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HunnyBunz
01-07-2012, 04:21 PM
I have a braggot that was in primary for 12 days and in secondary for exactly 2 weeks today. The yeast is Danstar Windsor.

The recipe I'm working on says to keep in primary for 2 weeks (I know I racked a little early, but there was only 1 bubble per min. coming through the airlock), then prime and bottle after 2 weeks in secondary.
I was going to bottle today, but there still seems to be some fairly active fermentation with one small bubble every 30-45 seconds.

Two points to note:
1 - I used about 2 lbs more honey than I was supposed to.
2 - I'm using EZ cap beer bottles

Should I wait until fermentation completely stops; just bottle without priming; or is the ferment slow enough that I can go ahead and prime & bottle today?

mccann51
01-07-2012, 05:27 PM
Never, ever, ever, EVER bottle before fermentation is complete. I speak from experience. Your gonna end up with either bottle bombs, or at the least, overly carbonated brew.

Also, you cannot be sure fermentation is done by the bubbles in the airlock. You need to take a SG reading on one day, and then several days later take another. Only when there is no change in the SG over the course of a few days can you say with any confidence that fermentation is done.

HunnyBunz
01-07-2012, 07:09 PM
Sorry - I forgot to mention that the gravity is at 1.008 - down form 1.010 a couple of weeks ago. OG was 1.074

I'll wait another week and take a reading, then again a few days after that.

Thanks.

Chevette Girl
01-08-2012, 01:50 AM
As McCann said, t's not safe to bottle anything where the gravity's still changing. And if it's completely stopped on its own, priming it won't work anyway. Can you live with this being still instead of sparkling, if it poops out and cannot be resurrected? It's probably taking a little longer than the recipe said because you added extra honey and you racked a bit early.

Ez-caps have the advantage that if you DO overcarbonate (or accidentally carbonate something that was supposed to be still) you can at least pop the lids and let off some pressure before things get exciting, one of our senior members (was it Medsen Fey?) recently had one get overcarb'd and when he opened it it went with enough force to blow the whole cap apparatus off the bottle, so make sure you point away from your face when opening if there's any chance of it overcarbonated!

If your OG was 1.074 then if it goes to completion, it's probably going to stop just under 1.000, I wouldn't prime it until then, otherwise you risk the yeast eating whatever you prime it with PLUS whatever's still left and your bottles might not be rated for that.

HunnyBunz
01-08-2012, 06:50 PM
Thanks for the advice. If it ends up being still that's OK. Actually it would be one less thing for me to worry about. But that's the big question - How does one know when the fermentation is low enough that it's safe to prime? Is there a certain amount of time to wait and see that the gravity has not changed?

Another thing that I'm worried about is that I've got this batch on about 1 cup of oak chips (med. toasted) and I don't want it to get over-oaked. But if I rack to another contained I'm afraid it will further interfere with the fermentation.
Any suggestions?

Chevette Girl
01-08-2012, 07:40 PM
In order to be safe to prime it, it should satisfy two conditions: 1) to have stopped 2) and be at 1.000 or less. To consider a fermentation "stopped", I generally want identical readings a month apart because I have had some fermentations slow enough that even a week wasn't long enough to tell if it was still moving.

When you need to rack it off your oak chips, give it a thorough stir and then let it sit a few minutes before you rack, long enough for the oak to settle out (to either sink or float, whatever they're doing), this will resuspend the yeast you need to transfer over to finish the job, but gives any big stuff time to settle out. You can use this same trick if you ever need for whatever reason to relocate a must in full fermentaton mode, give it a stir to make sure all the yeasties you need are suspended in the must instead of sitting at the bottom.

YogiBearMead726
01-08-2012, 10:07 PM
Good points so far, here are some things that came to mind while I read.

1) Yes, carbonate it. I don't know if you've ever tried drinking flat beer (essentially what you get without priming), but it is no where even close to as good as the same beer that's been carbonated. You'd be doing a huge injustice, IMHO, if you bottled this flat.

2) As CG points out, you'll want consistent SG readings for at least a week before you can confirm fermentation has stopped. The one thing I'll add is that since this is a braggot, and hence derives some of it's sugars from the grains, you may not see a final SG of 1.000 or lower. 1.007 might be all it goes to, so don't think it's ruined if it doesn't get much lower.

3) I know EZ top/flip top grolsch bottles (if I read your comments correctly) are indeed great for a quick fix. I wouldn't recommend them in the future though, since they aren't really made for long term storage. Also, if you do over carbonate, yes you can relieve some pressure little by little, but I have seen these things explode more than once. They are by no means safer than regular crown cap bottles. I'm also not confident that they are made with the same pressure tolerances. If you plan to brew/make more braggots, I suggest biting the bullet and getting a good $30ish lever capper and regular bottles. Ask friends to save their six/12/24 packs for you. Then give them some of your homebrew, and you'll have more bottles than you know what to do with. ;)

Hope that helps

Chevette Girl
01-08-2012, 10:11 PM
2) As CG points out, you'll want consistent SG readings for at least a week before you can confirm fermentation has stopped. The one thing I'll add is that since this is a braggot, and hence derives some of it's sugars from the grains, you may not see a final SG of 1.000 or lower. 1.007 might be all it goes to, so don't think it's ruined if it doesn't get much lower.


Good point, that didn't occur to me because the recipe wasn't posted in this thread.

YogiBearMead726
01-09-2012, 12:43 AM
Good point, that didn't occur to me because the recipe wasn't posted in this thread.

Heh, yeah...I guess I'm just assuming it won't go completely dry since the title says "braggot", but you're right. It's anyone's guess about the specifics of the recipe except for the OP. :)

commonsenseman
01-09-2012, 02:17 PM
Yes, carbonate it. Still Braggots are pretty rough.

While I haven't had any problems with flip-tops, I wouldn't be surprised if they were thinner than regular beer bottles. I've had good luck carbonating in them so far, but they're usually the first ones to get opened.

1 cup of oak is a lot, I'd get them out of there as soon as fermentation is finished. Taste-test it frequently to get it where you like it.

HunnyBunz
01-09-2012, 03:48 PM
Thanks for all the help everyone!

I originally listed the ingredients in a different thread, but it seemed to be going in a different direction so I started a new one. I've never been involved with any kind of social networking and this is the first forum I've ever been on so I'm not quite used to how to do things properly here yet.

Anyway, here's the recipe again just in case anyone has further thoughts.

5 Gallon batch
3.3 lbs light DME
5 lbs Wildflower honey (I used about 7-7.5 lbs)
1 packet Danstar Windsor yeast

Thanks again for the feedback - really helps alot!

HunnyBunz
01-10-2012, 06:15 PM
OK, now I'm really worried:eek:

I finally racked this stuff off the oak chips today and everything was fine untill about half-way through the batch. The auto-siphon started to make alot of suction noise and I could see little bubbles going through the tube. I pulled the end out and re-started the siphon. I think that maybe little pieces of oak were interfering with the siphon. It would be OK for a little while but it just kept happening so that I had to re-start the siphon about 4 times.

By the time I was finished there was a lot of foam on top and the carboy was almost more full than the one I racked from - even though the oak and some of the must was left behind.
Now I'm afraid that I've totally oxygenated my batch.

Somebody please tell me that it's not totally ruined.:(

Soyala_Amaya
01-10-2012, 07:03 PM
Oxygenation happens over time and a lot of contact. One messy splash racking won't immediately kill it. Mead is a lot more resistant to oxygenation than wine or beer, though I'm not sure about braggots. Still, you probably only added the amount of oxygen the mead would see over the course of an afternoon open.

Chevette Girl
01-11-2012, 12:54 AM
The bubbles are most likely CO2 coming out of the must, it's probably still degassing.

HunnyBunz
01-11-2012, 03:17 PM
So how does degassing play into the mix when bottling a sparkling mead?

I would think that I shouldn't allow it to degas too much.

Chevette Girl
01-11-2012, 03:33 PM
Really, I think that depends on how much priming sugar you use, how much carbonation you want, and what your bottles are rated for... I generally assume that the carbonation I want should be ONLY from the priming sugar so I stir really well when I prime so that should remove most of the dissolved CO2, better control. Now, if you know your bottles are good to 4 atmospheres and your priming should only give 2 atmospheres then you're probably fine, but I'm honestly too damn lazy to do the math so I just degas so that I know I'm still on the safe side.

HunnyBunz
01-11-2012, 04:36 PM
Thanks Chevette - good advice!

It seems that whenever I get a question answered, I usually end up having 2 or 3 more questions.;D
Oh well. I guess that's what we're all here for, right?:thumbsup:

YogiBearMead726
01-11-2012, 06:17 PM
So how does degassing play into the mix when bottling a sparkling mead?

I would think that I shouldn't allow it to degas too much.

Degassing has almost nothing to do with whether a mead ends up being sparkling, since it's will carbonate in the bottles, not in the carboy.

As CG pointed out, just thought I'd clarify a bit.

Also, many award winning recipes have different strategies for fermentation, but most all of them have at least one thing in common; thorough degassing. :)

Chevette Girl
01-11-2012, 06:36 PM
Degassing has almost nothing to do with whether a mead ends up being sparkling, since it's will carbonate in the bottles, not in the carboy.


My reasoning was that if you're adding a measured amount of sugar to get a measured amount of CO2 and you're already starting out with a random amount of dissolved CO2 because you didn't degas, you might end up with more CO2 and hence more pressure than calculated... Please, if anyone knows better, tell me....

... and my one accidentally carb'd batch in my first year of winemaking wasn't pressurized, there was no pop and it didn't bubble until something triggered it... pop the cork and it looked still, until you poured it into a glass or stuck something in it (like, oh, say, a sanitized chop stick to degas it), then you get an eruption (all over me, the dining room table, the dining room floor, the kitchen floor, all the way to the sink)... the bottles were fine until something jiggled them, then the corks would fly...