PDA

View Full Version : Question from A Noob- Unexpected Fizz



D'Toaster
08-02-2013, 09:54 PM
Hi Everyone! I'm a newbie I need help from someone more experienced to tell me if what's happened to my mead is normal or not. I've searched the site, but I couldn't seem to find anyone else who talked about this same problem. Maybe it's here and I just can't find it. Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this. :)

The first batch of Mead I made was only 1 gallon. I used only Honey, Ginger, and springwater with sweet yeast and it turned out just fine. There were no fizz issues at all. Building on that success, I made a 3 gallon batch of Honey Mead and I was able to bottle it last week. But tonight, as a test, I opened one of the bottles and it fizzed over like Champagne. That's not right is it? Or, is that supposed to happen sometimes?

Before I bottled this batch, I was pretty sure that it was done fermenting. When it tasted right, I stopped fermentation by putting in the required amount of potassium metabisulphite-1/16 teaspoon per gallon, and potassuim sorbate 1/2 tsp per gallon. After that I let it sit for a week to make sure the air lock had stopped bubbling completely. Maybe I didn't wait long enough?

And I'm also confused because half of the batch fizzed and half didn't. How could that happen?? I put half of it into recycled Crown Royal bottles (that I had sterilized) and those didn't have the fizz issue. Only the Mead I put into bottles with an E-Z cap fizzed up like Champagne.(Those bottles were sterilized too.) I tasted the fizzy batch, and it still tastes delicious.

The Mead Recipe I used was this: (And it is mega delicious!)
(3 Gallon Batch)
12 pounds Local Wildflower Honey
2 Ginger Roots (made into a tea, then the tea was poured into the mixture)
2 oranges
2 sticks cinnamon
2 cloves
10 raisins
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of allspice

I used Sweet Mead Yeast WLP 720.


For now, as a precaution, I've opened all the fizzy bottles and poured them back into a carboy with an airlock. Any ideas about what might have happened? Can I still save this batch or is it ruined now that I opened the bottles? ANY advice is much appreciated. Thanks guys!

danr
08-02-2013, 10:10 PM
I am sure others will chime in soon. Generally, it appears that your mead was not done fermenting. I am not sure how Crown Royal bottles close, but I suspect that the CO2 created by the continuing fermentation was able to escape those bottles, while it was trapped in the E-Z cap bottles. I am sure your mead is not ruined; don't worry.

Do you have a hydrometer? If not you should invest in one. It is possible to estimate your starting specific gravity using the mead calculator on this site, but there is no way of knowing how much of the sugar was fermented without taking a current reading.

Dan

D'Toaster
08-02-2013, 10:40 PM
Thanks for answering Dan. :) Yes, I have a hydrometer. First measurement was 1.125 SG. Second Measurement, right before I put in the Potassium metabisulphite was 1.12. The last measurement I took before I bottled it was 1.11. Does that sound about right? I wanted this batch to be super sweet, like a dessert wine.

danr
08-03-2013, 01:58 AM
That is a lot of honey in a 3 gallon batch. According to the mead calculator, the starting gravity should have been closer to 1.144, with a final ABV around 18.25% if fermented dry. According to the yeast table, WLP 720 can ferment to 15%. If your starting gravity was actually 1.144, the yeast would still be good to a gravity of 1.03. If you measured your starting gravity accurately at 1.125, the yeast would be good to 1.01.

Was your gravity really 1.11 at bottling or 1.011. If it was 1.11, it was just getting started with the fermentation and has a long way to go. From the NewBee Guide, here are the approximate gravity ranges:
Dry: 0.990 1.006
Medium: 1.006 1.015
Sweet: 1.012 1.020
Dessert: 1.020+

Dan

fatbloke
08-03-2013, 03:30 AM
The honey/water ratio is a little on the high side, but as danr has pointed out the numbers for sweet/dessert meads, 1.110 would be a massively high gravity for a finished brew.

To me, the meads (commercially made) locally are cloyingly sweet and they measure out IRO about 1.040

This is one of the problems found when trying to apply the beer making method of all the sugars in up front.

Meads are made wine-like, not beer-like and while making sweet/dessert ones is reasonably straight forward, it's usually suggested that the focus is on ABV first, then the sweetness - as that's the easiest thing to correct.

Now, I notice 2 things. Firstly I had to check out the "sweet mead" yeast, because there's 2 liquid ones available, one seems to work fine the other is a complete PITA. Luckily, it seems that you've used the good one (the Wyeast one, a lot of us have had problems with, stuck ferments, not starting, etc etc). The White Labs one has a tolerance of 15% ABV (from memory - but that's alluding to published into about it).

Secondly, the view that fermentation is killed off by stabilisation. That is wrong. Stabilisation is the technique used for preventing a fermentation from restarting, not for stopping an active ferment. The sulphite stuns any yeast, the sorbate stops yeast cells from reproducing.

I'm guessing that with some of the bottles, the sulphites were driven off enough for the stunned yeast to start fermenation again, whereas the ones that weren't fizzy, this didn't occur. Hell it could have been due to the stratification of yeast cells while it was settling or something like that.

The presence of sorbate might be an issue with the stuff back in the fermenter, as that doesn't degrade or get driven off, but still has potential problems (explain later), while the sulphites can be driven off and/or will degrade over time (simplistic explaination, but will do for the moment).

So it depends on what you want to do with this. I suspect it's very sweet, probably very ginger flavoured, etc. Hence it will be a partially fermented brew, and generally it will likely continue to be capable of fermenting, all the time there's viable yeast cells in there, given the amount of residual sugars available.

The sorbate thing ? Well when people use sorbate and forget or just don't sulphite, the MLF bacteria can munch on the sorbate causing geraniols (so called because they smell like geraniums). MLF is a process that is sometimes done deliberately, to reduce the amount of malic acid and convert it into the softer lactic acid taste. But for a batch to have that happen or be done to it, the sulphite levels have to be below 20 ppm. A standard campden tablet will provide 50 ppm per gallon, hence you'd normally sulphite, then sorbate to stabilise. Or if you're doing that deliberately, you'd make a batch (generally it's a wine thing) and then add the MLF culture after the fermentation has finished and let it do it's thing.

As I mentioned it's a wine thing, so you wouldn't likely need to stabilise, as the grapes would have likely fermented dry, so the MLF would just be done to make the wine less acidic tasting, so once MLF is done, sulphiting is just done as a preservative/anti-oxidant procedure (oh, sorry, MLF = malolactic fermentation).

So for the moment have a think about what it is that you'd like to achieve - some things are possible, some not so........

Chevette Girl
08-03-2013, 10:45 AM
I'm guessing that with some of the bottles, the sulphites were driven off enough for the stunned yeast to start fermenation again, whereas the ones that weren't fizzy, this didn't occur. Hell it could have been due to the stratification of yeast cells while it was settling or something like that.


I wondered if you'd bottled the Crown Royal ones first or last, usually if I have a fizz problem it starts with the last bottle to come out of the carboy, the one with the most yeast... but it's possible your Crown Royal bottles either leak enough that the carbonation has escaped (as suggested by Danr) or they had less yeast in them and are just going a lot slower than the other bottles and will be fizing too in a week or three...

If your hydrometer said 1.12 (or 1.012) when you stabilized and then 1.11 (or 1.011) when you bottled, this is an indication that something's still going on, it's best to make sure that your SG isn't moving AT ALL before you bottle it.

A much easier method to get reliably stabilized sweet meads is to start with less honey (pick an alcohol content within the abilities of your yeast and head to the mead calculator to figure out your suggested honey amount), let it ferment out dry, give it a bit of time to settle out and clear (including cold crash if you can), rack the clear stuff onto the sulphites and sorbate, then add more honey to taste, and check the SG a few times over a few weeks to make sure no more fermentation is happening...

For this batch, I'd recommend you pour all the bottles back into a carboy and hit it with sulphites again. Also, stir it a few times with a sanitized implement to make sure you knock all the existing CO2 out of the must before you re-bottle it. That's what I've done with the few batches I've had that have decided to do this to me, it's a lot safer to do it sooner rather than waiting for corks to blow or bottles to explode.