View Full Version : Leaving Mead in the Primary for too Long.

02-15-2011, 04:48 PM
On December 22nd I started two one gallon batches. I have been out of town since January 5 and will be returning home in a week. I left before for it was time to rack (fermentation was still going pretty strong) so it has not been touched since I left; with the exception of vodka being added to the airlocks. I love everybody at home, but I don't really trust them to rack the mead properly and with good sanitation, seeing as they have no experience. Will the lees the mead has been sitting on have dramatic effect on the taste? Any help would be appreciated.

02-15-2011, 04:52 PM
Just two months shouldn't be a problem.

Chevette Girl
02-15-2011, 04:58 PM
I would imagine that if you're still not home you don't have your brew notes with you, but please list as much as you can remember about your recipe, especially if you can remember the type of yeast and let us know if you used any fruits in either batch.

You're probably OK, but certain yeasts are better or worse for sitting around on the lees, and fruit could complicate things.

02-15-2011, 10:55 PM
could you also let us know if you used a plastic bucket or glass carboy for primary, in some cases it can make a difference.

Medsen Fey
02-16-2011, 01:31 PM
Can you tell us your recipe and process? That may help assess the risk of a problem, though it sounds like there isn't much you could do about it at this point.

02-16-2011, 01:56 PM
If you used gallon glass jugs, you should be fine. You'll just have a nice thick yeast cake on the bottom (although maybe not too thick, since it could be compacted by now)...

When you get home, check on them and rack as necessary. Although I would tend to think that they're either going to be finished fermenting, and great... Or they'll still be fermenting, and will still be great.

It would help to know what recipe you followed, as well as the yeast and OG of the must.

When you get home, give it a look, take a SG reading, taste it, and go from there...

I do think that mead is one of the more time forgiving items we can home brew. Although, as long as the temperatures are within range, you could let beer go a couple of months on the yeast too. ;D

02-16-2011, 02:11 PM
As Medsen mentioned, we need to know a bit more in order to fully answer your question. If this is a traditional mead (meaning no fruit or herbal adjuncts) and you used one of the yeast strains OK for extended "sur lie" (on the lees) exposure, you're probably fine. Even for those strains that don't do well sur lie, you probably have not seen enough yeast autolysis (breakdown and decay) after 2 months to present too much of a problem, but I'd still recommend racking ASAP after you get back, in that case.

02-16-2011, 07:00 PM
I had all of my notes saved on my lap top and just copy and pasted them below. Thank you for the help.

• 3lbs Trader Joe’s Mesquite Desert Honey
• 5lbs of pears
• 4oz ginger root
• 1tsp yeast nutrient
• ½tsp yeast energizer
• ¼tsp Irish moss
• ½ package Lalvin 71B-1122 yeast

• Juiced pairs and ginger root
• Added honey and Irish moss and brought slowly to a boil
• Once boiling, skimmed the residue that came to the top
• Cooled down to room temperature and added the nutrient and energizer
• Transferred to a 1 gallon jug
• Topped off the jug with cold tap water
• Pitched the yeast after rehydrating for 20 minutes

Starting Specific Gravity: 1.099

02-16-2011, 07:14 PM
Given that you used 71B yeast, and that you might still have some fruit bits in the lees, I recommend racking off of the lees as soon as you can.

I also recommend that you poke around the site here a bit more, especially the NewBee Guide, and look at the arguments for not boiling and skimming. Most of us have found that boiling/skimming doesn't provide any benefit, and actually removes desirable aromatics from your honey. YMMV, but most of us recommend not boiling any more unless you're trying to re-create an historic recipe. You'll also find threads here that speak to the use of Irish Moss - and why it is not necessary in meads. That's one of those practices carried over from beer brewing, and while it can help with clarification of a beer wort that contains lots of left-over grain proteins, it doesn't do much for meads, other than adding a slight salty, sea-weedy character. Most folks don't want that in their meads.