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Sleepy T
07-24-2016, 02:26 PM
I've finished the fermentation for my first 2 batches of a traditional Mead. I'm a little concerned about the headspace left in my secondary fermentation carboys. Any opinions on this?
Also, should I taste it now, or wait awhile for the first sample. Both of these fermented really fast. I used 71B with some added nutrients and energizers. The fermentation was at 75 degrees, so a little on the warm side. Here are my final readings: Orange Blossom - 0.993 Wildflower - 0.996
http://imgur.com/a/K4RWV

Squatchy
07-24-2016, 04:11 PM
You can taste it whenever you would like. Don't worry about the head space.

Stasis
07-24-2016, 04:47 PM
Personally, I find little reason to taste at the very beginning. If it's good I still want to age it for it to become even better. If it's bad I want to wait till it's better...
Do the closures on those carboys allow gasses to escape? If not they might very well pop the bung

Up to a point, Squatchy. I'd be ok tasting them once before they have fully de-gassed and even then only a certain amount of times since there already is quite some headspace. Maybe I'm too strict

Squatchy
07-24-2016, 06:40 PM
Personally, I find little reason to taste at the very beginning. If it's good I still want to age it for it to become even better. If it's bad I want to wait till it's better...
Do the closures on those carboys allow gasses to escape? If not they might very well pop the bung

Up to a point, Squatchy. I'd be ok tasting them once before they have fully de-gassed and even then only a certain amount of times since there already is quite some headspace. Maybe I'm too strict

I suppose it never hurts to be super cautious. I am not in regards to too much head space. I would prefer not to have any. But I have not found it to be a problem, save for one time. I did have a raspberry mel that browned on me just a little and maybe a sauv/cab pyment. I can't tell yet on the pyment.

I read once on here somewhere that Oskaar had a couple inches of a 6 gallon carboy that had dwindled down to that low over time and he turned it in and won a comp with it. I've made over 200 gallons and only had 1, maybe 2 issues. I can't tell with the pyment just yet. I'm sure your correct that it doesn't hurt to be "strict".

I may be way off base but I feel that this is an issue that has been dragged over from the beer and wine sectors and has very little substantiated base in mead for some reason. I will say I add Things up front in my pyments for color retention. And it also says it's for oxy prevention in red wines as well. I don't use those much. Just depends on what I am doing.

I stabilize everything and the sulfites also do a great job to ward off oxy issues according to the lab coats.

It would be a good idea to try to become stricter so that when I go pro I will have already incorporated these "better practices" as the risk/cost is way more in a commercial setting than messing up a 10 gallon batch.

I have been a "taster" since day one. For me, I think it has made me more aware of the progression of the ferment as well as better able to make additions and have a better sense of timing for the adjuncts as well. I'm pretty good at know that something is headed in the right direction now way before we get there. Rarely do I follow someones recipe any more. And like a chief, I add things along the way as I am tasting the work in progress. It has made me feel pretty confident that even if I make something that isn't quite right I can tweek it to get it right.

Not sure I would have developed those things if I had buried everything as soon as I'm thinking many here (like yourself) do. :)

Swordnut
07-25-2016, 11:28 AM
Mead is pretty resilient to oxidation so don't be too concerned with head space. The most important thing is making sure the carboy is hermetically sealed off from the outside air while still allowing gas to escape. If that is in order then oxidation is unlikely to occur any time soon (e.g. in the next couple of years).

As for tasting, I always taste it when it comes out of primary. I want to know if it is "clean" or not. Nothing chemical or sulfury going on, and so on. If it tastes like rough, cheap white wine with some alcohol burn then it's good. All it needs then is aging to turn out great.

Good luck.

Sleepy T
07-25-2016, 12:00 PM
Thanks for the replies! The silicone bungs do allow air out, but not in, so I should be ok there. Any ideas about the dryness of the mead based on the FG numbers I listed in the first post? Will this change over time in secondary?

Squatchy
07-25-2016, 08:16 PM
Thanks for the replies! The silicone bungs do allow air out, but not in, so I should be ok there. Any ideas about the dryness of the mead based on the FG numbers I listed in the first post? Will this change over time in secondary?

I highly doubt it. Even if it did it is so close to bone dry any change would not be discernible any way.

pwizard
07-25-2016, 09:44 PM
I will say I add Things up front in my pyments for color retention.

What, exactly? Does it work on big-fruit melomels, too?

zpeckler
07-25-2016, 11:11 PM
What, exactly? Does it work on big-fruit melomels, too?

Lalvin makes several products that allegedly help with color stability. I haven't used them personally, but here's where you can get some of them. (https://morewinemaking.com/category/yeast-derived-winemaking-additives-siy.html)

Squatchy
07-26-2016, 12:33 AM
I have used ( and still do ) several of those different products.

If you go to the Llalemande site and read the catalog you will find tons of goodies in it

Dwhite
08-07-2016, 05:48 PM
Two problems I've found with too much head space, barometric pressure and thermal expansion.

The more headspace you have the more the air inside the carboy shrinks when the temperature drops.
This will create a vacuum in the carboy and potentially pull air back through the air lock.

Even with the same temperature a drastic change in barometric pressure can do the same thing.

I had to dump five gallons one time from an infection that I can only attribute to getting air back
into the carboy. After aging in a closet for a few months I went to check on it and heard it burp.
The airlock clearly had a vacuum on it. Further inspection showed an intense growth of "stuff"
in the bottom of the carboy.

Lesson learned.

All the Best,
D. White