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ChaseDeV
07-17-2013, 12:47 AM
Hi all,

I recently started my first batch (two gallons traditional dry).
Initially fermented the whole batch in a 3 gal carboy for 27 days, then refrigerated for 48 hours and racked it into 2, 1 gal carboys to age. I added a vanilla bean to one (metheglin i guess) and left one pure.

They have been aging for about 3 months since racking, both have clarified nicely, and neither have had any bacterial growth or unwanted fermentation signs that I can tell and I must say i am quite pleased, however, over the past three weeks or so, I have noticed the color of both meads has begun to darken significantly, almost darker than the honey i used was.

This may be a complete newbie question but, is darkening normal during aging? For the life of me I cant seem to find much information on this, even searching the forums.

Thanks to any who can shed some light on this for me.

Recipe:
-7.25 lbs Sour Wood Honey (a lesser know Appalachian variety similar to
wildflower but sweeter with a savory-tart finish believed to come from dogwood blossoms)
-wyeast 4632 (comes with its own nutrient pack)
-1 tsp. fermaid K for good measure
-springwater
-1 vanilla bean added to 1 of the 1 gallon carboys

mannye
07-17-2013, 08:46 AM
Hi all,

I recently started my first batch (two gallons traditional dry).
Initially fermented the whole batch in a 3 gal carboy for 27 days, then refrigerated for 48 hours and racked it into 2, 1 gal carboys to age. I added a vanilla bean to one (metheglin i guess) and left one pure.

They have been aging for about 3 months since racking, both have clarified nicely, and neither have had any bacterial growth or unwanted fermentation signs that I can tell and I must say i am quite pleased, however, over the past three weeks or so, I have noticed the color of both meads has begun to darken significantly, almost darker than the honey i used was.

This may be a complete newbie question but, is darkening normal during aging? For the life of me I cant seem to find much information on this, even searching the forums.

Thanks to any who can shed some light on this for me.

Recipe:
-7.25 lbs Sour Wood Honey (a lesser know Appalachian variety similar to
wildflower but sweeter with a savory-tart finish believed to come from dogwood blossoms)
-wyeast 4632 (comes with its own nutrient pack)
-1 tsp. fermaid K for good measure
-springwater
-1 vanilla bean added to 1 of the 1 gallon carboys

I'm new at this too, but couldn't it just be the yeast falling out of suspension and revealing the true color of the clear mead? Yeast is pale beige after all..

Marshmallow Blue
07-17-2013, 10:08 AM
This is a tricky one. Most of my meads have started dark and finished light. It may be oxidation, but going form 3 gal to two 1 gals would suggest little to no head space in the aging containers (which would make it much harder to oxidize).

Are you using an actual airlock or a balloon one.

Riverat
07-17-2013, 11:27 AM
I tend to agree with Mannye, I've noticed that some batches to show off their darker hue when the yeast drops out if the original honey / must was dark to begin with.

ChaseDeV
07-17-2013, 10:30 PM
Mannye, I hope that's all that's going on but I don't think that's it because there is literally no accumulation of lees on the bottom of either carboys. :/

The only thing I can see that is not diffused into the mead is a few vanilla bean seeds that have made their way out of the pod, but I suppose that your theory is not beyond the realm of possibility.

Marshmallow, I really hope you're wrong but that was my initial suspicion also.

I tried my best not to expose the must or mead to the air any more than necessary, but as my equipment is somewhat limited, it was exposed more than I would have liked during racking. I assumed during fermentation the 3 gal carboy would serve since the positive pressure from CO2 build up would push most oxygen out of the airlock before oxidation could occur and I racked as soon as fermentation slowed enough for my purposes. There is roughly 4-8 fluid oz. of head space (about an inch below the bottom of the very short necks of the carboys).

I am using a three piece acrylic airlock with a drilled rubber bung. Yes there is plenty of sanitized water in them both. People really use balloons? Why? Air locks are like $3. Lol

Thank you all for your replies!

ScotRob
07-18-2013, 05:15 AM
Hi- my feeling here would be oxidation too; have you sulphited at any stage during the mead-making (particularly at racking)? do you submerge the end of the tube into the outflow during racking to prevent bubbling/splashing?

i guess you will have to wait and see how they taste...if they taste good then of course there is no reason to worry...nothing intrinsically wrong with a clear, dark mead

Marshmallow Blue
07-18-2013, 08:59 AM
It seems that with completely filled carboys and a proper airlock, oxidation seems really unlikely.

Some newer meadmakers use balloons with pinholes as an airlock. Haven't tested it since like you said; they're dirt cheap. I pay like 69 cents for the S shaped one piece ones.

Chevette Girl
07-18-2013, 09:28 PM
Well, when you're just getting started and don't even know where your local brew shops are yet, a balloon with a pinhole (or a few layers of plastic wrap and an elastic band) will do the trick in a pinch... I still use the plastic wrap trick when I don't have the correct sized bung...

If your mead is oxidized, it might not be a bad thing, sometimes oxidation tastes like sherry... sometimes it isn't so good though, and tastes like wet cardboard (haven't had this happen to me yet). Light can also cause discolouration, if your carboys are exposed to sunlight that might be it. Had that happen once with a pear wine, the colour went a lot darker than typical but the taste was fine.

ChaseDeV
07-19-2013, 12:00 AM
Hi- my feeling here would be oxidation too; have you sulphited at any stage during the mead-making (particularly at racking)? do you submerge the end of the tube into the outflow during racking to prevent bubbling/splashing?

i guess you will have to wait and see how they taste...if they taste good then of course there is no reason to worry...nothing intrinsically wrong with a clear, dark mead
No, I didn't use sulfite at any stage Scotrob. As I said, I am still very new to mead, but isn't sulfite typically used to kill the yeast and end fermentation? If so, I would rather not use any as I allowed the yeast to do most all they could until the must reached beyond the yeast's alcohol tolerance and what yeast remained in my mead after racking have shown absolutely no signs of activity. I'm going for a high ABV dryer mead anyway. My fiancÚ is allergic to sulfur too so that's a definite no no for me anyway.

You do make a good point about keeping the end of the siphon hose submerged during racking though. I'm not sure i did... :\

Hopefully that's not it though seeing as how it took nearly 3 months for it to begin to darken.

I may just have to sneak a taste here soon, though I hate to open the carboys unless I have to.

I'll let you guys know how it goes if I decide to.

ChaseDeV
07-19-2013, 12:33 AM
Well, when you're just getting started and don't even know where your local brew shops are yet, a balloon with a pinhole (or a few layers of plastic wrap and an elastic band) will do the trick in a pinch... I still use the plastic wrap trick when I don't have the correct sized bung...

If your mead is oxidized, it might not be a bad thing, sometimes oxidation tastes like sherry... sometimes it isn't so good though, and tastes like wet cardboard (haven't had this happen to me yet). Light can also cause discolouration, if your carboys are exposed to sunlight that might be it. Had that happen once with a pear wine, the colour went a lot darker than typical but the taste was fine.
Chevette Girl, you brought up another point I am now worried about. I have the mead in the darkest, cool place I have which happens to be a closet in a spare bedroom I use for a study/office/computer room. I keep the door closed and the blinds drawn in the room all most all the time but if I go in the closet (which I have done to see) there is still a small amount of light coming in, enough to see your hand in front of your face but not enough to be able to play tic tac toe with a friend. I don't really have anywhere darker in my house that's well temperature controlled so there's not much I can do about that.

I always assumed that the typical amateur mead-maker didn't have a wine cellar either so it would probably be fine. Should I attempt to make the closet darker with aluminum foil or something?

B. Goldwater
07-19-2013, 11:44 AM
Chevette Girl, you brought up another point I am now worried about. I have the mead in the darkest, cool place I have which happens to be a closet in a spare bedroom I use for a study/office/computer room. I keep the door closed and the blinds drawn in the room all most all the time but if I go in the closet (which I have done to see) there is still a small amount of light coming in, enough to see your hand in front of your face but not enough to be able to play tic tac toe with a friend. I don't really have anywhere darker in my house that's well temperature controlled so there's not much I can do about that.

I always assumed that the typical amateur mead-maker didn't have a wine cellar either so it would probably be fine. Should I attempt to make the closet darker with aluminum foil or something?

The little bit of light you are exposing your mead to when opening your closet wont affect your mead. It's when a mead or wine sits in the sunlight for hours at a time that you will have changes occur.

If you do decide to decorate your mead closet with aluminum foil please post pictures, I would be curious as to how it worked out for you. :p

mannye
07-19-2013, 04:17 PM
I was under the impression that the mead was CLEAR and darkening. If the yeast is still in suspension me thinks there's trouble afoot.

WVMJack
07-20-2013, 04:38 AM
We have all been newbies before and most if not all have had a panic or two about screwing up a batch. DO NOT be afraid to open up your carboys, even if it just to give them a good sniff, one way to tell if something has went wrong. You can use a soda straw like a wine thief just to get enough out to taste, its still young so ignore the beer like flavor from the bubbles and see if there is any off tastes, try the plain one first. For your peace of mind you can add some KM, you can dissolve either 1 camden tablet in a little water or add 1/4 tsp KM to 5 tsp water and then add just 1 tsp of that mix to each carboy. You either have nothing to worry about and you rmead is just doing its thing which you havent experienced before or you got a leak in the system somewhere letting in oxygen, the sulfur will help prevent that.

ps the sulfur does not kill wine yeast, it knocks everything else down so the yeast can take over, it also protects from oxidation and helps preserve color especially in reds.

WVMJ

ChaseDeV
07-21-2013, 12:55 AM
Thank you all so much for your help.

I tasted my mead today and it actually tastes pretty good. :) It's still pretty young and needs more aging I think though. It has a pretty powerful taste of something between beer and wine amid the floral aromas. I'm not sure if it's oxidized and turning to sherry but it tastes good to me and is certainly drinkable at this point which is surprising.

I think I will take WVMJ's and Scotrob's advice and use some sulphite though to keep it from becoming something disgusting. Thank you all again for taking the time to help me out.

Happy meading!

ChaseDeV
07-21-2013, 01:05 AM
The little bit of light you are exposing your mead to when opening your closet wont affect your mead. It's when a mead or wine sits in the sunlight for hours at a time that you will have changes occur.

If you do decide to decorate your mead closet with aluminum foil please post pictures, I would be curious as to how it worked out for you. :p
I had to laugh at this since I imagined you laughing at me. I should have said "when I go in the closet and close the door, there is still a little light coming in." I wasn't concerned about when I open the door for a moment. XD what I was concerned about was whether that minuscule yet constant (during the day) bit of light coming in would be enough to skunk my mead.

Does it need complete and total darkness, which I'm sure is preferable, or should it be ok in very very low light? I could put aluminum over the cracks in the door if necessary.

Unrelated question to all: when and why would I want to rack a second or third time?

Chevette Girl
07-21-2013, 01:28 AM
Does it need complete and total darkness, which I'm sure is preferable, or should it be ok in very very low light? I could put aluminum over the cracks in the door if necessary.

Unrelated question to all: when and why would I want to rack a second or third time?

If you've got direct sunlight hitting the cracks in the door and shining on your carboys, then you might want to put a blanket or tablecloth over the carboys, but if it's just ambient indirect light, I wouldn't worry about it.

You might want to rack after a certain amount of lees has settled out, leaving it sitting on the lees for too long can impart off tastes, especially with a yeast like 71B. I usually rack once fermentation's done, one more time in a month if it's 71B, and if it's not, then I usually rack once before I want to bottle it, I always find it easier to avoid sediment in my bottles if I rack the week before.

Also if you end up needing to use a fining agent or decide to cold crash, you might want to rack off whatever settles out at that point so you don't have to worry about kicking it all back up again. And if you decide to stabilize and backsweeten, you'll probably want to rack it right before so you don't end up stirring a bunch of crap up when you stir in the chemicals or honey.