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Mighty Moss
04-30-2008, 02:16 PM
This is my first post. I've been reading for over a year now and this has by far been one of the most valuable resources in all of my brewing endeavors. I read a few other posts from people with similar issues, but I'm not sure that they are the same. For one thing, not many people waited more than 2 months before asking these questions.

I have a traditional mead that I started exactly six months ago today that is still much too cloudy. I can see sediment floating throughout the mead with a lighter cloudy haze at the top half inch of the jug. When I picked it up, I noticed tiny bubbles floating to the top which almost leads me to believe it may still be fermenting. The haze around the top worries me because the jug of cherry cider that has been right next to it for five months clearly suffers from a film yeast or flowers of wine (whatever it is, it's an infection). They do not look the same and have had not contact, but should I be concerned about this haze? I was hoping to bottle this batch next week because that's the week between finals and graduation and I have to move back home soon.

The recipe:
4.5 lbs generic grocery store clover honey
4 (~1.3 gallons) liters water
teaspoon generic yeast nutrient
teaspoon generic yeast energizer
teaspoon tannin
1 package Lavlin EC-1118

I just dumped all the ingredients (minus the yeast) into my primary (after sanitizing everything), stirred like a madman for 15-20 minutes, pitched the yeast, airlocked, and aerated over the course of the first week or so.

OG - 1.110 or 1.120 it was late and I was several drinks deep at this point so I'm not entirely sure.

I racked to secondary 15 days later when the gravity was 1.000. I have not racked since because there has not been any yeast build up; it seems to all be suspended still.

Alright, now that all of that is out of the way, my questions: infection? Something to worry about at all? I read in another post that some honeys just don't clear well. Should I consider putting this in the fridge for a week or so or are clarifying agents a better option? Do you recommend that I let it age another few months before thinking about bottling which means transporting it home with me after graduation.

I know that's a lot, but I really appreciate any feedback you all can give on this subject. I should add that after initially racking off the yeast, I dumped a gallon of apple juice on the leftover mead and yeast cake to make one very delicious cider.

Launcelot
04-30-2008, 02:21 PM
I would say cold shock it (fridge time) and see how that goes.

If that doesn't do it, then you can go to a clarifying agent.

I would say taste it... If it tastes good I wouldn't worry too much about it. My first batch is old.... and still muddy. Tastes great though.

Sometimes you just have to pull the trigger and accept that while it is ugly, if it tastes good who really cares?

--L

wayneb
04-30-2008, 02:51 PM
I concur with Launcelot -- thieve a small sample and taste it. If it tastes and smells good, you have nothing serious to worry about - infections usually smell or taste bad. If it is important that you bottle it before moving, and you absolutely want it clear, then consider using a clarifying agent. I'd personally bottle it as-is (I wouldn't even worry about the cold shock) because the likelihood that it is still fermenting after 6 months, with a gravity at or under 1.000, is pretty slim. You will only see results from cold-shocking if there are active yeast cells in suspension; the cold will cause them to go dormant, they won't produce any more CO2 micro-bubbles to "ride up" on into the bulk of the batch, and they'll then flocculate at the bottom of the carboy. If you have a suspended protein haze, cold shocking won't help that -- and in fact cold shocking could make it more noticeable.

And Welcome to "Gotmead?"!!

happymondays
04-30-2008, 03:52 PM
Just out of curiosity do you guy's De-Gass your Meads after fermentation has finished as I have never heard anyone mention it on here, if not would the CO2 in the Mead hold any bits and bobs in suspension hence showing a cloudy Mead, I was going to ask this so might be relevant here,

Regards Scott.....

wayneb
04-30-2008, 04:43 PM
Good point -- I do de-gas occasionally, mostly if I want a particular batch to be ready to bottle in less than a 9 to 12 month timeframe, or if I detect some H2S that I want to get out of solution as quickly as possible.

I've found that allowing a mead to bulk age for the better part of a year will allow the mead time to naturally de-gas. Most of my meads bulk age for a while before I get around to bottling.

Mighty Moss
05-01-2008, 01:44 PM
Thanks a lot for the feedback! I decided to go ahead and cold crash it last night. I figured that since the appearance is already cloudy, I won't be too upset to see it get worse. That cloud sitting around the top has disappeared, but the rest of the mead is still pretty cloudy. After tasting some, I think I've decided there is no way I can bottle this yet. It's going to need another six months of aging before I even think about bottling. It still has a very harsh alcohol burn. So maybe I was a little to hasty to worry about clarifying after all. Oh well. Thanks again!

vahan
05-02-2008, 08:03 PM
Dumb question, how do you de-gas a mead? With a lees stirrer?

thanks,
vahan

GrantLee63
05-02-2008, 08:24 PM
I use my lees stirrer or my Fermtech de-gassing wand.

- GL63

Medsen Fey
05-02-2008, 08:26 PM
I just swirl mine vigorously to de-gas. It always seems to work, and since it stays under the airlock, there is no oxygenation occurring.

vahan
05-02-2008, 08:31 PM
thanks!

wayneb
05-02-2008, 08:35 PM
I vacuum de-gas, using a Mityvac with a hose attached to a fitting jammed into an oversized stopper.

happymondays
05-02-2008, 09:10 PM
I tend to use 1 Gallon DJ's (carboys) as I get them free off the kind people off http://www.freecycle.org/group/US/ but here in Blighty, i just split a gallon into 2 DJ's shake it like hell with sanitised hand for literally 30 seconds at a time and release hand till there is no gas expulsion the first time is like an explosion then second and at the most third has literally none at all, but you might have to repeat over a few days till you get no gas build up, or you can use a Whizz stick attached to a drill but leave enough head space which is even quicker and less energetic, Wayne we can get a device called a Vacuvin which i presume does something similar but up to now I cant seem to adapt it to use with our DJ's it works a treat with wine bottles but nothing with a wider gape,
Regards Scott......

p.s. the freecycle site is free to set up and is a brilliant way to pass on and receive all kind of things including carboys ;)

UDV
05-02-2008, 10:08 PM
Not to threadjack, but thanks for the mention of freecycle up there. I was able to score 24 750ml Belgian-style bottles for about $3.00 in gas to get them.

wayneb
05-03-2008, 12:22 AM
Scott,

The Mityvac is a more powerful tool than those vacuvin hand pumps, usually employed for automotive service applications, but the idea's much the same. Here's a link to a page with a picture of what I'm talking about: http://www.mityvac.com/

happymondays
05-03-2008, 04:28 AM
Now that seems like one hell of a vacuum pump Wayne ;D, the Vacuvin does get you sweating a bit, I think I have seen something more easier to use ie less manual intense over here but I think the price tag was a bit on the high side but I suppose if you have large quantities its worth it and the shake rattle and roll method on a 5 gallon glass carboy full of mead would be a bit out of my league.

Medsen Fey
05-03-2008, 08:41 AM
I guess the question I still have is, how much loss of aromatic elements occurs with aggressive de-gassing (whatever the method employed)? I mean, we make a big fuss about not heating honey to avoid such losses, and then we shake the heck out of it (or power suck it) and blow off enough volatiles that it makes the whole house smell good. Would we be better off just letting it sit and de-gas very slowly over time?

wayneb
05-03-2008, 11:59 AM
Interesting question, Medsen, and one that I thought long about before trying the vacuum degassing. It would seem to me that a slow, natural evolution of gas from the liquid would probably be the best approach, but I don't think that it is better by much than the action of a gentle suction or slow stirring. I use the pump to pull only enough vacuum to begin to see small bubbles percolating through the must, usually on the order of 5 to 10 in/Hg -- in fact I have better control over the CO2 evolution rate with the vacuum than I ever did with a stirring rod/degasser. I also don't routinely de-gas unless I detect residual H2S fumes coming from the must, or I have a must that stubbornly refuses to clear. I figure the loss of a little aromatics is more than offset by the reduction in reduced sulfur compounds, or the increasse in clarity, that I accomplish as a result.

Still, I'm not so sure that vigorous degassing of the must is any worse than the long slow approach. I've not seen any quantitative data suggesting that significantly more amounts of volatile aromatics are shed when CO2 bubbles out of solution than when the compounds are allowed to reach equilibrium in a similar solution over time at standard air pressure. This is another area within this wonderful hobby that is worthy of more scientific study, IMHO.

happymondays
05-03-2008, 06:52 PM
I have been led to believe that if you don't de-gass your wine or mead after ferment and try to bottle you would have literally the chance of Guy Fawkes going off (ok I might have exaggerated a little) or in the least popping corks, so if you don't de-gass and leave for the long term how do you know when is safe to bottle is there some kind of test you can do to presume the time is right?

wayneb
05-03-2008, 07:15 PM
It isn't the lack of de-gassing that causes bottle-bombs, but rather yeast that have awakened from hibernation to finish the job of fermenting any left over sugars. Restarted fermentations are sometimes desirable, but often have unintended consequences. Leaving a little CO2 dissolved in the mead as you bottle is really nothing to worry about in most circumstances.

happymondays
05-04-2008, 05:29 AM
Oh ok cheers Wayne,

I think there is some difference in methods from the guys on the wine forum I use as well over here albeit they have a mead section and have methods relating to de-gassing to both mead and wine,

p.s. sorry Mighty Moss for hi-jacking a little bit

happymondays
05-04-2008, 08:32 AM
I guess the question I still have is, how much loss of aromatic elements occurs with aggressive de-gassing (whatever the method employed)? I mean, we make a big fuss about not heating honey to avoid such losses, and then we shake the heck out of it (or power suck it) and blow off enough volatiles that it makes the whole house smell good. Would we be better off just letting it sit and de-gas very slowly over time?


Medsen you have got me thinking about this now, I haven't got the experience of you guys so bear with me, if left alone will meads naturally de-gass themselves then, I wonder if the vigorous de-gass can in fact lose some characteristics of the mead mmmmm.
You know thats what I like about these forums its the bouncing of ideas that gets you thinking! :icon_study:

Regards Scott.....

Medsen Fey
05-04-2008, 10:19 AM
If left to sit, the CO2 will gradually come out of mead, just as if you leave a soda sitting it will eventually go flat. The intermittent rackings will also de-gas the mead.

I just wonder if you retain more aromatic elements if de-gassing happens slowly. In winemaking, fast fermentations with vigorous CO2 blowoff are felt (by some authorities) to be detrimental to aromatic finesse. Has anyone in winemaking studied the de-gassing rate, and the effect on aromatic components?


Edit
I did find a thread on the WinePress site (http://www.winepress.us/forums/index.php?showtopic=1011&st=45&p=6852&#) that talks a bit about degassing. One of the "experts" felt that vaccum degassing doesn't strip esters significantly from wine. I would love to see some data on this.

wayneb
05-04-2008, 03:43 PM
Edit
I did find a thread on the WinePress site (http://www.winepress.us/forums/index.php?showtopic=1011&st=45&p=6852&#) that talks a bit about degassing. One of the "experts" felt that vaccum degassing doesn't strip esters significantly from wine. I would love to see some data on this.


Medsen, I'd love to see the data, also. If you are successful in your efforts to track this information down, please share! ;) I don't know that the position of moderator on a web board necessarily qualifies anyone to be considered an "expert" in the field, as I've seen some patently wrong statements expressed with enthusiasm by such experts on other sites, so I don't necessarily accept the anecdotal descriptions documented in that WinePress thread... although they are somewhat consistent with my own observations. NOTE: Oskaar is the notable exception in this case. I suspect that there are few if any individuals in the world more knowledgeable about meadmaking as he is at present, and he does a damned fine job of moderating "Gotmead?", too.

I'd still like to see some quantitative experimental data either supporting or conflicting with the opinions expressed in that WinePress thread.

Oskaar
05-04-2008, 11:34 PM
OK I took a look at a few things, and have some interesting notions, but, I'm going to post up some references that are associated in certain ways that will hopefully provide fuel for some interesing discussion.

Here's one paper from the AJEV that discusses some interesting findings concerning vacuum filtration and some results that were a bit different then what was expected.

Also note the year the paper was published. This is how far in front of meadmaking the winemaking industry is, and is a pointed reminder how much we can fast-track mead research and methodologies by simply studying wine research and using similar research processes and methodologies in meadmaking.

Cheers,

Oskaaar

Medsen Fey
05-05-2008, 10:00 AM
Thanks Oskaar,

That article is very interesting. They did mention that in cases where oxidation was prevented, the vacuum filtered wine was equal to the free run product except for varietal character, and I wonder if that represents the loss of volatile components.

I appreciate your sharing the information, and I will keep looking around for some other data.

Thanks again,
Medsen

wayneb
05-05-2008, 12:25 PM
Well, reading this paper leaves me with more unanswered questions than it resolves. First, this is vacuum filtration, so there are two processes at work on the wine treated this way. In addition to the vacuum, which is used to move wine through the filter slurry deposited on the inner surface of the drum, there is also the action of the diatomaceous earth filter material on the wine. Finally, the composition of juice from pressings is significantly different than that of free-run, so there is no surprise that the "varietal" character may be missing from pressed juice treated in this way. Medsen, I don't think that you can read the summary conclusion statement about loss of varietal character and interpret that to mean the vacuum was responsible for removing varietal aromatics, without some further information.

But Oskaar, keep those papers coming! ;D They are useful to build up our general knowledge database, and as you have noted, the wine guys are light-years ahead of us in quantitative research about all aspects of fermentation and production.

Medsen Fey
05-05-2008, 01:10 PM
I ran across some interesting info at finevinewines.com (http://www.finevinewines.com/degassing2.htm). It discusses how the level of CO2 may affect flavor. They quote the same fellow from WinExpert saying the same thing about vacuum degassing. I am attempting to contact him to see if he can provide some data or references.

happymondays
05-05-2008, 01:45 PM
Both very interesting reading and Medsen the link to de-gassing using the stirring method seems to support the method I have been told here to apply a vigorous stir for one minute intervals and de-gassing whilst bulk ageing in glass might not occur only in rackings. Be interesting to see if you get any more info off the guy.......

Regards Scott....

Medsen Fey
05-05-2008, 02:22 PM
This article in Winemaker Magazine (http://winemakermag.com/departments/712.html) is written by the same fellow. He seems to talk about this quite a bit. This magazine article has more than I ever wanted to know about ways to vacuum degas a mead. If I get any response from him, I'll post it up.

wayneb
05-05-2008, 02:47 PM
Yes - Long on technique, short on justification. I hope that he responds to your query.

happymondays
05-06-2008, 04:52 AM
This article in Winemaker Magazine (http://winemakermag.com/departments/712.html) is written by the same fellow. He seems to talk about this quite a bit. This magazine article has more than I ever wanted to know about ways to vacuum degas a mead. If I get any response from him, I'll post it up.


Had a read Medsen and there is a way to convert my winesaver to fit DJ's after all, will have a look at that,

:cheers:

Medsen Fey
05-06-2008, 05:33 PM
Mr. Vandergrift was kind enough to respond, and I have included his reply. I will try to track down the source, but if anyone has it handy, please let me know.

The information I was quoting came from a study at the University of Victoria conducted by chemistry professor J. E. (Ted) Underhill. He sampled a series of wines pre and post-vacuum and his conclusions were that even high level vacuum on a sample size of 23 litres was not detectable even after 5 minutes of exposure--a far longer time than necessary to de-gas.

Keep in mind that although you may smell some desirable aromatic compounds coming off the product it is the evolution of CO2 driving them, not the vacuum process itself. They'd be gone with the loss of CO2, vacuum or no.

The information is contained in his book, 'Making Better Wine', which, sadly, has been out of print for at least 15 years. Perhaps there is another source for this information if you wanted to follow up.

Tim Vandergrift


I still question whether rapid degassing causes greater loss of aromatic elements, compared with a slow process. Certainly, some French wine experts feel that rapid fermentation with vigorous CO2 production may be harmful to aromatic finesse, and so it may be that slow degassing may be better. I will keep looking for more data.