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Old 07-15-2010, 08:10 PM   #1
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Default How to top off?

This is a very amateur question, but after I rack my mead into another container, what do I add to top it off? I've been using water, but will that just make the final product taste like watered down mead? Is water ok to use, or is there something else? Thanks

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Old 07-15-2010, 08:19 PM   #2
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There are a few different opinions on what is best.
If you add only water then it can water down you ABV and effect the taste.
Some of us like to add a honey water mix. This works well but may kick your yeast back into fermentation mode.
Others will have a batch of show mead going at the same time and will use this to top off thier other batches.

I suppose if you have a free jug and some extra honey this probably works the best.
Hope that helped?

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Old 07-15-2010, 08:22 PM   #3
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Rack?

As in . . . into a secondary?

And then top off with water?



I'm new to this myself, but I would think that this would be a very bad idea. I could be totally wrong, but doesn't this add oxygen and, thus, skunk-ify the finished product?

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Old 07-15-2010, 08:25 PM   #4
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Using water will not give you the same mead as your recipe, but it won't necessarily water down your mead enough that it tastes bad. I've only made two meads, so I am far from an expert, but I used water to top off the second one each time I racked it. In all, I probably used 1/2 gallon of water, which basically means that instead of a 14% traditional mead I ended up with a 13%. Those who have tried it have enjoyed it too.

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Old 07-15-2010, 10:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buenaventura View Post
Rack?

As in . . . into a secondary?

And then top off with water?



I'm new to this myself, but I would think that this would be a very bad idea. I could be totally wrong, but doesn't this add oxygen and, thus, skunk-ify the finished product?
Racking to secondary is very common in meadmaking. In fact, many people (including myself with my second mead) will rack more than once. The purpose is to prevent off flavors from the yeast during the extended aging that most meads require. As long as you take care to minimize splashing and bubbling through your racking cane, you shouldn't have a problem with oxidation. Also, you should top off your carboys up to/into the neck to further protect against oxidation, which is the point of adding water or (un)fermented must.

Further, skunking is what happens when hops become lightstruck. As I understand it, oxidation lends more of a sherry flavor in small amounts or cardboard flavor in large amounts.
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Old 07-16-2010, 03:01 AM   #6
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What I do is start w/ a 6 gallon batch and then once primary is finished, rack to a 5 gallon secondary. I also fill about 3-4 bottles (22 oz beer or 750 ml wine) and airlock them as well...these are used to top off the carboy at subsequent transfers.

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Old 07-16-2010, 06:34 AM   #7
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Thanks to everyone for your input.

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Old 07-16-2010, 03:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slowbie View Post

Further, skunking is what happens when hops become lightstruck. As I understand it, oxidation lends more of a sherry flavor in small amounts or cardboard flavor in large amounts.
You can also get light struck wine/mead - refered to in French as goût de lumière, or the taste of light. From the name, you'd think it is something good, but it creates sulfur odors.
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Old 07-16-2010, 11:08 PM   #9
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You can also get light struck wine/mead - refered to in French as goût de lumière, or the taste of light. From the name, you'd think it is something good, but it creates sulfur odors.
Right! Keep the carboys out of light. I keep mine covered with a towel.

Some recipes factor in the need for topping up with water- I know that some of mine do. I'll make the recipe at 15% ABVish, but that allows for topping off to keep me in the 12-13%.

Often, I'll make a 6 gallon batch, and use the "extra" for topping off. I keep the excess in a wine bottle, growler, etc, with a stopper and airlock right along side the carboy.

Many winemakers top off with a similar wine or mead from a previous year. Top off with what you need, and drink the rest with dinner! Or, you can use a similar commercial wine but that's hard with a show mead.
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