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View Full Version : Tired of mopping!!!



GntlKnght
08-20-2004, 06:42 PM
We’ve been having so much fun with our new hobby!!! ;D I would like to thank all of you for the help you’ve been whenever we needed it. And, guess what?! We need help again! ::)
We have bottled 6 different variations of mead into 53 bottles. Most of them had a Camden tablet added to them a few weeks before bottling. We sweetened them shortly before bottling too. You guessed it! 6 of the bottles have popped their corks. Sadly, 4 of them were of a divine pear melomel that we were very sad to lose! :'(

So, I have come up with some ideas on how to avoid this in the future. Perhaps some of you can comment on what you do to keep from mopping!

1. add Potassium Metabisulfate (powder, instead of tablet) and Potassium Sorbate a few weeks before sweetening. Then wait a few more weeks before bottling to make sure fermentation does not start back up.

2. chill newly bottled meads to 40 degrees or less for 3 days after bottling

3. use heat shrinkable PVC capsules on bottles to try to keep the corks in

Let me know what you think.

Jmattioli
08-20-2004, 07:12 PM
(snip)
1. add Potassium Metabisulfate (powder, instead of tablet) and Potassium Sorbate a few weeks before sweetening. Then wait a few more weeks before bottling to make sure fermentation does not start back up.

2. chill newly bottled meads to 40 degrees or less for 3 days after bottling

3. use heat shrinkable PVC capsules on bottles to try to keep the corks in

Let me know what you think.

#1 will work fine. It is a good practice to be done when you sweeten up a mead before bottling.
#2 will do nothing for you. The yeast will go dormant temporarily but it will not kill them and prevent what happened to you.
#3 will blow up the bottles instead of the cork.

Unless you have fermented to the alcohol limit of the yeast you simply must stabilize with Potasium Sorbate and metabisulfite or use some other method to kill or get rid of the yeast. That is unless you want to carbonate in the bottle in which case you need to add only enough sugar to carbonate without blowing corks. To stop fermentation some use expensive filtering systems to get rid of the yeast. Some use pastuerization heat as in canning to kill any yeast left and some just make bottle bombs. Now you have first hand experience with bottle bombs. I would recommend you decork and stabilize the other ones you sweetened before they do the same. That's a tough lesson to learn the hard way. I'm sorry you had the experience. I knocked over a bottle once and am familiar with the mess and cleanup.
Better days and more mead is ahead.
Joe

Norskersword
08-23-2004, 11:14 AM
1. add Potassium Metabisulfate (powder, instead of tablet) and Potassium Sorbate a few weeks before sweetening. Then wait a few more weeks before bottling to make sure fermentation does not start back up.

When adding campden tablets they need to be crushed into powder first. That's just the way they are meant to be used. Did you crush your campden tablets?

I'm new myself and my first lesson was to be very patient with bottling. It may be tempting when you are excited to start another batch when you already have mead taking up space in your carboy, but I realize now that if you bottle too early you are not only more likely to have bottle bombs, but you are much more likely to have lees in your bottles (as in my case).

There is a way to test and make sure fermentation is complete before you bottle. Get a hydrometer and measure the gravity of the mead. Wait a week or so and measure it again. If it hasn't changed, fermentation is complete.

ScottS
08-23-2004, 02:47 PM
I'm new myself and my first lesson was to be very patient with bottling. It may be tempting when you are excited to start another batch when you already have mead taking up space in your carboy, but I realize now that if you bottle too early you are not only more likely to have bottle bombs, but you are much more likely to have lees in your bottles (as in my case).
The best way to prevent bottle bombs IMHO is to bulk age 9-12 months. You can always buy more carboys. ;)

Oskaar
08-23-2004, 09:38 PM
Hi Scott,

Bulk aging is a great way to let the yeast kill itself off and complete its life cycle to flocculation and death.

I agree with Joe that it does need to be stabilized before bottling. I've had stuff sitting on small amounts of yeast for the better part of a year that kicked back up when transported to the bottling area from the brewhaus to my garage where the capper and filler are. I dun blowed up a few bottles learning this the hard way.

So I'm mighty careful about stabilizing first. I generally put my kegs and bottles into cold storage for a few days before I charge them with C02 and start bottling. Note: the C02 charge is only enough to move the mead from the corny keg to the bottles, not to force carbonate.

Oskaar

ScottS
08-24-2004, 06:27 AM
I've heard of people having that problem, but I never have. <<knock on wood>> I've gotten in the habit of bulk aging on a table, so that I can rack without stirring up the lees. That way, after 9-12 months and a couple careful rackings, there is no yeast to be stirred up.

Anyway, I don't use any stabilizers and have never had a problem. I have a thing against chemicals, especially sulfites. So it can be done.

Pewter_of_Deodar
09-28-2004, 02:16 PM
The engineer in me needs to ask this question...

If I pick a yeast with the right alcohol tolerance (let's say 14 percent), sweeten sufficiently to achieve that level or more (let's say 18 percent ABV if all honey was converted), allow the mead to ferment to completion (ABV reaches 14 percent), then bulk age before bottling (let's say at least 6 months past final racking), should I have to use a stabilizer at all?

JamesP
09-28-2004, 04:12 PM
As Oskaar said, still stabilise, unless you are going to drink it soon, or unless you are going to store them in your fridge, or you could bottle in PET plastic and keep an eye out for swollen bottles, or ...

A change in temperature can trigger some resident yeast and result in bottle bombs.
Having said this, you may not have a problem in 10 years, but avoiding bottle bombs is worth it for the minimal hassel of stabilising.

I've aged some for over 6 months, then decided to sweeten it some more, and it started fermenting again, so 6 months isn't a guarantee.

Jmattioli
09-28-2004, 05:10 PM
What you can do is after the 6 months rack and move it to a warmer temperature to see if it starts back up. If not, they are dead and you should have no problem with bottle bombs. Some even cold stabilze a week or so before racking to put any remaining yeasts to sleep on the bottom. Then moe to a warmer temperature to see if it restarts.
Joe

plaztikjezuz
10-12-2004, 11:24 PM
I age some of my meads in cornie kegs. makes it easy to bottle them, plus i do like a little sparkle, from the carbonation in certian meads (mainly cyser).

i find its very easy to age it here let it do its little trickle of fermention it does in the 9 to 12 months cool it and bottle it.

the kegs have pressure release valves that blow before burst.

but as for the alcohol tolerance of yeast it can mutate and ferment more, but i know in wine the malto-lactic fermation is more likely to blow your corks. which is why some 90% of vinards use sulfates. plus it helps with oxicadition in aging and shippping

Lagerman64
04-14-2005, 02:06 AM
Exploding bottles are no fun, been there, done that. :'( When I first started making mead, apparently had a stuck fermentation, as a newbie I thought it was done and bottled it. Saved half of it at least, by carefully putting the cases in the freezer, chilling and popping the caps to relieve the pressure. I did catch some shrap when a bottle let go when I was putting a case in the freezer (lucky I didn't lose an eye). I am a lot more careful now and experienced, so that wont be a problem in the future.

Anyone use those 1 gallon kegs? Do they still sell them? Had a CO2 regulator stick open and almost dumped the entire cartridge into the keg. Damn near blew up, the keg ballooned before we could remove the cartridge and relieve pressure via the faucet. I don't use the 1 gallon kegs anymore, but they were great, fit in the fridge and didn't take up much room. :o

paul84043
05-07-2005, 06:12 PM
Sorry, I can't add anything to the Mead discussion, I am trying to learn this stuff myself....but I have experienced bottle bombs...
I make an Arrogant Bastard Vertical Epic ale clone (030303 I think), and I re-used some Arrogant bottles that I had acquired a year or so before....It was a huge beer and it took everything I learned to stabilize it, and even then, during the summer I had one explode and the side of the box they were in gave way and I ultimately lost about 5 20 oz. bottles. Now, to drink one, I chill it in the fridge first where I typically drink the beer straight out of the basement at whatever temperature it's at. It's amazing what "real" beer tastes like without being 1 degree from frozen solid.
Anyway, I understand your frustration, but know that you will learn from this and your subsequent batches will be better!

I do have one question......
Is mead like beer, in that it's nearly impossible to ruin a batch? Just curious....

Thanks.....hang in there.

Paul.

jab
05-07-2005, 10:08 PM
Hey Paul. I have to agree with you on the 'real beer' thing. My only caveat is the understanding that most all American brews aren't real beer and can only be truly enjoyed at near freezing temps to kill the taste. There are a few micros that are an exception.

As for mead being forgiving... It is, though I don't have much beer experience (I have made a few) in my opinion it is more so than beer. Honey itself is a fairly harsh material to live in for most things. Outside of that you have water and yeast.

The single most important thing I can stress is sanitation. If you aren't willing to put for the effort there you may as well not even start. 90% of the time, even if things go bad (stuck fermentation, off flavors, etc.) a mead can be saved. You can repitch yeast and restart a stuck fermentation. Off flavors will quite often age out nicely. You can sweeten it up after the fact. But if it gets infected you are pretty much screwed.

So to sum up... Good beer...good. Bad beer...ok cold. Sanitize everything, twice if you are paranoid. And if something goes wrong smile to yourself, hop on GotMead and let us help you save it.

-Jason

paul84043
05-10-2005, 11:37 PM
"good beer, good, bad beer, good cold!"
I love it.....

I hate fizzy yellow bastardized americanized pisswater. The beers I make are real, they have flavor, they have alcohol, they taste fantastic at 50 to 60 degrees, or at room temp.
Beermaking is one of the most rewarding hobbies that I have ever undertaken and I hope to conttinue that trend of success with mead!!

I have extensive beer experience, and it seems to be the same. You cannot ruin a batch of beer. You can change its character, it's style, it's flavor profile, but no matter what you do, you can't ruin it. (well, okay...I guess you could, but you would have to try REAL hard!!) Lambics are beers that are infected intentionally to create a sour, tart flavor that defines the style...that's as bad as you can possibly do. (did it once....still drank it)

Sanitation is my number one priority. I have used Star San with excellent results for a few years now. My only sanitation question with meade is that I notice that some boil, where ohers simply add the honey to hot water. It seems that a short boil would have a few benefits with honey, and few downsides.?
That's one thing that I find attractive about Mead, less boiling during the hot summer months.... I see myself making quite a few batches of mead this summer and having a winter to remember.....!

Paul

jab
05-10-2005, 11:47 PM
Don't forget there are many (like myself) who do no heating at all! There is the opinion of some that boiling/heating honey drives off delicate aromas and flavors. Even if it didn't I wouldn't find heating/boiling necessary. Honey is a pretty harsh environment. While things can live in there they usually don't cause a problem (up to this point I have never heard of anyone losing a batch because they didn't boil) and if you pitch a good starter you will overcome and wild yeasts that happen to be in the honey.

I won't deny anyone their boiling/heating, but I doubt I ever do it again myself.

JamesP
05-10-2005, 11:47 PM
You have to search hard to find someone who doesn't boil, and regularly has infection problems (or for that matter, any problems at all with infection).

Do a search of Gotmead, and you'll find an article somewhere from McFeeley or Oskaar on no boil methods and infections.

The hardest part is having patience 8)