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View Full Version : Couple new questions - cap management, stopping fermentation, others



scottv
07-03-2012, 09:53 AM
I have a few more questions!

1) With regards to cap management, do I just need to basically "wet" the cap? Since I have been using jugs and the hole is so small, I really cant get all of the cap down but I have been swirling it slowly. I assume that works as well.

2) How long should I leave the fruit in the mead? I haven't been able to find any posts that state how long to leave the fruit in the must. Two weeks sufficient? More?

3) Let's say I am at 12% alcohol and an SG of 1.020 and I am happy with that or if the mead is done and I want to backsweeten (but not ferment the new honey) Can I just add some Potassium Sorbate and Potassium metabisulfite. How much should I use for one gallon jugs?

4) I keep reading about 2-3 gallon fermenting pails. Where can I find those?

5) If I cannot find smaller fermenting pails, do I have to worry about oxidation if I ferment 3 gallons in a 5 gallon container - like I would with beer?

I think that's all for now.. thanks!

triarchy
07-03-2012, 12:04 PM
The main purpose of cap management is to keep the cap from drying out and allowing bad things to grow. Its better to ferment is a wide mouth bucket so you can stir vigorously. In addition to breaking up the cap it also aerates the mead which is important early on. So swirling works, but probably not as good as stiring the crap out of it ;D

I leave fruit in until it started to lose color. Id say on average about a week or maybe a bit less. It really depends on the frut and the batch, it varies.

I think there is a big difference between stopping an active fermentation and stabilizing a finished fermentation. Ive had no luck stopping an active fermentation, for what that is worth. Maybe I just didnt do it right the three times I tried or maybe yeast are a lot tougher than you might think. I try to ferment dry and backsweeten now. I dont remember how much per gallon to use (at work now away from notes), but I go with Potassium Sorbate and Potassium Metabisulfite.

No need to worry about having too big of a primary fermenter, the CO2 thrown off during fermentation will keep it safe from oxidizing. I use a 10 gallon primary for all of my batches now. I really appreciate the extra head room. Head space becomes an issue in secondary, long term storage when oxidization is a concern.

scottv
07-03-2012, 12:38 PM
thanks for the answers!


In addition to breaking up the cap it also aerates the mead which is important early on. So swirling works, but probably not as good as stiring the crap out of it
what if I am past the 1/3 sugar break, shouldn't I not be to vigorous?


Head space becomes an issue in secondary, long term storage when oxidization is a concern.

To clarify, when the fermentation is complete, I should rack to a size appropriate container? i.e., rack a 3 gallon batch of mead from a 6 gallon fermenter to three 1 gallon jugs?

dingurth
07-03-2012, 01:00 PM
what if I am past the 1/3 sugar break, shouldn't I not be to vigorous?

You can still stir it/push the cap down, just don't go crazy. A nice, gentle stir is all you will need to move the cap, and it will help degas as well.

triarchy
07-03-2012, 02:02 PM
thanks for the answers!


what if I am past the 1/3 sugar break, shouldn't I not be to vigorous?



To clarify, when the fermentation is complete, I should rack to a size appropriate container? i.e., rack a 3 gallon batch of mead from a 6 gallon fermenter to three 1 gallon jugs?

Yea, after the 1/3 point you dont want to splash, just a gentle stiring or swirling.

Exactly, rack to size appropriate containers after fermetation is finished to reduce headspace.

scottv
07-03-2012, 02:10 PM
Exactly, rack to size appropriate containers after fermetation is finished to reduce headspace.

how much sediment should I expect during bulk aging?

triarchy
07-03-2012, 03:27 PM
how much sediment should I expect during bulk aging?

My experience is that it is all over the place in terms of how much. I think it will depend on the ingredients (traditional vs a mel for instance) and the amount of time after fermentation is complete that you let it sit in the primary.

I just made a blackberry/elderberry and I had to rack it to secondary while it had a few gravity points to go yet. When I got back from vacation I had over an inch of sediment in the bottom of a 5 gallon glass carboy. Most of the time, its much less than that but enough for me to always do a 2nd racking after about 3-4 months. After that I dont see any more drop. That is when I usually stabilize as well.

scottv
07-04-2012, 12:52 AM
Is it ok to bulk age in a plastic ale pail?

Chevette Girl
07-04-2012, 09:36 AM
There are two reasons this isn't recommended - generally you have way too much headspace (which can lead to oxidation), and plastic is somewhat permeable to oxygen even if your bucket has a tight seal (most buckets I have don't).

And how much sediment during bulk aging depends on a lot of things, like how often you rack... Some yeasts clump up very tightly, some are fluffy (like bread yeast in JAO's) which increases the volume of lees. Some fruits drop their bits fairly quickly, some bits stay in suspension for a long time. If you let things settle out an extra day or two in primary, it can make for less sediment in secondary/bulk aging. Also, if you degas (stir gently) regularly near the end of fermentation, a lot of times, the big particles will sort of vacuum up the small ones and it all settles out faster.

scottv
07-04-2012, 01:43 PM
So, on the same grounds as oxygen permeability,I shouldnt use 3 gallon better bottles either?

Soyala_Amaya
07-04-2012, 03:32 PM
Better bottles are specifically produced to allow little to no oxygen permeation during bulk aging. They're special plastic, and while I know some brewers are distrustful of them because they are still plastic, I love them. That's a LOT of weight I don't have to move in each brew!

huesmann
07-07-2012, 09:20 AM
I like that they're lighter, but if they're full, or nearly so, there's a lot more sloshing that the glass ones don't have, just because they're not rigid.

mbitton
07-08-2012, 01:06 AM
I have a few more questions!

4) I keep reading about 2-3 gallon fermenting pails. Where can I find those?



I searched everywhere for 2.5 gal pails until I found them at a painters supply store. They sell all sizes of buckets to store left over paint. The lids are air tight. Cost about $5 each.

akueck
07-08-2012, 09:20 AM
I like that they're lighter, but if they're full, or nearly so, there's a lot more sloshing that the glass ones don't have, just because they're not rigid.

I put mine in a milk crate. This way you're not picking up the container directly and the walls don't flex as much.

scottv
07-09-2012, 09:19 AM
I searched everywhere for 2.5 gal pails until I found them at a painters supply store. They sell all sizes of buckets to store left over paint. The lids are air tight. Cost about $5 each.

they are HDPE 1 or 2?

Chevette Girl
07-10-2012, 01:04 PM
Yeah, be careful that your buckets are food grade, I get mine from Bulk Barn (they have those in TO, don't they?) for a buck or two a bucket and they had food in them before so they've gotta be food safe :) The apple butter or honey empties are easiest to clean, takes a bit more elbow grease to get the buttercreme icing off the plastic. Grocery store bakery sections and delis may also have this kind of bucket, they may be happy to have you take it off their hands.

I also get empty 5-gal wine juice pails from my local brew supply store, there's no reason you can't do a 1-gal batch in a 5-gal pail as long as you eventually rack it to the correct sized vessel for secondary.

To add to what Triarchy said in response to Scottv's question #3 about stopping the fermentation when it's at a SG you like... easier said than done, it's so much easier to aim for a target ABV, ferment it dry, stabilize it with sorbate and sulphites and then backsweeten it to the desired sweetness level. If you insist on stopping it somewhere particular, be aware that the chemicals work better the fewer active yeast cells there are, so refrigerating the batch for a few days until it clears (called "cold crashing") will deactivate most of the yeast and make it drop out of suspension, clearing your mead and making it easier for the chemicals to do their thing (once you've racked it off the settled yeast, of course).

scottv
07-10-2012, 02:13 PM
After reading this site, I believe I will just ferment out, stabilize and then backsweeten.

huesmann
07-14-2012, 09:56 AM
I put mine in a milk crate. This way you're not picking up the container directly and the walls don't flex as much.
Oh--that's a great idea!