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Probably about halfway through fermenting a cysor (apple-honey). Smell is strong. Have a few carboys on the go, and only one has gone 'off' this way. Anyone know what happened or if a correction is possible?

I looked up some common homebrewing wine fault smells, but didn't find mine.

Thanks for helping.

  • You don't happen to speak Polish? This might be your answer, but I can't translate now, too much work for such a broad topic. Last sentence there is "Often encountered in ciders". – Mołot Nov 1 '15 at 19:24
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It's the honey, but not likely a problem. Meads when young smell and taste horrible, like as you put it; nail polish remover.

In every case of mead I have experienced this, and the only resolution was time. Let it age and it mellows out to something indescribably good and heavenly.

The only mead I ever made which didn't suffer from this acetone problem was a citrus mead. Not sure what the difference is/was but it never seemed to need as much aging.

  • To add a comment to my own answer. Based on my experience, meads are 2-5 years of aging before they are any good. But once you have been making wines for a while, you'll always have a batch running so you won't run out and have to wait another 5 years. – Escoce Nov 4 '15 at 16:26
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This sounds like Acetaldehyde. It may be caused by infection (worst case), or by not enough starting oxygen for yeast, underpitching, bad yeast condition, wrong temperature of fermentation, oxygenation too late in the process, and some other reasons.

Luckily, given time yeast should be able to process it into ethanol. So if this is not an infection, just rouse your yeast back into suspension, and give it few extra weeks. If it's infection, it's lost already so why not? And for most of other reasons, it'll help.

Oh, and be really, really sure that you stay safe when tasting etc. If it's not fully fermented, it's easy to introduce infections, so tasting might be risky thing to do.


For the sake of completeness, I feel like I should mention higher alcohols. Large amounts of simple sugars might be the cause, and honey is simple sugars in most part. Also, too high temperature can be the reason. But this would happen in all carboys, wouldn't it? It should, if it's the same recipe or even batch, and they are all fermented in one room. So I don't think it's a cause here, given the OP's description. But smell fits this case, too.

  • Seems like you and I are on the same page. I never worked with simple sugars in dry form, only sucrose and honey, but yeah every mead I ever made needed lots of aging, but was always worth it in the end. – Escoce Nov 2 '15 at 19:31
  • It would be Ethyl Acetate that smells like acetone: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wine_fault#Ethyl_acetate – Philippe Nov 2 '15 at 21:56
  • @Philippe Different sources, different descriptions. This is the resource I used and it happens to support what I say. Of course, there are many brands of nail polish removers ;p – Mołot Nov 3 '15 at 9:26

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