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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Casper, WY
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    526

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    Hi Guys,

    So what do you think? Should mead be under a cap or should it be under a cork? I know the caps themselves are less expensive than the corks. But that's about all I know.

    Regards
    Dennis
    The mead mangler er wrangler :&gt

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Clarksville, MI
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    92

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    Depends on how long you want to keep it. I've used exclusively caps so far, and I've kept it 1.5 yrs without a problem. I'm told that for extended aging 2+ yrs you really do want a cork, and I believe it.

    You forgot another option - kegging. I just started recently, and I'm hooked. The only downside is that it is just so easy to dispense that you drink more. Meaning you go through it faster and, well, you hit the floor faster. [img]smile.gif[/img]
    <a href=\"http://www.slezakfarms.com\" target=\"_blank\">http://www.slezakfarms.com</a>

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
    Posts
    804

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    Hi ScottS and Everyone,

    My first batch of mead is underway and the smell escaping the airlock is quite pleasant. I've really enjoyed the experience.

    As I'm just learning, I discovered the metal screw cap option.

    It wouldn't require a capper/corker. Bottles can be stored upright. And the mead couldn't get spoiled from the mold found in some of the cork products.

    Would plastic corks be a good alternative?

    What do you guys think?

    Regards
    Dennis
    Thinking if it tastes as good as it smells, bottling may be a minor concern :&gt))
    I once wrangled bees. But now, knowing better, I just let them bee.
    http://talkingstick.me/category/bees/

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
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    The only drawbacks IMO to the synthetic closures are aesthetic appeal for traditionalists and, if using a hand-corker, they're somewhat more difficult to insert. Benefits: no "corked" mead as you said, no sanitizing diffuculty, impermeability to oxygen, upright storage, fewer price swings due to wildfires in Portugal/disease/shipping problems etc.

    ScottS as usual makes a good point about aging; it's the big meads that you want to age a long time that can also benefit from gradual oxidation through the cork for a little complexity, like a big red wine does. I personally am a kegger or crown capper also for ease and convenience. Your Solstice party will never be equalled after your guests get into that draft mead! Kegs also allow you to change the carbonation level as you go along if you want, or even (gasp!) add some fruit puree, spice tincture, or whatnot if you think the mead wants it.

    BTW a brief point about the airlock aroma... don't worry if your airlock smells seriously gross too. Some yeasts will throw some serious funk during primary ferment, including hydrogen sulfide (rotten eggs) or some other delights. It'll dissipate with time. Don't throw it out!

    I actually have an airlock plug that directs the gas through a length of IV tubing down the washing machine drain stack, which is then gently stuffed with Bounce sheets. SWMBO loves the mead but when the house smells like serious Tex-mex flatulence she draws the line!
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
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    P.S. I used to have a customer who, when his meads and ciders were "done" (like three weeks usually), would just invert the carboy, yeast and all, into a office-type water cooler and have a party to drain it. "Best d**n hard cider I ever had!" they said. Just so we don't get too high-falutin' here!
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
    Posts
    804

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    Hi Guys,

    Now I getting low down. How would canning jars work?

    Regards
    Dennis
    I once wrangled bees. But now, knowing better, I just let them bee.
    http://talkingstick.me/category/bees/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Lyons, CO
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    With good sanitation, theoretically. However, since you wouldn't be actually canning it (I hope), you'd need a clever way to keep the lids on without the bands (if the bands get any moisture, even some humidity, they always seem to rust).

    If you're having trouble finding a suitable vessel for your mead, WAIT! You don't need to be in a hurry to bottle. Quite the contrary esp. if you have a glass carboy. The most common beginner's mistake is bottling too early. Seriously, returnable bottles are free from the recycling center, caps are $3.50 a pound (about 400), and a capper is like ten bucks. We'll take up a collection rather than make you use canning jars .
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  8. #8

    Post

    I can probably get you a full case of crowns for $40 plus shipping and handling. THat would last you a lifetime. Or you could buy 1000 corks for about $100. So price should not be a big deal for many people.

    Both decent used beer and wine bottles can be had for free by recycling.

    I am bulk aging mead and beer with crowns and have most of my mead with corks. Ask me in a few years. No problems so far.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
    Posts
    804

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    Hi Guys,

    I bet you think I've had too much mead to drink, but I have one more question. Would wine bottle corks fit into the beer bottles?

    A smaller beer bottle would be a drinkable size. I think it could stand the pressure from a carbonated mead? (asking). The 22oz bottle would be a bit larger than I would care to drink at one setting, but it would have the same benefits as the smaller one as far as utility goes. With a cork, could a few bottles could be set back for a few years? (asking again)

    It's interesting to note that I went to the recycling bins and they didn't have any wine bottle, just a few dozen beer bottles. It looks like I will have to buy them.

    Regards
    Dennis
    I once wrangled bees. But now, knowing better, I just let them bee.
    http://talkingstick.me/category/bees/

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
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    Beer bottles will certainly hold plenty of carbonation, but not corks I'm afraid. They have a taper and are just sized wrong. The corks-for-aging thing is not even close to an absolute... use beer bottles with crown caps if they're whats available. It's a more reliable, consistent closure IMO, and certianly what I use. I've had several 12+ year olds in them that are exquisite; meads, beers, wines.

    If you want wine bottles, go to any restaurant that serves (most) and look in the recycling bin Saturday morning. If you can eat there, and ask for a manager when it's slow, explain that you're a meadmaker and ask if it's OK to raid the recycling bin. Aside from the coutesy factor, most of the time in my experience you'll get a lot of interested questions and, as often as not, rinsed bottles in cases stacked out back if you play your cards right. An offer of trade-in-kind often goes a long ways... folks like to try something different! I get more wine bottles than I can manage from friends who know I make it, but for the occasional shortfall a bin is a big help.

    For champagne bottles (the American champagnes can be crown capped just like beer bottles!), try places with champagne brunches.

    Short answer: if you like beer bottles, use them with the crown caps; they're great.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Clarksville, MI
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    92

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    Never tried this myself, but... I hear that most crown cappers come with reversible plates that allow you to cap european champagne bottles too. So if it doesn't fit the first time, don't keep trying. Try to take your capper apart. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Also, oxygen absorbing caps are available for beer bottles if you are worried about long term aging. I've heard of people using them to good effect, but I certainly can't promise that they'd stand up to years of aging. Probably they would.
    <a href=\"http://www.slezakfarms.com\" target=\"_blank\">http://www.slezakfarms.com</a>

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Lyons, CO
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    Yes, the O2 barrier caps are cool. They no NOT, as some will tell you, absorb all the O2 from the headspace! They just allow O2 to penetrate the plastic seal between metal and glass much more slowly than the traditional, and can absorb some headspace O2. With mead, cap with minimal headspace.

    Usually on the crown cappers they can be reversed from the beer-bottle jaws to allow American champagne capping. Most of the time the Euros will snap at the neck when you try to cap them with our cappers; they're just a slightly larger outside diameter.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Buckeye, AZ
    Posts
    48

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    Hi guys, new to the Forum, old to brewing mead (and beer).

    (MHO) I have used both synthetic and natural corks for years and have thrown away my corker and reverted to caps. ANY amount of air through a cork leads to vinegar in a hurry. The purpose of a stopper is to prevent any air. There has been a debate in the wine industry about "air" ageing red wine, and it has proven to be "Hot Air". I am not a huge fan of the oxygen barrier lids. I have found if you use caps or swing tops and hit them with a quick blast of CO2 across the top of the liquid right before you cap, oxygenation will not be a problem and you can still sanitize your caps. (CO2 is heavier than air)

    Many of the high-end wineries are actually moving to twist tops, and many of the wine critics are praising them. There is still just a perception issue. A lot of your local home-brew stores have begun carrying them, and so does Williams homebrew supply (http://www.williamsbrewing.com/) and B3 (http://www.morebeer.com/)

    The nice thing about the swing tops are you can have a pretty bottle with-out the perceived "screw-top / beer top" and still sanitize everything. Besides with swing top/ caps, you can have both still and sparkling mead without changing closures.
    Thank you,<br /><br />Gregory

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    new york
    Posts
    7

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    I HAVE MEAD IN SWING TOP GROLSCH BOTTLES 12 YEARS OLD NO PROBLEMS WITH AIR INFILTRATION, STILL HOLDS ITS SPARKLE AND MAN IS IT GOOD. FORGOT IT IN THE IN-LAWS BASEMENT FOR 10 YEARS WHAT A FIND BOTTLED THIS YEARS WITH NOMACORK AS WELL AS OUR RED WINE FROM SEPT NO PROBLEMS AS YET

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
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    3,030

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    There has been a debate in the wine industry about "air" ageing red wine, and it has proven to be "Hot Air"
    Do you have a cite on this? The effects of oxidation's effects, on tannins especially, are well understood chemically speaking; I'd be interested to see newer information than the old wisdom. Micro-oxygenation (deliberate introduction of controlled O2 in stainless tanks rather than the less predictable cask aging) seems to be the new rage in the industry; maybe it needs to be revisited.


    a quick blast of CO2 across the top of the liquid right before you cap, oxygenation will not be a problem and you can still sanitize your caps. (CO2 is heavier than air)
    Technically true, but the problem is CO2's miscibility in air which is very high. It's virtually impossible to purge bottles with a stream of CO2 unfortunately; Steve Alexander of the HBD calculated that even in a cornelius keg, for example, it takes something like twenty purges at 30 PSI to reduce the headspace to only 20% of it's original O2 content (I forget the actual numbers, but it was pretty remarkable how ineffective it is). If CO2 were significantly heavy enough to overcome that kind of turbulence, trees wouldn't have to worry about humans chopping them down 'cuz we'd all be dead from the CO2 blanket on the Earth! Fortunately for we mammals, CO2 mixes into the other atmospheric gases very readily.

    A good technique with meads not totally degassed (and of course beers) is to siphon into bottles and set the caps on top without crimping them down. The agitation of siphoning causes dissolved CO2 in solution to devolve, gently displacing the small volume of headspace gradually from below. After five minutes, go back and cap.

    I suspect your lack of oxidation is more due to using consistently good transfer and storage technique; that's where serious O2 damage can easily sneak in for the unwary.

    ANY amount of air through a cork leads to vinegar in a hurry.
    If Acetobacter are present, yes. Otherwise just oxidation (think sherry; usually significant oxidation character w/o the acetic acid flavors which you couldn't miss).


    Just went back and read post, only to realize I may have jumped on you; Welcome Gregory and sorry! Hope I don't come across as trying to talk down. Thanks for joining the forum and we look forward to your input... lots of good and different opinions to be had. Cheers!
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Buckeye, AZ
    Posts
    48

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    Brewcat,

    Just back from vacation and no worries.

    I will get the source for you regarding the air and red wine. It was in the "Spectator" about two months ago as well as in a Scientific America. The primary discussion was in regards to cork taint, but it lead down the aging path.

    I hadn't thought about the C02 purge in relation to mead not displacing. I was aware in the Kegs, but i use a displacement blast and had assumed that a combination of pressure and gas weight would create the purge. I have always used the "wait then crimp" method. I can tell you that I have had oxidized meads, but most were related to heat (poor storage) in corked bottles. I have also had the displeasure of cork taint in what was an otherwise fantastic dry blackberry-blueberry mead (think Merlot)
    Thank you,<br /><br />Gregory

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
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    3,030

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    A friend who subscribes (I do not and couldn't get the whole article) thought this (summary from Wine Spectator) might be the oxygen article, though it recommends only using screwcaps for wines with little aging potential. Wines that should age more still have natural corks recommended, presumably for that gradual oxygen exposure. I've preached that same old line for so long, but as they say it's always wise to hang a question mark on statements that long ended in periods .
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Buckeye, AZ
    Posts
    48

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    Ben,

    I have kept every magazine i have recieved for the last 5 years and I'll be danged if i can find it. The article was in Jan / Feb and was part of a debate between twist / cork. I will spend some time this weekend digging through my file cabinets. I have a couple of citrus meads that are going on 5 years old. Because of the citrus, they take a little longer to mellow. I bottled half in flip tops and half in corks. Of the corks, i am running about a 15% faliure rate between cork taint, leak and oxygenation. I am running less than 1% on the flip tops.
    Thank you,<br /><br />Gregory

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,030

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    Don't spend too much drinking time on trying to find those on my account ... it's like so much else a person's preference is hard to change. I'm not a big subscriber to natural corks either, for the same reasons. Maybe it's 'cuz I was a beer guy first, but I'm all about the crown caps and swingtops.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

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