View Full Version : Airlock dried out

07-10-2012, 03:45 PM
I started a 1 gallon traditional style mead about a year ago, simple recipe I used 3 pounds of clover honey and D47 yeast if memory serves. Fermentation had completely ceased, mead was racked into tertiary container for bulk aging. I didn't keep a log of this mead but I'm sure I crushed a half a campden tablet and added it in the tertiary container.

So my plan was to let this mead sit for half a year or so and I did that but time makes fools of us all, I forgot to keep the water level up in the one piece airlock that I had used. I don't know how long the airlock was dry but I would guess it was at least a month. This mead was being aged in my basement where the temperature is a pretty steady 68 degrees so I don't think there was much air flow into and out of the jug. Though there was quite a bit of air space above the mead, I would say the level was at the base of the shoulder of the gallon jug (if that makes sense).

Once I discovered my mistake I tasted the mead, it didn't taste great but it wasn't offensive in any way. So I bottled the mead and have been aging it for about 4 months now. I haven't tried it yet but it's been nagging at me and I was wondering what you guys think I should expect from this mead.

Is this stuff going to be oxidized and nasty or should I continue to age it and try not to worry ? Has this ever happened to anyone else or am I the only one guilty of dereliction ? Do you guys generally put water in the airlock or is there something else that works better/ lasts longer ?

07-10-2012, 05:50 PM
Traditional meads (no fruit, spices, etc) tend to be fairly resistant to oxidation, so you might not notice too much damage. If you are lucky, you might have achieved a gentle oxidation leading to nutty flavors. If you are unlucky, you might get the dreaded wet cardboard flavor.

Not much you can really do about it now, but if it is bottled up I don't see it getting much worse in the short run. Keeping the bottles chilled will slow any oxidation reactions still taking place.

07-10-2012, 07:09 PM
Has this ever happened to anyone else or am I the only one guilty of dereliction ? Do you guys generally put water in the airlock or is there something else that works better/ lasts longer ?

Dereliction is an important factor in all meadmaking. But it's good to keep your airlocks wet ;-)
I've done this myself, but so recently that I'm in the same boat as you,. so sorry, can't help anymore than to offer moral support ;-)

Some people use alcohol in their airlocks, as any air that gets through is santised. (ie if temps increase 3 degrees, then cool down, fresh air will be sucked past the airlock)
This however will last a shorter period than water will, so wont help our situation.
I often use remnant NaMeta solution in my airlock for the same effect, and reason that the NaMeta changes the boiling point, so it should evaporate more slowly, but I doubt it's measurable ;-)

Good Luck.

07-10-2012, 08:05 PM
So maybe I'll open one of the four bottles soon and decide if I taste a nice nutty flavor or wet cardboard. That should help me decide if the other 3 bottles are worth aging longer or choking down now.

These are the only bottles of mead I have on hand at the moment so I hope they're alright. I've got 3 other batches in carboys at various stages but I need to get into the habit of making a new brew once a month so that my intake doesn't exceed my output.

07-10-2012, 11:01 PM
I joined this forum only a few days ago and it's already giving me the bug. I'm currently formulating a recipe for a braggot and a pyment. But that's not the point of this post, I'm only expressing my enthusiasm over this forum.

I've opened one of the four bottles that were exposed to oxygen through the dry airlock. I decided to open the one bottle that had a small amount of sediment in it, the rest are perfectly clear. It's bouquet is honey, only honey but not overwhelmingly so. The front end has very little flavor to it, very light notes of honey. The back of the tongue detects a very light hint of nutty flavor and perhaps a bit of wet cardboard as well.

Though as I drink it I find that it is becoming much more palatable. Whether this is a result of the mead opening up/ warming or because I'm getting a bit of a buzz I cannot say. It seems to be a very nice but forgettable drink. I will probably drink the other wines over the course of the summer and fall. Unless you folks think it could improve with more time. It's a dry mead and about 14%ABV, I didn't oak it or backsweeten it.

Chevette Girl
07-11-2012, 12:38 AM
I've had airlocks dry out on me too, don't think you're alone in your dereliction... I've found that for stuff in secondary that's no longer producing or releasing gas, a piece of plastic wrap under the little cap of the airlock helps with the evaporation (works on both one piece and two piece airlocks, it's also a great trick if you lose or crack the caps).

I use sulphite solution in my airlocks, the plastic wrap trick also seems to keep it from growing fuzzies once the sulphites have dissipated. It's not airtight, but you wouldn't want to do this to a violently fermenting batch or it might build up enough pressure to pop its stopper. Probably not, but better safe than sorry.

And I've oxidized several wines but never a mead so far, I actually kind of like it when it starts to taste like sherry, I've even done it on purpose. So far, never had the wet cardboard thing.