Chemical explanation of mead aging? - Home Brew Forums

Register Now!
Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Mead Forum > Chemical explanation of mead aging?

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 02-01-2011, 12:23 AM   #1
21stAmendment
Recipes 
 
Jan 2011
Lebanon, NH
Posts: 5


Does anyone know where I can find something to read about what goes on chemically when aging mead? Even just a general overview that doesn't go into specifics would be helpful, considering how my level of knowledge is almost nil.

 
Reply With Quote
Old 02-01-2011, 01:52 AM   #2
AZ_IPA
PKU
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
 
AZ_IPA's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Jun 2008
The Cold Part of AZ
Posts: 52,623
Liked 8690 Times on 6986 Posts


It hasn't been well studied at all...

At least that's what I read in Ken Schramm's book...

 
Reply With Quote
Old 02-01-2011, 03:11 AM   #3
YogiBearMead726
Recipes 
 
Jan 2011
San Diego, California
Posts: 25

From what I understand, a lot of the chemical processes involved are things produced during fermentation like fusel alcohols (the ones that cause hang-over symptoms...and make mead smell like rocket fuel/bandaids) and H2S (sulfur compounds produced by stressed yeast). It also allows the aromas and flavors covered up by those compounds to integrate and "return". Basically, aging helps nasty stuff mellow out (though some things need special treatment) and helps the honey character to return.

I think more than anything, this is why it is so important to manage your yeast to make them as happy as possible throughout fermentation. The quality, and subsequent length of aging required, for a mead managed properly is far superior to one that takes 3-4 months to ferment or one fermented at 80F or one with under-nourished yeast.

Something I've learned that helps reduce aging and helps to clear a mead faster, both physically and aroma problem-wise, is to use a lees stirrer attached to a low speed drill and occasionally (once every few weeks without aerating) stir up the yeast cake. The re-suspension of yeast allows active ones to continue fermenting, breaks up any spoilage organisms living protected by yeast layers, and the spent yeast will grab things and re-flocculate.

Sorry I don't know the actual chemistry involved, but this seems to work pretty well to reduce age and increase quality of end product. Hope it helps!
__________________
Primary: War Imperial Red IPA, Mutiny on the Bounty Cyser
Secondary: Chinook/US 2-row SMaSh, Fuggle/MO SMaSH, Rye Barleywine, Belgian RIS, and lots of mead. :)
Kegged: I don't have any kegs yet... :(
Bottled: Simpleton Stout, Know Rye More Reason IPA, Honey Porter, Darkside Dry-hopped Brown Session

 
Reply With Quote
Old 02-01-2011, 04:39 AM   #4
truckjohn
Recipes 
 
Oct 2009
SC USA
Posts: 391
Liked 7 Times on 6 Posts


A good college level organic chemistry textbook would likely be a good place to start to learn about the specific reactions.... Quite a few of the reactions are covered in detail.... like the whole series of reactions that happen to make esters and the like....

Unfortunately, my interest in reading organic chemistry texts waned a few years ago....

Thanks

John

 
Reply With Quote
Old 02-01-2011, 06:55 PM   #5
MedsenFey
Recipes 
 
Jan 2010
Florida
Posts: 1,034
Liked 16 Times on 16 Posts


There are all sorts of chemical reactions going on, and even in wine, where it has been studied, the answers are not fully understood. However, there are a few things that seem clear. Alcohols, especially some of the fusels (higher alcohols) which can cause harsh burning and some off odors will combine with acids to form esters which don't have the burning alcohol character, and which provide more nice aromas.

Phenolic compounds that can cause bitterness tend to aggregate forming larger molecules that cause less bitterness, or they bind with proteins or yeast cells and drop out taking the bitterness with them. The yeast cells (which are bitter) drop out. Undoubtedly there are many other reactions at work, but the result is that smoother, better smelling and tasting mead usually develops.

Medsen

 
Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2011, 03:38 AM   #6
KenSchramm
Recipes 
 
Apr 2009
Troy, MI
Posts: 78
Liked 4 Times on 4 Posts


Medsen and AZ_IPA are right. To know what is really going on would take controlled conditions and lots of expensive HPLC. That level of research gets funded by big money operations, like Mondavi and Gallo, and what has been done is far from exhaustive or conclusive. No one in the mead world has had the wherewithal to drop that kind of change.
__________________
No longer a Junior Member. Thank goodness.

 
Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2011, 03:46 AM   #7
AZ_IPA
PKU
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
 
AZ_IPA's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Jun 2008
The Cold Part of AZ
Posts: 52,623
Liked 8690 Times on 6986 Posts


whew - I got nervous when I saw Ken post in a thread where I knew I had posted something from his book!

 
Reply With Quote
Old 02-03-2011, 11:44 AM   #8
shanes66charger
Recipes 
 
Feb 2010
moorhead
Posts: 48

This is a very interesting topic. I also wonder about the same question in regards to beer. I realize beer has been studied much more than beer. Sadly my understanding of chemistry is weak at best due to "other" more important things during school!!

I guess it's just very intriguing. I mean in the simplest terms you think, ok I put this liquid into a sealed container.........whatever is in there can't escape.......but it can change!

It's pretty cool!

 
Reply With Quote
Reply
Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Mead and Oak Aging ruger12pk Mead Forum 14 05-18-2014 02:29 PM
Aging a mead KJohnson Mead Forum 10 01-31-2011 09:28 AM
aging mead Tdawg Mead Forum 11 08-19-2010 08:52 PM
Mead aging dinich Mead Forum 2 11-19-2008 03:41 AM
Aging Mead mozicodo Mead Forum 2 11-17-2008 05:55 PM


Forum Jump