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Yesterday was Bottling Day for Mead III

May 13, 2011

Mead III hasn’t yet been discussed in Meads of the Past; and that’s OK, because now is the perfect time. Mead III is a back to the basics mead, made from Weeks Farm wild flower honey and given an acid blend to have a nice cider-like taste.

So is bottling important?

Bottling is by no means an essential part of brewing. Just about everyone does it because it offers the advantage of putting the bottle in the fridge…not everyone has room for 5 gallons of mead (Not that I think that these people have their priorities in line mind you…everyone needs at least 5 gallons of mead in their fridge). But also bottling gives you the ability to get the magic of fizz.

Commercial beer makers carbonate their beers the same way soda companies do: by forcing CO2 into the bottle. This lets them have a consistent product and reduces the amount of time a drink takes to make. However, given patience the yeast left over from the first fermentation can produce their own bubbles.

Yeast are remarkable beasts and can sense when sugar levels are getting low. The yeast will begin to go dormant, but won’t die off despite the lack of nutrients. So by adding more sugar the yeast will spring to life inside the bottle and begin eating more sugar, and creating more of its waste products: CO2 and alcohol.

Unlike the first fermentation the CO2 cannot vent, so the CO2 levels build up and there you have it: a carbonated mead.

This may be a good time to point out two potential risks of this process…

  • The first risk is the less serious of the two: the amount of sugar can be too high. If this happens rather than a nice fizzy taste you open the bottle and a geyser erupts out of the bottle and showers you, the ceiling, the dog, and your clothes (which inevitably will have been clean) in mead/beer/etc. Then the rest of the hyper-carbonated liquid will convert itself from (still tasty) liquid to bubbles and you’ll have nothing to drink. I know, how could having nothing to drink while dripping head to toe be the less serious risk?
  • The second risk has the exact same problem as before, but amplified: the amount of sugar can be way too high. In this case rather than getting to the point where you open the bottle and become drenched, the bottles reach a critical point and actually explode.

But never fear, I’ll not be handing out bottles with a tendency to explode. I can go out on a limb and assume that your opinion will be fairly negative, and although I’m open to criticism, I’d rather not encourage it by passing out bottle-grenades.

If all goes well the mead should be ready to drink in about a week, although the process can take as a long as a month. I’m getting impatient already

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