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Old 02-20-2013, 02:50 AM   #1
fargo234
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Default Ken Schramm's Dry Nutmeg Metheglin

There is an intense debate going on at my house right now as to whether or not make a mead or just brew more beer. (hyperbole... nothing at my house is intense)

After failing miserably at making mead using the vague instructions found at stormthecastle (tasted like turpentine smells even after a year of "maturing"), I bought Schramm's book The Compleat Meadmaker.

I bought it because I have a gallon and a half of local honey bought from Walker Honey Farm slowly crystallizing, lemons falling off the neighbor's tree, and coriander is pretty cheap. So, it's gonna be a metheglin.

I'd like to do the recipe he's published for Dry Nutmeg Metheglin. Except with entirely different spices. My concern is the yeast. It's always the yeast.

I've read his book cover to cover and he doesn't mention the "how-to" of how to do the yeast starters in this recipe.

It calls for:

500 ml Epernay yeast starter
500 ml starter of Pasteur Champagne yeast

As it happens, I have a 2 liter Erlenmeyer flask, a stir plate & magnet, two 5 gram packets of Red Star Pasteur Champagne yeast, and an hour spent researching this topic. Weird how homebrewers collect random stuff, huh? I've learned two things so far:

1. Epernay has a number II now. It's a yeast. Not available at my LHBS.
2. Schramm doesn't describe how to make a yeast starter with dry yeast beyond saying, "Follow the instructions on the packet." (I'm paraphrasing).

Now, I could assume these are both liquid yeasts, for which he does give a rather low-tech approach to producing a starter for, but his instructions are for 2 liters. I'm not making over a gallon of yeast starter for a 5 gallon batch of mead. I suppose I could scale it down for two starters of 500 ml each, but then I'm stuck with using only trace amounts of DME, honey, yeast energizer, & nutrients. And I'm still without a clue what to replace the Epernay with.

So, my internet friends, what should I do? I've already decided I'm brewing beer (given) but am I to make mead too? What are my yeast options? I've got a 7-gallon fermentation bucket with a pretty picture of grapes and a 3-piece air lock absolutely dieing to be sanitized for a purpose.

But then I suppose I could just keep the honey for countless peanut butter and honey sandwiches.

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Old 02-20-2013, 03:35 AM   #2
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I'm not sure why he would use 2 yeasts. At the beginning of the book he seems to say that epernay and lalvin 1122 are interchangable.

I would assume you couch change out the recommended champagne yeast for another, like ec1118

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Old 02-20-2013, 03:39 AM   #3
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As a beer maker, its all too easy to get "precious".

Beers need a fair bit of "gentleing" because of the nature of the ingredients and how they finish i.e. lowish alcohol and plenty of residuals for spoilage organisms to munch on.

The making a starter thing is mainly used by beer makers or if using a liquid yeast to (as you obviously know) increase the size of the colony. Whereas a dry yeast pack usually has many times the number of cells, so you can indeed make a starter if you want to, but use say pint of water, a couple of tbsp of honey and maybe 1/8th tsp of nutrient (GoFerm would be better). Equally you can just rehydrate the yeast "as per the packet".

Either way you could expect some lag from pitching to fermentation actually kicking in. How long ? Who knows...

You can even just sprinkle the yeast in dry and stir the hell out of it. That works too.....

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Old 02-20-2013, 04:07 AM   #4
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See pages 59 and 60 for a list of yeasts and their properties. According to the list, epernay is a champagne yeast that can reach 16-18%. Based on the description I would think maybe lalvins 1116 would work. It mentions it being similar to cote de blanc.

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Old 02-22-2013, 05:23 PM   #5
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Thanks for the feedback guys. I think what I'll do is stir up a pint of starter as fatbloke suggested.

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