View Full Version : What is the difference?

02-01-2012, 01:28 PM
What is the difference in the end result between adding non-fermentables (submersive oak, spices and flavorings, etc) in primary versus adding at bulk aging?

02-01-2012, 01:33 PM
I suppose it would be less arrogant to phrase it: How is the end result different?

Also, I tried to search the forums but I couldn't really figure out what I was searching for. I couldn't think of a way to simplify for effective searching. I expect this has been answered countless times, already.

02-01-2012, 02:26 PM
Generally it's not in the differences of taste, but in carefully measuring how it will affect the brew.

Knowing how a mead will taste while brewing is nigh impossible. Knowing even a day ow two after brewing how it will taste is equally insurmountable.

Oak is added LATE in secondary because you already want a feel for how the beverage tastes before modifying it further.

Adding Oak and tasting daily 6 months into secondary you're far more likely to have good proportions than adding it early when the harsh alcohol may overpower the oak, or even accentuate it if it's a sack mead.

Doing additions at the right stage ensures that you get better outcomes due to how everything ages out.

Chevette Girl
02-01-2012, 02:35 PM
I have yet to prove it to myself comparatively via experimentation, but the common consensus is that a vigorous primary fermenation can blow some of the delicate flavours and aromas right out the airlock with the CO2. Some people like how it mellows through primary, some people prefer to add it in secondary and some people hedge their bets and add some at primary and again at secondary. It's like the same old argument when making mels, whether to add the fruit at primary or secondary, and whether to stabilize first or not... I prefer my fruits to be fermented in primary because fermented fruit tastes different from juice (think grape juice vs. wine), but that's my personal taste.

I like using cinnamon sticks and I'll often drop them in for primary and then shake the yeast off and transfer it over into secondary. I've done vanilla beans both ways but in very different batches that don't compare well, some folks have found that the little vanilla seeds in the beans can end up in the airlock, riding on the foam from fermentation, I think I just left the beans whole when I've used them in primary.

You can always a traditional must, and separate it into two containers, ferment one with spices and the other without, then add the same amount of spices to that one in secondary.

02-01-2012, 02:38 PM
If I understand, that is basically my philosophy. I only start with the matter that can be fermented. I add other flavors afterward.

So far, it seams that everyone adds everything into primary and that's the whole she-bang. It makes since to do that much later in the process after the basic mead is made and cleared up a bit. I haven't been touching mine until after I can see through them fairly well, if not perfectly well.

02-01-2012, 04:13 PM
The alcohol in secondary can help extraction from spices (vanilla bean, cinnamon sticks & such).

02-02-2012, 02:56 AM
Alcohol vs. water solubility is one consideration, as is the way that CO2 scrubs aromatics. Oak is a funny one, as the yeast tend to interact with some of the oak compounds and can create either more or less complex flavors with oak in primary, depending on lots of factors. Usually oak in primary is more subdued, but you might pick up some of the "wood sugars" and the effects that the yeast have on those. The amount of time the ingredients are in contact also affects things, so if you're looking at a week in primary vs. a month in secondary you'll get a different flavor.

So...it depends. Best way to decide is just to experiment. ;D