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  1. Default To use or not use yeast nutrient

    Hello everyone. I've been brewing beer for quite a few years but recently decided to try my hand at mead making.

    I realize that honey by itself is a lousy food for yeast because it lacks the proper nutrients to support the yeast and so it needs a nutrient additive. But I've also read that by adding fruit to your must will provide the proper nutrients. Well I've decided to add oranges and raisins to my first batch BUT I also purchased a package of yeast nutrient along with the champagne yeast.

    My question is; Can I add the nutrient along with the fruit? Can you "over feed" the yeast? Or if adding the fruit, is the packaged nutrient just a waste?

    I know, probably a stupid question but the kind of problem I never had with beer brewing. Most beer worts have ample supply of nutrition for yeast to thrive on.

    Thanks in advance.

    Jess

  2. #2
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    Welcome to GotMead Jess!

    There are quite a few differences between mead fermentations and beer fermentations so it is good to ask questions and get comfortable with the process. If you haven't looked at the NewBee Guide, it is well worth the time.

    If you post up the complete plan for your recipe, folks may be able to give you some additional pointers to help you get a good result.

    Some recipes like Joe's Ancient Orange use only raisins and an orange to give the yeast enough to ferment. It works. Fruit additions may give you what the yeast need or may not depending on what they contain. Generally I add some nutrients even with batches that contain fruit, though I use lesser amounts when there is fruit.

    While it is possible to over dose a batch with nutrients leading to increased production of hydrogen sulfide, a metallic/salty flavor, or other off flavors, you usually have to over do it by a large amount. So generally I would say to use some nutrient.

    Good Mazing!
    Medsen
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
    (Past years are always better)

  3. #3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jess View Post
    Hello everyone. I've been brewing beer for quite a few years but recently decided to try my hand at mead making.

    I realize that honey by itself is a lousy food for yeast because it lacks the proper nutrients to support the yeast and so it needs a nutrient additive. But I've also read that by adding fruit to your must will provide the proper nutrients. Well I've decided to add oranges and raisins to my first batch BUT I also purchased a package of yeast nutrient along with the champagne yeast.

    My question is; Can I add the nutrient along with the fruit? Can you "over feed" the yeast? Or if adding the fruit, is the packaged nutrient just a waste?

    I know, probably a stupid question but the kind of problem I never had with beer brewing. Most beer worts have ample supply of nutrition for yeast to thrive on.

    Thanks in advance.

    Jess
    I have recently read somewhere that malt extract will serve as yeast nutrient, and he was suggesting something like a tablespoon per 5 gallons. As a homebrewer, I always have it around, and would prefer to use it over the compounds found in commercial yeast nutrient. Any insights on this?

  4. #4
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    While a beer wort contains plenty of nutrient for a yeast, malt extract is mostly composed of sugars and dextrins and such. A tablespoon of malt extract won't have nearly enough nutrient for a 5 gallon batch. Heck, even a tablespoon of Fermaid K won't be enough for a 5 gallon batch in most cases.

    If anyone does know the YAN of a tablespoon of malt extract, I'd like to know for future reference.
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
    (Past years are always better)

  5. #5
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    I'll see if I can find it, but I think I remember seeing that normal gravity (1.050-60 or so) beer wort came in around 300-400 ppm YAN. One tbsp in 5 gallons would then be like 5 ppm at the most, so essentially nothing. Even a braggot with half honey and half malt would need additional nutrients if the OG was above 1.090 or so.

  6. Default Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Medsen Fey View Post
    Welcome to GotMead Jess!

    There are quite a few differences between mead fermentations and beer fermentations so it is good to ask questions and get comfortable with the process. If you haven't looked at the NewBee Guide, it is well worth the time.

    If you post up the complete plan for your recipe, folks may be able to give you some additional pointers to help you get a good result.

    Some recipes like Joe's Ancient Orange use only raisins and an orange to give the yeast enough to ferment. It works. Fruit additions may give you what the yeast need or may not depending on what they contain. Generally I add some nutrients even with batches that contain fruit, though I use lesser amounts when there is fruit.

    While it is possible to over dose a batch with nutrients leading to increased production of hydrogen sulfide, a metallic/salty flavor, or other off flavors, you usually have to over do it by a large amount. So generally I would say to use some nutrient.

    Good Mazing!
    Medsen

    Thank you for your response.

    From your response I got......"it probably wouldn't hurt to add the nutrient." That's pretty much what I was thinking but wanted to hear it from someone more experienced than myself. Yeast (especially where five pound batches are concerned) is pretty tough stuff and can typically withstand a mistake or two.

    The first recipe that I'm going to try is a fairly basic one.

    12 lbs. of raw wildflower honey
    5 oranges
    1 cup of raisins
    5 cinnamon sticks
    10 cloves
    1 Tbsp. of Allspice
    5 gallons of water
    1 pkg. of Wyeast liquid Champagne yeast.

    We'll see how it all works out. I may wind up having to choke it down but it will be a learning experience. LOL!

  7. #7

    Default

    This might come out a bit dry -- by my seat of the pants calculating, approximately 35 gravity points per pound honey in one gallon of must, 35 X 12 = 420. Five gallons water + approximately one gallon honey, six gallons must. 420/6 = 70 gravity points for a starting gravity of approximately 1.070. Factor in the sweetness contributed by the oranges but it's still going to be a bit dry, especially with a champagne yeast.

    Others on these forums with better calculating skills than myself will have more accurate figures, but overall I think this might be a bit dry.
    <><><><><><><><><><>
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    Dan McFeeley

    "Meon an phobail a thogail trid an chultur"
    (The people's spirit is raised through culture)

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    My calculation skills are not any better than Dan's, but I get essentially the same result. Now if you're adding water to the honey and oranges in order to get up to 5 gallons total volume (rather than 5 gal water into the honey, which would yield just about 6 gallons total), your initial gravity would be closer to 1.090. That will ferment out to about 12% ABV, but a champagne yeast will still take it dry.
    Na zdrowie!

    Wayne B.

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    In a dry mead, those spices may be a bit overpowering; especially the clove. Unless you really LOVE clove, I'd cut that way back (2 or 3 might be plenty - they are powerful little buggers).
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
    (Past years are always better)

  10. Default

    Well, you folks would know better than I about this stuff.

    Thanks for the clove advice. I'll cut that dosage back a bit. I do like a hint of cloves but I don't want it to be overpowering.

    As for the starting gravity; maybe I could boost the honey content to 15 or 18 lbs. Would that help?

    I chose the Wyeast Champagne yeast because most sites that I've visited have recommended it. I'm going to stick with it because I already have it and I may as well put it to use.

    What yeast would you folks recommend?

    Jess

  11. #11
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    I think that the best overall approach to developing a mead recipe is to pick your target alcohol concentration (ABV), then figure out how much honey and water (and optionally for melomels, juice and/or fruit) to give you that ABV if you ferment it dry. Then pick a yeast strain that has the ethanol tolerance to get you there. Go ahead and ferment it dry, and then if you'd like the result a little sweeter, you can backsweeten it to taste with a little honey after fermentation is done.
    Na zdrowie!

    Wayne B.

  12. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by wayneb View Post
    I think that the best overall approach to developing a mead recipe is to pick your target alcohol concentration (ABV), then figure out how much honey and water (and optionally for melomels, juice and/or fruit) to give you that ABV if you ferment it dry. Then pick a yeast strain that has the ethanol tolerance to get you there. Go ahead and ferment it dry, and then if you'd like the result a little sweeter, you can backsweeten it to taste with a little honey after fermentation is done.
    I'm seeing that just like with beer brewing, mead making is more of an art than an exact science and requires much trial and error. My nervousness is that unlike beer brewing where you can enjoy the fruits of your labor in a month or two.......mead takes MUCH longer and I'd hate to find out six months later that I screwed up an entire batch and have to start all over again. LOL!! I'm patient but I'm not sure of just how patient.

    Maybe I should have a few batches going. All within a couple of weeks of one another. That way if one really bombs, there's another coming to fruition in a week or two.

    Thanks for all of your feedback. I really appreciate it.

    Jess

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jess View Post
    Maybe I should have a few batches going. All within a couple of weeks of one another. That way if one really bombs, there's another coming to fruition in a week or two.

    Jess
    That's exactly the way that I do it, Jess, although my batches are usually started every couple of months or so -- don't have the budget to do a 5 gallon batch of mead every two weeks (although I wouldn't mind if I could do it that way some day!).
    Na zdrowie!

    Wayne B.

  14. #14
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    12 lbs. of raw wildflower honey
    5 oranges
    1 cup of raisins
    5 cinnamon sticks
    10 cloves
    1 Tbsp. of Allspice
    5 gallons of water
    1 pkg. of Wyeast liquid Champagne yeast.

    We'll see how it all works out. I may wind up having to choke it down but it will be a learning experience. LOL!
    I would say that 1 clove and 3 sticks would be more to speed. If you like a hint of clove then that is what I would go with, also Prob reduce Allspice to about 1/2 of what you got. Generally from everything that I heard, 1 whole clove in mead will be plenty of clove flavor, especially if you want a hint. Spices extract VERY well in mead because of both the alcohol content and the fact that during the aging process the more subtle flavors start to come through. You may also find 1 oz of lightly toasted oak will do wonders to your brew. After the primary fermentation just put the one oz of chips or cubes in a hops bag and pop it in for 2 weeks to a month. The mellows out the brew faster. I am currently doing a 5 gal side by side exact recipie test of standard honey flavor mead. My Binary test of oak and no oak. It is one racking away from bottling and I can allready taste a signifigant diffrence. The fusel alcohols are much less at this point.

    Yah, Oak.

  15. Default

    I really like what Hungarian medium toast oak has done to my meads. It's not as "woody" as French or American. I use medium plus for my dark meads like berrys and what not. It works like magic! My raspberry went from robitussin to a life changing experience after a month and a half on Hungarian medium plus!
    Sasper
    A ghost of sorts

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jess View Post
    I'm seeing that just like with beer brewing, mead making is more of an art than an exact science and requires much trial and error. My nervousness is that unlike beer brewing where you can enjoy the fruits of your labor in a month or two.......mead takes MUCH longer and I'd hate to find out six months later that I screwed up an entire batch and have to start all over again. LOL!! I'm patient but I'm not sure of just how patient.

    Maybe I should have a few batches going. All within a couple of weeks of one another. That way if one really bombs, there's another coming to fruition in a week or two.
    You have to mess up really bad to end up with something that needs to be pitched. Lengthy aging can cure a lot of faults, ok, maybe not so much cure them but iron them out over time. I remember one mead, thought it was too dry, lacked body. I made adjustments but kept a bottle or two of the original batch, then forgot about them. A few years later, happened across them, opened one and it was wonderful.

    But definitely, getting a few batches going is a good idea, this way you'll have something ready at all times. A few quick meads, like JAO, will keep you going while waiting for that first batch you worked hard over to come into its own.
    <><><><><><><><><><>
    <><><><><><><><>
    Dan McFeeley

    "Meon an phobail a thogail trid an chultur"
    (The people's spirit is raised through culture)

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