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  1. Default First-timer - two questions about yeast

    Hey!

    I'm going to try brewing mead for the first time, but I have two questions before I begin:

    I have ordered two different kinds of yeast. Both are from Wyeast: one is called "dry mead" (18% alcohol tolerance), the other "sweet mead" (11%). I wonder if it makes any difference if I make a dry mead out of the "dry mead" yeast or if I can pour in a little more honey in it and still make a sweet mead with 18% alcohol, or vice versa?

    I also wonder whether it's worth the effort and money to get energizer and nutrient? Is it just about speeding up the process? If the yeast for some reason stops working before having reached the alcohol tolerance for the yeast, can't you just pour in more honey?

    Thanks in advance, especually replies before Friday are appreciated!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hagroth View Post
    Hey!

    I'm going to try brewing mead for the first time, but I have two questions before I begin:

    I have ordered two different kinds of yeast. Both are from Wyeast: one is called "dry mead" (18% alcohol tolerance), the other "sweet mead" (11%). I wonder if it makes any difference if I make a dry mead out of the "dry mead" yeast or if I can pour in a little more honey in it and still make a sweet mead with 18% alcohol, or vice versa?
    yes, though fermenting to 18% will likely require ageing.
    You can make a 10% with the dry yeast.
    You can make a dry mead with the sweet yeast.
    The percentage relates to the tolerance if the yeast. Ie how much alcohol it takes to kill them.
    This labelling annoys many a meadher, as it is misleading to newbees.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hagroth View Post
    I also wonder whether it's worth the effort and money to get energizer and nutrient? Is it just about speeding up the process? If the yeast for some reason stops working before having reached the alcohol tolerance for the yeast, can't you just pour in more honey?

    Thanks in advance, especually replies before Friday are appreciated!
    Yeast fodder is important.
    It speeds up the ferment yes. (some people who don't use it have waited 2 years for a ferment to finish)
    It also keeps the yeast fat and happy.
    So they do a better job, and your mead is ready to drink sooner, requiring much less ageing.
    If you're happy with the work an underfed slave and his scrawny horse will do for you. Then fine.
    I prefer to use freemen who are strong, healthy and happy to work.
    Good luck.
    Mae'r teithiau golau ceffyl eto

  3. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kudapucat View Post
    ...


    Yeast fodder is important.
    It speeds up the ferment yes. (some people who don't use it have waited 2 years for a ferment to finish)
    It also keeps the yeast fat and happy.
    So they do a better job, and your mead is ready to drink sooner, requiring much less ageing.
    If you're happy with the work an underfed slave and his scrawny horse will do for you. Then fine.
    I prefer to use freemen who are strong, healthy and happy to work.
    Good luck.
    Sorry, I messed up. I meant making sweet mead with the dry yeast and vice versa, but it looks like you've covered the question anyway.

    Hehe, yeah, that makes sense! If one would go with something more natural like apples or something as yeast nutrient, is it possible to reach anywhere near the same level of efficiency?

  4. #4

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    ...what do you think they're putting in the yeast nutrient? Yeast is a living organism, it needs real, organic food. Nitrogen, sugars, all sorts of things. You're not putting in anything 'unnatural' when you feed your yeast, if you do then the yeast wouldn't eat it either and it probably wouldn't pass the FDA guidelines.
    Angry Viking Hedgehog say "Give me mead or I poke ya!"

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    A lot of commercially available yeast nutrients consist of a mix of diammonium phosphate and yeast hulls (double check the packaging to make sure). Mead musts do not generally contain enough micro nutrients required for a healthy fermentation, hence the additions.

    If you want to avoid adding DAP, then you can make your own yeast hulls: rehydrate some bread yeast, boil in the microwave, and add to the must. But in all honesty, DAP is probably as widely used commercially as sulfite and is considered safe in the quantities we use.

    As far as getting micro nutrients from something like apple juice or malt, I'm sure you'd be fine if you use a low-nutrient need yeast like K1V. Using something like RC212, which has high nutrient needs, would probably result in sulfur smells and off flavors.
    Last edited by Midnight Sun; 07-03-2012 at 08:40 PM. Reason: spelling

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Soyala_Amaya View Post
    ...
    I know, just a bad selection of words. Of course I'm aware it's natural, I meant more "natural" in the romantic sense if you catch my meaning, you know - traditionally gathered ingredients preferably from local flora like in the times before the industries.

    Quote Originally Posted by Midnight Sun
    ...
    Ah, thank you! What do you think of the nutrient need of Wyeast's mead yeasts (dry and sweet)? And what if you would try to make your own yeast from scratch, would that have a high nutrient need?

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    Yeast only nag when they feel unappreciated.
    Primary: Fin Du Monde Clone
    Secondary: OSH #3, Murphy's Stout Clone, Bass Clone, Black Wheat Brackett, Cyser
    Bottled: Newcastle Clone, OSH Clone #2, OSH Clone #1, Wheat Brackett, Black Wheat Brackett

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    A correction to my earlier post, "nutrients" tend to be mostly DAP and "energizer" micro nutrients and sometimes DAP. See this post. Sorry about the error.

    Ah, thank you! What do you think of the nutrient need of Wyeast's mead yeasts (dry and sweet)? And what if you would try to make your own yeast from scratch, would that have a high nutrient need?
    Hmmm... no experience with either of those. A web search yielded info for the sweet here and the dry here. They both say add nutrients, but don't say how much. Perhaps moderate needs? Anyway, this post has some good answers on dosage. I personally follow a nutrient schedule similar to the second post in the thread, here in quotes:

    Quote Originally Posted by TAKeyser View Post
    Here is the schedule that I typically follow (unless I'm using someones recipe and they give something different), don't remember where I got this from.
    One teaspoon of Fermaid-K and two teaspoons DAP should be adequate for a 5 gallon batch. You can mix them together for a stock blend and add them using the following schedule:
    Add teaspoon yeast energizer/nutrient mix after lag period.
    Add teaspoon yeast energizer/nutrient mix 24 hours after fermentation begins.
    Add teaspoon yeast energizer/nutrient mix 48 hours after fermentation begins.
    Add teaspoon yeast energizer/nutrient mix after 30% of the sugar has been depleted.
    Don't forget to scale to your batch size.

    As for making my own yeast strains, regrettably I must pass that question off to one of the more experienced mazers. I am willing to attempt unusual ingredients occasionally, but won't risk a fermentation to unknown yeast. Others have done it successfully, but I am too afraid of failure

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Midnight Sun View Post
    <snip>
    As for making my own yeast strains, regrettably I must pass that question off to one of the more experienced mazers. I am willing to attempt unusual ingredients occasionally, but won't risk a fermentation to unknown yeast. Others have done it successfully, but I am too afraid of failure
    I made a cidre recently. It took off on it's own before all the apples were pressed. So I let the wild yeast continue.
    It tasted GREAT at bottling.
    3 weeks later, it has a weird nose, and and odd flavour.
    It's not nasty, but it's not great. Here's to hoping it improves, and conditions appropriately.

    Wild yeasts are a gamble, and without high quality industrial equipment, you wont be able to guarantee that the yeast you're growing doesn't get taken over by a new strain you accidently introduce.
    Some people like dabbling in it, but I wont do it again unless forced to again, not for a few years anyhow.
    There are so many variables you can play with and make more romantic, that can screw up your mead without dabbling with your yeast as well.
    For Science, we need a control group. Then one parameter is changed in the test group. then the results are compared.
    Leave testing your yeast to be one of the last experiments you try.
    Extra spicing, acid additions, backsweetening, residual sweetness, romantic yeast fodder - all these things are ok to play with one by one for a newbee. (which I still consider myself)

    JAO uses no nutrient, no energiser, and basic bread yeast. That's about as romantic as you can get, and it's almost fail safe.
    (FWIW raisins are used in JAO as yeast fodder. it seems to be effective. I have seen cidre recipes that reccommend a 'week-old' steak be tossed in the vat as yeast fodder, but that just creeps me out)
    Mae'r teithiau golau ceffyl eto

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    Well, whoever it was that mentioned about the marketing nomenclature is spot on.

    Wyeast and white labs both sell "mead yeast", yet how the hell do they know which isolates were used ? when there are no examples to analyse, plus even the historic recipes that are around don't tell you/us/them ?

    The wyeast "sweet" mead yeast is over priced, finicky as hell to use and (IMO) a waste of money.

    It's easier and cheaper, to work out which dry yeast makes good meads, of a particular type and go with that. And no, I don't mean whatever champagne yeast they sell, because of the sweeping generalizations they (most HBS) make about meads.

    Dry yeasts have a higher cell count, longer shelf life, are cheaper, more.easily managed, etc etc.

    The wyeast dry mead one isn't too bad, but still not cheap...........
    here's me home brewing blog (if anyones interested....)
    and don't forget
    What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away! Tom Waits.....

  11. Default

    Wow, thanks everybody for your elaborate replies!

    I suppose the Wyeast mead yeast is rather expensive, I'll probably try something else when I make more.

    Unfortunately, my store doesn't have the energizer, just the Wyeast nutrient. Do you reckon I can manage without the energizer, or is there any good way of substituting it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kudapucat View Post
    <snip>
    (FWIW raisins are used in JAO as yeast fodder. it seems to be effective. I have seen cidre recipes that reccommend a 'week-old' steak be tossed in the vat as yeast fodder, but that just creeps me out)
    You could try a few raisins.
    Mae'r teithiau golau ceffyl eto

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hagroth View Post
    Wow, thanks everybody for your elaborate replies!

    I suppose the Wyeast mead yeast is rather expensive, I'll probably try something else when I make more.

    Unfortunately, my store doesn't have the energizer, just the Wyeast nutrient. Do you reckon I can manage without the energizer, or is there any good way of substituting it?
    well, as half the mead making world mixes the terms nutrient and energiser up, the wyeast nutrient should be fine as I understand its a combined nutrient, with yeast hulls, trace minerals and DAP. So similar to FermaidK, fermax, etc.
    here's me home brewing blog (if anyones interested....)
    and don't forget
    What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away! Tom Waits.....

  14. Default

    Ok guys, apparently even the nutrient is sold out. They do have some wine nutrient however. If this wine nutrient contains DAP, it should be fine as well, right? Essentially, all that I really need as a nutrient would be DAP?

    Apparently, the Wyeast nutrient blend (the one sold out) contains:
    "A blend of vitamins, minerals, inorganic nitrogen, organic nitrogen, zinc, phosphates and other trace elements that will benefit yeast growth and complete fermentation."

    Or how about just plain vitamin B? One wine nutrient I found contains just that.

    Or maybe this one, expensive but the only they've got in store: Servomyces: http://shop.humle.se/tillsatser/jast...ces-jastnaring

    Apart from the "commercial" nutrients, you recommended raisins. This is one reply I got from another forum:

    Quote Originally Posted by Arpolis
    Since Wyeast Sweet mead yeast is a pita at times I would suggest this. Make a starter. If you are doing anything more than 1 gallon but also 5 gallon or less then follow this:

    2 cups warm water
    cup clover honey
    “Nutrients” (See below)
    Mix all that together and add your yeast. Cover with a paper towel and let sit for 6 – 12 hours. There should be some vigorous activity by then and you pitch that into your must.
    For the nutrients I don’t like using my commercial nutrients like DAP or Fermaid K. I save that for the must. Instead I use 2 100mg B6 tablets and 10 fine chopped raisins. That will provide what the yeast needs to build strong cell walls. If you don’t have that then you can use tsp of commercial yeast nutrients.
    What do you think? It won't make much of a difference if I don't use clover honey but a honey of unknown/mixed plant origins, will it?
    Last edited by Hagroth; 07-04-2012 at 07:41 AM.

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    A starter is not a bad idea for the "liquid" culture yeasts, since they are alive when you get them and of unknown health. The starter will confirm that they are well (i.e. you didn't get a dead pack, which you can usually get reimbursed), and also you can boost the cell count while you're at it.

    However, B6 is not all the yeast need. Cell walls require a good bit of oxygen and fatty acids, cell division requires nitrogen compounds, and the other micronutrients support the other various functions e.g. ion pumps. And the list goes on and on... B vitamins are a good thing to add, but they'll be in the blended commercial nutrients anyway.

    And the raisins. Consider the fact that the commercial nutrients are developed for wine making. Wine musts are 100% grapes. Raisins are grapes. So yes, adding raisins is better than adding nothing, but they are far from a replacement for the more concentrated nutrient formulations e.g. Fermaid et al.

    For the honey choice, there is some variation in natural nitrogen etc content with the different flower sources. But none are going to change your nutrient schedule appreciably.
    Want to see something added to the GotMead Glossary? PM me! Didn't know we had a glossary? Check the top row of links.

  16. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by akueck View Post
    ...
    Ok, thank you! I think I'm going for a 1 kg package (almost) of the Wyeast nutrient (smaller packages weren't in store). Since I'm a complete beginner I guess that's the safest bet.

    Does anyone have any experience of the Wyeast mead yeast? Apparently, you have to sort of crack open the inner bag, shake it and let it swell. Then you pour it directly into the must.

    And please check so I've gotten it all right:

    Recipe, 9,5 litres total:
    7,5 litres of tap water
    4 kg of locally produced honey, unknown/mixed plant origin
    Wyeast Nutrient Blend: The amount listed on the package - for 9,5 litres that'd be about 1 gram (according to the instructions, 2,2 grams is enough for 19 litres).
    Wyeast Sweet Mead Yeast: The amount listed on the package - for 9,5 litres that'd be about one half package (according to the package, one complete package is enough for six gallons = 22,8 litres).

    Step 1, sanitizing using Star San: I'll just clean a large bucket or a bathtub or something with PBW and then fill it with water with the admixture of Star San listed on the packaging. Then I'll submerge the equipment I'm going to use in this bath and let it stay there for 1-2 minutes according to instructions. The fermenting buckets might be a bit harder to clean so I'll just take some of the water + Star San solution, fill the fermenting buckets with it, wait for 1-2 minutes and then simply pour it out without rinsing.

    Step 2: I'll just pour 7.5 litres of lukewarm (room temperature) tap water (the tap water in Sweden is good) into the fermenting bucket.

    Step 3: I'll heat the honey up by putting its bucket in a sink with hot water (the honey is still in its bucket) until the honey is perfectly liquid.

    Step 4: I'll just pour all the honey into the water in the fermenting bucket, using some lukewarm honey to get the last scraps of it out of the honey buckets.

    Step 5: I'll now prepare the nutrient: "Dissolve Wyeast Nutrient in warm water. Add solution to kettle 10-15 minutes prior to end of boil." This would only be 1 gram of nutrient.

    Step 6: I'll now pour the nutrient solution right into the must in the fermenting bucket.

    Step 7: I'll now prepare the yeast according to instructions - basically just crack open the inner bag, shake it and let it swell. Then after a few hours, as listed on the package, I'll just pour it right into the must in the fermenting bucket.

    Step 8: Now I'll just stir the must for more than five minutes.

    Step 9: Finally, I'll put the lid on, put the airlock on there, and put it all away in my basement (dark and a little cooler than room temperature) and wait for a couple of weeks.

    Step 10: If it stops processing, I'll check the alcohol in there by extracting some of it through the tap of the fermenting bucket and check the readings. If it's not at the tolerated level yet, I might pour in some more honey or nutrient? If I'm happy with how it tastes, I'll just rack it over to my glass carboy and put it away for maturing.

    Is that how you do it? Very grateful for feedback!

  17. #17
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    Yeah, more or less. You should probably pop the inner packet in the yeast package a few hours before mixing up the must, just to not have to wait later. Also you don't need to boil the nutrient, you can just mix it in.

    Usually we will follow a "staggered nutrient addition" schedule rather than dumping it all in at the beginning. The Wyeast instructions are more for beer. You can search for tons of info on that.
    Want to see something added to the GotMead Glossary? PM me! Didn't know we had a glossary? Check the top row of links.

  18. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by akueck View Post
    Yeah, more or less. You should probably pop the inner packet in the yeast package a few hours before mixing up the must, just to not have to wait later. Also you don't need to boil the nutrient, you can just mix it in.

    Usually we will follow a "staggered nutrient addition" schedule rather than dumping it all in at the beginning. The Wyeast instructions are more for beer. You can search for tons of info on that.
    Thanks, yes, of course I'll prepare things in parallell, but this was just to simplify the desciption of the procedure.

    Why do they recommend boiling?

    Yes, the guys over at Homebrewtalk recommended that as well. Unfortunately I'll be gone the first week of fermenting. This is the page they recommended anyway:
    http://home.comcast.net/~mzapx1/FAQ/SNAddition.pdf
    Like I said, I'll be gone for the first week. Is there any risk that my must will reach its fermenting mid-point or that the sugar levels will have been depleted below 50% within a week?

    Will my method of checking gravity and the current status - extracting a little bit of it from the tap of the bucket - work? Or do you have any better suggestions? My fermenting buckets aren't transparent so you can't put a floating meter in there unfortunately. Maybe I could open the lid and put my sanitized meter in there anyway? Or should the lid stay closed at all costs? Also, how do you recommend I check the sugar levels, using the hydrometer on the extracted sample?

    I might also check the PH value according to this page, probably when I get home after one week of fermenting: http://www.stormthecastle.com/mead/c...-your-mead.htm

    Oh, and one more thing! I'd need to check the gravity before I start so that I can measure the resulting amount of alcohol, right? What kinds of measurements should I do before starting the fermenting process?
    Last edited by Hagroth; 07-05-2012 at 05:13 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hagroth View Post
    Like I said, I'll be gone for the first week. Is there any risk that my must will reach its fermenting mid-point or that the sugar levels will have been depleted below 50% within a week?
    Heh, yes, a very good chance. So you might want to dose it with half once the lag phase is over and the other half right before you leave. Or chuck it all in after lag. I did up-front nutrient additions for years and it didn't seem to hurt anything... there is no ONE WAY when it comes to meadmaking, there is only what worked for each of us...

    Quote Originally Posted by Hagroth View Post
    Will my method of checking gravity and the current status - extracting a little bit of it from the tap of the bucket - work? Or do you have any better suggestions? My fermenting buckets aren't transparent so you can't put a floating meter in there unfortunately. Maybe I could open the lid and put my sanitized meter in there anyway? Or should the lid stay closed at all costs? Also, how do you recommend I check the sugar levels, using the hydrometer on the extracted sample?
    If you've got enough must in the bucket that the hydrometer floats, you can do it that way, when you're just trying to figure out where you are in your fermentation, it doesn't have to be too accurate, +/- 0.005 is close enough if you're just trying to figure out how close you are to a 1/3 or 1/2 break. You actually want to be aerating this for the first 1/3 to 1/2 of your fermenation too (as much as you can at the beginning and then right before you leave), and in the second half, you're producing enough carbon dioxide to blow any oxygen that gets in right back out, so popping the lid off to take measurements isn't a problem at all until there's no more fermentation going on, that's when you have to be careful about oxygen exposure. As long as you sanitize the heck out of everything, you can put your sample back in, but if you're using a spigot, I'd recommend trying to sanitize that too, before and after use, so it doesn't grow anything funky in between measurements. What I usually do is plunk my sanitized hydrometer into a sanitized wine thief and take the measurement right in the thief, then let the must back into the bucket.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hagroth View Post
    Oh, and one more thing! I'd need to check the gravity before I start so that I can measure the resulting amount of alcohol, right? What kinds of measurements should I do before starting the fermenting process?
    You want a fairly accurate initial specific gravity at the beginning so you can figure out how much alcohol you have at the end, and also so you know where your 1/3 to 1/2 points actually are. Getting a pH and temperature are not critical but they can be useful data.
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014
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  20. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Chevette Girl View Post
    Heh, yes, a very good chance. So you might want to dose it with half once the lag phase is over and the other half right before you leave. Or chuck it all in after lag. I did up-front nutrient additions for years and it didn't seem to hurt anything... there is no ONE WAY when it comes to meadmaking, there is only what worked for each of us...
    Ah well, I'll just throw a couple of grams in there, one today and one tomorrow before leaving I guess. But doesn't the fermenting process take like two weeks? One would expect the different "milestones" like the 50% sugar level to take a little longer, in relation to the total fermenting period.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chevette Girl View Post
    You actually want to be aerating this for the first 1/3 to 1/2 of your fermenation too (as much as you can at the beginning and then right before you leave), and in the second half, you're producing enough carbon dioxide to blow any oxygen that gets in right back out, so popping the lid off to take measurements isn't a problem at all until there's no more fermentation going on, that's when you have to be careful about oxygen exposure.
    Oh, most of the tutorials I've seen always put the lid on. Here, for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WV6_D0fP-YM
    But you're saying that I shouldn't put the lid on the week I'm gone (which should roughly account for 1/2 of the fermenting process)?

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