View Full Version : Newbie questions

Drunken Viking
11-08-2004, 09:27 PM
Hi, I am new here and am interested in home brewing becuase I am a microbiology major. Anyway, I have 2 questions. I am on a budjet and am trying to think of an easy to way to sterilly re-rack my mead. I know you can use a tube to siphon but to start this you have to suck on it and that obviously means it is no longer sterile. Will this compromise my mead or at this point is the amount of yeast present strong enough to out compete any contaminants from my mouth.
Second question,
I want sparkling wine and read that the best way to do this is wait till fermentation is complete. However, I also read that you should age mead after fermentation is complete, so, can I age my mead while it is simultaneously being carbonated? To carbonate I read the best way is to put a small amount of fully fermented mead and some sugar in a champagne bottle and then cork it off. What amount of sugar should I use to avoid making a bomb. (assuming a 750ml bottle). THANKS IN ADVANCE!

11-09-2004, 03:13 AM
Welcome to the Gotmead forum Drunken Viking!

All microbiology majors must answer the following questions:

DNA derived from two different parent cells produces what type of chromosome?

Lipopolysaccharides are the major component of the outer wall layer of what kind of bacteria?

Who was Casper the Friendly Ghost before he died?

Just kidding! I used to be in the microbiology/medical technology game a LONG time ago.

Your best bet is to buy a racking cane and some tubing so you can go from one carboy to the next.

Here's a link to Barat's mead page, if you're new to meadmaking it has a lot of great information on sanitizing, racking, etc.


If you can spare about 13 bucks, you can get a pump style racking cane that you just pump once to start the flow.

As for the sparkling mead it depends on they type of mead you're making. Sweeter meads are more difficult to carbonate than dryer meads as a rule of thumb. Generally you'll want your mead to be close to bottling readiness. To carbonate it you'll add some additional honey or corn sugar to your batch and then bottle it.

To prevent bottle bombs you'll want to make sure to use sparkling wine bottles which are designed for in bottle carbonation.

Here's an easy way to carbonate, please note that this is just one way and people use different methods.

The mead should be left in the fermentor until it clarifies. Then, rack it off the lees, into a bottling bucket.

Stir in 2 cups or corn sugar syrup, made by boiling 2 cups of corn sugar in 1 cup of water. Stir in completely, add a new package of yeast, (I've used Pasteur champagne yeast in the past with good results). Mix well.

Use beer or champagne bottles that are cappable. Keep the bottles in an area above 60F. for at least two weeks to ensure that the carbonating process will carbonate your mead. Aging for several months will improve the balance and flavor of the mead.



11-09-2004, 03:40 AM
i start my syphon by filling the hose (using a sanitized funnel) with boiled water. then i put my thumb over one end, lower the thumb end to the mouth of the new carboy (which is on the floor), put the other end into the mead that is going to be rack (which is on the table) and then release my thumb off the lower end. does that make any sense? i would suggest against syphoning by mouth.

once you bottle your mead it will continue to age even though its carbonating in the bottle. and as oskaar mentioned the best way to carbonate is to add a measured amount of corn sugar (boiled in some water) to your mead. i use anywhere from 1-2 oz (by weight) of corn sugar per gallon of mead to be carbonates. the more sugar you use the heavier the carbonation. realize that if your mead has finished sweet this means that the yeast have reached their alcohol tolerance and will not referment to produce carbonation, hence sweet meads are complicated to make sparkling.

11-09-2004, 09:36 AM

Would you happen to have a link for the pump style racking cane?


11-09-2004, 09:39 AM
Another quickie question for the veterans...

How do you clean out your racking hoses?

The racking canes are easy since they are glass and you can run scalding water through them or boil them if need be. But the plastic hoses are worse. Mine already smells like the last two meads I racked even though I ran one-step through them, then followed it up with 20 minutes of scalding water.

Do people just use them and throw them away?


11-09-2004, 11:29 AM
as long as you wash them out with hot water after use and sanitize them properly before the next use they will last almost indefinately. some of the hoses i have are many years old.

i wouldnt worry too much about the retained smells as long as they are washed and sanitized well.

11-09-2004, 11:56 AM
Another quickie question for the veterans...

How do you clean out your racking hoses?

This may seem odd (and my kids thought I looked rather silly doing it, but it worked), but after rinsing the tubes out, I stuffed just enough wet (clean!) toilet paper or paper towl to create a small 'plug'. When it is wet, it expands. Run water in one end, and gently suck the water and 'plug' through the hose. To 'scrub' an area, just gently alternate sucking and blowing, to move the 'plug' back and forth. Once 'scrubbed,' I always try to sterilize, just to make sure.

Remember... cleaning tubes: sometimes it sucks, sometimes it blows! :) If nothing else, the 'film' inside the tube and the smell was drastically reduced.


11-09-2004, 12:10 PM

Excellent idea...

11-09-2004, 12:52 PM
Hey Pewter:

I use the Fermtech auto siphon.

Here's a link to Northern Brewer's siphon page, just scroll down a bit and you'll see it.


Caerwyn, that's a good technique! I use my shop-vac on one end of the tube, and some 2 lb test on the other end with a small split BB shot sinker. Turn on the shop vac, suck it through, and tie the other end to a piece of fluffy yarn that has been soaked in some sanitizer (StarSan or BLC) pull that through and viola!

I do the same for my counterflow chiller after I run some hot sanitizer through it.


11-09-2004, 01:39 PM
Whew! You guys are thourough. All I do is let the racking hose soak in bleach water with the bottles prior to use. Then I rinse out by running fresh hot , then cold water through. Might still have odor but no germs.

11-09-2004, 02:21 PM
I don't even do that. Before use, rinse with hot water and then with sanitizer. Let it sit for a couple minutes. After use, rinse with hot water and sanitizer.

Sanitization can be taken to an extreme, obviously. I'm finding that laziness is helping me to explore the minimum requirements. ;D

11-09-2004, 04:31 PM
One man's extreme is another man's routine! ;D



11-10-2004, 06:27 AM
Since I keep my carboys filled with water with a little bleach, I just use the syphon to empty out the carboy, and then wash everything with hot water. Carboys are clean, racking cane and tubing is clean, and all with minimum fuss...


11-10-2004, 11:26 AM
I keep my one gallon carboys full, I have too many of the other 5 and 6.5 gallon carboys to lug around so I just clean them good with some sanitizer and really hot water, drain them cap them and let them sit till next time. It cuts down on the effort when I use them again.

I make ale between mead batches to keep me out of the mead so I need to be sure that my counterflow and my lines are cleaned out of hops and other crud. I also change my tubing about once a year, sometimes longer.


11-23-2004, 08:13 AM

This is my first post to this forum, but thought I'd add my 2 cents worth.

I keep about 2 to 3 gallons of bleach mixed with water stored in 1 gallon jubs around at all times. When I am ready to rack, using a racking cane and hose I siphon the bleach mixture from the 1 gallon jugs into the larger carboys. Sanitizes the hose while transfering and sanitizing the carboys. I then stuff as much of the hose into the carboy (being very careful not to let the entire hose fall in) along with the racking cane and let this sit while I prepare for the racking or bottling. When I am ready to procede with the racking of the wine, I siphon the bleach solution back into the jugs, rinse everything with hot water several times and rack. (Oh, to start my siphon going I just fill the hose/cane with clean water.) This seems to work great as I have not yet had a contamination problem.