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I am making mead for the first time using honey from my hives. It has been going for 3-4 weeks and I'm not sure if it's time to rack it. The fermenting has been slow, which I think might be due to the coldish (60 degree) temperature in my house. I didn't heat the honey and it settled to the bottom of the carboy almost immediately. There is some bubbling doing on, a gurgle about every 10-20 seconds, but it never got more than that. At this point, all the settled honey appears to have been eaten by the yeast and now it's all a uniform color. However, there is no head on top and no sediment on the bottom of the carboy. Should I keep it going in this carboy for a while? This is my first time home brewing of any kind, so I'm a little unsure.

Thanks.

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Do you have a wine thief or turkey baster and a method to test the specific gravity (hydrometer or refractometer)? –  baka Feb 20 '12 at 20:16
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2 Answers

3-6 weeks is the usual time to do the first rack of a mead, but it's best to check with a gravity measurement first. Gravity should be around 1/3 the starting gravity, and some of the yeast should have flocculated on the bottom of the fermentor.

If you didn't add any yeast nutrients to the mead, then fermentation will go slower as the yeast have a harder time propagating up to the numbers required. Also, 60F is on the cold side, for some mead yeast strains, which will also slow things down.

Seeing you don't have any sediment yet, I'd wait a couple of weeks before racking, especially since it's fermenting quite cold. The amount of krausen with mead can vary dramatically from next to nothing to overflowing, even with the same yeast strain, so don't worry that there is no "head". But before racking, check with a gravity reading first.

Since this is your first brew, over the next couple of weeks, try to take time to search and read up online about the processes around mead making. Topics like, good racking procedures (avoid oyxgen), when to do the second transfer, when to add sodium metabisulfite or ascorbic acid, when to bottle and how long to age for. This will give you a feeling for what is typical practice, and you'll feel a lot more confident with the rest of the brew!

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I'd let it keep going until you see that some sediment has accumulated on the bottom of the carboy. The purpose of racking is to remove the wine or mead from the lees (sediment) so if there is little to none then you're not going to gain much of anything by racking.

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