View Full Version : sanitizing question

03-24-2012, 11:39 AM
Hi All,

I'm a newbie to meadmaking, having started my first batch in January of this year. I'm on batch number three, and I have a question about sanitization. Now I totally understand the need for obsessive sanitization at the start of the process, when the must is new and is fertile ground for all sorts of wee beasties. However, when a significant amount of alcohol is present, say after the first couple of months, do I still need to be hyper vigilant about sanitizing everything that comes into contact with my mead (e.g. when I'm talking specific gravity readings)? I'm still sanitizing everything every time, but I'm curious what you think..

I hope this isn't the stupidest question a newbie has posted :)

03-24-2012, 11:49 AM
As I understand it, the strong yeast population during active fermentation will keep MOST nasty stuff at bay. However you are still susceptable to acetobacrer and lactobacillus after the fermentation is over. As a result I always sanitize everything I put into the mead. Even the carboy neck before I thief a sample,etc...

I could be wrong but I think it's better safe than sorry.


03-24-2012, 12:46 PM
Not at all stupid, massdewd. Welcome to "Gotmead," BTW!

Demolitron is exactly correct. Although in general as the ethanol concentration builds in your mead during the course of fermentation spoilage organisms have a harder time taking hold, still there are things like acetobacter that actually live off the ethanol in your finished mead, that is until the concentration gets up in the 18%+ range -- most meads are more wine-like in ABV, somewhere between 9-15%. Malolactic bacteria can also live in your mead, provided it is a melomel with malic acid from some fruit in the mix. So, Obsessive-Compulsive sanitization practices are NOT a disorder when it comes to meadmaking. ;)

You can always take a chance by being less thorough with sanitizing later in the game... but with as much time, money and care as I put into my meads, I don't want to tempt fate at any stage of the process. I always sanitize scrupulously.

03-24-2012, 12:57 PM
Yes, you still need to sanitize. There are many organisms that can still live in the alcoholic solution that is mead, though many are better suited if there is also oxygen present. None of them are going to make you ill, but they could easily ruin the mead. Acetobacter is probably the best example. It lives everywhere (you can bet it's all over your kitchen, for example), and it can and will metabolize alcohol and turn it into vinegar.

03-24-2012, 01:34 PM
Thanks everyone for your advice, which I'll certainly follow. I had no idea about Acetobacter. I read the new posts here daily since I started in this hobby (obsession?), and I've learned a lot from doing so. You all are a wealth of information for us newbs. Thanks again, and I'm sure I'll have many more questions for you in the future.