View Full Version : How long until a secondary rack?

04-26-2008, 04:39 PM
I'm learning so please forgive the basic quesion but how long should i wait before doing a secondary rack (not sure that is the right terminology)? Or more specifically how do i tell i should move my mead from my primary fermentation vessel (6 gallon plastic bucket) to my secondary vessel (6.5 gallon glass carboy)? Is there a specific gravity or is this one of those patience/experience things (or both yikes!)?

Thanks for any advice you can offer!

04-26-2008, 05:12 PM
I generally move my meads to secondary once the fermentation is mostly over. You can tell that you've reached that milestone by: 1) Measurements of SG do not change markedly over the course of several days, 2) There is far less release of CO2 from the must than at the peak of fermentation, and 3) most of the "gross lees," or bits of fruit, etc., are no longer floating on CO2 in the must and have fallen to the bottom of your fermenter.

There's no set time to rack to secondary -- you pretty much do it based on a conclusion that the must has fermented to a point where you would be satisfied with the result. That is not to say that ALL fermentation has ceased at that point -- it can continue for several days to several weeks post-racking.

05-05-2008, 12:29 AM
I personally tend to leave my melomels in their primary for about a month so that all the fruit really gets a chance to steep in there. However, my primary fermentor is glass and not plastic. I've always been hesitant of a plasticy finish to the mead. I don't think it's extremely crucial on your timing here. I've heard that leaving it in the primary to long gives you some yeasty bitter notes, that otherwise could have been avoided by racking sooner.

05-05-2008, 12:36 AM
You needn't worry about about a plasticky finish when using buckets or food grade plastic for the primary. If that were the case then many wineries would be out of business.

Timing and fruit is actually pretty important. Leaving your mead on fresh fruit too long can result in the mead picking up flavors from the fruit as it begins to putrify and spoil. The main reason to leave your mead on the fruit past 4 days (which is necessary for complete color extraction) is to pick up tannins and additional anti-oxidants from the fruit, along with additional sugars, acids, etc. Full tannin and flavor extraction is usually completed by 8 days plus or minus a couple of days.

Hope that helps,


05-09-2008, 12:58 PM
Thanks for the info!

One follow up question: When moving from primary to secondary rack i'm looking to leave as much of the Lees behind correct?

I read the newbee guide (which is great) but i couldn't find anything about the secondary really.

thanks again.

05-09-2008, 01:02 PM
Yes, leave as much of the lees behind as you can without leaving too much of your precious mead behind.

More yeast will settle out in the secondary so after the mead is completely clear, rack again. If it's not clearing, and has been on the lees (in secondary) for a couple of months, go ahead and rack again.

Which yeast did you use and what's your recipe.



05-10-2008, 02:52 PM
Nothing too complicated as this is my first batch

5 gallons water (cold)
10 pounds clover honey
Lavin RC-1116 yeast

OG 1.062

I recently added some energizer as I think the fermentation was stalled.

Thanks for the advice!!

05-10-2008, 11:46 PM
OK, there's no RC-1116 from Lalvin or Lallemand (Parent company of Lalvin)

It could be either RC-212 or K1-V1116 or possibly EC-1118. Each of these yeasts are pretty distinctly different in fermentation kinetics and flavor contributions so it's important to know what the actual yeast you used. This will help.

With any of these yeasts however the end result will be a dry mead, I'm guessing that's what you were shooting for.

Need to know a couple of more things:

1. What is the current gravity?
2. Did you rehydrate the yeast as per Lalvin instructions?
3. That actual yeast name

If you can post up that information we can help you get this mead going.



05-11-2008, 11:36 AM
Sorry about that: It was Lalvin EC-1118 and I did indeed re-hydrate according to the instructions.
I also left out the 125 raisins I added.

The current gravity is 1.011. Not sure if this is important but the temp is 68 degrees.

Thanks a million for the help!

05-11-2008, 12:16 PM
Wow, that's quite a few raisins.

So what are you going for with this mead?
Are you OK with a dry REALLY vinous mead?
How long has it been in primary?
What is the current temp of the must and ambient temperature?
Can you get a pH?

Things to consider:
This will have a very vinous character (winelike but somewhat harsher) that will need to mellow.
It may be that your yeast have given up the ghost on this ferment as your PABV is only about 8-9%.
Your mead will trend toward the thin side with little backbone, and the raisins will probably dominate (at least I guess they will)
You may want to add some more honey to bring up the flavor and let the yeast get their freak on with additional fermentation.
Think about what you want and post up some thoughts. We're not short on opinions or ideas here so give us some yardage and we'll run all day.

Enquiring minds want to know,


05-13-2008, 08:29 PM
I read that it should be about 25 per gallon (5 gallons total)...think that was a bit excessive? I wasn't really going for a raisin mead honestly. Yikes. What you are describing below is pretty much the opposite of what I was hoping to get. This is my first foray into the wonderful world of mead so I can only describe what I am going for never having actually tasted it. I was hoping for a heavier, rounder type of mead something thicker with some body. Not a huge fan of dry beverages. Any ways or tips you can give me in how to turns these around or advice for next time would be much obliged.

I gave you some bad info to start with so let me lay it out:

I have 2 batches going; 1 simple mead and 1 cyser.

Cyser batch:
2 Gallon Water
9 pounds Clover Honey
5 gram EC-1118 Wine Yeast
3 gallons Apple Juice (Motts)
25 raisins per gallon

In primary for 2.5 weeks
Current Gravity: 1.010
Moved to secondary today and added 2 cinnamon sticks.

Simple Mead

5 gallons water (cold)
10 pounds clover honey
Lavin EC-1116 yeast

OG: 1.062
In primary for 2 weeks so far
Current Gravity 1.011
Added 2.5 tspn 2.5 Energizer and 5 tspn nutrient a couple of days ago. It looked as if fermentation had stopped prior to this and now is raging.

I'm going to guess I've done multiple things wrong in this process so if you have any advice I'd love to hear it.

I don't know how to get the PH (i have "balling" readings and "ABV" readings if those are part of the equation). Current temp is 68 (honestly i'm not sure what the difference is between the must temp and ambient).

I tasted a bit of the Cyser in the transfer today and holy yeast...think adding honey could thicken it up, give it some more backbone and generally improve the taste? Other than the thin body and yeast taste it was ok.