View Full Version : Melomel and Displacement

06-03-2014, 11:02 AM
Hey guys,

I'm planning out making several batches of mead as I'm getting a 5 gallon bucket of fresh honey from a local beekeeper in a couple weeks. One of the batches I have planned is going to be a 5 gallon Raspberry Melomel. I'm planning on using something like 13lbs of Raspberries. Obviously this is going to displace a lot of liquid.

Do you guys have any pointers on how I handle this? I have 2 5 gallon carboys, and 2 6 gallon carboys. Do you think doing the secondary in the 6 gallon carboy will be sufficient?

Thanks in advance

06-03-2014, 11:17 AM
Are you having your primary take place in a bucket? Or carboy?
What I have done in the past is make a 5 gallon of traditional mead base, then add berries on top of that, that way I'm getting fairly accurate gravity readings and end up with near enough 5 gallons of mead

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06-03-2014, 12:02 PM
That's the plan. 5 gallon batch in a bucket, and then do the fruit in secondary. I just want to be sure I have enough headspace. I don't lose much when I rack as I'm pretty efficient about it. I'm guessing using the 6 gallon carboy will be enough then?

06-03-2014, 01:18 PM
5 gallons in bucket for primary, 5 gallons + fruit for secondary in 6 gallon carboy, rack into a 5 gallon carboy with no fruit for bulk aging?

well maybe buy the berries beforehand, check how much water they actually displace and calculate the must exactly. Well maybe actually even a bit more in primary since you will have some lees when racking. Berries could be frozen. It might actually be better to freeze them for quicker extraction of juices (works for other fruit anyway)

06-03-2014, 02:06 PM
13 lbs of berries in a carboy sounds like a PITA whether they're in a bag or not. If you're using a bucket for primary, you could add the fruit in a bag several days before you rack to a carboy.

06-03-2014, 03:11 PM
Go to Home Depot or the like, get a 10 gal Rubbermaid white trash bucket, the white version of the "Brute" product line is food grade


put your whole 5 gal + of must and still have plenty of room for the fruit, use Chevete Girl's idea for a white pillowcase to use as a fruit bag. use it for the primary covered with a towel then rack into your 6 gal secondary

06-03-2014, 07:43 PM
only 13 pounds of raspberries, going to be a little lite on flavor. We use the white Brutes, you can stir in those things until your are falls off and splash your heart out and not make a mess with just a 5 gal batch, WVMJ

06-03-2014, 10:35 PM
True, fruit in a carboy is a lot of hassle. the berries would tend to float I think. they will stay at the top and Co2 will gather between the berries. This means that a full carboy will not in fact be full because of the air pockets. This, coupled with WVMJack's news that 13lbs might not be enough would mean that ending with 5gal of berry melomel could be difficult if not impossible. Then there is also PITA risks. +1 the idea of a larger fermentation bucket

06-04-2014, 04:15 PM
Hmm, looks like my reply was eaten. If this ends up being a repost somehow, I apologize.

Will increase the amount of raspberries to 15lbs. I'd heard that 2lbs per gallon is a pretty decent number. I don't really want to drop $200+ on berries at the moment in order to up it to 3lbs/gallon.

Using the Brute is an interesting idea. I'm not keen on the covering it with a cloth idea though. That just sounds like an infection waiting to happen, and 15lbs of raspberries and all the honey to go with it isn't an investment I'd want to take chances on, you know? Perhaps the lid might work. I doubt it's a tight seal so it would let the gas escape. However, it's not a tight seal, so that's really not much better than using the cloth I guess. Would prevent a cat-astrophe though(I have 2 cats).

I might be able to use it in secondary. If I get the lid for it, and I stir slowly when I punch the cap down it might work. The CO2 is heavier than air, so it'll sit in the container as long as I don't rock the boat too hard. CO2 will escape the mead as well, to help combat this. The alcohol content may help weed out any wild yeasts introduced from the poor seal.

I guess option 3 would be to split the batch into two carboys with 2.5 gallons and 7.5lbs of berries in each one. This has the least chance of contamination and still allows me to do it in secondary.

What do you guys think?

06-04-2014, 04:38 PM
I'd go for it in the bucket primary, the active fermentation will crowd out most spoilage bugs if you are punching down the cap, aerating and de-gassing appropriately to say nothing of that being the maximum CO2 output period. If the towel bothers you (I've done so several times) the lid should keep pets nd such out.
An active fermentation is surprisingly resistant to infection, heck use a "killer yeast like K1V-1116, it will actually kill most competition.

06-04-2014, 06:39 PM
CO2 is heavier than air but not much - it will disperse quite rapidly.

If you want something to "sit" on top of the surface, you'll need to get some Argon.

06-04-2014, 07:18 PM
Fermenting in a open container is thousands of years old, if primitive people can do it why cant you?:) A nice tight cloth like a flour sac kind of cloth works really well with a bungee, then you just take off the cloth and stir the heck out of it, you can just give it a visit and sniff it thru the cloth without taking off an airlock, maybe you can learn a new technique, one easier than doing berries in a carboy. WVMJ

06-04-2014, 07:56 PM
I've made a few melomels in the last year using a bucket with a sanitized towel rubber-banded over it. I do get nervous seeing fruit flies buzzing around, but the rubber band keeps a tight enough seal that they can't reach the good stuff. So far so good (no buckets of vinegar yet, knock on wood).

06-04-2014, 11:55 PM
Go big or go home I guess. It would be kind of interesting doing a semi-open ferment. Don't you get some off flavors from wild yeasts in the process though, or do the wine yeast strains typically overpower it?

06-05-2014, 03:00 AM
Its not semiopen, its covered, keep the bugs out, let the air and co2 exchange until your gravity drops to around1.o1 or whereever you feel safe about it and then rack. Many big ferments are done completely open, they dont make ruber bands big enough to go around some of those big bins. WVMJ

06-05-2014, 11:55 AM
I know someone who ferments their beer completely without anything - totally open for the first 3 or 4 days.

06-05-2014, 02:15 PM
I know someone who ferments their beer completely without anything - totally open for the first 3 or 4 days.

As do I. My friend and I made an open ferment, no-boil berliner weiss recently. Also made an open ferment porter that was fantastically complex. Both were open from start to finish of primary, then racked to secondary for clearing. Open ferment on a beer contributes a lot of flavor due to ale yeast being a lot less competitive. I wasn't sure if that was something I desired in a melomel. However, the more I think about the science of it, the more it looks like it won't be an issue at all. I think I'm going to go with it.

Chevette Girl
06-05-2014, 07:13 PM
I don't usually do fruit in secondary... if I did, I'd split the batch and use two buckets, same as I would if I was doing it in primary.

Given your setup, what I'd probably do is ferment your 5 gallons of traditional (to be turned into raspberry mel) in a 6-gal carboy (should be enough headspace) and then rack that into the bucket with the berries, if you have another empty 6-gal carboy at that point, you could rack the rest of the must that won't fit in the bucket into the clean carboy (if you airlock that and don't touch, there should be enough CO2 coming off to protect it for a couple of weeks even if it's only a few gallons in a huge carboy). Or store it in a 5-gal carboy, gallon jugs, sanitized pop bottles, whatever you've got on hand.

Then once you're done with the berries (I highly recommend using a fruit bag), rack whatever you can get back into that 6 gal carboy, since you started with a 5 gal batch and I don't think you'll get more than a gallon of juice from 13 lb of raspberries, it should all fit in the 6-gal. Then let it settle out a bit, a couple days to a couple weeks, and rack it into the originally-intended 5 gal carboy for aging and do whatever seems appropriate with any leftovers.

THEN get on with more of the rest of the batches you're planning :)

06-06-2014, 05:00 AM
There are so many styles and options in country wines that I never understood why people fool around with making simple grape wines :) One style is to ferment the fruit at the start, that way you get the more winelike character of the fruit fermenting fully, another style is more like making a fruit flavored wine where you want more of the original fruit flavor so adding the fruit later or even as an FPac adds to that. I kind of like to blend the 2 ways, add most of the fruit up front to fully ferment, and advantage is it gives you complete control over SG, the acid levels and volumes at the start, and then at the tail end of the primary or even in the 1st secondary racking adding some extra fruit to boost the nose and give it a bit more flavor unique to that fruit. I think doing it this way gives a more complex melomel and keeps everything balanced the whole time during the fermentation, plus the yeast really really like having fruit in the primary to eat while they are working. WVMJ

06-06-2014, 05:05 PM
I agree WVMJack. I got bored making grape wines and then started doing Mead. Much more variety and more interesting....

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