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mydogbrew
07-18-2012, 01:29 PM
I just started my first mead about 3 and a half weeks ago. It chugged hard for 2 weeks. Has finally slowed and started to clear some. Do I rack it off now to keep it away from the autolysis? Or leave it there for a couple more months until I bottle it?

Chevette Girl
07-18-2012, 02:26 PM
Hi, mydogbrew.

First, welcome to the forum! Second, that bit at the top of this section that says, "IMPORTANT: Please post your EXACT recipe, ALL ingredients and the quantities you used." ? That really IS important.

We can't tell you anything about your mead unless we know what's in it. And if you have a hydrometer, your starting and current gravities will be useful too. Otherwise all we can do is offer general advice.

Generally, it sounds like you're on the right track, that's a reasonable amount of time for a fermentation to be complete.

Generally, the worst offender for autolysis is Lalvin 71B and even it won't cause you problems until about 6 weeks in, so you're safe for at least that long.

Generally, you don't want to leave it sitting on the lees for too long but you also don't want to rack it before it's done fermenting, that can sometimes stop the fermentation. And swirling it around in the later stage of fermentation can be beneficial by keeping the yeast in suspension, it's more likely to finish its job that way.

Generally, once you've racked it, you'll want to let it sit a few months before bottling, but if there's any sugar left in it at all, you'll want to treat it with sulphite and sorbate to stabilize it so you don't inadvertently make bottle bombs. There have been cases of dormant yeast waking up two years later. And yes, the yeast will still be in there, even if it looks perfectly clear and you think everything has settled out.

mydogbrew
07-18-2012, 03:04 PM
You know I never read the fine print... Sorry. It was a JAO variant. 6lb honey in 2.5 gal water, in addition to orange, I added 1 Kiwi and some yeast nutrient. I believe the yeast was Lavlin EC 1118. OG was 1.092. Haven't checked since then. So should I go ahead and rack or wait for the fruit to drop, or what? - Thanks!

Chevette Girl
07-18-2012, 03:50 PM
Sorry to correct you yet again (I am nice to newbees, I really am! :) ), but if you used less than 3.5 lb of honey per gallon, and you used anything but bread yeast, it's not a JAO variant, just a neglected melomel that's going to take a few months or years to be worth drinking... those are the two biggest factors in making it work and making it drinkable quickly. If you've got the patience for it, there's a REALLY REALLY long sticky thread around here about JAO, it's worth a read, and even if you don't want to read through the thousand and some posts on that thread, I highly encourage you to try one batch of JAO according to the recipe sometime. There are a couple of really good threads on JAO variants as well, you should be able to come up with something if you check out the forum search function, just remember unless you use something in quotes like "JAO variant" as your search parameter, to use JAOM, as the search engine's kind of silly about three-letter words...

EC-1118 should make this go dry dry dry from a starting gravity of 1.092.

You want to check your SG again. That's what tells you whether it's time to rack or not, either when it's gotten close to 1.000 or the SG hasn't changed in a couple of days.

Given that this isn't made with bread yeast and it's not going to be sweet, I'd get it off the fruit as soon as the SG's either close to 1.000 or it stops changing.

The orange pith is going to make this taste very bitter as a dry wine so you may end up wanting to backsweeten it, in which case you'll want to get some stabilizing chemicals or else the EC-1118 is just going to eat anything you feed it. Usually, the only reason we leave the orange pith in (as opposed to using only the juice and the zest) is to counter the residual sweetness you end up with from all the honey in a JAO.

If your SG is not close to 1.000, check it in a day or two to see if it's still moving, and if it's the same, it's probably stuck. Let us know then and we can help you figure out what to do with it.

Good luck, and if you haven't checked out the Newbee Guide, it's over there to your left in the yellow panel.

Robusto
07-18-2012, 03:56 PM
If you used 1118 you will be fine- its a pretty clean champagne yeast that is ok for aging sur lie (on the lees). I have had a cyser on 1118 for about 3 months now and the taste has only improved (although I don’t know if this is due to aging on the lees or just regular olde aging). Although, from what I have read, champagne yeast can add a nutty flavor to your mead- Although I have never experienced this personally. That said, I also never leave my mead on the lees (even with 1118.) for more than 3 months or so.

Edit:
Chevette beat me to it....