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Old 03-28-2012, 03:01 PM   #1
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Default Mead starter

I'm making my first mead and need a starter. My question is when making the starter, do I use honey or DME?

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Old 03-28-2012, 03:39 PM   #2
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The Compleat Meadmaker recommends using both. 6 cups water, yeast energizer & nutrient, 1 tablespoon DME and 1/2 cup honey.

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Old 03-28-2012, 10:11 PM   #3
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The general rule of thumb is to make your starter with whatever sort of fermentables you're going to be fermenting, targeting a low OG about 1.040 to 1.050 max.

That being said, I didn't realize that Ken's book had that extra tablespoon of DME in the starter recipe...I'll have to go back and look to see what his explanation is for needing that. (I wonder if the DME is meant to provide some trace minerals or something...still, you'd think you'd get what you need from the nutrients and energizer.)

At any rate, I use only honey with nutrients and energizer and my starters come out just fine...

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Old 03-28-2012, 10:45 PM   #4
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I can understand making a starter when using Wyeast and White Labs. When using dry wine yeast, I find it easier to just throw in an extra pack if I think it needs it. After all, most of them cost a buck or less.

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Old 03-28-2012, 10:46 PM   #5
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Thanks for the help.

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Old 03-28-2012, 10:58 PM   #6
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Don't see the point of a starter anyway. It's a mead, not a beer. And as starters were for when yeast wasn't as reliable as it is now, well.......

The only time I'd consider one would be if I was trying to use yeast which was more than a year out of date.

In any case, with meads it does.seem more about the techniques used to manage them and less about single items...

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Old 03-29-2012, 03:05 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fatbloke View Post
Don't see the point of a starter anyway. It's a mead, not a beer. And as starters were for when yeast wasn't as reliable as it is now, well.......

The only time I'd consider one would be if I was trying to use yeast which was more than a year out of date.

In any case, with meads it does.seem more about the techniques used to manage them and less about single items...
AAAAAGHH! With all respect, I can't disagree more...starters are less about "proofing" the yeast than it is about pitch rate, and I think pitch rate is just as important with mead as it is with beer, and perhaps more so, because of the (usually) higher starting gravities. As you mention, other things (SNA's, degassing, etc.) used to manage the fermentation are very important, but I've noted a significant improvement in the speed of fermentation, and subsequent decrease in subjective "time to drinkability" as I've included attention to the pitch rate along with other things like SNA, etc. (Next step: temp control...)

As I've thought about it, I think many of us started out accidentally using proper pitch rates when we were using a packet of yeast or a whole smack pack/pitchable tube for a 1 gal batch...my first couple 6 gal batches weren't nearly as good as the few 1 gal batches I started out with. I started doing starters and trying to be more conscientious about pitch rate a few yrs ago, but I think my eyes were really opened up even more than they had been when I got this book for Christmas and read it over the holidays...it's definitely beer centric, but saccharomyces is saccharomyces, and when they are healthy and unstressed, they ferment better and produce less off flavors and fusels

And I agree totally with GinKings...just pitch more packets if you're using dry yeast (I use 15 grams for my 6 gallon batches, and actually that's still underpitching).
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Old 03-29-2012, 03:32 AM   #8
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I've mentioned this recipe a couple times before that I got from an old school mead maker and gotten some flack for it but its worked great everytime, minimum lag time, ferments out to its potential ....
First thing, when starting a batch of mead after I sanitize everything...

1 cup of water that's been boiled and cooled to yeast suggested temp
Packet of yeast of choice
Tsp. of the honey being used
1/2 tsp of nutrients

Add water, honey and nutrients to sealable, sanitized container, seal, shake they hell out of it to mix and aerate, add yeast but don't mix, just let it rehydrate itself.

When the must is ready, swirl to mix into slurry and pitch, mix, aerate and airlock

Suppose could be called a quick pseudo starter based on ingredients, it gets criticized by many, except those that try it. You see the yeast active in the container prior to pitching it's really pretty cool to watch, the 4 batches I've used the method with have had activity in 3-6 hours

For a 3 gallon batch double, for a 5-6 gallon batch id probably triple it

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Old 03-29-2012, 12:13 PM   #9
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"rehydration...not a starter...."

Still never heard back from the Lalvin 'guru,' but there has been that suggestion that a small amount of fermentable in the starter liquor may be OK...just don't know where that threshold is where the osmotic stress will become too much for the yeast...

Glad to see I'm not the only only using the extra packets as the volume increases!

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Primary: Heady Topper Clone, Wild Cider, Simple Cyser
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Old 03-29-2012, 01:42 PM   #10
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I just did a mead starter yesterday. I used about 800ml of water, 1 tablespoon of pale DME, 1/4 teaspoon fermaid and 1/4 cup of honey. Gravity was about 1.035.

This morning there looks like pretty good yeast activity. Sunday is brew day, I plan on chilling and stepping up the starter with another 1/4 cup honey sometime on Friday or Saturday.

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