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I was given 10 gallons of homebrewed mead in a carboy. It was made by my brother-in-law and his friend almost 10 years ago. His friend moved away and he's kept the mead in the carboy, in a box (so it's not really exposed to light) for this entire time in his garage.

1) is it safe to drink? 2) if possible, how do I know? (ie what should I look for) 3) is there anything I should do prior to opening the carboy?

Background: I have homebrewed once, and although I was successful it was done with someone who was experienced. I inhereted all his equipment along with the mead and I need to decide what to do with this mead (he said it was ~14%abv before I start to organize and clean everything so I can learn from scratch.

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First off... How was the carboy sealed? Was it corked so no gasses may escape or did he keep a fermentation lock on it? If so did he keep water in it?

Two of the biggest enemies to mead are sunlight and drastic temperature swings. You brother-in-law hopefully stored your mead in a dark place in his garage where the temperature doesn’t change too much and it stays cool. If the garage stays an even temperature and it was sealed enough to keep contaminants out, I'd go for it. Providing it was clear in color and smelled good. 10 years is a trophy! I can't age mine past 1 year before I drink them... ENJOY!

Again... I can't comment on precautions before opening because the way it is sealed isn't provided. I don't see any preparations before opening other than a big glass. If it is truly good you may want to think about bottling some before it disappears.

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  • Sealed with a plastic type topper that's converting the entire top of the carboy. Looks like what a delivered bottle of water is sealed with. As for storage, it was kept dark (it never left the box the carboy came from, but he lived in the desert, so garage temps easily broke 100degrees F in the summer and winters would reach the 50's. Appearance at the moment is a cloudy light yellow. – dvaeg Aug 14 '16 at 14:05
  • Plastic topper is probably more airtight than traditional corks or earlier wooden plugs. Should be all right. – Mołot Aug 14 '16 at 14:36
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Polish mead classification differs from one in other countries, so my experience may be a bit hard to "translate", sorry. At 14% ABV, it would be like our czwórniak or trójniak. Our tradition says that it should mature in bottles or closed glass carboy for between two and four years (if czwórniak), or between four and eight years (if trójniak). Thus, ten years is actually on the fresh side, not too long after mandatory maturation period! For someone from a country with mead history five times older than USA itself, it all sounds really promising, not alarming at all!

If it looks clear, or lightly uniformly cloudy, yellow to dark old gold in colour, if it smells good and tastes good, it probably is safe. I would drink it. Few cups to try, and rest on some important family gathering. Mature mead is too valuable to drink casually (hint: you know where the "honeymoon" name came from, don't you?)

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    Cloudy yellow is how best to describe it right now. But it sounds like I might have a small treasure on my hands! – dvaeg Aug 14 '16 at 14:06

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