View Full Version : How many pounds of a varietal honey to capture the flavor?

07-31-2014, 03:03 PM
I often read of folk finding and using exotic varietals of honey to make their mead. And that does sound lovely but perhaps it is my untrained and abused taste organs but if I blind taste my own meads (where I tend to use only 2.5 lbs of honey to make a gallon of must) I don't think I could really taste the difference because of the honey itself. If I add gesho or chocolate or hops or apples - no problem, but I don't find that orange blossom honey mead tastes particularly different from clover honey mead or clover honey mead is distinguishable from wild flower honey mead. I guess my tupelo does taste different but that might be an outlier... I've yet to try my alfalfa mead and my sourwood is still sitting unopened in jars for me to begin in the fall. My question: how many pounds of honey in a gallon will I need to use for the unique flavors of the varieties of honey to shine forth? Is there a strain of yeast that folks in this forum would recommend that enhances the floral sources of the honey? I try to always ferment my wines at the lowest temperature recommended for the strain of yeast. Is that the preferred method if I want to highlight the unique aromas and flavors of the honeys themselves? Thanks.

07-31-2014, 03:59 PM
Super good question. Would love to hear what some of the veteran mazers think

Sent from The Age of Legends, trapped inside a Stasis Box

Medsen Fey
07-31-2014, 08:28 PM
2.5 pounds of honey per gallon is plenty for varietal character to show, but for dry batches in particular, you need time (like 1-2 years) for the honey to show itself fully. If you use champagne yeast, you may lose a lot of aromatics, and a high-temp fermentation can produce fusels that mask the honey aroma. The biggest factor, of course, is the quality of the honey. If you make 3 traditional meads - a buckwheat, an orange blossom and a meadowfoam, it will be very hard not to tell the difference if the honey is good. Beefolks have some great quality honey if you need a source.

07-31-2014, 08:56 PM
and the aging time may be the reason why my tupelo tastes presumably of er... tupelo but the other varieties taste like ... er... honey. Thanks. Very helpful. I have not being using champagne yeast to ferment my honey. I have been using 71B. Which yeast would you recommend?

07-31-2014, 11:24 PM
I've been more than happy with D21 - which is "A" Maury yeast, whether it's "The" Maury yeast, as written about by the late Brother Adam, don't know (given the 4 to 5 year gap between his death and when it was isolated), or K1-V1116 which is the same yeast as the Montpellier strain he wrote of using when he couldn't get the Maury......

I try to discourage people from using champagne yeasts, but because they have a friend who makes a little country wine or the person in the HBS suggested it, the uninitiated flock to it.......

Medsen Fey
08-02-2014, 09:14 AM
71B is an ester producing yeast that can cover up delicate honey character. In addition to D21 and K1V, for clean fermenting I also like QA23, and even though it is a champagne yeast, DV10 can really allow honey character to come through. For batches with 2.5 pounds of honey per gallon, even a very clean ale yeast like Wyeast 1056 can work well. Some of these yeast may be harder to find. Of the commonly available yeast, D47 also is much less estery than 71B.

Please don't get me wrong - I love 71B! But if I just want to compare what a honey brings to the table (or bottle) I like the others here.

08-02-2014, 09:38 PM
As always - Many thanks for your thoughts on preferred yeasts. Very useful information.

08-02-2014, 09:41 PM
I like a little over 3.5 lbs per gallon with k1v-1116 yeast... but you could simply reserve some of the honey to help back sweeten and add character back in ...

Chevette Girl
08-05-2014, 11:30 PM
I have three side-by-side batches going now that I really need to stabilize and backsweeten with the small amount of reserved honey I saved for each... golden(rod), clover and wildflower. Each honey looked and tasted different before fermentation, they all smell different after fermentation but I haven't tasted them yet.

I've been asking people to get me three pounds of whatever varietal they can find, so I'll be doing some gallon batches with mesquite and orange blossom too, and I hope one of these years I can get my paws on a few kilograms of meadowfoam honey. That way I can do 2.5-2.75 lb in a gallon and still have enough left to backsweeten a little, since it turns out that I'm not a big fan of really dry anything.

When I can keep things cool, I really like D47. When I can't, I've been opting for K1V lately, although I've heard it can go estery at low temperatures, I've had it make esters with my apple batches but the triple batch used K1V and doesn't smell estery.

08-07-2014, 02:35 AM
I prefer anywhere in the 2.5-3.0 pound range. Of course, for a dessert batch I made about a year and a half ago, I used roughly 5.0 lbs of a local clover honey and D47 yeast. It fermented very cleanly even though I did not have an efficient way to regulate temperature. It was just in a dark cupboard all day and night.

I recently used 71B to make four different traditional batches: Star Thistle, Goldenrod, Wildflower, and Cranberry. For those, I used about three pounds per gallon. They've only been in-bottle for about 5 months, so I can't really tell how they're doing. I did have some of the Star Thistle one a couple months ago that I'd put in a beer bottle to share with my fellow winemaker, and I think it was progressing okay for how young it was. We'll see how they taste next spring. :)