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Dragon Blood - Throwing in the towel (this time)

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Trevor7

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Well, if anything will humble you, it's a venture that goes wrong...
After 7 - 8 kit wines (thinking that I was destined for greatness), I made my venture into Dragon Blood. Things were going great! SG was coming down, that lemony fruit smell was permeating the air... Life was good! But when I went to stir and "press" the three berry combo on Day 5, the smell was no longer sweet. It was acrid, sour, almost a burning smell. The taste was not good and was just like the fruit had gone bad. On Day 6 the fine mesh bag was slimy which was my clue that it was time to ping the experts to see what went wrong and how I could have prevented it.
I followed the instructions exactly, with the exception that I used Santa Cruz Natural Lemon Juice, pasteurized with no preservatives added instead of RealLemon (with Sorbate). I guess I'm throwing this out there to see if anyone has experienced this, and what I could have done differently. My first thought was to keep the bag 100% immersed, but after reading 30 pages of DB chat, I didn't see anything like this. DB Gurus - Looking for some consoling input here.
As always, I thank you in advance! -T7
 
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dcbrown73

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Hmm. I can't image natural lemon juice would be a problem and anything with sorbate should be used as a bash since sorbate will prevent further fermentation.

Now, dragons blood once the sugar is gone, will be tough to drink as you must back-sweeten it after fermentation and adding sorbate to prevent further fermentation after back-sweetening.

I would wait for more feedback before doing anything rash.
 

pillswoj

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What is the current SG? As the fruit breaks down slimy is not necessarily bad. is the smell like rotten eggs - H2S from the yeast being stressed?

Based on the SG either add some nutrient or rack it off the lees if it is below 1.010
 

Trevor7

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The SG was at 1.02 yesterday, haven't checked it today. I do know what H2S smell is, but this isn't that. I did add some more yeast nutrient this morning, so I'll see what the results of that will be.
 

Killa J

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I’m in the process of making my first batch - fermentation is complete at this point. It doesn’t smell good, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it bad. It reminds me of cleaning up a bar at the end of the night. It does taste pretty bad right now, but I’m waiting for it to clear before backsweetening. I’d say give it time.
 

Trevor7

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I’m in the process of making my first batch - fermentation is complete at this point. It doesn’t smell good, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it bad. It reminds me of cleaning up a bar at the end of the night. It does taste pretty bad right now, but I’m waiting for it to clear before backsweetening. I’d say give it time.
Ya know, that pretty much describes the smell perfectly. (I just might hit a bar tonight just to confirm :b ) I've been spoiled by kits that smell good all during the fermentation and clearing process so this did concern me. Thank you all for the responses.
PS - Just retrieved the towel... :)
 
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Zintrigue

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Eh... I've made a lot of dragon blood and it's always smelled just like the bag of triple berry all the way through. I mean I'm no pro at it, but your off smell combined with this slime business sounds bad to me. You know what your description reminds me of? Lacto-fermentation. Sometimes I ferment veggies on my counter using lactic acid and they make a bit of a slime, but it's a probiotic sort of slime, and they definitely smell sour (it's how our ancestors made pickles).

Thing is, if your fruit is lacto-fermenting, then it makes me wonder what happened to your yeast. Did you use the Lalvin EC-1118? That's a very aggressive yeast and it usually beats out other organisms.

Anyhoo. I found this online, might be what you're dealing with. https://www.extension.iastate.edu/wine/lactic-acid-bacteria-and-wine-spoilage

Or maybe you have something completely different going on. Either case, I hope your dragon blood finds a happy ending, because it really is wonderful.

Cheers.
 

Trevor7

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Mine’s in the clearing stage now but after 2 days it’s still cloudy throughout - I used LC-1118 and the suggestion to add more nutrient resulted in more fermentation activity with SG going from 1.020 to 0.994. I followed the instructions as noted above but if next weekend it is still cloudy, I’ll throw in the towel (again) and start a new batch.
Thank you all !
 

opus345

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Mine’s in the clearing stage now but after 2 days it’s still cloudy throughout - I used LC-1118 and the suggestion to add more nutrient resulted in more fermentation activity with SG going from 1.020 to 0.994. I followed the instructions as noted above but if next weekend it is still cloudy, I’ll throw in the towel (again) and start a new batch.
Thank you all !
Starting a new batch is always recommended even if the first batch is perfect. :b

Two days? Don't throw it out. What have you done in the clearing stage?

Potassium Metabisulfite?
PotassiumSorbate?
Dualfine?
Pectic Enzyme?

I have had batches easily take 1-4 weeks to clear. Usually 1-2 weeks is normal if you have stabilized and added a clearing agent. Another big factor on how fast a batch will clear is how much de-gassing has been done. More degassing = less clearing time.
 

Zintrigue

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Yeah, give it more time. 0.994 SG is dry and done. If you followed the instructions for all the additives then clearing can easily take more than a week, especially if degassing wasn't as good as it could have been.

I mean, worst case you let it sit three months and it clears regardless of what clearing agents you added. I've had a 1/2g bottle of dragon blood sitting on the counter in my laundry room for about a year. Didn't degass it. Didn't add clearing agents to it. Didn't do a thing besides put it in there after primary cause I had excess. I should taste it and report back. Point being time is your friend.

And like Opus said, try again! Sanitize everything real well and give it a good shot. It's worth it. Danger Dave deserves a medal for that recipe.
 

wildhair

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Don't toss in the towel just yet! Like everyone has said - time is your friend................most of the time.

If you added nutrient and fermentation re-started then finished at .994, then you're pretty much on track. Of course it will have gotten cloudy again - you woke up the yeast when you fed it. Let it sit for a week or 2 - at least. It will probably still be cloudy, but there should be a good layer of sediment on the bottom. And it should be "clearer" - but not clear. Sample it - smell and taste. Yes, no? Add a bit (1/8 t) of simple syrup to an ounce or 2 - taste it again. Does it taste like wine, but a little "sharp" ? Have light fruity smell? Or something you'd use to remove rust? Rack it into another vessel if it tastes like wine.

Now - I found my first batch to be a bit acidic - so I added some calcium carbonate at this point and raised the ph. I also found it very weak - little flavor and body - very thin & watery. So I added berry juice concentrate and white grape juice concentrate to mine - 4 cans of berry and 2 cans of white grape. That made a huge improvement. Then I let it settle again. It took another 3 weeks, but it cleared beautifully.

I posted what I did to "fix" my first batch here -
https://www.winemakingtalk.com/threads/my-first-batch-of-dragons-blood.64861/

There's also some info from another member who had a similar clearing problem - look at pg. 216 in the Danger Dave's Dragon Blood thread. (Recipe forum)
 

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