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View Full Version : OK to bottle out of a carboy with a thick lees?



Cerberus
07-03-2012, 10:53 AM
Cherry melomel: Started primary 9 May, and racked into a secondary 1 June. It looks and smells wonderful. It is now 3 July, and I think I'm ready to bottle. I do not want to bulk age this batch, I don't want to rack a third time, I never aerated, and I do not plan on using chemicals prior to bottling.... So I have a few questions: After racking into the secondary, a pretty thick lees built up on the bottom of the carboy, again. I don't wanna rack into a bottling bucket, because I want to avoid oxidation. Should I risk the oxidation though, to limit the transfer of yeast into my bottles and maybe purge some nitrogen? Also, how does the complete lack of aeration and chemicals affect my mead after bottling? Should I avoid aging too long in the bottle? Will the yeast and nitrogen in the mead negatively affect it too bad? It will be bottled with corks. Thanks!

Chevette Girl
07-03-2012, 11:05 AM
Lack of aeration during your fermentation will have little to no residual effect once it's in the bottle, I think it only matters during fermentation. .

I don't stabilize many of my wines and meads. Not stabilizing can leave a must more prone to infection, although I've never had it happen in the bottle. It can also leave it more prone to oxidation, which I HAVE had in the bottle from time to time, so make sure you use good corks and keep the bottles at a decent temperature and out of direct light. They'll probably be fine for several years, maybe longer if stored properly.

Since you're not stabilizing, I'd really suggest you rack it off the lees before bottling, speaking from experience, it's just too easy to kick up a thick layer of lees with the racking cane even if you're being careful, and you really don't want extra crap in your unstabilized mead.

If you purge with nitrogen when you rack, there should be little to no oxidation, the nitrogen won't stay in the must either, it'll just displace the oxygen from the headspace, it's already going to be at equilibrium with nitrogen in the atmosphere. The amount of oxygen your must picks up while you're racking or bottling is pretty small and as long as you're not excessively splashing it around, I really wouldn't worry too much about it.

hepcat
07-03-2012, 11:16 AM
Cherry melomel: Started primary 9 May, and racked into a secondary 1 June. It looks and smells wonderful. It is now 3 July, and I think I'm ready to bottle. I do not want to bulk age this batch, I don't want to rack a third time, I never aerated, and I do not plan on using chemicals prior to bottling.... So I have a few questions: After racking into the secondary, a pretty thick lees built up on the bottom of the carboy, again. I don't wanna rack into a bottling bucket, because I want to avoid oxidation. Should I risk the oxidation though, to limit the transfer of yeast into my bottles and maybe purge some nitrogen? Also, how does the complete lack of aeration and chemicals affect my mead after bottling? Should I avoid aging too long in the bottle? Will the yeast and nitrogen in the mead negatively affect it too bad? It will be bottled with corks. Thanks!

Have you been monitoring the SG? It might not be done yet and if you aren't going to stabilize, could continue to ferment in the bottle and cause potential bottle bombs or popped corks at the very least.

Cerberus
07-03-2012, 11:43 AM
I do not have an OG, but I will ensure the gravity is stable over three days. Is it common for a mead to continue to ferment past two months? I did use a dry mead yeast, but it appears the fermentation has stopped.

hepcat
07-03-2012, 01:21 PM
"...I will ensure the gravity is stable over three days." Cerberus
That's the ticket. Cheers.

Midnight Sun
07-03-2012, 05:21 PM
Consider posting your recipe and FG before you bottle. If the FG is less than 1.000 and stable for 3 days then you are probably fine.

If there is much residual sugar, then there is a chance that the yeast may restart since you are not stabilizing. Also the yeast may continue to ferment, albeit very slowly. In the case of residual sugars, you should probably hold off bottling until the FG has been stable for weeks rather than days. Alternatively, you could opt to keep the bottles chilled until consumed; that way any remaining yeast are kept hibernated and likely not able to ferment.

Just curious, any reason for the rush to bottle? I normally do not add fining agents to my meads (or wines for that matter) and find that I need to bulk age for a minimum of 6-7 months if I want to minimize sediment in the bottle. YMMV of course.

Midnight Sun
07-03-2012, 05:33 PM
Oops, sorry that I forgot to add this to my earlier post: by posting your recipe, we might be able to fine tune our advice to you. That way we could help evaluate if the mead might be stalled, for instance, rather than finished.

akueck
07-03-2012, 09:44 PM
3 days is not enough time to determine that a mead with residual sugar is not still fermenting. It is not uncommon for mead without nutrient additions/aeration to ferment for many months, even years.

What kind of yeast did you use?

Cerberus
07-04-2012, 08:21 AM
Eek! When I wrote aerate I meant degas. I have not degassed.

Cerberus
07-04-2012, 10:00 AM
12 lbs clover honey, about 50 crushed cherries, spring water, and Wyeast Dry Mead smack pack, for a total of 5 gallons. The cherry mush was removed for the secondary fermentation.

I just took a reading and sampled some. Well below 1.0, and very dry. Tastes like a very dry white wine. Pretty damn good already.

akueck
07-04-2012, 10:39 AM
Ah, so yes being well below SG = 1.000 does help. I would still say that 3 days is not enough time to determine that it is completely done, however. How long has it been in the container it's in now, and what was the SG when you racked it last?

hepcat
07-04-2012, 11:08 AM
Well below 1.000. How much lower could it possibly go.

Chevette Girl
07-04-2012, 12:05 PM
Depends on how far below 1.000 it is, if it's 0.995, it could quite easily still drop .005, which I believe would not be a good thing if it were to happen in bottles.

Guinlilly
07-04-2012, 12:12 PM
We've bottled 'dry' meads that had sat around a year or so bulk aging in the carboy and had them carbonate in the bottle. Seriously. It can and does happen. Meads and wines can ferment out until there is nothing left to chew through. IMHO your pushing the process waaaay too fast and need to actually rack again into another container and let it sit another 3-6 months at least.

Duracell
07-04-2012, 12:36 PM
After the advise below is considered I'll only add that with so little time in primary and secondary you are going to have lees in your bottles. I'd bet my next paycheck on it. With no fining agent you are going to be dropping lees for probably 6 months, if that is acceptable then I'd say you probably should wait another month and then bottle. 2 months is just enough time to finish the ferment, the yeast still need to "clean up" after the party. Don't kick them out too soon or your be drinking their party trash.

akueck
07-04-2012, 01:37 PM
An alcohol-water mixture that is 15:85 has a SG of about 0.970. So there is a lot of room on the bottom. 2 gravity points is enough for carbonation, and 5 is more than enough for grenades. We're not trying to rain on your parade, but we do want you to bottle mead you'll be happy with (and safe to store!) for years to come.

Soyala_Amaya
07-04-2012, 01:57 PM
I do not want to bulk age this batch, I don't want to rack a third time, I never aerated, and I do not plan on using chemicals prior to bottling....

I just have to ask...why? Why are you so determined to box yourself in with the most dangerous thought process of bottling I can see? About the only way you could do more to make it very likely your bottles will go boom is to bottle while still fermenting.

Making mead is a leaisurely stroll, not a race. Take your time, have patience, take every step that you can to make your product the best you can. I mean, why wouldn't you? You just spent all this money and time to get it to the home stretch, why shoot it in the leg when it's just about to be worth it?

My advice: don't freak out over the idea of "chemicals". Potassium Metabasulphite and sulphites are NATURAL PRODUCTS that have been extracted into a nice easy to dose form due to the miracle of the modern age. Heck, most yeasts produce trace elements of sulphites as a byproduct. Unless you have a legitimate allergy, stabilize your mead.

Second, rack it again. Then bulk age it for at least six months. Yes, you could ignore everything that people have been telling you on this board, come back later after opening a bottle and say "See? It tastes just fine, you were all wrong!" But guess what? Drinkable is not fine, fine is not good. Aging and careful fermentation techniques make for a cleaner, better product. They just do.

akueck
07-04-2012, 02:12 PM
Potassium Metabasulphite and sulphites are NATURAL PRODUCTS that have been extracted into a nice easy to dose form due to the miracle of the modern age. Heck, most yeasts produce trace elements of sulphites as a byproduct. Unless you have a legitimate allergy, stabilize your mead.

Not just most, all commercial strains produce significant quantities of sulfite. It's an environmental modification that gives the yeast (which are tolerant of high sulfite concentrations) and edge over "wild" organisms that are killed off.

Cerberus
07-05-2012, 07:12 AM
Ok, ok, you guys won me over. But that's why I joined this board :) I will rack again. What about cold crashing? Would it be wise to cold crash mead prior to bottling? I know it's good for beer, but not sure about wine or mead. I would think an additive to nuetralize the yeast, then a cold crash, would prevent bottle bombs.

Chevette Girl
07-05-2012, 10:16 AM
Actually we often do it the other way, cold crash then stabilize. Cold crashing deactivates the yeast and often clears the mead, then you rack it and hit it with the chemicals and it's almost guaranteed to work at that point. The chemicals work better on a lower yeast population. Every now and then you find yeast that refuses to stop no matter what horrible things you do to it, which is why we still recommend a couple weeks checking the SG to make sure it's behaving itself!

huesmann
07-07-2012, 09:07 AM
Eek! When I wrote aerate I meant degas. I have not degassed.
This gives your answer right there. Do not bottle yet. Rack your mead first. Then degas. If you degas before racking all you're going to do is resuspend the lees and that's just gonna be a huge PITA.