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Sabar
11-07-2009, 04:24 PM
I haven't found any posts that bring this topic up, now that I am getting closer (guessing here in a week) to racking my first ever batch, this question has just hit me.

When I put my must together in my primary fermenter, I toped off up to the Five Gallon line in my bucket. I am making a five Gallon batch so that made since to me.

This has been bouncing around in my mind now for the last few days, but I wont have five gallons to transfer into my glass carboy. Which should be, as far as I know, should be as full as passable to help prevent oxidation.

Figure five gallons, minus what ever is left on the bottom after Racking, minus about a cup and a half that I take out each time I check my SG, What, about four times now? To make sure I didn't contaminate my mead I didnt dump it back into the bucket.

I am going to be considerably short of my five gallon mark.

Kinda confused as to what to do here in a few days or so.

Option #1 Do I have the air space and hope for the best?

Option #2 Boil some honey and water, top off, and hope for the best?

Option #3 Buy a 3 and 1 gallon carboy and fill them up completely and be glad for the weight loss from the wife chewing my butt off for not having this in the budget.

Gotta tell you guys up front. being a younger, dumber, red neck, I don't have a whole lot of butt left here, so I am kinda hoping against option three. But I am protecting this Mead with my life so what ever I gotta do is worth it.

What do you guys do?

Thanks Sabar

Cargirl
11-07-2009, 04:39 PM
I can only give you my experience. I usually get about 100 ozs out of a 128 oz gallon. I only make gallon-sized batches, too hard to lift 5 gallons.

It never occurred to me to want to top off a batch after racking. Gonna watch this thread to see what the experts think.

wildoates
11-07-2009, 04:53 PM
Sabar, you made me laugh...it makes me wish I had a husband whose butt I could chew off. :)

I know it's not much help now, but I have been in the same situation as you have, and ended up having to get a 3 gallon carboy for secondary and bulk aging. Since then I've always overshot my batches by a gallon because you're better off with too much than too little. A gallon is a lot of airspace to hope for the best.

If you do decide to get another carboy, a 3 gallon would probably do it if you did this: rack the mead into the 3 gallon carboy, as much as you can fit in there, right up to the neck of the bottle. Bung and airlock it, it should be okay because unless you add some more sugar to secondary, there shouldn't be a lot of foaming to worry about.

Then get a (or two if necessary) 2 liter soda bottle, sanitize it, and rack the rest of the mead into it. Cap it tightly, then put it in the refrigerator. Let it stay there until you rack from secondary into tertiary, when you'll be leaving some sediment in the 3 gallon carboy and will once again lose volume. Use the refrigerated mead to top up the carboy, and you're golden.

You could also pile up a bunch of glass marbles to raise the volume in the 5 gallon secondary, but the number you'd need would probably cost about what the 3 gallon carboy'd cost.

Adding water will dilute the mead, which may or may not be a good thing depending on the mead, I guess. If you think you'll lose a gallon, that's a lot of dilution.

Adding more honey will either kick up fermentation again, or make the mead really sweet if it doesn't (but it probably would).

If you have some traditional mead lying around you can top up with that too, but unless you've got some of your own that can be a pretty pricey proposition if you need about a gallon.

I'm sure the mentors will have even more ideas for you, but hopefully this will give you some food for thought--and honestly, all I'm doing is aping what they've already told me or someone else. :)

AToE
11-07-2009, 04:54 PM
I've been either brewing more than I need to start with (obviously not an option for you) or topping the carboys off with glass beads. They're not too expensive and can fill up a fair bit of room pretty easily.

afdoty
11-07-2009, 05:45 PM
Sabar, unfortunately I think you'd only be postponing the enviable. You'll end up short either in the secondary of for sure in any subsequent rakings. Adding more honey/water solution could work. But it might cause fermentation to start back up, but might not ferment to the level you're at right now, so you'll end up with something diluted. Marbles could work too, but you'll be short again down the road.

Personally, I'd bite the bullet, lose some ass, and get a 3-gallon carboy, a one-gallon jug and a 1/2-gallon. You'll maybe lose 1/2 a gallon racking into the carboy.

And start a new batch immediately! Tell your wife this batch is coming along so great that you want to save the 5 gallon carboy for the next batch (ask her what she wants you to make).... this time get a 6 gallon batch going. You can never have to many carboys. ;)

Medsen Fey
11-07-2009, 06:00 PM
You've learned a valuable lesson - to end up with 5 gallons you need to start with more; 5.5 to 6 works out well most of the time. When you make a larger batch, what doesn't fit into the carboy when you rack can be put in PET bottle or another glass jug and can be used to top up when you rack to tertiary. I solved this problem for myself by using kegs and just flushing out the headspace with inert gas - I find that simplifies things for me, but that's an approach that will give you more weight loss. ;D

You should not leave a large headspace in aging vessels. Although traditional meads don't oxidize as readily as wines, they do oxidize. When you initially rack to secondary, the CO2 dissolved in the solution will chase the air out of the carboy, so for a few weeks it will be okay as long as you don't take the airlock off and allow more air back into the headspace. One thing you could do, is rack it to secondary put the airlock on it, and start another small batch to rack into the carboy to top it up. It will take a couple of weeks to get it done, but then you'll be topped up with mead.

This thread (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12441) outlines several approaches you can take for headspace. One of the cheapest and least utilized is the mineral oil. I'm not sure why more folks don't use it as it is really simple. If you have a large headspace, I found that was one of the most practical solutions though it will make for a slippery carboy when you get ready to clean it later and with my butterfingers, that's bad.

Let us know what you decide to do.

Medsen

epetkus
11-07-2009, 06:01 PM
Sabar, I see from your brewlog that you started out at an SG of 1.121 and used Cote des Blancs, which nominally is supposed to finish in the 12 - 14% ABV range. Given that your initial reading was accurate, this should end up already as a sweet or semi-sweet mead, and therefore, I wouldn't recommend adding more honey water, although it probably won't "hurt" anything. If you do, try to add a honey/water mixture that is the same as your current SG reading. Keep in mind however, this will dilute your current batch (lowering the ABV), and kicking the yeast kick back up at this stage to make up the ABV difference isn't warranted in my opinion.

In all likelihood, there is enough residual CO2 in your primary that if you transfer carefully (minimize oxidation & splashing), to the carboy, you should be able to gently swirl the batch by rocking the carboy until you see airlock activity, indicating that the headspace is filled with CO2. Of course, you could fill the headspace with other appropriate inert gas to deal with this as well.

Then, while aging over the next few months you can obtain a smaller carboy so that when you rack again (CO2 will be much less), you can follow wildoates recommendation.

My $.02.

Eric

KingDave
11-07-2009, 06:23 PM
I haven't found any posts that bring this topic up, now that I am getting closer (guessing here in a week) to racking my first ever batch, this question has just hit me.

When I put my must together in my primary fermenter, I toped off up to the Five Gallon line in my bucket. I am making a five Gallon batch so that made since to me.

This has been bouncing around in my mind now for the last few days, but I wont have five gallons to transfer into my glass carboy. Which should be, as far as I know, should be as full as passable to help prevent oxidation.

Figure five gallons, minus what ever is left on the bottom after Racking, minus about a cup and a half that I take out each time I check my SG, What, about four times now? To make sure I didn't contaminate my mead I didnt dump it back into the bucket.

I am going to be considerably short of my five gallon mark.

Kinda confused as to what to do here in a few days or so.

Option #1 Do I have the air space and hope for the best?

Option #2 Boil some honey and water, top off, and hope for the best?

Option #3 Buy a 3 and 1 gallon carboy and fill them up completely and be glad for the weight loss from the wife chewing my butt off for not having this in the budget.

Gotta tell you guys up front. being a younger, dumber, red neck, I don't have a whole lot of butt left here, so I am kinda hoping against option three. But I am protecting this Mead with my life so what ever I gotta do is worth it.

What do you guys do?

Thanks Sabar

You can leave the air space. It doesn't make any difference at all. You will most likely have some 'experts' say that it will be a problem BUT from one red neck to another, it will make no difference. I do it all the time with wine and according to Medsen Fey, mead oxidizes less.

SO trust me, don't water down your precious mead because alcohol content is really the most important part. Just make sure the carboy is sealed with an air lock and you'll be fine.

Cheers,
The King.

Sasper
11-07-2009, 06:59 PM
I always make more must to account for volume loss. And keep the spare in beer or wine bottles until I rack into a new carboy. I usually make a fourth to a half gallon of extra top off must per gallon. Also in my experience I've found that if you put the lees that you rack off of into a beer or wine bottle depending on how much there is I can usually get that to settle out more and then siphon off that little bit of extra alcohol that clears. But you can also use glass marbles or smaller carboys to compensate. You dont want a lot of headspace if your mead oxidizes it'll taste like wet moldy cardboard.

Medsen Fey
11-07-2009, 07:01 PM
You can leave the air space. It doesn't make any difference at all.


As another redneck, let me assure you it does make a difference. One of my first meads turned into a very "sherry-like" failure for this very reason. If you are serious about protecting a big investment in honey, you really can't ignore headspace.

In addition to the direct oxidation of the mead, the exposure to air allows acetic acid bacteria to thrive and turn a mead into vinegar. Your alcohol level is not high enough to prevent acetic acid bacteria, and sulfite really won't stop them effectively. You really have to keep the air away from it to keep these bacteria choked off. Air (oxygen) also promotes other spoilage organisms.

Anyone who tells you that they make wine, ignore headspace and never have problems is either pulling your leg or simply hasn't made enough.

Good meading!

Medsen

AToE
11-07-2009, 07:17 PM
You can leave the air space. It doesn't make any difference at all. You will most likely have some 'experts' say that it will be a problem BUT from one red neck to another, it will make no difference. I do it all the time with wine and according to Medsen Fey, mead oxidizes less.

SO trust me, don't water down your precious mead because alcohol content is really the most important part. Just make sure the carboy is sealed with an air lock and you'll be fine.

Cheers,
The King.

As someone who has had batches turn into vinegar, I can say this advice from KingDave is not good. I may not be able to identify what an oxidized mead tastes like yet, but giving O2 to spoilage organisms is more than enough reason for me to get rid of that head space. Maybe you've (Dave) really not had a problem yet with this, but other people have had very real problems with it, and it's honestly starting to look like you're making sport out of dissagreeing with good advice from experienced mead makers.

It's one thing to say "I've never had a problem with this, so I think it may be less of a big deal than other people make it out to be" - but to just flat out say "ignore all these people, I'm right, they're wrong" is pretty rediculous.

And "alcohol content is the most important part"?

Man, forget redneck, I'm a bloody metalhead from the most redneck part of my country, and even I don't think ABV is the most important part! If that were true we'd all be fermenting the cheapest sugar we could get our hands on! Why ferment something as expensive as honey and then not take even simple steps to ensure that is tastes as good as possible????


P.S. To the moderators, I apologize if I'm out of line on this post, but I'm becoming offended by this guy trolling a group of very nice honest people who have been a huge help to me so far.

Medsen Fey
11-07-2009, 07:59 PM
....rediculous.

P.S. To the moderators, I apologize if I'm out of line on this post...

Dude, you're way out of line - don't you know RIDICKULOUS has 2 "i"s. LOL! :laughing4:

AToE
11-07-2009, 08:02 PM
Dude, you're way out of line - don't you know RIDICKULOUS has 2 "i"s. LOL! :laughing4:

:eek: Oops! Although, I should inform you that it also doesn't have a "K" ;D

Oskaar
11-07-2009, 08:10 PM
You can leave the air space. It doesn't make any difference at all. You will most likely have some 'experts' say that it will be a problem BUT from one red neck to another, it will make no difference. I do it all the time with wine and according to Medsen Fey, mead oxidizes less.

SO trust me, don't water down your precious mead because alcohol content is really the most important part. Just make sure the carboy is sealed with an air lock and you'll be fine.

Cheers,
The King.

Dave,

You've been warned twice, you don't get a third. You're gone.

Oskaar

Dan McFeeley
11-07-2009, 08:45 PM
Words of wisdom on the 'net are to avoid feeding a troll, so all I'll say here is, Thanks Oskaar!

A quick note along the advice of using glass marbles or beads, it's best to buy the decorative types used in fish tanks. Ordinary hobby marbles may have toxic chemicals used in coloring that will in turn leach into your mead.

I've used the glass marble route, usually out of desparation and although it works, it's a real pain when it comes to racking. You tend to lose a lot of mead since it's impossible to siphon out the liquid in between the marble spaces.

If you're really really desparate, you could purchase a bottle or two of mead from your local liquor store, top off the five gallon carboy and don't tell anyone. :o ;D

I'd guess that once your wife gets a taste or two of how good mead is, she'd be happy to see you pick up the equipment you need. ;D

AToE
11-07-2009, 08:45 PM
Kinda saw that one coming...

wildoates
11-07-2009, 08:51 PM
Yeah, thanks, Oskaar.

Sabar
11-07-2009, 09:27 PM
I think I am going to end up with a little over 4.5 Gallons after Racking Which I may end up doing this evening.

Medsen said about maybe putting what I have into my 5 gallon carboy for a week or two then racking into 3 and one gallons to age. At this moment in time I think thats what I may do.

I just took a SG reading and its at 1.018. Thats a little dryer than I was expecting. SO I may be doing a search here for back sweetening ;)

Ok, Going to go post my results of the SG on my brew log and see what every one thinks about that.

Thanks every one for the advise, Sorry it has caused some problems.

Sabar

If this sounds like A really bad idea let me know.

wildoates
11-07-2009, 10:12 PM
It wasn't you, Sabar. :)

One thing I've learned in the short time I've been hanging about here, is that for every problem there usually will be several solutions. Deciding which one works for us is up to us!

AToE
11-07-2009, 11:12 PM
I think I am going to end up with a little over 4.5 Gallons after Racking Which I may end up doing this evening.

Medsen said about maybe putting what I have into my 5 gallon carboy for a week or two then racking into 3 and one gallons to age. At this moment in time I think thats what I may do.

I just took a SG reading and its at 1.018. Thats a little dryer than I was expecting. SO I may be doing a search here for back sweetening ;)

Ok, Going to go post my results of the SG on my brew log and see what every one thinks about that.

Thanks every one for the advise, Sorry it has caused some problems.

Sabar

If this sounds like A really bad idea let me know.

If this is your first batch of mead you might want to hold back for at least a few months before deciding to backsweeten. I personally find anything over 1.010 to be "quite" sweet (much too sweet for me), and 1.018 is getting into the "very" sweet range, no where near dry! Of course, my taste is not your taste, you may end up loving 1.040 or such, but I'd give this one a chance how it is.

You can allways sweeten it, but you'd have a rough time trying to dry it out.;)


EDIT: Oh, and you didn't cause any problems, KingDave pretty much used every post he made in his very short stay here to try and anger people.

Kee
11-07-2009, 11:56 PM
You can also 'top off' with the carbon dioxide/inert gases. It's not as good of an option as having a full carboy, but it's an option. You can get a bottle of Private Preserve at a wine shop for about $10.

Thank you, Oskaar.

akueck
11-08-2009, 12:35 AM
You can also 'top off' with the carbon dioxide/inert gases. It's not as good of an option as having a full carboy, but it's an option. You can get a bottle of Private Preserve at a wine shop for about $10.

To be successful with inert gasses, you need to replace the entire content of the headspace with the inert gas. The "protective layer" of heavy gas will only be there for a few minutes, if that long.

epetkus
11-08-2009, 08:54 AM
Dave,

You've been warned twice, you don't get a third. You're gone.

Oskaar

THANKS OSKAAR!!

I for one, am grateful this site is moderated, to appropriately deal with just this sort of posting behavior.

Sabar, best of luck with your batch! I hope you see that one of the most useful aspects of Gotmead is getting advice from the mead mentors. Listen to them and you will be MUCH better off in your meadmaking endeavors.


Eric

Sabar
11-08-2009, 10:00 AM
Believe me I am defenantly listening to every one, and especially the mead mentors. I just wish some one could speed up time so I could taste the final product. ;-)

epetkus
11-08-2009, 11:06 AM
Hmmmm...,

A mead time warp! I can see the scifi movie script now! We get to zip ahead to finished product, and then zip back to make any necessary adjustments. Of course, messing with the space/time continuum will allow us to turn this into a TV series! ;D

Eric

Oskaar
11-08-2009, 12:26 PM
THANKS OSKAAR!!

I for one, am grateful this site is moderated, to appropriately deal with just this sort of posting behavior.

Sabar, best of luck with your batch! I hope you see that one of the most useful aspects of Gotmead is getting advice from the mead mentors. Listen to them and you will be MUCH better off in your meadmaking endeavors.


Eric

Thank you Eric :)

We really try to keep the site clear of people who are just here to stir the pot or argue for argument's sake. We're not perfect so sometimes we screw up like everyone else. Bottom line is that we try to err to the side of what's right for the people on the board. There are folks who disagree with the way we handle banning people and that's to be expected and we get that. Hopefully this will reduce the noise level for everyone.

Cheers,

Oskaar

Sabar
11-08-2009, 12:32 PM
Hmmmm...,

A mead time warp! I can see the scifi movie script now! We get to zip ahead to finished product, and then zip back to make any necessary adjustments. Of course, messing with the space/time continuum will allow us to turn this into a TV series! ;D

Eric

Maybe that should have been the idea behind flashforward.

Panik
11-09-2009, 02:08 PM
Kinda been lurking for a while now and this topics seems to be touching on a A newby question that has been bumping around my head. Just howNHLw effective is using CO2 as a blanket for meads. Is it something that needs to be repeated on a regular basis when bulk aging in a vessel with q coue of inches of head space. Or is this something that might be better utilized in comination with a technique such as glass beads.

Apologies in advance if I have hijacked the direction of this thread, it just
seemed like an appropriate time to jump in.

Medsen Fey
11-09-2009, 02:31 PM
Welcome to GotMead Panik!

I think this thread veered off topic way back, and when you see that it is probably best to start a new topic of your own. That way your question will get the full attention it deserves.

If you use CO2 or inert gas - the first concept to get rid of is the idea of a blanket. Even though CO2 weighs more than air, if you spray some into an open vessel, it will not sink to the bottom. It will diffuse around the entire space as the gasses mix. So if you plan to use CO2 for protection, you have to use it to flush out all of the air in the headspace.

It is not easy to determine when this has been accomplished if you don't have fancy O2 meters (I don't). That means you have to use overkill. With kegs, I fill them and release about 4-5 times. I figure that if I'm filling the keg at 15 PSI, each time I cut the O2 in half. Starting at 21% at 4 flushes I should be down to about 1% O2. Over time I've gotten a feel for how long that takes depending on how much headspace there is, so when I do it with a carboy, I'm just going by what my gut tells me. For a couple of inches of headspace in a carboy probably about 20-30 seconds of flushing would be my guess.

Once I've flushed and put the airlock back on. I make the assumption that the seal is probably not all that tight and I'll flush it again in 4-6 months. With kegs it is pretty easy to tell if it is leaking and they tend to stay pressurized and that is why I typically use Argon rather than CO2 because I'm not trying to carbonate it.

Anytime I open the container (keg or carboy) to air, I go through the whole flushing process again. Yes that gets tedious, and you run through a lot of gas, and you need to be in a well ventilated space, but it works very effectively.

Medsen

Pewter_of_Deodar
11-09-2009, 03:18 PM
I've been either brewing more than I need to start with (obviously not an option for you) or topping the carboys off with glass beads. They're not too expensive and can fill up a fair bit of room pretty easily.

And they are impossible to rack off of...

AToE
11-09-2009, 03:38 PM
And they are impossible to rack off of...

I haven't had too many problems, I just deal with racking a tiny amount of lees over and shove the racking cane to the bottom. I usually don't let the racking cane go near the bottom until near the end anyways, as sometimes loose lees get sucked up and around the end thing.

I've recently been messing with caboys that have glass beads on the bottom by turning them 1-2 inches quickly, once a day or so (for yeasts like 71B that you don't really want back up in suspension). This slowly knocks all the lees to the bottom of the beads, and actually makes it easier to rack because the beads prevent most of the lees from getting sloshed around when you ove the carboy.

Of course - that is still way more of a pain than just having enough mead in the carboy!

Pewter_of_Deodar
11-09-2009, 03:58 PM
Sabar,

I do primary fermentation in a 6.5 gallon carboy, rack into a 6 gallon carboy for secondary fermentation, and then rack into a 5 gallon carboy to age. During fermentation I do not worry about headspace as the fermentation is producing a healthy blanket of CO2 that forces out unwanted oxygen. With the last rack, I usually come pretty close to filling the 5 gallon to the neck although at times there will be a "cup" or two of headspace.

Personally, I do not worry about that small amount of headspace as the trap I keep on the batch (even as it ages for several years) makes certain that only the small amount of oxygen (if any depending on whether more CO2 is released after racking) that was present before trapping has a chance to integrate into the must.

I rack into a bottling bucket to bottle where my batch is subject to open air for as long as 15 or 20 minutes. I suppose this could cause harm but haven't experienced it yet.

All of that said, I know that there are wineries that never allow their product contact with ANY free oxygen by pumping everything around with inert gasses. From what our experts are saying, there is likely value in that or they would not do it (hopefully). But as a hobbyist, you need to decide to what level (and what expense, and what changes to techniques, and what changes to recipes) you will go to avoid oxidation.

So far, in my limited experience, a little headroom in the carboys has not caused discernable damage to my batches to the point where I am flushing things with CO2. I'd suggest you try a couple of batches a couple of different ways and see if you notice a difference. Use the techniques that make a difference and don't use the others.

Good luck,
Pewter

Sabar
11-09-2009, 08:45 PM
bought a three gallon carboy today for ageing. figure I will bottle what ever is left.

Pewter_of_Deodar
11-10-2009, 11:52 AM
bought a three gallon carboy today for ageing. figure I will bottle what ever is left.

BOTTLE??????????

You need to have a spillage party!!!!!!

Sabar
11-10-2009, 09:02 PM
Ok, ok, you got me, More than likely there will not be that much left over. First Official tasting party! The rest I would like to age for a little while at least.

Oh, another side note, When I puchased the 3 Gallon Glass Carboy I also got my self an auto siphon. Cant wait to use that.

Sabar

Medsen Fey
11-10-2009, 09:12 PM
I also got my self an auto siphon. Cant wait to use that.

Greatest advance in brewing since the invention of the hydrometer! ;D

Sabar
11-10-2009, 09:21 PM
Thats what I have been reading from you guys on other posts. That the auto Siphon is the greatest thing to buy.

How do you clean that stuff? the siphon and hose and stuff. I mean I ran water thrue it and soaked it in b-brite then hung the hose up so the water would drain, there is still moisture in it though. don't know how to get the moisture out.

Oh yea I also got some stabilizer, when I was at the shop. dont know if I will need to use it or not though. After being out of town the last two days I haven't had a chance to check my mead, so I don't even know how often it is burping yet.

Talk to you all later, Gonna go have a look now. hoping to see some clearing maybe???

Sabar

akueck
11-11-2009, 01:24 AM
How do you clean that stuff? the siphon and hose and stuff. I mean I ran water thrue it and soaked it in b-brite then hung the hose up so the water would drain, there is still moisture in it though. don't know how to get the moisture out.

I don't have an autosiphon, I have a blow-into-the-carboy-to-pressurize-it thingy I got from MoreBeer. I really like it. Same concept though so yeah, very helpful.

I hang my tubing to dry; it usually takes a few days to get all the water out. Someday I'll have a compressed air supply and will use that. Sometimes I'll swing the tubing around to encourage the drops to fly out. Be sure to do so in a clear area. ;)

Cargirl
11-11-2009, 10:03 AM
Just a "thank you" to everyone for the really wonderful information. I'm sucking it in through the pores. :)

Dan McFeeley
11-11-2009, 10:30 AM
How do you clean that stuff? the siphon and hose and stuff. I mean I ran water thrue it and soaked it in b-brite then hung the hose up so the water would drain, there is still moisture in it though. don't know how to get the moisture out.

You can try using an aquarium pump and run the hose into the siphon. The constant flow of air will help dry it out.

--