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MakinMead

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Good afternoon everyone,

A month ago I started a batch of traditional mead with raw Acacia blossom honey. This stuff fermented down to bone dry in 10 days flat, and I racked. Obviously I have to sample it, and it was TERRIBLE. Strange smell, maybe some H2S but ultimately just smells weird and burns the nose(not so much from the booze). I initially was thinking maybe I accidentally ruined it with too much nutrient, but I’m not so convinced that is the case. I will explain my process briefly.

I used 3 lbs of raw acacia honey
Lalvin ec-1118 yeast
Spring water
1 Tsp Fermax.
Room temp mixed and pitched.
Fermented at a constant 64 degrees.

So where I initially thought I screwed the pooch was by performing SNA, because it was my first time doing the method and I mistakingly used 1 Tsp per feeding(so 3 times if you include the initial), as opposed to breaking up the 1 tsp over 3 additions. That being said, this mead is a month old now, and aside from the alcohol taste there is just a really really bad bitter harsh taste on the back end, and it’s crystal clear. Almost the color of water even. Boozey and disgustingly bitter. I considered racking onto potassium sorbate and backsweetening, but does anyone have a clue as to why this bitter chemical taste is present? I appreciate the feedback.
 

Maylar

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Fermax has inorganic nitrogen (DAP), which yeast can't assimilate after about 9% alcohol. If you fed the ferment down to the 2/3 sugar break you'd be at that point. My guess is that you're tasting the nutrient that couldn't be used by the yeast.
 

bernardsmith

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Hi MakinMead - and welcome.
I wonder if the "bitterness" may be a feature of this honey when fermented brut dry. Okay, it is only one month old - and when you use a yeast like EC-1118 I don't think you can reasonably expect a drinkable mead in 4 weeks - Or 4 months for that matter... but pour yourself a measure and sweeten it with sugar. Does it taste less bitter?
Any "weird smell" is a red flag. If it smells like rotten eggs (H2S) then you have stressed the yeast while "nose burning" suggests fusel alcohols...
 
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MakinMead

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Interesting about the DAP, I wasn’t aware of the tolerance. Good bit of information. As I suspected. It is a fair chance I added too much of that Fermax. Thanks for the opinion.

@bernardsmith, I have a curious thought about the yeast, why do you say that specific yeast takes longer to age? Simply because of how aggressive it is? It’s the only batch I’ve used that yeast in, out of 4. Consequently, it’s the only batch that has turned out “bad”. So I am curious for sure.
 

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They say it's not a matter of IF you have a bad brew but WHEN you have a bad brew. No shame in tossing it and trying again. This time, though, I wouldn't bottle after only 10 days. I would rack it and let it sit quiet in a dark room for a month. Rack it again and taste it. If it still is nasty, let is sit for another 30 days. Repeat until the taste improves or you get tired of racking it and toss it to try again. I sometime have mine rack four or five times before I'm happy with it.
 

CKuhns

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10 days is fast - EC 1118 is a beast.

Wait it out. As suggested previously the nutrient likely is causing some of the problem. (It will age out)

I have had a couple batches take a couple of years to get acceptable. Open one after 6 months and see how it does. You may be pleasantly surprised in 18 - 24 months.
 
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I have had a couple batches take a couple of years to get acceptable. Open one after 6 months and see how it does. You may be pleasantly surprised in 18 - 24 months.
You may have to wait Years?!? I can't even wait 2 weeks for bottles of beer to carb. Sheesh. This is one of several reasons I am not even remotely tempted to dabble with mead. I can't imagine tying up a fermenter for that long, let alone maintaining the liquid level in an airlock. Forget to top it off one time and boom, infected batch. The bees already worked incredibly hard to produce the honey, then it takes you years to make good mead? No thanks.
 

CKuhns

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Mead is not beer, in my opinion like a good wine mead must age a bit. - "Patience Grasshopper." and yes for a full bodied high ABV mead it is not uncommon to age for months if not years.

Many other mead recipes allow for a mead to be drinkable and pretty good at just a month or two but truly great at 6 - 9 months. Just as most of the "bigger" beers at 2 weeks are good but much better at 8 - 12 weeks. Some stouts and porters get that much better again at 2+ years.

This particular OP caused his mead to be a bit "off" very likely due to too much nutrient. Unfortunately the only way I know to fix this particular problem is with time.

I am sorry you will not try your hand at fermenting mead as it takes a bit longer than beer. You are missing out on what I consider a truly amazing drink. (I ferment Cider and like beer you can drink it while you wait for the mead.)
 

Maylar

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You may have to wait Years?!? I can't even wait 2 weeks for bottles of beer to carb. Sheesh. This is one of several reasons I am not even remotely tempted to dabble with mead. I can't imagine tying up a fermenter for that long, let alone maintaining the liquid level in an airlock. Forget to top it off one time and boom, infected batch. The bees already worked incredibly hard to produce the honey, then it takes you years to make good mead? No thanks.
The accepted / preferred practices for mead making have changed drastically in the last few years. Yeast selection and fermentation management have evolved to a point where you can make excellent mead in just a couple months if you follow the latest scientific protocols. The old "pitch and forget" methods that took years to mellow out are long gone.

But in cases like the OP's situation where something went wrong you end up with off flavors that ~sometimes~ will dissipate with time. Sulfur produced by stressed yeast and fusels from a fast ferment at too high a temperature for instance can improve with long aging. But those flaws can be mitigated by carefully following established protocols.
 

Shine0n

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This am I opened a bottle of dry mead that was 4 weeks ago undrinkable, I took a small sample and it's drinkable now.

It is a 10% traditional with D47 fermented at 65 and sna.

As it being really dry I thought it had either an infection or something so I just bottled the gallon and put in the closet as I've heard that time will do its thing and it has.

3 weeks ferment
1 month in secondary
1 month in the bottles
So at 2.75 months it's drinkable and in another 3 months it should be fantastic but it's sooo dry but sooo good.

Give it a little time and see, what's the worst that can happen:)
 

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You may have to wait Years?!? I can't even wait 2 weeks for bottles of beer to carb. Sheesh. This is one of several reasons I am not even remotely tempted to dabble with mead. I can't imagine tying up a fermenter for that long, let alone maintaining the liquid level in an airlock. Forget to top it off one time and boom, infected batch. The bees already worked incredibly hard to produce the honey, then it takes you years to make good mead? No thanks.
Not all meads take forever, my recipie finished at 19.5%ABV with a Champaign yeast in just 8ish weeks and is delicious and smooth straight out the carboy.
 
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MakinMead

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I would like to thank everyone for their opinions and advice. I don’t have a lot of time in my days to post on here so sorry for not responding to each one individually. I have decided to backsweeten, I tried a sample with white sugar in it, and it seemed to help it a lot. So I do believe with backsweetening and time it will heal this injury haha. In the mean time, other batches are going well. Have my own variation of JOAM in bottles, blackberry racked, and blueberry/lemon racked. All tasting great. Thanks again
 
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MakinMead

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Just a follow up here, for anyone interested...I backsweetened this evening win about a pound of run of the mill clover honey. I typically like to stick to raw materials but at this point, I just wanted to save my batch, and I would like to happily say I have stripped the mead of its awful flavor. I assume I have just covered it up, but nevertheless, now it tastes pretty good for a young one. How long should I wait to bottle this?
 

bernardsmith

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You may not have "covered" any off flavors. You may simply prefer a sweeter mead. Dry meads focus your attention on the flavor of the honey and so the flavor from the flowers from which the bees made their honey. You may not like the unsweetened flavor of acacia. Different floral sources produce very different flavored honeys (absent the sweetness).
 
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MakinMead

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Well, while I trust what you say to an extent..and I surely believe that there is a possibility of acacia producing strange flavors, I do know for a fact that I enjoy dry meads and wines, and there was definitely an almost distinct H2S smell as well at a bitterness that is not natural, prior to sweetening. That being said, it is much better now and I believe the harshness will age out. How long do you think I should wait until bottling?
 

Yooper

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Well, while I trust what you say to an extent..and I surely believe that there is a possibility of acacia producing strange flavors, I do know for a fact that I enjoy dry meads and wines, and there was definitely an almost distinct H2S smell as well at a bitterness that is not natural, prior to sweetening. That being said, it is much better now and I believe the harshness will age out. How long do you think I should wait until bottling?
Did you stabilize it with sorbate and campden before adding more honey? If not, it will ferment the new honey addition. Make sure you don't bottle until you have stable gravity readings and a super clear mead.
 
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MakinMead

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I did indeed rack onto potassium sorbate, also it was fermented down to .999 about 2 weeks ago, so I’m not concerned with it fermenting any more sugar at this point, or if it does... shouldn’t be enough to blow corks or anything should it?
 
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