View Full Version : What a pain in the butt!!!!

07-03-2016, 11:29 PM
I bottled 35 cases of mead in the past 2 days and I'm exhausted. I don't think I will try to tackle all that at one time ever again. Just getting that many cases ready is a major effort. Never again will I use "collected bottles" even if they are all the same.

It's not wort saving 15 bucks that a new case would cost. At least I now have 22 carboys ready for new stuff. I'm pretty much of the mind that 3 gallon carboys aren't even worth the effort any more.

I'm curious of those who have jumped from 10-12 gallon trash cans, what size did you move up to and what did you learn good or bad about the jump to bigger gear?

Is anyone doing 50 gallon batches?

Chevette Girl
07-03-2016, 11:54 PM
Holy crap! I don't think I've ever bottled more than 10 cases in a week, nevermind 35!

I guess it's a time vs money thing on whether it's worth just buying new bottles, I just have limits on how much time I'll put into reusing bottles, since I do tend to have more time than money and all my friends keep giving me their empties. There are certain label glues that just won't come off without heavy duty chemicals, I just send those straight to the recycling depot for my $.10/bottle, but I was going to wash the new bottles anyway, and I'm slowly getting people trained to put the cork back in the empty, that way cleanup is simple and my labels come off after a few minutes of soaking...

The biggest batch I've made so far is 15 gal and the primary was done in three 5 gal pails. I physically do not have room for a larger primary, nor should I be lifting something that big for racking. Maybe next house, I will make a barrel-lift and start using larger fermenters for the big-ass demijohn...

07-04-2016, 09:13 AM
@chevettegirl Ok now you have me intrigued. I've been toying with the idea of using reclaimed food grade barrels as fermenters, but my only reservation has been the inability to handle them once full. Solutions include pumping or manufacturing some sort of lift to facilitate gravity siphoning. You spoke of building a barrel lift though. I'm wondering what sort of design you might have in mind?

07-04-2016, 09:17 AM
The biggest batch I've made so far is 15 gal and the primary was done in three 5 gal pails. I physically do not have room for a larger primary, nor should I be lifting something that big for racking. Maybe next house, I will make a barrel-lift and start using larger fermenters for the big-ass demijohn...

A simple solution may be to use a vacuum pump to pull the liquid rather than rely on gravity which requires that you hoist carboys to a height to enable the liquid to flow. Vacuum pumps also have the benefit of degassing your meads and wine as they move the liquid. Steve , the Vacuumpump Man - on another wine making forum - has designed a pump that will also bottle easily (I have no stake in his business)...

07-04-2016, 09:46 AM
I assumed she was referring to having barrels or demijohns on pallets and using a normal pallet truck/jack.

I don't remove the old labels from bottles unless I'm giving them as a present so I never thought re-using bottles was too much work. It would be a shame to throw away bottles when commercial wineries themselves re-use them. If you're going to be using so many bottles very often maybe invest in a way to clean them more easily? The trick is to clean them as soon as you get them or else the wine becomes dry and sticks to the bottom of the bottle. When you need them you just have to give them a rinse, which is a matter of seconds by hand.

I'm not doing larger batches because 15 gallons is a good weight for 2 people to lift without buying expensive equipment, and because I want some variety in batches. It takes over a year to go through the 72 bottles from a 15 gallon batch even if the batch is very liked, simply because there are also other varieties to drink (we only usually drink 2 bottles per week though). I also found it is quite easy to use the carboy itself for primary when making traditionals, especially since Fermaid O creates such a calm ferment. Towards the end of ferment when activity is low and you have very little krausen just syphon off some mead into a 1 gallon carboy to make up for lees losses, then top off with water and/or honey.

07-04-2016, 10:46 AM
I was waiting in a doctor’s office when I noticed one of the magazines had an article entitled “40 Uses for Common Household Products that You Would Never Think Of” (or something similar to that). It recommended using WD40 for removing glue. I gave it a try and now bottles that were previously discarded as “not worth the effort” are now reclassified as being reusable. After removing the label as best I could with minimal effort, the glue wiped off with a paper towel in a few seconds after a couple of small squirts.

It may not work on all glue, but since most people have a can of original WD40 sitting around, give it a try.

07-04-2016, 11:25 AM
There is a book called "The Homebuilt Winery" by Steve Hughes that has plans for a barrel lift as well as many other really neat wine related projects. One cool thing I want to build is his barrel room - a 2 1/2' X 6' X 8' insulated closet with a small A/C unit and shelves that he uses for secondary fermentation and aging - http://www.homebuiltwinery.com/bonus-projects/building-a-barrel-room.html . I couldn't believe how many carboys he can fit in there with the slanted shelf system - he designed it around 6.5 gal. carboys and it will hold 18 of them plus several 1-2 gal. ones on the top shelf, and 4 - 15 gal barrels on the floor. And, instead of having to lift, he racks from a full to an empty using a vacuum pump. He really has come up with a relatively effortless home wine producing system.

I've never bottled 35 cases at a time before but this holiday weekend I will have done 12 cases - the only thing stopping me is that I ran out of corks; but some of the meads will go into 12 oz. beer bottles. That frees up several buckets and will alow me to make a blueberry hydromel and a blueberry melomel - I picked 35lbs of blueberries this past week.

07-04-2016, 11:36 AM
And here I have been wondering if I over did it when I bought a 6 gal conical.