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View Full Version : Advice please - just bottled first batch



kravi
12-23-2015, 05:14 PM
So I just bottled my first batch of mead. I used 15lbs of Orange Blossom Honey, 4 gallons of RODI water, 2 tsp yeast nutrient, 1 tsp yeast energizer and 2 packets of lalvin 71b-1122.

I first put it together on 8/8/15. The specific gravity was 1.118

I then moved it to a 6 gallon carboy on 8/12/15. The specific gravity was 1.065

On 8/25/15 I moved it to a 5 gallon carboy. The specific gravity was 1.016

And today I bottled it. The specific gravity was 1.012

The stuff is very raw and bitter both. I tasted it, granted, at 70 Fahrenheit. Is the batch ruined, or is this something that will pass with time? Or did I bork up my batch and I might as well flush it? I'm fairly sure that the rawness will pass with time, but I don't know if the bitterness is because it is still too young, or because I did something wrong (ie too much air exposure or something).

Cheers,

--kravi

Squatchy
12-23-2015, 07:22 PM
You never want to toss something away. Time can do wonders. Ity might be a very long time in your instance. You haven't told us quite enough to know of all the things you may have done wrong. But from reading your post you may have done several things to contribute to your issues. You didn't feed your yeast near enough nutrients for one. How you rehydrated your yeast (or didn't) makes a big difference. Worse yet, if you tossed your yeast dry onto your must. So does aeration, degassing, and especially temp control. You need to stabilize your stuff before you bottle or that can give you problems. And you didn't say how long it has sat at 1012.

The difference between doing the things I mentioned right verses doing it all wrong, or not at all could be years of ageing

Stasis
12-23-2015, 09:26 PM
And possible bottle bombs if the mead wasn't stabilized...

kravi
12-24-2015, 01:36 AM
You never want to toss something away. Time can do wonders. Ity might be a very long time in your instance. You haven't told us quite enough to know of all the things you may have done wrong. But from reading your post you may have done several things to contribute to your issues. You didn't feed your yeast near enough nutrients for one. How you rehydrated your yeast (or didn't) makes a big difference. Worse yet, if you tossed your yeast dry onto your must. So does aeration, degassing, and especially temp control. You need to stabilize your stuff before you bottle or that can give you problems. And you didn't say how long it has sat at 1012.

The difference between doing the things I mentioned right verses doing it all wrong, or not at all could be years of ageing

So I went through my notes. the 2 tsp of yeast nutrient and the 1 tsp of energizer was according to the recipe from "the compleat meadmaker", Ken Schramm's book. As for yeast, I added it to 100 degree water and let it sit for 15 minutes before I stirred it. I then added it to the must when it was below 80. The fermentation time and the activity matched the descriptions of how long things should take according to Schramm (and that recipe).

I degassed regularly during the first 3 days by stirring with a spoon. The must was heavily oxygenated at teh beginning, as well.

During the initial fermentation, temps ranged from 71 to 74.5 degrees through the course of the day and night. Come October and later, make it between 69 and 74 for the temp ranges.

Only thing I havne't done is stabalization. But since I bottled today, too late. I'm hoping 4 months in a carboy is enough that I won't have bottle bombs...

--kravi

Squatchy
12-24-2015, 10:16 AM
Well, it should just keep getting better as it ages.

kravi
12-24-2015, 03:09 PM
Well, it should just keep getting better as it ages.

I hope so. Not too worried about how raw it tastest, it is young. I'm just worried about that weird bitterness and hope that goes away.

--kravi

Stasis
12-24-2015, 08:22 PM
Some fermentations could last months if not properly treated. There are examples of fermentations taking 8 months... maybe even more. Each reading you posted shows the gravity decreasing so unless you took multiple readings over a long period and it was stable, I'm not convinced fermentation has completely stopped. It may also be the case that if the bottles are placed in a warmer environment fermentation can kick in again. Even the degassing which happens during bottling could case some new fermentation. When we fermented wine with wild yeast many carboys would start fermenting a little at the start of the next summer 9 months later. Popped corks also occured rarely without stabilising years after fermentation had stopped (usually after shaking a bottle).
I just want you to be fully warned that 4 months really isn't that much

kravi
12-24-2015, 08:38 PM
Thanks for the knowledge and the advice! I've bottled already, however. I've got the bottles in a cardboard boxes on their sides. If they suddenly become an organ gun one day and shoot me while I'm typing up an RFP, it will be "mea culpa". In the future, what is the preferred method for stabilizing mead when you've decided it is done? It isn't mentioned in my book, at least not as encouraged.

--kravi

pwizard
12-24-2015, 10:25 PM
Use one campden tablet and 2/3 tsp potassium sorbate per gallon. Too little sorbate is better than too much. Also, don't use sorbate without sulfites or you can get a funky geranium taste.

Stasis
12-24-2015, 10:41 PM
Well actually you can open the bottles and recork them but I guess you can chance it and do this if something ever happens. I would also store them upright unless they will be aged for a very long time. I know it's not recommended, but we saved quite a few bottles of wine after they popped their corks like this

kravi
12-27-2015, 05:30 PM
Well actually you can open the bottles and recork them but I guess you can chance it and do this if something ever happens. I would also store them upright unless they will be aged for a very long time. I know it's not recommended, but we saved quite a few bottles of wine after they popped their corks like this

Just the idea of leaving it upright makes me shiver, but your logic is unassailable. I figure I can leave them on their sides (they are being stored in my home office where I work). After the first bottle blows I can save the others (by recorcing). If it never happens, yay!

--kravi

kravi
12-29-2015, 10:02 AM
Mmmmmmm. So I had half a bottle at the end which I corked and shoved into my refrigerator on a whim. I knew I couldn't age it properly with that much air, so thought I'd at least taste the mead cold. It sat in my fridge for 2 days, and I tasted it last night.

It was good! The bitterness was all gone, and while it could obviously use some more aging, it was really really good! It's drinkable now, though I'm going to wait a few more months before I pop open the next bottle. Now I just need to make sure that fermentation is done. I'm pretty sure it is though. The mead is still sweat (well, semi-sweet). There are plenty of sugars left for the yeast to eat, the yeast has simply poisoned itself out. Schramm's recipe might be old, but it was a good one!

Yay!

--kravi

Swordnut
12-29-2015, 12:26 PM
Mmmmmmm. So I had half a bottle at the end which I corked and shoved into my refrigerator on a whim. I knew I couldn't age it properly with that much air, so thought I'd at least taste the mead cold. It sat in my fridge for 2 days, and I tasted it last night.

It was good! The bitterness was all gone, and while it could obviously use some more aging, it was really really good! It's drinkable now, though I'm going to wait a few more months before I pop open the next bottle. Now I just need to make sure that fermentation is done. I'm pretty sure it is though. The mead is still sweat (well, semi-sweet). There are plenty of sugars left for the yeast to eat, the yeast has simply poisoned itself out. Schramm's recipe might be old, but it was a good one!

Yay!

--kravi

Take that half bottle and warm it up to room temperature. Leave it for a week or two and take a gravity reading. Since you can't age it you might as well use it as a control batch to see if the yeast is still eager to ferment. It's still not a 100% safe assumption since different bottles might react differently but you'll be more certain about things than not. For dry traditionals I also don't stabilize since with so little left over sweetness there's nothing to cover up the taste of sulphites (I taste everything) but I wait for months and months, taking frequent readings and only if it remains the same for those months (think 6 months+) will I bottle it. That's 99%+ certainty, provided the storage is under similar circumstances (e.g. not warmer) as the fermentation.

That said, if fermentation in your control bottle is indeed stable at the moment, store your bottles with a temperature at least a degree cooler than what you fermented at.

kravi
12-29-2015, 01:08 PM
Take that half bottle and warm it up to room temperature. Leave it for a week or two and take a gravity reading. Since you can't age it you might as well use it as a control batch to see if the yeast is still eager to ferment. It's still not a 100% safe assumption since different bottles might react differently but you'll be more certain about things than not. For dry traditionals I also don't stabilize since with so little left over sweetness there's nothing to cover up the taste of sulphites (I taste everything) but I wait for months and months, taking frequent readings and only if it remains the same for those months (think 6 months+) will I bottle it. That's 99%+ certainty, provided the storage is under similar circumstances (e.g. not warmer) as the fermentation.

That said, if fermentation in your control bottle is indeed stable at the moment, store your bottles with a temperature at least a degree cooler than what you fermented at.

Too late. Already killed it. Yummmmmmm.

--kravi

brentG
12-31-2015, 04:12 PM
I'd open a bottle and see if it's starting to carbonate. You might want to wear protective gear -- bottle bombs can be very dangerous.

kravi
01-02-2016, 05:48 PM
I'd open a bottle and see if it's starting to carbonate. You might want to wear protective gear -- bottle bombs can be very dangerous.

Opened a bottle. Completely flat. Not a hint of pressure. It is now in the refrigerator cooling (I obviously didn't want to chill it before checking for pressure). I'll "make sure it didn't oxygenate during bottling" tomorrow ;)

--kravi

fuelish
01-04-2016, 03:23 AM
Have yet to make a mead that did not improve with time ....my first foray back into meadmaking after 14 years or so away from the fun of home fermentation (mostly beer back then)tasted terrible .... bulk aged for several months and bottle aged for many months ..... slowly improved over time until, now that I have a SINGLE bottle left, it tastes pretty danged good - quite complex, after tasting like crap (of course, you know, I had to sample a 12 ozer every so often, just to check flavor ;) )with a lot of browsing here and elsewhere (big shoutout to Vicky and Oskaar and this site, Ken Schramm, and also the folks over at HBT (more than a few of who also post here), my meads are now pretty damn consistently good even early, and just keep getting better.....time is on your side, if you give the mead the time it needs.....barring any strange infections, I guess, but....I'll leave the freaking out about that to the beer geeks...heh