View Full Version : Should I clarify now or wait until bottling time?

11-21-2015, 11:39 AM
My first batch has been fermenting for the past month or so. (3 gallons show mead; 7 lbs of wildflower honey with D47). I racked it into secondary (3 gallon carboy) on 11/1 and wrapped an old towel around it. I unwrapped it today because the airlock has slowed to practically nothing-- there's very little headroom in the carboy and I'm getting one bubble every couple of minutes. There is a good inch of dead yeast lees on the bottom of my carboy and the mead has started to clear, though it is still pretty hazy. I should probably get it off that dead yeast soon so I'm planning to rack again next Friday (because I have a day off) but I wonder if I should add the clarifier today so even more sediment can settle out. My goal is to split this batch into three one-gallon glass jugs (the kind apple juice comes in) so I can treat each one separately during tertiary. I may leave one dry/possibly carbonate at bottling time, backsweeten one, and add spices to the third. After racking to the new containers I plan to leave them alone for at least 3 months. After that, I'll do a taste to see if it's ready to bottle.

The guy at my local homebrew shop does mead and when I bought some more stuff stuff from him last weekend I told him what I was planning to do. He said he never uses a clarifier (he just lets the mead clear up on its own no matter how long it takes). I got the sparkaloid anyway because I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Should I add the clarifier now or wait until tertiary is done in x months? The Sparkaloid instructions say to add it one week before doing a rack so if I'm going to do it at this phase I should probably do it today.

11-21-2015, 02:09 PM
If it were me I would wait for a while. Get it off the lees and let it sit for a couple more months. If your going to add stuff way later down the road I would add all that stuff before you clarify it. Otherwise you will have a clear mead and then just muck it up again when you add stuff back into it later.

11-21-2015, 02:46 PM
Ok, I'll wait.

Also, does clarifying stop the aging benefits? The guy at the shop said whatever residual yeast cells are left in suspension help to improve the mead over time.

11-21-2015, 03:31 PM
That may be interpreted 2 different way.
1) If yeast are left to die and decompose that adds a flavor to the mead that could be beneficial. Such is the way of Champagne. Other dead yest can ruin the mead with off flavors. So, if you wanted to do this you will want to know both how, and with what yeast.

2) With small amounts left in the mead (as in after racking once the mead is clear and the solids have dropped out) they will clean up things that will improve flavor if they are consuming the dead yeast cells and other left over stuff.

Clarifying does not stop the ageing process, it just changes what goes on chemically in the yeast. It won't stop chemicals breaking down, it won't stop integration, it won't stop evaporation and degassing.

A general rule of thumb is that you don't want to ever do anything with your mead unless you need to. If it doesn't directly compliment the whole then it's not worth doing. Think balance. Be patient and only do things out of necessity to accomplish your desired result.

11-22-2015, 01:23 PM
I second squatchy. Rack it off the lees now, into your spare 3 gal carboy, and give it time to clear further. Perhaps even chill it to just above freezing if you want to accelerate the clearing a little. I tend to try to avoid clarifying agents unless I'm in a corner (like I need the mead for a certain date/event, and it's not clearing fast enough on its own).

11-22-2015, 01:39 PM
Do you literally mean now (as in today) or would waiting until Friday this week like I planned be OK?

11-22-2015, 04:52 PM
waiting will be fine :)

11-22-2015, 08:14 PM
Ditto that.