View Full Version : Self-carbonating mead?

05-08-2012, 12:39 AM
So one of my batches of JAO, which I started on 28 Feb and racked sometime last month, is... strange. Two weeks ago I had bottled a small bit into one of those bottles with the clamp-on airtight lid to take to a friend's house, but somehow we didn't drink it all, leaving probably 4 or 5 ounces. I opened that bottle tonight, and if the cap wasn't attached by the metal clamp parts, it would have shot across the room... White gas (carbon dioxide?) shot out of the bottle and continued to float out for a few seconds. The mead smells a little funny and tastes really odd, and feels like it carbonated a little bit.

Is this because I didn't use (and don't have) any stabilizers, even though I racked off all the yeast? Is it oxidation? I'm quite confused, and would love the opinions of some more experienced mead makers around here...

Chevette Girl
05-08-2012, 01:07 AM
Likely it was still fermenting a little bit and that's how it carbonated. The white vapour you saw was probably condensed water vapour from the sudden pressure change, although I'm too lazy to dig up a textbook to confirm this for sure...

Even though the JAO directions don't SAY to stabilize it before bottling, carbonation is always a risk when you bottle ANYTHING with residual sugar. Out of 40 batches of JAO and JAO-based variations, I have so far had two that kept going after bottling. Which is why I always bottle anything unstabilized and still sweet in those swing-top bottles or screw-top bottles so I can check on them a few days and then every week for a few weeks after bottling to make sure they aren't getting pressurized.

Is the rest of this batch bottled or still in a carboy under airlock?

If it's bottled, I highly recommend you refrigerate any other bottles from this batch and then pop them open to let some of the pressure off... the refrigeration will significantly slow any further fermentation and if you open them cold and then let them warm up, they're less likely to erupt all over while they release their carbon dioxide.

If it's still under airlock, I'd recommend you give it a few more weeks and maybe a few thorough stirrings.

Racking only removes the yeast that has settled out, and even perfectly clear wines where you can't see a flashlight beam through them still have some yeast cells in suspension that could wake up and start munching on the leftover sugars.

Be careful about bottling unstabilized meads and wines, do a forum search for "bottle bomb" and you'll hear some horror stories...

05-08-2012, 01:22 AM
Right on, that's kinda what I figured... the rest is in a large glass jug with a screw-top lid. I usually let the pressure out every couple days, but I'd forgotten to do that the last few weeks. Heh, now I at least know the bottle is actually airtight. Letting the pressure out and 'flattening' it out should get the taste to normal again, yeah?

Definitely gonna be getting some stabilizers in the very near future, I don't want my other batches to carbonate like this... it's absolutely awful.

Chevette Girl
05-08-2012, 02:28 AM
Ooh, yeah, CAREFULLY put your jug in the fridge as soon as you can... then when you take it out, remove the cap and either put an airlock on or a few layers of plastic wrap with a rubber band to hold it in place, then once it's come back up to room temperature, give it a few hours and then gently swirl it a few times a day for a week or two. If you want to drink some in the meantime, put it in your wineglass and then stir it with a spoon until it's flat, should be fine again. The dissolved CO2 can make it a little bit acidic and sharp-tasting, which is sometimes pleasant, and sometimes really not. It also may end up a little drier than you remember it, if it is continuing to ferment, which will also change the taste. If you decide it's no longer sweet enough by the time it's SURE it's done its thing, you may want to back sweeten it, and at that point, stabilizing it would be a really good idea.

If after a couple of weeks of degasing it, you put the lid on and check a few days later and it's still building up pressure, then it must still be fermenting, all you can really do at that point is let it sit under airlock (or Saran wrap) till it's done, then degas it.

Stabilizing chemicals are pretty inexpensive, so if you actually want to bottle your JAO's at 8 weeks, you may well want to invest in some. I usually leave most of my JAO's a few months after racking before I bottle, just to make sure they're actually finished.

Medsen Fey
05-08-2012, 08:10 AM
Did you follow the recipe exactly, including keeping it at the appropriately warm temperature?

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05-08-2012, 05:29 PM
^Yep, followed to the letter.