View Full Version : First Mead, First Racking

04-06-2014, 11:28 PM
Hey guys, a question about my first batch...

The Recipe:
15lbs wildflower honey from western Pennsylvania
5 gallons distilled water - total volume of must was 6 gallons
10g Lalvin 71B-1122, rehydrated per the instruction on the packet
6tsp yeast nutrient - generic brand from local homebrew store, package instructions recommended 1tsp/gallon
6tsp DAP - package instructions recommended 1tsp/gallon
6 Campden tablets
OG 1.090 (Intentionally a little low; my goal is a light, dry mead)
Initial pH 4.5
Mixed the honey, water, nutrients, and Campden tablets using Ken Schramm's "no boil" method. 24 hrs later I pitched the yeast after rehydrating per Lalvin's instructions on the yeast packet. I stirred the must for 20 minutes after pitching to oxygenate, then sealed the bucket fermenter and haven't opened it since (trying to minimize oxidation, so I haven't checked a second specific gravity reading yet).

So I pitched the yeast 13 days ago and am fermenting in a 7.9 gallon bucket. Bubbling started coming from the airlock in about 48hrs. After that I had what seemed to be a reasonably vigorous fermentation going. At its peak I was getting big bubbles every 2-3 seconds. Over the last day the rate of bubbling has dropped off substantially to a single bubble every 30 seconds or so.

I'm getting some mixed messages as to when I should be doing my first racking into the carboy for secondary fermentation and/or aging. The Compleat Meadmaker says after about 2 weeks "when the bubbling slows down substantially." The GotMead NewBee Guide says when you're getting "one bubble every 30 seconds." HOWEVER, I've searched the forums and some people have mentioned waiting longer until fermentation is complete.

I'm wondering what people thought of Schramm and the NewBee Guide's recommendations versus waiting longer. Are there advantages/disadvantages to either racking sooner or racking after reaching final gravity?

Thanks guys!

04-07-2014, 12:21 AM
Well time and airlock activity are not particularly useful in determining the state of fermentation and for the first third of fermentation it is generally recommended to add oxygen and degass often. The tools to trust are your hydrometer throughout and keeping an eye on PH early on.
Take a gravity reading, that will tell you where you are at the moment, generally the "primary" should take you to your final gravity or ABV tolerance, the secondary is for settling and to begin clearing.

04-07-2014, 03:05 AM
I stirred the must for 20 minutes after pitching to oxygenate, then sealed the bucket fermenter and haven't opened it since (trying to minimize oxidation, so I haven't checked a second specific gravity reading yet).

I don't think you need worry about oxidation for the first while - at least 50% of the sugar depletion. I normally get stuck in and degass the thing as much as possible for the first week or so - as in every day stir it up to get the CO2 out, with a wine whip if I have the room to avoid a MEA.

You might want to consider staggering the nutrient additions as well - for your next batch.

sounds nice though...

04-07-2014, 06:09 AM
I'll go with riverats idea of trusting your hydrometer.......

the regular recommendations being 3 consecutive identical gravity readings with each one being taken 2 or 3 days apart.

don't fuss on oxidation so much, after all its a mead, not beer......

As you've used 71B, once you're happy the ferment has stopped, rack it off the gross lees, preferably to glass so you can see what's going on. If you have some left over after the main rack, store it in a PET pop/soda bottle in the fridge as it will help with any topping off, plus if the pop/soda bottle needs racking again too, standing it upright allows lees to drop into the molded "feet" of the bottle and you can just squeeze the bottle to minimise airspace - plus as the level of the "spare" liquid drops its easier to find smaller replacement bottles.

Use the standard sulphite methods of first application off tbe gross lees and then every second racking and you're good to go.....

Medsen Fey
04-07-2014, 07:24 AM
I typically let them finish before racking, though even then the yeast will often manage to chew through another couple of gravity points. Waiting to rack means you'll have fewer lees settling in the secondary so you may save yourself a racking (I am lazy and am always happy to find a way to do less) :)


04-07-2014, 03:15 PM
Thanks for the advice, guys!

Yeah, I did this first batch based on Schramm's instructions, and only after that got my hands on the NewBee guide that detailed staggered additions of nutrients and aeration. Those'll be in the protocol for the second batch.

I opened the fermented just now and stirred for 30minutes to degas. Talk about an advertisement for buying a Mix-Stir or Wine Whip! ;)

Took pH and specific gravity readings as well. I'm down to 3.4 and 0.996. I'll check the SG a few more times over the next couple of days, but I guess it's looking like fermentation actually is complete based on that reading. Tasted the stuff, too. Very raw and immature, but no off flavors that I could detect. I'm actually pretty pleased with how things are going so far.

04-07-2014, 03:45 PM
Excellent! Congrats to your first of many!;D