Bottling Mead

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Bottling Mead

Postby daryl » Wed Aug 30, 2017 4:45 pm

What is your preference for bottling mead?

Beer bottles with caps?

Flip-top bottles?

Wine bottles? If so, what sizes....how many full-size 750 ml bottles do you do versus, say, 375 ml? What type of cork do you prefer?

Can wine corks be used in champagne bottles for still or sparkling mead?

From what I have read, I infer the following:
If sparkling is equivalent to the fizz in champagne, then, yeah, use champagne corks with a cage.
If you want to age your mead over years, then use straight corks for still mead.
If you do not age your mead, flip-top and caps are fine for still mead.

In terms of the size of the bottles....bottle up some 375 ml bottles to sample along the way to see how aging is going. Bottle as many 750 ml as you like. If I like the way my mead tastes, I think I will bottle 750 ml almost exclusively. It is not hard to split 750 ml with two or more at one sitting. 375 ml is nice to sample, or if one is drinking alone....which isn't nearly as fun as enjoying with friends.
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In the bucket: P-nut Brittle Ale, Blueberry and Blk Rasp. Mead; Tangerine Wheat; Spont. Funk; Swarthy Beagle
In the queue: Pils Urquell Clone, American Wheat
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Re: Bottling Mead

Postby tony b » Thu Aug 31, 2017 12:45 pm

How well do the flip-top bottles work with sparkling meads? My intuition would say that they work as well as corks & cages.
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Re: Bottling Mead

Postby daryl » Thu Aug 31, 2017 5:09 pm

The flip tops are a little heavier, but I think if I were to make a sparkling mead, I am going to opt for the champagne bottles with a champagne cork and harness.

Just so I don't make a mess in the cellar.
In the Fridge/On Tap: Salted Caramel Porter
In the barrel/conditioning:
In the bucket: P-nut Brittle Ale, Blueberry and Blk Rasp. Mead; Tangerine Wheat; Spont. Funk; Swarthy Beagle
In the queue: Pils Urquell Clone, American Wheat
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Re: Bottling Mead

Postby Schwerkraftbrauer » Thu Aug 31, 2017 6:22 pm

Is a sparkling mead just simply one that has carbonation? If so how is this achieved? Daryl was the lemon mead at the tasting the other day considered sparking?, jw
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Re: Bottling Mead

Postby daryl » Thu Aug 31, 2017 6:42 pm

Schwerkraftbrauer wrote:Is a sparkling mead just simply one that has carbonation? If so how is this achieved? Daryl was the lemon mead at the tasting the other day considered sparking?, jw


I believe Pat intended the Lemon Mead to be still, but I think it picked up a bit of carbonation from the keg.

Pat would be the expert, but I think sparkling mead has a level of carbonation similar to champagne. It could be achieved by adding honey to still mead and bottling it....similar to how we can carbonate beer by adding some additional malt/corn sugar to the beer...and the remaining active yeast works on it to create CO2.
In the Fridge/On Tap: Salted Caramel Porter
In the barrel/conditioning:
In the bucket: P-nut Brittle Ale, Blueberry and Blk Rasp. Mead; Tangerine Wheat; Spont. Funk; Swarthy Beagle
In the queue: Pils Urquell Clone, American Wheat
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Re: Bottling Mead

Postby wyzzyrdd » Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:28 am

The key lime mead and lemon mead were force-carbonated on purpose. The goal was something like a sparkling wine or sparkling hard cider.

Sparkling wine, cider, and mead do not have the head retention that beer does. You get a lot of fizz when it is poured out, then a fine ring of bubbles around the glass after the head is gone. Some carbonation persists in the product, and you get a light, fizzy mouth feel.

I have bottle-conditioned sparkling mead and sparkling cider in beer bottles with caps. This works just fine. In my opinion, flip-tops do not consistently hold pressure as well as a caps do. But that could easily be ineptitude on my part.

Bottle-conditioning of champagne is the traditional method for making sparkling wines (méthode Champenoise). This is accomplished by capping the champagne bottle during carbonation. Then the bottles are turned upside down and spun on a regular basis (riddling) to get the sediment to fill up the neck of the bottle. The bottles are then put into an ice-water bath to freeze the sediment. The cap is removed; the carbonation forces the frozen sediment out of the bottle (and product gushes out); the bottle is topped off; and then the bottle is corked and caged. On the other hand, you can bottle, cork, and cage a product then leave the sediment in the bottle like a traditional Belgian ale.

Corking a champagne bottle requires a special corker. I do not have one of these; however, I have been thinking about getting one for a couple of years. I am leaning strongly towards getting one so that I can bottle sour ales in 750 ml bottles.

So in general, I make products (beer, cider, mead) at 7 to 10 percent ABV, and bottle condition them in beer bottles with caps. I may graduate to champagne bottles, corks, and cages, but I don't know when. I also make products (wine, mead) at 12 to 16 percent ABV, and bottle them still in wine bottles with corks for long-term aging.
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Re: Bottling Mead

Postby wyzzyrdd » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:19 am

Attenuation is another issue.

Wine yeast does not attenuate. It consumes all available sugar until it hits its alcohol tolerance. If you bottle-condition a product made with wine yeast, you should expect it to go bone dry in the bottle (brute champagne).

Ale yeast is unpredictable. A nice yeast (like Wyeast 1318) that attenuates around 75% will actually attenuate at about 90% in apple cider giving a nice semi-dry product. In mead, it is hard to guess. It varies depending upon type of honey and the addition of different kinds of fruit. The key lime and lemon meads were made with 1318 and actually went to a final gravity around 0.996. So that is why they were kegged. They were loaded with citric acid and needed to be back sweetened a lot to balance the acid. Then they were stabilized with potassium sorbate and force-carbonated. I bought a bottling gun to try to bottle some of the product, but never got around to trying it out.
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Re: Bottling Mead

Postby karl » Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:16 pm

I thought the champagne method also froze a portion of the product itself, effectively holding the product and the pressure in the bottle while the sediment was cleaned out...

But, I checked and the method that wyzzyrdd describes is correct. Perhaps some other champagne makers use the variation I described.

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Re: Bottling Mead

Postby wyzzyrdd » Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:34 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nuz_XxqS7M

Excellent video from Kirkwood Winery.
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Re: Bottling Mead

Postby wyzzyrdd » Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:44 pm

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Re: Bottling Mead

Postby daryl » Fri Sep 01, 2017 1:03 pm

I am going to purchase some 375 ml bottles, probably clear...and maybe with a punt. And will also need 750 ml wine bottles. Anyone want to purchase with me, to see if we can get a volume rate?

I have 10-12 gallons of mead to bottle - actually two mead a berry melomel and a stone fruit melomel.

12 gallons would be about 45425 ml = 60 - 750 ml bottles or 120 - 375 ml bottles. OR 25 and 50 count, respectively for a 5 gallon batch.

I think I might do 8-375 ml bottles for each flavor....for sampling while the mead ages...and the remainder in wine or champagne bottles (about 11-750 ml bottles).

I'll take stock of my champagne bottles, I have dozens, but I might hold back on those because I would like to make a nice dry sparkling mead or melomel.

Pat M - do you have a fixed ratio you use of 375 ml to 750 ml bottles you use?

Pat M - can you share your source for purchasing bottles in bulk?
In the Fridge/On Tap: Salted Caramel Porter
In the barrel/conditioning:
In the bucket: P-nut Brittle Ale, Blueberry and Blk Rasp. Mead; Tangerine Wheat; Spont. Funk; Swarthy Beagle
In the queue: Pils Urquell Clone, American Wheat
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Re: Bottling Mead

Postby wyzzyrdd » Fri Sep 01, 2017 1:12 pm

This is where I bought bottles the last couple of times.

http://www.shorecontainer.com/

I have bottles shipped freight to the FedX terminal which is at the Vinton/Independence exit on I380. I drive over with my trailer, and they use a fork lift to drop the pallet on the trailer.

I have about 50 cases of 750 ml bottles in my house and garage right now. But I would like to acquire some 375 ml bottles. Unfortunately, I don't particularly like the selection of half-bottles that Shore has. And I haven't really found a better selection.

But I am game for buying bottles if anyone else wants in.
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Re: Bottling Mead

Postby wyzzyrdd » Fri Sep 01, 2017 1:18 pm

The rule of thumb is 5 standard bottles or 10 half-bottles per gallon of product. So 25/50 as you noted for 5 gallons.

I used to bottle most of my products in half-bottles, but then my wallet complained too much. Half-bottles are about 75% of the cost of a full bottle, and you need twice as many bottles, twice as many corks, and twice as many labels.

I am really trying to find a decent 500 ml bottle with a cork finish for bottling mead.

Also, my friends at East Grove using Brick for bottles. They said I could tag along on one of their orders and pick them up at the meadery. I can find out if they are planning to order in the near future. They are currently going to all swing-top bottles. So if anyone wants those, we can get them.

https://www.brickpackaging.com/
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Re: Bottling Mead

Postby wyzzyrdd » Fri Sep 01, 2017 2:10 pm

My friends no longer go through Brick. So they are off the table.
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Re: Bottling Mead

Postby tony b » Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:51 pm

Pat, what do you use for labels? Looking for something easy to print on, and more importantly, come off the bottles without a lot of soaking/scrubbing.
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