Author Topic: Could it be the honey?  (Read 1172 times)

Offline enso

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Could it be the honey?
« on: June 25, 2010, 08:31:54 AM »
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?
Dave Brush

Offline enso

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Re: Could it be the honey?
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2010, 09:51:33 AM »
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.
Dave Brush

Offline enso

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Re: Could it be the honey?
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2010, 07:24:52 AM »
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.
Dave Brush

Offline BrewArk

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Re: Could it be the honey?
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2010, 06:16:16 PM »
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)
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Offline enso

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Re: Could it be the honey?
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2010, 06:28:45 AM »
Yes, I have.  I took to melomels because the fruit seems to overcome some of the off flavors.  Sometimes.   :(
Dave Brush

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Could it be the honey?
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2010, 07:07:52 AM »
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.
Jeff Rankert
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Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline beerrat

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Re: Could it be the honey?
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2010, 10:39:39 AM »
Honey seems to be the likely suspect.  What do you use for sanitizing?  How good are the air locks when aging?

Offline Brewdogz

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Re: Could it be the honey?
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2010, 09:29:16 AM »
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. 
Curt Stock
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Lots of beers brewing
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Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Could it be the honey?
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2010, 01:17:19 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.
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline enso

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Re: Could it be the honey?
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2010, 05:51:23 AM »
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.
Dave Brush