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Nate PT
07-28-2010, 08:08 PM
I'm making my second batch of mead. It is about 10 days into primary and still bubbling away. It is just a simple one gallon batch, 2 lbs clover honey, water, lalvin d47, nutrients, energizer. I forgot to take a reading initially and don't wish to take readings now as it is only a one gallon batch and I don't want to waste precious mead.

Should I just wait until the airlock slows to 1-2 bubbles per minute before I rack to secondary or should I wait longer? I want to add oak, I think I know how much to use, but am just unsure if I should add oak right away in secondary or rack again later onto the oak? Should I just add the oak by putting some chips in a muslin bag and sinking it to the bottom with marbles or something?

Is it better to bulk age without reducing headspace or bottle earlier? I'm talking about after oaking and adding Potassium Sorbate if bottling.

I did some searches, but my last batch tasted terrible so I just wanted to make a new thread with all of my questions, I hope that's ok.

Thank you.

Medsen Fey
07-29-2010, 09:39 AM
..., but my last batch tasted terrible so I just wanted to make a new thread with all of my questions, I hope that's ok.


Nate, I'm sorry to hear your first batch isn't tasting good. Can you describe to us what is wrong with it (say in comparison to a white wine you like)? It is only 4 months old right? so that mead really hasn't developed yet, and probably needs another year of aging just to start. It was made with basswood honey wasn't it? that can sometimes cause a harsh flavor.


I forgot to take a reading initially and don't wish to take readings now as it is only a one gallon batch and I don't want to waste precious mead.

You don't have to waste mead to measure the gravity. If you use good sanitation, you can take a sample out, take the reading, and pour it back it with barely a drop lost (and no harm to the mead).


Should I just wait until the airlock slows to 1-2 bubbles per minute before I rack to secondary or should I wait longer?
Ideally, I'd wait until it is finished, and the gravity stops dropping, then rack.


I think I know how much to use, but am just unsure if I should add oak right away in secondary or rack again later onto the oak? Should I just add the oak by putting some chips in a muslin bag and sinking it to the bottom with marbles or something?

I usually prefer cubes and spirals to chips, but whichever form you use, you can just toss them in without a bag if you like (you can use a bag if you want to). The chips will float, and eventually many will get water-logged and sink to the bottom. When you rack, leave them behind.

The amount to use is a very personal taste. Some folks (like me) like it very light and in the background. Others like to sip the juice from a wood chipper. If you know what you prefer, it helps target the amount. About 4-5 grams in a gallon will give the light impact that I like. You can add them at any point in the secondary, tertiary or thereafter, but the earlier it is added, the more time it has to integrate. If what you add isn't enough, you can add more later.


Is it better to bulk age without reducing headspace or bottle earlier? I'm talking about after oaking and adding Potassium Sorbate if bottling.

I don't think I understand the question. You don't want to bulk age with headspace. The air in the headspace needs to be eliminated (by topping up or other methods) to protect the mead from spoilage organisms and from oxidation. I bulk age everything, but I'm often too lazy to bottle. :)

AToE
07-29-2010, 10:29 AM
I'll second that it's more than fine to return samples after taking a reading. I have done this with 39 seperate batches of mead so far, right from my first batch when my sanitation was terrible, and haven't had a single problem.

I like to use iodophor because you can mix it up then leave it in a pot in the cupboard for at least a week I think, then just dunk your equipment in it quickly, and use. Don't worry about drying, rinsing, none of that. By far the easiest thing on the planet, and this stuff is cheap cheap, a bottle of concentrate that costs 10-15 bucks will last you a year if you're only making mead once every month or two.

Nate PT
07-30-2010, 07:55 PM
It just tastes like honey, water and yeast. It definitely fermented, but it just tastes off. I still have some bottles and will see how it tastes in a few months, but I don't see it improving.

I had always read not to return samples, but I will take some gravity readings prior to racking and adding oak, thanks.

I actually did buy oak cubes now that I think about it.

I was thinking if I didn't want to top up I could just age in the bottles, but after researching more it clearly is better to bulk age and top up with marbles or something.

Thanks for the responses again Medsen.

AToE - thanks for your response. I use Starsan so I think it would be fine if some got in the mead (it's never adversely effected my beer).

Nate PT
08-19-2010, 10:49 PM
I'm about to rack to secondary onto oak. Should I add the Sorbate with the oak? Or do I just add the sorbate a few days before bottling?

Should I worry about reducing headspace while the mead is on oak? It should only be on oak for 4-6 weeks. I'm going to bulk age after oaking in the one gallon carboy and top up with marbles or add corks to take up headspace, I just was not sure if it's necessary now while adding the oak.

Thanks!

Medsen Fey
08-20-2010, 01:38 PM
Question 1. Do you need sorbate at all?
If you started with 2 pounds of honey, the batch should be bone dry, and the fact that you used only 2 pounds may be why it seem to have little flavor. What were the starting and final gravity numbers? If it is dry, and you plan to keep it that way, sorbate is not needed.

If you plan to sweeten it, then you need both sorbate and sulfite together, and it is a good idea to use them at least several weeks to months before bottling. This way if they fail, you'll see it while it is still under airlock.

After primary fermentation is over, you should keep it topped up at all times. So yes, when racked on oak, it should be topped up.

When you oak,

Nate PT
09-26-2010, 09:53 AM
Question 1. Do you need sorbate at all?
If you started with 2 pounds of honey, the batch should be bone dry, and the fact that you used only 2 pounds may be why it seem to have little flavor. What were the starting and final gravity numbers? If it is dry, and you plan to keep it that way, sorbate is not needed.

If you plan to sweeten it, then you need both sorbate and sulfite together, and it is a good idea to use them at least several weeks to months before bottling. This way if they fail, you'll see it while it is still under airlock.

After primary fermentation is over, you should keep it topped up at all times. So yes, when racked on oak, it should be topped up.

When you oak,

I've had this on oak for about 4 weeks now and I've got the oaking I want. It is extremely dry as you said it would be, so I'm thinking of backsweetening. When I rack this again, should I rack onto sorbate and sulfites, then let those do their work for a few days or weeks, then rack again and backsweeten at that point and then let it bulk age?

If I have to rack it two more times before bulk again that seems like I will end up losing quite a bit of mead, especially since I have it sitting on marbles now. Is there a better way to kill off the yeast so I can backsweeten?

Medsen Fey
09-26-2010, 11:09 AM
When you rack off the oak, you can add the sorbate and sulfite. I'd let them work work for 24 hours, then you can add honey to sweeten to taste. Adding honey will create a bit of haze that will take some weeks (or months) to clear. Once clear, you can rack, confirm the gravity hasn't dropped, and bottle.

Nate PT
09-26-2010, 02:03 PM
Thanks Medsen. So I can leave the sorbate and sulfite in the carboy with the mead and it won't cause off flavors or will it just sink to the bottom and I can rack off in a few months?

akueck
09-26-2010, 05:26 PM
Sorbate and sulfite will dissolve into the liquid. The sorbate will stick around, and the sulfite will break down and release SO2, which will eventually leave the mead as a gas.

Nate PT
10-08-2010, 06:43 PM
Thanks for all the help! Adding 1 pound of honey was enough for me to not have to use marbles to top up!

Also, my first mead has really mellowed and almost tastes good! I'm going to let the last 5 bottles age until the mead is about a year old (March, 2011) before opening them. Glad I didn't dump it!