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tycoon
09-23-2010, 02:47 PM
Hi! I have already produced two "classic" (i.e. yeast+nutrients, water and honey only) mead batches, originally of some 20 liters each. I had to rack both two times before bottling them, and each time I racked each batch I lost between 1 and 2 liters of mead, as I could not separate the yeast sludge.

I tried decanting the sludge/mead mix, with some limited success, and I also tried filtering the mead/sludge mix with a cloth filter, and with paper coffee filters, but the filters clog or fall apart and, in general, I did not find the process particularly practical. Therefore, I was wondering if anybody knows of a method to reduce such racking losses, as I have three more similar batches in the pipeline.

Thank you very much in advance!

wayneb
09-23-2010, 03:02 PM
Typically I accept about 2-3 liter losses to initial racking off of the lees in secondary, and a liter or so lost in subsequent rackings. That's the price to be paid for moving your mead with the least possible amount of disturbance, and the vast majority of what is left behind is "stuff" (i.e. expired yeast, misc. proteins, fruit bits, settled out tannins, etc.) that I don't want in the bottles with my mead, anyway.

If you want to invest in a wine filter setup (not a cheap undertaking, mind you), you can minimize losses that way, but unless you're gearing up for significant volume production, I don't know that the expense is worth it.

Welcome to "Gotmead," by the way!!

jayich
09-23-2010, 03:03 PM
Hi! I have already produced two "classic" (i.e. yeast+nutrients, water and honey only) mead batches, originally of some 20 liters each. I had to rack both two times before bottling them, and each time I racked each batch I lost between 1 and 2 liters of mead, as I could not separate the yeast sludge.

I tried decanting the sludge/mead mix, with some limited success, and I also tried filtering the mead/sludge mix with a cloth filter, and with paper coffee filters, but the filters clog or fall apart and, in general, I did not find the process particularly practical. Therefore, I was wondering if anybody knows of a method to reduce such racking losses, as I have three more similar batches in the pipeline.

Thank you very much in advance!

It is a frustrating problem. I put all my meads in a freezer at 30F and after a week or so they generally clear nicely, with a relatively compact yeast sediment on the bottom. This seems to minimize the loss of mead at racking- but I have still lost up to a gallon with some mels with a lot of fruit sludge on the bottom. In the latter instances, I plan to filter the fruit sludge and transfer to a smaller bottle and then let that settle, and then rack again.

Medsen Fey
09-23-2010, 03:54 PM
but I have still lost up to a gallon with some mels with a lot of fruit sludge on the bottom. In the latter instances, I plan to filter the fruit sludge....

I've lost even more than that with some fruits (mango being the worst). That kind of sludge will clog a filter almost immediately. The only thing I have seen really help is centrifuging.

Racking losses are the price you pay for clear mead. I call it the Devil's share (rather than the Angel's share in a barrel) because it always tempts you, but you really need to pour it into the ground. >:D

If you are worried about how much you end up with, start with a larger volume.

Medsen

P.S. And Welcome to GotMead Tycoon!

mmclean
09-23-2010, 04:13 PM
You could pour it into a tall clear container, thus reducing the foot print. Place the container in the frig for a few days to a week to let it clear. Rack off the clear mead. The smaller the foot print, the more you can rack off without disturbing the lees.

I did this because I needed a couple of cups to top off. Otherwise I would have given the devil his due. ;D

teejay58
09-23-2010, 04:31 PM
Somewhere in the forums, there's a post about using a washing machine for a centrifuge, causing the lees to compact and saving a good deal of mead in the process.

What I did was racked down to where it was sludgy, then put as much of the cloudy stuff as i thought i could save in a glass in the fridge for a day or two, then drink what i could save off of that. LOL That worked pretty well. :)

icedmetal
09-23-2010, 04:59 PM
Just to reiterate the things already being said...

Don't bother trying to save the racking losses unless you're going to keep them separate from the rest of the batch going forward. Keep in mind that all the work you'll do to clear gunk out of the mead will possibly lead to other problems entirely, the big one being oxidation. Another I haven't seen anybody mention here before is what happens to the flavor of the mead that's in such concentrated contact with the lees. I've bottled the gunk into a side bottle on multiple occasions, but have never added it back to the main batch, because in every case it either doesn't taste close to the same as the main batch, and/or it tastes downright nasty.

tycoon
09-23-2010, 05:33 PM
Thank you very much to all of you.

I liked the idea of using a tall, long container to try decanting it and drinking the upper (clearer part) of the last racking. I understand that the previous rackings' spoilage should just be disposed of as it would alter the taste of the finished mead.

I have also come up with another idea, which I have not tried yet, which is to use a coffee press (maybe with a piece of cloth underneath the piston) to filter the sludge/mead mix from the last racking before bottling. In a month or so, I will let you know how it went, when I will try it with my next batch.

Wassail!

Tycoon

akueck
09-23-2010, 06:25 PM
I used to be very grumpy about kettle losses (in beer, which can amount to about 25% in some cases), but I've come around. I rationalize it this way: you can have 4 gallons of good mead, or 5 gallons of possibly damaged mead. I always pick the former. Starting with a larger volume (usually 5.5-6 gallons, more for fruit-heavy mels) but writing down "XYZ Mead: 5 gallons" in your logs is a good way to not even miss the sludgy bottom layer.

rlauhead
09-24-2010, 10:10 AM
Some loss of mead or wine or beer is inevitible when racking. That's just the "cost of doing business". It is really a trade off. If you try to get too much of the mead when racking, you will get a lot of sediment which will require more rackings. If you leave a lot of sediment, you will wind up with less mead. Take your pick. You CAN get more of the clean stuff by gently tipping the carboy which concentrates the mead in one corner of the carboy and leaves a lot of crud behind on the bottom. It used to bother me to lose wine when racking, but I've come to accept that that is just the way it is. There's not much you can do about it. Just accept that what you ARE getting is of better quality.

Fisher kel Tath
09-24-2010, 11:17 AM
I usually dump the leavings into a Mason jar, put it in the fridge, then rack that off the lees into another jar, and then keep that around incase i need to top off later.

rlauhead
09-25-2010, 08:33 AM
A half gallon or 16 oz. plastic milk or half and half jug works great for this, depending on how much must you have. A bung and airlock will fit the screw cap opening in these jugs. They make great mini-carboys.

jkane
09-27-2010, 10:25 AM
Filtering with coffee filters just won't work. Tried it a few times. I have pushed stuff through a .5 micron water filter under CO2 pressure, and that does work, but it looses flavor too. Only tried it a couple times, and the filters are really expensive!

This is going to sound nasty ... I take the left overs and keep them in a jar racking to bigger and bigger jars over the year as I add the remains of other meads. I keep the spiced meads in one container, and the fruits and traditionals in another. I let that settle many more months. Then rack the stuff off the top leaving the sediment behind and only losing a small amount across all of the batches. I taste, and decide what it needs to make it more palitable. Usually more fruit and maybe some fresh honey. Then drink within a month or so to not let it get any worse.

Usually not the best mead in the house, but perfect for mixing half with diet 7up and having an after dinner spritzer!

tycoon
09-27-2010, 02:28 PM
I liked Jeff's idea of mixing the leftovers from different batches and racking it repeatedly, to make a lower-quality (but hopefully drinkable) mead-for-mixing.

I will probably try that.

Wassail!

Wolfie
09-27-2010, 03:55 PM
I've thought of that idea myself. Another thing to do with the leavings would be to make a mead vinegar out of it. Probably be great in sauces salads and so on.

what about different processes for fruit? Peaches mangos and for me strawberries have had huge losses and soft fruit supposedly dont juice well. Any one tried to reduce pulp in other ways?