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Boogaloo
12-13-2011, 11:07 AM
Just read an article on beer brewing using the 'open fermentation' process for the first 10 days in primary. Has anyone used this process for Mead making? Or is it just too dangerous because we age for so much longer?

Chevette Girl
12-13-2011, 11:22 AM
Some folks around here do it for meads, I just can't remember who :) Although, here, we'd keep an eye on the SG and lid it once it approaches 1.000, or maybe even the halfway point. Beer might be a bit touchy though.

brian92fs
12-13-2011, 01:41 PM
I'd also point out that "open" is not uncovered. I believe most people using this method cover it with a sanitized dish towel or something similar. The idea is to allow for air movement, but still keep larger things out (like insects).

Boogaloo
12-13-2011, 02:03 PM
I'd also point out that "open" is not uncovered. I believe most people using this method cover it with a sanitized dish towel or something similar. The idea is to allow for air movement, but still keep larger things out (like insects).

I was wondering that. When I looked it up some more there seemed to be mixed techniques. One person would leave it completely open, another would leave it in a bucket with lid slightly cracked open and as you mentioned a simple cloth over the bucket. This reminds me of the old school way of making Korean rice wine.

Chevette Girl
12-13-2011, 02:19 PM
I've been known to put a dishcloth over the bung hole in the bucket lid when I'm out of airlocks :)

Duracell
12-13-2011, 02:33 PM
http://www.byo.com/stories/techniques/article/indices/31-fermentation/1216-open-fermentation-tips-from-the-pros

Just sayin', I don't think totally open is a good idea for the home brewer but it appears that a few commercial brewers do a mostly open ferment.

"There are some drawbacks to open fermentation, but if you have the right yeasts you can overcome a lot of common misconceptions about airborne yeasts, bacteria and contaminants like fruit flies. At D.L. Geary, not much can compete with our healthy yeast strain. The pH is very low and unfavorable to bacteria, and the layer of CO2 on the top is a very effective biological lid — even fruit flies know not to go where they can’t breathe"

EDIT: I've done the loose lid on a fruit wine during primary and it wasn't an issue. The out gassing CO2 keeps anything from going in.

Echostatic
12-13-2011, 08:38 PM
I put a dish rag over the bung hole on my bucket lids too, after spraying the part that will be face-down with sanitizer. I haven't had anything get contaminated.

Medsen Fey
12-14-2011, 01:20 AM
I usually ferment in a large bucket with a lid that isn't sealed. It works just fine as long as you don't miss the bubbling of an airlock too much.

tweak'e
12-14-2011, 01:58 AM
all mine are done open top.
just a cloth and lid placed loosly on top to keep out anything that might crawl across it.
however it does have to be transferred to carboy before fermenation has fully completed. that way it produces CO2 in the carboy.

Lawpaw
12-14-2011, 02:28 AM
Most of mine are done with a cloth rubber banded over the top of a 5 gallon plastic paint style bucket. No lid, although I've also loosely placed the lid over the top.

The few times I've done sealed the fermentation seemed to take much longer.

Right now I'm fermenting 2 one gallon meads, one in a 5 gallon glass carboy with an airlock and one in a 5 gallon plastic bucket with a dish cloth rubber banded over the top.

They both started around 1.09 (lowest gravity meads I've done) - 1 week later the open top is at 1.04 while the closed carboy is at about 1.05. Similar Ph, the carboy batch is a traditional orange blossom, the bucket is 3/4 local wild flower from an orchard and 1/4 orange blossom.

Boogaloo
12-14-2011, 09:05 AM
I think I'm definitely going to try open top on one of my next batches. I have 25 lbs of honey and deciding what to do with it.

All the comments have encouraged me. Thanks!

schlapppy
12-14-2011, 09:36 AM
I've been using the open primary fermentor method for the last 10 or so batches with success.

Here's a few tips.

Cover the top with cheesecloth or mesh bags.
Buy a few of these covers so you can swap them out with a clean one.
I've had success in getting the cloth to stay taught with a large bungee cord wrapped around the bucket.
Don't keep the fermentor open for do this for 10 days. Base how long you should keep it open based on the sugar break. I will recover mine @ the 1/3 sugar break.. which is also the same time I stop aerating the must. Once I hit the 1/3 break, I'll hit it with one last bit of nutrients. Slap a lid & airlock on the bucket, and let the primary continue on rolling.

akueck
12-14-2011, 09:51 AM
Look up "Burton Union" and you'll find one of the traditional English techniques for open fermentation of beer. They don't cover with a cloth, it's totally open. Now, they've been doing this for quite awhile so the yeast they've got is used to it and the beer probably picks up some unique flavors from the airborne bugs. But it's doable.

For myself, I use the cheesecloth or loose-fitting lid for meads. Sometimes I'll do that for beer too, but not very often.

Lawpaw
12-14-2011, 09:58 AM
I should mention that both fermentors are on my cement basement floor with a couple frozen 2 liters around to keep the ambient room temperature measured floor level at around 58 degrees.

The glass may be transferring the cold from the floor a little better, unfortunately I broke my brewing thermometer into the plastic fermentor so I don't know the musts' temperatures. :)

So this isn't exactly a scientific experiment since temperature may be playing a bigger role than air exposure, particularly at this temperature.

Using 71V-1116 and trying to get those low temp esters. I've had great results in the smell coming out of fermentation from 1116 in a couple of meads and fruit wines.

JimSar
12-14-2011, 09:54 PM
I use a 2' x 2' grain bag as bucket cover. Last month some bugs flew into the basement, and were small enough to force their way through the double layers of mesh. Some even squeezed through the vent holes on the airlocks and managed to drown themselves. They looked like fruit flys. Those that died on top of the foam were removed. The others, well, let's just say they added to the flavor of the mead.

Chevette Girl
12-14-2011, 10:33 PM
I use a 2' x 2' grain bag as bucket cover. Last month some bugs flew into the basement, and were small enough to force their way through the double layers of mesh. Some even squeezed through the vent holes on the airlocks and managed to drown themselves. They looked like fruit flys. Those that died on top of the foam were removed. The others, well, let's just say they added to the flavor of the mead.

It happens... I think I'm finally rid of the little beggars for this year... I once had fruit flies breed in an airlock once and the larvae came out on the wine side. Today's useless fact - they turn pink if they hatch into wild grape wine :) (I bought a wine filter just for that batch, it turned out to be one of the best wines I've made).

Lawpaw
12-14-2011, 10:41 PM
I use a 2' x 2' grain bag as bucket cover. Last month some bugs flew into the basement, and were small enough to force their way through the double layers of mesh. Some even squeezed through the vent holes on the airlocks and managed to drown themselves. They looked like fruit flys. Those that died on top of the foam were removed. The others, well, let's just say they added to the flavor of the mead.

I've had multiple fruit flies drown their sorrows in the same vodka filled airlock.

JimSar
12-14-2011, 10:57 PM
It happens... I think I'm finally rid of the little beggars for this year... I once had fruit flies breed in an airlock once and the larvae came out on the wine side. Today's useless fact - they turn pink if they hatch into wild grape wine :) (I bought a wine filter just for that batch, it turned out to be one of the best wines I've made).

If you look at the picture on my 11/18/11 post on this thread (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=18929) you'll see two buggers in the 3 and 4 o'clock position. Just added a comment last night that this is likely my best mead this season. ;) Gotta be them flies, huh?