View Full Version : Mead Yeast Cake

12-08-2008, 08:30 PM
I need some advice. I am going to make a full bodied mead with 20 lbs of Honey. I ordered white labs 720 for sweet mead. I am worried that with that much honey and with the yeast that is for sweet mead that it will come out too sweet in the end. I would rather have a semi-sweet final product. I have a 5 gallon secondary full of Dry at the moment, that used White Labs 715 for the yeast which is for Dry mead. I was wondering if I could just pitch the new batch on top of the yeast cake from the first batch like I would beer (Brewed loads of beer new to mead). I admit I have very little knowledge about making mead and wine so I am applying my beer brewing knowledge here.

Also would the yeast type really even matter with that much honey?


12-08-2008, 10:19 PM
It is generally not a good idea to pitch new must onto a mead yeast cake from an earlier batch, since the fermentation in a wine or mead must usually finishes at a much higher ethanol level than a beer or ale. The likelihood that the yeast will have been stressed by exposure to the alcohol is greater with the higher percentage, and that often leads to mutations in the yeast that will result in the subsequent fermentation having characteristics much different from the first -- and often not for the better. With mead, as with wine but not with beer, it is best to pitch a new yeast.

That said, I will now state my personal opinion, based on my experience, that although liquid yeast cultures are often better for beer since they provide the brewer with many more flavor and strength options than active dry, the opposite is true for wine/mead yeasts. I get far more predictable and consistent results when I pitch active dry yeasts; the choices in liquids are more limited. Especially problematic is the strain marketed as "sweet mead." That one seems never to behave predictably, and especially with high initial gravity musts, it often sticks at a very high residual sugar level.

12-09-2008, 01:02 AM
Yeast cakes aren't really that great for beers either. Any beer which has flavor contributions from the yeast will be diminished by (over)pitching onto a cake. If you want to repitch beer yeasts, collect the yeast and pitch only a portion to reduce the cell count. Check out mrmalty.com for a calculator.

That being said, I've personally converted over to dry yeast for most of my beers too. $1 for "first"-generation, predictable results is more than worth it. Most beer styles can be well-represented by dry yeast options. (hefeweizen for example, can not.) I've done the yeast cake thing (also washed, partial cake pitches) for beers, but with mixed results. One series that started with a soured wort produced some underattenuated beers, which I attribute partially to overstressed yeast and partially to badly calibrated thermometers.