hist-brewing: Racking

Mills, Scott Scott.Mills at COMPAQ.com
Wed Mar 29 10:28:40 PST 2000

There are complications that can arise from not racking and depending on
your mead you may or may not need to worry.

The concern that most people have is that the yeast will switch from
fermentation to respiration.

The primary complication that most people worry about is Yeast Autolysis.
This is when the yeast actually starts to feed on itself.  This
Self-digestion and disintegration of yeast cells can cause really icky (a
technical term) flavors and aromas sometimes described as soapy, rubbery,
or sulfury.  Once you have tasted/smelled it you will remember it.

Yeast can also start to feed on other components in the trub other than just
dead yeast cells.  Of course this depends on what is in the trub.  If you
make fruit meads there is likely stuff there the yeast can munch on when it
runs out of sugar.

There are a lot of factors that will influence how much you need to worry.
In a big, high gravity mead that will finish with a lot of residual sugar
you tend to worry less because there is always sugar left for the yeast if
it gets hungry.  In a mead that finishes a bit more dry you might worry more
unless of course the alcohol content is high enough that the yeast isn't
going to do anything.  Other factors like temp and available nutrients other
than sugar can also effect how readily the yeast will move to some alternate
and less desirable metabolic pathway.  The only time I have personally
experienced  autolysis was when I was fermenting a medium-dry mead in hall
closet, during summer, and things just got too warm. 

In a traditional mead of honey-water-yeast the only real worry you have is
yeast autolysis.  If there are other components like spices, fruit, malt,
etc. then you have to worry about those substances breaking down and
contributing flavors and aromas you don't want.


Scott Mills	 
Scott.Mills at Compaq.Com
AKA Lord Eadric Anstapa

Join the SCA Brewing list http://sca_brew.homestead.com

> -----Original Message-----
> From: CWAmaral at aol.com [mailto:CWAmaral at aol.com]
> Subject: hist-brewing: Racking
> I've had a batch of mead that I brewed some time ago and 
> haven't gotten 
> around to racking it into a secondary firmenter.  Are there 
> any complications 
> that could arise by not racking it into a secondary, or 
> waiting too long?
> CWAmaral

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