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View Full Version : Reracking, bottling, and maybe more...



slowbie
11-17-2009, 07:06 PM
I may be somewhat of an anomaly, because I actually got into brewing beer because I was interested in mead making. I have not ever made mead, however, and I am hoping to do so, but I have some questions that I haven't been able to find answers to.

First off, I should start by saying that my plan is to make a simple show mead. I understand that simple is not synonymous with easy but I am prepared to deal with the consequences. The good news is that I don't have much experience drinking mead, so I'm hoping that not having something too good to compare it to will make it taste better than it is. Also, I am sure it will be the best mead I've ever made. But I digress.

1. My plan is to put it in the primary for a few weeks (or longer as needed) before transferring to a 5 gallon glass carboy. From there I am prepared to let it age for at least six months and up to a year. My question is how important is reracking? If the answer is very important, is there a practical way I could somehow rerack to the same container by using another container temporarily while I clean the first? Or do I just have to bite the bullet and buy another carboy?

2. How drinkable is the mead after bottling if I let it sit for six months to a year before I bottle?

3. There is a possibility that I would end up moving in eight months. How harmful would that be?

I think those are my main concerns right now. Thanks in advance for the avalanche of wisdom that I am about to receive.

AToE
11-17-2009, 07:22 PM
I can answer some of your questions. Also, I would recommend not doing a show mead (no additives whatsoever other than honey yeast and water - this means no nutrients) and doing a traditional instead (same as a show mead but additives are ok). This way you can use nutrients and correct PH and such if you need to. I personally wouldn't attempt a show mead myself (about 5-6 months experience) as a newbie, especially unless I was willing to risk the fermentation stalling and ending up with an overly sweet mead... and never being totally sure all the yeasts were dead, and as such bottles could potentially become bombs... not good.

Were you thinking sweet/dry/in the middle? What ABV?


I
1. My plan is to put it in the primary for a few weeks (or longer as needed) before transferring to a 5 gallon glass carboy. From there I am prepared to let it age for at least six months and up to a year. My question is how important is reracking? If the answer is very important, is there a practical way I could somehow rerack to the same container by using another container temporarily while I clean the first? Or do I just have to bite the bullet and buy another carboy?

Depends somewhat on what yeast you use. Some yeasts are okay to leave the mead/wine sitting on them for a looooong time, others are very bad. Also, if you don't rack at least once again before bottling you're likely going to bottle a whole bunch of sediment.

I've heard of people racking back into a bucket, cleaning their carboy and then racking back, but this seems like a heck of a lot of work just to save $30 for a carboy, and I'm guessing it is going to increase potential oxidization of your mead.


2. How drinkable is the mead after bottling if I let it sit for six months to a year before I bottle?

I personally have found some of my traditionals to be perfectly drinkable at 3-4 months, though I can certainly see what more time would do to improve them. (and bear in mind I do totally dry meads, which some people feel need to age longer than sweet ones, as the sweetness can cover up some flavours).

Most of the people around here tell people to try and let it age for at least around a year, so you're probably looking pretty good on the aging front, especially for a newbie (most of us seem to loose our patience and start drinking it way before we should!):)

Hope that helps, people with more experience will be along soon to give you more/better info.

slowbie
11-17-2009, 07:33 PM
Okay, I was a little confused on terminology. I am planning on making a traditional mead and therefore using additives. I am also hoping to do a nearly to totally dry mead, and I'm still playing around with the calculator and doing a little research before I decide on ABV, so if there is any advice or important things to know about that it would be helpful too.

I'm really hoping that I don't lose patience too soon, because I know I'll be tempted... :)

EDIT: Almost forgot to thank you for the advice! Thanks!

AToE
11-17-2009, 07:54 PM
Okay, I was a little confused on terminology. I am planning on making a traditional mead and therefore using additives. I am also hoping to do a nearly to totally dry mead, and I'm still playing around with the calculator and doing a little research before I decide on ABV, so if there is any advice or important things to know about that it would be helpful too.

I'm really hoping that I don't lose patience too soon, because I know I'll be tempted... :)

EDIT: Almost forgot to thank you for the advice! Thanks!

You're welcome, and I had a hunch that's what you meant, because that's what I meant when I started! Very common missunderstanding, we even have a thread dedicated to the subject.

Totally/nearly dry is the way I like them myself, be sure to post when you have your ABV figured out (I'd recommend between 11-14%) and then everyone can help you pick a yeast.

wayneb
11-17-2009, 10:33 PM
Hi, slowbie! Welcome to "Gotmead?"!!

Let me first suggest that you read the Newbee Guide if you haven't already done so (there's a link to it over on the left side of this page) because it will give you lots of relevant information that will help you out with your first batch. I applaud your decision to play around with the mead calculator to zone in on where you want your batch to finish. The best way to learn to use that thing is to play around with various entries until you're sure that you understand how it works. Once you've got the basic parameters for your batch established post your planned recipe (target volume, % ethanol, final gravity, type and amount of honey, yeast strain, nutrient types and amounts, etc.) and we can offer up some more specific suggestions.

slowbie
11-18-2009, 12:18 AM
Okay, I'm getting really excited about this, hopefully I can keep it under control because I have a few weeks before I can get this started because I'm brewing beer this weekend...


I did read and reread the newbee guide and did a pretty good amount of perusing these forums before I posted and found it very helpful because otherwise the original post may have been longer than I could have written in a night and would also have been very upsetting for a lot of people because of the easy and repetitive questions. So you're welcome for sparing you from all of that :)

After playing with the calculator, I am thinking
5 gallon batch size
13.88% ABV and 1.103 FG (I'm pretty sure I'll hit it right on! ;D)
14 pounds honey from my local homebrew store. (I'm not sure what kind but it's my best cheap source for honey straight from the beekeeper)

This is where I get lost. When I try to read the newbee guide on yeast strains and nutrients my eyes glaze over and I stare blankly at the screen for about five seconds, then snap back into it and try to focus before repeating the process all over again. If you have any suggestions I would love to hear them.

Also, while rereading the newbee guide again I noticed a blog post about the moving issue in a side link, so I think I'm set on that unless someone has something super pertinent to say.

Medsen Fey
11-18-2009, 12:46 PM
If you are using good honey, most any of the yeast will take this dry and produce a good mead.

For your first mead, I'd suggest a commonly available yeast that works with minimal fuss such as K1V-1116. A five gram packet properly rehydrated will give you a fast, problem-free fermentation.

For nutrients in a 5 gallon batch with this gravity and K1V, you could go with about 2 tsp DAP and 4 tsp Fermaid K. While we usually do a lot of staggered nutrients, in a batch like this, you can add it all in one dose as soon as you see visible signs of fermentation (bubbling and foaming) after pitching the yeast.

Be sure and aerate it at least daily for the first 1/3 of fermentation. I'd suggest keeping the temp below 70F if you can, and in the lower 60s if possible. This will give you results that will be drinkable sooner.

I hope you get a great mead!

Medsen

slowbie
11-19-2009, 06:00 PM
How long should I allow for that first 1/3 of fermentation? I'm going to be out of town in a month and a half and I'm not planning on starting sooner than two weeks for now and I want to know if I can start before I leave or if I have to wait until after.

Medsen Fey
11-19-2009, 06:14 PM
The first 1/3 of fermentation will probably be 2-4 days and the fermentation should be complete in somewhere around 2 weeks unless you run into a problem.

slowbie
11-21-2009, 01:40 PM
Thank you all for your help. I ordered the yeast and energizer online today and in about two weeks I plan on going to get the honey and starting this thing up. I will update here when that time comes. I guess my one forum rules question is whether or not I should start a new thread in the brewlog or if I should just keep it here?

wayneb
11-21-2009, 03:23 PM
I'd recommend starting a brewlog, listing the recipe exactly as you mixed it. Then periodically update us with performance. Take a look at some of the other brewlogs already there and you'll get a good idea of what is usually posted.