View Full Version : 71B and racking

11-18-2012, 10:48 PM
I have a dilemma. I've been using 71B because its temperature tolerance is perfect for my house. I also happen to think it makes some nice flavors.

My concern is about racking. I keep reading that it's important to rack it off the lees "on time." There have been several definitions of what this means, but typically people tend to say after a month or so it should be taken off the lees. But I am concerned about racking my mead before fermentation is completed.

I have 13 gallons that have been sitting in primary for exactly a month now. They look and smell beautiful, and there's still a lot of gas coming out of the carboys. I'm afraid that if I rack these now I may shock my poor 71B's, but if I don't rack I'm afraid of whatever the consequences are of leaving 71B on the lees. Can anyone clarify this for me once and for all? In what way is 71B sensitive to the lees in a way other yeasts aren't? Should I be more concerned about getting it off the lees, or more concerned about finishing fermentation in primary?

11-19-2012, 01:29 AM
It's to do with off flavours that come from autolysis or the breaking down or dead yeasts.

Some brews can be left on the lees, as they either produce negligible addition to the flavour or the taste that is derived from ageing on the lees/sediment is one that enhances the over all tastes.

71B has been found to give off flavours and doesn't seem to be suitable for this kind of ageing (which is also known as "sur lie" or "batonage" ageing).

You just need to monitor the fermentation, so that once its finished, the batch is racked off the gross lees, within a month or two. The autolysis characteristics don't appear as soon as the ferment is finished, it takes a while. So its just a precaution to rack it.

You have plenty of time, as its not instant, just do the usual gravity checks and once the gravity shows the batch as finished, rack it, then I like to monitor the sediment drop and rack again once there's a second lees of 5mm or so.

If you're just worried, rack off the first lees and then hit it with some finings. Maybe bentonite or something like that should do fine.

Chevette Girl
11-19-2012, 01:51 AM
I think it was WayneB who said you're fine for six weeks... but upon reflection that may well be six weeks from when the fermentation's slowed down and the yeasties have mostly settled to the bottom...

Vance G
11-19-2012, 02:08 AM
If your temperature has been 66 degrees or over for most of that time, I would bet most of the job is done. Check your specific gravity and hopefully you know where the gravity started. Then you can figure out exactly where you are at. Please post your recipe and starting and current gravity and there are magicians on here who will be able to advise you very well. I am not one of those but would venture that you are just fine. I have used 71B several times and it is a great yeast.

11-19-2012, 09:56 PM
Yep, check the SG. Time is really not that important, the real thing to be concerned about is where the yeast is along its lifecycle. We just happen to measure that with time. ;) Autolysis is the very end of the cycle, and you might get there in a month, 6 weeks, or even just 2 weeks depending on all the normal factors. For a typical fermentation running in the 65-70F range and completing over about 2 weeks, I'd say 4-6 weeks is a good number to shoot for to get the "right time" to rack. But check your SG and you should have a much better idea where you are along the arc.

11-19-2012, 11:13 PM
You guys are great. That's what I needed to hear! Much appreciated. I think they are ready for racking now, then.


11-20-2012, 10:33 AM
The nasty side effects for 71B (and I have lost at least one batch to it) are not a concern until large amounts of the yeast start dropping out of suspension and compacting themselves on the bottom of your fermenter. For me, this really does not happen until fermentation is nearly complete.

However, just to be safe, I rack into another carboy and bubble trap it so that fermentation can continue. Generally, fermentation will get a second wind because of the reracking and take off again for another few days.

IMHO, no need to rack until fermentation is almost at a standstill. For my batches, which are done without nutrients or other chemical additives, this typically is 6 to 8 weeks. Sometimes even a little longer...

05-18-2014, 09:32 AM
I thought I would wake this thread up as it pertains to 71B yeast.

I am working on a batch of strawberry mead - basically 18 lbs of strawberries, and 16 lbs honey in 5 gallon batch. I desire strong strawberry flavor:

I had a melomel in the primary for 3 weeks. I then racked to a 5 gallon carboy, getting rid of main fruit chunks and large particles. After two more weeks, fermentation is complete, but I still have a large amount of "fluffy" lees.

I would say that the lees accounts for about 1 1/2 gallons out of the 5 gallon batch - that is an awful lot of loss, if I rack again.

So I think my options are:

1) Wait longer and see if the lees compact down smaller before racking - but I am concerned about leaving the mead "on the lees", as previously discussed in this thread.
2) Use some finings, to see if that settles things out better - concern here is to take out too much strawberry flavor. I would hope this would "compact" the lees.
3) Filter and rack.

Is this fluffy lees a characteristic of 71B?

Any feedback would be nice.


05-19-2014, 02:32 PM
I used Super Kleer on my 71B batch to get all the lees to drop out in a day or two, then racked it. Worked fantastic. Crystal clear mead batch and no stressing about the Autolysis.


11-18-2015, 10:44 AM
So exactly what types of off-flavors develop if it's left on the lees too long with 71B? There seem to be a lot of posts here and on HomeBrewTalk warning of off-flavors, but I've never actually seen the flavors described anywhere. What should we be looking for?