View Full Version : American oak addition caused a strange reaction

12-14-2005, 07:55 PM
Last night I added american oak to an orange blossom show mead.
I soaked the oak chips in water for 12 hours per the instructions, and then steamed them for about 20minnutes. Then I added them to the carboy, and things got wierd. Immediately, a 1/2 inch layer of champagne-like head formed on the top of the mead, and shinning a light into the mead revealed tons of tiny bubbles rising from the bottom. Within ten minnutes, the head had increased to a full inch, and my carboy looked lie a big glass of champagne. Airlock activity increased from none to multiple blips per second.


I moved into my new house 2 weeks ago, and racked this before I moved. At that time, there was a steady flow of small bubbles rising, and I believe the batch was undergoing MLF (though I did not test to be sure) The batch remained fairly quiet until the oak addition.

So what caused the sudden erruption? was there a reaction from the Oak? There is a very small, and thin ammount of lees on the bottom. The batch has been racked twice, and is newsprint clear.


12-14-2005, 08:26 PM
Who was the manufacturer of the oak chips. I've spoken with Stavin and others, and they don't recommend steaming. boiling or soaking for extended periods, especially with chips due to the fact that heat and extended leeches off much of the oak character. I use cubes and rinse them under warm water from the tap, and then with bottled water and then into the carboy they go. This is based on recommendations by the manufacturers.

Chips especially, because they are so thin and saturate easily would swell and expand with the heat from the steam after extended soaking and be more porous, so It wouldn't surprise me if that bubbling was due to the swollen wook providing surface area to liberate CO2 that wasn't necessarily visible to the naked eye. Just a guess at this point.

Hope that helps,


12-14-2005, 08:37 PM
A must that needs de-gassing (saturated with CO2) will release CO2 when something is added to the must, even adding plain water.

Adding powdered adjuncts or MetaB, or ... can in the worst case cause erruptions.

MLF can occur if the must contains Malic Acid (eg cider). Do you have Malic Acid containing fruit in your recipe?

12-15-2005, 10:57 AM
Oskaar: Unsue of the manufacture, as I am at work. Will check when I get home. The instructions on the bag said to soak them for 12 hours. I usually use beans, following the same simple process that you sighted, but the LHBS was out of them.

JamesP: No fruit additions. Simply honey water, and yeast. My suspicion of MLF is based on fermentation having subsided for about a month (gravity confirmed this) then suddenly very small bubbles began rising, and the mead began to develop a rather distinct butteryness to it. I know very little about MLF.

Beans from here on out for me!


12-15-2005, 01:41 PM

That's sounding like MF (I don't use the politically correct term MLF that everyone started using after about the 1980's or so.) You can always sulfite and sorbate to cull that MF if you want.



12-16-2005, 12:21 PM
Actually, it has added a very nice round mouthfeel to the mead, that I think will ballance nicely against the sharper American oak. Time will tell. Thanks for the input. FYI the oak chips are from LD Carlson.