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Vitkar
11-22-2007, 01:18 PM
Hello, all. First batch of mead and first post. From what I understand, bottling should take place when the mead in the carboy is clear enough to read newsprint through, and there is no more bubbling in the airlock. My question is: when will this occur?

Started process: Sept 21, 2007
Racked: October 1.
Current Status: Bubbles every 30-45 seconds, color is opaque amber. A layer of white film is on the top.
Odor: honey, yeasty, alcohol-y, but mostly just honey.

Particulars:

Star thistle honey, 15 pounds.
4 gallons water
2 tsp nutrient (no brand name, packaged by the local supply shop.)
1 tsp energizer (ditto.)
1 packet yeast (the champagne stuff. Forgot the brand and type.)

Mostly followed the directions in Ken Schramm's "Compleat Meadmaker," except that I couldn't seem to get the water-siphon method to work, so I ended up taking the lid off the pickle bucket and using a sterilized bowl to bail out the must and pour it into the plastic carboy via a funnel. Also, I racked after 10 days instead of the two weeks mentioned in the book. And I used bottled water in the lock, not vodka.

SG tested at 1.095. Havent opened the carboy since I sealed it, except I've taken the cap off the lock daily to smell it.

Dude at the brewing supply store said I could bottle this batch by Yule, but after nearly two months, it's still not clear...

Thanks for your advice!

wayneb
11-22-2007, 01:27 PM
Unfortunately we can't give you a definite answer, since every mead is different and the spent yeast and honey constituents will settle out at their own pace.

The only guidance that I can offer is that most of my traditionals take a couple to several months to clarify, so it is not very likely that you can bottle by Yule.

Another thing to consider -- if your fermentation has stopped while there is still fermentable sugar in the batch, then the simple act of racking it (and stirring up still active yeast cells in the process) could restart fermentation. This is especially true if you used a "bayanus" strain of champagne yeast (such as Lalvin EC-1118 or Red Star Premier Cuvee). I suggest that you take a SG reading now by pulling a sample with a wine thief or siphoning just enough to take a reading, and then let us know where you currently set. We can offer more detailed guidance when we know the current gravity.

vahan
11-22-2007, 03:18 PM
I would just keep waiting. My second batch of mead clarified on its own, but it had not actually finished fermenting so I ended up with sparkling blueberry mead. It is tasty, but I was going for still mead!
My motto is to keep it in the carboy for as long as you can stand it. Bulk aging is a great thing and the mead is also less prone to bad things like temperature fluctuations.
You probably will want to rack to a tertiary at some point--this will help clarity.
In the meantime, brew some beer so you have something to drink while staring at your carboy!


:cheers:

Vitkar
11-22-2007, 03:41 PM
>>Unfortunately we can't give you a definite answer, since every mead is different and the spent yeast and honey constituents will settle out at their own pace.

That's what I suspected. I wasn't looking for an exact day or even week, just a guestimate as to the month.

>>The only guidance that I can offer is that most of my traditionals take a couple to several months to clarify, so it is not very likely that you can bottle by Yule.

Maybe he thought I was making sparkling? IDK.

>>Another thing to consider -- if your fermentation has stopped while there is still fermentable sugar in the batch,

How would i know if there was still sugar in the batch?

>>then the simple act of racking it (and stirring up still active yeast cells in the process) could restart fermentation.


I give the bottle a couple of shakes every few days. I'm loathe to re-rack and expose it to the air too much.

>>This is especially true if you used a "bayanus" strain of champagne yeast (such as Lalvin EC-1118 or Red Star Premier Cuvee).


That EC sounds familiar. I think that's the one I used.

>>I suggest that you take a SG reading now by pulling a sample with a wine thief or siphoning just enough to take a reading, and then let us know where you currently set. We can offer more detailed guidance when we know the current gravity.


Gotcha. This is gonna have to wait a couple of days until I can go and buy one of the little floaty ball ones. I've got the big thermometer style, and don't want to pull out as much mead as would take to float that sucker. But I'll definitely let you know when I get the new SG. Thanks.

Vitkar
11-22-2007, 03:44 PM
[quote=vahan ]
I would just keep waiting. My second batch of mead clarified on its own, but it had not actually finished fermenting so I ended up with sparkling blueberry mead. It is tasty, but I was going for still mead!
My motto is to keep it in the carboy for as long as you can stand it. Bulk aging is a great thing and the mead is also less prone to bad things like temperature fluctuations.
You probably will want to rack to a tertiary at some point--this will help clarity.
In the meantime, brew some beer so you have something to drink while staring at your carboy!

I have No problem waiting...it's the people I told could have it by the holidays that will be disappointed-now I look like an ass. I mentioned my schedule a couple of times to the guy in the shop, who seemed pretty knowledgeable, and not once did he say it wasn't feasible to bottle after 3 months...oh well :)

Medsen Fey
11-22-2007, 05:26 PM
Hello Vitkar,

One way to help a mead clear more quickly is to refrigerate it. A word of caution - if it has not completed fermenting, when the temperature warms back it may restart again (which could be very messy and potentially dangerous if it occurs after bottling). Wayneb is right that you need to check the sp gravity - usually even with the large hydrometer it doesn't take more than 1/2 cup which is a small price to pay to insure complete fermentation.

Just an aside, racking becomes a whole lot easier with an auto-siphon like the one pictured HERE (http://www.eckraus.com/Page_1/RK480.html). You can usually get them at your home brew store or can order them on line. They are worth every penny as far as I am concerned.

Good luck!
Medsen

Yo momma
11-23-2007, 09:19 AM
I use a cheap turkey baster for my theif. It works great and holds more than the wine theifs in my LHBS.

liff
11-23-2007, 01:31 PM
One of the things I have learned over my short time making mead is that every mead will clear perfectly. Either in the carboy leaving the sediment at the bottom or it will clear perfectly inside the bottle, leaving the sediment in the bottle. :BangHead:

Don't make the mistake I made before, do not bottle until 100% perfectly clear, or be happy with the sediment in your bottles.

As for fining agents, I would do a forum search and you will get tons about that subject.

Vitkar
11-23-2007, 11:19 PM
>>We can offer more detailed guidance when we know the current gravity.,

Current gravity is at 1.14. That puts it at about what, 5% alcohol? I want about three times that potent.

AsharaLyn
11-24-2007, 06:06 PM
Didn't you say earlier that it was 1.095? I'd check the hydrometer and see if you're reading it right. Try it with distilled water, and see how close it comes to 1.000. If it's actually 1.014, that's pretty much finished, most likely.

Medsen Fey
11-25-2007, 10:27 AM
Was the Sp Gr 1.095 taken at the time you racked? I would guess that 15 lbs of honey would have given you a starting gravity of somewhere around 1.120. Some yeast strains would be able to take the gravity down lower than 1.014 (if that is the correct reading). If you used EC-1118, it can probably go a lot lower because it has high alcohol tolerance (and is sometimes used for stuck fermentations). I would wait at least another week and recheck the Sp Gravity. If it doesn't drop any further you are probably finished fermenting.

At that point, I would put it in the fridge (or some equally cold place) and see it that will speed the clearing (perhaps in a couple of weeks). There are other things that can speed clearing such as fining agents and filtration. There are lots of threads on these topics if you do a search in the forums, but they are probably not things you want to get into on your first batch.

As a new mead-maker myself, I can tell you that the most difficult part for me is having patience. I was in a hurry to get my first batch bottled, and I bottled it before it had completely cleared. I wound up with a nice sediment in the bottom of the bottles. Mind you, it still tastes great, but it could have been prettier, and every time I look at that sediment, I am reminded that yeast and mead run on their own schedule - not mine. Even if you are not able to get it ready for the holidays (this year), think how much better it may be after a year of aging for next year.

By the way, for a rough guestimate of the alcohol content (by volume) of your mead, you can use the formula (Original Gravity-Final Gravity)*131. In your case, if your original gravity was only 1.095, it would be
(1.095-1.014)*131 = 10.6%. If your starting gravity was higher, the alcohol is higher.

Hope that is of some help.
Medsen

Yo momma
11-25-2007, 10:37 AM
I concur with Madsen. I have a few bottles down stairs the have some sediment in them. I think all new mead maker lack patience, including myself. I am learning now that patience brings the best reward when it comes to good mead.
:cheers:

Vitkar
11-25-2007, 03:18 PM
Didn't you say earlier that it was 1.095? I'd check the hydrometer and see if you're reading it right. Try it with distilled water, and see how close it comes to 1.000. If it's actually 1.014, that's pretty much finished, most likely.


I could be wrong about that first reading. I didn't write it down. But for sure, this new reading was 2 clicks below the "10" which is the number right after 1.000. So, if the lines are in 2-degree increments, that's 1.014. Guy at the store told me to shoot for a 1.5 or 1.6.

The clarity is less important to me than making sure the bottles don't blow up and that it is as potent as can be, alcohol-wise.