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Old 10-28-2009, 12:48 AM   #1
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Default Aging and storage temperature

I know there's another active thread about ageing, but it's diverted a bit and it didn't specifically address temperatures.

I brewed (assembled?) my first mead back on September 29th generally following hightest's excellent tutorials. It's fermented slower than I expected, but has otherwise been fine. I started tasting the samples when it got to about 1.043 (OG 1.115). Until today, it's basically tasted like cough syrup. I used a regional "mountain wildflower" honey, and it's had a very strong pollen/floral flavor. Not at all what I would describe as good, but it was early.

I noticed today that the airlock activity is slowing, so I pulled a sample. 1.005 and the flavor is completely different. The sugar is finally low enough to make it palatable. It's wonderfully tart and that overwhelming floral flavor has mellowed considerably, but is still quite assertive. At 14.6% ABV, the alcohol warmth is very nice.

I'm really excited about this mead again, so I had to share!

Aaaaanyway, back to ageing and temperature. I've basically got 3 choices in my house/brewery/meadery for long term storage:

1) The fermentation fridge, nominally 60F and very stable.

2) The keezer, nominally 40F and very stable.

3) A closet or cupboard, 60-80F depending on the time of year and probably not at all stable.

I'm guessing the fermentation fridge is going to provide the best environment, but space is very limited so it's not my first choice. So if you had the choice between the keezer or the closet, what would you use and why?

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Old 10-28-2009, 01:04 PM   #2
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I'm not an expert - I only have a few batches under my belt.

The keezer will certainly provide you with some clear mead. Going that cold should drop out most particulates and any leftover yeasties. It would be a good start, however I don't think I'd want to "lager" a mead, although I don't see a reason why not.

As it IS getting to fall/winter, room temperature closet aging is less likely to be 80 most of the day. I see you're in NM and it can stay rather warm out there, but if you can keep in the 60-70 range for a few months to age before it starts getting hot again, this doesn't sound like a horrible idea.

If you have some spare kegs, you can easily decrease the amount of space (at least floor space) the mead takes up by putting it in the taller but less wide keg. If you have space for a keg in the fermentation fridge, that would be my ideal storing condition if the closet gets too warm.

So, to recap my choices by rank:
1) Ferment fridge
2) Closet w/ possible short term stop in the keezer to drop out particulates
3) Keezer

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Old 10-28-2009, 07:20 PM   #3
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IMO refrigeration of any mead is both unnecessary and undesirable. Even carbonated mead only needs refrigeration prior to serving.

My meads are stored in my basement whose temp ranges between 61-72 °F. While this is outside of the vintage wine storage range (~55-57°F) it has served me well for decades...

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Old 10-28-2009, 08:51 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies.

There is plenty of information about wine storage out there. The prevalent thinking is that the 55-57F range that hightest cited is the right compromise between too cold (which would slow or stop the aging process), and too warm (which would accelerate it, but potentially contribute to off-flavors).

Mead chemistry is undoubtedly different though, which is why I ask. Decades of experience has a lot of value

I think I'll keep it on the lees in the fermentation fridge until I need the space and then rack it to a keg and stick it in the closet. My house stays 62 to 68F during the winter. My biggest concern is what to do in the 2-3 months of high temperatures. My evaporative cooler struggles to keep the house below 80 during the hottest parts of summer.

Any idea what impact storage at temperatures over 75-80 do to a mead?

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Old 10-28-2009, 09:03 PM   #5
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I really have little experience with prolonged storage in 80°F+ environments. However, I will note that Maderia was "discovered" due to prolonged storage of wines in ship holds, but those temps reached into the 120°-130°F range.

Quote:
At the end of the 1600s, barrels of Madeira were put in the holds of ships sailing across the equator to act as ballast. Cane sugar brandy was added to the wine to preserve its longevity, while the heat of the hold and the continual motion were responsible for transforming the wine into Madeira, by lending concentration, flavor intensity, enhanced complexity and greater longevity.
Who knows, you might just discover the mead version of Madeira
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Old 10-29-2009, 10:14 AM   #6
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The coldest I get is around 68F during the middle of our "winter", the coolest parts of my apartment can get to the mid 80's at times.
Wines I can have problems with, never noticed a bad change to my meads.
Of course they have not lasted more than two years so long term ageing is something else.

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Old 10-30-2009, 07:10 PM   #7
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I can't imagine mine lasting more than a couple of years either

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