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Old 12-21-2013, 08:19 AM   #1
Onihige
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Default Oxidation in half-finished mead, help.

Background (may skip, not too important but some detail)

I'm helping my old man with his mead making, and I finally managed to talk him into making a batch with some awesome honey (he'd previously been using the cheapest one he could find).

And as usual, he ignored half my advice and didn't get any nutrients and no starter... so the fermentation was REALLY slow. Hardly any fermentation after a few weeks, so we moved it into a slightly warmer room and decided to forget about it. Until yesterday, when we were gonna check the gravity. 1.005 - time to add more honey (started at 1.050). It was also pretty darn clear.

Problem: we noticed one of the cats had chewed off the airlock!

We tasted it, while IMO the oxidation wasn't that bad (I've had WAY worse). We had also lost the flavor of it all. I've used honey from the same beekeepers, and the end result in a dry mead should me magical - but there was almost nothing, except the light oxidation taste.

The plan was to add the same amout of honey again and keep fermenting it until the yeast died.

What do we do now? Cut our loss and toss it? Take a gamble and add more honey, maybe add some fruits/berries or spices to try and mask the off-flavor?

Don't have any high hopes, but it's always a shame to toss mead.

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Old 12-21-2013, 11:25 AM   #2
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I would say dont risk saving a bad batch with more honey, just make another batch also. Have you added sulfites? What kind of yeast are you using? A starting gravity of 1.050 is pretty low, is there some reason you are not up a bit higher so that is can keep better? Maybe this might convince the old man to modernize a little and get rid of the cat and get a dog WVMJ

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Old 12-21-2013, 09:20 PM   #3
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Yeah if you want to save it, I'd probably add more honey and some fruit, and make sure it finishes a little on the sweeter side. The fruit/sweetness would help mask the off flavors.

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Old 12-22-2013, 11:56 AM   #4
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Question for you: have you taste-tested at this point before? The reason I ask is because if you're adding more sugar, it goes to reason that in prior batches you probably introduced as much O2 into the must during your staged additions, and I'm sort of wondering if what you're tasting isn't so much oxidation as it is a lack of the concentrated flavors you'd expect from a finished mead (which has had a lot more sugar to work over, and more honey to contribute the flavors).

Granted, I'm very much a FNG, but the impression I've gotten so far is that O2 is your friend early, and your enemy once the yeast dies down and you end up waiting for everything to drop out and clarify. It seems to me that you'd still be in that early phase, if you're adding more sugar with the expectation of the yeast gobbling it up rapidly.

I'd be inclined to go for it and see how it turns out, then have someone do a blind sample and see how it stacks up against a "good" batch.

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Old 12-23-2013, 01:41 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies.

No sulfites, Wyeast Sweet Mead (not my choice, used it before myself and was not impressed).

Started low and was gonna add more, easier on the yeast. Think of it as a full batch sized starter.

Not his choice to have cats, it's the my mom's. On a side note: we used to have dogs, and after they died he was gonna get a new dog for his birthday but it was too soon for him. Also dogs can be pests too.

I've tasted mead at this stage before, using honey from the same beekeeper.

And yes, oxygen is your friend early on - I think we got fairly lucky catching this (probably). It might still have been fermenting a little, albeit slow and the hole was small. Could have been protected to a small degree.

Hmm, gonna take a small sample - add a litte honey and juice just for a taste reference.

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Old 12-23-2013, 07:47 AM   #6
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Dogs are not pests! Mine happily licks my airlocks clean for me before I put them in, it makes them slide in a lot easier. If you really think there is an oxidation issue KM is really needed now. There is also a fining agent, PVVP (not sure if I got the name right) that can remove some of the oxidation. If you go the added fruit route, something like black berry might turn it around. Maybe a bit of ascorbic acid would help or not? On the other hand, I tasted a 14 year old mead this year that had started to oxidize, it had a marvelous sherry flavor, so smooth and mellow, not at all like what a normal oxidized wine tastes like. WVMJ

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Old 01-04-2014, 03:54 PM   #7
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I didn't say dogs are pests, I said they could be. Just like any pet.

I tried some with added honey and black currant juice, it got a little better. But not nearly good enough, and it was hard to find a sweet spot. Could get better or worse with age, I've got no idea where it would head.

I've got no idea what KM or PVVP are, could you elaborate?

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Old 01-05-2014, 09:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Onihige View Post
I didn't say dogs are pests, I said they could be. Just like any pet.

I tried some with added honey and black currant juice, it got a little better. But not nearly good enough, and it was hard to find a sweet spot. Could get better or worse with age, I've got no idea where it would head.

I've got no idea what KM or PVVP are, could you elaborate?
Dunno about the second acronym but K=potassium and M=metabisulphite.

I was just thinking, fortify with brandy, deliberately over sweeten slightly then back off the sweetness with some acid, then either bulk age straight or with some oak........
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