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Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Mead Forum > Made a mess airating- please offer advice
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Old 08-03-2010, 10:07 PM   #1
BlackDogBrewing
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Default Made a mess airating- please offer advice

While I have alomst 20 batches of beer under my belt, I have no experience making mead. I made my first batch 2 days ago, 12 lbs hone, about 3.5 gallons water, 5tsp yeast nutrient and 2 Wyeast sweet mead yeast smackpacks. I was looking over gotmead.com and they suggested airating the mead the first few days. I gently shook it, then gently tried to use my wine degasser/stirrer for my cordlesss drill. I created a giant geyser of mead and lost almost a gallon!!!!!
Should I just leave it go for a while now? Try to airate again? I really feel a bit lost as to what to do and could kick myself for losing about a gallon. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Also, I received some acid blend from NB along with the mead kit. I use this at bottling, right? How much do I add to try? Thanks.


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Old 08-03-2010, 10:55 PM   #2
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Well the most current information I got from peopel who attended the NHC was to degas, not aerate, after fermentation starts.

why? becasue the CO2 buildup inhibits yeast from doing their thing, AND it also makes carbonic acid which lowers the pH which can inhibit the yeast from doing their thing.

Now, you were technically degassing with that wine degasser, and the CO2 volcano is normal. You have to start REAL gentle like until that big burst of CO2 is out of solution, just like when degassing wine but even moreso because the mead is still 'alive' while wine isn't degassed until its done fermenting.

So, i'd leave it be for now honestly.

as for acid blend, I rarely use the stuff. you can add it , IF it needs it, before you bottle. its for balancing the sweetness, so dry meads need no acid blend...

its personal preference (but I"m surprised their recipe didn't tell you how much and when to use)


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Old 08-04-2010, 12:22 AM   #3
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The best way to prevent this sort of thing is to use a larger fermenter. I routinely do 5 gallon batches in a 10-gallon primary pail (a Brute trash can is very cheap). You will not have Mead Eruption Accidents (MEAs) if you use an over-sized primary. If you don't use a large primary, using antifoam drops can be a big help (if you don't have them handy, the Phazyme drops for infant formula bottles available at the supermarket are essentially the same stuff, and it's harmless). Of course, even with the drops, you have to use a de-gasser gently in a small fermenter.

I am still a believer in early aeration during fermentation. There is a great deal of data on wine fermentation that shows aeration is needed during the early fermentation (at least up to 48 hours). Without it, you can have incomplete fermentations.

The release of CO2 will have a minimal effect on pH (probably not more than 0.1 to 0.2) - you can verify this by comparing the pH during active fermentation with the pH of the batch after it has aged and degassed. I don't think I have ever seen a big movement upward in pH so the effect is quite small (relatively speaking - since it is a logarithmic scale).

The effect of CO2 in solution at atmospheric pressure on yeast function is also small. Unless the CO2 is under several atmospheres of pressure it won't even slow them down. This is also easy to see by putting a batch in a keg with a pressure relief valve set for 1 or 2 atmospheres. The yeast will ferment right through to completion (at least the ones I tested it with - K1V - there may be others more sensitive to the effect).

I think that the mobilization of CO2 is more a theoretical benefit than a practical one. The aeration makes a real difference. Also the stirring of must to keep the yeast up in solution has been documented to speed the completion of fermentation and that may be more important than the release of CO2. However, I digress...

When it comes to fermenters, bigger really is better!

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Old 08-04-2010, 03:13 AM   #4
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Yeah, you've given me a lot of food for thought MF. I've been thinking about your posts on CO2 volumes during fermentation quite a bit.. hm.

Several mead & wine makers seem to use huge fermenters... I've been pricing out 10 & 20 gallon ones recently. And if you check out the pictures of Stock's basement, it's clear he uses pretty big fermenters. I'm guessing the one in the picture 2nd from the bottom is 20 gallons...
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Old 08-04-2010, 05:03 AM   #5
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Black.
I am currently brewing in one gallon and three gallon primaries. I started a one gallon mix of blueberry this afternoon and even though I was watching it closely it blew the airlock out and made decent mess. I kinda expected this as my last batch came close to this action. I wish I had more three gallon carboys as the one I am brewing two gallons of strawberry melomel in is doing great. Head room seems to be the key in primary and it's working out okay in the gallon jugs with some micro management when it first gets going. All the best.
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Old 08-04-2010, 12:19 PM   #6
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So, given the fact that this is currently the biggest fermenter I have, what should I have done differently? Should I just gently rock it to get some of the CO2 out of suspension?
Also, how often should I transfer it? I'll definitely take a gravity reading before I do, just not sure when. Thanks.
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Old 08-04-2010, 10:43 PM   #7
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I'm just sharing the information I was given by people who attended the NHC, who sampled meads that were only 7 weeks old, and simply PHENOMENAL.

They said:
1. staggered nutrient addition
2. degassing during the first week
3. monitoring pH and keeping it from getting to low (I think they were adding some kind of 'hydroxide' base to raise the pH from the danger zone)


The buffering capacity of your initial water will play heavily on how much CO2 affects the pH. Alkaline water will not drop pH nearly as much as soft/RO water would due to CO2.


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