Author Topic: Water for mead: No boil = Possible bacterial infection from tap water?  (Read 1818 times)

Offline topher.bartos

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Hi,

I was wondering if the water you use in a mead could potentially create bacterial infection since there is no boil. Should you use warmer / hot water? I'm thinking about making my first mead this weekend and would like some good tips.

Thanks,
Chris
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Water for mead: No boil = Possible bacterial infection from tap water?
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2017, 01:20:08 PM »
Honey contains organisms, which although they are unable to multiply in the honey itself, when combined with water, they can take off quickly.  So yes, I think this can lead to contamination.  I made a putrid mead one time when I just combined honey and water and did not pasteurize.  Tasted like vomit.  Never again.  Now I always heat honey and water together to about 160 F (70 C) for 15 minutes, then allow to cool before pitching yeast.  Never had another problem since.  I do the same thing for cider or anytime I want to avoid potential for wild organisms to get a foothold.  Since you're only heating mildly but not boiling, you will not lose aromatics, despite what "experts" might tell you.  I make some of the most aromatic ciders and meads of anyone I know.

Enjoy.
Dave

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Offline pete b

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Re: Water for mead: No boil = Possible bacterial infection from tap water?
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2017, 06:52:59 PM »
I heat just the water up to just below boiling. This also helps dissolve the honey. Never had a problem in hundreds of batches.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Water for mead: No boil = Possible bacterial infection from tap water?
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2017, 07:41:08 PM »
I just use cool tap water. I use the whisk attachment on my stick blender to mix/aerate the must. I have yet to run into an issue. Hypothetically, I may be rolling the dice. But pragmatically, until I shoot craps for the first time I'm going to stick with what works for me.

FWIW, I don't sanitize any fruit that I add at primary before pitching, either. I do use plenty of yeast, rehydrate with Go-ferm, use staggered nutrient additions and aerate several times a day for the first 5-7 days. I'm pretty confident that my yeast can out-compete any other microbes until they produce enough alcohol and drop the pH to where competing microbes aren't an issue.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Water for mead: No boil = Possible bacterial infection from tap water?
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2017, 08:29:59 PM »
Many use the dump and stir technique, no heat to the water or honey.
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Offline mchrispen

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Re: Water for mead: No boil = Possible bacterial infection from tap water?
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2017, 01:11:52 PM »
While it is possible, I would suspect something else. Water (tap) is incredibly reliable unless you live near Flint MI.


It is easy to miss a step (or get a bit lazy) on the cleaning side. Note that sanitation won't properly sanitize something that is even lightly dirty. PBW or OneStep for cleaning, a good rinse, and a solid sanitation step with StarSan, SaniClean, or Iodophor should be adequate for most mead makers. I do occasionally go for a very long and hot carboy soak with PBW when I notice scum or "spots" sticking.


I follow tailored SNA protocols that include pitching a fairly large amount of yeast (4-5g to a gallon for a 1.150 gravity), along with rehydration with goFerm at 1.25x the weight of the yeast I am using. This, along with sulfite conditioning of the must before pitching (when using any fruit), seems to give the sacc adequate opportunity to get up and fermenting and outcompete any or most of the residual bugs from fruit and honey.

Offline john.buck.946

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Re: Water for mead: No boil = Possible bacterial infection from tap water?
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2017, 06:55:33 AM »
If your city water treatment plant is operating according to law, there should be zero bacteria in it. Minerals and bacteria killing chemicals may be another story.

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