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View Full Version : First batch ready - racking JAO straight to bottles?



Maeloch
09-27-2013, 05:08 AM
The short of it, is is racking off JAO into another carboy, stabilising and backsweeting, then shortly (several days) racking off into bottles asking for bombs?

The long story is, my first batch of mead is pretty much ready. Yay, go me, etc...it's a slightly less sweet JAO with 3/4lb of pureed ginger thrown in. The fruit's only partially dropped, but it's been clear nearly a month and the SG's has dropped 1.105 >>> 1.000 on the nose. Still a *very slight* airlock activity.

From the small samples I've removed, it tastes okay - pretty good even - to me, but - especially as it's my first batch -I reckon I need to pour some proper sizes glasses and experiment a little with backsweeting. A hardship, but I think the right thing to do.

So between this and racking off all the settled ginger, I won't fill up another carboy without a whacking great headspace. I was thinking to rack it into one, take off whatever for my tasting, then stabilise and backsweeten, and bottle within a couple of days - before it has time to oxidise.

I suppose none of this would matter much and I'd just quaff it all over a few days, but quite keen keep some for interested parties to try. However, good or bad this is, it's much much better than I know some of my friends were expecting and I think it'll be an eye-opener to them what's possible (as it has been to me).

ScotRob
09-27-2013, 08:51 AM
Still a *very slight* airlock activity.

This is most likely just degassing and not a sign of continued fermentation, particularly if the SG has dropped to 1 and the mead is clearing. if you bottled at this stage you would most likely be fine, but I still prefer to rack into another carboy and give it a month or so to really make sure fermentation has stopped (and this is always easier than bottling from a carboy where you have lots of lees and fruit floating around)

However- you want to stabilise and backsweeten. Stabilisation with sorbate and sulphite usually works pretty well, but for safety I would serioulsy consider giving this a month in a demijohn until you try bottling...you can never quite tell what may happen and if you don't stabilise enough then the backsweetening might make the yeast start up again. For JAO I wouldn't worry that much about the headspace...it may or may not affect it, but JAO isn't meant to be the finest mead in the world, just a nice tasty one. You could of course rack into smaller demijohns or use sterilised glass marbles to fill up the airspace (sterilise by heating in a low oven, cool, drop carefully into the demijohn so you have a layer one or two inches thick, then rack the mead into it...)....alternatively, top the demijohn up with water (although you will weaken the mead slightly)

Maeloch
09-27-2013, 09:37 AM
This is most likely just degassing and not a sign of continued fermentation, particularly if the SG has dropped to 1 and the mead is clearing. if you bottled at this stage you would most likely be fine, but I still prefer to rack into another carboy and give it a month or so to really make sure fermentation has stopped (and this is always easier than bottling from a carboy where you have lots of lees and fruit floating around)

However- you want to stabilise and backsweeten. Stabilisation with sorbate and sulphite usually works pretty well, but for safety I would serioulsy consider giving this a month in a demijohn until you try bottling...you can never quite tell what may happen and if you don't stabilise enough then the backsweetening might make the yeast start up again. For JAO I wouldn't worry that much about the headspace...it may or may not affect it, but JAO isn't meant to be the finest mead in the world, just a nice tasty one. You could of course rack into smaller demijohns or use sterilised glass marbles to fill up the airspace (sterilise by heating in a low oven, cool, drop carefully into the demijohn so you have a layer one or two inches thick, then rack the mead into it...)....alternatively, top the demijohn up with water (although you will weaken the mead slightly)

Okay thanks for that Rob. I looked into the marble thing and (to me) it sounds almost more trouble than it's worth, and I think there'll be too much headspace to make topping up with water viable.

Thinking about it, I'll probably alot of it before storage matters, the rest I'll give away.

It's not ideal from a presentation point of view for giving away, but would bottling into 500ml clear PFTE soda bottles at least give some protection from CO2? I can't imagine anyone I gave it out too would hold onto it very long either.

Ah sorry I realise I'm already overthinking - it's only a 1gal batch and it's probably not gonna last a week.

ScotRob
09-27-2013, 10:29 AM
Okay thanks for that Rob. I looked into the marble thing and (to me) it sounds almost more trouble than it's worth, and I think there'll be too much headspace to make topping up with water viable.

Thinking about it, I'll probably alot of it before storage matters, the rest I'll give away.

It's not ideal from a presentation point of view for giving away, but would bottling into 500ml clear PFTE soda bottles at least give some protection from CO2? I can't imagine anyone I gave it out too would hold onto it very long either.

Ah sorry I realise I'm already overthinking - it's only a 1gal batch and it's probably not gonna last a week.

Yes, I think the marble idea is only really worth it if you have a mead that you want to protect and age long-term....if you are going to drink yours quickly then I wouldn't bother. If you really want to bottle it straight after stabilising then you could use plastic bottles (coke or lemonade for example) which would withstand the pressure if fermentation did happen to restart...of course, if fermentation did re-start in the bottle then you would end up with a sparkling mead (which may be lovely in itself).

If you get seriously into mead making then in future you will likely have bigger batches and then you can do what others do, which is to top up your newly racked mead to the top of the demijohn with a previoulsy made mead (or wine even)...it's better than using water as it won't weaken the mead but you might affect the flavour....but as I said it's what mead makers (and wine makers like myself) have always done.

Maeloch
09-27-2013, 10:43 AM
If you get seriously into mead making then in future you will likely have bigger batches and then you can do what others do, which is to top up your newly racked mead to the top of the demijohn with a previoulsy made mead (or wine even)...it's better than using water as it won't weaken the mead but you might affect the flavour....but as I said it's what mead makers (and wine makers like myself) have always done.

I would certainly like to try some more and bigger batches. Yes I think the next lot I'll have to plan out a bit better. I'm happy to drink half and give the rest away for quick consumption here, but as I've realised - there's not too much room for manuver with a 1gal batch - it would be nice to do some 5gal runs and be able to split it up as needed, put some down, etc.

I've got some more JAO, some red and white pyment and banana mead on the go already, will see how things go!

Chevette Girl
09-29-2013, 01:25 PM
It's not ideal from a presentation point of view for giving away, but would bottling into 500ml clear PFTE soda bottles at least give some protection from CO2? I can't imagine anyone I gave it out too would hold onto it very long either.

It's quite sound from a safety perspective because you'd be able to check on them without opening - if they go all hard like an unopened pop bottle, then you know it kept fermenting, refrigerate and then let some pressure off.

Oh, and about marbles and headspace? I really wouldn't worry if it's only for a month, I've never yet topped off a JAO or done anything about the headspace and I've never had one oxidize on me yet. Not to say that extended aging hasn't given a few of them some funky flavours, but I've never had one oxidize noticeably even with considerable headspace.

fatbloke
09-29-2013, 01:45 PM
Erm, 1.105 ? did you make it to 1 imp gallon instead of 1 US gallon ? as that seems rather low.

Most who actually bother to test, get 1.125 to 1.135 sort of area readings....

Or did you short the honey because of the ginger ?

Or even worse, did you use wine yeast instead of bread yeast ?

Have you tasted it yet ?

Only because if it's JAO, but with ginger too, the orange gives a pithy bitterness without the residual sugars to balance it.......

Maeloch
09-29-2013, 06:18 PM
Erm, 1.105 ? did you make it to 1 imp gallon instead of 1 US gallon ? as that seems rather low.

Most who actually bother to test, get 1.125 to 1.135 sort of area readings....

Or did you short the honey because of the ginger ?

Or even worse, did you use wine yeast instead of bread yeast ?

Have you tasted it yet ?

Only because if it's JAO, but with ginger too, the orange gives a pithy bitterness without the residual sugars to balance it.......

Yes, I did the IMP gallon thing without realising :). I used bread yeast, but it ran alongside a batch from the same must - but without ginger - and the ginger seemed to have turbo'd it.

I did more than taste it, I drank most of it. I set up a taste test with 3 250ml lots, one with no added honey (i.e. 1.000), one with a bit added to 1.008, and one to 1.020. Then I did a similar test, but chilled everything. I thought all were okay, but I thought somewhere between the two sweetened ones would be best.

tbh I was really impressed with this, my first attempts at homebrewing were mostly horrible, and this was not only drinkable, but nice. I think the main thing it was missing was a bit of tannin or acid (not sure I'm trying to work out my own taste buds), and also my idea of adding ginger meant there was too much going on. But I'll be trying another batch very shortly! :)