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AngryTom

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Hello,

Just joined Homebrew Talk and looking forward to being a part of the community! I'm also new to mead making and I think I've gotten myself into some trouble. The below photo is a traditional mead made with orange blossom honey and using Lalvin 71B yeast. It is two months old and it was racked once about six weeks ago. The creamy stuff on top started forming in the primary vessel soon after the yeast was pitched - probably about five or so days into the fermentation. It started off small and has grown. The honey I used is raw and it was not heated nor filtered by either me or the beekeeper. When it started forming, I found a few sources online that said it was probably wax and various other raw elements of the honey coming to the surface and that it was a good thing and showed I had high-quality honey. I also consulted a few local wine shops and was told it may be yeast and would probably flocculate and settle with time. I have only seen it expand and some additional research leads me to believe this is flowers of wine or mycoderma and the alcohol is likely being consumed by the yeast. I haven't seen the airlock bubble for some time, but there is space between the plastic cap and the venting tube, so there is definitely pressure inside the vessel. There are also bubbles coming out of the solution but very few, and as mentioned above, I believe this is alcohol being converted into CO2. However, it may also be CO2 escaping from solution as a result of the regular fermentation. When I shake the carboy, the creamy stuff dissolves into solution but reappears a few hours later. There is nothing growing underneath the surface. Also, a friend who is a bread maker smelled the airlock and said it smelled "yeasty" but neither of us could detect anything we would consider to be a bad smell. We also both tasted it and it tasted quite good - like an effervescent orange honey wine with a ginger ale-type freshness to it. I have two other batches going and both are showing similar growths. I'm not sure where I went wrong or exactly what the issue is - or if I've gone wrong at all. As a solution, I found one thread that suggested I take an appropriate amount of potassium metabisulfite, dissolve it in some water, add it to a second container and rack the mead into the second container, being sure to rack below the line of film on the top. I've also read that cold crashing it may drive the yeast to the bottom, and then racking it using the previously described method.

Does this make sense to do? Does anyone have any thoughts or ideas as to what is going on or what I can do about it? Any advice or help is greatly appreciated!
 

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RPh_Guy

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It smells good...
It tastes good...
Why the worry?

probably wax and various other raw elements of the honey coming to the surface
This sounds likely.
research leads me to believe this is flowers of wine or mycoderma and the alcohol is likely being consumed by the yeast.
Nope; you would smell/taste vinegar. It's pretty distinctive.
There are also bubbles coming out of the solution but very few,
This is normal off-gassing. The mead is saturated with CO2 after fermentation and it comes out of solution over time.
take an appropriate amount of potassium metabisulfite, dissolve it in some water, add it to a second container and rack the mead into the second container, being sure to rack below the line of film on the top.
This is the normal process.
Racking helps to degas (and by extension, clarify) and prevent autolysis flavor while bulk aging.
Sulfite prevents spoilage from oxygen and microbes.

Cold crashing may help clarify faster but isn't necessary.

Hope this makes sense.
Welcome to HBT!
Cheers
 
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AngryTom

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Hi RPh Guy - thanks for the quick reply! I just gave a smell test to my various batches and they all smell good - no vinegar smell to any of them. These are my first batches, so I have no idea what to expect - thanks for taking the time to reply. One other item I'm not 100% clear on - when should I degas? I've heard to do it right before you bottle, but is there any harm in doing it earlier? I was thinking of racking into a pail, using a wine whip or paint mixer to degas, and the immediately rack again into a glass carboy (with potassium metabisulfite) to age and hopefully clear up.
 

RPh_Guy

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One other item I'm not 100% clear on - when should I degas?
My opinion: I think it's fine to degas any time.

In my experience though, 2+ months and just racking (through an autosiphon) is enough to degas it to the point where there's no detectable carbonation.
 
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