Old brew with fruit i have questions....

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Aug 10, 2023
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So while my lastest batch of mead was brewing the wife and I revisited some 9 month old bottles of a "failed" experiment.
I attempted to ferment mead with fruit in the vessel. 1 gallon batches an amount of fruit in each, strawberry, cherry, and blueberry.

I dont recall what honey or yeast, but im pretty sure it was 1lb fruit, 2lb honey, water to a gallon. I used frozen fruit from the grocery store.
I left the fruit in the whole time, and siphoned from the bottom of the jug into bottles.

All 3 batches were horrifically bad, bitter, sour, astringent, just gross. Disappointed by it i just pushed the bottles into a corner of the kitchen and ignored them for 9 months. The other night i decided i should probably go ahead and get rid of them and grabbed a shot glass to see if anything had changed. They all looked clear, no mold or anything, so i poured a half a shot glass of each and sipped and let my wife sip. The strawberry one is still horrifying, the blueberry has the same weird taste as the strawberry but not as bad, and theres a HINT of what i dare call blueberry flavor. The cherry one though... is actually "good" i think it taste like a non-sweet cognac, a subtle raisin taste and finishes with a definite dark cherry flavor.

As for my questions.
Should I have not left the fruit in the whole time?
Is there anything I can do with the bad tasting ones? (kind of an odd plastic flavor)
Am i correct in assuming no cloudiness or floating bits, like mold, mean its "safe" to drink?
While I haven't experienced it, I have been told that the seeds of strawberries in primary fermentation can cause that phenolic flavor that you are experiencing... and that it doesn't go away. My positive experience with strawberry has been to add them in secondary in a bag and then remove them 7-10 days later once the juice and color has been extracted.

I have used Strawberries in primary, but I ended up pressing all the fruit to use the juice so that the seeds weren't a potential problem. Keep in mind that in primary it takes a ton of strawberries for that flavor to survive fermentation... secondary is my preferred place to add it.

I've used Blueberry plenty in primary and carried them to aging when racking to secondary; they key being their removal once the fruit has gone white. This needs a bit of back sweetening to help restore the blueberry flavor, IMO.

As far as salvaging them, you could try and rack them off of what has settled to the bottom, stabilize them and then back sweeten a bit to see if some sweetness will mask the phenolic taste if it is light enough.