Bottling does take some equipment and some time to do so you have to slot out roughly two hours of your time to do a full 5 gallon carboy. Of course you will get much better at it and can bring this time down significantly with practice.
What do you need to bottle your mead?
- Empty Bottles (of course) clean and sanitized
- Corks - I used chamfered #9 corks
- Corking machine - I use a manual machine
- Racking cane and hose
The big issue to think about is how to get your mead from the carboy into the bottles without making a mess or spilling it. And you don't want to handle the mead too much or slosh it around because you don't want to oxidize it. So handle it gently and easily.
What I did was when I first started the batch I made it in a 5 gallon plastic pail with a spigot. Then when it was ready two weeks later I racked it into a glass carboy for its ferment. I sanitized the plastic pail then I used it in the bottling process.
This picture shows the setup. The carboy is on a table, the pail is at a lower level and now the mead is siphoned from the carboy to the pail and then the spigot on the pail is used to fill the bottles. It's a nice set up and very clean and easy on the mead.
About the Racking cane and hose
This picture shows the racking cane with a hose attached. It is a nice tool to help you bottle your mead.
The Racking cane has a small black buffer on the bottom of it that will keep unwanted materialsl from the bottom of the carboy out of the siphon.
You can also simply use the end of the hose to directly fill your bottles but I find this process a bit messy and difficult. Although there is a product made that you can attach to the end of the hose that is supposed to make the process easier. it has a little valve on it that you turn on and off. I just find the process of using the plastic pail with spigot so much easier.
Corking the Bottle
I use a manual corker and it works just fine for me. There are more expensive corkers that will make this job much easier but I have no problem with this process. You can practice a few times on an empty bottle to get a feel for it. It really isn't that hard as long as you have the proper corks. It goes real easy if you brace the bottle between your knees when applying the pressure to the handles of the corker.
I find that once the handles of the corker are fully depressed down the cork still sticks out of the bottle a small bit and you can push down on the whole corker to get the cork even further into the bottle. this is just a matter of taste and how you like your corked bottles to look.
Here are three bottles corked and ready for their labels. One thing to note here is what I said about pushing down on the corking machine even after the handles have been fully depressed. The manual corker will cork to the level of the middle bottle. See how the cork sticks out a little bit? If once the corking handles are fully down you lean on the machine and press down even further it will inject the cork a little bit further into the bottle like the bottles shown here on the left and the right. It's a matter of taste and I just like the corks to seat deeply into the bottles.
Need to buy Bottles for your Mead?
Yay! Amazon.com is finally carrying empty wine bottles for mead making! These 750 ml Claret bottles are exactly the ones I use. I have ordered two cases. Claret Bottles 750ml. Clear Glass, Case of 12
If you need mead making supplies like bottles, corks etc I have a page here that will help you Mead Making Supplies and Equipment