View Full Version : White Labs Liquid Sweet Mead/Wine yeast

07-23-2004, 03:51 AM
anyone have any experience with White Labs Liquid Sweet Mead/Wine yeast? what recipe did you use it in and what did you think of it?

07-23-2004, 04:56 AM
I'm also interested in hearing this. I read someone's opinion somewhere that this yeast isn't so great, but I would like to hear more opinions.

07-23-2004, 06:42 AM
Data I have looked at says it requires a temperature range of 70-75. Also its characteristics are Slightly fruity, leaves some residual sweetness. 15% alcohol tolerance and low compacting of lees. However I have never used it. It seems to have a narrow temperature range for me . Its attenuation factor is 75% so it may be good for a sweet Mead if you don't mind such a narrow temperature tolerance.

07-25-2004, 01:56 AM
I've used the White Labs yeast about three times with varying results.

I have to say that I have found it to be a slow starter and that it never really goes berserk like some yeasts I have used in the past. Also, in my experience I've found that it actually does compact the lees pretty effectively.

I mostly use corney kegs for soup to nuts fermentation and aging, and when I pushed the mead over from primary to secondary I noticed with the liquid yeast that the particulate matter from the lees was very slight as compared to the last batch I made with the Red Star Champagne Yeast. (No disrespect to Joe or the White Labs)

Depending on what kind of mead you're making it kind of runs toward the dry side.

When the mead is young (about a year, give or take a month or two) they tended to be somewhat "hot" or astringent on the front of the tongue. This is even without adding any tannin or acid blend to must or in primary/secondary.

Matter of fact, my last batch of "sweet" mead ended up being very dry so I bottled it and carbonated it like a sparkling wine. It's very passable in that respect, but as a "sweet" mead it's not even in the ballpark.

Generally I don't even use nutrient, but with the pitchables that I've used from White Labs, I ended up using nutrients and engergizers based on my conversations with the suppliers I've spoken to. This really helps with getting it going.

I had used some of their other liquid yeasts for porters and ales with good results. I prefer dry yeasts and making my own starter at this point in the game.

Hope that's helpful,


07-25-2004, 06:42 AM
I've used the White Labs yeast about three times with varying results.

I have to say that I have found it to be a slow starter and that it never really goes berserk like some yeasts I have used in the past. Also, in my experience I've found that it actually does compact the lees pretty effectively.
(snip) the particulate matter from the lees was very slight

Just for clarification and our education concerning flocculation or compacting of lees and what it means. Here is what White Labs says:

The magical art of yeast coming together, dropping to the bottom of a fermentor, is called flocculation.
Flocculation is a desirable and important characteristic that is unique to brewers yeast. When brewers yeast nears the end of fermentation, single cells aggregate into clumps of thousands of cells, and drop to the bottom of the fermentor, leaving clear beer ( or Mead) behind. If yeast flocculate too early, the beer ( or Mead) will be underattenuated and sweet. If yeast do not flocculate, the beer (or Mead) will be cloudy and have a yeasty taste.
Most strains of yeast, which brewers call "wild" yeast, do not flocculate well, and remain in suspension for extended periods of time. The ability to flocculate is a product of natural selection. Brewers have continually collected yeast either from the bottom or top of a fermentor and in doing so, selected for increasingly flocculent stains.
Yeast flocculation can be classified as high, medium, or low.

I inserted the (Mead). They (White Labs) have classified the Sweet mead yeast flocculation as low because it takes much longer for the mead to clear naturally. The yeasts remain in suspension longer as they resist clumping together. They will appear light as Oskaar mentioned because they do not clump together very well and take much longer to compact than a yeast rated as high. However as you said they will compact the lees effectively. (given time).
I wonder if the reason you noticed it was a slow starter and didn't really get into a very robust fermentation is because of the very narrow optimum temperature requirements? Thanks for sharing your experience with that yeast. I have never talked with anyone that had used it before.

07-25-2004, 01:23 PM
Hey Joe,

Glad you got a kick out of my experiences with White Labs pitchable yeasts. I still have a couple of tubes in my brewhouse fridge-a-merator!

A little more on flocculation which is an interesting process and very important to mead and beer making.

The text is from a set of transcribed notes I had from my Microbiology 510 Course at Cal Poly Pomona. The course was called Applied Microbiology and we actually made beer, mead, wine, sauerkraut and yogurt in the class. We had a big party at the end, and my Vin Rose Wine was voted the best. Our professor was East German with a very thick accent and she provided the knackwurst and buns for our sauerkraut. It was a good party!

---- Notes:
Flocculation of yeast is very important in production of beer that causes the yeast to precipitate out into the bottom of the fermentation vessel at the end of the fermentation cycle. As a result the yeast may be harvested from the bottom of the fermenter and used in a culture to grow colonies in sufficient numbers for the next fermentation, while the beer may be matured without the need of a centrifugation step.

In a best case scenario brewing yeast will not flocculate in the beginning of fermentation, but only after all the nutrients have been metabolized. However depending on the conditions, the yeast may flocculate too early or too late, leading to improper fermentation or the need for centrifugation. In order to improve the control of flocculation during beer production the genetic mechanisms of flocculation are being studied.

Yeast flocculation requires the presence of at least two types of molecules on the cell surface. One type is mannans (carbohydrate chains), which are produced by the gene products of the MNN genes and are present on the cell surface at all times.

The other type is flocculins (sugar binding proteins), which are the gene products of the FLO genes, that are activated only after depletion of nutrients. The flocculins bind to mannans on the surface of neighboring cells leading to the cross binding of cells and ultimately the formation of flocs, each consisting of several cells.

Because the surface to volume ratio of the aggregated cells is reduced, the flocs precipitate out much faster relative to the free cells. ----Another note is that this flocculation process is similar in effect to the micro-agglutination process used in Immunology and Serology for type and cross-matching of blood for prevention of transfusion-reactions.

If you can visualize some of those little Styrofoam balls from the local art supply store that have a bunch of long sharp needles sticking out from them. Toss several of them together in a bunch, and at a very basic level you have a rudimentary model of a floc.



07-25-2004, 10:03 PM
the yeast may flocculate too early or too late, leading to improper fermentation or the need for centrifugation
Oskaar, That was a great post for those interested in more details on yeast selection. I was curious on what exactly centrifugation was so that I might relate it to something I might do to correct that possible condition described.
Thanks in advance, Joe

07-26-2004, 12:46 PM
Hey Joe!

I'm pretty sure from my notes (my handwriting is . . . scary) that I was addressing the hazing particles and yeasts in beers in relation to centrifugation.

The Centrifugation process is generally used in commercial beer brewing (especially in microbreweries) to harvest the yeast and store it for usage in subsequent batches.

Most of the time the centrifuge is used just before the bottle conditioning process and in conjunction with a pad filter to harvest and store the yeast, as well as to remove any hazing particles that have not yet precipitated out of the beer.

Brewing centrifuges are prohibitively expensive (usually about $70,000 for an entry level model) and burn a lot of electricity and have a large footprint. They can spin at approx 3200 RPM and in some cases handle up to 32 barrels of beer per hour in the centrifugation and transfer process.

I don't think that a centrifuge is a practical item for brewing at home, but hey, once you get that brewery/meadery going spin one of those puppies up and watch the fun!!

I hope that's helpful.


07-26-2004, 07:03 PM
I'm currently using the White Labs Sweet Mead yeast for 2 batches of Mead, but unfortunately, these are my first 2 batches and I have nothing to compare it with (yet). My first batch is a cyser, and I'm about ready to bottle it. My impression at the last racking was that it has a harsh alcohol taste that will take awhile to mellow. At the first racking, it was REAL harsh, so the improvement is noticeable. I'm hoping it will be ready to drink by the holidays. The lee's seemed to have settled without much effort, so I'm pleased with that. As Jmattioli noted they do list a narrow temperature range, but since that temp is exactly where I keep the house it wasn't a problem for me.

My second batch is a Peach Melomel which I started 7/14/2004.

All of my comments, observations, recipes, and ramblings about the process are on my site at http://www.moremead.com

Lyle Baker

PS: I'm planning on trying Lavin K1V-1116 with my next batch. I'll probably start it in a month or so. Just have to decide what I'm going to try next :)

07-28-2004, 02:15 PM
Howdy all!

Just cranked off a batch of Sweet Show Mead and used the Lalvin D-47 yeast. I have to say that I am impressed with this yeast. In less than 12 hours it is bubbling away like mad.

Recipe is for 45 Gallons so here's what I made:

162 # Orange Blossom Honey
12 T Energizer
12 T Nutrient
H2O to 45 Gallons
100 g Lalvin D-47 Yeast
O.G.: 1.112

Stay tuned for more as things progress.


Edited for misuse of mead as opposed to honey in the recipe. Oskaar

07-29-2004, 01:28 AM
You are making 45 gallons?! You will have to send me some! I don't know about the laws, though, but it might be easier since we are in the same state.

07-29-2004, 02:45 AM
I don't think there is a problem with sending some in the mail, but if there is, I'll get popped for sure. LOL.

Let's try to make arrangements when the mead has matured to drinkability.


07-29-2004, 03:09 AM
You gentleman have said such good things about Lalvin yeast that I went and stocked up last weekend and brewed a big batch on Monday (07/26/2004) using the Lalvin D-47 yeast.

It has taken off faster than any other yeast I have used in a long time, and it re-hydrated and started very easily.

Good stuff, and thanks very much for the great information, experience and knowledge!


07-29-2004, 07:52 PM
As long as it's given and not sold, there's not a problem with sending someone mead across state lines, according to what I've read thus far. But then again, who's up for a road trip?

07-29-2004, 08:48 PM
Oskaar wrote: (snip) Recipe is for 45 Gallons so here's what I made:
162 # Orange Blossom Mead (snip)

I see you are making a very large batch with Orange Blossom Honey. Have you used that type of Honey before in a staright mead and if so what is your opinion of the taste? I only tried it once as a blend in a braggott but it imparted a smooth blossom perfume nose and taste that didn't do much for my particular taste. It seemed to add a femine touch to the braggott as it reminded me of perfume on a woman with each sip rather than a rougher beer/mead taste.

07-29-2004, 11:26 PM
Hi Joe,

I have made mead with orange blossom honey before and really enjoy the taste. The orange blossom honey here in California is a little edgier than what you described in your post above.

It tends to have both the aroma of the blossom, and the hint of the orange to it as well. It makes a great tasting straight mead in my opinion, and my friends and family really like it too (the reason for the large batch). According to my vendor the orange blossom honey is their largest seller for meadmakers in their area.

I have a pronounced sweet tooth and enjoy my sweet meads. I don't find the feminie perfume quality you mentioned above, but that may be from the difference in geographical areas, microclimates, stage of the season and orange tree varieties.

It's funny how a cabernet grape can turn into a wine that is so different in so many different places, I imagine that honey is probably the same.

Thanks for the caveat, I appreciate your opinion.