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Old 11-22-2008, 08:06 AM   #1
Driftless
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Default My Very First Contamination Question (2 part ?)

So I brew with 2 tenants in mind:

1) Mead is honey, honey is a natural growth inhibitor
2) People were doing this sh*t thousands of years before star-san

So far so good - never had a problem. Till now.

I just racked a traditional mead (honey, water, muntons yeast ('tis what I had)) and found it to be wicked dry... So, I added a couple blobs of honey after pasteurizing it in a liter of water.

Today -- 2 weeks later -- I'm reading the paper and smelling sourdough (which I have, but keep in the fridge)... Damn.

Sure enough, a small colony of yeast is chilling on the surface kicking up a stink. The goods still taste fine (though still too dry).

Question:

A) Rack the middle out and hope for the best
B) Leave it and hope for the best
C) Skim it off (make pancakes with it) and hope for the best

and supplemental:

Anyone have a strong argument against adding honey in mid-ferment? It kicks the activity up again... is this bad? Is it best to wait till the end, smack the yeast down, then sweeten to taste?

Cheers!

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Old 11-22-2008, 10:17 AM   #2
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I've done exactly what you described and gotten the same aroma, so I doubt it's contaminated. For high power mead I'll start off with half the honey and do honey additions every month or so. If it doesn't taste like carpet after the dog's rubbed his butt along it then it's fine. What kind of yeast did you use?

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Old 11-22-2008, 12:56 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Driftless View Post
...Anyone have a strong argument against adding honey in mid-ferment? It kicks the activity up again... is this bad? Is it best to wait till the end, smack the yeast down, then sweeten to taste?
Quite the opposite. My standard mead-making practice is to formulate a recipe, and allow the must to ferment until the yeast has exhausted its ability to continue further.

I never attempt to forcibly stop the yeast - too many bad things can result from that practice as I learned from Dr. Clayton Cone a few years ago.

Only then do I make a decision whether, or not, to backsweeten. When I do add more honey, it is never pasteurized or sanitized in any way. Typically, I warm the honey to ~115°F to improve its being dissolved into the existing must. I have never had any infection using this method, but I do get consistent backsweetening results because I calculate how much honey I need to get to the SG I find suits my taste (keep brew records) and add that amount in one step.

You may not have what you believe is an infection. Form what I understand once an infection takes hold, the mead's taste is altered.

In my experience, visually the surface of some mead musts look nasty. Presently, my Barbera pyment (in the secondary) is slowly fermenting (~4 points/wk). The must has a white-ish flim with various sized bubbles scattered over its surface. Yet, I am not concerned. My weekly 2ml SG samples have a wonderfull aroma and taste.

I don't know if you really have an infection, but from your post I see nothing that points a finger at something that might have been a reason for one. However, here are a couple of factors (besides unsanitary practices) that might allow an infection to develop:
  • Must abv below 10%
  • Must pH above 4.0
  • Late (and excessive) nutrient additions
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