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ash
11-23-2009, 01:31 AM
hi, I'm Wouter. New here. You guys will have to excuse my crappy English since I'm from Belgium and thus have Dutch as native language ;)

I have 2 different batches af mead. Both are made with bakery honey and pieces of apple. One of them was pasturised, made with a yeast starter and goes as expected. They are now fermenting since 9 september, about 3 and a half months now.

The other one does not. It woun't clear and the water in the airlock keeps on pulling back towards the carboy. When I take the carboy and stir it a bit, the pressure inside the carboy builds up again and even bubbles a lite further.

It was made by warming up water and mixing it with honey. When temperature was safe, I added clover, cinamon and apple just like the other one, the only difference is that the other one was pasturised at this point, put it in a 15 L (4 galons?) carboy and airlocked it. At first all went as expected but now it acts as discribed above. I was told not to panic but since the other one is already clear at this point I tought to ask you guys for some advice.

thanx !

afdoty
11-23-2009, 05:48 AM
hi, I'm Wouter. New here. You guys will have to excuse my crappy English since I'm from Belgium and thus have Dutch as native language ;)

I have 2 different batches af mead. Both are made with bakery honey and pieces of apple. One of them was pasturised, made with a yeast starter and goes as expected. They are now fermenting since 9 september, about 3 and a half months now.

The other one does not. It woun't clear and the water in the airlock keeps on pulling back towards the carboy. When I take the carboy and stir it a bit, the pressure inside the carboy builds up again and even bubbles a lite further.

It was made by warming up water and mixing it with honey. When temperature was safe, I added clover, cinamon and apple just like the other one, the only difference is that the other one was pasturised at this point, put it in a 15 L (4 galons?) carboy and airlocked it. At first all went as expected but now it acts as discribed above. I was told not to panic but since the other one is already clear at this point I tought to ask you guys for some advice.

thanx !

Good Morning Wouter and welcome to GotMead. It's kind of hard to figure what's going on without more info....Please post your exact recipes including amounts of each ingredient, type of yeast and amount, fermentation management (aeration, nutrient, oak, etc.), measurments taken (pH, sg/brix, ambient and must temperature), and any other modifications made to the must during fermentation or aging.

Without the above information we are just guessing about what your issue may be.

Also, if you haven't already done so, read through the NewBee Guide. There's tons of great info in there.

ash
11-23-2009, 09:43 AM
6 L honey per 15 L batch, just tossed in some cinamon, some clover and half an apple cut into small pieces). I put the rehydrated yeast in that (Vinoferm, Bioferm Blanc : saccharomyces cérevisiae ellipsoidus 'Epernay'), a bit of yeast nutricion and let it sit in a carboy with airlock.

At first all went normally the first 3 months but it doesn't clear like the other batch and fermentation seems to come to a complete halt every couple of days until I move the carboy around a bit.
There's no sign of infection.

I have no instruments to take readings.

I hope to have given all the needed info.

Medsen Fey
11-23-2009, 10:43 AM
It will help us if you can get a hydrometer and take a reading. It seems this batch started with a very large amount of honey (estimated starting gravity around 1.170) which makes for a very difficult fermentation. If you did not use any nutrients, it would give a very long, slow fermentation. It may not be clear because it may not be finished fermenting.

Following the gravity to see if it continues to slowly drop over a few weeks will tell you if the fermentation is continuing.

A hydrometer is inexpensive, and will really help you here.

I urge you to be very careful with these meads. Please read about stabilizing meads using sorbate and sulfite before you bottle either one of these batches. The meads you have made will be at risk for refermentation in the bottles (with possible exploding bottles) if they are not stabilized.

And let me not forget,
Welcome to GotMead!

TheRabidKumquat
11-23-2009, 11:03 AM
I thought I'd read somewhere in one of the threads recently discussing pasteurized vs. non-pasteurized about the clearing time. Seemed the pasteurized cleared sooner. I'm trying to find that thread, but not having luck at the moment.

Since the batches are only a few months old, it's pretty normal if they aren't clear yet.

When you say that fermentation starts back up on the unclear mead after stirring it around, do you mean that the airlock starts bubbling again? But soon after airlock activity ceases?
It could be that the fermentation is done, and the bubbles are just CO2 being released from the mead

ash
11-23-2009, 02:33 PM
I mean that the water starts moving back towards the carboy, so it could mean that the fermentation has stopped. If I stir it up a little, the water moves towards the outside of the airlock, sometimes even bubbling a bit again.

I think the best thing to do is buy a hygrometer and an alcohol tester. The reading on the first one may tell what's happening, but I wouldn't know how to interpret it :-).
If fermentation has stopped and alcohol level is acceptable I need a way to clear it before I cabn bottle. How I have to stabilize the mead I will figure out later.
Why would this particular mead need stabilisation as opposed to an other kind of mead?

Medsen Fey
11-23-2009, 03:39 PM
I think the best thing to do is buy a hygrometer and an alcohol tester. The reading on the first one may tell what's happening, but I wouldn't know how to interpret it :-).

Why would this particular mead need stabilisation as opposed to an other kind of mead?

Make sure to get a hydrometer not a hygrometer (that measures humidity in the air). To read one, check appendix 9 of the NewBee guide (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1952&Itemid=14). The rest of the NewBee guide is also recommended reading.

I'm not sure what your alcohol tester is, but if it is a vinometer, they don't give accurate readings with a sweet wine/mead so you may not need to spend the money on one.

A sweet mead that may not have reached the alcohol tolerance of the yeast is much more likely to experience refermentation than a dry mead, or one where the alcohol has exceeded the yeast's tolerance. Since you don't really know where your alcohol level is, you'll be safer to to stabilize it.

akueck
11-23-2009, 05:22 PM
I thought I'd read somewhere in one of the threads recently discussing pasteurized vs. non-pasteurized about the clearing time. Seemed the pasteurized cleared sooner. I'm trying to find that thread, but not having luck at the moment.

It seems that this is generally true--heated musts clear faster--but it might not be the whole story. If both meads are finished fermenting, that difference could explain the clarity disparity. ;)

ash
11-23-2009, 07:21 PM
thanx people !

I will check for the hydrometerthingie and let you know its reading, the well see from there.

greetz

ash
11-25-2009, 11:41 AM
hydrometer VINOFERM with 3 scales

The ideal hydrometer for all wine- and beermakers. With 3 coloured scales (density, sugar content, potential alcohol degree) and extended instructions.




RANGE :

* 0.990 - 1.170 S.G.
* 0 - 360 g/l sugar
* 0 - 20°vol.% pot. alcoholcontent

Large accurate model : length : 26 cm, needs a 250 ml measuring cylinder.

http://www.brouwland.com/content/assets/photos/013/0130070.jpg

found on: http://www.brouwland.com


thats what I need isn't it ?

Medsen Fey
11-25-2009, 11:45 AM
yep - it's a beauty. A mazer's best friend! ;D

afdoty
11-25-2009, 08:08 PM
Might I suggest getting two.........You'll have a spare if (when) it breaks.

ash
12-06-2009, 02:14 PM
Hi, I've got readings but do not quite know how to interpret for sure.

For startes, I've letf the clearing one alone, since there's nothing indicating that there might be anything wrong there.


The batch that doesn't clear:

was made 09/09/09
Don't have readings before fermentation.

density: 1020
sugar: 50
pot. alcohol: 3

What does that tell us?

I've tasted it and it does not taste that wel. It has a sweetisch smeel to it and tastes sweet in the beginning, but then there's an aftertaste of wich I can not determine if it's sour or cloves.

wayneb
12-06-2009, 04:32 PM
Hi, Wouter! Let me take a shot at your questions.

First, on your hydrometer the only reading that can be used without corrections, after fermentation has begun, is the specific gravity. Both the sugar and potential alcohol scales are only calibrated to make sense before any sugars have been converted to alcohol.

So, from your reading, the current specific gravity of your batch is 1.020 (sometimes written as 1020, or 1,020, depending on what part of the world you're working in!) This is a reading corresponding to a mead that has enough sugar left over to be classified as sweet, but not necessarily dessert sweet. From my calculations based on your ealier comments (6 L of honey into a 15 L batch), your starting specific gravity was rather high; as Medsen Fey noted, it is something like 1.165 to 1.170. It is no wonder that you had trouble sustaining fermentation without stirring, given how honey-rich this batch was! Based on your current gravity reading, the ethanol concentration in this batch is nearly 20% ABV!

Did you really mean 6L of honey? Or was it 6 Kg? ;D

Anyway, a mead this strong (assuming the 6L is correct) will take a very long time to mellow out - 3 months is only the beginning. You may not see final clearing for another 6 to 9 months, and flavors may not smooth out for another year or longer after that.

There is no need to be concerned at this time - but you are likely in for a very long wait until this one is drinkable.

ash
12-06-2009, 08:19 PM
thanx, I was afraid there was something horribly wrong. (It might be 6 Kg iso L btw, thus 4,3 Liter of honey and maybe 14 Liter batch iso 15) Does that affect the reading interpretion? And how?

Do I have any idea of knowing how much alcohol it will hold?

I had friends of mine taste it and apperantly it does not taste as bad as I tought :-)

So it could be normal that it needs longer than the pasturised batch wich is already almost completely clear with the same recepie (exept pasturising ofcourse)

To take readings the carboy was opened and air got in, now the water in the airlock is pushed towards the outside again.

And the last question for now: is it normal that the water in the airlock gets sucked towards the carboy long before the batch has cleared ?

I have not racked into a different carboy and just let the dead yeast and stuff sink to the bottom. There are also some pieces of apple floeating in the batch.

I don't quite store it in a steady temperature. During the day when i'm at work its about 10 deg. celcius here and during the evening its around 18 deg. celcius.

Sory for all the (maybe uneducated) questions, I am fairly pasionate about this but a greenhorn none the less.

wayneb
12-07-2009, 02:08 AM
4.3 (or 4,3 in customary European notation) makes much more sense than 6 L. That would result in a maximum alcohol level on the order of 14.25% ABV. If your mead finishes completely dry (with a hydrometer reading of less than 1.000), you'll have that much alcohol.

It will still take a while to age, so your friends are basically correct - there is probably nothing wrong at this time.

It is normal for the airlock to see negative pressure (i.e. the liquid gets pulled back toward the carboy end) when fermentation has stopped, so no more CO2 is being generated, and then the must cools off. Colder must and the headspace above it will cause the gas in that headspace to drop in pressure which then sucks back some of the airlock liquid. That is normal, and it suggests that your fermentation has stalled, or has stopped completely.

The most reliable way to monitor fermentation is to take periodic specific gravity measurements, since airlock bubbles are (for a number of reasons) not a very accurate gauge of activity.

Since we do not know the "sur lie" characteristics of your yeast, once you are sure that fermentation has stopped (a good indicator is a steady SG reading from your hydrometer for several times over a couple of weeks), you should rack over to another container for aging, and leave the lees behind.

saur0n
12-07-2009, 02:11 AM
Hey Wouter,

I have had some troubles with a mead that wouldn't clear. What I did is stabilize it to prevent further fermentation (There were no more bubbles coming up, but I like being safe instead of sorry when it comes to bottle grenades). After that I tossed in some bentonite (2 grams per liter, hydrated for 24 hrs) and after 5-ish days my mead was all cleared up. (You have to be absolutely sure that fermentation has halted when you do this, otherwise your yeast will continue bubbling on the bottom of the carboy and cloud up your mead again)

You should find the stabilizing agent and the bentonite in your local brewing store (Brouwland I assume? ;D) for next to nothing.

<dutch mode>
Waar in België woon je ergens?
</dutch mode>

Gert

ash
12-07-2009, 02:10 PM
Hey Wouter,

I have had some troubles with a mead that wouldn't clear. What I did is stabilize it to prevent further fermentation (There were no more bubbles coming up, but I like being safe instead of sorry when it comes to bottle grenades). After that I tossed in some bentonite (2 grams per liter, hydrated for 24 hrs) and after 5-ish days my mead was all cleared up. (You have to be absolutely sure that fermentation has halted when you do this, otherwise your yeast will continue bubbling on the bottom of the carboy and cloud up your mead again)

You should find the stabilizing agent and the bentonite in your local brewing store (Brouwland I assume? ;D) for next to nothing.

<dutch mode>
Waar in België woon je ergens?
</dutch mode>

Gert

I'm from Ghent.

I will leave the mead for now, and take weekly readings on the Hydrometer. When I'm sure it stopped fermenting I will rack it into another container for bulk aging (may be needed since now I don't like the taste very much :-)).
I'll see if it clears up, like people hinted above: its prolly just a waiting game :-)

Anyone has a clue on how far the readings might drop and how much alcohol that leaves me ? i'm not an alcohol-freak, but I would like to know what I'm drinking :-)

wayneb
12-07-2009, 02:18 PM
It is difficult to predict in advance, but once you see what the true final gravity of the mead is, we can calculate an estimate of the ethanol concentration that should be pretty close, based on average water-content honey and your initial amounts of all the ingredients. The apples introduce a little uncertainty but in this batch I think that would be negligible.

ash
12-08-2009, 03:51 PM
can mead actually go bad if kept to long? Can it go bad if it has low alcohol content?

wayneb
12-08-2009, 04:13 PM
Yes - as with any beverage, mead will change with time, and with enough time, even a properly stored and aged mead's flavor and aroma will degrade.

Low alcohol meads (under, say 11% ABV) are also more susceptible to infection by spoilage organisms, so they tend to be less stable than their higher ethanol cousins.

AToE
12-08-2009, 04:42 PM
I've wondered about really long term aging of meads quite a bit. I've read here that melomels don't do so well after a while of aging because of the fruit component, but grape wines are often aged for years and years and years, and they're just a fruit wine too, so that doesn't quite make sense to me. I'll have to put bottles aside to test years down the road for myself.

I haven't found much info on long term aging of traditionals though. I've read lots about them improving and improving for the first 1-3 years, but haven't been able to find much after that. It makes me wonder how long a properly stored dry mead at say 14% ABV could potentially age before it stops getting better and starts getting worse. I'll try to learn that on my own... but obviously that's not going to come to fruition any time soon!

wayneb
12-08-2009, 04:53 PM
Traditionals tend to age well for longer intervals than many fruit wines since they are somewhat more immune to the damaging effects of oxidation, but that is a generalization and there are many factors which will influence the shelf life of any mead.

I've had some meads bottled decades previously (including one of my own) that tasted very nice when finally opened and served. Also I've tasted some meads bottled only a couple of years previously (again, including my own), that tasted bland, and lifeless.

As with vintage wines, each batch of mead can vary widely in its inherent staying power.

AToE
12-08-2009, 04:55 PM
So I guess the lesson is to make lots of bottles and open at least 1 every 6 months or so, and if they start going downhill to make sure you drink the rest while they're still good!

akueck
12-08-2009, 06:57 PM
Re: grape wines

Most grape wine will not age for decades without degrading; it is the spectacular wine that lives that long. Even so, you can look at the types of wine that last longer and see trends. Red wines tend to be released later and hold up longer than white wines. Wines with more oak, the same. The difference here that jumps out to me is tannin: red wines have more due to longer skin/seed contact and oak provides them. Red wines also usually have higher SO2 additions. Mead is inherently zero tannin, unless you add it. If you add fruit but no tannin (the case for many melomels, especially those made with pressed juice), they will age like your average white wine. Which is to say, they will go a few years and then fall off. Traditionals don't seem to suffer this fate as the honey is more resistant to oxygen than the fruit component. If you add lots of tannins to your melomel to combat oxidation, you'll get better aging potential but suffer from a longer time-to-drink. Adding SO2 at bottling should also prolong the shelf life.

White wines that do age a long time that come to mind are sparklers. Those are high acid wines, and they spend a long time on the yeast compared to other wine. The pressurization may also play a role, but I'm not sure.

ash
12-08-2009, 07:10 PM
and yey another question: I've put the batch in a warmer place and now the pieces of apple that were floating sunk...

Is that normal ?

Medsen Fey
12-08-2009, 09:39 PM
and yey another question: I've put the batch in a warmer place and now the pieces of apple that were floating sunk...
Is that normal ?

Yes.

In regards to aging, akueck is correct, that the vast majority of all grape wines (more than 95%) are not meant for long aging and won't hold up for decades. And just to clarify, I think reds usually get less SO2 than whites.

One huge factor in wine aging is the storage conditions. In order for wines to last their longest, they need to be kept at cellar temps, without fluctuations and without vibration or light exposure. Except for Madeira, if you aren't able to store wines in this way, they aren't going to last for decades.

Other long lived wines include:

Rieslings - at least from the best sites/producers. The high acidity seems to promote their longevity. Some of the late harvests can survive a century.

Dessert wines - Sauternes, Tokay, and and Rieslings may all last for decades if not centuries. The high sugar content seems to act as a preservative.

Ports - Fortified and sweet. Aging for 25-40 years really brings them along, and oxidation enhances them.

Madeira - High acidity, then cooked and oxidized into indestructible nutty goodness. The oldest drinkable wines recorded. See Meadeira thread for details.

I haven't aged anything long enough to be certain with meads, but I have seen some of my melomels fade in as little as 2 years - these were not treated with SO2. I have since starting using sulfites routinely with melomels. I am attempting to see if glutathione additions help. From my reading, including Brother Adam's book, it seems like traditionals can age a long time, especially the sack strength ones.

Interestingly he kept meads in oak casks for at least 5 years. You would expect that to lead to oxidation, and in fact he describes his dry meads as being comparable to a sherry, which makes me think they must have been oxidized. That may add character to meads and make them tasty, but in most cases, I'm not looking for oxidized.

I too am curious to know how long can standard strength meads age without developing oxidized character. It is going to be fun trying to find out. :)

ash
12-09-2009, 01:57 PM
but the ones in the other batch did not sink :-)

in regards to aging: thanx for the explenations all of you

ash
01-17-2010, 08:19 PM
Hi, I've got readings but do not quite know how to interpret for sure.

For startes, I've letf the clearing one alone, since there's nothing indicating that there might be anything wrong there.


The batch that doesn't clear:

was made 09/09/09
Don't have readings before fermentation.

density: 1020
sugar: 50
pot. alcohol: 3

What does that tell us?

I've tasted it and it does not taste that wel. It has a sweetisch smeel to it and tastes sweet in the beginning, but then there's an aftertaste of wich I can not determine if it's sour or cloves.


readings remain the same. So it is done fermenting? Taste is definately better. I have racked into another carboy in order to get rid of dead yeast and other stuff and help it clear faster, it is still not clear at all, while the batch I pasturised before adding the yeast is clear enough to read a newspaper thrugh.

I have back-sweetened it a tiny bit with a single lump of sugar to kind of ease the spicy taste.

Can anyone tell me what alcohol content this would have, how long it can take to claer and what is the best way to "store" it?

Should I rack the clear batch for bulk aging or should I bottle it?

I have tried to use the calculater but I can't make sense of it :p

ash
01-18-2010, 08:52 PM
anyone? :)

Medsen Fey
01-19-2010, 11:00 AM
readings remain the same. So it is done fermenting?
Yes, if the gravity is remaining stable it is done.



Can anyone tell me what alcohol content this would have, how long it can take to clear and what is the best way to "store" it?

If this was 6 Kg honey in 14 liters, your starting gravity was probably close to 1.131. With a final gravity of 1.020 the ABV would be somewhere close to 14.5%.

It can take up to a year for some meads to clear. Putting it someplace cold (a refrigerator) may speed the clearing.



Should I rack the clear batch for bulk aging or should I bottle it?

If it is clear and done, you might as well bottle it. One caveat is that you still have residual sugar here. I don't know the alcohol tolerance of your yeast, but if it is above 14% you should probably stabilize with sulfite and sorbate before bottling to insure that fermentation will not restart in the bottles.

Bulk aging is good in some cases as it lets you keep tweaking a mead - adding some oak, adding acidity, or tannins, and allowing you to do it in gradual steps and giving time for integration. However, if you're not planning to do any of those things, you can go ahead and bottle it.

I don't like to bottle something that doesn't taste good - it feels like a waste of time to me - so I bulk age things that don't taste right (see any of my brewlogs for the painful details :( ). If time (or tweaking) helps them become good, then I bottle them. If it doesn't, they'll eventually get dumped.

Bulk aging also takes up less space.

Still, it is strictly a matter of personal choice, and how much you need the carboy space.

I hope that helps.

Medsen

ash
01-19-2010, 07:14 PM
it helps a lot, thanx !

I'll keep you posted on the progress.

ash
01-24-2010, 04:30 PM
I have racked the other bach and took mesurements.

It sparcles lightly so I had to get the bubles off the meter in order to get an accurate reading :-).

It was: 1018 so I'm guessing it should be around 15-16 degrees of alcohol (compared to the other one, mentioned hereabove)

when I airlocked the new carboy, the water in the airlock (almost) emmidiately was pushed towards the outside so I think it isn't done fermenting and I hope the bubles will disappear so I don't need to use champain bottles?

The taste was kind of spicy, but as I learn here, it should soften during further aging?

A lot of questions again... :-)

Medsen Fey
01-24-2010, 07:44 PM
Get the dissolved CO2 out of the mead will also speed the clearing.

ash
01-25-2010, 12:18 PM
I had quite a lot of air exposiure in all the batches, I hope thats not going to ruin it all...

Medsen Fey
01-25-2010, 12:36 PM
The air exposure during fermentation generally won't cause a problem. Now that it has finished, it really needs to be protected from oxygen. While K-meta helps, it won't make up for a large headspace, so make sure it stays topped up. Letting it sit and degas at room temp will speed the release of the dissolved CO2, and over the next couple of months, a lot of clearing should occur.

ash
01-25-2010, 12:42 PM
One of the baches is not fermenting anymore but has a lot of headspace. I'm affraid adding water will dilude the taste.
The top of the mead is covered in some kind of film.
I bet it is a bad idea to fill the headspace with propane gas :p

any ideas that not incluide going out and buy something expensive (just lost my job) ?

ash
02-11-2010, 01:05 PM
The second batch is finally starting to clear (since I racked it).
I've also added a liter of apple juice to fill up the headspace and saw the fermenting start again.

I hope it won't ferment completely dry.

I find in the calculator that brings the SG from 1020 to 1025, but I have na Idea what that would to to my final result.

ash
06-27-2010, 01:32 PM
well now it has been 9 months since I started batch one. The water in the airlock was pulled towards the mead an later the level was even. It showed no activity in the airlock for about 2 weeks.

I added sulphite and sorbate as well as sorbate sugar (unfermentable) according to quantities on the sulphite packaging. The Sorbate packaging sait to add as much as the sulphite. Just tossed it in the carboy.

Now you must know summer has really started to kick in here so temperatures are getting higher (25-30 deg. celcius).

And I get pressure in the carboy again, as I can see from the airlock...

I probably cannot be certain it is stable ?

How can I get tis batch stable enough to bottle?


just took a new gravity measurement: 1020 - 1019, I will follow up on that. If it's still 1020 - 1019 in a week or twoo, it should be safe, no?

The problem is that by doing measurements I get more headroom and thus O2 in the botle...

I'm tasting it now and it's great ! It's still very spicy (clove) but also nice and honeyish and not as over the top cloveish like a couple of moths ago.
And I even thing the 25 cl I used for SG measurement is enough to get me just a tat drunk :p
It has a nice golden colour. The smell isn't so great, but I have nothing to campare to and next to that I suffer from pollen-alergie so I don't quite have that great of a nose :p

wayneb
06-29-2010, 02:56 PM
Ash, if your SG stays the same over the course of a few weeks (after you have stabilized it with sulphite and sorbate), then it is stable enough to bottle.

Watching the level of liquid in your airlock while the mead sets in a carboy is not a reliable indicator of whether or not there is any re-start of the fermentation. Simple changes in the temperature of the mead in your carboy, or changes in atmospheric air pressure as weather systems move in and out, will cause the liquid level in your airlock to shift one way or the other (assuming you're using one of the "s" shaped airlocks) even if the mead inside the carboy is perfectly stable.

ash
06-30-2010, 05:51 PM
oh ok,

so I will check the gravity again in a week or twoo and then I can bottle my very first batch of mead !

i'm quite exited about it :-)