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Aqualab
10-16-2013, 11:44 AM
I want to start making carbonated semi-dry/sweet meads but not interested in going the sugar priming route due to bottle bombs potential. So I am looking at CO2 carbonation in 5-gal corny kegs and then using a beer/bottle gun to fill Champaign bottles and capping appropriately. Anyone doing this? Any issues with doing this? Any idea how long the carbonation will last if doing this? Getting ready to make out my xmas list so want to make sure this is viable option before the wife/Santa buys me the necessary equipment/gadgets to do so. Thanks.

jkane
10-16-2013, 12:32 PM
Carbonation will last as long as the cork is sealed. :)

Have you used a bottle gun? Mead won't foam as bad as beer, so it might work better. Beer is quite a mess for the first few bottles until you get the technique down.

BBBF
10-16-2013, 01:34 PM
I do this. I don't think you can easily bottle something as carbonated as Champaign, but you can do sparkling.

Aqualab
10-16-2013, 01:45 PM
excellent - thanks for the feedback. I have never used a beer gun before - will be my first time carbonating in a corny keg. Planned on transferring the finished mead from the carboy into the keg and then injecting the CO2. Do you gently roll the keg back and forth during CO2 infusion to get good transfer like you would do with beer? Blichmann was the beer gun manufacturer I had in mind.

fatbloke
10-16-2013, 02:11 PM
excellent - thanks for the feedback. I have never used a beer gun before - will be my first time carbonating in a corny keg. Planned on transferring the finished mead from the carboy into the keg and then injecting the CO2. Do you gently roll the keg back and forth during CO2 infusion to get good transfer like you would do with beer? Blichmann was the beer gun manufacturer I had in mind.
I have no idea about most of this, not having tried it yet (I know where to get new kegs for reasonable money).

If you look up bubbles and sparkling wines/champagne, you'll learn that force carbonation creates bubbles like coke or sprite etc, whereas methode champenoise will create a carbonation that will make smaller, finer bubbles......whether it would do that in a mead, like it does in champagne, I don't know. Someone else might know that.....

Either way, keep us posted as I'd also like to try this with a keg etc, once I have a fridge or freezer to chill it enough......

Aqualab
10-16-2013, 02:28 PM
Good point/question fatbloke. I was assuming that the carbonation would be the same whether using CO2 or priming sugars and never thought about bubble size difference between a sparkling wine and a beer. Hopefully somebody can chime in here on that?

I am trying to make something similar to a Maine Mead Works' Ram Island Iced Tea or a Redstone Meadery's traditional, both of which are sparkling/carbonated. I have had Mead Works' Ram Island on tap at a local pub in Portland and believe they dispensed from a keg so would be using CO2?

fatbloke
10-16-2013, 03:07 PM
Good point/question fatbloke. I was assuming that the carbonation would be the same whether using CO2 or priming sugars and never thought about bubble size difference between a sparkling wine and a beer. Hopefully somebody can chime in here on that?

I am trying to make something similar to a Maine Mead Works' Ram Island Iced Tea or a Redstone Meadery's traditional, both of which are sparkling/carbonated. I have had Mead Works' Ram Island on tap at a local pub in Portland and believe they dispensed from a keg so would be using CO2?
Well I'm unfamiliar with those, but the local vineyard here does a good line in sparkling stuff, they use a modern version of method champenoise, but they're up against the french stuff so.....

On tap stuff will be kegged and CO2 dispensed so presumably force carbed.

Whereas bottled could, presumably be either......

mannye
10-16-2013, 03:37 PM
I've done a fair bit of carbonating in corny kegs but never bottled from a carbonated keg or force carbed in a bottle. I do know that the bubbles in a keg are bigger than those in a primed bottle, but not by much. I'm also pretty sure that the longer you keep beer in a cold keg, the smaller the bubbles get. I don't think they would ever get as fine as champagne bubbles, but i'm not sure if that has to do with the volume or the temps or the percentage of alcohol. I've never had a keg stay full long enough to know.

It couldn't hurt to try carbonating mead in a champagne bottle by priming, using Méthode Champenoise and degorging. I got this great explanation of the process on this blog located here:

http://www.peterliem.com/2008/03/dgorgement-la-vole.html

"Disgorging by hand does require a bit of skill. As you slowly turn the bottle upright, the bubble of air trapped inside rises towards the neck. The idea is to remove the crown cap at the moment when the bubble is in the neck but below the sediment. Too early, and you lose a large volume of wine; too late, and the sediment falls back into the bottle, leaving you with cloudy wine."

If you follow the link there's a video of the process. I'm going to be trying this very soon with to make a sparkling BOMM. I plan on waiting until there's a little left in the fermentation and bottling. With appropriate safety measures, of course. I know it's not the best way, but I don't think there's any more steam left in 1388 after it's gone dry.

kudapucat
10-16-2013, 04:05 PM
I did this to carbonate the '4 week cyser'
Unfortunately it was not fizzy enough for me, but it wasn't bad.
The key is: get everything as cold as you can.
And be gentle.
I use corney keg fitting 'caps' for PET bottles. That works a treat, though they're not cheap.

Aqualab
10-16-2013, 04:14 PM
So injecting CO2 into the corny keg is better with the keg/contents cold vs room temp - why is that - is it a saturation thing? Gently rock the keg back and forth while injecting CO2. At what point can you then use the beer gun to transfer the CO2 infused mead out of the keg and into the bottles - immediately after the mead is carbonated or should it sit in the keg for awhile before transferring to bottle? Thanks everybody for responding - great stuff here. Excited to try this option vs priming sugar and potential bombs with dormant yeast.

mannye
10-16-2013, 05:18 PM
So injecting CO2 into the corny keg is better with the keg/contents cold vs room temp - why is that - is it a saturation thing? Gently rock the keg back and forth while injecting CO2. At what point can you then use the beer gun to transfer the CO2 infused mead out of the keg and into the bottles - immediately after the mead is carbonated or should it sit in the keg for awhile before transferring to bottle? Thanks everybody for responding - great stuff here. Excited to try this option vs priming sugar and potential bombs with dormant yeast.

I'm not sure what the science behind it is, but Co2 is absorbed faster at cold temps. Many years ago I was told to shake the heck out of the keg as well. Also to set it at a slight angle to increase the surface area.

I almost never did any of those things. I would just raise the pressure to 10psi and wait a couple /three days. I always kept the beer cold...in the 40's

Oh and the pick up hose had a float attached to it to keep it on top in case any yeast settled out on the bottom!

anir dendroica
10-16-2013, 05:21 PM
At a given pressure, more CO2 will dissolve in cold liquid than warm liquid. This is also true of other gases, and is the reason why oxygen must be reintroduced to beer wort after boiling.

kudapucat
10-16-2013, 05:30 PM
Cold water holds more CO2
Much like warm air holds more water.
As soon as the water heats up, it's density changes. Thus it no longer exerts the same pressure on the CO2 and it comes out of solution.
Or maybe the density of the CO2 decreases, making it harder to hold. Or maybe both. I'm a bit rusty. PV=nRT
Basically it says pressure varies proportionately with temperature (and a few other things)


Think of how a fast the cork comes out of a hot bottle of champagne, and how it foams. (Think car racing podium)
It's

anir dendroica
10-16-2013, 06:05 PM
It's not really a pressure/density/ideal gas law phenomenon. It has to do with the relative attractive/repulsive forces between gas and water molecules changing as molecular kinetic energy (i.e. temperature) changes, and the effect is different for different gases. Among common gases, the temperature effect is strongest for CO2 and weakest (10-fold weaker) for helium.

Probably not really relevant to keg carbonation though...

On a more relevant note, equilibrium carbonation level is a function of pressure and temperature only. The rate at which CO2 is dissolving is a function of distance from equilibrium (amount of CO2 in mead/equilibrium CO2) and a constant called kLa which is dependent on surface area, volume, and fluid mixing rate. A tall, narrow column of liquid with gas at the top will carbonate very slowly. Sloshing to mix the liquid and increase surface area will speed the process. Bubbling pressurized CO2 through the liquid (not usually feasible) will carbonate very quickly.

Because equilibrium carbonation is a function of temperature, beer brewers talk in terms of volumes of dissolved CO2 rather than PSI. A typical beer contains 2.5 volumes of CO2, which at room temperature is about 30 PSI. If you carbonate at 30 PSI at 70 F, you will end up with 2.5 volumes of dissolved CO2. If you carbonate with 30 PSI at 32 F, you will end up with 5-6 volumes of CO2, which will burst the bottles when they are warmed to room temperature.

The following chart may be useful:
http://www.homebrew.com/pdfs/CO2chart.pdf

Medsen Fey
10-16-2013, 07:09 PM
I have a beer gun. I like it for bottling still meads. A counter-pressure filler works MUCH better for carbonated batches.

You can get bubble size comparable to bottle carbonation if you age sur lies.

mannye
10-16-2013, 07:12 PM
I have a beer gun. I like it for bottling still meads. A counter-pressure filler works MUCH better for carbonated batches.

You can get bubble size comparable to bottle carbonation if you age sur lies.

If my addled mind remembers correctly.. isn't there something about dissolved Co2 (how much, how "well") determining the size of the bubbles? I guess bottle priming is a kind of sur lies right? It sits on the mini-trub for 30 days.

danr
10-16-2013, 11:02 PM
I use corney keg fitting 'caps' for PET bottles. That works a treat, though they're not cheap.


I think that THIS (http://www.amazon.com/LiquidBread-The-Carbonater/dp/B0064OKADS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1381978484&sr=8-1&keywords=carbonator+cap) is the product type that kudapucat is referring to. You would still need a CO2 tank with a gas line and ball lock fitting, but would not need a keg, a refrigerator to store a keg, or a beer gun. I am sure that this is not a good solution for aging mead, but it is a pretty straightforward way to force carbonate small batches from a still mead. It should work with any size plastic bottle that has the same cap size as a typical 2 liter soda bottle.

Medsen Fey
10-17-2013, 05:52 AM
I guess bottle priming is a kind of sur lies right? It sits on the mini-trub for 30 days.

Yes.
For Champagnes, where the bubble size is finest, they keep them bottled for years before riddling and removing the yeast sediment. Those yeast cells slowly release mannoproteins and other particles that allow the finer bubbles to form.

jkane
10-21-2013, 01:10 PM
I'll confirm all of the above. ;)

Natural CO2 has a smoother mouth feel to it than force carbonating.

A counter pressure filler, what I use, usually works better than a beer gun for higher pressure beverages. But, it takes a lot more practice to get it to work that much better.

Force carbonating is a combination of time, pressure, surface contact, and temperature. Rolling the keg increases surface contact and speeds the process. Coldness allows more CO2 in solution speeding the process. Time can be your friend in all of these. 5 days under your final pressure at 70 degrees will almost always work. Use the chart referenced by someone else.

Since cold liquid holds the CO2 better, bottling as close to 32 degrees F as you can get makes for much less of a mess and lowers foaming a lot too. Not required, but coldness makes counter pressure filling easier. Especially at champagne pressures.

Aqualab
10-21-2013, 02:30 PM
After researching sparkling meads some more over the weekend I am weighing my options regarding counter pressure bottle filling vs. force carbonating in 5-gal corny kegs and dispensing directly from them. Considering purchasing a bench top Wensel's counter pressure bottle filler since I already have 120 Champaign bottles sitting in the mead room. I guess what I am still unsure about is whether I would have to keep the bottles cold after I fill them since the bottles are all Champaign strength and will hold up under higher pressure. No different then buying Champaign warm at the liquor store and then refrigerating prior to serving? I just got two reconditioned corny kegs and will most likely get two more since that would be my primary carbonating method with bottles as a secondary. I like to make 10-12 gallon batches of mead at a time, so having both carbonation/storage options would be ideal.

kudapucat
10-21-2013, 04:27 PM
Cold is just to stop losing the pressure. Once the cap is on, the cap will hold the pressure (if you haven't overfilled it) and the bottle can be slowly warmed safely.

FWIW, we seal apple juice in champagne bottles, then boil them in a rocket stove to pasteurise. They don't break during this treatment, I think you'll be fine.

jkane
10-22-2013, 09:36 AM
You don't have to store cold. I quit bottling many years ago. Kegs are bulky to take to parties, but so much easier to store and fill. If I just want one bottle to give away, I just fill it fast and cap. Don't even use the counter pressure filler. Just a picnic tap head with a bottling tube stuck in it to fill the bottle from the bottom.

My son has been asking about the filer this past week. It may get used again. He just started kegging this year when I let him use some of my kegs.

smoutela
10-22-2013, 10:27 AM
You don't have to store cold. I quit bottling many years ago. Kegs are bulky to take to parties, but so much easier to store and fill.

That's what growlers are for ;)

I like using some nice clay-like growlers or even palla style growlers for sharing my mead away from home.

There is a pretty awesome growler sold on redevelop.com that you can even personalize with your initials. A bit pricey, but its obviously something that you'll be able to reuse for years to come.

http://gifts.redenvelope.com/gifts/portland-growler-30109097?ref=HomeNoRef&q=growler&viewpos=1&trackingpgroup=productsearch

Aqualab
10-22-2013, 11:45 AM
The reason I was thinking about bottling was to age the mead. I would force carbonate the 10 or 12 gallon batch in two kegs, counter pressure fill 25 or so bottles from one of the kegs and basically store and forget. Dispense directly from the other keg. After several batches, the bottles would all be filled and stored, then I just dispense from both kegs. Always have a mead on hand once the cycle gets started. Got to have a hobby.

jkane
10-28-2013, 11:15 AM
Ya just need 20 kegs. :D

Aqualab
10-28-2013, 11:36 AM
hahaha .............. I presently have just 4 corny kegs, should hold me for awhile! Going to try and sell locally all of the heavy green glass champagne bottles (I bought 10 cases of them new/empty). At some point maybe buy two cases of the clear 1 LTR EZ Cap bottles to use for fill and forget aging. I would rather have clear glass for mead anyway. And then I don't have to deal with the plastic corks and wire cages when bottling. Thankfully, these champagne bottles can also be used for wine or beer because they also take crowns and regular corks.

kudapucat
10-28-2013, 04:18 PM
Ya just need 20 kegs. :D

As it happens, I'm building a keg purging system for work.
Small 'disposable' kegs.
PET 18 litres. Inside an armoured PP case.

I wonder how many samples I can request? I need at least 16 to do the job, and they aught to be refillable and cleanable too. (They're the corny keg's replacement in industry)