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View Full Version : Rack off sediment/lees -- and how long to age?



mediaguru
08-12-2012, 06:00 PM
So, I just racked my very first mead (a wildflower/amber bochet) and it seems pretty dang good... a little hot on the alcohol flavor, but otherwise pretty delicious. I had to restrain myself from pouring a full cup (or two) right then and there...

So, since it's already so enticing (but could definitely use some mellowing of the alcohol flavor; it's not that it's completely dry, though the hydrometer reads about 1.005, but there's definite sweetness in it), the question is... how long should I age it for? I was planning on bulk aging for about 10 months. Should I go for a shorter time and then bottle it and just bottle age it from there, and try some as I go to see how they are faring?


Also, regarding lees...

I split the 5 gal batch into a 3 gal carboy and two 1 gal jugs, to experiment with some different things (medium toast french oak in one, bacon-infusion in the other)

My question is this: I filled the big 3 gallon carboy first, and was able to keep it off the sediment and keep it clear, no lees. However, I wasn't able to do this for the next batches... I got a bit of sediment transferred. Should I let it settle and then rack off the sediment again? How clear should I aim to get it? (seems impossible to get it completely clear)

fatbloke
08-13-2012, 01:03 AM
We often bulk age because we don't have climate controlled storage, for optimum ageing temps (mid-50's F). So the coolest location you have in bulk is the best compromise.

As for time ? It's a natural process which makes it unpredictable. Your 10 month time frame is a good start, but its still no guaranteed to be ready - if it is then great.

As for clearing, or possibly leaving the 2 smaller ones, "clear" is normally defined as being able to read a newspaper through it (even if you have to light the paper because it a very dark colour).

And generally I rack every couple of months, though if you used finings and it drops clear ok, then you'd probably rack it the once.

akueck
08-13-2012, 08:52 PM
What kind of yeast did you use? Most of the time if you've got just a little lees, you can leave it in there for a good long time. Some yeasts don't work like that though (71B being the most-often cited in that category).

Bulk vs. bottle, there's no one answer. Bulk aging will give you better consistency bottle-to-bottle, but in a gallon you're only looking at 10-ish small bottles anyway. I say do your thing to the small jugs and bottle when you're done and they're clear.

mediaguru
08-14-2012, 08:43 PM
What kind of yeast did you use? Most of the time if you've got just a little lees, you can leave it in there for a good long time. Some yeasts don't work like that though (71B being the most-often cited in that category).

Bulk vs. bottle, there's no one answer. Bulk aging will give you better consistency bottle-to-bottle, but in a gallon you're only looking at 10-ish small bottles anyway. I say do your thing to the small jugs and bottle when you're done and they're clear.

Sounds good... I have a climate-controlled wine cellar room to age these in, so my primary purposes for bulk aging were for flavoring with oak cubes in one and bacon-infusion in the other jug.

I am using D-47 yeast, and IIRC, some people have said that one is better than average for going sur lie. In any case, I will probably rack off the lees in the smaller jugs before too long and go straight to bottles with them (do you think it is wise to use sorbate/sulfite combo to prevent bottle bombs, or should they be okay if they seem to be done fermenting and are down to about 1.000 SG?)

akueck
08-15-2012, 09:15 PM
Being around 1.000 SG is no guarantee that things won't pick up for a few extra points and overcarbonate on you. Depends a lot on how much alcohol is in there. A 14% mead with D47 at SG 1.000 is a lot less likely to restart than a 10% one. If you're controlling the temperature of the bottles (at a low temperature), that will help a lot too in making sure nothing funny happens.