bottle or bulk age?

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mooney

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I'm new to mead, this is just my second batch. used to do beer but its not worth the saving any more so trying to fill all my old beer bottles with mead and hide them Under my floor boards to age. My first batch was too successful and less than half the bottles made it under the floor, but my wife thought it was too dry so this batch I went the opposite way.

Made 2 batches of one british gallon 5l. one with 1.5kg of raspberries in and one with 1.5kg of brambles (wild blackberries) and in each 2.38kg of tesco value honey. Which I knew rite away was far to much. When I trued to take a specific gravity reading the hydrometer was off the scale. So I pitched them with a packet each of Youngs champagne yeast. with neutrient and pectic enzyme.

So 2 and a half months latter fermentation has stopped with a specific gravity of 1.035 approx and to be honest they are both tasting pretty dam good. Very sweet but perfect for a desert wine, not my cup of tea but my wife loves sweet port and desert wine.

What I want to know is is it worth keeping some thing like this to age. I want to stabilise and add finings and bottle to get some thing dry and more to my taste in the demijohns but will aging some thing like this turn out really nice our should I cut my losses drink it all and start again using allot less honey?
 

bconstant

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I don't have enough experience to say first-hand, but from reading this forum a lot I can predict what the answer will be: aging is always a good idea. As for bulk vs bottle aging, bulk aging gives you a more consistent result in the first stages of aging before it is bottled. Once the mead goes into separate containers, they age at a rate dictated by the wine bottle they are in rather than the carboy. Wine also tends to age faster in a bottle because the air/liquid ratio is higher. There are many wines out there that are meant to be enjoyed young, and mead is no different. But when people say young, they typically mean a year or a year and a half. Not to say you can't get a good product sooner than that, but 18 months of lying down in a cool dark place is only going to make the mead happier.

What I want to know is is it worth keeping some thing like this to age. I want to stabilise and add finings and bottle to get some thing dry and more to my taste in the demijohns but will aging some thing like this turn out really nice our should I cut my losses drink it all and start again using allot less honey?
I don't quite understand. Are you asking if aging will "dry out" the mead? It won't. It may develop a more refined sweetness, but you made a sweet mead and it will stay a sweet mead. Only you can know if aging is worth it after you've tried aging it :) But it probably is worth trying. You could always split the batch, age half, serve the other half.
 
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mooney

mooney

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I just was not sure what to do with it. Was thinking of splitting the 2 batches into 3 and topping of with water and trying to restart fermentation to get rid if the sweetness until my wife said she likes it, but that's only trying a straw full not a glass or bottle full. I think I'll try bottle it. Age a couple bottles and keep the rest out for drinking in the here and now. just reading all these forms have me the impression back sweetening is the way to go for this sort of thing. I could even stick a shot or 2 of brandy in a couple of bottles. Just so long as I get the space back to make some thing more like a dry red wine.
 

fatbloke

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Of course, you could add some oak chips and bulk age it. The after a couple of months, taste it as the oak would impart some tannins etc

Or add some acid first, to help balance the sweetness a little, then oak it......
 
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mooney

mooney

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Oak could work. Might do one as these 2 taste just about the same and look the same now.

I started another 2 batches not long after these. One a plumb mead has a specific gravity below 1 and is clearing away nicely. The other a heather honey mead is down at 1.010 and stoped fermenting but there was more honey in this one but its not clearing at all. Was thinking of cold crashing it to help it clear rather than using finings as we know a lot of vegetarians. Would putting it outside be cold enough. In Scotland its not getting much above 5c during the day and below 0 at night. How long would I leave it out?
 

fatbloke

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My heather honey batch was a twat to clear. I ended up hitting it with finings after a year....

Oh and for a cold crash, about a week should do the trick.
 
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mooney

mooney

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Ye the heather honey is not clearing at all, been in my cold "cellar“ under the floor board for a while now and the laser pen is just not coming out the other side. an trying to make vegetarian meads as my family are a bunch of iron deprived tree hugging vegetarians. do all finings contain gelatin?
 

aceparadis

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Mead can take forever to clear, which is normally why I Sur Lie. Really helps to clear things up naturally, bulk aging is better
 

bodhi86

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Not all fining agents contain gelitin or egg shell, some are made of some kind of dirt, negative charge positive charge 2 part systems made to pull floating stuff down. My lhbs carries several different kinds.
 

fatbloke

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Ye the heather honey is not clearing at all, been in my cold "cellar“ under the floor board for a while now and the laser pen is just not coming out the other side. an trying to make vegetarian meads as my family are a bunch of iron deprived tree hugging vegetarians. do all finings contain gelatin?
You may have better results if you can "cold crash" it at normal fridge temperatures i.e. 1 to 4C - as for it taking time to clear, it depends whether it's a normal haze of yeast cells still held in suspension or whether it's a protein haze.

Bentonite (also known as "fullers earth") is one of the easier more gentle finings to try first. If that clears the batch then it's probably just yeast hazing. Bentonite isn't known to be so successful with protein hazes. Which some people find will drop out naturally, but I haven't found that. The 2 part finings are, I believe Chitosan and Kiesol. I don't know if they have gelatin as part of their make up though.

Maybe you may just end up telling the veggies that you used bentonite - to prevent offending their veggie sensibilities.....

You may just find that you need to play with your methods/techniques/ingredients a bit to get something to their taste that doesn't/didn't need finings. Don't forget, if you just step feed a batch so that it ferments to the yeast tolerance, it might take longer to age, but it often clears more easily (actually, some Banana has been found to help the clearing, either a whole one, just topped and tailed and then sliced skin and all into the ferment or a couple of bananas topped and tailed, then sliced and boiled in some water, then that's strained off the pulp and the "liquor" is added to the ferment).
 
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mooney

mooney

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Is bentonite the clay stuff. I'll maybe check it out. There is no rush for it as the heather honey was not cheap so i'm no wasting it by drinking it young but i'm surprised other meads I made at the same time were getting passed round the family yesterday Christal clear, and the heather honey is still thick. I think it is suspended yeast as there is not much of a cake. I racked it and really there was not allot to rack off. my only way to cold crash it would be in the cold frame in the garden. Once this rain goes and we get a nice frost again.
 

fatbloke

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Yes that's exactly what it is. It has a number of uses in industry as well hence if you had time to hunt for it you could get it much cheaper than small pots from the HBS.....
 

saramc

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If you do source the bentonite elsewhere just make sure it is food grade. I do not know if it is easily found outside of N.Amerixa, though kaolin clay would be an alternative.

Chitosan is derived from shellfish, typically the actual shells.
Kielesol is a silica gel fining agent. Chitosan-kielosol is a combo commonly marketed as SuperKleer. May want to check http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/finishin.asp as this partcular link sends you to a page which provides a good overview of the various fining options along with cold stabilization, plus Keller's website is a nice resource.
 
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