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Resiny mead

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Anton

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I made my first ever batch of mead according to a recipe I found on YouTube (
).

I used Bulgarian wildflower honey, and EC-1118, first ferment in plastic for 6 weeks, transferred off lees to swing-top glass bottles about a fortnight ago.

The result is distinctly resiny - almost medicinal, and not what I'd expected.

Is this usual? Is it likely to become more palatable in time? Or should I just dump it?

How can I avoid this in future batches?

Most grateful for any guidance, please.
 

johncrobinson

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Normally a medicinal flavour is down to a lack of acid,There is no cure
 

johncrobinson

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You need a bit of acid at the start of fermentation to avoid a cough mixture (glue) off flavour. Especially if your water is hard and alkaline.

I like to use tartaric acid at about 1 level teaspoon per gallon.

At a push lemon juice can be used but this will impart its own flavour.

Don`t forget to add some yeast nutrient as well
 

Anton

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Thanks @johncrobinson .The brew is a few weeks past first ferment - is there any point in adding the acid now, or should I just write it off as a failed experiment and pour t down the sink?
 

johncrobinson

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As far as am aware the yeast itself produces this solvent like off flavour if there is insufficient acid,So once you have got it that's it.

Most fruits contain acid so unlike honey the problem is rare.
Honey is also short on yeast nutrient as well so be sure to add some nutrient.

The raisins in the video will add a small amount of acid and nutrient but i think you are better off just buying a couple of tubs,The raisins can still be added for flavour though.
 

Anton

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Thank you - that's very useful.

Looks like it's going down the sink, and I'll have another crack at it after winter.

Is adding tartaric acid a better option than hoping the raisins will do it?

I did, incidentally add yeast nutrient - Young's diammonium phosphate, ammonium sulphate. I had hoped to use yeast hulls, as that sounded more natural than synthetic chemicals, but scarce and way too expensive at the time. Do you have a preferred nutrient? The DAP seemed to work - I thought I'd left plenty of space but the froth still surged up into the airlocks.

Is adding the tea and orange peel infusion (as in the video) actually useful?

I'd be really interested to see your method, if you're willing to share?
 

johncrobinson

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Quite a list so here goes.

I think adding the acid is better than relying only on the raisins especially if your water is hard and alkaline.
Raisins do mature into a very nice flavour in ALL homemade wines.

Young's DAP is fine as a nutrient.There are proprietary mixes on the market which claim to offer more "complete" nutrition but Young's DAP is just fine.
Yeast hulls are a bit of a different thing and can be made at home by heat treating bread yeast.

Ecc-1118 can make a very strong mead so you are ok there it is quite low foaming so its unusual to climb out the airlock.Dont overfill your demijohns. i allow about 4 inches gap to the top until fermentation dies down.

The tea adds tannin's and provides a nice mouthfeel. If you prefer something more neutral Young's sell grape tannin.Its a red powder You only need a tiny bit.Dont overdo it.
The orange peel is flavoring I sometimes use vanilla in my mead.

Why wait till next year,Get another batch on the go asap. athumb..
 
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johncrobinson

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One other little thing beware of using plastic that is not specifically for homebrew.Just an afterthought.
I ruined some of my own wine with poor plastic.

Also worth noting i can get through the whole process from start to finish in a couple of weeks,I prefer my mead dry and its very drinkable as soon as it has cleared.

OK i use starters,heat-pads,finings and filters.etc,etc. but it does mean it is possible to go from bucket to bottle in under 3 weeks.
There is a small improvement after its been kept but as i say drinkable from the off
 

Anton

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Thanks for all that detail @johncrobinson - very kind of you!

My brewing place is a repurposed old Argos wardrobe in our garage. Even with a cupboard warmer on "high", it's around 13-14°C now, which I believe is a bit too cool for yeasts? Hence the plan to wait for warmer weather.

it sounds like the effort involved in making yeast hulls at home is not really worthwhile, given that DAP works?

I've been using empty 2 litre soda water bottles, not wanting to overcapitalise just yet! I confess that I used them for the (undrinkable) mead as well. I made my first ciders that way too, but now using 5 litre DJs. I will not use plastic again.

Re your 3-week ferment. I have wondered why people recommend six weeks before racking, as the first very active flush of fermentation seems to die down after 1½-2 weeks. I really have no idea what happens in the first-ferment DJs that could not happen equally well in the final bottles? The lees settled to the bottom and did not seem to be contributing.

What process do you use for filtering? I used lab filters but it's really slow, and I think it loses a lot of alcohol - there must be a better way. Having said that, the (failed) mead was very clear, without any flocculant or filtering. The cider did need isinglass though.
 

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Its something i have touched on a few times on the forum,In many old books fermentation times are quoted as 6-12 MONTHS,
Cold slow fermentation's were the order of the day,The slower the better in fact,This was due to the belief that a fast fermentation would "blow off" volatile esters responsible for certain essential flavour notes and the nose of the wine.
They were also concerned that if the temperature got too high the yeast itself would produce off flavours.

This of course was an era of coal fires. unheated rooms and fermenting in stone jars.Keen winemakers also worked to the ambition of having a large stock of dozens of demijohns of fermenting and maturing wines.
My own father worked toward these ideals.
He NEVER used a fermentation heater.!!!!!!
On his death I was left a stock of about 200 gallons of wine.

Today the situation is very different we have all the gadgets/nutrients and effective finings to produce wines in far less time.
Technique has also changed for example the idea of "cold crashing" wine to speed clearing was unheard of,

Tastes have also changed,Gone are the very sweet heavy wines of yesteryear,These days folks prefer drier fresh tasting young wines.
Look at the success of WOWs on this forum for example.!!!
Same goes for most tastes in beers.

Technique wise:-
I use a Harris vinbright Mk3 filter.It filters under pressure, A gallon can be filtered in minuets.
My fermentation temps are around 25c.By means of fish-tank heaters or heat-pads.
Fast acting yeasts such as ecc-1118 with a large pitching rate (use of starters) also helps,As does attention to yeast nutrition. ( Use of vitamin B1 for example).
 
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johncrobinson

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Another difference in modern technique is the use of Pot Sorbate to immediately stop fermentation,

In the old days one had to wait and wait and wait to make sure fermentation was completely and fully finished,
The results could be bottle bombs otherwise

Its why lay people at the time got the idea that homebrew was so strong.!!! :laugh8:
 

Anton

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That was most informative - thank you. I've ordered te filter kit, due Wednesday.

I've just checked and found that EC-1118 works down to 10°C, so I'll start a new batch of mead now. Do you have any recommendations for the honey? I used Bulgarian wild flower honey.
 

johncrobinson

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Yes ecc-1118 works down to quite low temperatures,Thats its original use in pressurizing champagne bottles.
It also has one of the highest alcohol tolerances of all yeasts.
Further it is what is known as a "killer yeast" which means it will dispose of competition from wild yeast.
Forms easy to clear wines because of good settling out property's.
In fact its my favorite yeast for all my wines.

HOWEVER at the low temperatures you are talking about even it will slow down.
Is there no chance of getting your fermentation cupboard up to about 18-20C. ??/
I forget exactly but if memory serves me every plus 3 degrees Doubles the speed of fermentation.

I don't have a special honey but much of the supermarket stuff is normally sterile (important)

wild or home made honey is not.Therefore it needs to be pasteurized (easy to do) and got under fermentation asap.
Some use campden tablets to sanitize the honey I prefer not to.
My pasteurizing regime is to heat the honey to minimum 85C or even a gentle boil
then mix with boiled water cover, and allow to cool. When cool add to demijohn with the other ingredients
My use of a starter means airlock activity begins within the hour.. If you don't use a starter you may have to wait a day or two to get the airlock going.

This sanitation issue is of great importance in winemaking and EVEN MORE SO with mead.
The high sugar concentration of raw honey gives a false sense of security.!!!
Once the honey watered down for mead, All the bacteria and molds can have a field day.

This (the above) is another reason i like to get my fermentation's off to a "Flying Start" Once all the oxygen is used and there is significant alcohol in the ferment it becomes self protecting.

Hope this helps.
 
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