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Stabelizing before Bottling

Howard Morales

NewBee
Registered Member
Greetings.

I make my mead at home and sell it in a farmers market. I've been making mead since 2012 producing an average of 400 bottles per batchand have never had the following problem.

Originally, I had mixed 70 gallons of water, 20 gallons of honey and White Lab's Sweet Mead Yeast WLP720. I racked the mead three times, intending on bottling and added Potassium Metabisulfite and Potassium Sorbate.

The instructions on the labels of a container of Potassium Metabisulfite and in a container of Potassium Sorbate were: 1/16 teaspoon per gallon of Potassium Metabisulfite and ½ teaspoon per gallon of Potassium Sorbate.

I added 6 teaspoons of Potassium Metabisulfite and 45 teaspoons of Potassium Sorbate in 86 gallons of plain mead when I noticed that the fermentation gas escape valve had stopped jumping for a period of two weeks. 48 hours later, I thought the fermentation had completely stopped and I racked the mead into another fermenter because I wanted to bottle the mead.

That was last Saturday and the fermentation, instead of ceasing completely making it safe to bottle to prevent bottle bombs, is now jumping at the rate of once every 24 hours, therefore, I don't want to bottle until the fermentation has TOTALLY stopped.

What should I do? How more Potassium Metabisulfite and Potassium Sorbate should I add to the remaining 76 or so gallons I have left after the racking having left several gallons with the sediment as a result of my having added Bentonite to clarify?

Greatly appreciate advice.
 

Maylar

Got Mead? Patron
GotMead Patron
May 23, 2015
571
14
18
Connecticut
What is the current specific gravity? Watching for bubbles in an airlock tells you nothing. You've already added as much sulfite and sorbate as you needed, but might have done so too soon.
 
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Howard Morales

NewBee
Registered Member
What is the current specific gravity? Watching for bubbles in an airlock tells you nothing. You've already added as much sulfite and sorbate as you needed, but might have done so too soon.
Thank you for your reply. I greatly appreciate it.

The fermentation tank has two openings at the bottom, the upper one for a simple screw on cover and the lower one for a screw on cover with a spigot from which I prefer to take samples for using a hydrometer but I put two simple screw on covers because the one with the spigot was leaking and had to quickly rack into another fermenter. I would have to open the large, screw on cover with the airlock and lower my arm into the fermenter to extract a sample for using the hydrometer which I don't want to do at this late date but did do about two weeks ago to taste the mead which was very dry (too dry for my intentions) and had no "magical" aroma, therefore, I want to back sweeten a bit but don't want to risk another full blown fermentation that would cause bottle bombs.

Besides using the hydrometer, as you suggest, the fact that the airlock keeps jumping at a rate of one jump per 24 hours is evidence that there is a slow, weak fermentation still going on which is why I would like to know if I should add more Potassium Metabisulfite and more Potassium Sorbate and, most importantly, how much of each?

You say I might have added the Potassium Metabisulfite and the Potassium Sorbate too soon, however, I added them after the airlock had COMPLETELY STOPPED jumping sometime around January 2021 and continued to be dead still for several weeks until I did the third racking and added the Potassium Metabisulfite and the Potassium Sorbate about two weeks ago. I pitched the must last november 25, 2020.

Do you think I might ruin the flavor by adding just half of the amounts of Potassium Metabisulfite and Potassium Sorbate I used originally, back sweeten with about one gallon of honey and bottle immediately?
 

edaskew

Got Mead? Patron
GotMead Patron
Jun 19, 2018
282
9
18
North Carolina and Mississippi
You definitely might ruin it. That's a lot of mead to ruin. I wouldn't chance it. You can get a free SO2 kit and check the SO2 level, and get it where it needs to be for the pH.
 

Howard Morales

NewBee
Registered Member
You definitely might ruin it. That's a lot of mead to ruin. I wouldn't chance it. You can get a free SO2 kit and check the SO2 level, and get it where it needs to be for the pH.
Thanks for replying.

I've made seven different meads since 2013: Passion Fruit, orange, mango, spices (anise, cinnamon and cloves), pineapple, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and this last one, a plain mead of water, honey and yeast and all except the plain mead have NOT had a single problem. I don't get it.

As I mentioned earlier, a long as the airlock keeps letting out gas, there has to be fermentation going on and, if I bottle it as is, it will cause bottle bombs which would be disasterous if I were to sell one or more of them to clients.

I read that racking with a fine filters retains the yeast and it will not be transfered to the new fermenter. Is this so? If so, then, I can forget about adding more Potassium Metabisulfite and more Potassium Sorbate to end the fermentation and threat of bottle bombs. Anyone agree? Any thoughts on the matter of fine filtering to stop the fermentation?
 

rb2112br

Worker Bee
Registered Member
Mar 27, 2018
126
5
18
I am not an expert by any means, but I would not bottle it without stabilizing it first. If it fermented dry and you did not back sweeten, you may be okay. If the SG at bottling is 1.000 or less, than I think the worst that could happen is a slight carbonation. An active fermentation can drop below 1.000, but if it is at 1.000 without backsweetening when you bottle it, any additional fermentation going on will add carbonation to your mead. I don't think it would be enough to cause bottle bombs though.
 
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Howard Morales

NewBee
Registered Member
I am not an expert by any means, but I would not bottle it without stabilizing it first. If it fermented dry and you did not back sweeten, you may be okay. If the SG at bottling is 1.000 or less, than I think the worst that could happen is a slight carbonation. An active fermentation can drop below 1.000, but if it is at 1.000 without backsweetening when you bottle it, any additional fermentation going on will add carbonation to your mead. I don't think it would be enough to cause bottle bombs though.
I greatly appreciate your feedback. Thanks.

If I did not take the SP when I first pitched the must, is there a way to determine the present SP of the mead?
 

rb2112br

Worker Bee
Registered Member
Mar 27, 2018
126
5
18
The only problem that I can see from not taking a SG reading prior to pitching the yeast is that once it stops fermenting, you won't be able to tell what the ABV is (at least there is no way that I know of). Taking the reading before pitching yeast will give you the potential ABV assuming it ferments dry, but if it stops somewhere before 1.000, you can use the difference to calculate what the ABV is.
 

Howard Morales

NewBee
Registered Member
You definitely might ruin it. That's a lot of mead to ruin. I wouldn't chance it. You can get a free SO2 kit and check the SO2 level, and get it where it needs to be for the pH.
We, finally, bottled the mead yesterday after observing that, after a period of 48 hours of having used three, fine filters to rack the mead into another fermentor. the airlock had not jumped. No need to add more Potassium Metabisulfite nor the Potassium Sorbate.

We will open a bottle in October and taste it to see if it has mellowed out and can be sold in late fall or early winter.

Thanks to all who replied. 1617806833433.png
 

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