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The5thHerring
09-28-2011, 09:10 PM
Apologies in advance if this has already been answered. I feel like doubtful cases like this are what the NewBees forum is meant for :)

My question is: do you have to pay the same amount of attention to yeast autolysis in secondary as in primary? I racked 4 gallons of (smelly) mead off a nice cake of Red Star Pasteur and Montrachet yeasts, and it's been sitting in secondary for about two weeks now.

It hasn't cleared much yet, and I can't see an unambiguous line of sediment at the bottom like I could in primary. But my (plastic) bottle has a handle, and I can see where a little bit of yeast has flocculated onto the available horizontal inside surface of the handle. So there's definitely some in there!

I would rack again, but two rackings in two weeks seems a little much. So do I have to worry about yeasty flavors from autolysis of the little bit of yeast I have flocculating in secondary?

Much obliged.

AToE
09-29-2011, 01:01 AM
The only yeast you really have to worry about is 71B, and even that one you wouldn't rack again that soon (or else more will just drop out and then you'll have to rack again, and again!). Other than that yeast a little bit of autolysis is fine, it's only months of this and stirring it up again and again that will really impart strong lees character, and even then it's not a "bad" thing, it's just a matter of taste.

Not sure what you mean about worrying about it in primary though, primary is too early for it to even be occuring. ???

The5thHerring
09-29-2011, 06:28 PM
About primary, here is what I meant: I read (regarding beer brewing) that the yeast starts to autolyze after about 2 weeks in alcohol. So you should either bottle or rack after the first two weeks, since in primary you're sitting on a big old cake of the stuff.

Is this not the case?

Also, I know two weeks is too soon, but whenabouts might I start to look for signs of clearing? In a typical case, that is, if such a thing exists.

AToE
09-29-2011, 06:49 PM
About primary, here is what I meant: I read (regarding beer brewing) that the yeast starts to autolyze after about 2 weeks in alcohol. So you should either bottle or rack after the first two weeks, since in primary you're sitting on a big old cake of the stuff.

Well, there's a couple things in play here, firstly that is a LOT more yeast, and it also can contain other junk (in beer we're talking trub and possibly hops, in wines/some meads we're talking fruit bits etc). But, long before that stuff gives you a problem you have a much more compelling reason to get something out of primary - oxidization (which isn't always a worry but often is), that will damage your product much quicker and more severely than a small amount of lees character.

Typically you want to rack anything soon after it finishes fermenting, time means little, hydrometer readings mean more! (If it's still fermenting leave it as long as it needs, if it's done get it into a carboy with less headspace)


Also, I know two weeks is too soon, but whenabouts might I start to look for signs of clearing? In a typical case, that is, if such a thing exists.

If it's not got any fruit in it it will clear pretty slowly. Once in secondary I just wait until there's a distinct amount of lees that've dropped (if you left it in primary longer than a day or two after fermentation finished the bulk of the lees may have already dropped though), and I usually notice this (and at least some significant clearing) adter 3-8 weeks.

Once you're in tertiary it will continue to drop lees and clear, but you'll want to rack much less often, could be another 4 months, could be a year... largely depends on how fast you want to clear it (racking does speed clearing by mixing up the mead and I believe introducing small amounts of O2).