View Full Version : Siphoning/Racking

07-06-2010, 03:05 PM
Hello all,

I recently made two batches of JAO mead. I used two, 1 gallon class jars I bought from U-Line. Essentially, it is a large pickle jar, though it has never been used for any other food products. I did this because I figured it would be easier to fish the fruit out of a wide mouth jar rather then a carboy with a narrow opening.

My brew has cleared and now I have been trying to rack out the clear liquid. I bought one of the auto-siphons from a mead brewing website, but those siphons seem to be designed for deeper containers, 5 gal. buckets, etc. So I tried the old tried and true method of just sucking on the hose.

Problem is trying to filter out all the crap at the bottom. I tried using some Muslin tied over the end of the hose, but that prevents too much of the flow and I can not get the siphoning action to continue.

Anyone have any suggestions? Seems I am leaving a lot of the mead in the jar because if I get to close to the bottom, it starts sucking out the crap too. Is this lost mead something I am going to have to get used to? Tried using a coffee filter too and just poured it all through the filter, but the mead does not flow through a coffee filter very well.

07-06-2010, 03:09 PM
Does your siphon have a little attachment on the tip that reverses the flow? (Sucks from above the end of the tube rather than right below) I haven't used an autosiphon so I'm not familiar.

Medsen Fey
07-06-2010, 03:21 PM
The autosiphons have a little cap on the end of the cane so that the mead is sucked in from above the tip of the racking cane. They make a smaller autosiphon that easily fits in a 1-gallon jug which I find quite handy.

If you want to try to capture that last bit of clear mead, you can rack it to a tall container and let it settle for a day or two, then rack (or pour) it off. Frankly, this is the reason I rarely make a batch smaller than 3 gallons. I don't want to sweat over every little drop. Unless you use a centrifuge, you are going to lose some mead during the racking and clearing (what I call the Devil's share), and I find it is just easier to make larger batches that allow for it.


07-06-2010, 03:22 PM
Yes, the auto-siphon does. I have contemplated cutting it down to be shorter, but I am not sure that would work once I shortened it and I do plan on making bigger batches in the future which the longer auto-siphon should work perfect.

I have bought a small hand-pump siphon, which I am sure will do a good job siphoning, but I am still concerened about sucking up the crap.

Is it ok to rack it mutiple times, each time getting less and less crap from the bottom until you can filter out the last little bit?

Medsen: That makes a lot of sense. I do plan on making larger batches in the future, I just wanted to try a few bottles to start with to see how I did on those. I figured if I couldn't make JAOs, I had no business making any mead. Perhaps I will see if I can find one of the smaller auto-siphone.

Any suggestions for filtering? I though about cheese cloth, but surprisingly, it is difficult to find in the local stores. I have some muslin, but need to come up with something I can pour it through. Maybe line a strainer with the muslin. Pour into a bowl then back into the jar. Just gotta be careful not get too much o2 in there.

07-06-2010, 03:30 PM
Is it ok to rack it mutiple times, each time getting less and less crap from the bottom until you can filter out the last little bit?

Yes, this is actually the normal process, as most meads are aged in bulk for long periods before bottling (JAO being an exception, but it doesn't have to be an exception).

Then you have another problem though - headspace - you don't want it. When you rack to another container of the same size you will need to find a way to top it up as much as possible to reduce oxidization and risk of spoilage (spoilage organisms tend to love O2). I personally use fishtank grade glass beads for this, which I sanitize first obviously (fishtank grade is just what I call ones that are ok to use with fish, they won't leach anything into the liquid). If you seearch around the forums there are piles and piles of threads discussing how to deal with headspace.

Medsen Fey
07-06-2010, 03:32 PM
It is okay to rack meads as many times as necessary to clear the mead and leave all the sediment behind.

This thread (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16274) mentions a couple of good tips for racking, including using a wedge to tilt the container which allows racking of little more clear mead.

07-06-2010, 03:36 PM
Yea, I do try to leave as little head space as possible, but I believe I also read if you can not, it is ok to use CO2. The sell these small bicycle tire pumps that work off CO2 cartridges. They are pretty cheap and work fairly well. Just gotta be a little easy on the release trigger.

07-06-2010, 04:52 PM
For one gallon batches, I use a much smaller hose, so it siphons slower and I have more control. I think it's 3/8" as opposed to the 1/2" from the brewing store, and I bought it at the hardware store. Between that and tilting the carboy to an angle when racking, I can avoid most of the debris. Tilting is much easier with the 1-gallon jugs, of course - I just put the jug on a silicone potholder so it doesn't slide, then tilt!

07-06-2010, 05:19 PM
I racked some plum wine the other day (a precursor to some plum melomel in the works) and the pulp and skins clogged every siphon and hose I used. Finally I gave up, and laid sterilized cloth in a colander and literally ladled the must into the colander, which I'd positioned atop the secondary. It took a while, but it allowed me to squeeze out a good deal of the liquid from the plum solids. Even so, there was a great deal lost to the sludgy lees. I started with 6 gallons in the primary and ended up with 5 in the secondary after topping off and adding sugar.

It was good experience for me. I've bottled a couple of melomels in the past year with underwhelming fruit profiles, and had I not done the wine, I'd have really overcompensated with the upcoming plum melomel. Turns out these plums have a lot stronger profile than I'd anticipated. Not a bad thing, but I want to have *some* honey flavors come through!

07-07-2010, 12:00 PM
Yeah, I think that is what I am going to have to do too if I want to keep the devil's share. I like that term.