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Old 08-14-2011, 08:50 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Toy4Rick View Post
I hate reading this post. Cuz today I got my second bottle bomb.

2.25 Gal batch Strawberry Mead OG 1.114, fermented for 2 weeks SG 1.000, racked to secondary onto more strawberries for 3 weeks SG 1.000, racked again onto Campden for 48 hours, SG again 1.000. Back sweetened to 1.014 then bottled.

3 weeks later I got my second bottle bomb. It's not ready to drink, way too young.

I spoke to the LHBS today and they say that the Campdens definitely killed the Mead yeast and that I had poor sanitation and other yeast got in there and started up again with the honey from the back sweeten. I cry party foul

What are my options? It needs several more months before it will be ready to drink.

Toy4Rick
Well, while it's normal to let the ferment finish (stable gravity across 3 tests/checks over a period of about 7 to 10 days), then you'd rack it off the gross lees to start the clearing process.

At that point, it's quite normal to add sulphite and sorbate on the first racking, then add sulphite every other racking, until it's clear - this'd be using the natural clearing method.

The cold crash method is used to cause the yeast to go dormant, if you're trying to stop the ferment at a specific gravity - though it's not recommended because of the above comments i.e. it's damned hard thing to do, but also why the "usual" method is to ferment dry, rack and stabilise (sulphite/sorbate) and then clear it (naturally or with finings) and then back sweeten to whatever level you choose. The only time I do differently, is when I back sweeten with honey - but only because adding honey for sweetness can cause a secondary haze (I believe it's a protein haze), which either needs time or more finings in a previously cleared batch, so it's easier to rack off the gross lees, then stabilise, then back sweeten, then clear it, before setting up to age it.

I usually use the "bulk" ageing method, but with the demi-john/carboy fitted with a "non-return valve", so any gas/pressure release is let out, but nothing nasty can get in.

I hope that makes sense.......

regards

fatbloke
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Old 08-14-2011, 02:15 PM   #22
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So it sounds like my first mistake was listening to my LHBS but that's another story.

At this point, 2 bottle bombs already and I suspect 2 more last night (afraid to look), what are my options?

Should I pop them and decant into fermentation and start the process over again? I am concerned about just cold crashing them due to the BB situation and I really don't have room for 20 more bottles to chill for 4-6 months or longer until they are ready to drink.

Thanks in advance
Toy4Rick

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Old 08-14-2011, 02:21 PM   #23
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I would probably open them up and syphon them back into a demijohn under an airlock and re bottle once you are sure they have finished.

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Old 08-14-2011, 02:31 PM   #24
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I spoke to the LHBS today and they say that the Campdens definitely killed the Mead yeast and that I had poor sanitation and other yeast got in there and started up again with the honey from the back sweeten. I cry party foul
Yep, they are totally wrong.

Winemakers use campden all the time, up to 50 ppm to preserve the wine and as an antioxidant. We wouldn't use it if it killed the yeast! In fact, wine yeast strains are amazinly tolerant of sulfites- that's why we use it!

The key to sweetening without fermentation restarting is in a different substance- sorbate.

Sorbate doesn't kill yeast either- but it inhibits reproduction of the yeast. It works best in the presence of campden (sulfite) so they are added together.

Since the sorbate doesn't kill the yeast, but just keeps it from reproducing, it only works once the mead/cider/wine is clear and has very little yeast in suspension, usually after several months or longer, and several rackings. Then it's racked off of the lees. Campden/sorbate are added. I'd then wait a few days, and then sweeten to taste. I'd airlock and wait a few more days (as this does have a failure rate, as yeast are hardy little buggers!) and if no fermentation restarts, THEN it can be bottled.

A couple of caveats: one, there is a failure rate so make sure fermentation is over before bottling! Two, sorbate does have a taste to it so use as little as possible, but enough to be effective (usually 1/2 teaspoon per gallon). Three, use it with campden! First, it's more effective with the campden, but also the sulfite can prevent MLF. MLF happening is a disaster with sorbate- it makes the wine/mead taste of geraniums. This is more common with malic-heavy fruits like apples. Either do the MLF first, or sulfite enough to prevent it, if you've got a cyser or apple wine you want to sorbate.

I get irritated when I hear that campden kills wine yeast! It's not true, in the amounts commonly used. In order to kill the yeast effectivly with sulfites, you'd have to render the mead/wine undrinkable with a huge dose of sulfite.
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Old 08-14-2011, 03:50 PM   #25
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Okay,
I just want to summarize here just to make sure i dont screw something up.

Rack off of lee's, Wait 1 weekish or so and check gravity 3 times to make sure it hasnt moved.

If no movement, Bottle away!!!

unless you need to backsweeten. "fingers crossed" i dont have to do that!


So i guess, I should ask this question then.....
Is it easier trying to get the yeast to go to sleep at the right gravity your aiming for?
Or just let it ferment till it decides its done and then backsweeten?
I guess, What is most commonly done?

The thing i liked about making beer, was no chemicals...well unless you really want to count the sanitizer.
I kinda would like to stay with the same idea...if possible.

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Old 08-14-2011, 04:00 PM   #26
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Okay,
I just want to summarize here just to make sure i dont screw something up.

Rack off of lee's, Wait 1 weekish or so and check gravity 3 times to make sure it hasnt moved.

If no movement, Bottle away!!!

unless you need to backsweeten. "fingers crossed" i dont have to do that!


So i guess, I should ask this question then.....
Is it easier trying to get the yeast to go to sleep at the right gravity your aiming for?
Or just let it ferment till it decides its done and then backsweeten?
I guess, What is most commonly done?

The thing i liked about making beer, was no chemicals...well unless you really want to count the sanitizer.
I kinda would like to stay with the same idea...if possible.
If you're not sweetening, you can bottle whenever the fermentation is finished. I like to wait until it's completely clear, as then there will be no sediment or floating crud in the bottles.

It's very, very difficult to get the yeast to stop at a specific SG. It's much easier to pick the ABV you want, and add the sugar/honey to get you there and let it ferment out. Then, stabilize and sweeten if desired.

Another way to get a sweet finished mead or wine is to overwhelm the yeast with sugar, until it can't consume any more. The problem with that is some wine yeast strains will easily go up to (and over!) 18% ABV so you may have sweet rocket fuel for a few years until it ages out.
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Old 08-14-2011, 07:07 PM   #27
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So most people suggest to open them, siphon them back into a fermentor and finish the process w/o aerating the Mead.

Well I just gave a whole new meaning to siphon as each bottle was a geyser the moment the cap was cracked. In fact 2 of them came off in my hand w/o any help as they were ready to blow.

I now have 1.5 gals of mead in 2 - 1 gal wine jugs, started with 2.25 gals

I'll let them sit for a couple of days then go back to Campden and Potassium Sorbate mix.

The SG is currently 1.026, not sure how it got that high since it was 1.014 after I back sweetened it with honey about 3 weeks ago.

Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Toy4Rick

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Old 08-14-2011, 09:57 PM   #28
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I know Winston already summarized this for himself, but I may try to summarize this in a more general sense. I think this is fantastic information and I currently have my first batch of mead in primary, so I want to get this straight.

1. In making the mead you won't particularly be able to aim for an exact final gravity, but you can better control your OG. Meaning, primary ferment your mead to whatever ETOH level the yeast can handle, this will become your FG for primary.

2. At this point, move it to secondary and add your adjuncts. Let these items sit for as long as you feel the adjuncts belong with the mead base.

3a. Rack it again off of the adjuncts/lees and let sit to clarify and flocculate. Continue to rack and clarify until the mead/melomel/whatever is clear.

3b. Cold crash it here for 1 week if you have the capability.

4. Once clear, add sorbate (about 1/2 tsp/gal, not more because it will affect flavor negatively) and camden to inhibit yeast reproduction. let this sit for a few days to ensure airlock inactivity (and thus inactive fermentation).

5. Back sweeten at this point to a gravity you like. (question here: should you then reseal the carboy to make sure it doesn't pick up fermentation again? Just to be sure?)

6. Bottle it.

How does this look as a summary to the above comments? Make suggestions and lets keep revising this to make it more friendly and easy to follow for noobs. More of a "guide" this way.

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Old 08-15-2011, 03:42 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
If you're not sweetening, you can bottle whenever the fermentation is finished. I like to wait until it's completely clear, as then there will be no sediment or floating crud in the bottles.

It's very, very difficult to get the yeast to stop at a specific SG. It's much easier to pick the ABV you want, and add the sugar/honey to get you there and let it ferment out. Then, stabilize and sweeten if desired.

Another way to get a sweet finished mead or wine is to overwhelm the yeast with sugar, until it can't consume any more. The problem with that is some wine yeast strains will easily go up to (and over!) 18% ABV so you may have sweet rocket fuel for a few years until it ages out.
Thanks yooper!
This weekend i plan to take a sample..
If its up to swmbo standards...we shall start bottling away.
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Old 08-15-2011, 06:09 PM   #30
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3b. Cold crash it here for 1 week if you have the capability.

4. Once clear, add sorbate (about 1/2 tsp/gal, not more because it will affect flavor negatively) and camden to inhibit yeast reproduction. let this sit for a few days to ensure airlock inactivity (and thus inactive fermentation).
3b. Cold crashing is not neccesary. just an aid to clear and to put the yeast to sleep(stuns them).
4. Camden stuns yeast( same as cold crashing) sorbate prevents reproduction
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