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Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Mead Forum > How long in primary
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Old 07-30-2011, 03:37 AM   #1
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Default How long in primary

How long can I leave mead in the primary?

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Old 07-30-2011, 06:53 AM   #2
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I usually let it set for about 2-3 weeks. That gives it plenty of time to ferment out. Then, I'll rack it into another carboy, add some finings, and let it set for about a month or so. This is the time that you would add any flavoring, oak chips, or whatever your heart desires. I prefer a still mead, so after about a month or so in the secondary, I'll bottle straight to some mason jars, Grolsche bottles, or whatever, and let them sit and age for at least 4-6 months, or longer. Patience, in this case, really pays off in the end.

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Old 07-30-2011, 12:33 PM   #3
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How long can I leave mead in the primary?
Depends on many things (too many to be listed).......

Some like to leave it until it gets to a certain point in the ferment, some like to move a batch to a secondary to finish a ferment if it's got fruit in it and they want to add more (to bring up the fruit colour/flavour/aroma to a higher level).

Some just move a batch, to free up a fermenter i.e. bucket start/primary, Carboy/Jug/Demi-john to secondary/finish/rack/clear etc etc.

If you're just making traditionals, then it might not be necessary to change fermenter until the batch has finished and needs racking - which is what beerme70 seems to be alluding to.

Of course, it might also depend on whether you need (or want) to use finings etc or not. There's a lot of mead makers, me included, who prefer, if possible to let any hazes, sediment, etc etc, to drop out naturally, over time. Though this might not be possible if you're short of brewing space etc etc, so you might need to rack it off a sediment and then hit it with finings and so on.....

beerme70 is spot on about ageing though and the relevance of patience. I'd say that 6 months is the absolute minimum i.e. the first stage at which you'd check to see if the batch is to your liking or not.
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Old 07-30-2011, 04:07 PM   #4
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I understand what you guys are saying. I was wondering if I leave the mead in the primary too long there will be off flavors like in beer. If so, how long is too long.

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Old 07-31-2011, 10:14 AM   #5
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I understand what you guys are saying. I was wondering if I leave the mead in the primary too long there will be off flavors like in beer. If so, how long is too long.
If it's your first, or an early attempt, then I'd just follow the ferment. Keep testing it, then once the gravity has been stable for 3 consecutive tests (usually spread over about a week or so), you can consider it finished and start the racking process.

Most mead's don't pick up off flavours from the sediments if left on it for a while, yet you'd also be able to find some yeasts where it's thought that the quicker the better when it comes to racking, while other yeasts do a good job of "sur lie" ageing.

If it's finished and you get it off the lees, you can't really go far wrong. It just depends on what you're aiming for, as to how you proceed from there...
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Old 08-26-2011, 11:28 AM   #6
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Does anyone not rack their mead?

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Old 08-26-2011, 12:38 PM   #7
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JAOM specifically instructs you not to rack, FWIW.

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Old 08-26-2011, 01:32 PM   #8
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Mine goes from being on the lees to in the bottle. My last one was in the primary for four months give or take. I didn't notice any off flavors, other than typical young mead flavors.

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Old 08-26-2011, 09:30 PM   #9
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Does anyone not rack their mead?
I've found that my cysers clear so well on their own that I do not rack them, and usually bottle direct from primary about 3-4 months after brewing. I think the yeast can make some difference, because I thought the mead was better with this technique comparing Wyeast Dry Mead 2 years ago and 71B last year. Certainly though, there's a year aging difference between them, so it's kind of hard to call...I certainly didn't think I had any "bad" off flavors with either...nothing like what I've heard described from autolysis of yeast (the supposed reason why you shouldn't keep homebrew in primary for an excessive time.) I'm probably going to try the White Labs Dry English Cider yeast for my cyser this year, and I'll let that one ride too....
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:25 AM   #10
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Basic answer seems to be that some people go weeks, some go months, and some go for years.
I personally go for a few months until it has cleared well, and the yeast have had a chance to clean up after themselves. Then I rack to secondary for as long as I can until I need the carboy because I'm too cheap to buy more.
I have heard of mead fermented and long term aged in cask oaks for decades, and while I never tasted them, they are highly rated and people pay big bucks for them.

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