View Full Version : Early Bottling Question

05-15-2015, 05:48 PM
I made a small batch of mead by putting 3.5lbs of wildflower honey into a little over a gallon of this lotus flower tea I made (soak flowers in water for a hour, bring to boil, simmer for 20 minutes, cool to yeast-safe temp, and strain into fermenter) with Wyeast Sweet Mead yeast. After 2 weeks I racked most of it into a 1 gallon jug (filled the jug...) and then bottled the leftover in 2 beer bottles that I crown capped; there is about 1 cm of sediment in each of these bottles. Fermentation was obviously not complete after 2 weeks and I saw bubbles rising in the mead and foam on top of it for a week or so but now it is 2 weeks after bottling, the bubbles are gone, and there is some kind of sediment in top of the mead and on the glass in the neck. Through the glass it just looks like the sediment on the bottom. My question is, so long as nothing seems off after pouring (or, perhaps, siphoning...) into a glass and closer inspection of the sediment would it be reasonably safe to assume that the sediment at the top is just from the fermentation and not mold or something else unsafe to drink? ABV was around 11% when racking and bottling up the rest.
I just bottled these two because I didn't want to waste anything and would really like to get another preview of the finished product from one of them this weekend. The gravity samples from before and after primary fermentation were both delicious! I've brewed before but this is the first time I've made mead, so I wanted to make sure my assumptions here are reasonable. I've done some searching for info on this and most of the time people say it is normal and from fermentation because of bottling early but then other times I read about how it might be mold...

05-15-2015, 07:46 PM
Your really lucky those bottles haven't exploded yet. 2 Weeks is WAAAAAAAYYYYYY to short of time. I'd wear a motor cycle helmet with a shield to open them. Maybe some welders gloves as well :) It's probably just floaties that have risen to the top and sediment/dead yeast falling out that drops to the bottom.

05-15-2015, 08:18 PM
Yeah, I was a bit worried about an explosion when I saw the bubbles, especially since the bottles used were just regular beer bottles that had previously contained store bought beer, so I put the bottles in the two middle sections of an empty 12 pack, covered the top, and set it inside of a garbage bag while I waited. Your post got me to just go make a similar contraption with a 6 pack holder for the one I put in the fridge a few hours ago too. Any chance the bottles might be carbonated or does that always require extra honey before bottling? Carbonation would be nice... :]
I was wrong before, by the way; the potential ABV was 11% but the mead was only 8% when I did this.

05-16-2015, 12:50 PM
Those bottles are carbonated all right. Opening one at room temp would most likely paint you and the room in mead - hopefully not broken glass. Sticking them in the freezer for 45 minutes (or more) will possibly settle them down enough to open them and stick them back in a fermentation vessel so they can finish.

05-16-2015, 07:19 PM
Well, you were right. I very carefully opened the first bottle and it just erupted out of the bottle. I had just wrapped the bottle in a towel and put it in the sink when I did this so it all got absorbed by the towel or went right down the drain. The tiny bit left in the bottle was so thick with sediment that I didn't bother with it. But, unwilling to take no for an answer (...and figuring that it might not be long before the bottle just exploded), I popped the top off of the other one while I had the bottle in a bowl and the bowl collected most of the mead, which I have in a glass right now. The second bottle was more impressive than the first as it literally made a 3 foot geyser of mead that amazingly all landed in the bowl or sink, nowhere else. Next time I bottle up the last bit of the primary fermenter that won't fit in the secondary fermenter, I will add some Sodium Bisulfate to it!
I appreciate the replies even though I didn't really listen to them, I just wanted to make sure it was safe to drink but I will remember this experience in the future.
As for the mead itself, it's not bad; just a slightly less sweet version of what I had before, but with carbonation. As much as I wanted it to be there, I think it actually would have been a lot better without the carbonation but I'm pretty happy with this small glass I have for myself one way or the other!

05-16-2015, 11:18 PM
You know... it would have been so easy to just cool them down in the fridge and you would have most likely saved the mead. But I get it... impatience. I've been known to be impatient as well. If you stick with mead making you will learn to be patient. The results are worth it. Even BOMM which is drinkable after a month, is so much better after 6 and at a year, worth the wait I think. I've got a bone dry batch that's just getting to be a year old now and the flavor is getting really good.

05-17-2015, 11:13 AM
The first bottle had been in the fridge for ~24 hours before I opened it, I was going to put it in the freezer but was worried about leaving it in there for too long. The second bottle shouldn't have been opened since it was room temp, but I did it anyway since I figured I'd be able to catch most of the mead in the bowl. You're right though, it was impatience that led me to waste ~18oz just to get ~6oz in the glass but these two bottles only existed because the liquid in them wouldn't fit in the secondary fermenter. All of the gallon that I sought to make with this batch is still in secondary so this was kind of a small amount to be impatient with while the rest continues along as per a typical fermentation.
I was thinking about this for a bit more yesterday and decided that I will do the exact same thing with the next batch that I make, but I will use stoppers and airlocks on the bottles that are in excess of the capacity of the secondary fermenter. That way I have some to properly age and some to sample along the way but I shouldn't have to worry about another experience like last evening.

05-17-2015, 08:01 PM
I intentionally make more than what I plan to age with. For instance if I'm going to age 5 gallons, I make six. With the 5 gallon batch you will lose some when you rack. Some stuff you will lose a lot. If you use a puree or some fresh stuff (mango's for instance) you will lose a lot when you rack. If you have the extra you can now top of your batch when you age it. I let my extra clear in the fridge (you could just let it ferment in a different container too) and then add it to top off once you have racked it a few times

05-18-2015, 08:02 AM
I haven't made a batch with fruit yet but if I did I would sanitize some cheese cloth and pour it through to extract every last bit into secondary. Ditto if it's sitting on fruit in secondary. I don't know if things like mango pulp would be filtered out by a grain bag so a single layer of cheese cloth or burlap will do the trick.

Sent from my TARDIS at the restaurant at the end of the universe while eating Phil.

05-18-2015, 01:05 PM
I intentionally make more than what I plan to age with. For instance if I'm going to age 5 gallons, I make six. With the 5 gallon batch you will lose some when you rack.

This is what I did here too, the plan was to do a 1 gallon batch but I wanted the 1 gallon jug I was using for secondary to be full and then I decided that it would also be nice to have a few bottles from the primary fermentation to try, so I increased the size to around 1.4 gallons and it gave me a full jug + a little more than 2 12 oz bottles. I plan to do the exact same thing with my next 2 1 gallon batches (same recipe and then the same recipe again with different yeast) but this time I'll be putting drilled #2 stoppers and airlocks on the extra bottles instead of caps, basically micro-secondary vessels than can be pretty much consumed on demand just to see what it is like at that point in time.