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Thread: lees, what is the reason for stirring them

  1. Default lees, what is the reason for stirring them

    I have what maybe a newbie question but I can't seem to find the answer on my own. What does stirring the lees(I would guess during primary)do for the fermentation? If I'm wrong tell me but doesn't the yeast only start making alcohol when the easily avalible oxygen is used up and it start converting suger for it's oxygen. Wouldn't opening the primary fermentor, putting in a lee stirrer, and stirring add oxygen back into the must? I could see picking up the primary and maybe sloshing the must inside to break up the yeast pack if it was still eairly in the primary, but then I have read that can lead to foaming. Like I said newbie question, but with my first one gallon in primary and the other in secondary I am newbie. It's still my time for stupid questions.
    thanks for the help and for the great site

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Brisbane Australia

    Default Re: lees, what is the reason for stirring them

    Usually done with the fine Lees (after first or second racking).

    From a wine-making site http://www.burgundy-talent.com/site/...atoz/main.html
    Lees Stirring /Barrel Stirring = Batonnage

    A traditional practice that consists of rousing the sediment (the lees) in white wine casks after barrel fermentation. Usually done with a steel rod that has a chain or perforated bar at its end (some wine-makers simply use a wooden stick.) The action of stirring puts the lees back in suspension and helps with the introduction of oxygen to "feed" the wine. This results in a richer, though lighter-coloured, wine. At the same time carbon dioxide is expelled and the danger of Hydrogen Sulphide development in the lees is reduced.

  3. Default Re: lees, what is the reason for stirring them

    so this should be done after racking but before clarifing and it's done to add oxygen to the lees and remove co2.How noticable is this richness they mentioned is it worth the risk of oxygenating the mead? I don't think I have ever drank sherry so I may not recognize the taste of oxygenation in mead, but every thing I have read seems to say it's not a good thing.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Brisbane Australia

    Default Re: lees, what is the reason for stirring them

    (advice only - take with a grain of salt)

    Go for clean flavours until you are happy with what you produce. Then start experimenting with the complexity that lees aging adds.

    There are certain yeast that are better at lees aging (ICV-D47), and some you should definitely avoid because they tend to produce off-flavours.

    So search the forum for yeast information to find info like here

    Lalvin Yeast Chart info:

  5. Default Re: lees, what is the reason for stirring them

    thanks and I will. Have only used D47 and Fleischmann's (hazard a guess at what I'm making with that) The next thing I wan't to try is Ken schramm's Multi-berry Melomel with one little change. My wife is allergic to cherrys so will be adding pomegranate juice instead. Will need to find a good yeast for that. Don't want a high alcohol just enough to hide under all those berry flavors
    thanks again

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    The OC

    Default Re: lees, what is the reason for stirring them

    Lees aging can be done in several ways. I agree with JamesP that you would benefit from doing a few basic meads before doing lees aging, but that's up to you.

    Lees aging can be done in several ways, using several methods and many different types of yeast. Most common yeasts for lees aging are CY3079 and D47. K1 and DV10 will also give some nice flavors as well.

    You may lees age on the gross lees which is the accumulated dead yeast cells from primary fermentation. Depending on the recipe and what you are trying to accomplish tastewise you can stir the gross lees or not. If you are planning on letting the mead sit in contact with the gross lees, then I suggest that during active fermentation you swirl your fermenter every day with the airlock on. This does a couple of things that I've gone into in the subscription section, but for the lees purposes it breaks up the yeast cake at the bottom and re-suspends it into the mead. This helps prevent the formation of H2S flavors and aromas, and also helps to fine your mead as well. Some people will stir the gross lees with a lees stirrer after the primary fermentation has ceased and continue to do so for several weeks.

    In my New Year Cyser see here I did the daily swirl during active fermentation which I do with just about all of my meads. Then I left the mead on top of the lees with no stirring for another few months; and then racked to an aging vessel. It's a great cyser and I'm very happy with the way it turned out. There are several other folks who have emailed me and are using this recipe currently. I think BrewBear has one going as well. This runs counterintuitive to a lot of lees methodologies but it just works very well and turns out a great mead. I wouldn't do this with CY3079 yeast, but the D47 works very well with this blend of fruits and apple juice. What it really comes down to is doing this for several years and knowing what to expect from certain yeasts and certain mead styles and experience.

    Another lees aging style is to rack off the gross lees and then stir a couple of times weekly to resuspend the lees into the mead in order to get the poly saccharides up into the mead and impart that nice yeasty, estery flavor. CY3079 is especially good for this, and when done while the mead or wine is aging in a barrel it really comes into it's own.

    Perhaps some of the most classic examples of lees aging are aged champagnes where the wine is exposed to the lees for 10 or more years. In the background of the photo of my New Year Cyser you'll see some some Veuve Clicquot Rose Reserve Millenium 1985 boxes. This is some pretty incredible Brut Rose Champagne that was disgorged from the lees aged bottled specially for the millenium, and I bought several bottles. They were 1.5 liter (magnums) and I thought that it would be appropos to have them in the background of a lees aged cyser when I shot the photo.

    Anyhow lees aging is pretty much what you want to make it. You should lean the basics of mead making first and then move on to experiment with lees contact, stirring and such. I'd also say that experimenting with different mead recipes and lees contact is the best way to learn about what characters the lees will impart to different mead recipes you're using. Once you have that under you belt then you can come and let us know how they worked for you.

    Hope that helps,

    Is it tasty . . . precious?

  7. Default Re: lees, what is the reason for stirring them

    I have been seeing mention of lees stirrers and had wondered about what they were for. I will try lees ageing as I get further into the craft. Maybe make a larger batch split it into two carboy stir one but not the other to do a comparison test
    As for making a few basic meads, well while I haven't made a lot of mead I have tasted enough to float a long boat and I know my tastes run to sack,fruit and spiced meads more so than traditionals. So if my posts seem like I'm trying to reach to far to quick it's more I'm reaching towards where my tastes lay.
    again my thanks

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