PDA

View Full Version : Mead Racking Frustrations



scottv
07-13-2012, 04:34 PM
So, I was pretty frustrated last night when I racked my strawberry melomel (1 gallon jug) and raspberry melomel (2 gallons in 3 gallon better bottle).

Strawberry melomel - 1 Gallon Jug
The strawberry was racked from the secondary fermentation with 3 pounds of strawberries in the jug (not in a bag). The bottom 1/4 was full of sediment and the top 1/8 inch was all strawberries. I was worried about a lot of wasted must and I was correct. I had to rack into a 1/2 gallon jug from a full 1 gallon jug. The racking was painful and the new jug looks quite cloudy still and it seems I carried over a lot of sediment. This was quite frustrating to me. The taste was very much like alcohol (which I hope will degrade over time) but it smelled like the rubber stoppers that the airlock goes into - any ideas?

Raspberry melomel - 2 Gallons in 3 gallon better bottle
This smelled a lot like raspberries. There wasn't too much sediment and only a thin layer of raspberries on top. This time I racked into a 5 gallon fermenting bucket with a paint strainer over the bucket to catch the sediment. However, this bucket looked quite cloudy as well even thought I left a lot of sediment in the original better bottle and in the strainer bag. I then placed 3 pounds of raspberries in a bag for my secondary.

I don't know if I am doing something wrong or this is just how it is when dealing with melomels. I am almost ready to give up on mead and concentrate on beer alone.

Questions -
1) I have seen videos and read where people have placed a filter over the racking cane thats placed into the initial fermenter to filter out sediment. Do most people do that?

2) When racking, how far do you put the cane into the must? With only one person, its kind of hard to get the siphon started and kept at the correct level.

3) Are most people at not stirring up the sediment on the bottom? I seem to fail at that ability.

4) Should I create normal mead and then when mostly fermented, add my fruit? Will that help keep the sediment down?

Anyways, would love to hear some thoughts/ideas to continue on this mead making journey.

Thanks,
Scott

dingurth
07-13-2012, 05:45 PM
1. After bottling my first JAO, I was a bit upset at the sediment that got picked up and put into each bottle. Not a ton, but enough that the last inch of the bottle is undrinkable unless I want it to pour as a cloudy mess. For racking, I just try to be careful with where the end of my tube is. Stuff is still dropping out of suspension in the secondary, so I am not too worried with picking up a little extra. When I bottle or rack for bulk aging though, I just tie a double layer of cheesecloth to the end of the tube and that does a great job of filtering everything out.

2. I keep it about an inch below the top of the must and just keep going down as the level drops. That way, I'm not stirring up too much until I actually get near the bottom.

3. I can only speak for myself, but I am still pretty bad at stirring things up. The cheesecloth helps a lot, but another thing I try to do is move my carboy to wherever it is I am going to be doing my racking at least a day before I actually do it. That way, if anything gets stirred up with the movement of the container, it has some time to settle back down.

4. There are advantages and disadvantages to adding fruit in primaries vs secondaries.



Well, a lot of us will recommend doing it all in primary. I like doing it that way because you get a fermented character to whatever the fruit contributes, and also the presence of fruit lends a buffering effect to the pH drop that often happens during fermentation, especially with honey...

Others will advise you make a traditional mead and once the fermentation dies down, add fruit in secondary, the gentler fermentation will retain a lot of the more delicate flavours and aromas that can end up blown out the airlock when you have a really vigorous ferment.

Still others will advise you split the difference and put half your fruit in primary, half in secondary, for a blend of the nice fermented flavours from primary and the fresher, bolder more aromatic things from secondary.



I prefer doing it all in primary, and only adding more in the secondary if I am lacking enough flavor. Doing it all in the primary will result in more junk because you have all the fruit bits to deal with, but a lot of people do just make a traditional and then add stuff in secondary. It makes sense to me that it might be a little cleaner, but I can't say anything to that personally as I've never done it.

THawk
07-13-2012, 08:51 PM
It also depends on the type of yeast you use. Bread yeast tends to drop a diabolical amount of sediment, compared to say, EC-1118.

It's quite frustrating if you're alone... and especially if you're doing it from a bucket. But you do expect to lose a bit of liquid to sediment. But subsequent rackings bring less sediment with it.

That's my experience, at any rate...

THawk
07-13-2012, 08:54 PM
1. After bottling my first JAO, I was a bit upset at the sediment that got picked up and put into each bottle. Not a ton, but enough that the last inch of the bottle is undrinkable unless I want it to pour as a cloudy mess.

I usually save the bottom of the bucket as samples for less discerning folks like the gym instructor who begs me for samples of my latest creations... these folks usually like their liquor potent so I don't mind saving the bottom mess for them :)

Chevette Girl
07-13-2012, 10:24 PM
I usually save the bottom of the bucket as samples for less discerning folks like the gym instructor who begs me for samples of my latest creations... these folks usually like their liquor potent so I don't mind saving the bottom mess for them :)

That, and if you refrigerate that last bit with all the sediment in it you can usually pour off nice clear mead in a day or two, even better for sampling :) (or pouring back into your batch so you don't have to top up as much volume).

THawk
07-14-2012, 12:48 AM
That, and if you refrigerate that last bit with all the sediment in it you can usually pour off nice clear mead in a day or two, even better for sampling :) (or pouring back into your batch so you don't have to top up as much volume).

You know, I never even thought of that! So I'll just move it to a 500ml bottle and toss it into the fridge, as there is no way I'm gonna get a bucket into the fridge...

Chevette Girl
07-14-2012, 07:11 AM
Yeah, leave the gross lees in the bucket but anything liquid can be poured into a container and refrigerated. Got the idea from Fatbloke :)