View Full Version : How long until secondary

11-29-2004, 06:39 PM
I am new to mead making, just started my first batch about a week ago, November 20th, and have a question regarding my first racking.
What I know is that I should rack into a secondary as soon as the bubbling calms down.
But It's been almost a week and a half now, and theres still a little bubbling
should I wait? or should I go ahead and rack?
any advice would be appreciated.

11-29-2004, 08:38 PM

Just give it some time until the bubbling stops, it could take another two weeks, or another few weeks. Bottom line is just let it go until it stops bubbling. Also check your fermentation vessel and make sure the the little bubbles have stopped too. They're the kind you see in a beer rising slowly to the surface.

Once that's done you can rack to your heart's content. Until then, keep repeating to yourself:

"If the bubbles come back, it ain't time to rack."


11-29-2004, 10:58 PM
Patience I can deal with.
Thanks for the clarification.

11-30-2004, 04:23 AM
i usaully rack somewhere between 6 weeks and six months depending on when i start to get some clarification. as a general rule i sort of let the mead speak to me and let me know when its ready. alot of people rush it for one reason or another and it is my personal feeling that the problem of autolysis is somewhat overstated.

11-30-2004, 09:06 AM
The general rule of thumb I've been taught is to allow 4 to 8 weeks in the primary based on continued fermentation or the amount of lees. Basically rack when fermentation ceases. Or if you get an excessive amount of lees while fermentation continues, then rack when the amount of lees reaches 1/2 to 3/4th's of an inch.

Leave the batch in the secondary for twice as long as it was in the primary (2 to 4 months). Or rack again based if large amounts of lees occur before time is up.

Then leave the batch in the tertiary until it clears completely, is aged and it is ready to bottle...

The rules above apply pretty well to straight meads and those made with juices. Things like fruit in the primary or racking onto fruit in the secondary may change this if there are concerns about how long something remains on the fruit (tannin levels).

The amount of allowable lees allowed before racking must also be adjusted accordingly based on the presence of things that add to the lees (like fruit). So if you have an inch of fruit pulp, you will not rack off of it until there is an additional 1/2 to 3/4th's inch of yeast related lees or you need to get the must off the fruit skins before it gets bitter from all of the tannin...

I get the impression that you will eventually develop a method that works for you and that when you rack is not extremely critical as long as it is generally done in the right time frame and done with everything properly sterilized. A final caution would be that any racking done after fermentation is completed needs to be accomplished with a minimum amount of aeration of the must...

11-30-2004, 06:53 PM
From my perspective racking from primary is done when the fermentation is done. Time frames are great, but they don't always apply. Let the fermentation come to a stop, or slow down to less than one blip a minute.

I don't use the lees as a determining factor in racking. I let the fermentation stop, and if the lees are 1/2 inch high, that's fine. The lees are a function on the vigor, virulence, and verve of the yeast, along with the amount of sugar to be converted, the temperature, the pH, acid, ya de da de da . . . ad nauseum.

There have been times that I am very interested in leaving the mead on the lees. I have done so in some cases for close to two years, and the mead was very well balanced and had no off-flavors. I have about 35 friends and relatives who can attest to that, and who are still haranguing me to do it again. My problem is, I donít let it sit around that long.

As far as aging goes, thatís really up to you. I check the flavor weekly, and now I do to gravity readings to see where it is. When itís ready to stop, in to the refrigerator it goes. I donít stick to a time schedule on how long it takes, because in my experience there are so many variables involved. I have noticed that certain honeys tend to mellow quicker than others.

My friends had a few (six) bottles of stuff I made in 1994 so we popped a few bottles open over the weekend, and it was astonishing how good it was. I told Joe Mattioli in an email that I thought it was about 8 years old. I expected my Naughty Nymph labels, but the were actually older, and closer to 11 years. They were bottle capped, and had my old labels on them, hereís a link to the post with a link to the lables:

http://gotmead.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=equipment;action=display;num=1087420 558;start=9#9

At that time when I was making mead I was using strictly Cornelius kegs and blow off tubes, so measuring the lees was a complete non factor.

In the early eighties I was using demi-johns that my dad and uncles had left over from wine making, but they were such a hassle that I switched to corny kegs, and it forced me to get my own techniques down. Now Iím using carboys and itís different. Itís more visual, but the best stuff Iíve made has been in kegs with no view of what was going on.



11-30-2004, 07:04 PM
If I were to put a time frame on my mead, judging from what you all said, I think it should be ready to rack in about two weeks.

Sediment is now forming and the C02 production is slowing noticeably each day.

Thanks so much for the info!