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penguin5b
03-14-2013, 06:01 PM
I made a honey lemon tea mead and bottled it about 2 months ago into wine bottles with natural cork. Today I heard a loud noise from my "mead cellar" and when i investigated i found that one of the bottles had expelled its cork (and contents) onto the floor.

I tasted what was left in the bottle and found that it had carbonation level somewhere between beer and champagne. This was not what i had intended or expected. I checked the rest of the bottles and found that their corks were all in some stage of being expelled as well.

So my question is: Can I prevent the rest of the bottles from opening? Perhaps by placing champagne style wire cages over the corks? And, how did this happen? Did I bottle too early? Any help would be appreciated.

akueck
03-14-2013, 06:07 PM
Unless you used sparkling wine bottles, DO NOT put wire cages over the corks. This will eliminate the ability of the cork to pop out if the pressure gets too high, and the bottle will explode instead. Much better to have spilled mead than grenades.

Getting the bottles as cold as you can will reduce the pressure in them. Wear protective gear (goggles, heavy gloves, etc) and be very very careful. If you can wrap them all up without moving them at all (throw a heavy blanket over it, etc), that would be the best first move.

Once the bottles are cold, you can carefully open them. You might consider pouring them into a carboy and airlocking it, then waiting for the mead to degas on its own.

Most of all, be careful! If you don't think you can move them safely, don't move them at all. Put some sort of barrier between the bottles and anything else in the room, and they'll all eventually open up on their own. Not worth risking injury for!

Cpt.Frederickson
03-14-2013, 06:11 PM
Yep, looks like you bottled too early. The yeast have continued to work and eaten residual sugars in the mead, creating co2 and increasing the pressure in your bottles.
Be careful, wine bottles are not made to take pressure so could explode. Don't injure yourself trying to save your mead.
I'm not sure what you could do, other than very carefully open the bottles and rack them into a carboy/demijohn, where they can age. Then you can rebottle after a period of time has passed and you are sure that fermentation is complete.
Did you take gravity readings? The hydrometer is your friend, pay attention to him and he can really help prevent these situations ;)

psychopomp23
03-14-2013, 06:41 PM
Just to add to what the others mention. Did you cold crash your mead or put capden to stop it from fermenting again? a like they said to you need to take mesurements to make sure the fermentation has completly stopped

penguin5b
03-14-2013, 07:03 PM
I did take gravity measurements which indicated fermentation had ceased. However, after reviewing my notes I believe I know what caused my problem. I added a small amount of wine conditioner just before bottling which, of course, added sugar for the yeasts, hence - carbonation.

Stupid mistake, won't happen again.

Anyway, I've dumped all the bottles into a bottling bucket and will wait a few days before bottling again. Hopefully the oxidation will not have ruined the batch.

Cpt.Frederickson
03-14-2013, 07:24 PM
How long between fermentation ending and bottling? Ideally, you should wait for a good long while (I rack a number of times before all is totally clear, and bulk age for at least 9 months) before bottling to ensure all the yeast, settle out, die, or otherwise are rendered incapable of doing what they do.
May be a good idea to stabilise with K-Meta and K-sorbate in future if you didn't use it.

Medsen Fey
03-14-2013, 08:47 PM
(I rack a number of times before all is totally clear, and bulk age for at least 9 months) before bottling to ensure all the yeast, settle out, die, or otherwise are rendered incapable of doing what they do.

The renowned Brother Adam described renewed fermentation occurring 2 years after fermentation "completed" and we've heard folks having it beyond 3 years.

If you use a high-ABV yeast, and your batch isn't dry, be very very careful. The problem is worse if the yeast are fermented and aged cool; warming up creates more activity. If fermentation is finished out at warmer temps, the yeast tend to die and stay dead.


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Chevette Girl
03-15-2013, 12:09 AM
Well, the good news is that if it's still full of CO2, it won't be likely to oxidize :)

In the future, you can use the wine conditioner but make sure you stabilize it first.

"Make big, glorious mistakes, it's the best way to learn!" Sensei Don Dickie

Cpt.Frederickson
03-15-2013, 07:28 PM
If you use a high-ABV yeast, and your batch isn't dry, be very very careful. The problem is worse if the yeast are fermented and aged cool; warming up creates more activity. If fermentation is finished out at warmer temps, the yeast tend to die and stay dead.




Interesting stuff, have you ever tried raising the temp toward the end to do this? May have to try some experiments along these lines, as I cellar mine at cool temps but worry about the bottles given as gifts...

akueck
03-17-2013, 09:04 AM
I typically will bring the temp up at the end to make sure things are totally finished. The off-flavors, fusels, etc that you can get when fermenting at higher temps aren't much of a problem if you are just finishing off the last few points. The yeast population isn't growing at that point, so you've passed the "danger zone" for strange by-products.

In beer, raising the temperature at the end is often standard practice. All lagers, for example, go through a short period usually in the mid-60s F after fermentation is "done" and before the cold lagering stage. [they call this a diacetyl rest because it is meant to reduce the amount of diacetyl in the beer.]

Matrix4b
03-19-2013, 05:07 PM
I had this same thing happen on 3 batches that I bottled. I stopped the fermentation in the batch but when I went to backsweeten it I did not treat the new honey. I use unfiltered honey when possible so my carbonation is from the new honey. So a safty tip for those out there: Not only stop the fermentation on the batch but treat your backsweetening honey/water with some Potasium Sorbate or Sulfate or something as well. Or, if you don't care about the florals and losing a lot of the goodness of the honey character then heat pasturize it first. I used 12 oz beer bottles and caps. I may need to chill it all and open it up too. I think that it was mild enough if a fermentation to be slow enough that this doesn't happen that quickly. But, I am thinking about it and may cold crash, open them up, and put some campden or potasium sorbate in it for a couple of days before re-bottling. No bottle bombs yet

Matrix