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Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Mead Forum > Racked too soon?
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Old 02-23-2011, 02:16 AM   #1
Hermanoid
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Default Racked too soon?

Hey there. I'm new at this (first batch), and I have a couple of questions. I'm making a basic mead, just to get my feet wet. 1 gallon (about 12 lbs.) honey, 5 gallons water in a 5 gallon carboy. I added the ingredients and pitched the yeast (1 packet Lalvin 71B-1122) and about 2 tsp. energizer on Jan. 8th. O.G. was 1.085, and fermentation started quickly.
Today, February 22, I saw that fermentation had slowed to about 1 bubble every 11-12 seconds, so I racked to a second carboy. S.G. was 1.020.

Now I'm having second thoughts. Did I rack too soon? And if so, is there anything I can or should do now?


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Old 02-23-2011, 06:49 AM   #2
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Thats 2.4 lbs honey per gallon. That seems a little low...atleast to me. Im not too sure if you racked too early, we'll have to see what some of the other guys think.

Then again, I like my mead sweet. I looked it up, and it should be ok, it will just come out dry. And if you like it dry, then your in luck. lol



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Old 02-23-2011, 07:16 AM   #3
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This is a relatively low gravity mead based on your stated OG, and your OG is nearly dead on with predicted for 12 lbs honey in a 6 gal total volume. That being said, you mentioned a 5 gallon carboy...is your recipe 1 gal honey and 5 gal water (6 gal total) or is is 1 gal honey and water added up to a total volume of 5 gal? If it's the latter, your OG should've been closer to 1.100... Perhaps you had incomplete mixing, which can sometimes can lead to erroneous readings?

Regardless of what the "real" OG was, I think you could've racked early...any airlock activity probably indicates continued fermentation, although sometimes rising temperatures can cause additional bubbling from volume expansion or release of dissolved CO2.

If the OG was really 1.085, then 71B shouldn't be finished...PBruske is right...it should take that OG to dry...actually it should take even 1.100 to dry (the alcohol tolerance is 14%, and 1.100 to 1.000 gives you just under that.)

Thinking further...your fermentation is close to two months old, and you mentioned using yeast energizer at the start...did you add any additional during the initial phases of fermentation? If not, you should check this out (the concept of "staggered nutrient additions") for future batches...I wondered if inadequate yeast nutrients could explain a prolonged, lackluster fermentation.

Malkore will post later and wonder whether or not you degassed regularly during the initial ferment too...(but will be *really* happy you used 71B!)
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Old 02-23-2011, 06:14 PM   #4
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As a general rule, racking leaves a lot of active yeast behind. While that won't even slow some fermentations down, some will be affected. The pH may be an issue, and if you can check it to make sure it is not below 3.2 that may be useful. Although it is a bit late, adding another tsp of yeast energizer (if it is the tan colored type) may be helpful. Yeast hulls (ghosts) 1 gram per gallon may also be helpful.

What temperature are you maintaining?
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:59 PM   #5
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Ok, to clarify:

It's actually 4 gallons water + 1 gallon honey in a 5 gallon carboy. I wouldn't describe the fermentation as lackluster. It was going pretty strong until about 10 days ago, when it slowed to 1 per 10 seconds. It was that slowing that made me decide to rack, and it was after racking that I took the hydrometer reading of 1.020.

I'm maintaining 70 degrees F. I'll add some energizer and see if that gets any results.

Thanks for the replies.
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Old 02-24-2011, 06:01 AM   #6
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i've been racking about 1.000 and letting it finish leaving it really dry. i find racking out of the fermenter leaves little behind and fermentation continues in the carboy.

i wouldn't worry to much, i would just leave it run. forget about bubbles, they are just for show. give it a week and check the gravity again.
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Old 02-25-2011, 11:56 PM   #7
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It does sound like it got racked a little prematurely. Its odd that your fermentation didn't finish in 2 weeks though. Staggered nutrients, degassing and 71-B are a good prescription for a fast mead.

Did it maybe get a little cold in primary so it was a slow ferment?
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Old 02-26-2011, 05:01 PM   #8
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It started out cold for the first week or so, and then I moved it upstairs to a warmer room. That got it going. I added a little bit of energizer as per suggestion, and I'm going to take another gravity reading in about another week. Hopefully I'll see some results.


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