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View Full Version : Time to bottle, or leave a bit longer?



Honeybadgers
07-20-2012, 09:19 PM
Mead recipe- Joe's ancient orange, only substitution was dried cranberries instead of raisins. (2 cloves, 1 cinnamon, pinch of allspice and nutmeg) with near-exact measurements. only thing I didn't do was top off the carboy after the first few days, so the initial volumes in the recipe were what went in.

Put it up on 6/16, and didn't take a hydrometer reading (wasn't really up to snuff on that yet) but I took the hydrometer container, sanitized, and put 1/2 cup inside it, and got a reading of 14% just now. I know that reading will be off with the juice and other tidbits floating in it, but it's at least not 4-5%.

A few days ago I took a peek and it looks like almost an inch of yeast have sedimented out. Lifting the carboy, I can still see yeast threads in solution as well.

I just had a taste, and it's pretty good, though way too clove-y for my tastes (will certainly dial it back on the clove next time and bump up the cinnamon) and I had a few questions:

Should I bottle it off now or wait a bit longer? the airlock pretty much doesn't bubble now. I watched it for a minute and a half without a release of gas.

It's ever-so-slightly carbonated. tongue-tingling, but not anywhere near sparkling. What could have caused this, or is it normal?

Will aging it in the bottle result in any particular benefits, and if so, how long should I age it? It's sedimenting out quite a bit, the alcohol content is definitely there, the airlock isn't bubbling, and there are definitely a few small yeast strands still hanging out. If things weren't quite right (too much yeast/sugar still around) what would happen if I were to refrigerate the bottles?

skunkboy
07-20-2012, 10:53 PM
Probably best to wait a least another month before trying to bottle it, unless your hydrometer reading was showing less than 1, as it still pretty young.

Even 1 clove in a 1 gallon batch is a lot, depending on your affection for cloves.

Chevette Girl
07-22-2012, 11:38 AM
Should I bottle it off now or wait a bit longer? the airlock pretty much doesn't bubble now. I watched it for a minute and a half without a release of gas.

It's ever-so-slightly carbonated. tongue-tingling, but not anywhere near sparkling. What could have caused this, or is it normal?

I bolded the things that catch me as warning signs of why you're not ready to bottle yet... "pretty much doesn't bubble" is not the same as "doesn't bubble".

This was started mid-June and should be left alone for 8 weeks according to the recipe, and you've left it alone for only 5 weeks by my figuring... patience, young grasshopper!

What you're looking for in order to be able to bottle it safely (do a search on "bottle bomb") is that the specific gravity is no longer changing over the span of a few days or weeks, and your must is degassed.

The "ever so slightly carbonated" is also a warning, but we can't tell for sure whether it's because it's still fermenting or because it's not degassed.

When yeast does its job, it produces carbon dioxide. Water (or must, or mead) can hold a certain amount of CO2 dissolved in solution. When the yeast produces enough, you get bubbling. When the yeast has stopped or slowed down in producing CO2, it takes a while for it to come out of the must, this is why yours is still a bit tingly. It's going to be a while before all the CO2 that's dissolved in your must will have dissipated.

Generally with a JAO, you know it's finished fermenting when the yeast all falls to the bottom and the must becomes clear, and you know it's mostly degassed when the fruit drops to the bottom because there's not enough CO2 coming out of solution and sticking to the fruit to it to buoy it up.

As for bottle-aging versus carboy aging, you get more consistent batch results if you age in the carboy and then bottle it. The flavours in a JAO will be kind of harsh at 8 weeks but they'll gradually meld into something REALLY tasty by 6 months, so do see if you can keep yourself away from it long enough for it to develop some of its potential. And carboy-aging also gives more sediment time to drop out, you don't want that in your bottles, not only does it look gross and turn a lot of people off of homemade wines, but if you're planning to keep it for any length of time, it can be a cause of off-flavours.

Honeybadgers
07-22-2012, 12:55 PM
Thanks, that explains a lot!

I left my "sample" out in the fridge overnight, and after the yeast in it had sedimented out and had time to "degas" it was much, MUCH better! so that's reassuring and seems to follow right along with what you told me.


if the flavors are acceptable for me by the 8 weeks, I'll bottle it off and simply start three batches separated by 8 weeks. The local brewer supply set me up with the 1 gallon carboy and airlock for a whopping 4 bucks, so I think I can run quite a few batches of this stuff, while I get the beer cooking in my 5 gallon.

Chevette Girl
07-22-2012, 10:35 PM
Bwahaahaah, we've created a monster!!! ;D

Seriously, I love my JAO's and the variations on it... they're quick, easy and taste good. Just don't mess with the bread yeast or the honey amount and you can do a lot of things to that recipe and come out with something tasty...