PDA

View Full Version : Re-racking - gonna have some extra space. What to do?



Tiwas
08-15-2011, 02:50 PM
Hi guys,

My mead's been sitting to clear for three months or so now, and they've all gotten quite a bit of lees forming in the bottom. If it won't hurt the mead I would like to rack it off the lees into clean carboys, but I reckon there will be at least a couple of liters missing from my 6 gallon carboys after racking. As a Norwegian, I hate the idea of pouring water into my alcohol, so I was wondering if it's safe to leave the extra space as it is or if I should fill it with something...I tried getting some glass marbles today, but couldn't find it anyware :S

Cheers!

AToE
08-15-2011, 03:01 PM
Hey, good to hear from you again! If you can't find the marbles, and you're really going to lose that much volume, then one option is to make a smaller batch of mead to top them up with. I wouldn't leave that headspace in there, oxidization could cause you problems. Another option is using something like synthetic corks to fill up the empty space, and I imagine you could probably even use those for bottling if you wanted. That wouldn't be too pricey.

Loadnabox
08-15-2011, 03:06 PM
The other idea I thought was really good was to purchase mylar baloons (not rubber).

Tear off the sticky part that hold the air in.

Inflate the balloon inside the carboy.

Use the rubber airlock stopper to hold the balloon in place as well as pinch it off (hold the air in the balloon).

There's always going to be a little bit of air in the carboy, really you're just hoping to minimize how much and the mylar balloon seemed like a cheap easy way to do it (and reusable)

P.S. be sure to sanitize the balloon first

RightHookCook
08-15-2011, 03:21 PM
can you not just use a standard balloon? but ive got to say that is a quality idea , ive never thought of that!

Tiwas
08-15-2011, 03:28 PM
Everything I have extra are three x 1 pint bottles of mead that I took from the bottom of the fermenter. It smells good, so I don't think it should add any yeast taste to the mead. The other thing I can do is just leave it on the lees for another couple of months and cold crash it on the porch once temperatures starts falling...or I could empty out the fridge and cold crash each carboy one at a time. Good thing I'm single! :D

TheAlchemist
08-15-2011, 03:43 PM
Sometimes I'll just downsize a 5 gal batch to a 3gal betterbottle and maybe 1 or 1 1gal carboys. That way I can try some variations on a theme...maybe add oak or vanilla to the 1gal bottle.

Tiwas
08-15-2011, 03:56 PM
Sometimes I'll just downsize a 5 gal batch to a 3gal betterbottle and maybe 1 or 1 1gal carboys. That way I can try some variations on a theme...maybe add oak or vanilla to the 1gal bottle.

My plan was actually to rack it onto 5l bag in a boxes later on, and oak, add vanilla and other experiments :)

Hmmm...I need to see if I can get some bulk marbles somewhere....I'm going to need up to 8l worth :S

SRodgers
08-15-2011, 04:38 PM
I couldn't find marbles in bulk amounts. So I bought the larger glass beads for fish tanks and used them. They sale them in bulk and they work just as well as marbles.

Tiwas
08-15-2011, 04:42 PM
I couldn't find marbles in bulk amounts. So I bought the larger glass beads for fish tanks and used them. They sale them in bulk and they work just as well as marbles.

I tried to find those, too, but the stupid girl at the pet shop tried to sell me rocks :S

kudapucat
08-15-2011, 07:08 PM
can you not just use a standard balloon? but ive got to say that is a quality idea , ive never thought of that!

No, the rubber will flavour the mead.
It's an old idea, you can buy them from your Local Brewing Supply Wholesaler (LBSW?) but they're usually sized for barrels, I can't remember what they're called exactly. Ballast bags or something.

wildoates
08-15-2011, 11:49 PM
As a Norwegian, I hate the idea of pouring water into my alcohol

Bwahahahahahah!

Gasp wheeze choke chortle

Lars, you're not supposed to DRINK those two liters when you rack it, silly. :)

Tiwas
08-16-2011, 12:08 AM
Lars, you're not supposed to DRINK those two liters when you rack it, silly.

Yeah, yeah...you have your siphoning technique. I have mine. :p

hehe

schlapppy
08-16-2011, 07:51 AM
I had this problem when I first started brewing as well... considered the marbles/corks/baloons/etc.... didn't like any of the ideas. Here's the solution I liked best.

Make a 5 gallon batch of traditional wildflower mead for the sole purpose of topping off other batches. I keep mine in a pressurized keg, so i can flush the headspace. There is nothing stopping you from making a batch like this, bottling it.. and just reserving it exclusively for topping off.

Make sure you ferment it dry, so if you want to add it to a sweeter batch, you can sweeten it up to match the S.G. before blending.

PitBull
08-16-2011, 08:54 AM
I personnaly like to make extra must to account for racking losses and keep a varietal mead "pure". If I still have extra must/mead left over after a racking, I generally store it in a smaller carboy (jug). If I do not have enough must/mead, I rack to a smaller main carboy and then store what's left in a jug or combination of jugs.

I have 6-gallon, 5-gallon, 3-gallon, 4-liter, 3-liter, 1/2 gallon and 1.5-liter carboys that will accomodate at least a mini auto siphon. In a pinch I will also use 750 ml or 12 oz. beer bottles, with airlock, for extra must/mead.

If my needs fall somewhere in between these sizes, I'll add a very small amount of water to top off, or use aquarium marbles if more than "just a little" water is needed.

A corny keg system is still on my wish list.

Loadnabox
08-16-2011, 09:08 AM
No, the rubber will flavour the mead.
It's an old idea, you can buy them from your Local Brewing Supply Wholesaler (LBSW?) but they're usually sized for barrels, I can't remember what they're called exactly. Ballast bags or something.

Here in the US I bought the mylar balloons at the dollar store. Dirt effing cheap method :)

And yes, a rubber balloon will add a rather naasty rubber flavor to the mead *BLECH!*

TheAlchemist
08-16-2011, 11:19 AM
Yeah, yeah...you have your siphoning technique. I have mine. :p

hehe

Ha!!!!!!!!

Dan McFeeley
08-16-2011, 11:25 AM
If you can find marbles, be careful with the source. Ordinary hobby marbles can be colored with chemicals that could leach into your mead. Pet store decorative glass is safe -- if it's ok for fish, it's ok for your mead.

Do you have any other bottled meads lying about? You could use them for topping off, plus an exercise in blending different meads.

--

SpamDog
08-17-2011, 08:56 PM
Personally, putting marbles (or anything for that matter) in my mead kinda freaks me out (yes I know they are supposed to be sanitized ect ect.) I ended up buying one of these little guys at my LHBS (sold as keg chargers)
http://www.austinhomebrew.com/product_info.php?cPath=178_40_271_275_273&products_id=12296
I then got a brass adapter from my hardware store that screws into it that I can slip a short 1 foot piece of tubing to. Now I can pre-purge carboys before I rack, and/or fill up the air space after.
Works pretty well so far as I can tell. Where I don't have a kegging setup, this is kinda the cheaper way to get some CO2 to play with.

SpamDog

Medsen Fey
08-22-2011, 04:52 PM
Is the mylar food-safe?
If not I would reconsider its use.

In addition to the other options mentioned, you can pour a layer of mineral oil on top of your mead and then the headspace doesn't matter. It can be a little messy at racking time, and you don't want to be handling a slippery carboy, but it does work.

If you have a keg, you can purge the air out of it and again, headspace won't matter.

kudapucat
08-22-2011, 05:00 PM
Regarding mineral oil. Forgive me but we call it something else. Do you mean turpentine? Also, how thick's a layer.
Also it stinks and tastes horrid, this is not imparted to the mead?

Tiwas
08-22-2011, 05:09 PM
More like olive oil or something...?...That might be the best option for me, as I don't have time to make a batch of dry mead before re-racking ;)

Medsen Fey
08-22-2011, 05:29 PM
Not turpentine. Not olive oil.
Mineral oil (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mineral_oil) (baby oil). Found in your local pharmacy as a laxative (food grade).

Olive oil can go rancid if exposed to air for a prolonged period. Mineral oil will not. A layer 1/4-1/2 inch should work fine. I'm not a big fan of using it because it does get messy, but when I use it, I try to suck most of it out before racking if possible.

Tiwas
08-22-2011, 05:54 PM
Thanks. Unfortunately, that might be my only option right now...

Tiwas
08-22-2011, 05:55 PM
Next batch will be brewed in winter, so before racking I'll leave it to cold crash for a few hours (in 20 below :p )

1k_wayne
08-22-2011, 06:36 PM
I've always purged the headspace with either Argon or CO2, but that requires a tank you may not have.

Bugleman
08-25-2011, 01:23 AM
I've always purged the headspace with either Argon or CO2, but that requires a tank you may not have.

You could always run a CO2 purge with dry ice. Put it in a vessel and run a hose from the top of it to the bottom of your headspace. You could even rig up a way to drop some warm water over the dry ice to heat up your CO2 gas.