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General Category => Other Fermentables => Topic started by: enso on June 25, 2010, 03:31:54 PM

Title: Could it be the honey?
Post by: enso on June 25, 2010, 03:31:54 PM
So, I was all set to give up on mead making.  Then I recently bottled a raspberry melomel I made last summer.  It was actually decent.  It would not win any awards I am sure but it was drinkable if not tasty.  My wife really enjoyed it.  Sadly there were only 2 gallons...

However, all the other batches I made last summer have the same issues I have had for the last 3 years I have tried to make meads.  They have a wintergreen sort of aroma (in the past I identified it with the old waxed lips) and a bitterness that may be from hot alcohol.  Even after a year of bulk aging.

I have tried all the methods out there.  Using different nutrient schedules and aerating, keeping the temp under control and constant, keeping them topped up while aging...  Yes proper sanitation!  I have read many posts on different forums, Ken Schramms book (though I do not own it), and tried recipes out of books.  I have used generally champagne/wine yeasts.  Mostly Lalvin.

I suspect that if it were not for the tannic nature of the raspberries I would probably taste the same problems with that melomel.  The only common theme on all these meads was the honey.  I always used a local clover honey.  No idea of the source really.  It is repacked from bulk at my local food coop.  It was relatively inexpensive ($4 a lb. vs. $8 for a "brand" name honey)

Is it perhaps this honey that is giving me issues?  Would trying to order some honey (and maybe a "kit") from somewhere like Northern Brewer give me better results?  Or am I just mead challenged?  It pisses me off to no end when I read mead is the easiest fermented beverage to make!  I make damn good beer.  Why can't I make even decent mead?
Title: Re: Could it be the honey?
Post by: enso on June 25, 2010, 04:51:33 PM
Oh, one more thought.  Yes I have already checked the water source.  Originally I was using town water which I discovered despite my attempts at filtering is wicked chlorinated. I changed to a fantastic spring I found for all my brewing water.  Huge difference in most fermentables.  Sadly not in the mead though.
Title: Re: Could it be the honey?
Post by: enso on June 27, 2010, 02:24:52 PM
Any mead makers online this weekend?  Is there maybe a better forum to ask my question?  I would love to be able to make a good mead.  My wife really dug it...  ;)

I have to say, I have not had a good commercial example.  I tried one from a Vermont meadery, Honey Gardens,  I was not too impressed.  It tasted nothing like what I would consider "nectar of the gods".  Actually if i recall correctly it had some similar off taste that my own attempts have albeit on a low level.  So, I guess I do not even really know what I am shooting for.  A friend makes a blueberry melomel that I really love.  Unfortunately, he is not much help in offering advice.  When asked how he does it he implies he just throws it together and tada!  Delicious mead.

grrr.
Title: Re: Could it be the honey?
Post by: BrewArk on June 28, 2010, 01:16:16 AM
Have you tried making mead without the fruit?  I can't really call myself a mead maker (haven't made enough batches to say), but going w/just the honey would give you a pretty good single variable test.  (I like my mead that way)
Title: Re: Could it be the honey?
Post by: enso on June 28, 2010, 01:28:45 PM
Yes, I have.  I took to melomels because the fruit seems to overcome some of the off flavors.  Sometimes.   :(
Title: Re: Could it be the honey?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on June 28, 2010, 02:07:52 PM
It would not hurt to try a different honey.  At the NHC there was a mead panel by the local meadmakers of the year.  There are some honey varieties they have tried, and will not try again. 

Orange blossom honey would be a good one to try.  Online sourcing might be the way to go.
Title: Re: Could it be the honey?
Post by: beerrat on July 07, 2010, 05:39:39 PM
Honey seems to be the likely suspect.  What do you use for sanitizing?  How good are the air locks when aging?
Title: Re: Could it be the honey?
Post by: Brewdogz on July 14, 2010, 04:29:16 PM
If all your attempts give you the same off flavor even after you changed your water, the honey probably is the issue.

But it could be almost anything - nutrient type/amount, yeast, etc.

Shoot out a recipe and that could help find the issue.  Also a taste of the mead would be most benefical.

The wax lips thing is common for some low grade honey. 

I am not an advocate for boiling but, you could try to do a low short boil (15 minutes) of the must which will bring much of the wax and other undesirables to the surface and can be skimmed. 
Title: Re: Could it be the honey?
Post by: gordonstrong on August 07, 2010, 08:17:19 PM
I agree with Curt.  Waxy mead usually comes from crappy honey.  Try another source.  Mail order if you have to.  I buy the 5 gallon pails, typically.
Title: Re: Could it be the honey?
Post by: enso on September 03, 2010, 12:51:23 PM
Update.

I ordered some honey from Northern Brewer, a "kit" actually for dry mead using the Ames farms honey.  I made it back on "Mead day".  I suppose I should take a sample and see how it is.  I can say the honey itself definitely tasted WAY different then any honey I have experienced previously.  Wicked tasty.  I am hopeful.