View Full Version : Rookie Mead Maker Questions

Jun 6th 2012, 10:01 AM
So last Nov. I finally decided to give the mead thing a go. I've racked a few times (the last being a couple nights ago), so....

1) How do I know it's time to bottle? - I've read these horror stories about "glass grenades" from bottling too early. The lock was pulling the water toward the carboy, so I thought it was a sign, but after racking it is now pressing 'out' again, so there is still fermentation going on and is too early??

2) It tastes OK, I guess, but in the carboy it had a real...astringent...smell. Letting the sample sit out before tasting seemed to alleviate this a little. Is this normal or am I making an antiseptic?


Jun 6th 2012, 10:17 AM
Question 1: Yes. The racking reawakend the fermentation. Wait till it stops again. By swirling, if no bubbles form and rise, you can usually know that the fermentation is over. This is dependent on the amount of unfermented sugar and the level of alcohol that has been produced. A very important tool to help you know this is a hygrometer and is highly recommended for those who make mead.
Question 2: Tastes and smells develop and change with time (just like wine ageing). But, are you sure there was no access of oxygen to the preparation while it was being prepared. The possibility of vinegar developing is not too likely, but it does exist. Than again, you can't miss the smell or taste of vinegar if you've got it.
The astringency could be a result of not balancing the amounts and kinds of "additives" (tannin and acid) you put in the must as it was prepared for fermentation.

Bottom line, give it time and check it again in another few weeks.

Jun 6th 2012, 10:42 AM
If I may with a follow up....
You ask - But, are you sure there was no access of oxygen to the preparation while it was being prepared?

I was under the impression that O2 should be involved in the original preparation. (Something about allowing them to 'reproduce' before the anerobic process. The directions I followed had me give it a good swirl the first day, then airlock). And...

check it again in another few weeks. -- Can I just pop the top and check (wouldnt that allow O2 in?), or do you mean rack again?

The lack of hydrometer and taking of initial gravity is a major mistake I plan not to repeat next time. I see how important they are to the process now.

Thanks for your help

Jun 6th 2012, 11:22 AM
There's no problem with Oxygen while preparing the must and very little problem during the early stages of active fermentation. The general practice is to try to work with full containers (leaving a small aiar space at the top) so that when you pop the top only a small amount of O2 enters.

You needn't rack again.

Yeast, responsisble for alcohol production, can multiply with Oxygen present and ferment when there is no Oxygen. The acetobacter bacteria can't function in an anaerobic (oxygenless) environment so the best protection against producing vinegar is maintaining as minimal an exposure to oxygen as posssible.
Even when bottling the mead, I like to fill the bottle to the very top as "added" protection against oxygen. (commercial operations don't fill to the top because they have different considerations and use additives that protect against spoilage.)

Jun 6th 2012, 11:39 AM
Now I think I've got it. Thanks

Jun 6th 2012, 12:35 PM
you can still use a Hydrometer now , as your gravity should be close to 1.000 for fully fermented must, depending on whether you are aiming for sweet or dry... dry lower than 1.000 , sweet just above.

Hog Wild
Jun 7th 2012, 09:08 AM
You definately need a hydrometer for starting and finishing wines but I always "stabalize" my wines prior to degassing/corking.You can get stabalizer from area wine making shops or purchase online. You add 1/4 tsp per gallon and it will kill existing fermentation most of the time, again check with hydrometer. I stabalize, let rest for at least two days, add fpack or sweeten and then start the degassing process. I degas at least 4 times prior to corking.

Jun 7th 2012, 09:57 AM
As mention above, I am a rookie to the mead thing, so.....
Stabilizing I have heard of (potassium sorbate, I believe?), but this is the first I have heard of 'degassing'. What is it?
I'm on a serious learning curve here, I know.

Also - for next time - when I rack of course I never have as much as I started with because I'm trying to avoid picking up the lee(?). To avoid the increasing air space, does one fill the difference between rackings with water?

Thanks ( you guys are helping more than the past ten websites I've read!!)

Hog Wild
Jun 7th 2012, 11:25 AM
Yes, potassium sorbate for stabalizing.

I top off with a finished wine if available if not and fpack minus the sugar but water will suffice in a pinch.

There are several ways to release this gas and return the wine to a true still wine. The simplest way is to simply stir the wine with a wooden dowel or a plastic rod. I use a plastic stirrer that attaches to my cordless drill. Stir the wine vigorously for about a minute and then replace the airlock and let the wine settle down for 30-45 minutes. Then repeat the procedure several times until the wine stops giving up CO2 gas. You can see it bubbling through your airlock.Check out Jack Keller's website it is full of recipes, definitions and explanations. Great source for beginners and beyond. :thumbsup:


Jun 7th 2012, 03:35 PM
You can click here;


Jun 7th 2012, 11:01 PM
Thanks guys - very informative site

Jun 8th 2012, 12:15 AM
CeeGee, You might want to go and read through the section on products of the hive or use the search option asking for "mead" on the forum. You'll find a lot of information on older threads.

bee stung
Jun 21st 2012, 09:22 PM
now a heads up about mead and wine making ,,
(1) 9 of 10 you give a bottle to will never say great , good or bad , they will not say how they thought it taste like ,,
(2) 9 out of 10 you will never get the bottle back from them
(3) they think the bottle it was in was free you don't have to buy bottles
(4) 19 out of 20 will ask for more
(5) 39 out of 40 think it only cost a buck or less a bottle to make
(6) you do not use any equipment to make wine so there's not cost for that
do you want me to go on ???? I think you get what I'm saying ,, right

Jun 22nd 2012, 12:52 AM
Bee stung-- you forgot about the personal pleasure one gets from just doing it. Otherwise, who would do anything? :mrgreen:

Jun 29th 2012, 08:43 AM
I might give some away, if it is halfway decent, and I'm not expecting the bottle back, though a "great, good, or bad" would be nice. I'm in it now (as I'm not much of a wine connoisseur) for another honey product. Past couple years I've a few extra gallons lying around and thought, why not....

Also, while I'm here, what is the 'preferred" method of 'backsweetening'?
I've read many different methods, some of which seem as simple as adding honey before bottling, others which seem to involve a chem lab.

Hog Wild
Jun 29th 2012, 09:23 AM
On a straight mead (w/o fruit or whatever else added) I would mix 1 part honey to 1 part hot water dissolve to taste. Degas and repeat if necessary to aquire the sweetness you are after. I always degas after sweetening wether its sugar/honey to water or Fpacks. Trust me, ain't nothing like walking into your wine room only to find numerous corks on the ground and a sweet muscadine dripping from the ceiling! :roll:

Jun 29th 2012, 11:15 AM
Go for the simplest--usually the best. But if increasing the sugar content, be sure that the alcohol content is high enough to prevent a reactivation of the fermentation or that there is no yeast in the mead to start fermentation at a low alcohol content level.

Jun 29th 2012, 02:58 PM
You want to make sure it stops fermenting, so adding potasium Sorbate is the common method and then backsweeten. Yes Honey can be used, so can any other sugar. depends on the flavor you want.
I try to use a yeast that will leave me with sweetening if I want a sweet Mead.

My Strawberry is now at 8 weeks , time to start clarifying and adding more fresh strawberries before they disappear for the season.