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Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Mead Forum > Campden Tablets & Clarifiers (and possibly infected mead)
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Old 11-15-2010, 09:58 PM   #1
shawnbou
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Default Campden Tablets & Clarifiers (and possibly infected mead)

I've got a dry traditional mead in a carboy now that's been aging for almost six months. I'm planning to bottle it Thanksgiving weekend.

The bad news: I was looking at it today and I think there may be mold floating on it. I say "think" and "may" because I haven't seen anything definitive. I keep my fermenting vessels in a pretty dark closet, and when I went in to check them with a flashlight, I saw what looked like green fuzz floating on top. But when I moved the carboy out into the light, I jostled it so much (oops) that anything that might have been floating on top got submerged. So I don't know for sure, but if it was mold, it probably got into the mead.

The good news: I took a sample immediately after. The mead smells and tastes just fine, so I'm planning to just rack under the mold and bottle it as planned. I figure at this point, I've got nothing to lose.

From what I've been reading, it seems like a good idea to add Campden tablets if I'm going to bottle potentially infected mead. I haven't added any yet, which I suppose might be why I had this problem in the first place. If I were going to use them now, when would be the best time? A few days before bottling?

I also might want to add a clarifier. Which one would be best to add now, shortly before bottling - and when? Could I add a clarifier at the same time as the Campden tablets, or should I wait a few days between adding each one?

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Old 11-15-2010, 10:10 PM   #2
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I'd try to kill off any baddies ASAP and rack off of whatever you have floating.
Clarifiers usually take some time to work, so I'd say do it now so it has time to work by thanksgiving. I used SuperKleer in mine...but be aware it's a shellfish derivative product and has some warnings about potential shellfish allergies.

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Old 11-15-2010, 10:20 PM   #3
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I'd add the equivalent of 1 campden tablet per gallon of KMeta at least. More if the pH is on the high side, or if it is a sweet mead. You may also consider adding some sorbate. Usually you won't find mold growing unless there is head space with air in it, so make sure when you rack, that you top up the container fully.

For clarifying, you want to use fining agents well in advance of bottling to give them time to clear, and to rack off the sediment. Usually I like to use Bentonite or Sparkolloid.

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Old 11-15-2010, 10:36 PM   #4
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Thanks for the responses. I'll head up to AHS ASAP and get the Campden tablets and some Sparkolloid or whatever they have.

I'm also going to watch this for a the next day or so and see if anything floats back to the top, so I know for sure what I'm dealing with.

Thanks again.

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BOUSIRIS BOUERY - Home of the Zyme Lord
The cans of Leinenkugel's had masking tape on them with JOHN'S printed in ink. Amy looked around me and said, "John is protective about his beer, isn't he?"
"I put that label on there. When company comes I want them to know the Leinie's is his, not mine."
- David Wong

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Gondor IPA
Melancholy Bill's Infinitely Sad Pumpkin Ale
Lucian's Landing Ginger Metheglin

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Old 11-16-2010, 06:26 PM   #5
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MedsenFey - You mentioned topping up the carboy when racking to minimize headspace. Next time I'll make a larger batch to make sure that happens. Thanks for the tip.

But I also have a second mead that I had already made, that I just racked to secondary, and it is already below the neck of the carboy. I know I'm going to lose mead when I rack it again. Any suggestions on how I can keep it safe as the liquid level goes lower? Would using Campden/K-meta or K-sorbate on future rackings help? Or should I try to fill the carboy with CO2 prior to racking in the future (which seems like a pain, but people do seem to do it)?

Thanks, as always.

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Read my brewing blog here! Last of the Zyme Lords

BOUSIRIS BOUERY - Home of the Zyme Lord
The cans of Leinenkugel's had masking tape on them with JOHN'S printed in ink. Amy looked around me and said, "John is protective about his beer, isn't he?"
"I put that label on there. When company comes I want them to know the Leinie's is his, not mine."
- David Wong

On Tap:
Anna Livia Irish Stout
Gondor IPA
Melancholy Bill's Infinitely Sad Pumpkin Ale
Lucian's Landing Ginger Metheglin

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Old 11-16-2010, 07:43 PM   #6
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I'd consider topping up with water (diluting the mix) or with water/honey mix (potential refermentation).

Some people have various methods like filling the bottom of the carboy with marbles or the like.

If you're a keg guy...toss it into a keg, fill with CO2 and purge, and you're good to go.

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Old 11-16-2010, 08:18 PM   #7
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Sulfite alone will not protect your mead from spoilage if you have headspace with air in it. There are many options including:

1 - Just top up with water. If the space isn't large, this works fine. You can also top up with mead from other batches.

2 - Add displacement. Some people will put marbles or stainless steel ball bearings in (sanitized of course) to raise the level of the mead to the carboy neck. Any inert items could be used. I've recently been using synthetic corks for this purpose - works great, but they do absorb the aroma of honey.

3 - Flush space with inert gas. Many folks will use CO2, or nitrogen or inert gas to flush the carboy. Then the headspace doesn't matter. Periodically it should be reflushed in case any air leaks in. If you have a CO2 tank for carbonating beer, it is easy. Even if you don't, paintball CO2 canisters can be used, and I've even done it with a handheld CO2 keg charger which costs $20 so it is not expensive. The problem is that you have to flush ALL the air out (inert gas will not form a blanket) and you don't know for sure when you've done enough.

4 - Oil blanket. The ancient Romans used olive oil in their amphora, but since that can go rancid, a better choice would be mineral oil (as sold as a laxative in the drug store). Just poor a layer on top (about 3/8 of an inch) and O2 will be kept out. Wine can be racked from underneath without transferring the oil. Not many folks seem to use this method - but it is cheap and easy (you just need watch out for slippery carboys)

5 - Use smaller carboys and jugs. Having a variety of sizes allows you to fill a smaller size (such as a 3 gallon) completely.

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Old 11-17-2010, 02:29 AM   #8
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Great ideas, guys ... I really appreciate all the suggestions. Thank you both.

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Read my brewing blog here! Last of the Zyme Lords

BOUSIRIS BOUERY - Home of the Zyme Lord
The cans of Leinenkugel's had masking tape on them with JOHN'S printed in ink. Amy looked around me and said, "John is protective about his beer, isn't he?"
"I put that label on there. When company comes I want them to know the Leinie's is his, not mine."
- David Wong

On Tap:
Anna Livia Irish Stout
Gondor IPA
Melancholy Bill's Infinitely Sad Pumpkin Ale
Lucian's Landing Ginger Metheglin

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Old 11-18-2010, 01:45 AM   #9
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I think Medsen hit it right on with #5- use smaller carboys. I have started using carlos rossi jugs (.78 gallons I think?) as both secondaries and primaries for experiments. With miel the price it is I really enjoy a radical gallon here and there. If you do a large batch you can always break it down into little additions. i have one with peaches, one with limes, one straight, one with herbs, etc.... (also it's real fun when someone is annoying and asks for a glass of wine and you whip out some carlos rossi! Leave my Chateau Neufs de Papes alone! haha)

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Old 04-25-2012, 04:43 PM   #10
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Did someone just suggest putting laxative in wine?
That's pretty hard core!

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