Problem with my mead, maybe?

After reading a bunch of tutorials and forums I decided to try my hand at making my first batch of flavored mead. I used my own recipe but followed the basic technique to make it.

Recipe: 1 gallon

2/3 gallon of 100% Apple juice
2lbs raw honey
1 cinnamon stick
One whole clove
Bakers yeast
Purified drinking water to top off

I used the bakers yeast because I didn’t want to pay $15 for yeast online to make something I might not like and the only brew store is a two hour city bus ride one way.

I heated the Apple juice in a large sterilized pot until it was just warm and threw spices. I simmered it for about 10 minutes then pulled out the cinnamon stick and clove . Then I let it cool, mixed in the honey until it was dissolved and poured it into a one gallon carboy, adding the purified drinking water to top it off. I reconstituted the yeast at about 85° and pitched it. It stared bubbling in a few hours and went hard for a while. After 3 weeks the fermentation appeared to slow almost to a stop (lees than two bubbles a minute) so i racked it into a second carboy. There was a decent amount of lees in the bottom of the carboy. I took a small sample and tasted it, nearly choking. It defiantly fermented into alcohol but it’s terrible. It’s bitter and foul. No rotten flavored but extremely bitter and acrid. Even after setting in the fridge for a few hours. Is this contamination possibly or just young mead? I’ve read where it can take a year to become drinkable.

I’d say you should have spend the $$ on real mead or wine yeast. Unless you’re doing a tried and true recipe (JAOM is the only one I’m familiar with that uses it), bakers yeast generally makes for a poor yeast substitute. Young mead can be unpleasant, but bitter and acrid are not typical descriptions…usually its just kind of hot and alcoholic tasting. That said, I wouldn’t toss it quite yet since its only a gallon and you never know. Give it 6 months to see if it improves at all, but I wouldn’t have high hopes for this one.

Mead can take a long time to get really good, but it shouldn’t be awful at any time. The baker’s yeast it the obvious issue with this recipe, but I would expect phenolic and bubblegum off-flavors more than acrid. When you say “acrid”, could it also be described as vinegary? If yes, then that is a definite sign of infection, and next time you need to do a better job of keeping fruit flies away.

There are other issues you might want to look at for your next try.

Apple juice and honey vary tremendously in quality and flavor. It is worth spending extra to get better tasting ingredients. And always make sure they are free of preservatives.

If you do splurge for better ingredients, heating will destroy some of that character, plus it will set the pectin in the apple juice, leading to cloudiness later on. Read up on “no heat” methods of mead making.

Good luck.

Maybe tart would be a better descriptive. Last night I had some English dry cider my roommate bought at the liquor store. The aftertaste of that cider is like my mead only not nearly as strong. I’m gonna let it go for a while longer and see if it gets better in a few months. Next time I will get better yeast, I already had the bakers yeast and there was the long bus ride to get the other. Thanks for the replies. I’m looking at a beer kit next.