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Old 08-27-2012, 03:48 PM   #1
jean
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Default bottling mead

Hi,

I have made a batch 3 month ago, first fermentation was for 2 weeks, then transfer to secondary for 2.5 month already. Beacuse the fermentor is not made of glass but stainless steal I can't see if it cleared by now or not, as I understand I should transfer the mead third time but the thing it that I have only one vessel this size (I have bigger ones) so if I want to transfer it again I will have to transfer it to bigger vessle, clean the previous one and then transfer it again, that means much more risk of contamination and oxidation.
So, I waould like to know what you think about it, to transfer it third time, leave it (as I understood it's not recomended to leave for extended periods of time in the same fermenter), or bottle it? All the fermentation was at 60.8 to 64.4 F. so my assumption is that it may be pretty clear already but may be not so tasty (when I tasted it at first transfer it was horrible).

Thank you
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Old 08-27-2012, 04:02 PM   #2
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Without knowing what you made, it's pretty difficult (if not impossible) to say. BUT, I wouldn't even dream of bottling a mead after JUST 3 months. IMO, that's about 1/3 the amount of time it should be given to clear, or be ready to bottle (for a low ABV [14% or lower] batch). Also, racking at just 2 weeks from the start wasn't a great idea. The earliest I've ever racked (the first time for a batch) is one month. Then again a couple of months later, then a few months after that, etc.

Depending on how large your other vessels are, you could always top it off with some CO2 in order to protect the batch as it ages.

The risks, downsides of bottling too soon far outweigh any perceived pluses. Things like increased sediment in the bottles. Bottle bombs since you could have another round of fermentation kick off post bottling (unless you chemically stabilize the mead). Inconsistent flavors between bottles of the same batch (as they age differently). To name just a few.

My bare bones minimum time frame to bottle a mead is one year from pitching the yeast. That's for a 14% mead. At 14-18%, I aim for 12-18 months from pitch to corking. Above 18% I plan for 18+ months (have a 21% in process, that I plan to go 24 months before bottling it).

Be patient with your mead. Doing so will be greatly rewarded.If it means you need to get a smaller vessel for the transfers, then do so. Or get CO2 so you can top off the larger vessel.
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Old 08-27-2012, 04:45 PM   #3
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Thanks a lot for the quick answer, so I will rack it to another vessel, then clean the secondary and transfer the mead again when it's clean and sanitized.
The mead is 14%. with mild touch of pomegranate.
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Old 08-27-2012, 04:51 PM   #4
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How much larger is the vessel?? Do you have no access to CO2? I'd also seriously look to get another vessel of the correct size for transfers. I have some 1/6 bbl (and one that's a bit smaller) sanke kegs that I use. I can hit them with CO2 (modified the kegs to work with it) after filling to protect. I release the pressure, just leaving a layer of CO2 in the keg. That way they are not getting carbonated, just being protected.
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Old 08-27-2012, 05:55 PM   #5
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I don't have CO2, the vessel is 50 liter (~12 gallon) and the bigger one is 60
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Old 08-27-2012, 06:01 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jean View Post
I don't have CO2, the vessel is 50 liter (~12 gallon) and the bigger one is 60
A 50L (13.3 US gallons) is close enough to the 60L (~15.5 US gallons) IMO to make it not really matter. You can let it stay there for a month before transferring it back. Just be careful to have the siphon tube all the way into the bottom of the destination keg.

I would seriously look into getting some CO2 on hand for purging and to make transfers easier. I couldn't lift a 50L keg full of mead to a table in order to siphon into something else. With a small hardware investment in a CO2 setup, you wouldn't need to. You can use the orange carboy caps (with two nipples) to transfer (center for racking cane, side one for CO2 in).
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K1:
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Old 08-27-2012, 07:12 PM   #7
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Good idea to push the mead out with co2! How much of head space is not considered a problem? Now in a secondary I have maybe maximum 5 centimeters from the top, i realy filled it up to the top, in the bigger vessel i will have maybe 20 cm (at least 10 liters of air)
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Old 08-27-2012, 07:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jean View Post
Good idea to push the mead out with co2! How much of head space is not considered a problem? Now in a secondary I have maybe maximum 5 centimeters from the top, i realy filled it up to the top, in the bigger vessel i will have maybe 20 cm (at least 10 liters of air)
Did you measure the height difference between the kegs? I don't have my 50L right here at the moment, so I cannot measure it to compare. I don't think it was that large of a height difference between them.

If you could get one of the pocket chargers (for corny kegs) and some of the CO2 cartridges that don't have anything added (generic ones can have additives to work better when driving mechanisms), you could just release some of the CO2 from that into the keg before you do the transfer. That will blanket the mead in CO2, pushing the air out as the level increases. Then just seal it and install an airlock (just in case it needs to vent).
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Waiting/Carbonating: 12.5% Wee Honey II, 8.9% Old Ale, English Brown Ale, Lickah ESB, Mocha Porter II
Fermenting
K1:
K2: Epic mead
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Old 08-28-2012, 12:04 AM   #9
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Thanks, I will check if I can arrange some co2, so if i understood you right, first put co2 then transfer the mead, the co2 should not vent away right? Anyway about the head space of 50 and 60 liter vessel, the difference is 10 liters and it will be more because of the volume losses during transfers.
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Old 08-28-2012, 12:08 AM   #10
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If you send the CO2 into the vessel first (maybe use all, or half of one of the 16g cartridges) then the CO2 will be at the bottom of the vessel. As the mead goes in, it will push the CO2 up towards the top. The air/atmospheric gases (being lighter than pure CO2) will be pushed out first. Once the mead has been transferred, you can add more CO2 on top before closing it off. The extra few inches of headspace will be filled with CO2. So, you won't need to worry about it.

There's also a good chance you'll get some off-gassing of the mead after the transfer. This will push out any residual atmospheric air in the vessel, replacing it with CO2.
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On Tap: Caramel Ale, Mocha Porter II, MO SMaSH IPA
Waiting/Carbonating: 12.5% Wee Honey II, 8.9% Old Ale, English Brown Ale, Lickah ESB, Mocha Porter II
Fermenting
K1:
K2: Epic mead
K3: TripSix
On Deck: Caramel Ale
Aging:mead
Mead [bottled]:Oaked Wildflower Traditional, Mocha Madness, Blackberry Melomel, maple wine
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