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EnsNentill
10-30-2009, 12:52 AM
Well, my Cyser is crystal clear, hasn't changed in gravity readings for at least 2 weeks, and I've stabilized it with sorbate/metabisulfite, and I'm itching to use its carboy for a new batch, I think it's time to bottle.

Now, this will be my first time bottling, and the Newbee guide only seems to give me half the advice I need. So far, I know the standard: Clean & sanitize bottles, siphon mead in (I have an auto-filler, so, I guess I just fill to the top and when I remove the autofiller it'll have the proper headspace, right?) But what about corks? All I've read is: Soak corks in a sulfite solution. what constitutes a good sulfite solution? 1 Campden tab in a gallon of water? How long do I soak them?

Any other bits of advice I should know? Do you think I should wait?

Oskaar
10-30-2009, 01:41 AM
WAIT!

How old is this batch. Two weeks is WAY too soon after fermentation.

Lemme know,

Oskaar

EnsNentill
10-30-2009, 01:53 AM
brew-date: 8/4/09. SG 1.112
SG was down to 0.998 by 8/28/09. It's held there since.

Oskaar
10-30-2009, 06:47 AM
OK, whenever asking about a recipe here on Got Mead? remember we don't know what you used in that recipe so we need the following from you to help us dial it in.

1. The exact recipe including ingredients and quantities
2. Additions and quantities (nutrient, additional honey, juice, spices, etc)
3. The specific yeast you used
4. The size of the batch
5. The date of the onset of fermentation, and the date fermentation ended
6. The date you racked to secondary
7. Any special methodologies, processes or treatments (oak, aeration, etc.)

All of these things will help us figure out what you are dealing with and will allow us to be more precise in our advice.

Based on the date alone, this mead is too young to bottle. When you have had no change in gravity for six months it will be ready. Bear in mind that even after six months all the yeast may not have dropped out and that it can restart in the bottle unless you cold stabilize, filter or chemical stabilize.

If you're Jones-ing for another batch start that new batch in a plastic bucket or buy some apple juice in a 1 gallon glass bottle (carboy) and make a one gallon batch of cyser or traditional once the juice is gone.

Cheers,

Oskaar

KingDave
10-30-2009, 09:01 AM
Hi EnsNentill,

You don't need to soak your corks in a metabisulphide solution at all. Just pop umm on. You can rent/borrow a corker from your local home brewing store for free or a small price.

This user's advice has been moderated by Oskaar.

Cheers,
KingDave.

Medsen Fey
10-30-2009, 09:22 AM
Hi EnsNentill,

..., don't listen to Oskaar.

This is undoubtedly the single worst piece of advice you will ever receive on GotMead!

Depending on your recipe (the details of which Oskaar has requested) it is still possible for some meads (even after stabilization) to continue to ferment very very slooowwwly. If that occurs in the bottle you will get fizzy mead at best, and possibly popped corks or exploding bottles. It is good to give stabilized meads time to make sure they really are stable. At a gravity of 0.998, there probably isn't much chance of further fermentation, but better safe than sorry.

The point about off flavors from the yeast I find odd and inconsistent. Yes, sitting on old yeast can cause off flavors (although if done properly, lees aging can be beneficial in some cases) and that is one reason we rack off the old lees as they settle during aging. Your mead may not have had time to drop all the sediment out. If you bottle it with that sediment in suspension, it will eventually drop in your bottles. If you are worried about off flavors coming from sitting on old yeast, why would you want to bottle it and have those yeast settling out in your bottle where you'll be stuck with them. Even if it doesn't produce off flavors, I hate looking at sediment in my mead - it looks amateurish.

It is usually wise to rack off the old lees and into another carboy. Give it some time, or place it it a fridge and see if it drops some more sediment. It probably will being this young. Meads often take more time to clear than wines. When you stop seeing any sediment form, then you can bottle knowing it will likely remain clear. Filtering and fining can speed this process of clearing along but may have potential impact on flavor and aroma. Mead making is not something to rush.

Medsen

Prolific_Praxis
10-30-2009, 10:34 AM
This is undoubtedly the single worst piece of advice you will ever receive on GotMead!

...it is still possible for some meads (even after stabilization) to continue to ferment very very slooowwwly. If that occurs in the bottle you will get fizzy mead at best, and possibly popped corks or exploding bottles.
...sitting on old yeast can cause off flavors (although if done properly, lees aging can be beneficial in some cases) and that is one reason we rack off the old lees as they settle during aging. Your mead may not have had time to drop all the sediment out. If you bottle it with that sediment in suspension, it will eventually drop in your bottles. - it looks amateurish.
Meads often take more time to clear than wines. When you stop seeing any sediment form, then you can bottle knowing it will likely remain clear. Filtering and fining can speed this process of clearing along but may have potential impact on flavor and aroma. Mead making is not something to rush.

Medsen

Okay, I doubt that this would be the single worst piece of advice given on GotMead but its close. I would say that the most poignant thing that Medsen presented was that the slow fermentation that can occur in the bottle can and probably will give you fizzy mead. This has happened to me. On the other side of the coin, this happened at a mead tasting (complete with gourmet food we prepared), I was throwing. We flash chilled all the bottles to be opened and the first few bottles were okay (because they were still really cold) but as they warmed, they produced a really fizzy mess; albeit a tasty fizzy mess.
With these things in mind, I would listen to EVERYTHING people have to say on this forum but remember also that some members are mead showmen and women. Perfectionists who have won many awards for their meads. Other members are just in it to make mead and drink it with a few friends and or significant other and could care less about how mead is supposed to be made as long as it is platable. Many are in-between. My suggestion, read this: The Compleat Meadmaker by Ken Schramm.

Medsen Fey
10-30-2009, 10:52 AM
..., don't listen to Oskaar.

I was referring specifically to this suggestion.

Whether bottling sooner or later is a minor matter in the grand scheme of mead making, and was not what I was referring too.

Oskaar is one of the most experienced and knowledgeable mead makers alive. He has produced, aged, and tasted as much mead as anyone. He has created award winning meads. What's more he has shared those recipes and others have followed them with outstanding results of their own. There are few people who can speak with as much authority on the subject.

To ignore his suggestions and recommendations is simply wrong-headed.

I stand by my prior statement.

KingDave
10-30-2009, 11:04 AM
Whether bottling sooner or later is a minor matter in the grand scheme of mead making, and was not what I was referring too.

Thats what I was referring too. Sure you can wait 6 months for mead that will probably taste SLIGHTLY better than it would have if you bottled it today. Maybe it won't win any 'awards' but the subjective value of having mead in your mouth today significantly surpasses the value of minor improvements in taste after 6 months.

Prolific_Praxis
10-30-2009, 11:13 AM
I was referring specifically to this suggestion.

Oskaar is one of the most experienced and knowledgeable mead makers alive. He has produced, aged, and tasted as much mead as anyone. He has created award winning meads. ignore his suggestions and recommendations is simply wrong-headed.

I stand by my prior statement.
See what I mean EnsNentill? Many different mead makers here...

I recognize that Oskaar is very knowledgeable mead maker and has tasted quite a few meads... :-) I have also tasted quite a few meads myself. My advice was to read/acknowledge/listen to what EVERYONE has to say here (otherwise, why not close the forum replies to just Mead Mentors and admins?) and make a decision based on the most logical and well presented statement based on the facts of mead making. What about my advice on Schramm's book?

Kee
10-30-2009, 12:05 PM
ErsNentil, I'm going to jump in here.

When started 18+ months ago, I started making mead at a really very good clip. A little over a year ago, I went back to school. I had literally a few dozen gallons of mead that was clear and stable, but I had no time to bottle. I decided to put mead making on hold since I had no extra time. I racked everything one last time, put in solid bungs, put them in a dark closet, and all but forgot about them. It was one of the best things to happen to me.

Nearly every bottle of “clear” mead had more sediment precipitate out. This is after I could read newspaper through them for quite some time. Some of the carboy’s only had a few mm, some significants amount.

I’ve also had meads that I thought were stable pop a solid bung out. If it’s not stable, fuzzy mead is the best case scenario. If I’d bottle, I’m pretty sure it would have been a bottle bomb. BTW, my notes indicate that at least one of those that popped was supposed to have been chemically stabilized. Perhaps I just didn’t add enough chemicals. I did convert from g to tsp. In your case, your SG won’t go much lower, but the point is that you shouldn’t be overconfident about your mead being stable. Listen to the advice of the mentors here and wait.

The best thing, though. Has been that the flavor has improved SIGNIFICANTLY! It hasn’t been a subtle change as KingDave suggested. He’s admitted he’s a wine maker and new to mead making. They are different. I’ve had a few batches of mead I wanted to dump as drain cleaner. I wasn’t going to be able to use the carboy so I kept those batches. The patients paid off. I’ve pulled small amounts off and all of my meads are so much better now. I don’t think I’ll ever bottle a mead under a year. It’s been more than just smoothing out and the flavors integrating. I’m just not sure how to explain it better.

You might be itching to start another batch, but try to make it to the 6 month mark. I’m sure part of it is that the holiday’s are around the corner, but it’s a bit too late to start something now. Even a JAO will still be young. (Yeah, it’s drinkable in 2-3 months, but they’re better at 6!) If you can’t wait you might try some one gallon batches.

The best advice I can give is to post your brewlog for the mentors to review. If it’s hard to let strangers see your recipe, become a patron. (It will be one of my first purchases again as soon as money frees up - damn recession!) The suggestions they make will improve your recipes, processes, and procedures better than nearly anything else you can do.

wayneb
10-30-2009, 12:11 PM
Absolutely listen to all points of view, at all times. That's one of the great features of Gotmead, IMHO... all points of view are acknowledged and provided you have the data and the scientific rigor to back up your recommendations, your advice is respected. To avoid being confused with the multiplicity of opinions, however, it is helpful to check out the meadmaking background and level of experience of all the folks who are on the site providing that advice. Praxis, your suggestion that Ken Schramm's book be read is an excellent one. Ken has been making mead for a very long time, as well as experimenting with wines made from the fruits he grows on his property in Michigan. He has a wealth of experience and knowledge and his recommendations are generally right on the mark.

However, it is also important to realize that Ken's book is now somewhat dated. He acknowledges that himself, and he's pushing an updated edition through the pub process now. A lot about meadmaking has been learned in the past decade, mostly through research conducted and academic knowledge acquired by guys like Oskaar. In addition to making mead, Oskaar also makes wine and comes from a winemaking family that trace their vineyard "roots" back many generations. Not content to stick only to tradition and historical process, he has also pursued academic work in oenology at places like UC Davis. He's written several industry respected articles on various aspects of the winemaking process. He is an acknowledged expert, and I respect his judgement. Most of the time even I follow his advice. ;) On those rare occasions when I disagree with something he's suggested, I still see the merit in what he's recommended - I just want to pursue another path.

So to EnsNentill and others new to the hobby, as far as deciding whether to follow one or another's recommendations, I'd suggest that you consider the sources. In one case, you have someone who has been making mead even longer than I have (a very long time indeed!!), with logs of his process and documented results going back decades. On the other hand you have suggestions from someone who is admittedly a new meadmaker (experience with winemaking is also relevant to this hobby, but wines will behave differently than meads, even in the bottle). If I were a newbee trying to get the most out of my not insignificant investment of time and $$ in a hobby that I had no experience with, I'd probably go with the former myself.

Medsen Fey
10-30-2009, 12:22 PM
What about my advice on Schramm's book?

This is excellent advice! :)

The forums are meant to be open to all, and anyone interested in making mead (or drinking mead) is certainly welcome. We all benefit from learning new ideas, new techniques, and new ways of doing things. Folks here are big on identifying best practices and putting them to use.

However, in an open forum you can certainly get differences of opinion and we see that all the time. The problem is, how do you know which opinion is best? In these forums, one way is to ask Oskaar. ;)

You'll rarely go wrong that way.

The mead mentors and forum moderators are all folks who have a lot of mead experience and who have a broad base of knowledge and are familiar with best practices (as we understand them at present). They have been designated as mentors so anyone new to mead making can at least have some measure of the source of that advice. The mentors are not perfect and they can make mistakes, and in fact, you can trust that the mentors have made just about every mistake that can be made with mead at some point along the way. New mazers can spare themselves having to learn the hard way if they listen.

Beyond that, when someone has advice that you question, don't hesitate to ask for supporting evidence. Or better yet, go find some data and bring it back to educate us. That keeps us on the road to improvement.

As for bottling, if I want to taste mead, I simply thieve a sample from the storage container and so I can enjoy the taste of mead while I wait for it to clear. Of course, I enjoy drinking nice, clear mead that has been properly aged better, so I usually do that instead.

As for the question of how to treat corks, I usually give them a quick rinse in sanitizer, but that is optional. To make a sanitizer with sulphites you need more than one Campden tablet. You need 3 grams of metabisulphite for a gallon of water - that is about 6 Campden tablets, and if you add 12 grams of citric acid it will be more effective. Soaking corks can actually lead to them breakdown prematurely.

Medsen

Prolific_Praxis
10-30-2009, 12:33 PM
Very well put Wayne! I originally got into brewing from Papazian's text and didn't read the appendix on Meads until after I had the book for a couple of years. After I read that section I just had to try mead making and now only periodically make batches of beer. That was six years ago. I have only had two batches go bad on me because 1. I read a lot of books, magazines and other texts about mead and honey...a lot 2. I go and see what people are making/talking about on forums such as this one. (This is the only one I subscribe to) and 3. I make a lot of mead.
Kudos!

wildoates
10-30-2009, 01:14 PM
And regarding the difference 6 months (or more) aging can make, I look at it like this: I may not be able to taste the difference, but I can guarantee that my son can, and many of my friends will be able to. They're the ones I want to like mead because they drink wine and beer--but only good wine and beer. They don't drink Bud and they don't drink Ripple and I don't want them to think mead is inferior because I was in too much of rush to serve it. I'm not like a 15 year old Al (sorry, Al, but I just love that story) hiding fermenting kool-aid in a tree and drinking it young just to get the buzz--if I am going to do it at all, I'd rather do it right, so when someone tastes my mead they like it and think it matches the quality of a good wine or a good beer. I want them to go to BevMo and ask for high-quality mead or look for it on a restaurant wine list because their experience with mine was excellent!

EnsNentill
10-30-2009, 04:54 PM
Alright, point taken. I'll wait.