A few (possibly stupid) questions about mead making

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Hi,

This is my first attempt on making mead and so far everything has went fine. I started off with primary fermentation in a plastic container with a a total amount of 7 liters of mead. After about 2 weeks the gravity was down to 1000 so I decided to siphon it over into two different glass fermentation vessels to be able to add raspberries into one of them. Now, in Sweden these are called "gallon bottles" which stupidly made me think that they would contain up to 1 gallon of liquid which in my mind was perfect because the 7 liters batch would be almost exactly 2 gallons. However, these were a little bit larger so I only managed to fill up one and a half bottles.

Question 1:
Is it possible to age mead (without it going bad) when only half the vessel is full? I am worried about oxidation.

Question 2:
How long should I keep the airlocks on while aging the mead? I assume that if I decide that I want to age it for 6 months then I would keep the airlocks on for this entire time and then siphon it into bottles (to get rid of the sediment that will be generated) and after this put capsules on?

Question 3:
I added raspberries (which I boiled and tried to siphon to the best of my ability) to the bottle that is completely filled up to the top. There are some solid parts from the raspberries on the inner side of the bottle (not covered with mead). As far as I have understood all solid parts must be covered with mead in order for it not to go bad and develop mold. Am I correct in thinking that I need to re-bottle it into a clean vessel within a week for its long term aging?

Regards,
Joakim
 

madscientist451

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Yeah, that's too much headspace, just siphon to some wine bottles, you really don't need an airlock for the mead that you didn't add fruit to.
 

Maylar

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Ideally, you want to be right up to the top of the bottle neck -

29292651144_b798441c7a_c.jpg


I use an airlock for the first month in secondary, then cap them tight. You will lose more volume when you rack the first one and it'll no longer fit in a gallon jug. The one on the right definitely needs to go into a smaller jug. 1/2 gallon carboys are common in the US, don't know about Sweden. This pair is almost 1-1/2 gallons -

16499267198_e4a72fb063_c.jpg


I use glass stones to make up the difference -

22645252139_dd1d5072e0_c.jpg


1 gallon, 1/2 gallon, quart mason jars and even wine bottles can be used in a pinch.
 

Dan O

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Ideally, you want to be right up to the top of the bottle neck -

View attachment 732038

I use an airlock for the first month in secondary, then cap them tight. You will lose more volume when you rack the first one and it'll no longer fit in a gallon jug. The one on the right definitely needs to go into a smaller jug. 1/2 gallon carboys are common in the US, don't know about Sweden. This pair is almost 1-1/2 gallons -

View attachment 732042

I use glass stones to make up the difference -

View attachment 732043

1 gallon, 1/2 gallon, quart mason jars and even wine bottles can be used in a pinch.
@Maylar , Where do you get those 1/2 gallon carboys? Also, a growler is the same amount, 64 ounces, correct? Thanks in advance.
 
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Ideally, you want to be right up to the top of the bottle neck -

View attachment 732038

I use an airlock for the first month in secondary, then cap them tight. You will lose more volume when you rack the first one and it'll no longer fit in a gallon jug. The one on the right definitely needs to go into a smaller jug. 1/2 gallon carboys are common in the US, don't know about Sweden. This pair is almost 1-1/2 gallons -

View attachment 732042

I use glass stones to make up the difference -

View attachment 732043

1 gallon, 1/2 gallon, quart mason jars and even wine bottles can be used in a pinch.
Cheers! Thanks for the reply!

So, if I siphon over everything from the flavored (including the sediment) into another gallon vessel and let it sit with an airlock for another 4 weeks this will remove the risk of getting mold at the same time as most of the sediment will have fallen to the bottom? Then I will siphon it once more separating it from the sediment and finally capping it. Will more sediment be created after the capping or will 4 weeks be enough to get a clean final bottle?

Regarding the second half full non-flavored mead. I can't find any smaller vessel here in Sweden but I do have some wine bottles. However, it has only been two weeks since I started the batch (and the airlock is still, although very slowly, bubbling) so it might be risky to cap it into wine bottles. Would it be possible to leave it in the half full vessel until the airlock stops moving? Or will the risk of oxidation be too big? Otherwise I will have to try to find some kind of rubber cap that fits into the wine bottle and drill a hole through it so I can attach an airlock to the wine bottle...
 

Maylar

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Mold develops when bacteria have access to oxygen. The space above the liquid is what we refer to as "head space". During fermentation that space is filled with CO2, which is what bubbles out the airlock. When fermentation stops, oxygen can enter through the airlock (slowly) and that's when you can get into trouble.

Both of your carboys should be racked to smaller spaces once fermentation is complete. You can then add potassium metabisulfate to inhibit oxidation and kill bacteria. Do you have a hydrometer to check specific gravity? It's the one tool we all need and the only way to check the status of your ferment. Bubbles mean nothing.
 
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Mold develops when bacteria have access to oxygen. The space above the liquid is what we refer to as "head space". During fermentation that space is filled with CO2, which is what bubbles out the airlock. When fermentation stops, oxygen can enter through the airlock (slowly) and that's when you can get into trouble.

Both of your carboys should be racked to smaller spaces once fermentation is complete. You can then add potassium metabisulfate to inhibit oxidation and kill bacteria. Do you have a hydrometer to check specific gravity? It's the one tool we all need and the only way to check the status of your ferment. Bubbles mean nothing.
Thanks!

So just a final question. It has been two weeks since I started the batch. The gravity is down to 1000 (and has been for a while) but the airlock is still bubbling once every 3 minutes or so. Is it safe to bottle this (as I don't have another solution for the half filled carboy)? I don't want it to explode in my face!
 

Drewch

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Thanks!

So just a final question. It has been two weeks since I started the batch. The gravity is down to 1000 (and has been for a while) but the airlock is still bubbling once every 3 minutes or so. Is it safe to bottle this (as I don't have another solution for the half filled carboy)? I don't want it to explode in my face!
It may just be off-gassing dissolved CO2 left over from fermentation. Try degassing it and see if the bubbling stops.
 

bernardsmith

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If it's been at 1.000 for a week it should be safe to bottle.
Only if the gravity is not in fact still falling. And it could be. Any reading appears as rock solid stable if you have only taken one reading. If you take three over two weeks what appeared as fixed can now seem to be dropping and if the gravity drops in a sealed bottle that can cause a gusher if you are lucky and a bottle bomb if you are not.
 
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Only if the gravity is not in fact still falling. And it could be. Any reading appears as rock solid stable if you have only taken one reading. If you take three over two weeks what appeared as fixed can now seem to be dropping and if the gravity drops in a sealed bottle that can cause a gusher if you are lucky and a bottle bomb if you are not.
Ah, ya! I got that. I'm pretty confident that the gravity is stable so I'm just wondering if the degassing by itself is enough for a bottle to explode?
 

bernardsmith

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Unlikely for there to be enough pressure to explode a bottle. Remember , that all the gas that is in the bottle is in the bottle before you bottle. If there is no residual sugar when you bottle and the yeast have nothing more to ferment then when they stop producing more ethanol they also stop producing more CO2.
What is far more likely to occur is that any gas that the liquid can no longer hold as dissolved gas can and will have enough energy to force the cork out the neck of the bottle. And with the cork will come a geyser of wine. Crown caps that you crimp with a bottle capper will not be forced off BUT when you use a church key or bottle opener to remove the cap you might get a gusher rather than a sparkling wine. To use a crown cap (AKA beer bottle cap) you will need bottles with a lip. Bottles made for packaging sparkling wines, typically, have just such a lip but so do beer bottles.
 
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