PDA

View Full Version : Can you Rack too Soon



PlainHank
06-18-2009, 02:05 PM
This saturday my first mead will have been in my primary fermentor for 3 weeks. It is still bubbling away at about a rate of once every 5 or 6 seconds.

I know you will think this silly, but I need that carboy for another project.

My question is will it do any harm to rack this to a secondary?

I am prepared to let it sit for months in the secondary.

Can I do it?

Medsen Fey
06-18-2009, 04:49 PM
Welcome to GotMead? PlainHank!

If you can give us your recipe and process details we can give you better answers. We especially need to know your starting and current gravity.

Early racking often does one of two things - either it leaves enough active yeast behind to stall your fermentation (usually when you want it to keep going) or it invigorates the yeast to go farther (typically when you want it to stop). So the answer is you can do it but depending on where you are in the process, you do run the risk of it stalling.

How's that for a non-answer answer?

Medsen

BBBF
06-18-2009, 04:51 PM
This saturday my first mead will have been in my primary fermentor for 3 weeks. It is still bubbling away at about a rate of once every 5 or 6 seconds.

I know you will think this silly, but I need that carboy for another project.

My question is will it do any harm to rack this to a secondary?

I am prepared to let it sit for months in the secondary.

Can I do it?

You can stun the yeast by racking early. What's your gravity right now?

dogglebe
06-18-2009, 08:05 PM
I've never heard that racking too soon stuns the mead. I've racked meads as early as two weeks into fermentation without any problems. I try to limit primary fermentation to four weeks, myself.


Phil

PlainHank
06-18-2009, 09:07 PM
I don't know much about gravity or measuring it. I didn't take an original gravity. Is it alright to open it up during this time to take a reading?

I am making a sweet mead from orange blossom honey.

15# of honey
3.75 gallons of water
Lalvin 71B-1122
using 12 grams of Nutriferm
Stocks Nutrient Blend given initially and then every 24 hours for the next three days.

It began to bubble by the end of the first day. But it hasn't stopped after almost three weeks.

I did aerate each time I added the nutrient but on hindsight (and having learned quite a bit since then. I didn't know anything but just jumped right in) I think I should have given it more air and really shook it up for much longer.

Any way, that is where I am.

I was thinking that after three weeks, even if the fermenting isn't done there certainly would be enough yeast still suspended to continue right on going if I rack it. I was also thinking (correct me here on anything I am just learning and may have learned things that are not quite right!) if there is still a good deal of fermentation going on, it would quickly push out any oxygen from the new carboy and that would be a good thing right?

I don't mean to stray too far from my question and that being would there be that great of danger to rack it when it is still bubbling strong?

Thanks for all your help and comments. I would never have believed it but this is great fun!

Medsen Fey
06-18-2009, 10:38 PM
Well the first thing you should get is a hydrometer. As a mead maker, it will be your most useful tool. It will really help you to know what if going on in your meads, and to know when they are finished.

If you haven't looked at it yet, do take time to read the NewBee guide (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=108&Itemid=14). You'll find loads of good info there.

Since you are aiming for a sweet mead, if it does stick, it'll just leave you a little sweeter, so if you want to rack it now, I don't think it'll give you any problems. The one big concern is that without knowing your gravity, you'll want to stabilize this sweet mead. If you haven't exceeded the yeasts alcohol tolerance (sometimes hard to know even if you have the gravity readings, but impossible to know without them), the yeast can wake up later and ferment more in the bottle. This leads to popped corks or, worse yet, bottle bombs. This can be prevented by using the combination of sorbate and metabisulfite - you'll want to do some reading on this topic and if you search on how to stabilize meads, you'll get some good threads.

Even if your mead is finished fermenting there is usually enough dissolved CO2 to chase the air out of the secondary when you rack. After that, however, you'll want to protect it from air as much as possible.

Welcome to the obsess....uh, make that hobby!

Medsen

PlainHank
06-27-2009, 04:26 PM
Just an update and to thank you all for your advice.

I was visiting a friend last week and I told him my plight of needing to use my large carboy the next day and the mead that didn't seem to be finished. He took me out to his garage and loaned me one of the MANY he had sitting out there. That was very nice and solved my immediate problem.

Today, four weeks after pitching the yeast I moved this (my first) batch of mead to a secondary 5 gallon carboy. It was still sending a bubble through every 15 seconds or so.

It is now safely in a basement closet where it can sit undisturbed for as long as it takes. I put a note on my calendar to check on it sometime in October. (Although I am sure I will peak at it from time to time!)

In the meantime (I can't just wait that long) I have four gallons of a sweet mead from the neighbor's clover honey that is now one week old. In three weeks I plan to move it into four one gallon jugs and try making different flavors. Any suggestions? I am thinking of raspberry for one.

I also, just for fun, made a gallon batch of Joe's Ancient Orange and am having a great time watching that bubble. Can you stand it? I would never have thought this would be so much fun.

(On a unrelated but similar topic, I tasted my first batch of beer today; an Irish Red, it is wonderful. I am so pleased)

Again thanks for all your advice. Thanks to all you veterans who prove that mead making does produce patience by untiringly answering the same questions for us "newbees" over and over.

It is appreciated.

wayneb
06-29-2009, 12:00 PM
I've never heard that racking too soon stuns the mead. I've racked meads as early as two weeks into fermentation without any problems. I try to limit primary fermentation to four weeks, myself.


Phil
It typically arises when you're working with a "challenging" fermentation, either one that was high starting gravity or one that has been fermenting abnormally slowly (for whatever reason). Then any yeast remaining in the relatively clear must that has been racked over, might not be enough to sustain the fermentation.