View Full Version : when to bottle

10-15-2009, 12:10 PM
How do you know when its time to bottle. I mean in general for the various batches. I have a dry and a semi-sweet in secondary now. The dry is very getting clear and is 2 months old. What is a good rule for bottling by taste by time by style?

Medsen Fey
10-15-2009, 12:29 PM
A good rule is to bottle when the mead is clear, and no longer dropping any sediment - at least it is a good rule if you don't want sediment in your bottles.

However, if you are still planning any treatments to the mead - oaking, sweetening, acid additions, and such, then waiting for those to be done and to make sure things remain stable may take a little more time.

Of course, one thing to remember is that being ready to bottle and being ready to drink are two different things.

10-15-2009, 12:59 PM
...Of course, one thing to remember is that being ready to bottle and being ready to drink are two different things.

I'll amplify on Medsen's properly captured semantic note: Bottling for the purpose of easier drinking (not having to rack out of a carboy for your evening libation), gifts to friends/family, etc. is best not to occur until after your mead has settled past a "young mead" and begun the long-term maturing process. Even then, some folks, like Oskaar, have no issue, and in fact may prefer, to leave it in the carboy/aging vessel for bulk aging up until the time they want to drink it and/or enter in into a competition.

In some cases, bottling "early" as some might say of a <1 year old mead, may be necessary to free up carboys for subsequent batches, but that ends up being a personal call.

I have first-hand witnessed SIGNIFICANT changes in my mead during the first 9 months of maturation, and the "setling out" via bulk aging in the carboy may not have been as quick or as desireable in smaller containers like bottles.

Of course, in the end, it's your call; everybodies needs/wants/desires may be different, but one thing is for certain: done properly, longer aging will make your mead better.


Yo momma
10-15-2009, 02:24 PM
How I choose when mine is ready, take a flashlight anbd shine into the carbouy. If I see a solid beam then it's still settling. If the beam is all but gone then I bottle. Its simple for me.

I also concur that setting a gallon off to the side for the night festivities is a good idea so you leave your batch alone as it matures. It is very hard here to get them past 6 months because of all the family and freinds who raid my mead pantry. Of course I love brewing and dont mind the excess mead making that my cellar rats provide. I have a brew in some stage or another everyday of the year. I get better with every batch. So I dont discourage the early sampling away of mead, it will not hurt you.

Its entirely up to you when your ready to bottle compared to what you want your mead to percieve. JMHO

Dan McFeeley
10-15-2009, 04:53 PM
To add a bit more, a flashlight will give you a good idea if the mead is about ready to bottle, but you should also be able to read newsprint clearly when held against the other side of the carboy.

Gravity readings are also important. Even when clear, if there is residual sugar left over in the mead, the yeasties can sometimes "wake up" and restart a slow fermentation.

All told, even if the mead seems clear, it's a good idea to let it sit for at least a couple of months before bottling, Medsen's advice on the difference between ready to bottle or ready to drink being kept in mind.

Significant differences after nine months of aging -- lots of people have bee noticng this 9 month bench mark for quite a few years. It's a good place to start for bottling, but others point out even more improvement after two years.

Angelic Alchemist
10-15-2009, 05:17 PM
Is it true that mead will continue to age well in the bottle as long as a good natural cork is used?

10-15-2009, 05:26 PM
I hope synthetic will work fine as well, I'm planning on staying away from real cork myself, the percentages I hear tossed around for cork taint are more than enough to scare me off.

Angelic Alchemist
10-15-2009, 05:45 PM
I hope synthetic will work fine as well, I'm planning on staying away from real cork myself, the percentages I hear tossed around for cork taint are more than enough to scare me off.

I think cork taint is a misnomer, if I'm not mistaken:


Medsen Fey
10-15-2009, 05:46 PM
Yes, mead will age in the bottle. I haven't done side by side comparisons of bulk vs bottle aged mead (yet), but both will improve with age from what I have tasted.

While cork taint is real (even if a bit of a misnomer), I think it is becoming less of a problem with the cork manufacturers taking steps to prevent it. Certainly it won't be an issue with Zorks or other closures. Although synthetic corks are improving, the data I have seen suggests that they have the highest oxygen transmission rate of any of the closures.

In the wine world some make a good argument that bottling protects the wine better than a stopper in the carboy. Intuitively it makes some sense, when you look at the fact that the contact between a stopper and the neck of a carboy may only be a couple of millimeters around a large opening. Factor in that they tend to frequently loosen, and pop out, and you may very well not be protecting a batch from oxygen exposure.

Compare that to a bottle where you have a narrower opening that will have a full 1.5-2 inches of cork providing the seal, with a more positive contact with the glass, and better adherence than a stopper. Over a period of a couple of years, you may very well have a lower exposure to oxygen than with a stopper in a carboy. I haven't seen any data where this has been measured in comparison, but if anyone knows of such a study please tell me.

Fortunately, traditional (and many other) meads are much less prone to oxidative damage than wine (from all I have been able to see). I have bulk aged in carboys (and better bottles) with no obvious ill effect, however, I do most of my aging in Corny kegs which are flushed and pressurized with inert gas.

For now, the stuff I plan for long aging is still going under the longest, best quality cork I can get my hands on.

Angelic Alchemist
10-16-2009, 12:01 AM
I read that natural cork allows lighter, unwanted compounds (ex. methanol)that cause off flavors to diffuse out through the cork over time while minimizing oxidation from the outside enviornment. Is this correct, or are there other factors at play that allow a wine/mead to mellow as it ages in the bottle? It's a lovely hypothesis, but it wouldn't be the first time I was fooled by a mead myth if it turns out to be untrue.

10-16-2009, 12:04 AM
ok all great advice i was clueless on this one. I like the flashlight and newspaper technique as well as the good old hydrometer readings. My only problem is that i only have 2 ale buckets 2 glass carboys and 1 better bottles. So I have been juggling between beer and mead and have run out of vessels i brewed myself into a corner. LOL I may have to just bottle one at the 3-4 month mark and see what happens to free up a vessel. Only time will tell. Thanks all for the advise.

10-16-2009, 12:05 AM
Do what I do in that situation, Meadsome...buy another carboy. :)

Angelic Alchemist
10-16-2009, 12:23 AM
Meadsome, I have the same problem, which is why I've taken to drinking apple juice from whole foods.

10-16-2009, 11:12 AM
LOL Angelic Alchemist i take it the apple juice comes in a glass container? :) good idea its like 2 for 1.

Angelic Alchemist
10-16-2009, 11:25 AM
Yes, the gallon jugs make perfect carboys. If you really want a deal, you can ferment the juice in the jugs too!

10-16-2009, 05:06 PM
so its more like 3 for 1 then good to know I will look next time I go to my whole foods. whats the going rate for them?

Dan McFeeley
10-16-2009, 05:55 PM
I prefer bulk aging to bottle aging now since my meads will usually throw a sediment after a couple of years. What I like to do with the carboys is wire down the stopper (this is after I am 100% certain the fermentation is over and won't restart), then put a couple of layers of cling plastic over the stopper and carboy neck, rubber banding it around the neck to seal it off. This way, I can be pretty confident I have a tight seal that is the equivalent of a cork seal.

In the past it was said that corks would allow slow O2 seepage which would help the aging process, but I think in more recent years that was disproven? I'm at work right now so I can't check this.

Angelic Alchemist
10-16-2009, 06:13 PM
so its more like 3 for 1 then good to know I will look next time I go to my whole foods. whats the going rate for them?

$6.99, but I heard they're having a sale through the 1st for $4.99.