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Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Mead Forum > Ready to bottle?
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Old 09-12-2011, 12:40 AM   #1
MeadHorn
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Default Ready to bottle?

I have a juneberry melomel that is in its third carboy now (spent 7 days in primary, 3 weeks in secondary, 2 weeks in tertiary). When I racked it into the tertiary, I added campden and sorbate, in addition to a touch more honey and juneberry juice. The liquid is clear and the hydrometer has been steady at 1.010 over the last 2 weeks, but there is a fine layer of sediment on the bottom. Would it be a good idea to rack it into another carboy (either now or in another 2 weeks) until no more sediment develops, or would it be okay to bottle now?

I'm in no big hurry, I just thought I'd ask. Thanks a lot!

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Old 09-12-2011, 01:27 AM   #2
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That sounds like a decent plan. You may end up with a very little sediment in your quaternary just due to racking, but it should be minor.

FWIW, 7 days in primary sounds pretty short.

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Old 09-12-2011, 02:43 AM   #3
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Thanks for your imput Huesmann.

Quote:
Originally Posted by huesmann View Post
FWIW, 7 days in primary sounds pretty short.
The recipe I followed was for a juneberry wine, in which I substituted the sugar for the appropriate amount of honey. The directions said to place the must in an open pail and have the berries in a mesh bag, cover with a towel, then after 5-7 days, remove bag and transfer must to a glass jug with an airlock. From what I can tell, that's pretty standard for a wine recipe, but if I had thrown the berries into the must without a bag, I probably would have let the whole thing sit for a lot longer before racking.
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Old 09-12-2011, 08:58 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeadHorn View Post
-----%<-----
The recipe I followed was for a juneberry wine, in which I substituted the sugar for the appropriate amount of honey. The directions said to place the must in an open pail and have the berries in a mesh bag, cover with a towel, then after 5-7 days, remove bag and transfer must to a glass jug with an airlock. From what I can tell, that's pretty standard for a wine recipe, but if I had thrown the berries into the must without a bag, I probably would have let the whole thing sit for a lot longer before racking.
You don't mention what yeast you used. Times and quantities are good info, as are gravity readings, but clearness and the number of bubbles per minute at the airlock are a very bad measure of how the ferment has progressed.

A starting gravity and the yeast would give you some idea of the strength relative to the yeasts tolerance and whether it's getting anywhere near being ready to bottle. Which is why the suggestion would be to leave it under airlock in bulk for the moment. Or even rack it to another fermenter, close in size to the actual batch so that you can make sure as much of the airspace as possible is reduced. You don't want to be getting it in bottles because it "looks" finished, as a slight increase in temp or similar thing could easily have the corks popping or worse, the glass blowing out.........
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Old 09-12-2011, 04:27 PM   #5
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Can you give us the recipe details?
This mead is not old enough to be sure that fermentation will not restart.
It probably isn't finished dropping sediment either.

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Old 09-12-2011, 05:30 PM   #6
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Ok, here's the recipe (sorry for not posting it initally, I should have known better ).

2.5 lbs clover honey
3 lbs juneberries (I picked them when they were ripe, froze for a few days, then thawed)
water to 1 gallon
1 Campden tablet (crushed)
1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
1/2 tsp yeast energizer
1/2 tsp yeast nutrient (1/4 tsp after 24 hrs, another 1/4 tsp after 72)
K1V-1116 yeast

OG: 1.102
Fermentation temp: 70F

Place juneberries in a mesh bag. Crush the in the bottom of the fermenter. Warm the honey in a warm water bath, then add the honey, water, and Campden, mix thouroghly, and cover and rest for 12 hrs. Add pectic enzyme and rest for 12 hrs. Hydrate yeast, then pitch.

Stir must twice a day, making sure to gently squeeze the mesh bag when stirred. Once berries look pale due to the yeast ravaging them (about 5-7 days... in my case 7), remove the mesh bag, squeeze gently until liquid stops coming out, and discard pulp. Rack into a clean glass jug, top with water to 1 gallon (I added about a pint of water), fit airlock.

When the hydrometer reads below 1.0 (in my case, it was after 3 weeks, it was at .996), rack onto 1/2 tsp sorbate and a crushed campden. At this point I added 4 oz honey, 8 oz juneberry juice, and enough water to bring the liquid within 1 inch of the bottom of the stopper (about 1/2 cup), and the hydrometer said it was at 1.010. 2 weeks later, it's clear as a bell, slight sediment at the bottom, and the hydrometer is still steady at 1.010.

There you have it. Now I know 1116 will go up to 18% ABV and that my stuff will be in the 12-12.5% range (I did water it down a little bit when I transferred), but I guess I was under the impression that if you backsweeten while using sorbate and k meta, if the hydrometer doesn't move, you were successful in halting fermentation. Is there a chance fermentation will start again?

In any case, like I said in the beginning, I'm in no rush on this. This will be my 3rd mead (1st was JAOM, 2nd was JQGM), so other than trying to do as much internet research as possible, I'm lacking in actual brewing experience, hence why I want to pick your brains! I guess since the recipe I used for the juneberries was similar to Joe's quick grape, I was guessing it would be okay to bottle after it clears. I've also read about transferring every 30 to 60 days until no more sediment falls, then bottle...

I hope this is adequate information and thanks again for any input!

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Old 09-12-2011, 06:06 PM   #7
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That info helps.
Although it looks clear as a bell, try shining a flashlight through it to see if you can see the beam. If you can, it will still clear more. Berry melomels can clear very rapidly (thanks to those tannins), but I'd be a little surprised if this one doesn't drop some more especially having been backsweetened.

It sounds like you stabilized it properly and it is unlikely that fermentation will restart, but even so, high-ABV yeast can sometimes surprise you. If renewed fermentation does start, it may not cause visible bubbling and may be hardly noticeable except for a very slow drop in gravity. I prefer to see the gravity stable for a couple of months before I bottle things in most cases. Because you have kept it at room temp it is unlikely to restart in a warm room, but if you can keep it sitting at 75-80 F that can help make sure it will stay quiet.

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Old 09-12-2011, 11:15 PM   #8
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Thanks for your input Medsen.

I did shine a flashlight through the wine and it looked pretty cool. I didn't see anything suspended in the wine, but my current flashlight is one of those wind-up ones, so the beam isn't very strong (time to get one of those fancy Maglites!).

As far as letting it sit at a higher temperature, that sounds like a good idea. About how long would you recommend holding it at the 75-80F range? It'll be kind of tough from here on out, as it looks like this part of the country is going into more "seasonable" temperatures (50s for highs), but I think if I leave it in the kitchen wrapped with a towel, it should be close to the 75F range.

I guess other than that, let it sit for a bit longer, check to make sure fermentation doesn't restart (maybe transfer to another vessel to get rid of the sediment?), then bottle and wait to taste. I haven't had a good slip of it yet (just a drop or so from the hydrometer sample), but it's tasting pretty good right now, other than the bit of hotness that sounds typical of young mead. It'll be fun to see how it is in a year!

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Old 09-12-2011, 11:41 PM   #9
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Well... The longer you can wait the better. When I stated mead I was always eager to bottle as soon as it clarified. I had melomels that were crystall clear at bottling that later showed a solid layer of sediment.

Basically, the longer your can wait to bottle it the better. Even after it has stabilized. I just bottle a mead I left sit in the fermenter for 1 year and have had no issues with sediment, carbonation, etc. Also, you geta more even taste bottle to bottle.

Welcome to the forum!

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Old 09-13-2011, 12:46 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2ndGenBrewer View Post
Well... The longer you can wait the better. When I stated mead I was always eager to bottle as soon as it clarified. I had melomels that were crystall clear at bottling that later showed a solid layer of sediment.

Basically, the longer your can wait to bottle it the better. Even after it has stabilized. I just bottle a mead I left sit in the fermenter for 1 year and have had no issues with sediment, carbonation, etc. Also, you geta more even taste bottle to bottle.

Welcome to the forum!
I heartily agree. Basically even with a little sediment, it is best to bulk age a mead. That is what is happening here. I usually want to start my next batch so end up bottle aging. But when it is at the stage you describe, I give it a week to a month before bottling. Then Bottle and age 6 months to a year.

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