View Full Version : Excessive Lees

05-10-2005, 07:24 AM
Last week, I started a gallon batch of Blackberry Melomel, using 3.5 lbs. of blackberry honey, 1/2 Can (= to 1.5 lbs) of Oregon Blackberry puree, and Lalvin 71B yeast. The OG was just under 1.13 before adding the yeast.

Fermentation has been fast and furious, and has backed off a bit the last couple of days. Yesterday, I noticed an excessive amount of lees on the bottom of my carboy, approx. 2" or more. I suspect most of this is residue from the puree.

My question is what to do when I rack. I want to top off to maintain a gallon or more, but it seems like I will have 3 scenarios:

1: Too Dry: I'll want to add some sugar water to sweeten, but I won't want any additional fermentation. I'm thinking I will stick the gallon jug in the fridge a few days before I rack. Once in the seconday, I'll add sorbate and sulfites to de-activate the yeast, add the sugar water mixture, and let it sit to clear.

2: Just right: If the SG and taste is right where I want it, then I'm thinking I'll do about the same as above. However, if I want to maintain the SG, do I top off with a sugar/water mixture with the same approximate SG?

3: Too Sweet: I don't believe this will be the case. If it is too sweet, I would rack off the lees to the secondary, skip the sorbate and sulfite, and just top it off with water.

Does this sound like I have the right idea? Any advice is appreciated. It's still bubbling, so I won't be ready to rack for at least a few weeks.

05-10-2005, 09:48 AM

My puree melomels have had the same thing you are talking about. The blackberry and red raspberry had about 2 inches of lees and a good portion of it was residual from the fruit. I also have a hunch that when you have such an active ferment, that the yeast has also reproduced dramatically more and contributed to the extra lees as well.

My recommendation on racking would be to wait until the fermentation stops. I think you are correct about everything else you planned to do. If you are going to refrigerate, you might not have to add chemicals to stop the batch but the choice is yours.

Keep us informed of how things turn out...


05-10-2005, 10:30 AM
How is the fruit flavor in your puree melomels Pewter? I've read the posts about the primary ferment eating into the fruit flavor, so I figured I could overload the must and retain a good hint of blackberry. 1/2 can may have been a little excessive.

I've also read that refrigeration will not stop the yeast. If I take it out of the fridge, rack it, and add more sugars, any residual yeast in the secondary will continue to consume the new sugars once the batch warms up to room temp. That's why I'll likely have to add sorbate.

05-10-2005, 01:16 PM

I am doing a mixture of purees in the primary and purees in the secondary batches. Since my batches require two cans, I am even contemplating a one can at the beginning and one can in the secondary method.

I do want to make mead, not cordials, and so both my primaries and secondaries have fermentation occurring. And I probably lose a little taste to both. I believe that you really want fermentation to occur when adding honey or fruit so that the added component has time to integrate itself into the complexity of the mead.

Unfortunately none of the batches have progressed to the point where they are ready for a taste comparison. My red raspberry wine fermented totally dry and tasted like weak raspberry coolaid, very smooth despite being totally green and having a decent alcohol level. I have added more sugar and expect that to bring out more of the fruit flavor in the end. I will post results in the brewlog section as things finish and are bottled.

05-15-2005, 10:25 AM
Fermantation slowed to a halt a few days ago, so I checked the SG and it was at 1.025...just right. It started out at 1.13, so that calculates to about 14% alcohol, which is what I expected from the 71B yeast. So far it tastes pretty good. There is a slight fruit flavor, which may get pronounced as it ages. Right now, I have the carboy in the refrigerator.

From my first post, I still have the issue with the excessive lees. They are about 25% of the batch. If I wanted to top off to a gallon after racking, I would have to add almost a quart of liquid.

If I want to keep the same sweetness (I don't want any more), would I add a honey/water mixture with an SG of 1.025? How would I calculate the alcohol after adding a known volume of liquid? (I will add sorbate and sufite when I rack to prevent further fermentation)

Or, should I just leave it like it is and live with a 3/4 batch of mead?

Next time I add this much fruit in the primary, I will use my 1.5 gallon plastic bucket so I end up with more residual liquid. I sure hate to miss watching the fermentation thru the glass. That's my favorite part!

05-16-2005, 10:46 AM

My own gut feel is to live with what you have. You mentioned that the fruit flavor is already weak. If you add water, you will dillute it even further.

One secret to racking. Rack what you can rack clearly into one container. Rack the rest except for the thickest crud into a second smaller container. Put the smaller container in the refrigerator. When it clears, rack the clear portion out of it and the introduce it back into the original batch. You lose less that way, which is a VERY good thing... ;D

Good luck,