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View Full Version : To rack or not to rack (again)



Dis
01-17-2012, 04:07 PM
I just recently got into mead making and about a month ago started my very first batch of mead. I was originally planning on trying something 'beginner friendly' like MAOM but I came across some lovely dark blackberry/chestnut (we think) honey and knew I wanted to make a traditional mead with it. I used 3.5 pounds of honey, 25 raisins I boiled in the water used for the must and left in for the duration of primary (about 3 weeks) and 3 grams of EC-1118. After 3 weeks the airlock had stopped bubbling completely I racked for the first time with a racking cane; I discovered that's harder than it looks. There was probably a bit more splishing and splashing than is optimal and at some point I disturbed the lees and sucked most of them into the secondary.
My question is twofold: a) Would it be better to rack again once the lees drop out or leave the mead on the lees and avoid the possibility of further contamination/oxidization? b) If I leave it on the lees how will it affect the flavor profile of my mead and to what degree? I want to age the mead for at least a year.

fatbloke
01-17-2012, 04:32 PM
Well, as far as I can remember, a little bit of EC-1118 sediment shouldn't be too much of a problem, but I'd have thought it best to rack unless you've chosen the yeast to age "sur lie".


I'd say that you'd probably be best placed to rack again....... and onto sulphite and sorbate to stabilise it if you haven't already done that.

Don't forget, meads don't oxidise like grape wines, certainly not as quickly. Oh and IMO, champagne yeasts are a poor choice for meads in general, unless used for a specific reason.

Dis
01-17-2012, 06:09 PM
Alright, thanks. My auto siphon'll be coming in 3-5 days, so I'll rack once it arrives.
The lady at the brewstore recommended I use 1118, probably because it's resilient and she knew I was a newbie. I will definitely be looking at other yeast strains in the future though. (I've got a sort-of-MAOM going with Epernay II right now)

YogiBearMead726
01-17-2012, 08:38 PM
I personally enjoy the mouthfeel gained from aging on the lees of EC-1118 for a month or so. But your tastes may vary. If you do decide not to immediately rack this, I'd suggest giving the carboy a gentle swirl every week or so to get the lees up into suspension. It will not only help prevent off flavors, but will also help as a rudimentary fining agent. It'll cloud up again, sure, but after a few weeks of doing this, the mead will clear very quickly (at least it has in my experiences...as always, YMMV).

calicojack
01-17-2012, 10:54 PM
I personally enjoy the mouthfeel gained from aging on the lees of EC-1118 for a month or so. But your tastes may vary. If you do decide not to immediately rack this, I'd suggest giving the carboy a gentle swirl every week or so to get the lees up into suspension. It will not only help prevent off flavors, but will also help as a rudimentary fining agent. It'll cloud up again, sure, but after a few weeks of doing this, the mead will clear very quickly (at least it has in my experiences...as always, YMMV).

interesting. i've got a bottle to try that with. i'll report back

Dis
01-19-2012, 08:35 PM
What mouthfeel does lees aging impart? I've read that it can give some bready/nutty flavors. I was hoping to emphasize the varietal characteristics of the honey but I did enjoy the yeasty taste of the sample I took at racking; it was like a horrible version The Saint by Crispin brewed in a dorm bathroom. ( http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/crispin-hard-apple-artisanal-reservethe-saint/118457/ ) In other news the lees might just need more time to drop out again but they're looking much less thick and much less high in the jug than before, so who knows, maybe I didn't mess up the racking as badly as I thought.
As always, thanks for the help.