View Full Version : Carboy size too big

09-28-2009, 10:38 AM
My melomel stopped fermenting, and by the time all the gunk was left, there's one third of the volume of my carboy not filled, e.g. about 3 gallons of mead in a 5 gallon carboy. I put in a quarter cup honey to restart the production of CO2 hoping that would drive the O2 out.

Will this work? How urgent is it that I get a smaller carboy?

Thanks much

09-28-2009, 11:11 AM
Once the fermentation has stopped, you will rather quickly lose the barrier that CO2 generation provides, so you will either need to rack into a smaller container, or to fill the one that you have with an inert material (lots of folks use glass beads or marbles to take up that extra volume -- but in your case that might be a LOT of marbles!).

09-28-2009, 12:04 PM
Yeah... I'm trying myself to move away from glass beads to simply making enough mead in the first place to completely top up the batch in secondary (to the point of doing primary in two seperate containers with lots of headroom and then combining). Glass beads work, but the two problems I've had already are that the lees settle on the beads, and since I rack from the bottom of the beads I siphon a lot more yeast through than if it was a neat layer at the bottom. No life or death, but annoying.

The second problem is that it gets mother expensive quickly. I ended up spending around a hundred bucks on beads to top up six or seven 1 gallon secondaries. Not fun!

Dan McFeeley
09-28-2009, 03:22 PM
Glass beads work, but they can be a problem with racking -- you'll be racking just over the surface of the marbles but losing the extra mead they're holding.

A warning -- don't buy hobby marbles. They could be colored with chemicals that could leach out into the mead. Best to buy glass beads or marbles used in fish tanks. If they can be used with fish with no harm, they'll be ok in your mead.

It's a good idea to invest in different size carboys. For instance, you can start with a five gallon carboy, rack to a three gallon carboy and a one gallon wine jug carboy for bulk aging, using a couple of 750 mg bottles to take up the excess. When you're ready to rack off the settled lees, you can top off from the excess you've stored. A little complicated, but it works.

Medsen Fey
09-29-2009, 10:35 AM
It is important that you protect the mead from exposure to air once fermentation is finished. There are several ways to do it. This thread (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12441)outlines some other options.

For a fully dry mead, I'd add to that list, "filter and bottle immediately" as another alternative. Then it can age in the bottle protected from air.


09-29-2009, 03:57 PM
Thanks, all. I bought some smaller carboys.

Will coffee filters work if I should choose that route in the future?

09-29-2009, 05:08 PM
Coffee filters? No, sorry. They aren't constructed in the same way that lab-grade paper filters are, and there are no guarantees that they would not pass something as small as yeast bud cells (on the order of a micron). Coffee filters don't have to do better than trap particles on the order of 20 to 50 microns, since the "average" coffee ground is somewhere between 200 and 500 microns in cross section.

Besides, the kind of filter that you would want to use would introduce little to no air into the mead - to minimize the potential for oxidation. Open filters of any kind are not very helpful here.

09-29-2009, 06:45 PM
Thanks, Wayne. What kind would you use?

09-30-2009, 01:37 AM
Filters for beer, wine, mead & cider are in-line filters. There are different kinds (http://morewinemaking.com/search/103285/beerwinecoffee/coffeewinebeer/Small_Volume_Wine_Filters) like cartridge or plate. Many homebrew shops will carry at least one of them and some may rent them to you.

I would suggest fining before filtering if you are trying to bottle quickly. Filtering a cloudy mead will lead to clogged filters. Fining agents can work fairly quickly (you'll see a difference within a week usually) and you'll have a much easier time of filtering afterward.