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cabeasle
01-11-2012, 11:26 AM
Is there any reason "not" to go ahead and kill off the yeast when a mead reaches the desired gravity? I wanted to bottle a mead that is done fermenting, but hasn't really been sitting around long enough for me to feel comfortable/be certain that it isn't still going just a tiny bit. I was thinking of hitting with with sorbate/sulfite and just making certain, so that I can bottle and free up a carboy.

Any reason it would be more desireable to let the yeast just continue on for months instead of killing them off?

Meady Nate
01-11-2012, 11:38 AM
I can offer one reason to not kill the yeast - sparkling mead!!

With my first batch (elderflower mead), I emptied the 6-week-fermented mead into another carboy, to separate it from the lees at the bottom. Then, I wanted a bit more sweetness, so I back-sweetened a bit.

Then I bottled the mead. It was delicious at first, but then I learned about how they make champagne sparkle (by turning the bottles every day or so), so I decided to start doing that to the bottles that remained on the rack, to see what would happen.

Within about 3 or 4 weeks of bottling, the results were astounding. I did lose a bit of sweetness, but not much, and the sparkle to the mead was so amazing. Even just seeing the 'smoke' come out the top of the bottle when I popped it was cool. This I can attribute to not killing off the remaining suspended yeast, allowing some fermentation to still occur in the bottle, and then turning the bottles a half-turn every other day.

Of course you must use caution here, as too much fermentation in the bottle can result in exploding bottles, popped corks, mead-geysers, and a huge mess. Perhaps I just lucked out this time ;)


Anyways, that's my 2 cents

Cheers

Nate;D

Mars Colonist
01-11-2012, 11:54 AM
Another thing to consider is whether your mead is fully degassed before you bottle.

cabeasle
01-11-2012, 12:30 PM
I have not really messed much with degassing. That is something I will need to research more. In fact, I will do that right now :)

Chevette Girl
01-11-2012, 01:58 PM
Carbonation is really something you should plan for a batch, safely getting residual sweetness AND carbonation is a bit of a trick, Nate please be careful, exploded bottles are no joke and I think you really did just luck out. I've had some delightful accidents too (and also done the odd downright stupid thing) but there are so many variables involved in hoping your yeast is almost at the end of what it can do that it's a real crapshoot to catch it when it's got enough left to carbonate but not so much that it'll overcarb. Also regular wine bottles should never be under pressure. Please read up on safe ways to do it, I don't want to hear about anyone on this forum getting a facefull of glass.

Another reason not to try to stop a fermentation when it gets where you want it to?

It's not always as easy as that, sometimes the little yeasties just have a mind of their own, on another forum years ago I even heard of one yeast that survived pasteurization. If you do try to stop a mead while it's still going strong and the yeast keeps going, there's no telling when it will actually be safe to bottle because the chemicals you added will still slow it down even if it won't stop. The most reliable way is to plan out how much alcohol you want in a batch and only put in that much honey, ferment it till it's done, wait till it clears up a bit (cold crashing helps too), then rack it off any yeast sediment (so that there are fewer viable cells) and add your stabilizing chemicals, then backsweeten it.

Meady Nate
01-11-2012, 02:17 PM
I am using 1-litre and 1/2-litre EZ-cap bottles, which seem substantially tougher than a regular wine bottle. Will they allow for any degassing under considerable pressure?

I by no means meant to suggest exploding bottles are a laughing matter, but at the same time, none of my mead-making friends have ever had this happen to them, and none of us use sulphates etc to kill off yeast. The worst we have had happen is the entire contents geysers out when opened...
(which can be funny sometimes, but not always....)



Nate;D

Chevette Girl
01-11-2012, 02:42 PM
I am using 1-litre and 1/2-litre EZ-cap bottles, which seem substantially tougher than a regular wine bottle. Will they allow for any degassing under considerable pressure?

I by no means meant to suggest exploding bottles are a laughing matter, but at the same time, none of my mead-making friends have ever had this happen to them, and none of us use sulphates etc to kill off yeast. The worst we have had happen is the entire contents geysers out when opened...
(which can be funny sometimes, but not always....)


The EZ-caps are suitable for carbonation and though I have heard that the seals sometimes let oxygen in, they are good enough that they can explode. One of our members had an EZ-cap blow off in his hand, metal detached from bottle and cap went across the room and I think I read about someone else who had a whole case go, all that was salvageable was the caps. The advantage to flip-tops is that if you know or suspect it's carbing, you can pop it open now and then and let off excess pressure without decarbing it (which is what I'm currently doing with one batch that was out of sugar but apparently has found something to eat!). I usually don't stabilize either and now and then it bites me if I don't leave it long enough in secondary. Three out of 140 batches isn't too terrible and the first time I was just lucky enough that the corks were loose enough that they'd pop before the bottle could go, the other two times I knew it was a possiblity so I checked, one went back into secondary for another month and the other is in flip-tops and being safely depressurized. I always bottle my JAO's or anything else with residual sugar that hasn't sat around for at least a year in screw-top or flip-top bottles so I can check on them.

Echostatic
01-11-2012, 03:23 PM
Yeast can be so unpredictable. I did a raspberry JAO variant that stopped fermenting, then started again after sitting for two months and took it dry. It would have exploded bottles if I hadn't let it sit.

The safest way to bottle mead IMO is to do what CG said. Add enough fermentable sugar to get the alcohol where you want it, let it ferment dry, rack off lees and stabilize with chemicals. Then backsweeten if desired and bottle.

tatgeer
01-11-2012, 05:26 PM
I am using 1-litre and 1/2-litre EZ-cap bottles, which seem substantially tougher than a regular wine bottle. Will they allow for any degassing under considerable pressure?

I by no means meant to suggest exploding bottles are a laughing matter, but at the same time, none of my mead-making friends have ever had this happen to them, and none of us use sulphates etc to kill off yeast. The worst we have had happen is the entire contents geysers out when opened...
(which can be funny sometimes, but not always....)



Nate;D

I use almost exclusively EZ-cap, and have had a couple of broken bottles, but nothing dramatic. All the bottles I've lost have broken right around the bottom, where the base of the bottle joins the sides - must be weaker there? I've also heard that the more air there is in the bottle, the more pressure can build up - it's been too long since I took physics for me to confirm or deny.

That being said, the more batches I make, the more cautious I am about carbonating, and I'm trying to move to putting carbonated batches in beer bottles rather than EZ-caps, as they are reportedly rated for higher pressures.

Chevette Girl
01-11-2012, 06:49 PM
I've also heard that the more air there is in the bottle, the more pressure can build up - it's been too long since I took physics for me to confirm or deny.

I think that came up a while ago and we denied it, I seem to recall wayneB was in on that discussion?

Comparing two capped bottles, one with the standard amount of headspace and one with excess headspace... the greater the volume you have in a closed system (ie, more headspace in a capped bottle), the more molecules of gas from fermentation it can accommodate at a given pressure, but if you have a smaller volume (less headspace, more must) and the same amount of gas (produced by continued fermentation), the gas will be more compressed with LESS headspace. And also, the gas production in the bottle with more headspace would be lower in the first place because there would be a smaller volume of your primed must (to make room for the extra headspace) to produce the CO2.

Meady Nate
01-12-2012, 04:04 PM
The safest way to bottle mead IMO is to do what CG said. Add enough fermentable sugar to get the alcohol where you want it, let it ferment dry, rack off lees and stabilize with chemicals. Then backsweeten if desired and bottle.

Ok, but what would you suggest to someone who doesn't want to add chemicals to their mead? Personally I like to keep things simple and my ingredients to the minimum - water, honey, yeast, flavor.

Obviously the vikings didn't have suphate tablets to add to their meads.....

tycoon
01-12-2012, 04:38 PM
I'm trying to move to putting carbonated batches in beer bottles rather than EZ-caps, as they are reportedly rated for higher pressures.

Some time ago, I stored a few bottles of mead I wanted to make "to sparkle". I used crown caps and recycled 1 l beer bottles. I miscalculated the amount of sugar still to ferment (I forgot to adjust the SG reading at bottling time for temperature differences vis a vis the hydrometer's calibration temperature). Result: we are still picking up glass shards from inside that closet.... fortunately the bottles exploded when nobody was around. :eek:

Since then, I have been very careful with carbonation....

YogiBearMead726
01-12-2012, 07:13 PM
<snip>...Obviously the vikings didn't have suphate tablets to add to their meads.....

True, but keep in mind they also probably just drank mead straight from primary, perhaps even while still actively fermenting. Hence, no need for chemicals! :)

Chevette Girl
01-12-2012, 08:07 PM
I think bottling wine in sealed containers came a lot later, I suspect the reason their meads were depicted as frothing is that they're either still fermenting or so new they're still degassing.

Mars Colonist
01-12-2012, 08:10 PM
Ok, but what would you suggest to someone who doesn't want to add chemicals to their mead? Personally I like to keep things simple and my ingredients to the minimum - water, honey, yeast, flavor.

Obviously the vikings didn't have suphate tablets to add to their meads.....

Filter to 0.45 micron .. but I bet the Vikings didnt do that either.

Riverat
01-12-2012, 09:40 PM
I think that one of the reasons not to kill off the yeast at a given gravity and bottle are the advantages of bulk aging, during that time you have the chance to consider if corrections such as backsweetning, oaking, ect may be called for and ymore likely wind up with a final product that is consistant from bottle to bottle.
And like MC says actually ending a fermentation for certain is best done by removing the yeast.
And you will have your product aged to perfection ( hard to resist sampling after it's in a bottle)
As a beer brewer I would have to say I quit bottlle conditioning beer years ago, someone here had as their signature "life's too short to bottle beer" don't remember who but couldn't agree more!
I kegged it and force carb'd, have draft on tap and never looked back. No dregs at the bottom of a bottle to deal with. Though since I'm aiming for still meads I'll bottle them.
However if one wants to bottle condition anything I would say take the same approach.
1. craft your mead a good bit below your yeasts alcohol tolerance
2. let the mead ferment to completion (at or below below 0.999) make sure ALL the fermentables have been consumed!!!!
3. let the mead clear on it's own
4. prime the mead accordingly (read up a bit on this while you are waiting) or you can add those priming tablets (corn sugar) to the bottles, this is fairly consistant but figuring out the proper honey addition just sounds more appropriate
5. set the bottles aside at fermenting temp for a couple of months
6. now the hard part...you are going to have to find the patience to bottle age these for the year or more to really accomplish your goals.
Safety is it's own reward!

Echostatic
01-12-2012, 10:17 PM
Ok, but what would you suggest to someone who doesn't want to add chemicals to their mead? Personally I like to keep things simple and my ingredients to the minimum - water, honey, yeast, flavor.

Obviously the vikings didn't have suphate tablets to add to their meads.....

I personally would suggest that someone like that change their mindset. Humanity has made many technological steps forward since the time of the vikings. Kind of strange to want to take one giant step back.

But failing that, I would suggest adding enough fermentable sugar to reach your desired ABV when dry, and let the yeast do so. Then age a couple years or so and bottle a dry mead. Or, pick a yeast with an ABV tolerance around what you want and do the math to end up with the sweetness you want when it reaches that ABV. Then age for a couple years to be reasonably sure fermentation won't spontaneously restart and bottle.

That's my opinion.

Chevette Girl
01-12-2012, 10:47 PM
I personally would suggest that someone like that change their mindset. Humanity has made many technological steps forward since the time of the vikings. Kind of strange to want to take one giant step back.

Or just recognize that there are limitations in what you can do if you don't want to take advantage of new technology. Same as I don't expect my 30-year old carbureted car to keep up to anything fuel-injected, it's a limitation I accept. If I weren't willing to accept it, I'd get a newer car.

Sulphites and sorbate, nutrients and energizers are good tools to have in your toolkit if you need them, even if you don't always use them. I personally prefer not to use stabilization chemicals unless I need to backsweeten or unless there's a problem with a batch because I do have some friends very sensitive to sulphites, generally I just age it a year or two in the carboy before I bottle it. It bites me now and then, but I accept that as a limitation and have my checks and balances so that if something goes wrong and I've bottled a sweet wine that starts fermenting in the bottle, I find out before it goes critical. I also get worse headaches from over-imbibing unstabilized wines than with stabilized wines, for what that's worth. I don't have a keg setup, therefore I can't take a mead that finished sweet on its own, stabilized or not, and carbonate it, I accept that without this setup, a sweet sparkling mead takes some planning. <shrug>

Brimminghorn
01-13-2012, 12:29 AM
Obviously the vikings didn't have suphate tablets to add to their meads.....

Well first of all the "vikings" are not a race of people. The word viking is actually a job description and basically means raider. The Romans however were adding sulfites to their wines and mead since the 2nd century. Modern mead making has come a long way since the time of the "vikings." The people in ancient times also killed the whole hive of bees to get the honey...because they didn't have framed hives or centrifuge to get the honey out, their mead was also fermented with wild yeast and they drank it while it was still fermenting. The Viking age was only a few hundred years, mead goes back 9000 years and was being made in Asia and Africa....No vikings in those continents. I think I will stick with modern mead making techniques and processes which I know make quality mead :)

Jon

Meady Nate
01-13-2012, 10:35 AM
Well, I must say you are all very awesome :) Your mead knowledge is inspiring!

I thank you for your expert opinions, but I am not convinced to start using stabilizers/nutrients/etc in my mead yet. Perhaps once I'm aging meads for over a year I will realize the necessity for all that, but as of right now, my 6-week ferments last no more than another 6 weeks afterwards due to my friends and I thoroughly enjoying them :rolleyes:


I have been told a "natural" way to stabilize/kill off the yeast is to lower the temperature of the must down to around 4C for a day or so... would you say that works well?

triarchy
01-13-2012, 11:09 AM
Regarding using cold to "kill" yeast: My experience is this doesnt work well at all. It will temporarily stop the active fermentation, but mine have always started back up once I warmed the must back to room temp. To add to that, even my attempts to stabilize an active fermentation using chemicals & cold have failed. YMMV.

Mars Colonist
01-13-2012, 11:16 AM
I have been told a "natural" way to stabilize/kill off the yeast is to lower the temperature of the must down to around 4C for a day or so... would you say that works well?

This is also called "crashing" or "crash cooling", and 4C is about 39F, and 1) best results are done slightly under freezing (-1C, 30F), 2) it doesnt kill the yeast, just puts them into dormancy... you bottle like this with backsweetening honey and then warm the bottles up, bottle bombs or shooting corks. 3) Significant drops of organic material and clarity from crashing usually takes a number of days at that temperature. Now once the yeast go dormant, and drop to the bottom, you can rack off of them, but keep it cold (below the yeast fermentation range) and it should keep them dormant. Dangerous game, your doctor bills.

Chevette Girl
01-13-2012, 02:06 PM
Dangerous game, your doctor bills.

Actually Mars, for Nate and I, our doctors don't bill. Yay for country-mandated health care. ;D

But yeah, if you're drinking everything within 6 weeks (bleck!) what the heck, it's barely worth the trouble of bottling. Although I'd probably opt for 2 litre pop bottles, at least you can squeeze them to see if they're TOO hard and let off some pressure if they are... and they do LESS damage (although not NO damage, ask Fatbloke) if they explode.

Cold crashing, if it drops a lot of yeast out of your must AND then you rack off it, can decrease the number of viable cells that you have to deal with when you hit it with chemicals to try to stop it so the chemicals are more likely to work. But there are still going to be some yeast still suspended, in most cases, unless the yeast was ALMOST pooped out anyway, it won't just stop a fermentation longer than it takes to warm back up.

And Nate, it might be worth some experiments with nutrients and energizer, I've found since I started using those I am a lot less likely to end up with a ferment that sticks or takes a long time to finish or develops off-flavours due to ticked-off yeasts. Prove it to yourself. That's how I am too, gotta see the results myself before I change my habits, especially if I think what I was doing worked fine already. ... of course, this is how my to-do list became the stuff of legends...:rolleyes:

Penguinetti
01-13-2012, 03:31 PM
I'm sorry, I'm still a lot new to all of the brewing world. We have sulfites (like K-Metas and the like) to kill off any remaining yeast after what we think would be a full fermentation from hydrometer tests.

My question: what would be a reason NOT to use sulfites? Bad taste? Wierd taste? Causes cancer? Causes the devil's threesome?:confused:

mmclean
01-13-2012, 03:39 PM
Good question.

tweak'e
01-13-2012, 05:24 PM
I have been told a "natural" way to stabilize/kill off the yeast is to lower the temperature of the must down to around 4C for a day or so... would you say that works well?

as mentioned above cooling it down simply pauses the yeast so you can rack the yeast off the mead. however that doesn't remove all of the yeast. whats left fire back up once it warms up.
you will need to chemically stabilize, sterile filter or pasteurize.

Chevette Girl
01-13-2012, 05:27 PM
I'm sorry, I'm still a lot new to all of the brewing world. We have sulfites (like K-Metas and the like) to kill off any remaining yeast after what we think would be a full fermentation from hydrometer tests.

My question: what would be a reason NOT to use sulfites? Bad taste? Wierd taste? Causes cancer? Causes the devil's threesome?:confused:

Some people are sensitive or allergic. I can't breathe near my sulphite sanitizing solution, but I have no problems drinking it (siphoning incident, don't ask)... According to what a lot of people here have found in their research, there are a lot more people who think they're sensitive or allergic to sulphites than who really are, but I'd never argue with what someone says is an allergy or a migraine trigger. I just make sure I carefully track what's in each of my meads and wines so that I don't accidentally give anyone something they'd rather avoid.

TheAlchemist
01-14-2012, 12:02 AM
Actually Mars, for Nate and I, our doctors don't bill. Yay for country-mandated health care. ;D



Let's hear it for evidence based cost effective medicine for all!

cabeasle
01-15-2012, 12:27 AM
Is there anything wrong with just leaving the mead in the carboy indefinitely, and just removing the airlock and pouring some out whenever you want it? The only problem I can think of off hand is risk of oxygenation from opening the lock once or twice and creating more headspace...

chams
01-15-2012, 12:41 AM
Is there anything wrong with just leaving the mead in the carboy indefinitely, and just removing the airlock and pouring some out whenever you want it? The only problem I can think of off hand is risk of oxygenation from opening the lock once or twice and creating more headspace...

Once I'm bulk aging there isn't any space to add anything.

Echostatic
01-15-2012, 12:53 AM
Your mead will oxidize unless you replace the lost volume with something like sanitized glass marbles. And if you have a larger carboy, that will get expensive.

mmclean
01-15-2012, 09:01 AM
Is there anything wrong with just leaving the mead in the carboy indefinitely, and just removing the airlock and pouring some out whenever you want it? The only problem I can think of off hand is risk of oxygenation from opening the lock once or twice and creating more headspace...

It will be fine if you use a Nitro Keg System, like the one from Northern Brewer.

cabeasle
01-15-2012, 10:31 AM
So, my first mead lost a lot during racking due to inexperience and is must line is now several inches from the top of the jug. Should I get this in to bottles soon rather than age it in the jug to minimize the risk of oxidation?

mmclean
01-15-2012, 10:52 AM
I don't think anyone would/will recommend bottling until it is safe to do so.

Chevette Girl
01-15-2012, 10:48 PM
So your mead level is now down below the shoulders of the carboy?

A few things are possible... if your airlock's still bubbling occasionally, it's safe to leave it as long as you're leaving the airlock on, the CO2 it's producing should displace any oxygen that got in there when you were racking.

If it's perfectly still, as other have suggested, aquarium-grade marbles can be used to raise the level, or sanitized synthetic corks... or you can top it off with wine, must, mead, juice, water or spirits...

Loadnabox
01-16-2012, 08:54 AM
So your mead level is now down below the shoulders of the carboy?

A few things are possible... if your airlock's still bubbling occasionally, it's safe to leave it as long as you're leaving the airlock on, the CO2 it's producing should displace any oxygen that got in there when you were racking.

If it's perfectly still, as other have suggested, aquarium-grade marbles can be used to raise the level, or sanitized synthetic corks... or you can top it off with wine, must, mead, juice, water or spirits...

Don't forgot a mylar balloon. Stuff it in, then inflate it, works rather well.