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Old 12-07-2012, 06:59 AM   #1
devianttouch
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Default Bulk aging question - newbie questions

So this was my first mead, and I have already learned a lot about brewing since this one started, but I have some further questions.

First of all, it's a slightly less than 1 gallon batch. I started with 3 pounds cheap honey (I have access to good stuff, but didn't want to make my newbie mistakes on expensive honey), 1 packet Red Star Champagne Yeast, yeast nutrient, and about 3 Liters water, all in a 5 liter Carlo Rossi bottle.

It fermented steadily for about 2 weeks at 70F under airlock in a dark space.

Mistakes I made:

I THOUGHT I would need all of that headspace, because I'd head my friends complain about blowouts and such. But my friends brew beer, and I didn't realize mead was not going to do that. So the headspace is a bit much, and that will lead to some of my questions below.

Also, I did not get an OG. I know better now, and I have a hydrometer now. It has finished fermenting I think, because it has been at 1.000 pretty much exactly for 2 days. I can test again tomorrow, but it's done.

Questions:

Should I bulk age it in it's current carboy, with so much headspace, and on the yeast cake?

Alternatively I do have a 3 liter plastic jug (used to hold juice) and I could get a bung to fit it's top. Is there any reason not to age this mead in PET plastic?

I know that I should age this for at least a year, and that's fine - I did this knowing it would take a long time. I'm going to do another one soon (with less headspace, and an OG reading). Learning.


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Old 12-07-2012, 12:58 PM   #2
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You should definitely rack to a carboy for ageing. You want as little head space as possible, fill it up to abou 1 to 2" from the cap.( were the neck narrows) and I believe as long as it's food grade plastic you should be fine, some can correct me if i'm wrong.


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Old 12-07-2012, 02:14 PM   #3
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Madison, WI is a pretty big place. Maybe you can cruise the dumpsters of some of the local bars for a couple of 1.5L jugs to rack your mead into...maybe a 750ml or two for the overflow? It's definitely better to have as little surface (oxygen) exposure as possible to reduce oxidation problems. I wouldn't have any worries doing primary fermentation in a PET container, but for long term aging I would definitely want glass. Fermenting to a bone dry state will require long term aging, I would think, and over that period of time, from what I understand, PET *will* allow oxygen in, albeit a small amount. This sounds like a "test run mead", but...if you cut corners on it you really won't know what the outcome could be, will you? And a year or two is a long time to not do it "right". I'd leave it be for a week or so and see if I couldn't come up with a glass container and then rack it off the lees...and keep an airlock on it.

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Old 12-07-2012, 11:55 PM   #4
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Thanks guys. Dumpster cruising isn't really my thing, but I think it'll be worthwhile to go buy a cheap 3 liter of wine this weekend for the bottle and age in that. I appreciate your explanations and help!
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Old 12-08-2012, 05:06 PM   #5
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Make sure to check Craigslist for bottles/jugs. I found someone that was selling like 20 of 1 gal glass jugs for a $2/jug. I bought 8 at that price.
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Old 12-10-2012, 06:38 AM   #6
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You can also talk to your local liquor store owner he will know the customers that buy in bulk (1) gallon bottles....and can probly get you some for free
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Old 12-11-2012, 01:10 AM   #7
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Okay, I racked it to a 3L for bulk aging. There's still a bit of headspace in there, but less. Does this look alright? If it's still too much space, is there something I should add?
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:22 AM   #8
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It might be a little better to get the level up to within about an inch of the bung, but it's not too bad.

You could see if you can get one of those "spray gas" cans for cleaning keyboards and other electrical items (just check the can to make sure it's CO2) then give it a gentle blast to create a protective layer of CO2 (heavier than air/O2).

You could easily get some childrens glass marbles, sanitise them and then carefully put them in to displace some of the airspace, which is another way of doing this. Just be careful when putting them in as it's not too difficult to crack the bottom of the carboy or if it was a larger airspace and you found that you needed a lot of them, the weight could also crack/break the bottom of the carboy.

Or a similar mead/wine or even vodka will accomplish the same thing...

As you can see, there's a lot of methods, but they will all have pro's and con's..... You just work out which is the best for you and run with it.....


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