Secondary Fermentation of Mead

Secondary fermentation is a crucial step in the process of making . Just like in the production of or , this stage involves transferring the liquid from the primary fermenter to a secondary fermenter. This allows for further clarification and aging of the mead, resulting in a smoother and more refined final product.

During the primary fermentation, the consumes the sugars in the must (the mixture of honey, , and sometimes additional ingredients) and converts them into . However, this initial fermentation can produce sediments and impurities that can affect the taste and clarity of the mead. This is where secondary fermentation comes into play.

The waiting game begins after the initial cooking of the must. The mead maker must be patient as several rackings and re-rackings may be necessary until they are satisfied with the liquid. This waiting period can often extend to 90 days or more, depending on the desired results.

Maintaining the right temperature is crucial during this process. Unlike beer fermentation, which can occur at lower temperatures, mead requires a minimum temperature of 68°F (20°C). Ideally, the fermentation should take place between 70°F and 75°F (21°C – 24°C). This ensures that the yeast remains active and the fermentation progresses smoothly.

As the primary fermentation slows down, it is time to transfer the mead into a secondary fermenter. It is important to always use an airlock during this step to prevent any unwanted contaminants from entering the mead. If the fermentation is not starting as quickly as desired, it is recommended to use an airlock until the fermentation is fully underway.

There is no exact timeframe for when to rack the mead to the secondary fermenter. However, a general rule of thumb is to do so after approximately one month, regardless of the type of yeast used. By this point, the majority of the fermentation should have taken place, and transferring the mead off the lees (sediment) helps to improve its clarity and flavor.

Secondary fermentation in mead production requires both time and patience. It is a crucial step in achieving a high-quality final product. By transferring the mead to a secondary fermenter, maintaining the proper temperature, and monitoring the specific gravity, mead makers can ensure that their mead is clear, flavorful, and ready to be enjoyed.

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How Long Should Mead Ferment In Secondary?

The duration of the secondary fermentation stage for mead can vary depending on various factors such as the recipe, desired flavor profile, and personal preference of the mead maker. However, a common timeframe for secondary fermentation is typically around 3-6 months, although some mead makers may choose to extend this period to achieve a more refined and matured product.

During secondary fermentation, the mead is typically transferred from the primary fermentation vessel to a secondary vessel, such as a carboy, to allow for further clarification and flavor development. This process helps to remove any sediment or impurities that may have settled during primary fermentation and allows the mead to age and mellow.

It is important to note that mead is a unique that can greatly benefit from extended aging periods. The flavors in mead tend to evolve and improve over time, resulting in a more complex and enjoyable final product. Therefore, it is often recommended to allow the mead to ferment in secondary for a longer period, if possible.

Here are a few key points to consider regarding the duration of secondary fermentation for mead:

1. Recipe and Ingredients: Different mead recipes may require different aging periods. Some recipes, especially those using certain fruits or spices, may benefit from longer aging to allow the flavors to meld and harmonize.

2. Desired Flavor Profile: If you prefer a smoother and more refined flavor, a longer secondary fermentation period can help achieve this. The additional time allows for any harsh flavors to mellow out and for the mead to develop a more balanced taste.

3. Clearing and Clarification: During secondary fermentation, the mead will continue to clarify as any remaining sediment settles to the bottom of the vessel. The longer the mead is left undisturbed, the clearer it will become.

4. Personal Preference: Ultimately, the decision of how long to ferment in secondary is up to the mead maker's personal preference. Some may choose to bottle their mead earlier for a fresher and more vibrant taste, while others may opt for a longer aging period to achieve a more mature and complex flavor profile.

The secondary fermentation stage for mead typically lasts around 3-6 months, but can be extended for improved flavor development and aging. It is important to consider the recipe, desired flavor profile, and personal preference when determining the optimal duration for secondary fermentation.

What Temperature Is Mead Secondary Fermentation?

Mead, a delightful honey-based alcoholic beverage, undergoes a secondary fermentation process to further develop its flavors and carbonation. During this stage, it is crucial to maintain the mead at a specific temperature range to ensure optimal fermentation. The recommended temperature for mead secondary fermentation is between 70°F and 75°F (21°C and 24°C).

It is vital to note that mead differs from beer in terms of temperature requirements during fermentation. While beer can be fermented at lower temperatures, mead requires a minimum temperature of 68°F (20°C) for fermentation to occur effectively. However, to achieve the best results, it is advisable to keep the mead within the temperature range of 70°F to 75°F (21°C and 24°C).

To summarize, the ideal temperature for mead secondary fermentation falls within the range of 70°F to 75°F (21°C and 24°C). Maintaining the mead within this temperature range will help ensure successful fermentation and allow for the development of desirable flavors and carbonation.


Secondary fermentation in mead is a crucial step in the mead-making process. This stage involves the transfer of the fermented liquid, also known as the , from the primary fermenter to a secondary fermenter. The primary purpose of this transfer is to separate the mead from the sediment, called lees, that has settled at the bottom during the initial fermentation.

The timing of when to rack the mead into the secondary fermenter can vary, but a general guideline is to do so when the fermentation starts to slow down. This could typically be around 1 month after the initial cooking of the must. However, it is important to monitor the specific gravity (S.G.) of the mead. Once the S.G. reaches 1.03, it is crucial to transfer the mead to the secondary fermenter and use an airlock to prevent any oxygen exposure.

During secondary fermentation, it is recommended to maintain a temperature range of 70° – 75° F. This temperature range ensures that the fermentation process continues smoothly and allows the yeast to complete the conversion of sugars into alcohol.

The use of an airlock is essential during secondary fermentation to prevent any unwanted air or contaminants from entering the mead. This helps maintain the integrity and quality of the final product.

It is worth noting that the secondary fermentation process is not a fixed timeline and can vary depending on various factors such as yeast used, temperature, and desired flavor profile. It is essential for mead makers to regularly monitor the progress of the fermentation and gauge when it is time to rack the mead or allow it to ferment further.

Secondary fermentation in mead-making is a patient waiting game that requires attention to detail and careful monitoring. By following these steps and maintaining the proper conditions, mead makers can ensure a successful and flavorful final product.

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Thomas Ashford

Thomas Ashford is a highly educated brewer with years of experience in the industry. He has a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and a Master Degree in Brewing Science. He is also BJCP Certified Beer Judge. Tom has worked hard to become one of the most experienced brewers in the industry. He has experience monitoring brewhouse and cellaring operations, coordinating brewhouse projects, and optimizing brewery operations for maximum efficiency. He is also familiar mixology and an experienced sommelier. Tom is an expert organizer of beer festivals, wine tastings, and brewery tours.