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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Enfield,Ct.
    Posts
    471

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    Started my first 5 gal batch Jan 2004,13# honey,Lavlin ec1118 yeast.Fermented one week in primary at cool room temps.Racked to secondary at room temps for about 2-3 weeks until bubbling stopped.Racked again and placed in cool room in cellar(57deg).Racked a couple more times to clear and bottled in July.Tasted in Aug.Unpleasant,a little sweet.Checked in Dec.and noticed a little sediment.Opened a bottle.improvment in flavor but it was carbonating!
    I kept a record sheet of ingredients and gravities but ,of course ,I can't find the darn thing.
    What should I do now?The carbonation is slight,just a little bite on the tongue.Not much "pop" when I open the cork.Would it be better to store the bottles straight up or on their sides.Right now they are on their sides and if they blow it will be a heck of a mess.If I stand them up,will the corks dry out and allow a little gas to escape?Will the corks come out a little at a time or all at once?Or how about duct tape(a la Red Green)to act like the wire on a champagne bottle.
    Thanks,Jack

  2. #2

    Post

    Do not give any bottles away except to your current wife's ex-husband ( I did it twice by mistake).

    Plan on them blowing.

    Do you take gravity readings? What I did to help some out at this stage was to make some 1 gallon batches of mead and added flavorings. I have posted this experience elsewhere on Beesource dealing with allspice and ginger meads. I would put them back in a carboy for a while. Consider using some potassium sorbate to inhibit further fermentation. Or else put everything into a champagne bottle from now on.

  3. #3
    Brewcat Guest

    Post

    Hi Jack,
    If my numbers are close (only one cup of coffee so far), your starting gravity would’ve been around 1.095, or about 12 to 13% potential alcohol. Lalvin’s 1118 champagne is tolerant to 18% given a chance, so your mead probably didn’t ferment to dryness and was still trying, albeit slowly, when you bottled. I’m going to guess you didn’t use yeast nutrient?

    So what now? Nursebee is right on, I’m afraid; it won’t be able to just ride. Best case, you could open a bottle and pour a sample, swirl it in a glass for a few minutes to degass, and take a gravity reading. This will let us know how much sugar is left, and thus how much TNT is in your grenades, so to speak. From the sugar reading, we can calculate how much carbonation will develop. If you’re lucky, it’ll be close to enough to carbonate and you’ll just need to wire down the corks (I’d splurge the $.10 each for the bails. As much as I dig duct tape, I wouldn’t trust it for this). Or you could let it carbonate for a while, then pop all the corks and let them degass a minute, and recork. Note that American champagne bottles will accept a crown cap like beer bottles have, which is quick, easy, cheap, stronger, and much less oxygen permeable over time. Corks won’t allow much gas to escape, even dry.

    This is very common! Don’t be discouraged. If you’re a brewer and have a corny setup, you could keg the whole batch and have draft mead. This is also a great way to find out how many “friends” you have, by the way! Putting it back into the carboy would be ideal, except that there’s really no way to do this without introducing O2, oxidizing the mead to some extent. I guess if it were my mead, I’d take the sample and we can figure from there.


    ------------------
    Ben Brewcat brewing in Lyons, CO

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Clarksville, MI
    Posts
    92

    Post

    Agreed, you've got a serious problem. If it is noticeably sweet on the tongue, you almost certainly have enough sugar to blow the bottles.

    One suggestion - put them all in the fridge. IMMEDIATELY. Get them as close to freezing as possible. Temps below 40 degrees or so will cause the yeast to go dormant, so fermentation will stop. You as soon as you pull them out and warm them up they'll start fermenting again, so only pull them out if you are going to drink them. Takes up a bunch of fridge space, but it's better than flying glass.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Enfield,Ct.
    Posts
    471

    Post

    I opened a bottle this evening,poured some in a glass,swirled for about 30 sec.a couple of times and let sit about 2 hrs.SG 1.005.For comparison,Yellowtail Chardonay(which I just happen to be tasting) refrigerator temp, SG about .995.Hard to tell as my brewing hydrometer has no gradations below 1.000

    I still can't find my batch notes.I suspect they fell behind the shelving which holds about 6 cases of homebrew,some domestic microbrews,misc.wines and canna,dahlia and caladium tubers.too much to move.

    I followed Ken Shramms recipe for a medium show mead from "The Compleat Meadmaker".The recipe called for 2 tsp energizer and 2 tsp.nutrient.OG 1.094-1.112 and FG 1.010.I remember my gravities being very close to those numbers.The only difference was,he called for LalvinD-47 and I used Lalvin 1118.Will different yeasts ferment out to different gravities (as long as the alcohol tolerences aren't surpassed).

    Brewcat,
    How did you come up with the 1.095 number?
    How can you predict the alcohol percent from the SG?
    I understand the basics of SG.A comparrison with water which is 1.000.I can see why my Chardonay SG is less than 1.000 but I don't understand how a finished mead SG can be greater than 1.000.

    Thanks all for your comments and help.
    With a SG of 1.005 and a very low level of carbonation,I suspect these arn't going to blow soon. Jack

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,030

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    Jack,

    1.005 is not bad at all; not even terribly sweet. The 2004 edition BJCP style guidelines for dry mead go from .990 to 1.010.

    >How did you come up with the 1.095 number?

    Honey at average moisture levels yields about 36 ppg (points per pound per gallon). That is, one pound of honey, dissolved in enough water to make one gallon, has an SG of 1.036.

    Thus, 13 pounds times 36 "points" equals 468, divided by five gallons, equals 93.6. Close is an operative word, as we don't know the exact moisture content of the honey usually, and homebrew volumetric measures are not terribly exact for most of us.

    To work this around into recipe development, figure your volume and target gravity. Say you want three gallons of must at 1.110. 110 points, times three gallons, yields 330 "total gravity points", divided by 36 ppg for honey, and you'll need to dissolve 9.16 pounds honey into water to make three gallons. This "seat-of-the-pants" gravity calculation is from Ray Daniel's excellent book "Designing Great Beers", and is especially easy for meadmakers because we're effectively disolving sugar syrup.

    >How can you predict the alcohol percent from the SG?

    The easiest way is to have a triple-scale hydrometer, which has potential alcohol written right next to the SG scale. You can download charts from lots of places on the internet, or more than likely a scale came with your hydrometer (probably right next to the recipe!). Starting Potential alc minus final PA equals actual (not exactly, but certainly within a point). There is a formula for it using SG readings; let me know if you'd like it I could look it up.


    >I understand the basics of SG.A comparrison with water which is 1.000.I can see why my Chardonay SG is less than 1.000 but I don't understand how a finished mead SG can be greater than 1.000.

    There are a few ways this could occur, but they all amount to the same thing. Your yeast didn't eat all the sugar, so there's some left to taste (and to float your hydrometer). In your example, usually that champagne strain would be OK for several more points (up to 18%), but for whatever reason it's apparently done at around 12%. That's cool depending on your taste; sweet meads can finish even sweeter than 30 points! The only concern is that if for some reason in six months your yeast reach a settlement with the alcohol's lobbyists, and start to work again, you could carbonate pretty enthusiastically. It's begun a bit, and that's why you're seeing carbonation. For reference, .002 is what you'd use to carbonate an "average" beer.

    Keep them cool, and check 'em for a few months to make sure it's not out of control. Good excuse to take tasting notes on the mead's development.

    >Will different yeasts ferment out to different gravities (as long as the alcohol tolerences aren't surpassed).

    Yes, some have different requirements for nitrogen, are more sensitive to acid levels, and other variables, but generally they're pretty good up to the alcohol content. Keys to full ferment are healthy and enough yeast pitched, adequate oxygen at the start (the only time to have oxygen), and decent pH / temperature / nutrient levels.

    Whew! Sorry for the long post.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  7. #7

    Post

    Just a comment about putting bottled mead back into carboys and concerns over oxygenation: I have done it once and not had a problem with off flavors. A brewclub member was kind enough to bring along some oxygenated beer to a meeting once as an educational experience, VERY noticeable and not at all like anything I have ever made.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,030

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    Just for reference, here's a formula for calculating ABV:

    OG minnus FG x .129

    Be sure to use "gravity points", the last three digits with the "1." truncated.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Enfield,Ct.
    Posts
    471

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    Whew!! A bit much to digest at one sitting.I did print this out.

    I checked my brewing hydometer and sure enough,it has a percent scale,but only up to 10%.

    A question on you abreviations?
    BJCP ?
    ABV alcohol by volume?

    Thanks again,Jack

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,030

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    Thanks for pointing that out! I'm poor at remembering to translate lingo. BJCP is the Beer Judge Certification Program, which sets style guidelines for beers and meads which allows them to be judged in competition on a somewhat level field. I'd say the large majority of home meadmakers got into it from homebrewing, and that's why many of the resources for meadmakers are beer-slanted. BJCP is also the group that certifies and trains judges. Meads suffer somewhat, as they often don't fit well into beer or wine competitions. Style guidelines are useful but definitely limited, as a great mead can still lose points for not being "to style". You can check out the BJCP and download the style guidelines here:

    Beer Judge Certification Program

    ABV is alcohol by volume.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

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