PDA

View Full Version : Vessels for bulk aging



delinden
09-27-2010, 05:58 PM
Greetings mead forum!

As a 90% newbie, Iīm more or less overflowing with questions and doubts, but to get ahead a bit I wanted to check with you guys:

Iīm on my second small batch traditional mead, and find itīs time to step up the scale a bit. I got a good deal from a local beeīs keeper, meaning that I now have to bring out the bigger guns, at least from my recent 2 gallon batches...I got 60 pounds of honey, and Iīm (and I assume the sweet, sweet honey is also) excited about making a whole lot of mead as soon as possible!

Iīm not too keen on roughing about with 30-50 or more bottles, living in a small apartment. Instead I was thinking about maturing the mead in 5 liter(or bigger) beer kegs. They would be filled to the top after fermentation/racking/clarifying, and left forgotten at room temp for months/years. When ready, Iīd bottle/flavor/dump them as needed. Any thoughts on this would be most welcomed! Also, alternatives to this, as I really have no clue to commonly used mead aging vessels, besides bottles.

Answers are greatly appreciated! Also, I hope for your understanding about any grammar/spelling errors...Iīm under a slight influence of mead, and being danish.

Best,
delinde

jayich
09-27-2010, 06:35 PM
Greetings mead forum!

As a 90% newbie, Iīm more or less overflowing with questions and doubts, but to get ahead a bit I wanted to check with you guys:

Iīm on my second small batch traditional mead, and find itīs time to step up the scale a bit. I got a good deal from a local beeīs keeper, meaning that I now have to bring out the bigger guns, at least from my recent 2 gallon batches...I got 60 pounds of honey, and Iīm (and I assume the sweet, sweet honey is also) excited about making a whole lot of mead as soon as possible!

Iīm not too keen on roughing about with 30-50 or more bottles, living in a small apartment. Instead I was thinking about maturing the mead in 5 liter(or bigger) beer kegs. They would be filled to the top after fermentation/racking/clarifying, and left forgotten at room temp for months/years. When ready, Iīd bottle/flavor/dump them as needed. Any thoughts on this would be most welcomed! Also, alternatives to this, as I really have no clue to commonly used mead aging vessels, besides bottles.

Answers are greatly appreciated! Also, I hope for your understanding about any grammar/spelling errors...Iīm under a slight influence of mead, and being danish.

Best,
delinde

I think Corny stainless steel kegs are great to age in, especially if you can purge the headspace with CO2 to minimize oxidation. I also use them to bottle from, using a Blichmann Beergun.

delinden
09-27-2010, 06:45 PM
I think Corny stainless steel kegs are great to age in, especially if you can purge the headspace with CO2 to minimize oxidation. I also use them to bottle from, using a Blichmann Beergun.

I assume you mean Cornelius kegs? They are available here also, that might be an option! Iīd definately purge O2 from the keg to the best of my abilities, I have an old SodaStream sparkling water machine handy for tasks like that:-)

Great input, thanks. Only downside is, theyīre about 50 dollars second hand here, for a 5 gallon keg. Ill see if there are any private second hand ones available.

manwithbeers
09-28-2010, 12:00 PM
If you do find used Corny kegs be sure to replace the rubber o-rings. (5 of them) they are available as a set at many home brew retailers.

If they are not replaced the mead you store in them will pick up flavors from the soda that was stored in there previously.

re-conditioned kegs are usually supplied with new seals.

MSW13Brewing
09-28-2010, 07:28 PM
Could you get a half barrel beer keg (for the price of a deposit?), remove the bung and fill with mead, hammer a new bung in the bunghole (heh-heh...I typed BUNGHOLE!) and leave to clarify? You could then pump it out into bottles as needed with a Co2 tapper system?

I believe I saw bungs for sale in the brew supply store, or perhaps you could ask your local microbrewer for an older keg that is usable, but not up to the rigors of being schlepped around the commercial market?

HMM, I might have to check into that myself!

Hope this helps, and sorry, I might have to steal...um...creatively acquire your idea!

Mark

akueck
09-28-2010, 10:56 PM
Could you get a half barrel beer keg (for the price of a deposit?), ...

Picking up a keg, paying the deposit, and keeping the keg is in fact stealing. It happens, but it is firmly condemned in the homebrewing world. Kegs belong to the brewery (not the distributor), so when one goes missing they have to pay to replace it. The deposit is typically much less than the cost of a new keg.

If you have already gone this route, I hope it was a keg of Bud Lite. :p

Braxton
09-30-2010, 01:08 PM
You can find used kegs for cheaper online, even after shipping. It's pretty necessary to use co2 to purge the headspace, though. In my experience, without a little co2 pressure keeping the seal tight, the keg can allow oxygen in over time. Mainly seems to be a problem with those banged up used kegs as opposed to the shiny new ones.

jkane
10-01-2010, 09:39 AM
I got a dozen "corny" kegs long time ago thinking it would be plenty. Now that I am kegging mead more often, I just picked up 6 more last night. I really want some of those 2 or 3 gallons ones for longer term storage. Oh well!

I have both CO2 and Nitrogen. I purge the air out and don't leave them pressurized. That layer of CO2 keeps the oxygen away. Nitrogen is supposed to come out of solution easier. I have not tried pressurizing with it to see if that is true or not.

If you are in the US and want half barrels, look around for out of country kegs. They are 40 liters which is a small amount less than 15.5 gallons. The cost to ship them back to country of origin is expensive. You can find them for sale in warehouses sometimes. I have not seen any for about a year now, but there were quite a few places selling them last year and the year before. They are more than the $10 deposit of course. Seems like they were selling them at about scrap prices. $25-50 each. Still very cheap compared to places like SABCO which sells refrubs.

tuumi
10-04-2010, 09:31 PM
Really interested in hearing answers to the above comment too. At this point I think my best bet might be bulk aging in flextanks from flextankusa.com. These are plastic tanks. Are they just food grade plastic? Can I use any food grade plastic?

mmclean
10-05-2010, 04:43 AM
Hello tuumi,

Welcome to GotMead?

There is a tread here somewhere (try the search tool) where we talk about flextanks vs. standard plastic drum.

There is also a thread where someone recommends Rubber Maid food grade containers for fermentaion.

While the flextanks has special features for long term storage and bulk ageing of wine, I wonder if they cross over to mead making?

Better Bottles are good for long term storage, but are designed to not stain and/or hold odors. Also they are designed to not be oxygen permeable, like glass. This is so they will not pull off odors from outside the container.

I don't really have an answer for you just some thoughts. Maybe someone wiser than I can shead more light.

delinden
05-24-2011, 10:38 PM
I assume you mean Cornelius kegs? They are available here also, that might be an option! Iīd definately purge O2 from the keg to the best of my abilities, I have an old SodaStream sparkling water machine handy for tasks like that:-)

Great input, thanks. Only downside is, theyīre about 50 dollars second hand here, for a 5 gallon keg. Ill see if there are any private second hand ones available.

Hi again, gotmeadīs!

To give my experience on this matter, hereīs whatīs happened since my first batch of traditional mead, eight months ago:

I never found any cornelius kegs, instead I opted for the 5 liter party kegs. I bought 12 of them, with accessories...I decided to save a little money on the safety bungs, and got the regular ones. For the following reasons, I can NOT recommend this rather small saving to others!

At the same time as the mead was brewing I put on a couple of different beer kits, and so late last year I had 12 newly filled bulk ageing vessels sitting. The first couple of months went on, I opened a few kegs of beer, both ale kits, which were very foamy and tasted soapy, I guess from the plastic fermenting buckets. I also opened one of the meads, and was sad to discover it tasted sour and watery, with a weird warm rubber tire-like aftertaste. It didnīt impress my buddies at all, nor myself! Thats 3 down the drain. I then left them to age in my hobby room, hoping theyīd pick up over time, and forgot about them for a few months.

Then one night in february I woke up suddenly, as loud clanking and scraping noises were heard in the other room. I rushed in to find two kegs with beer knocked down from the shelf, totally deformed from pressure, spraying their content everywhere - bookshelf, PC/hobby table, laundry basket, cardboard boxes. Thatīs two more. Needless to say, the rest were set in double plastic bags...

Over the next month, two more beer kegs ruptured in their plastic bags, and two deformed horribly to the point where I almost didnīt dare to move them around, knowing that theyīd tear open any moment. I put them in the refrigerator to slow any further fermenting, where they have been since then. Two kegs of beer and a keg of mead have been tested recently, and regretfully the mead hadnīt improved much...still a quite unsavoury rubbery aftertaste to it. Iīm keeping the last keg of mead for the time being, perhaps Iīll open it in a few years and reminisce over my first mead batch, and Iīll be all "hehehe, those were the days", while looking at the faint brown stains on my books and walls. The beer however, has improved greatly from ageing, both cold stored and room temp! Itīs clear, crispy bitter and very fresh to the taste, with great head too.

What Iīve learned from this is:
- Donīt save pocket change on safety measures. Consider the worst case scenario first, and then decide if itīs worth the risk.
- Leave to ferment out properly before setting under pressure, especially if carbonation is added!
- Donīt overdose when carbonating(Itīs just like detergent, the clothes WONīT be any cleaner with double amount:-).
- Use plastic bags and/or tray for wrapping during initial ageing.

Even though Iīve taken some hits from them, Iīll probably continue to use 5 liter party kegs for ageing...using safety bungs Iīm sure there wouldīve been no problems. 5 liters, approx. 1 and 1/4 gallon, is appropriate for my use, larger vessels would waste too much, since I donīt want to muck about with bottles.

Thatīs just my little update on the matter, guys:-). Hope I didnīt waste your time reading this, I thought now was a good time to follow up on my first mead experience...just yesterday I got my hands on some very tasty honey from late last summer, this time with pollen in it, and I canīt wait to get it bubbling!

kudapucat
05-25-2011, 02:02 AM
Wow!
Talk about MEA!
So long as you learned from it...

I do hope this post helps others, but I fear there's just too much 'Oh it wont hapen to me' in this world...

Good luck getting something sorted... But if you're going as small as 5 litres... why not use 5 Litre glass jugs, with an airlock... much safer...
Well the airlock's safer... exploding glass bottles are definitely less desireable...
The transparency of glass is good, for checking up on your meads.

Medsen Fey
05-25-2011, 08:56 AM
The Cornelius kegs are made of stronger stuff. They make an ideal aging vessel and even if you have unintended refermentation in the keg, it won't create a disaster.

As for the rubbery odor/taste in your mead, that sounds like a sulfur problem not a keg problem. If you provide the full details of the recipe, it may be possible to identify why so you can prevent it in the future. In the meantime, it may be possible to eliminate (or at least reduce) it using a combination of vitamin C, copper and racking.

TheAlchemist
05-25-2011, 09:06 AM
The Cornelius kegs are made of stronger stuff. They make an ideal aging vessel and even if you have unintended refermentation in the keg, it won't create a disaster.

As for the rubbery odor/taste in your mead, that sounds like a sulfur problem not a keg problem. If you provide the full details of the recipe, it may be possible to identify why so you can prevent it in the future. In the meantime, it may be possible to eliminate (or at least reduce) it using a combination of vitamin C, copper and racking.

Ever had a rubbery taste/smell just from mead coming into contact with the rubber stopper in the carboy?

Medsen Fey
05-25-2011, 09:14 AM
No. I've heard people describe such a thing, but I've never had it happen to me. More often than not, I think the stopper is probably blameless.

kudapucat
05-25-2011, 05:42 PM
I've heard tell of it too from the old folks making wine... but they always say if the bung isn't in constant contact with the beverage, then it's ok...
ie they mention rubber seals in swing tops being an issue, if the bottle is stored on its side only.
obviously a bung with an airlock wont be submerged, so they told me there's no problem.

Chevette Girl
05-25-2011, 06:03 PM
I had one JAO variant batch come out smelling like rubber and it was never in contact with the stopper, and that stopper had been used before with no problems, I dunno how I ticked off the yeasties but I must have somehow...

PamW
05-26-2011, 06:11 PM
Wow!
Talk about MEA!
So long as you learned from it...

I do hope this post helps others, but I fear there's just too much 'Oh it wont hapen to me' in this world...

Good luck getting something sorted... But if you're going as small as 5 litres... why not use 5 Litre glass jugs, with an airlock... much safer...
Well the airlock's safer... exploding glass bottles are definitely less desireable...
The transparency of glass is good, for checking up on your meads.

I've only used glass carboys and an airlock for fermenting, for too many reasons to list. I plan on using a small corny keg for carbonating, but I'm still researching how that's actually done. I do try to learn from others mishaps, and I'm glad to have such a wealth of information to turn to. So far, the information here has prevented a few disasters for me.

I've had rubbery smells come from traditional meads right before killing the fermentation and racking once the fermentation is stopped. After a month or so the rubbery smell goes away to a great extent, and I've read in several threads that its due to the mead being young, and most of the time it goes away completely after a few more months, unless there is something funky going on. I'll be checking the mead again in a couple of months to see if the smell has gone totally from the one I have that smells that way. Since it has decreased from the first time I smelled it, I suspect it will continue to dissipate. Time will tell.

delinden
05-27-2011, 03:01 AM
All great ideas, and it sounds like these corny kegs could be the way to go. Only they are 5 times the price of the 5 liter kegs, and i already own a bunch of the 5 liters...so the safety bung investment is probably the best for me.

Although, should I stumble upon some one gallon glass carboys I guess iīll try them out also. It would be nice to be able to see the stuff along the way. They arenīt very common here though, and are around 15 dollar a piece new, plus a hefty fragile postage from across the country!

About the rubber aroma, I would guess it could be from the plastic fermenting bucket, as it was brand new at the time...perhaps some oils or the like, I didnīt get cleaned out properly?

Besides that, the mead was from cheap, generic honey, but not with rubbery off flavors, as far as I remember. Other than that, I used EC1118 yeast, and a think I also threw in a good handful of raisins during the preboiling.

Medsen Fey
05-27-2011, 09:16 AM
All great ideas, and it sounds like these corny kegs could be the way to go. Only they are 5 times the price of the 5 liter kegs, and i already own a bunch of the 5 liters...so the safety bung investment is probably the best for me.

I'm not sure where you are, but around here a 5-gallon Corny keg (used) can be purchased for about $30. Since they are for all practical purposes "completely indestructible" they are an investment rather than an expense.


Although, should I stumble upon some one gallon glass carboys I guess iīll try them out also.

Generally these are found as a gallon of jug wine (good for spritzers and sangria) or apple juice (also good for cyser). When you've consumed the goodies inside, you have a "free" gallon carboy - just need a stopper.


About the rubber aroma, I would guess it could be from the plastic fermenting bucket, as it was brand new at the time...perhaps some oils or the like, I didnīt get cleaned out properly?

Besides that, the mead was from cheap, generic honey, but not with rubbery off flavors, as far as I remember. Other than that, I used EC1118 yeast, and a think I also threw in a good handful of raisins during the preboiling.

Food grade buckets don't give you sulfur odors, and "rubber smells" and burnt rubber are some fairly common sulfur odors. EC-1118, if only fed a handful of raisins and not other nutrients, might easily cause that.

THawk
05-28-2011, 10:00 AM
Although, should I stumble upon some one gallon glass carboys I guess iīll try them out also. It would be nice to be able to see the stuff along the way. They arenīt very common here though, and are around 15 dollar a piece new, plus a hefty fragile postage from across the country!

1 gallon is about 4 liters. Try a 4-liter plastic water bottle... the nice part about it is that you can throw it away once you're done with it...

delinden
06-03-2011, 12:00 AM
1 gallon is about 4 liters. Try a 4-liter plastic water bottle... the nice part about it is that you can throw it away once you're done with it...

That certainly would be a low price solution, but I doubt id get much sleep at night, knowing what I know now about fermenting;)

Also, we dont really use that size here, i believe 2 liters is the biggest common size available, besides 20 liter water cooler bottles.

I use 1,5 and 2 liters for "bottling", though, when a keg is ready to drink.

delinden
06-03-2011, 12:13 AM
Food grade buckets don't give you sulfur odors, and "rubber smells" and burnt rubber are some fairly common sulfur odors. EC-1118, if only fed a handful of raisins and not other nutrients, might easily cause that.

Hm it sounds plausible, even though not very comforting...most of my batches are made with EC1118, and most of them actually seem to have some elements of this off flavor. I have thought about whether it could come from the yeast, but have rejected it since the common talk on different boards about EC1118 is that itīs fast and clean fermenting, at least in wine and fruit "hooches".

Normally, I will add about a teaspoon of common wine yeast nutrient per 10 liter, but I guess itīs possible that somehow the dose may have been inadequate...hopefully:rolleyes:

tweak'e
06-03-2011, 01:17 AM
EC1118 can throw some really weird flavors with honey when fermented warm.
don't forget most yeast descriptions are based on wine not mead.
reminds me, i should go do a taste test of my test runs. two traditional meads first one was ec1118 and it was very hot tasting when bottled.

Loadnabox
06-03-2011, 12:21 PM
Hm it sounds plausible, even though not very comforting...most of my batches are made with EC1118, and most of them actually seem to have some elements of this off flavor. I have thought about whether it could come from the yeast, but have rejected it since the common talk on different boards about EC1118 is that itīs fast and clean fermenting, at least in wine and fruit "hooches".

Normally, I will add about a teaspoon of common wine yeast nutrient per 10 liter, but I guess itīs possible that somehow the dose may have been inadequate...hopefully:rolleyes:

The biggest question is actually whether your generic nutrients have organic or inorganic YAN. Nitrogen deficiency is the biggest cause. Inorganic YAN (DAP) also cannot be easily metabolized by the yeast after the 1/3 break and is pretty well useless after the 1/2 break.

Medsen Fey
06-03-2011, 01:07 PM
I have thought about whether it could come from the yeast, but have rejected it since the common talk on different boards about EC1118 is that itīs fast and clean fermenting, at least in wine and fruit "hooches".


EC-1118 is a fast clean fermenter IF if gets enough nitrogen and EC-1118 isn't particular about whether it is organic or not. 1 tsp of nutrient for a 10 liter batch is not enough. It can get quite stinky with sulfur if it is hungry.

delinden
06-03-2011, 07:37 PM
The biggest question is actually whether your generic nutrients have organic or inorganic YAN. Nitrogen deficiency is the biggest cause. Inorganic YAN (DAP) also cannot be easily metabolized by the yeast after the 1/3 break and is pretty well useless after the 1/2 break.

Heh, well thatīs really the question, i guess...must say, Iīm totally blank here. The bag only says "Yeast nutrient - quality: Emovit". It smells a lot like crushed vitamin pills, if you know what I mean. i know, not a really scientific angle to it, but thats all Iīve got;D

delinden
06-03-2011, 07:51 PM
EC-1118 is a fast clean fermenter IF if gets enough nitrogen and EC-1118 isn't particular about whether it is organic or not. 1 tsp of nutrient for a 10 liter batch is not enough. It can get quite stinky with sulfur if it is hungry.

I might need to step up the nutrient dose then...I normally skimp a bit with it, dunno why...perhaps because of the nasty smell, something I wouldnīt want to taste in the wine. Quite stupidly, I guess, since itīll all be metabolized.

delinden
06-03-2011, 08:02 PM
EC1118 can throw some really weird flavors with honey when fermented warm.
don't forget most yeast descriptions are based on wine not mead.
reminds me, i should go do a taste test of my test runs. two traditional meads first one was ec1118 and it was very hot tasting when bottled.

This is also the reason I use EC1118 exclusively. Itīll ferment really dry and hot, and Iīll then sweeten to taste. I like to get a good buzz from my wines also, since I know theyīll probably not compete with the top shelf stuff anyways;D;D. This goes for my fruit hooch, I only now seem to understand, that itīs not neccesarily the way to go with honey...could be itīs time to try out new grounds(yeasts) with the rest of my pollen honey stash;D

Letīs hear about that hot EC1118 test when you get it done, could be interesting to know where itīll take the mead:-)