Question on aging mead

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thorson138

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My 5.5 gallon batch is all but done fermenting I believe. The SG is down to 1.04. It is very sweet which is fine with me. I am thinking of spicing part of the batch with cinnamon and cloves. My question is does mead age properly in an airtight container? I have some 1 gallon jugs with stoppers and had planned on using them to age in. Will this be effective? Or do I have to use corks to allow some oxygen??? (breathing). Also what additions of cinnamon and cloves would you guys recomend if I'm aging in 1 gallon jugs? I was thinking 1 whole clove per gallon and 1 cinnamon stick. Any advice is appreciated.
 

jezter6

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Can't say I can answer your spice question - but how do you know it's done? Have you taken consistent readings for it at that gravity? That's very sweet and pending the OG - I wouldn't assume this was "done" at all. Sounds like a semi-stuck ferment.

I'd be sure to put in sorbate/sulfite to make SURE it's stopped, otherwise you're risking bombs. Also, depending on how long it's been fermenting, you'll probably have some off-gassing to do, which I'm not sure I'd recommend a closed container. Can you just get some drilled stoppers and put airlocks on the growlers??
 
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thorson138

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The OG was 1.124. It has come down to 1.04 and the yeast alcohol tolerance is 14%. So it's at about 11% abv. It's not completely done but it is barley bubbling any more. I started this batch with 20lbs honey and 4 gallons of water, so it was almost 6 gallons to start. I'm not going to do anything drastic with this batch yet, I'm just trying to get my method of aging figured out. I've got some stoppers with holes to go on the 1 gallon jugs I have, so I could go that route. Or should I just leave this batch in the carboy with lees on the bottom and let it age right where it is? This batch was started on 9-27-09. today is 10-13-09. Not even a month yet. I'm not in any rush, I'll give this all the time it needs, I just want to have the best plan for the next phase.

If this is a semi-stuck or sluggish fermentation, will it still continue to ferment if I do nothing? Or is it necessary for me to do something to try and correct it? Thanks for the reply!
 

jezter6

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What yeast did you use? Did you use any nutrients? Oxygenate the must?

Bubbling isn't really the indicator of done, it's purely hydrometer readings being consistently the same for multiple days in a row. And with meads, often times you should consider it multiple weeks in a row, as meads may continue to ferment slowly for longer periods. What temp are you keeping it at? Colder temps mean sluggish mead.

I wouldn't leave it on the carboy with lees, but if you have another carboy - rack it off the lees every few weeks when the lees builds up to 3/4" or so. Eventually it will clear up and stop dropping out lees and then you should be ready to bottle.

If you can spare a carboy, bulk aging is probably best.
 
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thorson138

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I used D47 yeast and I used yeast energizer but not any nutrients. I oxygenated the must vigorously 10 minutes or so 2-3 times in the first week and a half or so. I was reading in the faq about autolysis which comes from the mead staying on the lees for long periods of time. The way it sounded this wont hurt the mead and in fact can actually give it a better mouth feel. The temp has been between 70-74* all the time. I really don't want to rack if I can keep from it.
 

Kauai_Kahuna

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I would be surprised if it was done, while the initial fermentation can go pretty quickly the honey takes a while for the yeast to go through it completely.
I would not even worry for a couple of months about racking, but saying that I usually rack after a month or less just to move it to a more manageable 5 gal carboy.
I would recommend waiting a week and taking another reading, and you may want to sneak up on it at night with the lights off and shine a flash light on it. If you see bubbles and some cloudy diffusion, it's still going.
 
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thorson138

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There are very very few bubbles coming to the surface and it hasn't even started to get clear. I'll check it again at the end of the month to see if it's still fermenting. If the lees wont hurt it, I'll leave it til it completely clears. One more thing... I have noticed there seems to be lees accumulating in the grooves on the glass carboy as well as in the bottom. Will these eventually fall to the bottom? I don't know if that will present a problem or not... Thanks for the replies fellas!
 

blackwaterbrewer

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+1 on what jezter6 said. you should definitely rack to a secondary once you get a steady hydrometer reading over 3-4 days.
 
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thorson138

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Thanks blackwater... Have you guys found that leaving mead on the lees has given your meads off flavors???
 

hightest

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Unfortunately this is a common misconception that most likely comes from beer brewing.

Most mead may be left on the primary lees for time that can extend up to a year. :eek: :) Read the FAQ on this subject (please...)

I routinely leave my meads in the primary for anywhere from 1-3 months before the first racking. The one exception is when making a melomel with fruit in the primary.
 
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thorson138

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Thanks! Hightest, you have replied to a few of my threads about this batch, which I appreciate.
 

Smogre

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It is my opinion that 1 stick and 1 clover per gallon is way too much.
Spices have the tendency to get real heavy real fast.

I have a Metheglin that I finally bottled just last weekend. It was spiced with a few sticks. The cinnamon is still very present but not overwhelming...anymore.

It was in a carboy for 3 years before I bottled it.

I skimmed the rest of the replies and if you're letting it clear up a bit, I'd spice it now while you still have some control. During your gravity tests, you can also taste it and judge for yourself if it needs more or less. Always err on the side of starting with less than you think.
 

Kauai_Kahuna

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+1 on less is more with the spices.
I usually use one stick of cinnamon.
The cloves I get are really tiny little things so I'm not sure if they are the same as what other people use, but even then I use around 6.
I can taste the spices when I bottle, but they grow with time and can quickly become over powering.
 
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thorson138

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So for the entire 5.5 gal batch you would recomend using only 1 cinnamon stick and a few cloves? These cloves are really small but they have quite a strong aroma to them which leads me to believe they're pretty potent little dudes. hmhmhm. How long should I leave them in the mead? And is now a good time to add em? Ther are very very few bubbles coming up to the surface at this point, and this stuff is still not anywhere even close to being clear. If I had to guess I'd say this batch is gonna take a long time to clear, you can't even begin to see through it. Thanks all!
 

Smogre

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Super tough call man.
I think I tossed two sticks in mine and I don't especially like cloves so I don't think I used any of that. If they smell potent to you now, they will be potent in the mead. Just remember that you can always add but it's very difficult to subtract.

Again, mine aged for over 3 years before I bottled it. The sticks were probably in there for about a month. I don't remember really. The spice has mellowed to perfection but I remember a day when it was very hot.

I'm pretty sure Schramms book has a recipe in there and would be a good starting point to figure how much to add and when to do it. I simply can't recall off the top of my head what they are.

I'm sure someone in here will know immediately and can chime in.
 

MisterLouie

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I'm planning to make Schramm's Fall's Bounty cyser today, my first outing besides my traditionals and one braggot. He urges caution on the use of spices. For a five gallon batch he calls for just three cloves (and the other spices) in a muslin bag in the secondary until it is to taste. I'll be checking mine regularly because I certainly don't want too much in the way of cloves. If you are adding cloves to each gallon, you may consider adding the cloves to the whole batch first and then splitting it up for aging or whatever you choose from there.
 

hightest

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... For a five gallon batch he calls for just three cloves (and the other spices) in a muslin bag in the secondary until it is to taste.
True. But for those who may be unsure, it might be prudent to mention that the use of spices is optional in the recipe. ;)
 

MisterLouie

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Well said, so let me repeat it; "spices are optional" in Schramm's Fall Bounty cyser. With all of the dates, raisins, cider, and sugar in there I (personally) am hesitant about adding spices at all, particularly from the outset. Too many other flavors to enjoy and maybe not suitable to the tastes of those sharing a mazer or three. One could always make little mulling/spicing pouches (à la Chaucer's) for small or individual portions just before serving.
 

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