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Arcanum
01-05-2009, 04:41 PM
Hi, I'm a new would-be meadmaker. Mead is my favorite low-alcohol alcoholic drink, with the possible exception of cider, and I've had some interest in making my own for a while. A friend gave me Ken Schramm's book for Christmas, and have read it from cover to cover. (Ok, I admit I skimmed the braggot and recipes chapters.) I think in principle I have a pretty good handle on what I'm doing, at least to start. I just need to get out and buy the equipment and supplies to get started.

Anyway, my questions are more theoretical or "for future reference" than they are immediate practical questions. I don't plan on actually doing anything with these until my second or third batch, and possibly not at all.

Question 1: Different yeast strains can impart different characteristics to the mead. Has anyone tried using more that one yeast strain in a batch to get a combination of the characteristics? If so, does it work, or does it just muddy the distinctions the yeasts would normally produce?

Question 2: Is it possible/feasable/desirable to carry over yeast from one batch of mead to the next? I imagine that even if it's possible, it's not worth the effort, and may be actively undesirable. Still, I'm curious.

Question 3: This one is a bit more practical and realistic. Has anyone gotten their hands on a bulk quantity of this particular wildflower honey and made mead with it, and if so how did it turn out?
http://hawaiigiftideas.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=5_22&products_id=52

I spent a week on Kauai a couple years ago and brought one of those little bottles back with me. It was some of the most amazingly delicious honey I've had, and I suspect it could make some likewise delicious mead. Granted, I don't have a lot of experience with honey varieties....

akueck
01-05-2009, 07:17 PM
Hi Arcanum and Welcome!

I'll take a stab at the first two questions....

I've only used two strains of yeast in one batch of beer...because I had leftovers. Blending the characteristics of different yeasts is a great idea and is used all the time in winemaking. However, each yeast strain is inocculated into a separate batch and the resulting wines are then blended. The problems with mixing yeasts in a single batch stem from competition between the yeasts. You want the yeast to be single-mindedly focused on eating, not out-competing other organisms, to produce the "best" and most reproducable product. Depending on the strains you use, some yeasts can inhibit/kill other strains which are sensitive to certain chemicals used in microbiological warfare. Obviously this is not something you really want to encourage. ;)

Reusing yeast is very common in beer brewing, where the fermenation process is completed well before the alcohol toxicity level for the yeast. In wine and mead, this is generally not the case since alcohol levels are pretty much always above 10%. You want to pitch happy, healthy yeast into your must--the yeast that just finished your last batch are probably tired and stressed if they are alive at all. You can of course repitch the old yeast, but you won't get the same performance from them. Best bet is to start from a fresh culture each time.

Again, welcome and I wish you luck and a Meady New Year!

wayneb
01-05-2009, 07:18 PM
Hi, Arcanum! Welcome to "GotMead?" !!

I can answer your first two questions:

1) You can use more than one strain of yeast in a batch to get a combination of characteristics, but that is harder to do than it might at first seem. Initially, some yeast strains have built-in mechanisms to ensure that they dominate in any environment. They secrete enzymes that will actively kill wild strains of yeast, as well as those commercial strains that do not have immunity to them. To make things more inconvenient, some manufacturers do not supply enough data on their strains to know which yeasts possess the ability to create the enzymes, nor on which strains are resistant to them. Lallemand and DSM are two manufacturers who do supply that information for all of their commercial wine yeasts. Second, different strains ferment at different rates, so even though you may mix two compatible yeast strains, one or the other may actually dominate in any mixed-strain fermentation.

Although I've successfully employed mixed-strain inoculation and gotten the characteristics that I was after, it was not before I experimented with the strains individually enough to know what I could expect from each one in a mead must. It might be a better idea for a beginner to ferment two or more batches individually, with individual strains of yeast, and then to blend the results to taste.

2) In general preserving yeast from batch to batch is not recommended in meadmaking. While it can be done successfully for most beers, the generally higher alcohol levels in a mead or wine must will stress the yeast more, and force mutations in the yeast colonies that will result in modified yeast that don't always do what their ancestors did in a new must.

Kee
01-05-2009, 08:28 PM
Welcome to Got Mead, Arcanum.


Question 3: This one is a bit more practical and realistic. Has anyone gotten their hands on a bulk quantity of this particular wildflower honey and made mead with it, and if so how did it turn out?
http://hawaiigiftideas.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=5_22&products_id=52

I spent a week on Kauai a couple years ago and brought one of those little bottles back with me. It was some of the most amazingly delicious honey I've had, and I suspect it could make some likewise delicious mead. Granted, I don't have a lot of experience with honey varieties....

I haven't tried this type of honey, but there's no reason not to. It says it's packaged without heat or pasteurization and is probably an excellant quality. The only drawback is that the cost is pretty high for a wildflower. I can get a gallon (~12 pounds) of local wildflower honey for $20-$30. With tax and shipping, you're in the same ballpark for less than 1 pound.

I'd recommend you try a couple of recipes with local (and therefore) cheaper honey to make sure you feel comfortable with the steps before deciding to spend that kind of money. You might also try a one gallon batch to see if you notice a difference big enough to warrent the extra cost.

Arcanum
01-05-2009, 08:59 PM
Thanks for all the information everybody. The yeast answers are about what I expected, though the information about yeasts competing and trying to kill each-other off is new. Not surprising though.

Kee: I definitely plan to do at least one batch with cheaper Orange Blossom honey. Probably a variation of the no-heat basic mead in Ken Schramm's book, or the version he gave on a brewing podcast I listened to.

And you're right about the cost of that particular honey. I ordered one of those bottles just to confirm that it's as delicious as I remembered. It ran me about $20 with shipping. I'd contact the apiary/company directly and try to get a bulk rate without the fancy packaging if at all possible.

On the other hand, I just got the bottle I ordered, and it is indeed excellent. It's dark in color, with the strong flavor characteristic of dark honeys. I'd describe the flavor as tropical/exotic floral and tropical/citrus fruit, with a of a sour finish. I'm no expert, but I think it might be worth it to do a batch once I have more experience and am reasonably sure I won't ruin it, even if I have to pay the absurd cost and get 20-30 12oz bottles.

Have I mentioned I tend to be a little wordy at times? Sorry about that. :)

Kee
01-05-2009, 09:16 PM
That sounds wonderful! Too bad it's so expensive! Otherwise I might give it a try.