So what do you feel is the best way to manage batch sizes?

Personally make oversize batches and try to fit it in the largest carboy I have. For subsequent rackings, I will size the carboy down a size and catch any extra into the most closely sized small carboy I have that will be filled. Anything that doesn't fit into that becomes a taste test.

I prefer doing this to topping off with water at each racking. I would rather have a litte extra to hold off to the side for sampling and for topping off at a later date if needed.

I have a few or several of each 7, 6.5, 6, 5, 3 and 1 gallons, and for my "make up" or extra, I have 1 gallons, 3 liters, half gallons and quart jars (kambucha jars)

My 5 gallon carboys are the target finishing size of most of my batches, the larger carboys are for primary and secondary active fermentations. and the 3 gallons and 1 gallons either being for split batches or experimental batches.

  • 2
    Are we talking about beer, wine, mead or cider? I ask because there is little need for so much racking in beer making. In fact, 9 times out of 10 fermentor to packaging is all that's needed for beer.
    – brewchez
    Sep 13, 2019 at 12:45
  • Fair enough. Let’s say everything except beers and lower alcohol sparkling ciders, however still cider and apple wine I am including, because we are talking about racking off of lees and loss of materials for the most part.
    – Escoce
    Sep 13, 2019 at 13:20

1 Answer 1


A couple years ago, I was experimenting with a melomel recipe and got two small 3-gallon plastic fermenters. After the initial fermentation was done, I racked those into 1-gallon glass jugs that I'd kept from store-bought (unfermented) cider.

Otherwise, I generally start my mead batches at around 5-6 gallons in the fermenter. I use plastic big-bucket style fermenters, as they're easier to get into for cleaning purposes, and the initial fermenting can be much messier than later stages. Then I rack into 5-gallon glass carboys. If I have too much mead, the extra becomes what I sample and taste. If there's not enough to fill the carboy, I don't backfill with water. Never have, never occurred to me to do so, and I've never yet had a batch go funny on me. But then again this is mead, and my ABVs have been 13%-16%. Other brews might require that there be less headspace in the carboy.

I was recently gifted two larger 6-gallon carboys, so I might make slightly larger batches to go in those two.

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