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Celticmeadry
09-27-2007, 12:39 PM
Ok yall I thought I try my luck here and really enjoyed the first part. I have a 1 gal batch down stairs in my wine cellar fermenting. It is a Blackberry melomel and I was wondering when wouls it be time to rack this batch and what the next step would be. It has been fermenting now for roughly one month.

Now for the Racking I have heard two things, Rack it into its own bottles and rack it into another 1 gal to sit a little longer. What is your opinions?

Thanks

wayneb
09-27-2007, 12:52 PM
Hi! Welcome to "GotMead?" !!

The answer to your question is already written here: http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_smf&Itemid=412&topic=910.0

Pay close attention to the posts by Joe Mattioli and by Oskaar in that thread, and you'll learn all you need to know about mead racking. Mostly it isn't about a time, it is about a set of conditions that you need to see in the must before you know it is time to rack.

Hope that helps!

darkhorse
09-27-2007, 02:43 PM
Thanks for that link Wayneb. I was looking for similar information and the search produced some threads, but none as informative as that one. I'm wavering in whether or not to rack my blueberry mel and my apple cyser. My problem is a) I am not necessarily as concerned about mouthfeel and complexity with my blueberry as I am with making sure it will age for decades. It was made with D47, b) I'm also limited by equipment issues. I don't have a way to test pH yet, I hate checking the SG on 1 gal batches too much 'cause then nothings left, and the only way to rack my 5 gal. cyser is to rack my blueberry. My 1 gal blueberry is in my 2nd 6.5 gal carboy. I guess it's time for at least a 3rd >5 gal. carboy. I followed someones advise and got a 1 gallon jug of wine at the store, consumed as much as I could stand and dumped the rest. That's what I'm moving the blueberry to.

Can I pose another question that sends this on to a slightly differant angle? I was reading some threads on racking their mead based on the SG and what they were going for sweetness wise. If I want my Cyser to finish semi-sweet (SG wise-I don't have a way to test brix yet), and want to add more apples and my spices in the secondary, assuming my initial SG was 1.122, how would I figure out what SG to rack to the secondary at assuming I don't add any more honey? Or does the fact that I'm not adding any honey make it so it doesn't matter? I guess I'm wondering how to make sure enough of the fermentation is complete that I won't loose the strong apple and spice flavor by too much fermentation after the addition?

Pardon my inexperience. I'm just barely starting to connect the dots with all this information. Would this decision relate to the 1/3 and 2/3 sugar breaks?

Thanks-Confused Meadmaker in MI
P.S. to distance myself from a local microbrewery (which does make excellant beer) I'm thinking of changing my imaginary winery's name to Mad Turtle Winery. Any thoughts? :D

Pewter_of_Deodar
09-27-2007, 03:30 PM
If I want my Cyser to finish semi-sweet (SG wise-I don't have a way to test brix yet), and want to add more apples and my spices in the secondary, assuming my initial SG was 1.122, how would I figure out what SG to rack to the secondary at assuming I don't add any more honey? Or does the fact that I'm not adding any honey make it so it doesn't matter? I guess I'm wondering how to make sure enough of the fermentation is complete that I won't loose the strong apple and spice flavor by too much fermentation after the addition?

First, racking won't stop fermentation (unless you want it to continue after the racking - Murphy's Law). You need chemicals, filtering or cold shock to do that. To achieve a specific sweetness level at the end, you need to stop the batch where you want it to stop or backsweeten to the desired level. However, backsweetening without filtering or chemicals may trigger a secondary/tertiary fermentation that takes the sweetness out again.

You can do a rough calculation of what Final Gravity (FG) will be based on Original Gravity (OG) and the alcohol tolerance of the yeast. But yeast can stop early or continue long after they should have died.

darkhorse
09-27-2007, 03:47 PM
Right. Perhaps I'm confusing myself. I was figuring that my yeast will die out before the fermentable sugars are used up in the Cyser leaving it in the semi-sweet range. I just want to make sure enough has taken place that I won't loose flavor adding spices etc. I guess what I need to do is take another gravity reading and see if I can figure out what the alcohol percentage is?

wayneb
09-27-2007, 04:04 PM
Darkhorse - To comment on the different trajectory you want to take this, racking is not a sure-fire way to stop an ongoing fermentation but it can be a useful tool on that road, when coupled with judicious use of some chemicals (sulfites and sorbate) and some thermal management (i.e. Cold Crashing). With an initial SG of 1.122, if you had wanted to finish "very sweet" (say at 1.020 or so), the 102 point drop in SG corresponds to about a 13.5% ABV. If you're after "semi-sweet," that's more like the 1.010-1.015 range (depending on your personal taste), and that will result in an even higher ABV, in excess of 14%.

My opinion - if you did not follow a Staggered Nutrient addition protocol, then you'll probably hit the ethanol tolerance of your yeast at about the residual sweetness that you desire. So I would recommend not racking until it appears that fermentation has stopped. By that I mean you 1) observe no further regular airlock activity, and 2) the SG holds constant for a week or longer. Then rack, and to be sure that fermentation doesn't start again I'd use potassium metabisulfite and sorbate (since there will be residual fermentables in your final result). You won't need to add additional honey, and you probably won't need additional apples to preserve the apple flavor at that point.

As far as "Mad Turtle" is concerned, I like it, and you might want to check out a currently underway eBay auction for some very cool wine bottle corks that are imprinted with a turtle logo!!

Rhianni
09-27-2007, 04:46 PM
I'll add a little bit to what the others have said....

1: Fermentation will stop on its own when the yeast of run out of sugar to convert into alcohol or when the alcohol limit of the yeast is reached and they die off.

2: If others are stopping fermentation at a certain gravity its more then likely due to their experiance in what they like. My own preference is 1.005 - 1.010. There is an easy way to tell if you are inexperianced. Measure and taste. If its at a sweetness you like and you dont want it dryer then its done.

3: As the others noted racking wont stop fermentation. It can greatly reduce its rate by removing a majority of the yeast but it wont stop it. I would first go with waynebs advice and let the yeast finish off naturally on its own. If however its getting dry to a point you dont like it and its still fermenting away then follow Pewters advice and search for info on how to stop fermentation.

Celticmeadry
09-27-2007, 05:29 PM
Boy, I have got a lot to learn...lol I just started this since I got back from an SCA event this past summer. I always been interested in it, but the classes got the fires a burning so to speak, but with little to no brewing stores in my area there is hardly anyone to ask for advice, or to show and say see, did I do it right or not...lol. I have some very basic gear, but I am slowly working on getting more as I go. Thanks for any advice etc you may give.

darkhorse
09-28-2007, 08:06 AM
Thanks for the advise guys. I'll wait 'till the fermentation stops, then rack. Right now it appears to be going to town. Its at 13 days and still a bubble every second. I'll check the SG tonight, just for grins and giggles and to see what it tastes like.

Oskaar
09-28-2007, 10:56 AM
Darkhorse and CelticMeadery:

Glad you're finding the advice to be useful here at Got Mead?

As you get more into the hobby you'll develop your own sense of style and process of your own that will produce your favorite meads.

When you post questions about recipes it's always a good idea to post the recipe so us craggy ole meadmakers can take a look at your mead ingredients and how you processed them. It really helps us to give some good advice.

Welcome to Got Mead?

Oskaar

darkhorse
09-28-2007, 01:43 PM
Thanks Oskaar.

I put my Cyser recipe and procedure in the brewlog section. I've yet to try putting links in my post. Which button is to link another thread?

On another note your info on Cap Management was helpful too as I have been pushing the apples back down into the liquid since the start but do to not haveing an effective tool I've been considering giving up.

Oskaar-what's your opinion on plastic pales for primaries. I searched for that but didn't find your opinion. No offence everyone else, but moving away from glass carboys to anything plastic is going to take convincing from the highest source possible.

Also, if I understood your info on cap management correctly it is good to swirl the leese in these cysers during the fermentation phase? (I ask 'cause in that thread you were talking about a differant yeast strain and I'm being overly cautious)

Should I keep oxygenating it too? I have seen several indications that I should, but I want to specifically ask as when I learned beer brewing I was specifically instructed to oxygenate at the start and NEVER after.

Too many questions???

P.S. Sorry CelticMeadery for hijacking your thread

wayneb
09-28-2007, 02:47 PM
Oskaar-what's your opinion on plastic pales for primaries. I searched for that but didn't find your opinion. No offence everyone else, but moving away from glass carboys to anything plastic is going to take convincing from the highest source possible.

P.S. Sorry CelticMeadery for hijacking your thread


None taken! Now I don't have to "wax verbosely" on this one -- Oskaar gets to instead!! :laughing7:

darkhorse
09-28-2007, 03:22 PM
Actually Wayneb-I'd take your opinion too. 28 years of mead making's a pretty good qualifyer.

I just don't want to get into a big debate at this point.

Celticmeadry
09-28-2007, 03:45 PM
hey I don't mind the hijacking, I am learning from it as well. I am looking into a stainless steel fermentor atm, and I deal in glass, for the easier clean up.

wayneb
09-28-2007, 04:40 PM
Actually Wayneb-I'd take your opinion too. 28 years of mead making's a pretty good qualifyer.

I just don't want to get into a big debate at this point.


Well, since I know that Oskaar sometimes works with an open top plastic primary as well as glass (as I do), he and I probably agree on the subject - so you might get some additional detail or a slightly different perspective from him, but I doubt you'll start a debate. ;) For primary fermentation, where the yeast are active enough to generate lots of CO2, an open topped plastic pail is fine as long as you keep it covered by something that prevents the introduction of airborne microbes, and keeps a reasonably stable buffer layer of that self-generated CO2 directly above the must. Personally, I use a dense weave towel over my bucket that has been soaked in sanitizing solution (I use Star-San for this purpose), and wrung out so that it is slightly damp but not dripping wet. I hold it in place across the bucket top by a ring of bungee cord that I got from a local sporting goods store. The cord conveniently stretches the towel tightly across the top, and keeps itself in place in-between the ridges that are molded into these food-grade plastic pails that are commonly sold as primary fermenters. I give a quick re-rinse to the towel in Star-San every time that I remove and replace it.

I've also used a large plastic garbage bag for the same purpose, after rinsing the inside of it thoroughly with sanitizer and I hold it in place with the same bungee arrangement that I use on the towel. I secure the plastic bag tight enough to prevent local air from freely circulating over the bucket top, but loose enough to allow a little escape path for the CO2 so it doesn't build up to the point that it pressurizes the bag.

Frankly, the towel works better than the bag, but I still use the bag when I want to start something and don't have any clean towels at hand. With three teen and pre-teen kids in the house, a shortage of clean towels is the case more often than I'd like! :tongue3:

Almost forgot -- be careful in the cleaning and sanitizing of the pail so that you don't scratch the inner surface. I have not had this happen to me, but other folks have reported that their batches have developed infections when they used scratched pails, and they've concluded that the deep scratches give pathogenic microbes a place to hide out from the sanitizer. Better safe than sorry -- I wouldn't recommend using a scratched pail.

Oskaar
09-28-2007, 05:18 PM
Some of the best mead I've made has been primaried in plastic, as has some of the best wine and beer as well. I think WayneB covered the sanitization aspect of plastic buckets, pails, drums, etc. very well.

I'd just add that to me, the main reason for plastic isn't because it's a great primary vessel as much as it is an open and easy access for:

Pulling Gravity Samples
pH sampling
Nutrient addition
Aeration
Cap Management
Ingredient auditing and steeping bag management (i.e. spices, fruit)
Racking
General futzing about with the primary fermentation

Hope that helps,

Oskaar

Medsen Fey
09-28-2007, 08:40 PM
Hello Darkhorse,

While I have nothing against plastic fermentation buckets, for my money, its hard to beat a Cornelius keg as a fermentation vessel. It has a relatively large opening so you get the advantage of easy access. It is easy to clean and sanitize, and it is virtually indestructible (and with my butterfingers, this is especially important!). Also, they are quite cheap. If you modify the dip tube by shortening it a bit, you can rack from one keg to the next using CO2 to push it along without exposing the mead to air. Also because they are tall and thin, I can fit 4 of them into my fridge in the garage for temperature controlled aging after primary fermentation is complete.

While I am also new to mead-making, this system has worked with great success for the home brewing I have done in the past, and, at least so far, it is working quite well for mead.

Good luck with your mead,
Medsen

Celticmeadry
09-28-2007, 08:48 PM
Ok this off my topic I started here a bit, but I just had a thought and tell me if this is a no no, in the process of heating your water and honey, tossing in a couple of clean oramge peels to sit in the hot water a bit just to get a tang of citrus. This ok or it an opps.

wayneb
09-29-2007, 01:14 AM
Perfectly fine! In fact, I'd recommend just using the outer "zest," and discarding the white pithy stuff, since that brings too much bitterness. I would even suggest leaving the zest in there through the whole primary fermentation, to extract all that orange goodness.

wildaho
09-29-2007, 02:25 AM
You can throw it in with the heat if you want but I think you're going to miss some serious aromatics. I'm a big fan of orange, or especially, tangelo zest in the secondary.

I first started playing with citrus with my beers. I used to put zest in when I stopped the boil. Practice made perfect and I moved the zest to secondary. Heat drives off the nose and the CO2 generated during primary drives off a bunch more.

When I started making meads, I tried zest in primary (all cold) and in secondary. I like it best in secondary. You use less and it's more aromatic.

Some studies say that 90% of your sense of taste comes through your nose. I won't disagree but I'm not sure about the proportion. It depends upon the sensitivity of your olfactory nerves, I guess. But think about it. Does your food taste anywhere near as good when you have a cold?

My nasal passages are fairly sensitive though so I tend to build meads and beers that accentuate that. How much do I want off my tongue and how much from my nose? It's always a conundrum...