidity of the wort and alcohol content kills or neutralizes any pathogens. I'm putting this in big text so people don't miss it:


botulinum is in everything and it's everywhere. If you make the honey into a must and ferment it out the bacteria will die from alcohol and pH poisoning. Even a little fermentation is enough to stop most bacteria.

Repeat after me;
No known pathogens can survive in fermented beverages.

As for your fermentation, it sounds like a normal ferment to me. Pictures will help.

paxenon 08-01-2009 08:38 PM

I appreciate your desire to help, but if you had read what I wrote you would have seen that the hydrometer reading has not changed, indicating that no fermentation/alcohol is present, which is why I am concerned about toxicity since there has been activity in the jar.

borracho_brewer 08-02-2009 05:36 AM

That is why i said that it is highly unlikely. If it were fermented and then infected I would agree with the commonly stated idea (i'm hesitant to use the word fact here just because someone likely could find some rare exception)that there is nothing there that can hurt you.

It hasn't fermented (by any detectable amount) but it still is very unlikely to hurt you, especially if it tastes ok, plus it may not be an infection at all.

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