View Full Version : Making Sparkling Mead by Bubble Count

03-18-2009, 04:39 PM
Has anyone tried creating sparkling mead by timing the bottling based on bubble count in the airlock?

I don't have the desire to do any fancy calculations that might involve specific gravities sugar or ABV readings, or priming calculations.

I figured that if the bubble in the airlock formed every 20 seconds or so, the fermentation has probably progressed to a point that if the mead was bottled, it wouldn't have enough left to go to create more than 4 atmospheres in a champagne bottle, and thus be safe to cork.

If nobody has used this method, I'll be the guinea pig and report if I created drinkable champagne or bottle bombs.

03-18-2009, 04:55 PM
Welcome to GotMead?!

You''ll find that bubble count is not an accurate way to determine how far along the fermentation has progressed. It is better to use a hydrometer.

If you want more specific advice, you'll need to post your exact recipe with all processes and procedures. There are too many variations to mead to guess at what you've done.

Medsen Fey
03-18-2009, 05:05 PM
Hi Oyster, welcome to GotMead? !!!

I would not recommend the approach you are proposing, and I urge you to reconsider as a matter of safety!

Yeast are quite capable of generating 8 Atm or more of pressure while fermenting. I did this recently in a keg. Had it been done in bottles, it is likely that explosions with flying shards of glass would have been the result. Champagne bottles aren't really meant to take more than about 6 Atm of pressure.

There is no way to judge where you are in the process of a fermentation based on bubble rates. Even when the bubble rate is zero, you may not be finished, you may just be stuck - and with a little change in the temperature, you could find it going again. Or worse yet, with a bubble rate of zero, you may just have a leaky stopper or lid. If your fermentation still has more than 10 gravity points of sugar left, you could have big problems.

The safest approach would be to ferment at a modest gravity, and let it finish completely dry as measured by a hydrometer, then add the correct weight of priming sugar to get the level of carbonation you want and then bottle.

If you don't want to do any calculations, I would suggest using a keg and force carbonating. It will be much safer for you, and anyone in the vicinity of your bottles.

Good Mazing!

03-18-2009, 05:11 PM
Welcome to GotMead? Oyster!

I would advise against this. There are lots of things that can slow down bubble count in the airlock: temperature, leaks, etc. There are too many variables for bubble count to be a good indicator

The $10-$15 you spend on a hydrometer is the best investment you can make for where ever your fermentation adventures might take you. It is the single most important tool in the fermenter's arsenal. If $10 is too much to spend now, how are you going to afford the hospital bill later when a bottle bomb takes out an eye or gashes your throat?

I don't have the desire to do any fancy calculations that might involve specific gravities sugar or ABV readings, or priming calculations.In that case, I would suggest you find another hobby or just buy the commercial offerings instead. You are in for a world of hurt (or at least disappointment) without a hydrometer at the very least. And besides that, the calculations are neither "fancy" nor hard. Most of the time the direct reading from the hydrometer is all you need. Be sure to read the NewBee Guide (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=108&Itemid=14) for further info.


03-18-2009, 05:20 PM
I don't have the desire to do any fancy calculations that might involve specific gravities sugar or ABV readings, or priming calculations.

You mean like plugging in a couple simple numbers to a priming calculator. Or doing some very simple math. Heck if you ferment dry you can prime with 1oz/gal and get very good results without the high possibility of glass grenades.

Bubbles in the airlock has very little relationship to the actual stage of ferment. There are way too many variables that contribute to the bubble rate.


Medsen Fey
03-18-2009, 06:39 PM
If you really want to try this approach, consider using PET plastic bottles (the ones used for soft drinks) with new caps. They will firm up as the yeast do their thing. If one happens to rupture, it will give you a nice mess to clean up, but nothing dangerous.

03-20-2009, 12:54 AM
First of all, thanks to all who responded to my first post!

I DO have a hydrometer, but with all that I have read regarding sparkling mead, it seems that the only way to successfully create one is to first make a mead with zero residual sugar, then prime it properly and add a yeast that tolerates high ABV, so that it can completely consume the residual sugar, again creating a very dry mead.

Unfortunately for me, I prefer sweet meads, and it appears that "sweet" and "sparkling" aren't compatible.

I like the idea of using a PET bottle, but they wouldn't make a great visual gift, so if I try that, it'll be strictly for home use.

Has anyone ever used the "Fountain Jet" (sodastream.com) to carbonate their meads? What about other types of carbonators (other than commercial varieties)?


03-20-2009, 03:48 AM
The only way that Sweet and Sparkling are going to co-exist is to force-carbonate through a corny keg or similar.

It's unfortunate that yeast don't have a convenient on/off switch that you can flick at will. It would make having a sparkling mead soooo much easier. Heck, it would make ALL of fermentation that much easier!

"I want exactly 11.4% ABV with 9.7% residual sugar. Now sparkle it at precisely 3.7 atmospheres! (multiple flip switching sounds in the background) And all without a measurement instrument!"

Unfortunately, yeast can only be turned off once. "Poke and Hope" won't cut it. With a hydrometer and some fermentation management and some CO2, that scenario can happen(at least you can come pretty close).

Do a forum search on "sparkling sweet mead" and you can find all kinds of discussions on the subject.