View Full Version : Show stopper? Pun intended...

05-18-2010, 04:53 PM
So I'm doing a small recipe batch (1gall) of a Pineapple-Mango mead, (called Mango and Cash...my little homage to cheesy Kurt Russel movies). Well, the fermentation started out a bit more vigorously than I expected, I suspect it's something to do with the pineapple (I plan on doing more in the secondary as well)...I don't know if it's due to the type and quantity of sugars in pineapple that make it easier for yeast to break down or what...

Before I go too far off the actual issue, let's just say I realized on the morning of day 2 that I needed to forgo a fermentation lock for a little while and let it blow off some steam. The problem came when I went to put the fermentation lock back in. I had been cleaning up the extra foam around the neck area with a sanitized cloth prior and re-cleaned and sanitized the stopper and ferm lock. Just to make sure to prevent any beasties from immediately growing around the stopper, I also gave it a quick dip in some Absolut after sanitizing...problem is, it made quite a lubricant as well and the stopper went right past the neck and into the mead. So here's where I have an issue.

So...even though it's just a 1 gallon batch, I really don't want to give this one up. The stopper was well sanitized prior to the "mishap", but I'm worried that it will leave a "rubbery" taste behind that would take quite a bit of conditioning and possibly over backsweetening to cover. My first thought was that perhaps instead of waiting a full 2 weeks in the primary, that I rack to the secondary and over more pineapple and mango after 1 week, shortening the exposure to the stopper. Or I can do one of two other things...proceed as planned with a 2 week in the primary, or until signs of fermentation have tapered off and I've hit close to my target gravity whichever comes first...or just abandon that batch altogether.


05-18-2010, 06:01 PM
I have only managed to push a stopper into a mead once, and I just left it in for a couple of days before racking to another container. The mead did not turn out any worse for that particular debacle, at least as far as I could tell.

Chevette Girl
05-18-2010, 08:33 PM
You're probably safe for a couple days but I'd be tempted to rack it a little early as you'd proposed... Or you could just pour everything over to a clean carboy as if it had never happened, you might need a sanitized spoon handle to keep the stopper out of the way :)

I always install my airlock into the stopper before sticking it into the carboy, not only does that make the stopper a little bit wider because its hole is filled but also gives you something to hold onto in case it starts to go too far...

05-18-2010, 10:57 PM
Checking on it after I got home from work, the fermentation is still exploding, although it appears that in the hours that I was gone the color has changed quite a bit and gone a bit more cloudy. Could just be that since I've put the fermlock back on that the yeasties are a bit more contained. The temp has been a fairly constant 69-70, but I'm afraid with as hard as these yeast hit it this time around the fusels are going to be a bit potent. Even with a 1-gallon batch I'll probably still have to wait a year-and-a-half, two years before cracking...assuming of course the stopper doesn't make it end up tasting like an old tire! :p

Now that the rhubarb is going crazy around here, here's hoping my strawberry rhubarb batch will start off with a bit more success.

And for the record, I had the fermlock in the stopper when I was pushing it in, but unfortunately my first knee-jerk reaction was to pull back as soon as it went down so the stopper came right off. Note to self, NEVER mess with the mead first thing in the morning when you're in rush to get out the door for work.

Thanks all!

Chevette Girl
05-19-2010, 12:54 AM
Note to self, NEVER mess with the mead first thing in the morning when you're in rush to get out the door for work.

That totally sounds like something I would do... except most of my stoppers are too big to start with...

05-19-2010, 11:35 AM
Right after I posted my reply I took your advice and poured to a new sanitized container. I'm taking it as my "secondary aeration" and since fermentation is still so heavy, I'm hoping that's all it ends up being and that I didn't turn it into a batch of pineapple-mango sherry. Fermentation picked up right where it left off, the rolling boil is still going like crazy this morning and when I poured last night it smelled delicious so far...here's hopin'!

My retrieval of the stopper from the old container was very MacGyver-esque. Richard Dean Anderson would have been proud.

Chevette Girl
05-19-2010, 12:25 PM
I'm led to believe that if the yeast is still going full-tilt-boogie, aeration is a good thing. It's only when you get to secondary fermentation where it'll start oxidizing the wine because the yeast aren't using the O2.

05-19-2010, 02:44 PM
To be a bit more specific, generally "full-tilt-boogie" is considered to be up until the 1/3 sugar break for most typical musts, and closer to the 1/2 break point for high initial gravity musts. The yeast actively use oxygen while they are in reproductive mode and they don't generally have much need for it once the colony has reached a steady-state in terms of number of cells. So pretty much any O2 that you introduce early in fermentation will get consumed by the yeast almost as soon as it gets in there, and the risk of oxidation to the other ingredients in the must is pretty slight. Oxygen added later (especially during the secondary fermentation or aging stages) will, over time, oxidize the mead.

05-19-2010, 04:59 PM
I'm waiting for the follow up question: How to get the stopper out?

I pushed a stopper in once and could not get it out. I eventually managed to get the stopper jammed in the neck of the carboy. Next, I tied a piece of string to a small nail at the center of balance, so that when I held the string, it looked like an upside down "T." Then dropped the nail down the stopper hole and pulled the string and stopper out. Grease up the carboy and pull slowly... It doesn't actually come out in one pull.

05-20-2010, 12:26 AM
I don't recall how I got mine out, something to do with shaking the carboy until the plug was small side down on the neck hole, and playing around with forcepts...

Medsen Fey
05-20-2010, 10:01 AM
This Youtube video on how to remove a cork from a inside a bottle (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKhOG7duR9k&NR=1&feature=fvwp)demonstrates a technique that can be used for a stopper in a carboy. You just need a slightly larger bag (like a garbage bag).

Chevette Girl
05-21-2010, 12:01 AM
Damn, that looks so EASY!... where's that bottle with the cork in it... For a carboy stopper with a hole in it, I would probably have gone with a coathanger trick of some sort...

... so ok, that will work, kind of. Presuming you use a dry bottle that isn't in the least sticky, and that your bag has some sort of slow leak in the bottom. If it's wet, the whole thing gets interesting, cork comes halfway up and then you run into the vacuum. Got one cork out of a wet bottle, the other needs to dry out, when I lost the cork in it we just drank the wine around it and I didn't even bother washing it, it went straight to the returns pile.

Chevette Girl
05-22-2010, 01:45 PM
Update on cork removal using plastic bag: I just about wrecked my fingers trying to pull one particularly obstinate cork out the final inch against the suction it had developed. Then I realized if I just held the plastic, I could get a corkscrew into the cork, problem solved. 8)