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Worried about making a batch of mead? Worry no more! Part 2

In this part of my tutorial on mead making we take a look at what you do after the batch has been fermenting.

 

Ok! In part 1 of this article you mixed up a batch of mead. It is all set and there is nothing left to do. What Now? Patience is the keyword here! You have to allow the yeast time to do what they do - create mead with an alcohol content.

 

Two batches of mead

This is what happens.

Over the next three days the airlock will start bubbling.

This is because the yeast is starting to eat the honey, orange and raisins. And it is multiplying many fold.

As a by-product of this growth is the production of Carbon Dioxide gas. This builds up pressure in the jug and it forces out the airlock- causing the bubbling.

Take note of how the mead looks in this picture. See how it is cloudy? That is great! Things are going very well.

Leave the batch alone to do it's thing. Don't shake it or stir it.

 

Sediment in a mead jug

Over the course of the next couple of weeks you are going to notice a sediment occurring on the bottom of the jug.

This is terrific. The yeast is maturing, dying off, multiplying and taking over the batch. That sediment is the dead yeast husks. This is why you don't disturb the batch. We want this dead yeast to accumulate on the bottom.

 

What Happens (The first 2-4 weeks)

The yeast will multiply rapidly and the airlock will increase in its activity, getting more and more vigorous. This activity will peak and then decline. At somewhere between 2-4 weeks the airlock will slow to the point where it bubbles less than once every thirty seconds.

 

Stage 2 - Let's rack the Mead and get into the secondary ferment

The point up until now is called the Primary Ferment. Most of the work has been done. But the mead isn't ready to drink. We now do a few things to get the mead into something called the secondary ferment.

There is a lot of stuff in that jug including billions of dead yeast cells and potentially used up raisins and a sliced up orange. All this stuff is pretty much used up so we want to get it out of there! And we do this by siphoning out the fluid and leaving all the junk behind to be disposed of. This process of siphoning is called "Racking".

 

Siphon the liquid out of the jug and into a new jug. Notice the arrow. It shows that the siphon hose is not all the way on the bottom of the jug. This is so we don't siphon up the junk that has accumulated. You want to get as much mead out as possible while leaving as much junk as possible.

About the clarity.

Remember that earlier picture of the mead? Remember how cloudy it was? And see how after 2-4 weeks the mead has changed significantly? It is much clearer. That is great!

Siphon gently so you don't kick up that sediment.

 

Now, we are in the secondary ferment. It will bubble at a slower rate. Although for a day or two it might be vigorous because you have disturbed it during the siphoning.

These two pictures show what happens during the secondary ferment. More ferment occurs and more sediment occurs. And the batch slowly takes on the beautiful clarity you see in the second picture above. (These two pictures are of the same exact batch taken several weeks apart).

Further Rackings

From here you have some options.

Once the airlock comes to a complete stop the ferment is done. And you can bottle it. If the airlock continues to limp along slowly bubbling you can at the 30 day point from the first racking, rack it again to get rid of sediment and help clarify it.

Once you are happy with the clarity you can bottle it.

 

When can you drink it

You can taste it at any time of the process. But it needs time to age. This is where the bottling comes in. And typically you should let it age in bottles for at least six months. And my recommendation is a window of time between six months and two years. After two years, for a home made batch of mead, it will tend to decline in flavor.

Watch My Video

Want to watch a video of the whole process of making a batch of mead? Including the bottling of it? Right here: