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Old 12-21-2010, 01:53 AM   #1
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Default Mead Starter Smells Awful!

I'm getting ready to make my first mead. I'm making a 1 gallon batch and decided to make a yeast starter. I've been doing beer for a while now and I've never made a starter. For this batch I boiled about 3/4 of a pint of water, cooled it to about 90 degrees. Added some honey ~1/4 cup or so, some Go-Ferm yeast nutrient, aerated, and added my Cote des Blancs yeast packet. Within minutes, the yeasties were starting to activate. I covered with some plastic wrap, covered, and let it sit overnight. When I got home from work, I took the plastic wrap off and the starter smelled distinctly like rotten eggs. After the initial punch in the nose, I smelled again and the smell was more like strong yeast and fruit. I've got another dry packet of Cote des Blancs that I can use. I'm very hesitant to put this in my batch tomorrow, but I've read several accounts of this being relatively normal... Opinions?

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Old 12-21-2010, 02:04 AM   #2
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It seems like 1/4 cup of honey in 3/4 cup of water is a LOT of sugar for the yeast to ferment. Did you happen to take an OG? A starter should wake up the yeast, get it reproducing and happy. You could have very well stressed them, hence the sulfur smell.


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Old 12-21-2010, 02:20 AM   #3
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i'm really just guestimating about the amount of honey.. 1/4 cup is probably a pretty high estimate. I probably used closer to 1/8 of a cup. I didn't take a gravity reading because I didn't think enough in advance to sanitize any of my other gear. Making the starter was something I did on a whim without a lot of thought or calculation anyway.

Would I be best off just using the other packet of dry yeast? It's good for 5 gallons so there should be more than enough viable yeast. Or is there a way to create another starter and repitch the original yeasties?
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Old 12-21-2010, 03:00 AM   #4
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generally speaking, you don't need a starter for dry yeast...just pitch what you need
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Old 12-21-2010, 03:22 AM   #5
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good to know, but have I stressed my "starter" too much to effectively use it in my must?
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Old 12-21-2010, 03:35 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scn001 View Post
good to know, but have I stressed my "starter" too much to effectively use it in my must?
I don't know. The sulfur smell worries me, though, and I wouldn't use it.
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Old 12-21-2010, 03:45 AM   #7
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fair enough.. as much as I like eating/drinking rotten eggs, that all makes sense. I just wanted to make sure that I didn't miss something.
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Old 12-21-2010, 02:55 PM   #8
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Your starter is stinky because Cote des Blancs is a nutrient hog, and your starter may have been at a too high a temperature.

Since a starter isn't really needed, and you're only talking about a $1 packet of yeast, you may want to just pitch some properly rehydrated yeast and forget the starter. Of course, if you don't manage it differently than you did the starter, you'll wind up with it getting just as stinky.

On the other hand, you can use the starter if you like. What I would do is add it to about 1 gallon of the must and give it plenty of Fermaid K (not just DAP) and aerating, and keep it below 70F. That should allow the sulfur to blow off and the yeast to stop producing H2S. Once the smell is clear, then add it to the rest of the must with appropriate nutrients and you should be able to get a good result.

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Old 12-21-2010, 03:42 PM   #9
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*UPDATE*

Last night I decanted the original starter and figured I would repitch the yeast with an appropriately measured solution.. It was 1.030 before boiling it, so I'm confident it fell between 1.030-1.050. I cooled, pitched the yeast, and let it do its thing overnight.. Just checked it, and the sulpher smell was practically gone.. There was some residual stink, but it mostly smelled like yeast. I added another 1/4 tsp of nutrient.. I think I'll still leave it alone and pitch the dry yeast unless you guys think otherwise..

Thanks for all the feedback.



Reason: Needed updating.
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