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GntlKnght
01-23-2004, 05:17 PM
We began making our first batch of mead on this past weekend!! ;D So far, so good. I have read and heard several different opinions about when to rack from the primary firmenter (bucket with an airlock) to a secondary firmenter (carboy with an airlock). Some say it will be 7-10 days. Others claim 3-4 weeks. Some say the SG should be 1.00. Now I see that the kraussen should stop! ???
What is kraussen? When do you decide to rack to a carboy? Any suggestions for this newbie?!
Tanx a bunch!

ThistyViking
01-23-2004, 07:25 PM
Relax.... Deep Breath, Drink a homebrew...

My bucket primaries don't have airlocks, so i transfer to a carboy primary with airlock after the kraussen (Head of foam) drops off my mead. this happens after 1-3 weeks IME. At this point the S.G. of the mead tends to be between 1.05 and 1.06 when the bubbles will nolonger form foam. I just Don't trust my primaries to be protected by a shower cap from oxidation.

If I had lids with airlocks for my buckets i'd leave them in the bucket primary for 4-8 weeks. I consider my first carboy(s) to be my primary carboys, with the exception of fruit that I pull out of bucket and squeeze, Everything goes from the Bucket to the carboy.

My method is good for my situation, eventually I'll probably decide to get lids with airlocks instead of more carboys or Honeys or whatever... However I'm turning out 3-4 batches a month from my two primary buckets when i have the carboys available... Since this is really all my budget can afford, I'll just let it stand as is.

I could leave the meads in buckets for longer than i do, I just err on the side of caution since I'm occassionally required to leave on very short notice.

Jmattioli
01-23-2004, 08:47 PM
Listen to your mead! IT WILL TELL YOU WHEN ITS TIME TO RACK. Depending on yeasts and SG levels and other ingredients there is no fixed time for every batch. When the bubbles in the airlock slow to a crawl, Rack to secondary. The mead is talking to you. Don't worry about the Kraussen. That is Beer talk. When primary slows down to 1 bubble every minute you know that the vigourous primary fermentation is over. Rack it. If you rack it alittle earlier or later, it really doesn't matter. Just don't go to extremes like leaving it in the primary for 6 weeks or longer. And if by accident you do, no worry, if you did everything else all right it will still probably be okay but try to be reasonable and keep in on the primary lees no more than 30 days max or when it talks to you. Whichever comes first. Good Luck, Joe ;)

GntlKnght
01-24-2004, 10:24 AM
Thanks! All good information! So, if I wanted to start second batch, I could rack into a carboy. But I need to wait until the foam stops! That makes sense now!

Sometimes when I read the books and posts it seems like a foreign language!

Thanks for your patience!

ThistyViking
01-24-2004, 10:49 AM
A couple minor things, 6 weeks is not extreme for a primary, I probably wouldn't leave it on the first lees past 90 days though (most likely not even close). There are several recipes that call for 2 months in a primary bucket with an airlock. Usually these recipes ferment honey for 1 month, then add fruit for month 2.

Kraussen may be a Beer term, but it applies to the head of foam on mead must in the early stages every bit as much. That foam head is why we don't ferment a 5 gallon batch in a 5 gallon carboy. Said activity resulting in foam blow through and left uncorrected infected meads being far more likely.

In Some situations, rate of bubbles in airlock is not a sign of finished fermentation, it could be stalled. If you don't have a Hydrometer, go get one.

Jmattioli
01-24-2004, 01:18 PM
A couple minor things, 6 weeks is not extreme for a primary, I probably wouldn't leave it on the first lees past 90 days though (most likely not even close). There are several recipes that call for 2 months in a primary bucket with an airlock. Usually these recipes ferment honey for 1 month, then add fruit for month 2.

Kraussen may be a Beer term, but it applies to the head of foam on mead must in the early stages every bit as much. That foam head is why we don't ferment a 5 gallon batch in a 5 gallon carboy. Said activity resulting in foam blow through and left uncorrected infected meads being far more likely.

In Some situations, rate of bubbles in airlock is not a sign of finished fermentation, it could be stalled. If you don't have a Hydrometer, go get one.
Admittantly there are recipies that call for leaving on the lees for a lenghty period. One I made said to leave it in primary until it cleared which far exceeded my recommendation and yours. There is no hard fast rule for the time period but I believe it is wise advice not to blindly follow recipes and accept things just because they are in a recipe. There are a lot of bad recipes out there. I also found it wise not to push the limits for the first time mead maker. You are right, 6 weeks is not extreme but eveything else going well, it is wise to get the mead off the primary lees before 6 weeks. Not a hard fast rule but never the less good advice to the beginner. Please accept my apology for what sounded like an attack on the word kraussen which is also applied to mead by many. It is usually not an issue at first racking time as the the foaming is usually gone naturally as is the kraussen in beer by the first racking time.
You are also correct that rate of bubble activity in the airlock is not a sure sign of complete fermentation. The assumption was that barring any problems if it is watched daily, it is a good indication of progress to the meadmaker. I very seldom use a hydrometer except at the start and finish of fermentation. After working with a particular yeast and starting gravity at fixed temperatures and watching the airlock daily I find it easy to detect unusual behavior or a problem without precise measurements. Never the less, your advice to get a hydrometer and use it for the beginner is well said.
Regards , Joe

ThistyViking
01-24-2004, 08:32 PM
I wasn't trying to bust on you, many people post about lees and getting it off of them... But then you hit posts by some of other methods...

I had a mead that sat on lees much longer than normal for me... I have a very full flavor in it, almost beefy... as described by others... almost like beef cooked in wine sauce. I don't know if this was a result of sitting on the lees or from the rasberry flavoring i used, or what. Not a bad mead but definately different than expected. This mead was made with cocoa powder and some rasberry flavoring and is about 9-10 months old. The sammple was also the dreggs from the last racking. Will be interesting to try this one in another 6 months.

GntlKnght
01-24-2004, 09:47 PM
Man oh man! I am trying to be patient! But the more I read about what you have tried and what kinds of things are possible... it makes me want to try new and different things! Gotta start with the basics and get it right! Can't wait to start my next batch, tho!

Coco and Raspberries?!? Did you find a recipe or are you playing?!

ThistyViking
01-25-2004, 07:20 PM
Coco and Raspberries?!? Did you find a recipe or are you playing?!

The recipe was widly distributed on the web.

http://www.ladybridget.com/m/chocmead.html

4 gallons water, 1 gallon honey 16oz cocoa powder, yeast.

To this I added Rasberry Flavoring. Still less than a year old, so i'm hoping the taste is still the oils from the cocoa breaking down. The recipe come with a clear warning to age for a full year after fermentation before tasting. So i tasted it 3-4 months early. Definately odd, with the beef burgandy sort of flavor. Time will tell if that was due to the time on the lees, or residual cocoa powder oils.
(Time will clarify that as I'm going to start a new batch and not add rasberry till the end) Or maybe I'll make a rasberry wine seperately and blend the two... that sounds like the plan for my "March Mead Madness" (hmmm i sense a new midsouth mead event where we actually make the mead)