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Old 11-08-2012, 03:54 AM   #1
msarro
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Default Aging in bottle or aging in carboy? Pros and Cons?

I haven't really found much information on this, so I was hoping I could get some folks insight. I have a mead which is sitting in a carboy as I wait for it to stop dropping lees.

It was racked off primary into a secondary along with medium toast hungarian oak chips which have lived together quite happily for the past 2 months. This evening I racked it into an intermediate vessel, and back into the carboy. Given the actual brew is about 13 weeks old (started 7/30/12), I know it has plenty of aging to do, at least a good 6 months before I can expect clearing on it's own. But being curious, I started learning about fining agents.

However, as I was reading I noticed that there are people out there who use bentonite fairly early on, and bottle. Then they let wines and meads age in the bottle for the desired amount of time.

There are also folks who have the opposite school of thought - bulk age as long as possible, then about a month before bottling add bentonite, wait a few days, and then bottle and allow to age the remainder of the month.

I know this is probably one of those "ask a 10 chefs one question and get 20 answers" sort of thing, but what are the benefits of each approach? Do they impart different flavors?

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Old 11-08-2012, 04:05 AM   #2
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I don't use any bentonite, or other clarity agents in my meads. I move them as needed, to another vessel, before they go to bottle. I prefer at least 10 months (12+ being preferred) in bulk/batch form for anything 14% or under. Anything in the 14-16% range will generally get at least a year, maybe 14 months (depends). 16-18% goes 13-18 months before bottle. Above 18% I plan on at least 18-24 months before it goes to bottle. I'm a patient man when it comes to my meads (my beers too, but those are often done in short time frames). I still have some bottles of what I made in 2010, so I'm good. I'll be bottling a 14% maple mead/wine either this month, or early next (started early December 2011). I have a 21% that I started the same week that I need to start the flavor additions on. I plan on going at least another 6-12 months before that's ready for bottles. I also started a 16% mead in October that I plan to bottle after a year (or so). I'm getting ready to start a batch that should go to 18% within the next few days. I'm also looking at making another maple mead/wine this month, that could go to 18% (not sure which yeast I'll use, yet) or above.

IMO/IME, time is your best ally when it comes to making mead. Proper formulation, treating the yeast right, and moving it ONLY when needed is also important. I have the meads that are done fermenting in the basement (around 56F) just waiting for me to bottle them. Just need to get the bottles ready and do it.

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