Hey guys! I've read (mostly in the stickies, here) that degassing is critical to a speedy fermentation with mead. I've tried a couple different things, with varying results, and want to solicit some opinions on stirring/degassing.
First - I made me as stir plate, one of those cheap easy computer fan and hard drive magnet jobs, and have tried a couple batches with it. I know the intention is to use it for a starter, but for my first try, I did two one gallon batches, one stirred (constantly, for the whole duration), one not. They both fermented dry in about two months, which is the quickest mead I've ever made. I'm feeling like the reason they fermented so fast was a high pitch rate - one dry packet of 71b-1122 for each gallon. I didn't take gravity readings as it was fermenting; i just watched the airlocks mostly, and i feel like they finished within a couple weeks of each other, if not at pretty much the same time. I was shaking the unstirred gallon daily or more.
Second - I tried a similar experiment with hopped mead (fun to try!) but couldn't keep the stir bar centered on the stir plate for even a whole day, it just got thrown off all the time (i'm using gallon wine jugs with a slightly curved bottom, and maybe my stir plate is losing magnetism or something, or the hops increased the gravity and made it fly off easier, or something). So I stirred that one off and on for a week or two, and same results, finished at the same time.
Third - I did a 40 gallon batch and degassed with a wine whip down to about 25% sugar, when my (daily) readings started staying the same for two or three days. That batch took about 2 1/2 months. Also, one day I left the lid off the barrel and the gravity dropped in one day about as much as it had been in two or three days. That mead has come out quite nicely. I split it into carboys and the ones I've allowed to have gone totally dry in a hurry.
So, here are my results from a few experiments, and I have some ideas, but I'm curious what you all think. I guess the questions I'm trying to answer here are:
Degassing - does it make a difference? Does volume change the need for it?
When fermenting, say, in a barrel, does it make sense to add more than one airlock? That shouldn't reduce the pressure noticeably since they all should have the same threshold, but maybe volume is a concern?
Does the vapor pressure of the CO2 make any difference?
Is degassing the important thing here? Does resuspending the yeast contribute significantly to the fermentation?
Is it worth it to get a 5L beaker to make experimental batches in? Are there any alternatives, like, say, a five gallon carboy with a flat bottom? (Edit: Flask, not beaker)
And that's about all I have for right now Care to discuss?