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Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Mead Forum > Problems with fast fermentation
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Old 06-14-2010, 03:33 AM   #1
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Default Problems with fast fermentation

After tasting mead at a local beer festival I decided to give brewing it a shot. I tried a recipe that was recommended by a friend which was 15lbs of honey, 5 gallons of water, oranges, cinnamon sticks, and some raisins for yeast nutrition. My OG was 1.102 I used Lalvin D47 yeast to ferment in a 6.5 gal carboy.

My problem is that it's only ~9 days after I first pitched the yeast and my SG is already 1.018. The taste of the mead is VERY hot, you can definitely taste a lot of fusel alcohols. I believe my problem is temperature since I live in the south and on the top floor of my apartment building so it gets pretty hot in my apartment. I kept my carboy in my closet as it's always the coolest place in the house but still this usually stays in the upper 70's.

Is this batch salvageable? I've heard that fusel alcohols can mellow out given a very very long time. Would sweetening it with more honey after fermentation help mask it a little or should I not even bother? I'm not even sure I could brew mead at these temperatures I might need to wait for winter and just do beers in the mean time.

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Old 06-14-2010, 04:28 AM   #2
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Yeah, I had the same the same problem with a 1 gal batch of new metheglin/pyment combo recipe I was experimenting with, I had pitched the yeast on the 5th of June, with a OG of 1.11.
When I checked on it today, the airlock had completely stopped bubbling, I was pretty sure I didn't have a stuck fermentation, as it had been going strong as of a couple days ago, so I checked and the SG was already down to 1.001, so racked to a secondary.

I didn't really notice any fusel alcohols, we've had a lot rain here the last couple weeks, keeping the temps here in the low 70's; so I think my "problem" was thanks to the yeast nutrient plus all extra ingredients(citrus peels, grape juice, rhubarb) in this recipe, I had plenty extra nutrients available to keep things going.

Back to your problem, you should find that just letting age for a awhile should mellow out the hot taste and if after a year or so it still tastes little hot, you can try sweetening or blending with another batch.

I forget who but somebody said, "The only thing you need to learn to make great mead is patience. If you don't like how your mead has turned out, just wait awhile."

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Old 06-14-2010, 03:15 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nath View Post
I forget who but somebody said, "The only thing you need to learn to make great mead is patience. If you don't like how your mead has turned out, just wait awhile."
Someone else said, "A 2 year old crappy mead will be a 10 year old crappy mead." Time can help, but it's not going to get rid of fusel alcohols. Backsweetening & blending will help - but not completely - mask the high alcohols.

You're spot-on about what's causing the problem - fermentation temperature. If you really want to make mead year round, you could try keeping an eye out for a small freezer on craigslist (<$100) & hook up a temp controller ($50) to it. Kind of an investment up-front, but if you're spending $50 for every batch of mead you make, it's worth it.
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Old 06-14-2010, 03:59 PM   #4
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I don't think temperatures in the 70s are a problem. Ideally, under 70 would have been the temperature, but it shouldn't ruin the mead at all.

It's probably just hot because it hasn't had time to smooth out yet. It'll improve, I promise.

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Old 06-16-2010, 08:11 PM   #5
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While it will improve with time, if you fermented a variation of JAOM using D47 in the upper 70's it is going to stay hot. That is one yeast that really prefers to stay at 72F or below. When you don't it produces fusel that will make paint-thinner than can take years to age out. I just tried a bottle of a starfruit melomel from 2007 that was fermented at 75F with D47 and the fusels are still there (slowly fading, but still there).

If you rig up a "swamp cooler" and happen to be in a less-humid place than South Florida, you can drop the temp enough with evaporative cooling to use D47. Otherwise, using a fridge for temp control is a good idea. If you can't control the temp, I'd find another yeast to use. JAOM with bread yeast turns out fine (with a little age) fermented between 70-80F. For other recipes, some yeast such at D21 and K1V can produce good result even above 80F (with appropriate aging - they will typically go through a Band-Aid smelling phase at 6-9 months).

Don't get me wrong. D47 is a fine yeast. It just really does poorly in the heat.

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